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Why the Walther PDP is everything officers are looking for in a duty gun

Ten years after falling for the Walther PPQ, a seasoned shooter discovers the innovations and superior performance of the Walther PDP

About 10 years ago, I met a Walther employee at a training conference where he showed off a new Walther pistol. I got the chance to play with it, send a couple hundred rounds downrange, and decided I needed to have it. It had a great factory trigger and superior ergonomics compared to many of the striker-fired pistols on the market at the time. That pistol was a Walther PPQ.

In 2021, the Walther PDP was released, and I didn’t understand why the PPQ was abandoned in favor of the new model. Was it just a marketing gimmick, or was the Walther PDP really an upgrade worth making? I finally got a chance to find out when Walther sent me a PDP and a couple hundred rounds of Sierra THD ammunition.

First impressions of the Walther PDP

When I opened the box and saw the pistol, I didn’t really notice much difference between the older pistol and the newer Walther PDP. Like so many other duty pistols, the Walther PDP is an optics-ready, striker-fired 9mm pistol offered in a full-size 4 ½-inch barrel and a compact model with a 4-inch barrel. The trigger guard is wide enough for comfortable use while wearing gloves, and there is a section of rail on the dust cover to accept a variety of lights and lasers. Finally, the magazine release is reversible to accommodate right- and left-handed shooters.


The Walther PDP is available with a curved trigger, a flat trigger, and with a magazine well depending on your needs. Any way you have it set up, this is a dependable duty pistol.

Photo/Todd Fletcher

The Walther PDP begins to reveal why it replaced the PPQ when you start to pay attention to the details of the pistol. When you pick up the PDP, the first thing you’ll notice is the aggressive grip texture Walther calls its Performance Duty Texture. The grip pattern is made up of a bunch of tetrahedron-shaped pyramids. It’s hard to describe because it’s grippy without being abrasive. It’s tacky without being gummy. It helps the shooter keep the pistol planted in the hands, but it won’t irritate skin or wear holes in your shirt. And the weirdest part is that it feels more grippy the harder you squeeze your hands.

The Walther PDP begins to reveal why it replaced the PPQ when you start to pay attention to the details of the pistol.

Another detail Walther got right on the PDP are the grasping grooves on the slide. They are large and give the pistol an all-business look. But they’re much more than just a pretty face. Walther calls these Superterrain Serrations. Instead of grooves being cut into the slide, the Walther Superterrain Serrations protrude out from the side raising them above the surface of the slide giving the shooter a more positive feel and absolute control whether your hands are dry or wet. Working the Walther PDP slide makes all others feel slippery in comparison.

The Walther PDP has a fully ambidextrous slide catch that is long compared to the stubby lever found on most other pistols. The way Walther has designed the slide catch lever makes it usable with either hand. This means it doesn’t matter if you’re right- or left-handed, you can use your dominant hand thumb or support hand thumb to use the slide catch to release the slide. Either hand should be able to reach it from either side unless you have decidedly tiny hands.

The Walther PDP Performance Duty Trigger continues the legacy of excellence established with the PPQ. The trigger has a nice wide surface for the pad of your trigger finger keeping your finger centered on the trigger throughout the trigger press. It helps to reduce lateral pressure on the trigger, which can cause off-center hits on target. In other words, this trigger is designed to make the shooter better. The trigger has some take up to the pressure wall, but Walther has shortened the overall length of travel before a very distinct trigger break. Trigger reset is short and sure with a recognizable feel and sound. When it comes to the weight of the trigger, it is a very good duty trigger coming in right around 5.1 lbs. However, I would describe it as shorter and more manageable than most factory duty pistols.

The Walther PDP is a truly modular pistol you can set up however works best for you.

Another great feature of the Walther PDP is that this is a truly modular pistol that you can set up however works best for you. There are two distinct frame sizes and three different lengths of slides that you can tailor to be ready for your specific needs. Any slide length can fit on any frame. Read that again. Any slide length can fit on any frame. If you want a shorter frame with a longer slide, no problem. If you want a full-size frame with a short slide, just put it on and make it happen. It’s easy to configure the perfect set up for your needs.

On the range

With an Aimpoint ACRO P2 mounted atop the Walther PDP, I sent some of the Sierra THD rounds downrange to check the zero. Once this was accomplished, it was time to put the PDP through its paces. One of the things I immediately appreciated was the “pointability” of this pistol. Just like a 1911/2011, this pistol has a terrific natural point-of-aim. This was my first time running a Walther with a pistol mounted optic, and I found the ergonomics of this pistol resulted in the dot arriving on target quickly every time.


The ergonomics and balance of the Walther PDP result in a flat shooting and easy to shoot duty pistol.

Photo/Todd Fletcher

I did some accuracy testing and quickly discovered why the Walther PDP is a better overall pistol compared to the PPQ. Using the Sierra THD ammunition, I was able to shoot several 1” groups at 15 yards. This was from a flat surface, but it wasn’t from sandbags or something even more stable. One-hole drills at 5 and 7 yards were simple. The ergonomics and terrific trigger on the Walther PDP lend itself to getting the most out of the shooter. If your fundamentals are solid, the Walther will help you shoot better than most other comparable duty pistols.

After the boring slow shooting was done, I ran some standard drills using the Walther PDP. Drills like El Presidente, BFM, Mozambique and a few others were a breeze with the PDP. The Walther PDP functioned flawlessly and without fail. Even though this pistol was new to me, and I was still getting used to the fit and feel, I was able to post an “A” score on Ken Hackathorn’s BFM drill. It wasn’t my best BFM Drill, but I feel pretty good about the 10.4 second run considering the limited number of rounds through the pistol at that point.

For over 800 rounds, the Walther PDP ate everything.

By the way, other than taking it apart to inspect it and figure out the mechanics of how it operates, I never lubed or cleaned the Walther PDP during this test and evaluation. After all, a duty handgun needs to be able to withstand the abuse of working the street. I figure most law enforcement officers are terrible about maintaining their firearms, so I test potential duty guns under those same conditions. The way it came lubed from Walther was the way the PDP was tested and evaluated. The Walther PDP was monotonously dependable. It ran reliably using the supplied Sierra THD ammunition, as well as a hodgepodge of 115, 124, and 147 grain ammunition. It didn’t matter if it was a hollow point bullet profile, round nose, flat point or frangible bullet. For over 800 rounds, the Walther PDP ate everything.


Photo/Todd Fletcher


The Walther PDP is an accurate pistol with terrific ergonomics and a great duty trigger helping shooters perform at their best.

Photo/Todd Fletcher

Speaking of magazines, the Walther PDP ships with 18 round magazines. That gives you a load out of 55 rounds. This is three more than a standard 9mm duty pistol. Could three rounds really make a difference? Since we don’t know what your gunfight is going to look like, three extra rounds might make all the difference.

The Walther PDP is everything law enforcement officers are looking for in a duty gun. It’s reliable, durable and accurate. Most importantly, the superior ergonomics make it easy to operate and shoot well. It feels good in the hand, the controls are perfectly placed, and it can stand up to the abuse of any police officer. The Walther PPQ was a good pistol. However, the Walther PDP is infinitely superior and should be a part of any duty pistol selection process.

Products featured in this article
The Walther PDP, a modular, optics ready duty gun for police officers, is available from Click below for pricing and to learn more.
  • Performance-enhanced duty weapon
  • Factory-milled, optics-ready slide
  • Modular frame design
  • Includes 2 magazines
  • LED emitter with a crisp 3.5 MOA dot
  • CR2032 battery provides 50,000 hours of constant use
  • Stands up to extreme shock, vibration, temperature, and stress

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office loved the 9mm duty pistols they had acquired just two years before – then traded them in for Walther’s impressive new sibling

Todd Fletcher is the owner and lead instructor for Combative Firearms Training, LLC providing training for law enforcement firearms instructors from coast to coast. He has over 25 years of training experience as a firearms and defensive tactics instructor. He retired after more than 25 years as a full-time police officer and over 31 years of law enforcement experience.

Todd is a member of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). He is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), and was selected as the 2022 ILEETA Trainer-of-the-Year. He is also a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and won the 2023 IALEFI Top Gun Award. He can be reached at