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Walther PDP: Match-Grade Performance and Bar Brawl Toughness

The Walther PDP challenges the old ways, fusing the precision expected out of their handguns, with the aggressive duty-ready features that have come to define defensive pistols.

At this point, there isn’t much new to be had in the way of defensive duty pistols. The dilemma is understandable, as the formula is clear:

• High capacity (over 12 rounds)
• Striker fired (reliability and ease of operation)
• Chambered in 9mm (ammo diversity and, until recently, availability)
• Polymer frame (lightweight, easy to carry)
• Able to accept light and optic (maximum capability for size and caliber)

But within those parameters, there are margins of error and room for manufacturers to weigh some qualities against others. Conventional wisdom says that precision and reliability must be traded back and forth on a curve. But as engineering, machining, and materials quality continue to improve that wisdom has started to falter. The Walther PDP challenges the old ways.


Walther has a long, accomplished history of producing pistols that have seen notable use in both the duty and competition worlds. From military and police workhorses like the P-38 and PP/K, to competitive staples like the GSP and the more mainstream Q5 Match Steel Frame, Walther’s pistols are well known in top-tier circles on either side of the duty/competition fence. But their latest product line, the Performance Duty Pistol, fuses all this experience into a single handgun aimed at end-users looking to stake their lives on their pistol.

WHAT’S THE SAME

It should be stressed that the Walther PDP is a holistic family, not just a series of individual pistols. This has quickly become a trend in new pistol releases, as manufacturers work to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for modularity and leave their flagship lines available for upgrades as technology and market trends allow. At the time of writing, there are two frame sizes available: compact and full-size.
walther pdp leupold deltapoint pro
The initial launch starts with 4-inch barreled compact frame and 4.5-inch full-size frame models seen here. Follow-on releases will include a 5-inch barreled compact model as well as both 4- and 4.5-inch full-size variants. Upper and lower halves are completely swappable across both frame sizes, leaving the door wide open for Walther or the aftermarket to create nested-comp pistols that have also taken off like wildfire in recent years.

Speaking of the aftermarket, certain parts of the Walther PDP are backward compatible with the PPQ M2, meaning there’s already a baseline of accessories available. The full list includes 19 individual PPQ parts compatible with one or both versions of the PDP, but the most relevant are barrels, magazines, and recoil assemblies. Size restrictions do apply, as the 15-round PPQ magazines are only compatible with compact frame PDPs. The full-size Walther PDP frame offers an eyebrow-raising 18+1 rounds on tap, making the grip too long to accommodate shorter PPQ mags. The 4-inch PPQ M2 barrel will fit in both frame sizes, but only when mated to 4-inch slides. And so on.

walther magazines
This gives the 4-inch compact-frame Walther PDP a slight edge in customization, since it can accommodate threaded barrels, comps, magazine extensions, and recoil assemblies from the PPQ all from the get-go. As icing on the cake, all PDP slides utilize Glock-pattern dovetails for their iron sights, allowing for an N+1 selection of non-optic sights.

One of the biggest accolades people give to the legacy PPQ line is the ergonomics. The grip shape is incredibly friendly to a wide array of hand sizes sporting a texture that’s solid without being overly aggressive. Fire controls are simple and designed for ease of use – with a magazine release almost the size of a dime and large ambidextrous slide release levers that sit almost fully flush while still being effortless to actuate.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THE WALTHER PDP

For all its accommodations for cross-compatibility, there are some features of the Walther PDP that are decidedly new and unique for Walther, and we’re glad they are. The first and most notable is the trigger. The bang switch on the PDP is a new, proprietary unit they’re calling the Performance Duty Trigger, or PDT. (Putting the Performance Duty Trigger in the Performance Duty Pistol is an excellent example of German-inspired creativity and free spirit.) Naming conventions aside, the PDT is quite possibly the single best factory trigger on a striker gun we’ve ever laid hands on. The trigger on our sample gun has about a half-inch of clean, gliding take-up before hitting a brick wall that breaks consistently at 4 pounds, 4 ounces on our digital gauge. There’s zero overtravel since the back of the trigger shoe hits the frame at its breaking point. Reset is crisp, loud, and tactile with a couple of millimeters of travel. That’s with no polishing, no spring swaps, no aftermarket additions, or manual labor whatsoever. A sub 4.5-pound trigger right out of the box is something we don’t see very often on this type of pistol.


The Walther PDP’s honeycomb grip looks transplanted from Walther’s premium Steel Frame line, copied onto a polymer frame with interchangeable backstraps. The grip features a small flare at the bottom that Walther pro shooter Scott Jedlinski refers to as the “pinky kick.” The pinky kick acts as a sort of default magwell, and also gives the pinky some extra real estate to squeeze down on, helping to keep the muzzle down during recoil.
walther pdp handgrips
Compared to the PPQ line, there are also some striking changes to the top half of the pistol. The PDP’s slide is rather … utilitarian … compared to the gentle curves and fine lines of Walther’s current flagship line. The notably boxier appearance was a deliberate move on Walther’s part to better facilitate an optics-mounting system, as opposed to trying to integrate mounting plates atop the PPQ’s domed sightline.

The PDP will ship with a standard iron sights cover plate. But each Walther PDP will “include” one free optics mounting plate. Simply go to www.waltherarms.com/opticsplate and give them a bit of info about what you want. Accessory plates can also be purchased online or by calling them directly at (479) 242-8500.

Walther will be providing factory plates for RMR, DeltaPoint Pro, and Vortex pattern optics. But they’re also working with C&H Precision to make aftermarket plates available for the Aimpoint ACRO/Holosun 509T and RMRcc, as well as the RMR/ SRO/507/508 and Vortex. As an added bonus, the PDP will accept any Glock-pattern iron sights, giving you a plethora of options right out the gate regardless of whether iron sights are your primary or backup option.

The other major feature on the new slide is what they call their superterrain serrations. Traditional slide serrations are cut into the surface of the slide, sitting at or below the surface of the slide. The PDP slide is cut in such a way that the serrations themselves protrude above the body of the slide, providing a grip surface that jumps into your hand when you reach for it without being sharp or painful to run under pressure.

ON THE RANGE

walther pdp at the range
Our introduction to the PDP line came at Walther’s product launch event several months back. This gave us the opportunity to put nearly 2,000 rounds downrange through both the 4.5-inch full-size and 4-inch compact Walther PDPs equipped with DeltaPoint Pro optics. This included multiple shooting events under the supervision of top-notch instructors like Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project, Bill Blowers of Tap-Rack-Tactical, Jim Dexter of Tactically Sound, and Tatiana Whitlock. We favored the compact model for most of the event, running it out of a C&G AIWB holster. We shot the PDP under time constraints, under night vision, and as far as over 40 yards. This included unconventional shooting positions, single-handed drills from both hands and reloads/malfunction drills.
shooting the walther pdp
After the event, they sent us sample pistols to continue testing, which added several hundred rounds to the overall evaluation including the use of multiple other test shooters. In nearly 3,000 rounds of testing, we didn’t experience a single malfunction. Recoil is exactly what you’d expect from a polymer-framed 9mm pistol. Some of our guest shooters reported a slight difference in recoil between the two models, with the full-size being a little softer. This is a natural function of physics versus the size of the pistol. But the author struggled to find any perceptible difference.

LOOSE ROUNDS

We’re duly impressed with the Performance Duty Pistol and think it truly lives up to its namesake. But what makes this line truly impressive is the price point, set at $649 MSRP for all models. This puts Walther in a highly competitive place in the market for both self-defense and duty pistols. All of the Walther PDP's direct competitors fall just on either side of this price, but we’re not sure any of them offer the refinement that Walther has brought to bear. The trigger alone gives them what we feel is a substantial advantage over anything else, when holstered straight out of the box. A bold statement it may be, but the PDP may be the first polymer-framed duty pistol we’ve come across that doesn’t need an aftermarket.

Having said that, we’re excited to see what crowd-sourced American ingenuity might bring to this platform that already offers so much out of the gate. If you’re in the market for a load-it-and-leave-it solution for carry or duty, we strongly recommend you take a hard look at the Walther PDP.
walther pdp stat sheet


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9 responses to “Walther PDP: Match-Grade Performance and Bar Brawl Toughness”

  1. PC says:

    Looks like this is to the PPQ what the Creed is to the PPX. Nothing but a fluff and buff.

  2. Ken says:

    Please tell me how to order

  3. Rich Vail says:

    It’s an awesome firearm…but it’s still a 9 mm…even with advances in projectile development and propellant advances…it’s still a 9 mm. Give me a .45ACP with a 10 round magazine any day of the week. I don’t need 19 rounds to put a target down with a .45…I need to be able to double tap….9 mm can’t do that nearly as well.

  4. Not Rich Vail says:

    It’s an awesome firearm…but it’s still a 9 mm…even with advances in projectile development and propellant advances…it’s still a 9 mm. Give me an RPG with a single projectile tube any day of the week. I don’t need 19 rounds to put a target down with an RPG…I need to be able to only pull the trigger once….9 mm can’t do that nearly as well.

  5. American Eagle says:

    Is the trigger as terrible as they put on the Walther CCP? I wouldn’t touch another Walther, even if they paid me handsomely to own. I learned my lesson with the CCP.

  6. Greg Mettyu says:

    I’ve added three Walther pistols to my collection, and will probably top out at the Steel framed Q-5 match next. One thing I cannot emphasize enough is the absolute joy of having a left handed slide release and a convertible mag release (albeit, somewhat tricky). Seriously, thank you Walther!

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