German influence runs high in America. It can be seen in our food, language and even choice of handgun. Developed by German arms manufacturer Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen, Walther firearms have been around for more than 120 years. And the PDP is among the most attractive defensive handguns to come along in some time.

Walther’s Personal Defense Pistol (PDP) is a replacement for the PPQ 9mm. Unlike some companies, Walther does not keep older models in production once they’ve been improved upon. The previous P99 and PPQ are available only on the used market. In my opinion, the newest pistol is arguably the best 9mm yet from Walther.

About the Walther PDP F Handgun

The PDP pistol is currently available in both compact and full-sized versions, with barrels ranging from 3.5 inches to 5 inches. They have polygonal rifling and match-grade or stepped chambers. The pistol features sturdy textured grips. The grip is made up of many tiny pyramids. These offer an ideal balance between adhesion and abrasion without being hard on the hand during long training sessions.

My example is the PDP F. The PDP F was designed to offer a better hand fit for female shooters. It represents a considerable amount of study and redesign. This pistol fits my average hands well and my wife also finds the hand fit ideal. The full-sized pistol accepts 17-round magazines, while the shorter-handled gun accepts 15-round magazines. The larger magazines will fit the compact but protrude from the grip. They are fine for carrying as a backup in a magazine carrier.

The slide lock is somewhat elongated and easily operated. The magazine release is positive in operation. A tapered magazine and generous magazine well make for rapid speed loads. The magazine release is the traditional American push button. Walther also redesigned the cocking serrations of the PDP and dubbed them Super Terrain. These are superb in operation and make racking the slide easier by providing more leverage.

A full-power recoil spring is also important for balance. The full-sized pistol has an additional cocking serration compared to the compact pistol.

Walther PDP F 9mm Specs:

Cartridge: 9mm Luger
Capacity: 15+1 rounds (compact); 17+1 rounds (full-sized)
Barrel: 4 inches (compact); 4.5 inches (full-size)
Overall length: 7.5 inches (compact); 8 inches (full-sized)
Width: 1.34 inches
Height: 5.4 inches to 5.7 inches, compact and full-sized, respectively
Weight: 1 pound, 8.4 ounces (compact); 1 pound, 9.4 ounces (full-sized)
Sights: Front post, adjustable rear

I did not explore the optics-ready option. But the slide features an optics cut. The sights are good modern combat sights. Adjustable rear sights allow for properly sighting the pistol in. After the Walther PDP’s performance indicated it was a keeper, I added XS F8 sights. I prefer sturdy fixed sights with a tritium insert. XS offers a brilliant orange outline front post and an ideal-sized rear notch.

Walther’s trigger has proven reliable and offers a clean break. It is important to clean a striker-fired handgun before use to avoid a failure to reset and other distractions. The trigger originally broke at more than 5 pounds but has settled into a crisp 4.8 pounds with rapid reset. The pistol is easily disassembled for routine cleaning. Clear the chamber and magazine, release the slide forward, release the striker by pulling the trigger and press the release bars downward. The pistol is easily cleaned. Internally the pistol is well put together.

Shooting with the PDP F

I fired the PDP F 9mm extensively through the past 14 months and have several takeaways. While the 9mm doesn’t kick much in a full-sized pistol, recoil is accumulative. The handle design of the PDP F allows a trained shooter to engage in longer, more challenging practice sessions in comfort. Recoil control is excellent.

I used three of the most accurate and reliable factory loads. Black Hills Ammunition was tested in 115-grain FMJ, 124-grain JHP and 115-grain EXP versions. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject, as expected from Walther. The Extra Power/EXP load is a favorite defensive load. This loading gets the most out of the 9mm without entering +P territory. Results were good, with five-shot groups of 1.9 to 2.5 inches on average and a brilliantly accurate 1.5-inch group the smallest with the 124 grain JHP. The PDP F is reliable and accurate and compliments a trained shooter.