Why the Walther PDP Compact Might Be Your Next Favorite Handgun

If I asked you to name a duty-sized, striker-fired 9mm made in Europe, what would you answer? The majority of people answer Glock, followed by Sig. I may even get a few Beretta answers, but Walther typically isn’t one of the more common responses. Released in early 2021, the Walther PDP isn’t incredibly new to the market. It is, however, an innovative pistol and we’re going to take a look specifically at the Walther PDP Compact today.

The Walther PDP

PDP stands for Performance Duty Pistol. Currently, the PDP line is available only in full size or compact frames. The PDP is designed for law enforcement, military, and personal defense use. The line is notable for 2 big reasons: its modern ergonomic design and the fact that it was one of the first designed with red dot use in mind.

The PDP line has a lot of models to choose from, but essentially it is 2 frames (full or compact) and then barrel lengths of 4, 4.5 or 5 inches and slides to match. There is also a steel frame line and the F-Series, which is a frame designed for smaller hands.

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The Test Version

My amazing wife got me a Walther PDP Compact for Christmas. My version has a 4-inch barrel. The standard magazine capacity is 15 rounds and it shipped with 2 magazines. This one has a black polymer frame and a gray slide.

Here is how it compares to 2 competitors in the same size range:

MetricWalther PDP CompactGlock 19 (Gen 5)Sig P320 X-Compact
Overall Length-inches7.197.287
Barrel length- inches44.023.6
Width- inches1.341.341.3
Height- inches5.45.045.3
Weight- ounces24.423.825.3

So, as you can see, all 3 guns are pretty similar in size.

Walther PDP Compact
Sig P320 X-Compact (L) and Walther PDP Compact (R)
Walther PDP Compact
Glock 19 Gen 5 (L) and Walther PDP Compact (R)

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The Rundown on the PDP

Let’s take a look at some of the things to know about the PDP.


The ergonomics on this gun are very good. It fits well in the hand and has swells that fill in natural voids. The texture of the grip is interesting. It is aggressive, but not abrasive, like the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus texture. A little research found that Walther decided to make the texturing all tiny tetrahedrons (go ahead and look the word up, I did). In short, they wanted a gun that would give me a secure grip in the South Florida rain, but not rub a hole in my skin or clothing. Mission accomplished. They did it.

Another ergonomics feature is at the bottom of the grip. As I mentioned, the PDP was designed to be red dot friendly. One of the most common errors for red dot shooters is not applying enough pressure with their pinky. When they present the gun, that lack of pressure allows the gun to be pointed up just enough for the dot not to be visible. The shooter then has to lower the muzzle to find the dot. Walther built in a lip at the bottom of the grip that fixes this. When correctly gripped, the lip pushes the muzzle down to the correct position. It is deceptively simple but effective.

The Walther PDP Compact is also ambidextrous, something I appreciate. The slide release is a long, easy-to-hit bar on both sides of the gun, while the mag release is reversible. I haven’t reversed it yet, but that’s coming.

Speaking of the mag release, this one is an easy-to-hit button. The texture on it is good and I had no issues with it along the way.


The trigger is where the PDP line really starts to change the game. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Canik triggers. Canik based their triggers on Walther.

Walther says their trigger breaks at 5.6 pounds. Mine consistently breaks closer to 4.5 pounds. It has a smooth take up and then you feel a definite wall. From there, the pull is short with a very clean break. The reset on it is very short, audible and tactile. It is better than the P320 trigger and noticeably better than the Glock 19 trigger. I’d put the PDP trigger up against any duty gun on the market. It’s just excellent.

First Shots: The Canik SFx Rival


The sights on the PDP are nothing surprising. They are 3 dot sights with an adjustable rear. They are, however, steel and very sturdy.  Since the gun was designed for red dot use, I didn’t expect the sights to be the biggest innovation.

Walther PDP


The slide has serrations on the rear and front. Walther calls them “SuperTerrain Slide Serrations”. I call them deep and usable.

The frame also has a nice accessory rail if you decide to mount a light on the gun.

How the Walther PDP Shoots

I ordered a few more magazines from Gun Mag Warehouse and started getting a feel for the gun. Right out of the gate, this pistol impressed me. Honest Outlaw is one of the few GunTubers I trust. He described the PDP as “a sniper rifle in your pocket”. I’d have to agree. Just shooting it with iron sights, the accuracy was impressive. The trigger pull and short reset added to the accuracy.

As I shot the gun, I started to appreciate the ergonomics more and more. I also started to see just how effective all those tiny little tetrahedrons really were. (Hey, I had to look it up, so I’m going to use the word) Feeling the texture while I use is the only way to truly appreciate it.

To date, I’ve put about 1K rounds through my Walther PDP Compact. All of it has been 115-grain FMJ, mostly Blazer Brass, but some Norma and Magtech as well. The gun has had no malfunctions at all.

Not All Perfect

Like any gun, there are things that may not be my favorite. One of those for the PDP is the optics system. The other is magazine compatibility.

Optics Mounting:

The gun my wife bought for me came with an Ameri-glo red dot. I figured this was a good opportunity to try this budget red dot, so I took the cover plate off the PDP and that’s when it started to get interesting. The Ameri-glo is in the very common RMR footprint. As it turns out, the PDP isn’t cut for any footprint. Like the Glock MOS system, everything is designed to run with mounting plates. Unlike the MOS, which comes with plates for various footprints, the PDP doesn’t ship with any plates.

You have to fill out a form on the Walther website and request one. The first one is free. Others will cost about $40 each (if they’re ever in stock). I incorrectly presumed that the plate to mount the included optic would be there. It wasn’t. So I had to wait a couple of weeks until Walther got one out to me.

Filling out the form led me to the second discovery: There are different versions of the slide and optics cut. Mine was a 1.0 version and there is now a 2.0 version. Those plates are not interchangeable between versions. I went to the retailer’s website where the gun had been purchased from and there was no mention of the guns being the 1.0 version. If you are buying a PDP, be aware of the difference. And, if you get a 1.0 version, you may want to buy plates for other footprints now before they’re harder to find.

Magazine Interchangeability:

When I went to order additional magazines, I discovered that this wasn’t as straightforward as I expected. Guns like the Glock 19 and Sig P320 X-Compact accept the magazines of their larger siblings. This allows me to use all my Glock 17 or P320 mags in my compact guns. You can’t do this with the PDP Compact. You can only use magazines made for the PDP Compact of the Walther PPQ. Consumers need to make sure they are ordering the right one.

Female Shooters

As much as I love shooting this gun, it doesn’t fit everyone. I’ve had 4 different women shoot the PDP and only 1 of them found it comfortable. Specifically, my wife and another woman felt that the length to reach the trigger was too long and so they had to shift their grip to reach the trigger. 3 said they felt the grip was too big for them to be comfortable with. The 4th woman had somewhat larger hands and had no issue with it. This is a limited sample, but it is worth keeping an eye on if hand size is a factor. As I mentioned earlier, Walther did come out with the PDP F-Series in 2022 with a shorter, narrower frame, to address the issue of hand size.

The Wrap Up

Would I stake my life on this gun? Without hesitation. It is very accurate and has been 100% reliable to this point. Were I to go back to police work, I would be completely comfortable putting this gun on my duty belt. In fact, the PA State Police recently began their transition to the Walther PDP for their troopers. Unlike commercial versions, theirs will not use mounting plates. They will be directly milled for the Aimpoint ACRO-2 red dot. The German Army also adopted the PDP for their Special Operations forces.

Would this make a good home defense gun? I’d give it an unqualified yes. Put a good light on the gun and it would be ideal for protecting your home and family. Does it out-class and outperform my Glock 19? In my opinion, it does. Is it more accurate and easier to shoot than my Sig P320 X-Compact? It is.

Now, my opinions are my own and based on a sample size of 1 pistol. But if you are looking for a full-sized 9mm, I highly recommend that you take a look at the Walther PDP Compact. It can easily fill the role of a duty-sized gun, a home defense gun, concealed carry, or even an entry-level competition pistol.

Have you tried a PDP? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Some other articles you may be interested in:

The Smith & Wesson Folding Carbine: Gimmick or Gem?

Is the Sig P322 a Good Gun?

Why I Love the SAM XT Tourniquet

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