Walther unleashed their Performance Duty Pistol, or PDP, to a flurry of media attention this year. When I got this handgun, I was immediately impressed by the look and feel of the gun. In recent years, we’ve seen manufacturers consistently try to get smaller and smaller with their carry guns. Walther has seemingly bucked that trend and unleashed a chunky double-stack pistol to much fanfare.
Known for their great ergonomics and superb triggers in guns like the PPQ, Q4, and Q5, the new PDP had us wondering, “Can Walther keep up and put this new pistol on the same pedestal?” We’ve taken it through a deep dive, and we’ll give you our thoughts right now after 500 rounds.
Let’s Start With Specs
Like I’ve already alluded to, this gun is bucking trends by going larger instead of smaller. While manufacturers like Sig Sauer and Springfield have done everything they can to make high-capacity, sub-compact guns, it’s nice to see something new come down the line with a little more heft to it. Let’s take a look at how it breaks down.
Model: PDP Compact
Overall Length: 7.5 inches
Barrel Length: 4 inches
Sight Radius: 6.4 inches
Height: 5.4 inches
Width: 1.34 inches
Weight w/ Empty Mag: 24.4 ounces
With a name like the Performance Duty Pistol, it’s clear that Walther has their eyes fixed on the LEO market. These types of specs also make it clear that Walther has set their sights on the King of the proverbial LEO hill when it comes to duty pistols, the Glock 17 and Glock 19. The overall length and width are both larger on the PDP when compared to the G19, while it also weighs in slightly heavier. All other specs in comparison of the two are nearly identical.
How It Looks and Feels
As I alluded to in my unboxing article, the PDP is just a cool-looking gun. Before I even got my hands on it, I was excited because it just has that look of “shoot me.” There were two things that immediately struck me about the gun: the slide serrations and the grip texture.
Let’s start with the slide serrations. These are thick slide serrations, probably the most aggressive serrations I’ve ever felt on a pistol. Walther has dubbed them the “SuperTerrain Serrations,” and the aggressiveness has been achieved by raising the serrations slightly over the surface of the slide. Not only is this highly functional for chambering, press checks, and clearing malfunctions – I didn’t experience any – but it looks really cool. These are slide serrations that will catch every time.
Next is the grip texture, which Walther has borrowed from the Q4 SFand PPQ Q5 Match. However, where those guns had grip panels, the PDP has the texture integrated into the grip itself. I’m not shedding any tears over losing the grip panels here because the texture is superb.
It feels similar to grip tape in terms of grippiness but without that sandpaper abrasion effect. You really have to feel it to believe it. Grip tape also has a tendency to hang up on certain fabrics, whereas this texture is smooth on the draw, but offers texture and grippness where needed.
Finally, Walther is widely known and adored for their ergonomics. Again, the PDP doesn’t disappoint in this category. The gun fills my hand perfectly with the medium backstrap in place. The thumb swells are nicely placed, and everything seems to just fall into place. All the controls, including the ambi slide release, are easy to access and manipulate. The mag release is smooth and shoots mags out with gusto. All of this adds up to a dream on the range, speaking of which…
New to Optics
Full disclosure before we talk about range time. I was never a fan of shooting with red dots on pistols in the past. Not sure why, but I always felt like I struggled to be as accurate as I would be with the regular old three dots on the top. I should also say that there were only a handful of times I shot red dots at shows or with a friend who had one at the range. That said, I got a US Optics DRS 2.0, and things have changed.
The Optic of Choice
The DRS 2.0 is great. It offers a wide field of view and has a very bright dot. After assembly, I was able to run the sight right out of the gate and could notice a difference in my grouping. For whatever reason, this combo was suddenly working for me. I think it’s due to both the red dot having such a nice wide field of view and the ergonomics of the pistol.
I have my dot turned up to the brightest level, and its incredibly easy to see and get on target. I still find myself “chasing the dot” a little. But I think I’ll get better at shooting with it over time as I train more with the gun. Even without the red dot on top, this pistol was an amazing shooter.
The First 100 Rounds, No Optic
I put 100 rounds through this pistol without an optic, and it was still plenty fun to shoot. The pistol comes with pretty standard three-dot white sights that are compatible with the G17/19 profile, meaning there a huge array of aftermarket sights available. While the standard three-dot sights aren’t going to win awards on their own merit, I found them plenty easy to pick up. The sight radius also made a sub-par shooter par for the course. The trigger, of course, can’t be discounted.
The trigger is something special on this pistol. Walther measures the trigger pull at 5.6 pounds. I think they improved on what I already thought was an excellent trigger in my previous PPQ review. Walther dubs this brand-new trigger the Performance Duty Trigger, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Aside from the Archon Type B, this has the nicest production trigger I’ve ever felt. There is next to zero mush or resistance to get to the wall, then it has a clean, crisp break. The break isn’t heavy, and the reset is short, tactile, and audible. Other gun manufacturers should take notes.
The First 500 Rounds Downrange
Even though Wisconsin is deemed a “gun friendly state,” most public ranges restrict your ability to rapid fire or execute any type of holster work. Filming allows me to push guns a little harder, and the PDP didn’t miss a beat. I put all the regular training ammo through it. It chewed through everything from Fiocchi, Remington, and Winchester Whitebox without hesitation. Not a single hiccup.
As time grew on the range, I got more comfortable with the red dot, and I found myself finding it easier and easier every time I pulled the trigger. Seeing as this was my first time drawing from concealment with this gun, not to mention the optic, I found quick target acquisition to be the biggest positive of shooting with an optic. But more on carrying this gun later…
Field Strip & Some Notes on Modularity
The Walther PDP strips down easy enough, and it’s essentially the same process as the PPQ. Simply rack the slide back at least a quarter to half an inch, pull the takedown “tab” down, pull the trigger, and slide the slide forward. Presto, your gun is stripped.
The one thing I could possibly gripe on here is the use of a polymer guide rod. When I did my review on the PPQ, I poked around forums looking for common problems or user issues. The polymer guide rod didn’t necessarily seem to be a problem, but lots of people griped about it.
I reached out to Walther. Through their testing, they said the polymer guide rod helps absorb recoil better than a steel counterpart while also cutting weight. Nevertheless, because parts are interchangeable with the PPQ M2, you already have third-party options for steel guide rods.
Speaking of options, this is Walther’s most modular pistol yet. There are three different slide lengths (4, 4.5, and 5 inches), which all use the same recoil system. You can swap between frames and slides as you see fit. The full-size frame has the advantage of carrying 18+1, but even the compact can carry the 18-round mags with a special baseplate. Speaking of mags, PPQ mags are interchangeable with the PDP.
With the first 500 rounds down, I’m usually willing to judge if a gun is reliable enough for self-defense and concealed carry. I’ve carried a S&W Shield 9 for years. It’s not the greatest, but it never fails. I can confidently say that I have carried the Walther PDP, and I have no doubts it can stand up to the challenges of EDC. It’s a pleasure to shoot, and I can see it becoming a full-time replacement as my new carry gun in the near future.