The first time I set eyes on the Walther PDP, the feature that most immediately stuck out to me was the slide serrations and just how aggressive they were. After receiving the gun, putting it through its paces, and adopting it as my new EDC, I have to say that the feature still impresses me. Of course, it’s human nature to categorize and compare, and the closest comparison to me was the Beretta APX based on that slide alone.
When I saw that we had an APX Centurion in the Guns.com Vault, I thought this must be the sign I was looking for to finally compare these two fine firearms. I was very familiar with the PDP to start this review, but I had never fired the Beretta APX. Little did I know, I was in for a few surprises.
Comparing Ergonomics and Specs
Walther has long been known for its ergonomics and excellent stock triggers (more on that in a minute). I’ve raved about how well the guns handle in my past reviews of the PPQ and the PDP. They fit like gloves. Picking a pistol that is comfortable to both shoot and carry is certainly a huge part of choosing a gun, and Walther has knocked it out of the park in both regards.
I wondered if the Beretta even stood a chance here. To my surprise, the APX actually exceeded my expectations for comfort. The gun fits the hand very well, offering plenty of purchase space and enough room left over for good support-hand placement. The APX also benefits from having nicely placed and aggressive grip texture. If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you know I like aggressive grip texture. The checkering on the front of the grip and the backstrap resembles a high-end 1911.
When it comes to grip texture, however, the PDP still reigns supreme. The Performance Duty Texture is perhaps the best grip texture I’ve ever come across and welds extremely well to the hand. Walther decided to cover the entirety of the grip with the texture, and that makes the PDP a true winner in my book.
Still, both guns provide comfort in the hand and share the same capacity. Check out how the other specs line up below:
The Pros of Each
Both of these guns are chambered in 9mm and have a 15+1 capacity, though each has models available with a 17+1 capacity as well. Both feature ambidextrous slide releases as well. I’d also give a nod to Walther here because they took the oversized mag releases used in the PPQ models and transferred them to the PDP.
The release from the PDP is great and easy to actuate, whereas the Beretta slide release is a little tougher to release with just a single thumb press. It can be done, but it takes a concerted effort. The PDP slide release is effortless, but it’s more prone to “riding the slide” because it’s overly large. Hence, a misplaced thumb can prevent the slide from locking back on the last round. But this is more so an observation and a training issue rather than a knock on the gun.
Both guns also feature oversized mag releases that are easy to actuate and very conveniently located. I don’t have to move my hand to use either mag release, and both drop mags freely with ease. Both guns ship with two steel mags.
The Innovation Up Top
Finally, the place where both of these guns make a big splash is happening up top. The slide of each gun has very aggressive slide serrations. When the APX lineup first debuted, I thought that it had the most aggressive slide serrations in the market. Then the PDP came along. You’re not going to go wrong with either slide type, and both have benefits.
Both guns gave slide serrations that are raised away from the frame, but the PDP’s seem to be raised more. This creates a deeper channel and more aggressive serration. That makes it even easier to get a good purchase on the slide, especially if you like to manipulate the slide from the front.
On the flip side, the APX slide serrations span the entirety of the slide and provide slightly more purchase area. I also really like about the APX serrations seem perfectly placed at a finger-width apart. Getting that full purchase on the slide is very easy and natural. So which serrations are better? It’s really a personal choice, but I don’t think you can go wrong with either.
Let’s quickly talk about the sights. Both come with your standard three-dot white sights. The APX has a slight advantage in this department because I found their dots to be larger and easier to pick up. But both will work just fine. There are also many aftermarket options, but a nod has to go to Walther for making their sights with the same profile as the Glock 19, which probably has the most aftermarket support of any gun.
Finally, the PDP is red-dot ready. It’s one of the main features of the gun. Beretta later released the APX RDO, but the model I got in for review was not red-dot ready.
Trigger Time at the Range
I raved about the PDP trigger in my previous review. I still think it’s one of the finest striker-fired production triggers I’ve ever fired, and other manufacturers should take notice of what Walther is doing in their pistols. The trigger and the shootability of the gun are where you’re going to be paying that price difference.
This is not to say that the APX has a bad trigger. It’s perfectly acceptable for defensive uses. It’s just no Walther PDP. The APX trigger has some mush to get through at the top of the trigger pull to the wall, but the break is easy enough and clean. It also provides a nice trigger reset that isn’t too long and gives a tactile and audible click for verification. Over time, I was able to tighten my groups with the APX to be what I would call respectable. It just required that I learn the intricacies of the trigger first.
On the flip side, I felt like my groups with the Walter were pretty good for me right out of the gate. I’m over 1,200 rounds deep, and like a bottle of fine wine, its only getting better with time. The groups I’m shooting with PDP now are the best groups I’ve ever shot. As for the APX, I’ve now fed it 300 rounds of Winchester Whitebox and S&B, and it spit them out without any issues. Either of these guns would work swimmingly if you’re looking for something reliable.
Like a noob I forgot to get a picture of the accuracy test of the Beretta. While it was certainly good enough for concealed carry and close range defensive work, it wasn't nearly as tight as the grouping above with the Walther. (Photo Left: Seth Rodgers/Guns.com)
Both of these guns are modular by design. For starters, they both ship with a set of three different backstraps. This has become somewhat of a common practice these days, but I feel like its greatly appreciated by shooters. The PDP has two different distinctive frame sizes and three different lengths of slides. But the APX was born in the darkness and gets the nod for early modularity.
The APX is the result of Beretta’s attempt to win the latest contract from the U.S. Army for a modular handgun. Just like the Sig Sauer P320 that actually won the contract, you are able to remove the trigger chassis from the firearm and fit it into any frame in the APX lineup. That includes the APX sub-compact, something Walther still hasn’t offered for the PDP.
If you’re looking for a double-stack full-size handgun for concealed carry or home defense, then you should consider either of these fine pistols. Both are from very reputable companies that have a proven history of making quality firearms. They have proven to be very reliable and comfortable guns to shoot and should provide years of enjoyment.