Reviews Walther PDP Pro SD Full-Size: American-Made, German DNA Jack Hennessy February 7, 2024 Join the Conversation MORE THAN THE “BEST OUT-OF-THE-BOX TRIGGER” If it weren’t the resounding sentiment, me saying so could be considered plagiarism, but I have no personal conflict with repeating: “This is the best out-of-the-box trigger for a striker-fired pistol.” In fact, I’d go as far to say this trigger is better than a lot of aftermarket triggers, some of which are priced at a third of the cost of this pistol’s complete package. But there’s much more to this pistol than just a guaranteed-to-make-you-grin trigger. BRIEF WALTHER PDP HISTORY The Walther PDP dropped in 2021 as a means to refine the industry-beloved PPQ and introduce Walther’s take on the newest hot trend: modularity. At that time, the PDP was touted by Walther as the “most versatile pistol ever designed by Walther.” It boasted two different frame sizes and lengths of slides, among other features. Look up any “best striker-fired triggers” list and you will likely find a Walther model listed in the top 3. The company is renowned for great triggers—whether via the PPQ or the single-stage function for the P99. Part of the reason for this is Walther led the way with the concept of a “fully cocked striker,” meaning no mushy trigger take-up to pull a trigger bar backwards and finish cocking the striker before firing (as seen in a Glock). This trigger kit concept, among other Walther-first triggers designs, continues to be replicated and refined in the firearm industry—both by other manufacturers and Walther themselves. Headquartered in Germany for over 100 years, Walther is—by all indications—a firearms company that listens to its consumer base worldwide. The transition from the PPQ to the PDP is one example, and this Walther PDP PRO SD is another example, as Walther, according to senior marketing specialist Vincent Mann, wanted to “bring a fully maximized tricked out PDP to market that saves hundreds of dollars over what the cost would be for a customer who bought a standard PDP and added those features after the fact.” At the time of this writing, Walther just introduced two new PDP models: the PDP Match Steel and the PDP Match Polymer. SPECS MODEL: 2842521 CALIBER: 9MM LUGER COLOR: BLACK SLIDE MATERIAL: STEEL FRAME MATERIAL: POLYMER OVERALL LENGTH: 8.6″ SLIDE LENGTH: 7.5″ WIDTH: 1.34″ HEIGHT: 5.9″ BARREL LENGTH: 5.1″ SIGHT RADIUS: 6.9″ TRIGGER REACH: 2.8″ GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE: 5.8″ (MED BACKSTRAP) WEIGHT WITHOUT MAGAZINE: 23.7 OZ WEIGHT WITH EMPTY MAGAZINE: 27.5 OZ MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 18 MAGS INCLUDED: 3 TRIGGER: Dynamic Performance Trigger SAFETIES: 3 – AUTO TRIGGER PULL: 5.6 LBS TRIGGER TRAVEL: 0.2″ MSRP: $849.00 TESTING SUMMARY I ran just north of 1,000 rounds ( of which approximately 50 were shot suppressed) of various factory-loaded ammunition through this handgun straight out of the box. No cleaning. After 500 rounds, I let rip five rounds of Sierra Bullets SportsMaster 124gr JHPs off-hand with an average of .38-second splits. Though I didn’t take calipers to this, I’d estimate the group somewhere around 1.6 inches. Toward the end, at around 1,000 rounds, I did another accuracy test, this time resting from Caldwell’s Pistolero. Do note: The gun was dirty AF. From running suppressed briefly to sending downrange a couple hundred from-Russian-with-love Monarch rounds, among other ammunition, at the end of the final range trip, my hands looked like a Kentucky coal miner’s. But if you can’t run a pistol that’s dirtier than your grandfather during spring break in Miami, what’s the damn point? One-time five-shot groups from 10 yards after firing approximately 1,000 rounds. A carbon-caked Walther seemed to like Remington ball ammo best, at least this time. Perhaps worth mentioning: Over the course of just a little 1,000 rounds using Remington UMC, Monarch, Sierra Bullets, Barnes Bullets, Blazer in aluminum flavor; the gun cycled flawlessly. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PDP PRO SD AND THE STANDARD PDP Pro SD comes with the magwell. Standard PDP does not. Pro SD comes with 3 magazines. Standard PDP comes with 2 Pro SD comes with a threaded barrel. Standard PDP does not. Pro SD comes with the Dynamic Performance Trigger. Standard PDP models come with Performance Duty Trigger. *The Pro SD trigger gets rid of the majority of the take-up and features a metal flat-face style trigger shoe. However, both triggers are around 5.6lbs. The reason both share the 5.6lb pull is to keep it “duty” rated. THE GRIP When I initially picked up this gun at the 2023 TriggrCon Walther booth, I thought it was metal. Then when I picked it up at my FFL—Home one the Range in Winfield, Kansas, where one of the shopkeepers told me an active-duty close LE friend of his will only carry a PDP—I again had to inspect it and ask myself a favorite questions among left wingers: “Do I have COVID brain?” Because the grip, despite its polymer spec, doesn’t feel like polymer. I asked Walther. Their marketing team said it’s “standard polymer.” “Standard polymer.” *wink *wink. But go to a tradeshow handgun booth and find an engineer and ask about polymer—chances are they’ll geek out and list a proprietary blend more complicated than KFC’s secret spice, numbers and percentages for which you’d have to be Rain Man to remember. So my suspicion is this polymer grip is something of a “craft blend,” in conjunction with very intentional stippling. The grip angle skews more toward the 18-degree angle of a 1911 versus the 22-degree angle of a Glock. I personally am not “Team Grip Angle, this or that.” Both angles feel comfortable to me and I shoot both as accurately as my current-skill-level abilities will allow. This PDP does come with two additional, interchangeable backstraps: one smaller, and one wider that also extends the beavertail. The “medium” backstrap felt thin for me, though I’d say I have “medium” hands, so I installed the larger option and that felt real nice. The “large” backstrap with extended beavertail just felt better from draw to presentation in the mitts of our medium-sized ham-handed author. This handgun also leaves and returns to the Dara Holster light-bearing Action Sport Holster as if they were soulmates in some Tom-Hanks flick. TL;DR: The grip feels amazing and helps contribute to house-slipper-comfortable ergonomics. THE “HIGH BORE AXIS” CRITIQUE My humble opinion: Bore-axis height is often misrepresented in handgun discussions. Yes, the distance between the barrel and the highest point on the grip where the webbing on your thumb can apply pressure—this will indeed raise the bore axis. For example, based on my quick-and-dirty micro-meter measurements of a Glock 34 versus this Walther PDP PRO SD, while the distance between the center of the 34 barrel in relation to a high-tang grip is approximately .75”, it’s approximately 1.00” on the Walther, meaning there’s a quarter-inch of a difference. However, that extra space also allows for a shooter to raise his or her grip and apply thenar pressure above the bore axis—no different the pressure point in relation to the bore axis of handgun with a lower bore height. Yes, for some shooters, that may require some adjustments and getting used to both a higher bore axis but also potentially the angle of the grip. My not-a-geometrist take: A proper grip negates the “high bore axis” critique. A higher bore axis allows creates the ability to apply pressure higher on the handgun. THREADED BARREL: A NICE TOUCH I’m a fan of having options and personally like to run compensators on some handguns, like Radian’s Afterburner, but sadly that only comes in the flavor Glock 19 at the time of this writing (and it also doesn’t thread on, but nevertheless). I’ve heard Herrington Arms makes a great comp for the PDP but haven’t been able to get ahold of one yet. The thread cap itself did come loose during its maiden voyage. I had to tighten by hand after each magazine, but a smidge of blue Loctite remedied this. Ahead of that Loctite, I did run this handgun suppressed for approximately 50 rounds using SilencerCo’s Octane 9HD. Despite potentially straw-feeding the shooter gas, a suppressed Walther PDP PRO SD shoots flatter and seemingly more accurately. Anyone who’s shot a pistol suppressed knows eating gas and perhaps some hot frosted powder flakes is a potential consequence of quiet. Experimenting with different guide rods and springs can help this. Walther includes a green rod in the case engineered specifically for running the gun suppressed. It seems like it could be a bit too light for its application, as I felt I dined on more gas and debris than normal. Which leads us to… THE WALTHER SPRING DISCUSSION A common knock on German striker-fired guns, including those from Walther, are that they are “over-sprung.” If you visit different forums, various sources will suggest various guide rods and springs in place of the factory-issued setup. Scott Jedlinski with Modern Samurai Project (also a Walther-sponsored shooter) discusses this and recommends a new guide-rod setup from Practical Performance that incorporates a Glock 17 spring. Compared to other handguns of a similar size and weight (I think of my Glock 34), yes, I feel I can notice the springiness, but only slightly, and I tend to wonder if it’s more “the power of suggestion.” Said differently, I do feel a proper grip makes this aspect moot and the overall ergonomics of this gun means I can get a good grip and deliver quick follow-up shots despite any sense of “snappiness.” Still, some of us handgun shooters are on a perennial vision question for the slightest edge, so, yes, I did order Scott’s recommendation because I value that Jedi’s opinion. Perhaps more to come on that… SLIDE SERRATIONS Every new striker-fired polymer-frame handgun has them these days and every gun reviewer still fawns over different iterations. I don’t get psyched about serrations personally, but these are nice, helpful, just the right amount of deep and in all the right places, I guess. SAFETY There are three: The firing-pin block safety, in addition to a drop safety (internal), as well as the blade-safety on the trigger. THE BEST FOR LAST: THE TRIGGER The pull is crisp. The reset is crisp, and short. Factory specs cite a pull of 5.6 pounds, and a travel of .2”. Despite the striker being fully cocked, there still is a bit of take-up and combined with the pull after the wall, based on my calipers, that is approximately .34” total (from take-up to wall to break). I measured from where my finger touches the blade to where the trigger breaks, so yes, I am account for the fraction of length the blade sits in front of the shoe. For reference, on my Glock 34, that same measurement is .62”. The PRO SD reset is indeed a .2” versus .28” on the standard PDP. Because of this trigger setup, it’s easy to shoot both accurately and quickly. During strings where I laced up lead boots for my trigger finger, I did admittedly find myself on occasion double-tapping without intending to, with the second shot above the bullseye. Take this with a grain of salt, as I train most often with Glocks, but it’s still something to consider for anyone wishing to carry this for duty or personal defense. THE CONS: #PersonalProblems Yes, potentially due to a spring setup that may cause the barrel to unlock a smidge early, there could be some more feedback when running suppressed, but I tested with only one can with only two types of ammunition (Monarch, which is stupid dirty to begin with, and Sierra Bullets, an older variation of their JHP offerings). Thus, my evidence here is not conclusive and my “gas in your face” commentary should or shouldn’t be taken at “face value.” (I’m not sure how the idiom applies in this context. I just wanted to make the pun.) The only really issue I had—and I stress I as in me, myself here—is inserting the magazines. With most things in life, I have two speeds: Full throttle or delicate to the point of “is it in yet?” After approximately 300 rounds, I started to work on reloads from slide lock but when I rammed home a full 18-round magazine, the slide either actuated from the force and chambered the round, or the gun found itself in battery limbo, where the round did not travel forward and the slide release was stuck. This required several strong-arm attempts at pulling the slide rearward, but that always worked and the gun returned soundly to battery. When I harnessed my inner gun-Gandhi and concentrated on “smooth is fast,” I was golden majority of the time. I would RARELY have the magazine drop out as it wasn’t quite in yet and thus did not seat properly. Which leads me to my second only real gripe and, once again, it’s more of a personal problem. Because of the magwell—which is an awesome straight-out-of-the-box addition—and the thin construction of the magazines and smaller-than-I-am-used-to bottom plates, my fat thumbs struggle with mag checks. But the truth is I am still trying to find balance in life, and that balance also applies to at what speed and how forcefully I run magazines. PARTING SHOTS Try it. Give yourself a reason to smile again. I think I’ve seen these offerings for as low as $720 at some dealers. I’d argue the trigger alone is worth $200, the magwell and extra magazine another $50 each; meaning, essentially, you’re getting an optics-ready PDP at $420, whereas those PDPs might run $550ish, and at that price those same PDPs don’t come with a threaded barrel. Reach out to me on Instagram (@WildGameJack) with any questions or comments. 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