Walther’s striker-fired PDP pistol series carries the slogan, “It’s your duty to be ready.” Ready for what? By the tone of their video marketing, duty. Whether that be to family and self for protection, or the public in the case of uniformed officers, PDP marketing is designed to appeal to those who feel the call to protect. But the latest addition to the series is a full-size “match” model, with features more suited to the competition set. Is the PDP Match still suitable for duty? I had the chance to try one out to see.
Walther @ TFB:
The newly released Match model, and the holster for it, were provided to me by Walther.
I’m no stranger to the PDP series. I was an early adopter of the PDP, having purchased the 4.5-inch model. While I’ve not carried it on duty as an armed guard and courier, I’ve spent many range hours with it in the context of taking and giving training. It’s the first handgun on which I’ve spent serious time learning the craft of red dot use. It’s earned my confidence in terms of reliability, and I’d not hesitate to carry it on duty. One reason I haven’t thus far is a lack of choices for duty holsters. But, with Walther’s assistance, I’ve discovered that’s a solvable problem.
The PDP line has a boxy look, with a squared-off slide and trigger guard. But the irony is they don’t handle big. In fact, with the smallest of its three backstraps installed, I am able to get a good purchase on the trigger without having the inside of my trigger finger rub the frame. Likewise, the reversible magazine release is well within reach, yet molded into the frame to prevent unintended release. And as far as I’m concerned, this gun’s crowning glory is its extended, ambi slide locks. Yes, it’s 26.9 ounces unloaded, but feels lighter because it’s well-balanced. I love the no-stress lockback mechanism that works equally well to load the chamber fast. And it’s earned my confidence that it’ll fully load with a thumb-activated release of the slide 100% of the time.
That’s not to say this gun is made only for small hands. My FFL’s counter staff usually takes an interest in whatever my latest review gun is. When I picked up the PDP Match, it led to much discussion about how well it handles for large hands, assuming the largest backstrap is installed. A substantial beavertail also prevents slide bite for shooters with meaty paws.
A three-dot, non-illuminated sight system is included. The rear sight adjusts for windage and elevation. Both PDPs I’ve used were zeroed out of the box, so I haven’t messed with the rear sight.
PDPs come red dot-ready, and one of three mounting plate choices is included by request post-purchase. There has been some evolution in the design of the plate between my first PDP and the Match. I haven’t tried the newest plate yet, but I’ve shot extensively with the early model, and despite my distrust of plate systems, it’s stayed solid for thousands of rounds. Not every company has a stable mounting system figured out, but at least for my Holosun optic, the fit could not be better in terms of performance and appearance. The optic looks like it’s part of the slide, not perched on top.
An interesting choice in PDP evolution is in the magazine wells. I did my test shooting of the Match model before its official release, so I didn’t know that, according to the company, the new, oval aluminum baseplates are a necessary feature for the mags to work with the flared mag well that’s only on the Match model. And since I didn’t know, I tried my regular, polymer baseplate mags in it. They ran fine. So I was surprised to read on the Walther website that they’re not supposed to work.
Those new oval baseplates are the only thing I dislike about the PDP Match. In dim light or when multitasking, it’s nice to be able to feel a normal baseplate with its one flat side and immediately know which direction the rounds are facing. The PDP Match mag baseplates aren’t perfectly oval, but they’re close enough to require looking or feeling the business end of the mag to know where those rounds are. For people who prefer a flared mag well, the Match is the one PDP that has it.
Another new feature of the Match model is a flat-faced trigger with a skeletonized passive safety block. I cannot tell any difference between the two when shooting as the curved trigger on my early-model PDP has equally smooth operation. There is no audible reset in either gun’s trigger but the reset is palpable, short, and clean. These triggers are top-notch within the striker-fired pistol category.
The quality of construction of the PDP Match spoke for itself when I decided the first round I ever fired from it would be at a 12×8-inch steel plate set at 50 yards. Since my own PDP makes that sort of accuracy easy, I was confident the Match would do it as well. And it did deliver that satisfying “tink” on its first firing. I do find it a little more challenging to shoot super-precise groups at five or seven yards with the PDP than with some other handguns, but it still exceeds the requirement to be combat-accurate.
Between the weight of a five-inch barrel and a slide with lightening cuts, recoil is well-managed. Those who buy it for competition should be pleased with how easy it is to put multiple rounds downrange, fast.
The PDPs I’ve tried are entirely reliable. I haven’t found 9mm ammo yet that won’t run through them. I mixed up handfuls of different bullet shapes and types in one PDP Match magazine, trying to induce a malfunction. It didn’t happen. These guns are built to run. A factory rep told me there is no recorded recommendation against using frangible ammo in them.
More PDP holster options are becoming available, but shopping is still required. I was interested in a Level 2 duty holster so that I could use a PDP at work as an armed courier and guard. Dara Holsters came to the rescue with their excellent duty holster. It accommodates most optics. The retention loop is low-profile so it won’t hang up on body armor. The thumb release is intuitive to use, and a slight drop from the waist makes for a ready draw, at least when not strapped in a seatbelt. I really like how Dara Holsters included a tag with this holster informing users that its screws got thread locker treatment at the factory, and admonishing a repeat of that treatment if any adjustments are made that would break the factory thread locker loose. If you’ve had Kydex holsters for any length of time and worked or trained under any stress at all, you understand the load that little notice took off my mind. At a sub-$150 retail price, it’s quite a value compared to others.
Magazine pouches suitable for a new model gun can be a challenge when setting up a duty belt, especially when needing to stick to a neat, sleek appearance. I subbed my BlackPoint Tactical double mag pouch made for an early-model Canik TP9 SA. It fits the PDP mags perfectly, and like the Dara holster, it’s a good feeling to have yet another USA-made accessory on my belt.
Walther’s PDP series has won my respect. The new Match model makes a reliable partner for serious training, competition, and duty use. MSRP: $1,099
SPECIFICATIONS: Walther Arms PDP Match
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Color: Black
- Slide Material: Steel (what kind? They don’t say)
- Frame Material: Polymer
- Overall Length: 8.5 inches
- Height: 5.7 inches
- Barrel: 5 inches with 1:9 twist
- Weight with Empty Mag: 26.9 ounces
- Magazine Capacity: 18 (10 to be released), 3 included
- Trigger: Dynamic Performance Trigger
- Safeties: Three, Passive/Automatic
- Trigger Pull: 5.0 pounds +/- 1.0
- MSRP: $1,099
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