Walther’s New Gun: The Performance Duty Pistol (PDP)
Back in September of 2020, I flew to Illinois to check out a new pistol rollout from Walther. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few such events over the years, but this introduction was fated to be different. The few invitees were not only slated to shoot the guns, but it turns out we were going to train with them too. Even better, the caliber of our instructors put them among the best in the nation and worthy of the excellent weapon being released – the Walther PDP (Performance Duty Pistol).
Other than a Walther PPK, I had no previous history shooting the German manufacturer’s guns. I had witnessed their efforts to move into the law enforcement market and watched more recent releases of guns like the Q4 and Q5 with growing interest. So, I had a fresh perspective when I determined my mission for the trip was simple: try out the guns to see if they were worthy of duty use for law enforcement. With 22 years on the job, and the last seven as a handgun instructor, I felt well-placed to make the assessment.
Pedal to the Metal
After arriving at “The Site” (a former Blackwater facility), we learned we were going to be shooting and training in related skills, all of which were applicable to law enforcement. The event was also supported by a number of great companies such as Leupold, Viktøs, Surefire, Safariland, and others. They would be equipping us with gear for the trials ahead. Rotating through all the amazing instructors of the Walther Defense Division, we focused on skill sets that helped us get acquainted with the PDP.
So, What Is It?
The PDP is a polymer, striker-fired, 9mm pistol with a steel slide. It comes in a full-size 4.5-inch model (18+1 capacity) and a compact, 4-inch model (15+1). Both models have ambidextrous slide stop levers and reversible magazine release buttons. They both have generous trigger guards with a light undercut back toward the grip. The grip is a highly functional work of art, generously curved with few visible flat planes.
The sides of the grip have the lightest hint of finger grooves, and the entire piece is covered in what I deem an aggressive texture. Walther calls it Performance Duty Texture. Backstrap pieces are included for different-sized hands, and there is a small lip swelling out at the front of the grip (more on this later). The PDP is equipped with a Performance Duty Trigger, which has a built-in safety in the middle. There is no external safety on either model. Finally, the guns have a generous beavertail, texture grooves on the front of the trigger guard, and an accessory rail out front.
Moving to the slide, the Walther DNA is evident but evolved for hard use. The first things that catch your eye are the serrations at the front and back, called “SuperTerrain serrations.” These canyon-like striations are serious. The guns come equipped with Glock-style white dot sights, and the rear sights are adjustable for windage and elevation. Though, we never used them. All the PDPs are red dot ready, and the test models were equipped with Leupold Deltapoint Pros, which are an outstanding optic.
Emphasis on Performance
We were introduced to the PDP the first morning at the range. Pulling them out of containers, we were able to load up and get them into our holsters. I was immediately impressed and could see the design intentions leaning toward tactical capability. But would it perform? Over the next two days, I found out the answer was a resounding, "Yes!"
I ran the PDP through a class bent on making me shoot from every odd angle I’ve ever experienced … and a few I hadn’t. Later, working on red dot focus, our groups burned through ammo while working on our draw speed and time to rounds on target. This was not relaxed plinking to see how we liked the guns. Not at all. Split up into two groups, we all went for broke while soaking in the amazing talents of the instructors. We shot in the moonlight with night vision goggles, in the rain, and the mud. By my estimations, ran through around 3,000 rounds over the two days. I was impressed because I never saw the guns cleaned, and I did not see any failures.
As far as performance, I got my first taste when I put my hand on the PDP Full Size. The grip was so ergonomic, I was impressed. I have large hands and did not have any problems with slide bite because of the generous beavertail. My hands melded into a hold, and the texture held me in place even when I pushed to beat time and didn’t establish the best grip. It soon dawned on me that I did not have to adjust my primary hand to hit the magazine release button either. All these things added up to excellent accuracy and recoil mitigation.
We all shot from the 10-yard line to check zero on our Deltapoint Pros. After three shots, I had a 1-inch group and was extremely pleased. This told me pretty quickly that any subsequent misses would be my fault alone. I also noticed a couple things combined to make the full-sized gun shoot nearly flat. In particular, it was the weight and the grip. Because of the ergonomic grip, my hands locked on well and the texture kept them in place. The weight of the slide handled the recoil impulse and tamed it nicely. By comparison, the compact was only slightly more snappy, but it was still easily manageable.
Another crucial component to the accuracy and handling was the trigger. Pressing back, it built for about a millimeter then hit a noticeable resistance that broke around 4 pounds. The reset was quick, and it could be heard and felt through the trigger. I was really impressed with how good the trigger felt. Once I got used to it, my appreciation only grew.
Now, remember the lip I mentioned? This is built for red dots. Most shooters who are transitioning tend to aim too high when seeking that front sight. To find the red dot, they need to muzzle down the gun. Adding pinky pressure on the lip at the bottom of the grip cleans that up nicely. Finally, the slide serrations were outstanding. Not only are they great for press checking, but one-handed reloads are a breeze. These elements all combined to allow repeatable, high-level performance.
Stamp of Approval
Saying a weapon is worthy of duty is not something I take lightly. The levels of performance, accuracy, and reliability have to be high. Not only do the officers’ lives count on it, but the citizens they serve depend on it as well. Walther took a handful of us out to a range, and we trained and shot a lot – more than enough time for any problems to arise. None did.
I’ve had around 500 more rounds through the guns since the training (even in the recent dearth of ammo). They are still plugging away nicely. The Walther PDP is absolutely up to the job. Thankfully, they aren’t limited to law enforcement and can be found at an authorized Walther dealer near you. Lastly, Walther smartly worked in advance with several holster manufacturers like PHLster, C&G, Safariland, and DeSantis to have options available when the guns hit the shelves.