November 15, 2023
The last time I reviewed a Walther pistol, it was the excellent PPQ. That was four years ago. I liked it a lot, but I agree with other writers who have subsequently reported on the newer PDP when they said the PDP is a worthy successor to the PPQ. The new-in-2022 F-Series PDP pistols are the newest additions to this line of striker-fired polymer-frame 9mm semiautomatics, and they are purpose-designed. I’ll get to those details in a moment.
Walther introduced the PDP in 2021. In their own words, it is “the most modular and versatile pistol ever designed by Walther. With two distinctive different frame sizes and three different lengths of slides available, you can truly tailor this pistol to be ready for your specific needs. Any slide length can fit on any frame, even if it is not a factory offering. If you are ready for a shorter dustcover with a longer slide or a shorter slide than dustcover, it’s easy to configure.”
The New F-Series
Walther’s new PDP F-Series pistols were designed specifically for female hand structure, so I assume the “F” in the “F-Series” moniker stands for female. Accounting for precise structural differences, Walther has completely reengineered the ergonomics of the grip to be designed for the exact biomechanics of women’s hands. But if you are male, don’t let that description dissuade you from taking a good look at the pistol. It features a new patented operating system that has resulted in a reduced slide rack force, a reduced trigger reach, and a reduced grip circumference—great features that men and women alike can appreciate.
In addition, the PDP F-Series pistols feature all the performance duty features of the original PDP plus some new improvements that are all the rage today. The optics-ready slide is one example.
As you can see from staff photographer Michael Anschuetz’s excellent photographs, the optics-ready slide cover plate is secured to the PDP F-Series slide by two Torx-head screws. It is located just ahead of the rear sight, which is fully adjustable, and extends to within about a half-inch of the ejection port. Walther includes a certificate for one free optics-mounting plate of the shooter’s choice, from plate #02 that fits Trijicon RMR and SRO as well as Holosun 407C/507C/508T; plate #04 that fits Leupold DeltaPoint Pro; and plate #06 that fits Vortex Viper/Venom, Burris FastFire 3, and Docter III.
While we’re discussing the sight setup, I can tell you the rear sight has two white dots on the blade and a square notch that measures 0.148 inch wide. The post-style front sight has a single white dot, and the post is 0.162 inch thick. It’s a good thing the rear sight is fully adjustable because as I discovered, right out of the box, shots at 25 yards with my PDP F-Series impacted low and to the left by several inches.
Since the grip circumference is one of the areas that Walther addressed with the new PDP F-Series, I measured mine. Straight across from and just below the bottom of the squared trigger guard, it measured 5.13 inches. That is with the smaller of two interchangeable backstraps that came with my pistol (sizes Small and Medium). As serious handgunners know, a standard single-stack Model 1911 grip’s circumference is typically 5.25 inches, so the PDP F-Series grip is considerably slimmer. I consider myself a Model 1911 man, but I must say the PDP F-Series grip feels really good in my medium-size hand.
The other feature that Walther makes a point of pointing out is the reduced slide rack force required to operate the PDP F-Series slide. They say it’s 20 percent less than competing models. As Shooting Times has often reported, a typical striker-fired semiautomatic has a slide rack force around 22 pounds. The PDP F-Series slide required about 16 pounds of force to rack it, according to my jury-rigged system, which consists of a cleaning rod and a trigger pull scale. So the company’s claim holds up in this regard, albeit my evaluation method is not very scientific or precise.
Walther is offering the PDP F-Series pistols with 3.5-inch and 4.0-inch barrels, and mine has the 3.5-inch barrel. As such, it is 6.5 inches long overall and weighs 23.3 ounces. The pistol is 5.4 inches tall and 1.34 inches thick. The sight radius is 5.9 inches.
Other excellent features of the PDP F-Series include a robust external extractor (it does double-duty as a loaded chamber indicator, complete with a red-colored mark at the chamber end that can be seen when a round is in the chamber), an ambidextrous slide release, and a reversible magazine release button located within easy reach of the shooting-hand thumb. The pistol comes in a very nice plastic case with a die-cut foam interior, a padlock-style cable lock, and a Torx wrench.
The polymer grip frame is textured on the frontstrap and the sides, and so is the interchangeable backstrap. The frontstrap texturing is a finer checkering than the texturing on the other areas, which in Walther parlance is called “PERFORMANCE DUTY TEXTURE.” The frame has a two-cross-slot accessory rail, but that is because, as I said earlier, I have the 3.5-inch-barreled version. The 4.0-incher has three cross-slots. The front of the trigger guard is checkered like the frontstrap.
The slide is contoured at the muzzle (for smooth holstering) and behind the ejection port. There are three wide, angled grasping grooves (Walther refers to them as “SUPERTERRAIN”) at the rear and two up front. (Again, the 4.0-incher differs; it has three grasping grooves up front.) The slide is smooth on top and flat in the center, with the right-hand and left-hand top edges beveled. The top of the barrel’s chamber also is beveled.
The trigger is what Walther calls the “PERFORMANCE DUTY TRIGGER” (PDT). As I said earlier, the trigger reach has been shortened for the F-Series pistol, and Walther says the “tactile definition of the trigger break” has been increased. In other words, it’s a very crisp trigger break. Like so many other striker-fired pistols these days, it has an articulating safety blade. The trigger is wide and curved, as opposed to the straight triggers that some recent pistols from other manufacturers have featured, and its pull averaged 5 pounds, 14 ounces over 10 measurements with my trigger pull scale. It is very consistent and very easy to get used to.
The pistol comes with two 15-round magazines and a handy-dandy polymer magazine loader. (You can get it with 10-round magazines for areas where magazine capacity is limited.) The magazines are made in Italy and have metal bodies, removable polymer baseplates, and orange followers. They also have numbered witness holes on the back. They fit flush with the bottom of the grip’s backstrap, and the magazine well in the bottom of the grip is flared and beveled.
Field-stripping is super-easy. After making certain the pistol is unloaded, remove the magazine. Pull the slide fully to the rear, visually confirm the pistol is not loaded, then let the slide go fully forward. Squeeze the trigger, grip the takedown lever from above on both sides of the slide, and push down. Move the slide forward and off the frame. Remove the recoil spring assembly from below the barrel while compressing the spring. Then remove the barrel from the slide.
Switching backstraps is also very easy. Just push the pin in the bottom part of the backstrap out using a 7/64-inch (3mm) punch, switch out the old backstrap for the one you prefer, and replace the pin. Both backstraps have eyelets for a lanyard at their lower ends. The retaining pin in the bottom of the grip is used to hold the lanyard and needs to be pushed out and then returned to its original position after the lanyard is inserted.
I spent a nice afternoon at the range, shooting the new PDP F-Series pistol, and like I said earlier, it felt great in my hand. The slide feels easier to rack than most striker-fired pistols I’ve tested, and the trigger break feels the same each and every time. Consistency matters when shooting a handgun accurately, so the PDP F-Series gets high marks for that.
I’m not a fan of three-dot sights, so I would prefer a different arrangement. But if you’re going to install a red-dot reflex-type optic, then the point is moot. And the sights as-is did not inhibit my ability to shoot the pistol pretty darn well. In fact, its average 25-yard accuracy for three, five-shot groups with 10 different 9mm Luger factory loads was 3.76 inches. That’s very good for a self-defense pistol. Surprisingly, one factory load averaged a nice tight 2.52 inches, and it was the Federal Syntech 115-grain TSJ loading. That’s the ammo with the red synthetic bullet jackets. The next most accurate loads were the Speer Personal Protection 124-grain Gold Dot (averaging 3.13 inches) and the Hornady Critical Duty 135-grain FlexLock +P (averaging 3.00 inches). Recoil and muzzle jump with all loads was easy to manage, and every empty case was ejected well clear of the shooting area.
Overall, I found the new PDP F-Series pistol to handle well and shoot well. Perhaps the “F” really stands for fantastic.
The next time you have a chance to check out the PDP F-Series at a gun store, I suggest you give it a good long look. And don’t let the “F” (as in female) stop you from recognizing just how good the pistol feels in your man’s hand.
PDP F-SERIES 3.5
- MANUFACTURER: Walther Arms, waltherarms.com
- TYPE: Striker-fired autoloader
- CALIBER: 9mm Luger
- MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 15 rounds
- BARREL: 3.5 in.
- OVERALL LENGTH: 6.5 in.
- WIDTH: 1.34 in.
- HEIGHT: 5.4 in.
- WEIGHT, EMPTY: 23.3 oz.
- GRIPS: Integral to polymer frame
- FINISH: Matte black
- SIGHTS: Adjustable three-white-dots setup
- TRIGGER: 5.88-lb. pull (as tested)
- SAFETY: Articulating trigger blade/firing pin block
- MSRP: $699