In 2019, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) in Florida decided to replace its 40-caliber duty pistols with 9mm firearms. “We wanted to downgrade since law enforcement – federal, state and local – were now looking at the 9mm round as opposed to 40-caliber, which is a big savings in money,” said Corporal Larry Plotkin, rangemaster for BCSO with over four decades of service in law enforcement. “And the technology now in a 9mm round is equivalent to the 40, in terms of the punch power it carries.”
Replacing not just 1,200 pistols, but also holsters, magazine pouches and ammunition was a very big, very expensive proposition that warranted extensive research and testing. BCSO ultimately decided to purchase the Walther PPQ, which had recently entered the law enforcement market. “We loved that pistol,” said Plotkin.
But after making a sizeable investment in equipping the department with Walter PPQs – and being pleased with the overall performance for two years – when the Walther PDP hit the market, BCSO made the decision to switch its duty pistols again. Not because there was anything not to like about the PPQ – it’s just there was something better.
In fact, in the two years BCSO had the PPQ, Plotkin continued to give feedback to Walther about additional features that would make the PPQ even better. The manufacturer took his feedback into consideration when designing the PPQ’s new sibling, the PDP.
“I got a first taste of the PDP before it was even released and I realized that this is the gun we really need,” said Plotkin. “We thought the PPQ was great, but the PDP just blew that away. That’s kind of how it transformed into, ‘Okay, let’s get this gun and test this one now.’”
FOUR FEATURES OF THE PDP THAT WARRANTED A CHANGE
When Plotkin and other deputies from BCSO were evaluating the PDP, they were looking for certain features that were not built into the PPQ. Ultimately these features – and a few others – led them to replace their PPQs with the 4.5-inch, full-size PDP with an 18-round magazine capacity.
1. The PDP is optic-ready
The main selling point of the PDP is that the PDP is optic-ready and accepts red dot sights from various manufacturers.
“We knew the PDP was optic-ready, so that was a selling point for us because we knew we wanted at some point go to optics because of the liability,” said Plotkin. Since going to the PDP, “our accuracy is now improved, so a person who doesn’t do very well with handguns could do even better. Our failure rate has dropped, the pass rate has gone up, and the confidence level is the biggest in all these aspects.”
2. Protruding serrations on the slide
Another factor that swayed BCSO to trade the PPQ for the PDP is that the PDP offers alternating serrations on the slide. Unlike most standard subterranean cuts in the surface of the slide, the SuperTerrain serrations protrude from the slide, allowing for quicker and more responsive hands-on engagement with the pistol.
This feature is especially welcome in the warm, humid environment of Florida. “The serrations on the slide are so pronounced that it doesn’t matter if you’re sweating or bleeding or have oil on your hands – you have enough meat to grab that slide because of the serrations,” said Plotkin.
3. Grip ergonomics
Another feature of the PDP that Plotkin found appealing was the ergonomic design of the pistol, engineered to create a natural aiming position for red dot use. The grip has a slight forward angle at the bottom so with a tiny bit of pinky pressure and offhand support, the slanted grip presents the optic to the user, instead of the user having to tilt the firearm down when presenting. This enables a quicker, easier target acquisition.
4. Performance duty trigger
Walther improved the trigger system in the PDP by shortening the length of travel and increasing the tactile definition of the trigger break, resulting in repeatable accuracy using a trigger reset that is smooth and shallow.
“The performance duty trigger is just phenomenal,” said Plotkin. “With the Walther PDP, the trigger actually bounces back towards you, so 50% of your power is done. That performance duty trigger allows that to happen, which makes your follow-up shots a lot more accurate than just all over the place.”
The pattern difference between the first and second shot is only three to six inches, versus a more typical 18-inch difference – a significant improvement in both accuracy and speed.
As a trainer, Plotkin has observed an increase in officer confidence that comes from an increase in the passing rates on their firearms qualification tests. With previous firearms, officers may have failed their first qualification test and passed on the second or third try. Now, with the Walther PDPs, Plotkin has observed them doing better. They are now passing on their first try when they are used to failing. “All of a sudden – boom – they pass on their first try. They can’t believe their eyes.”
Plotkin has seen a decrease in failure rates and a significant increase in officer confidence since they adopted the Walther PPQs. The success rates have gone up even more with the PDPs.
The Walther PDP equipped with a red dot sight has made the biggest difference for officers who may have struggled with firearms accuracy. “From the LEO side, from the deputy side, they’re just praising the gun. They love it. They never had a gun that shot like that,” said Plotkin. “They’re shooting better. They’re more confident. They’re shooting a lot faster with accuracy. Then once you put the optic on it, that’s it. It’s so accurate now that no matter what you do, it all comes together.”
ADVICE FOR OTHER AGENCIES
“Every time you go out to work, there’s always that possibility you’re not coming home,” said Plotkin. “You need a gun that will go through all kinds of environments and still work, no matter what happens to it.”
BCSO has the luxury of firing about 20,000 rounds when evaluating a firearm, but Plotkin knows not every agency has the same opportunity. He encourages agencies who are considering swapping their 40-caliber pistols for a Walther PDP that it doesn’t hurt to test and evaluate a new firearm.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to questions like ‘Is this going to work better for my people? Am I going to see improvements in their shooting skills? Am I going to see improvements in confidence?’” said Plotkin. “You have to decide, do you want the best for your people?”
For BCSO, starting with the PPQ was already a big win. When the PDP came along it was an even bigger win, offering increased accuracy, speed and confidence.
“Every day you go outside, you have to be mentally prepared. This might be your last day, this might be your last minute. So you have to be mentally prepared to take everything that’s coming at you,” said Plotkin. “When the Walther PDP is in your holster and you have your optic on it, you are ready and prepared to go to work. You know that gun is going to function, and it’s going to save your life or your partner’s life or somebody else’s.”
For more information, visit Walther Arms.