Walther PDP Compact: Performance & Duty are its Name

About a decade ago, give or take, the baseline for what made a great polymer-framed, striker-fired handgun was changed overnight when Walther introduced us to the PPQ. Its ergonomics were all the rage, as was its performance and accuracy – but it was that trigger that knocked the industry on its butt. The light, crisp trigger of the PPQ with its very short and tactile reset had every IDPA shooter in the country taking those make-up shots without adding time to their scores. It is hard to overstate the revolution that was started by that pistol.

And now, with much of the industry having finally managed to clear the bar that was raised so high, so long ago by Walther… the baby blue logo from Germany is raising it once more by replacing what has been perhaps its most iconic gun since the PPK or even the P.38. This is a bold move, even if sales have tapered off for the PPQ. When Walther told me what was coming, I was both fascinated and skeptical. I like Walthers and I have several variations of the PPQ in my safe. In fact, it has been my go-to IDPA gun for many years, and I wondered what could possibly take its place in the product lineup.

The answer to that question is – the PDP. The initials stand for Performance Duty Pistol, and it implies that the men and women who respond to danger in service to society can expect – and get – top performance from this handgun. Let’s dive in.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT?

The elegant profile that was the PPQ remains – for the most part – the same. However, this gun has been to the gym. It has some sweat and five o’clock shadow, and its knuckles are a bit skinned up. It has some attitude. The slide has a more squared shape than the gentle arch-curve of the PPQ. The front and rear serrations are wider and deeper. They contrast against the PPQ like off-road truck tires do to those of a luxury sedan. The grip frame is identical to the PPQ except that the swirly paisley design of the texture has been replaced by a much more aggressive raised geometric pattern that resembles 3D cubes and is far superior in its ability to keep the pistol steady in the hand.

The slide of the PDP is cut for mounting an optic as a standard feature; however, the adapter plates are provided after purchase, and the owner must request the one needed. The slide accommodates optics much better than the PPQ did. To the defense of the PPQ, optics on handguns have only become vogue in the past few years.

One fairly small change, but one that will no doubt be well received by many is the change in the rear sight dovetail cut to be Glock-sight-compatible. This opens the available replacement sights to virtually 100% of the aftermarket. The stock sights are fine, but they are low and do not co-witness with any red-dots. To prove this compatibility and demonstrate how I like to set up an optics-equipped handgun, I installed a set of XS sights that are steel, have the sight picture I prefer, and are tall enough to co-witness with all the standard red-dots.

SHOOTING THE PDP

I’ve shot this new PDP with the stock sights, with the XS raised sights alone, and with more than one installed red-dot optic. I’ve shot slow deliberate groups, and I’ve done mag dumps. It has made several range trips and digested nearly a case of ammo. I can attest that this new Walther wears the brand name well. Zero malfunctions. And I won’t embarrass myself and tell you just how obscure some of that ammo was… but then, beggars can’t be choosers.

When Walther mentioned to me that they had improved the trigger (yes, the same PPQ trigger mentioned above), I was indeed curious to see if I’d be able to tell the difference. I can… they did. They have even given the trigger a name: the Performance Duty Trigger (PDT). It hasn’t changed by much, but the PDP trigger is ever-so-much crisper, and a wee-bit lighter to my finger. All my PPQs have thousands of rounds through them, so a measured comparison would be irrelevant – but suffice to say that it is an excellent trigger.

In every practical sense, the PDP is exactly like the PPQ while shooting it. Same exact ergonomics. Same replaceable backstraps that allow you to customize the size. My off-hand shooting was not any different than what I would have expected with the PPQ. In other words, it makes me look like a good shooter.

The 4” barreled compact tested here is a tack driver and triple-tap machine in its own right, and the 5” barrel version of the gun is sure to be a darling of the competition circuit. And if you’re like me and have a substantial investment in PPQ magazines, you’re in luck – the magazines are 100% compatible!

JUST MY OPINION

It can be a risky move to tamper with your company’s flagship product, but Walther made a decision and went with it. And they did a great job of keeping it under wraps. The new PDP is a timely change for a new generation of handguns, and it combines the wonderful ergonomics of the PPQ with a more seriously designed texture of both grip and slide. Optics-ready out of the box meets the new standard for duty handguns and civilian defensive weapons alike. I’d like to see four or five adapter plates in the box with the gun, but I confess that I probably swap gear more than most people do.

The squared slide shape is not only more practical for an optics-ready pistol but helps identify it as a no-nonsense gun that can be relied on in emergencies, or handle the toughest four-day combat shooting class imaginable. The hall of fame trigger (slightly improved, at that) means more accurate shot control, which means a safer overall environment for duty or defense. Glock sight compatibility is a bigger deal than many might first realize, with so many fine products now instantly available for those who wish to upgrade. And finally, keeping the same magazine is genius. So many companies get this wrong and alter the magazine on a new model just enough to obsolete your expensive investment – often as a deliberate way to generate magazine sales. Thank you for that, Walther – very much.

The question I’ve been most often asked regarding the PDP is, “should I upgrade from the PPQ?”. I always start out by saying that there is nothing wrong with the PPQ, and mine aren’t going anywhere… but – if you want to add a red-dot or want a gun that is more adept at rough handling use, or you’ve nearly shot out the barrel of your PPQ, then yes – you should upgrade. The new features make this a truly new model, not just a facelift.

For more information, visit the Walther Arms PDP website.

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • CH July 19, 2021, 3:51 pm

    I purchased a pdp compact Great gun! Could you tell me what other magazines fit this model.

  • Chris Pritchard July 19, 2021, 10:26 am

    One of the gun magazines needs to hire you, entertaining, informative and well written. 👍

  • Chief July 19, 2021, 8:54 am

    Correction 3rd lowest. I missed STI

    Still pretty much ties for 2nd lowest gun used at Nationals. FAR from every IDPA shooter in the country shooting one.

  • Chief July 19, 2021, 8:51 am

    “had every IDPA shooter in the country taking those make-up shots without adding time to their scores”

    100% False.

    Enjoyed the review, however, do not be mislead…Walther’s are not even common at IDPA matches, local, regional, or National. They aren’t necessarily uncommon, but certainly not common, and truthfully I rarely even hear anyone talking about them in the IDPA world.

    Here are the stats from the 2019 IDPA Nationals for firearm brand use… Walther is 2nd lowest on the list. 2nd only to Canik.

    Top 10 Firearm Brands
    MODEL COUNT %
    Glock 405 27%
    CZ 202 14%
    Smith & Wesson 176 12%
    Sig Sauer 149 10%
    Springfield Armory 85 6%
    Walther 66 4%
    STI International 61 4%
    Wilson Combat 49 3%
    Tanfoglio 29 2%
    Canik 25 2%
    (RESPONSE TOTALS: 1475

    • Justin Opinion July 19, 2021, 12:22 pm

      Sorry for the confusion, “Chief”. I will confess that I made that statement anecdotally, based on my experience and not in reference to a poll. I’ve been an IDPA member for over a decade and have never participated in that poll. I don’t think anyone I know has, either. “The gun to have” is a fad that constantly cycles in the shooting sports – and I have seen times when the PPQ was on many hips. You seem terribly upset, I hope you feel better soon.

  • Royden Rebuldela July 19, 2021, 4:55 am

    Do you know if the slide of the PDP is compatible with the PPQ frame?

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