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Walther's New PD380 Hammer-Fired Pistol is Easy to Carry

Lightweight, easy to shoot and carry, plus convenient to conceal, the new Walther PD380 is one handy option for everyday carry.

Walther's New PD380 Hammer-Fired Pistol is Easy to Carry

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The newly announced PD380 from Walther Arms, which replaces the earlier PK380, has a lot going for it. I’ll get into the details in a moment, but to me, the new pistol’s greatest attribute is it’s easy—as in easy to shoot, easy to rack the slide, and easy to carry on your person. The new PD380 is a double-action/single-action compact personal-protection semiautomatic pistol chambered for .380 ACP. It has an exposed hammer, a 3.7-inch-long barrel, and a nine-round magazine capacity. The pistol weighs 22.8 ounces unloaded and measures 6.48 inches long. It’s 5.15 inches tall and 1.5 inches thick.

The Details

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One unique aspect of the PD380 is the ambi-dextrous paddle-style magazine release located at the back of the trigger guard.

Now for the details. First, using my jury-rigged gauge, the slide requires 10.5 pounds of pressure to rack. That’s way less than an awful lot of personal-protection semiautomatic pistols on the market, especially the striker-fired designs. Most of them require something like 22 to 25 pounds of force to rack their slides. Uniquely, the PD380 does not have an external slide stop. It has an internal slide stop, which engages and locks the slide open after the last round in the magazine is fired. To unlock the open slide, release the empty magazine, pull the slide to the rear to disengage the slide stop, and release the slide forward. Obviously, with a loaded magazine in the pistol, the slide moves forward, pushing a round into the chamber, after it has been racked. Speaking of releasing the magazine, another unique aspect of the new PD380 is the paddle-style magazine release. It’s located at the rear of the trigger guard, and it is ambidextrous. I must say that I was not used to the magazine release being of this style and in this location (loyal readers know that I am a Model 1911 man), but it didn’t take long for me to get familiar with the design. I found that operating it with my trigger finger rather than my thumb was more efficient, and it functioned perfectly throughout my test and evaluation.

The PD380 comes with two single-stack magazines that hold nine rounds of .380 ammunition each. They are nicely built, with steel bodies, removable polymer baseplates/basepads, and polymer followers. The bodies have witness holes on each side. They are not numbered, but “Walther PD380,” “cal. .380 ACP,” and “Made in Germany” are marked on the right-hand side of each magazine. One thing I immediately noticed about these magazines is they are very easy to load. That’s a pleasant thing because it seems to me that most of the pistols I’ve been working with recently have rather stiff magazine springs and have been slightly difficult to load to their full capacities. Of course, those magazines were double-stacks and require stout springs by design.

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The finger grooved polymer grip has what Walther calls Performance Duty Texture on both sides and the backstrap.

The PD380’s grips are integral with the polymer frame, and the grip frame is nicely contoured with an arched backstrap, finger grooves on the frontstrap, and indentations for the fingers on the sides—sort of like two mini palmswells. The sides and the backstrap are textured with what Walther calls Performance Duty Texture, and to me it is more like stippling than checkering. The top of the grip area, on both sides, has large recessed and textured areas for the thumb and trigger finger. Those areas have small thumbrests as well. Grip circumference across from the bottom of the trigger guard measures 5.0 inches. The bottom of the trigger guard is upswept where it meets the frontstrap of the grip. And the trigger guard itself has a unique shape. I would describe it as an elongated rectangle with sort of oval inside corners except for the bottom corner, which is more like a square. You’ll just have to take a look at the photos to understand what I’m describing.

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The PD380’s trigger is not your typical hinged safety lever type that has been so popular on striker-fired polymer-frame, personal-protection pistols for some time. It is curved, with vertical grooves on the fingerpiece, and the fingerpiece is 0.38 inch wide. The trigger system is double action/single action, meaning with a round in the chamber, the first round can be fired by squeezing the trigger, and subsequent shots will be fired single action. According to 10 measurements with an RCBS trigger pull gauge, our sample’s double-action trigger pull averaged 11 pounds, 8 ounces. The single-action trigger pull averaged 6 pounds, 9 ounces, again over a series of 10 measurements. Continuing forward, the dustcover area of the frame narrows and has an integral accessory rail with two cross-slots. On the right-hand side of the frame above and slightly behind the trigger is a cutout that reveals the pistol’s serial number, which is stamped on the steel chassis inside the polymer frame. Also, the right-hand side of the frame is marked “WALTHER ARMS” and “FORT SMITH, AR.” The left side of the frame is marked “CARL WALTHER ULM/DO.” and “MADE IN GERMANY.”

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Walther’s new PD380 is a lightweight polymer-frame .380 ACP semiautomatic pistol with a 3.7-inch barrel and an exposed hammer.

The PD380’s steel slide is contoured and has wide cocking grooves up front and at the rear on both sides. The front grooves measure 0.20 inch each, and the rear grooves measure 0.21 inch each. There are three grooves in both places on each side of the slide. Walther calls them SuperTerrain Serrations, stating that they are “uniquely designed protruding serrations on the slide, allowing for quicker and more responsive hands-on engagement with the pistol.” Also on each side of the slide are manual thumb safety levers. They rotate down to engage the safety, which blocks the hammer from hitting the firing pin when the trigger is squeezed. They rotate up for firing. A red dot on each side of the slide is visible when in the “Fire” mode. I will point out that a click is audible when the thumb safety levers are moved into either position. The rear sight is dovetailed into the top of the slide, and it is fully adjustable. The square notch measures 0.14 inch wide, and a white dot is placed on each side of the notch. The front sight has a single white dot, and the post is 0.14 inch thick. The front sight is not dovetailed into the slide.

Shooting Results

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The front sight post is 0.14 inch thick, and it has a single dot. It is not dovetailed into the slide.

To put the new PD380 to the test, I fired it for accuracy at 25 yards even though the pistol is not intended for such “long-range” work. I did it because 25 yards is ST’s standard distance for handgun evaluations. I fired three, five-shot groups with each of five different factory loads. Bullet weights ranged from 60 to 100 grains, and I fired jacketed hollowpoint, full metal jacket roundnose, HST, and fluted HoneyBadger bullet types. I also fired full-magazine strings (nine rounds) offhand at 7 yards. The results of all that shooting are listed in the accompanying chart, but I want to point out that all loads put those 7-yard 10-shot strings into nice clusters. They absolutely would do some damage to an attacker.

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The pistol comes with two single-stack magazines that hold nine rounds of .380 ACP ammunition each.

With an overall average accuracy of 3.60 inches for all five factory loads, the 25-yard accuracy was well within the self-defense standard of 4.25 inches at 25 yards. As the chart indicates, just one of the factory loads averaged more than 4.25 inches. Hands down, my best accuracy was with the Federal Tactical 99-grain HST loading. It averaged exactly 2.00 inches, and its average velocity (for five rounds chronographed 12 feet from the muzzle) was 1,012 fps. The extreme spread was 44, and the standard deviation was 15.

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The manual thumb safety is ambidextrous, and when engaged, it blocks the hammer from striking the firing pin. The two-dot rear sight is fully adjustable and is dovetailed into the top of the slide.

More importantly, the PD380 pistol functioned 100 percent during my shooting session. Every type of bullet fed without a bobble. Empty cases extracted perfectly, and not a single one failed to be ejected well clear of the shooter. As for shootablility, the PD380 was a joy to shoot. The .380 ACP cartridge is generally thought of as the lowest acceptable limit for personal defense and does not produce a lot of felt recoil, so that wasn’t a concern. But a lot of other .380 ACP pistols have very narrow grip frames, which often make them not the most comfortable in the hand. Not so with the PD380. I really like its ergonomic grip frame. Handling and shooting the new Walther PD380 proved to my satisfaction that it is easy to shoot, easy to load, easy to rack the slide, and easy to carry.

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Walther PD380 Specs

  • Type: DA/SA Hammer-fired, autoloader
  • Caliber: .380 ACP
  • Magazine Capacity: 9 rds. 
  • Barrel: 3.7 in. 
  • Overall Length: 6.48 in. 
  • Width: 1.5 in. 
  • Height: 5.15 in. 
  • Weight: 22.8 oz. 
  • Grips: Integral to polymer frame
  • Finish: Black
  • Sights: three-white dots system; fully adjustable rear, post front
  • Trigger: SA pull-6.6 lbs.; DA pull-11.5 lbs. (tested)
  • Safety: Ambi manual thumb safety, firing pin block
  • MSRP: $449
  • Manufacturer: Walther Arms Inc. 



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