Walther PDP

By Jeff Johnston, FE Hunting & Shooting Editor

When I was younger I resisted Glock because I thought the trigger was shit, but over the years I’ve come around mainly because I haven’t come across a more reliable handgun. I don’t think a 19 is perfect, however, as the Austrian company would have us believe, but it’s fair to say it has set the standard for striker-fired, polymer body handguns. So when Walther’s then-new PDP arrived a couple years ago I naturally compared it to my Glock. In looks alone, it didn’t compare too well; It looked so complicated with various buttons, edges and shapes. 

But Jason Vincent urged me to give it a chance, insisting that it’s actually one of the better feeling, better shooting polymer handguns ever. 

Two years later, I’m coming around. 

Why? I believe the PDP is easier to shoot more accurately than a Glock for three reasons: A superior trigger, superior sights and, mainly, a superior grip. The grip angle, hand-fitting contour (that’s adjustable) and an innovative mini-pyramid surface is easier to grip firmly under recoil especially when my hand is sweaty. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Glock thinks its gripping surface and trigger are perfection when clearly they are not. There’s a reason why the first thing all the custom Glock builders do is stipple the grip then tune the trigger. In defense of Glock, though, I do like the way its guns get my hand slightly higher to the bore than the PDP, and that alone is a big deal.

The PDP’s angular lines (mainly its blocky top slide) could use a lesson from Ed Brown in dehorning. Certainly this fully modular gun can’t be described as slithery—and if I were Walther I would have made its looks more Glockish. But accuracy and shootabilty supercede anesthetics for me when it comes to defensive handguns; the Walther is just one of those guns that shoots well. It seems to be forgiving, as in it’s actually tough to miss a plate at 15 yards if I simply look at the front sight and execute even a halfway decent squeeze.  

Feature wise, the gun is rich, what with its 16 or 19-round capacity (depending on the model), 21.4-oz weight (compact model) optics-ready slide and ambi everything.  

If you are looking for a do-all handgun for the range, competition, duty and/or OWB defense (certainly it can be carried IWB but it’s not my first choice because I’ve gone to more compact, namely thinner, guns for EDC), shoot the PDP before you buy something else. Even if you wind up with a Glock, Smith, Springfield or whatever, you’ll at least better be able to tell what a great grip should feel like and then have a better frame of reference for future debates. $700

Pros: outstanding grip, feature-packed, one of the most accurate striker-fired guns available

Cons: grip could be higher on bore; very blocky frame 

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