In February of this year, Walther announced the introduction of a new duty pistol: the Walther PDP, or Performance Duty Pistol.
In many ways, the PDP is simply an upgraded version of Walther’s existing flagship handgun, the PPQ. In other ways, though, the PDP represents a major step forward for Walther.
With the release of the PDP, Walther has also announced that the P99 and PPQ pistols in their lineup will be discontinued. This naturally begs the question: what advantages does the PDP offer over the P99 and the PPQ?
This is the question that we will attempt to answer in this article. We’ll specifically focus on development of the PDP and the features of the pistol that make it an improvement over previous Walther handguns.
Development of the Walther PDP
The PDP is the next entry in a line of service handguns that officially began with the Walther P99 in 1996. The P99 released as a polymer framed, striker fired handgun to succeed Walther’s aging P5 and P88 designs.
The P99 had impressive ergonomics, a 16 round magazine, and introduced the concept of interchangeable back straps to the polymer framed pistol market. But its most noteworthy innovation, and a feature that remains state-of-the-art to this very day, is the fact that it utilizes a double action single action trigger despite being a striker fired pistol (most of which utilize a single stage trigger like a Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P).
A major success throughout Europe, the P99 was adopted as the standard service handgun for many European law enforcement departments and militaries. However, it encountered a significantly more lukewarm reception in the United States, where many shooters found its double action single action trigger system and paddle magazine release rather off putting.
As a result, Walther released the PPQ in 2011, a revised P99 (based on the European P99 RAD and P99Q pistols) with more aggressive grip texturing, a squared off trigger guard, forward slide serrations, and most notably, a single stage Glock-like trigger that marketed as being the best trigger of any striker fired pistol at the time. In 2013, Walther further updated the PPQ with the use of a push button American-style magazine release.
The PPQ sold much better than the P99 in the United States, and quickly became Walther’s flagship handgun. The line expanded to include subcompact, longer slide, and steel framed versions. Walther produced the pistol in the .22 LR, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP calibers. A small number of United States police departments even adopted the PPQ as their issued duty sidearm.
Nonetheless, a few criticisms of the PPQ have persisted over the years. Even though the grip texturing is more aggressive than the P99’s, some have complained that it’s still too slippery. Some users also disliked the lack of the ability to add red dot optics to the pistol as well, and yet others have felt that the slide serrations are not aggressive enough.
Walther quietly worked on solving these issues (and making further enhancements) by developing the PPQ into an entirely new pistol.
That pistol is the Walther PDP.
Features of the Walther PDP
At its heart, the PDP is really just an upgraded PPQ, and you could argue that the use of the term ‘PDP’ is more of a marketing gimmick than anything else. Nonetheless, the PPQ is expected to be phased out this year in favor of the PDP.
So, what are the improvements of the PDP over the PPQ? There are four major ones:
The first is the trigger. When the PPQ was first released in 2011, it was marketed as having the very best trigger of any striker fired pistol yet released. It arguably was so.
However, the trigger of the PDP is even better at just four and a half pounds, compared to the five pound trigger of the PPQ. It has a shorter and smoother take up, followed up with a very short reset.
The next big upgrade is the option to add a red dot sight, something that had previously only existed on their Q4 series of guns.
The third big improvement slide serrations on the PDP are also much deeper than that of the PPQ or the P99, making the slide easier to actuate. Walther refers to these serrations as Super Terrain serrations.
Last but not least, the fourth big upgrade is the more aggressive grip texturing. While the PPQ is certainly a gun held in high regard, many people have felt that the grip texturing was not aggressive enough and made the gun slippery in wet conditions. The PDP remedies this problem.
The PDP is available in three major configurations: a 4.5 inch barreled model with an 18 round magazine, a 4 inch model with an 18 round magazine, and a 4 inch model with a 15 round magazine (this lasts version is called the compact and most closely resembles the PPQ in terms of size).
Even though the PPQ and the P99 may be put out to pasture by Walther, the PDP in many ways represents a pistol closer to what American shooters want over any other Walther pistol that came before it.
That’s why the PDP represents a major step forward for Walther, and will hopefully serve to further solidify their presence in the American marketplace.