Walther just released their PDP F-Series pistols, and I’m really surprised. Why? Because the “F” is for female. That alone gives a huge portion of men the mind to “hard pass” on such a pistol. Simply because “it’s for a woman, after all.” Bold move, Walther. But you need to include some additional language about how the F-Series is just a really well-designed pistol. In fact, it addresses concerns that many shooters have, not just females, and they may simply not know it—yet. Because that’s what it does.
The Walther PDP F-Series
We got an early prototype look (and shoot) of the F-Series at the Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous in Victor, Idaho. All rondy participants—men and women— really liked the gun. And recently, I watched the PDP F video on Walther’s website. Because, well—I like their product videos that present more as a story than a product video.
In it, they say the PDP F has a reduced grip circumference and reduced trigger reach. Likewise, it has an optimized grip angle for female grip structure and reduced slide force, among other features.
Well, what if, as a male, I find those features to be attractive? I mean, should beneficial features such as this be relegated to women only? While I don’t have a female grip structure—whatever that is—I do have smallish hands and welcome a smaller grip. Heck, many pistols have gone the way of reducing grip circumference without necessarily being female only.
I believe Nighthawk Custom released their Lady Hawk-framed pistols. Those ended up being one of their biggest sellers—to men, of course. And I believe they had to change the name to make people feel better about not having a “lady’s” gun.
I’m being slightly facetious. But I’m only doing so to drive home the point that a pistol with such excellent design enhancements is a pistol that will benefit a lot of shooters, if not the majority of women and men.
This is further driven home by the fact that more and more people are regularly using subcompact pistols like the P365 XL for carry and range work. And pistol dimensions don’t get much smaller than that while still being user-friendly. But I digress.
Where has a gun like this been all my life? The grip on the PDP F is tiny. Not in a bad way but in a just-right way. This brings me to another thought. Yes, the grip is small, but it’s also not shaped like a piece of wood like many grips can be. Square? Really? No one’s hand like square grips, but I guess you can get used to anything.
Not only is the grip size nice on the F, but it’s got some of the best stippling in the business. Specifically, the stippling is known as performance duty texture. The grip’s texture is a tetrahedron design, and it’s non-abrasive and won’t rub you the wrong way.
Looking at the grip angle from the side, the backstrap screams 1911, whether or not that is the actual case. And there is an extra backstrap included with the F-Series. It comes with a small installed, or you can change it out to the supplied medium backstrap.
The frame is polymer and features a generous undercut behind the trigger. Because the grip is so narrow, the mag release, which is an ample round version, has little guards underneath them to prevent accidentally activating it.
When you press the mag release, the mag gets out with expediency. I truly appreciate this trait after having pistols with magazines that experience frequent failure to launch. Manual mag extractions be damned. The Walther PDP F-Series mags, while compact, hold 15 rounds of 9mm.
The PDP F-Series in Hand
The triggerguard is massive. It is long and gloved hands will find no issue here. The reduced trigger reach is a real thing, getting my finger to that sweet spot of 90 degrees much faster. This is much better than having to do so during the trigger take-up.
The take-up is pretty average for a striker-fired pistol, and then the actual trigger press is short and smooth as far as I’m concerned. It has a highly mechanized feel, so the break isn’t crisp, but instead a sure and positive feeling. I don’t look for 1911-type triggers in my striker-fired guns, nor do I want that.
One of the most notable features of the PDP F is the cocking serrations. They are meaty and substantial. Called “super terrain serrations” by Walther, they’re designed into the frame as opposed to being cut into the frame after the fact.
There is no way to avoid achieving a positive grip to charge the F, whether front or rear, even with an optic on the gun. I dare say that, if necessary, you could jam the slide against a corner of something and accomplish the feat. I want to test it, but my mind tells me that’s abuse. We shall see if I can bring myself to damage OPP (other people’s property).
The sights, if anyone cares about them anymore, are your typical three-dot type. Likewise, they are a windage adjustable rear and a rather small front post. They are polymer as well.
I had two PDP F series pistols show up—a 4-inch version and a 3.5-inch version. The two are the same, outside of the differing barrel lengths. That half-inch, while not sounding like much, is substantial in overall appearance and feel. The 3.5-inch immediately screams IWB EDC to the user. It feels much more compact in the hand, but the ruler doesn’t lie.
Internally the PDP F-Series features a new operating system to reduce the amount of force necessary to rack the slide. Walther claims a 20% reduction in slide-racking force. This is achieved via a two-piece striker.
Personally, I didn’t think there was any real difference from any other pistol until I grabbed a Q4 SF and ran the slides side by side. After the barrel unlocks during the racking process, there is a noticeable reduction in slide effort on the F-Series. This was on the 4-inch.
I couldn’t tell if it was the case on the 3.5-inch in all honesty. But with the enhanced grip from the subterrain cocking serrations and good technique, I don’t assume racking the F-Series slide will be an issue.
As I wracked my brain over the awesome features of the F-Series, acknowledging what an incredible pistol it is, I wondered what I could be missing or misinterpreting because, after all, I’m a dude.
So, to check myself (or reaffirm myself), I reached out to my friend Mariah Lynn. She’s indeed female (no biology degree needed here), and she is a serious shooter, gun enthusiast, competitor, and overall badass.
When my buddy Sean invited me out to shoot the Walther PDP F-Series at our local spot, my immediate response was, “when and where.”
I had never shot a Walther. However, I had been itching to find out for myself if the excellent reputation of Walther would precede itself. So, with high expectations, we got started bright and early the following day doing what we love best, shooting.
Once I got the gun in my hands, my immediate thoughts were, wow, this feels nice! The fit and finish were visually high quality. But the best part was that the physical structure fit me like a glove!
I loved how the gun felt in my hands, from where the bottom of my hands stopped on the grip. Likewise, I appreciated the amount of room I had to rest my thumb on the top of the slide.
The best part of all was that I could drop the magazine without breaking my grip! I have relatively small hands, even for a woman. So, sometimes hitting the magazine release on larger guns can be a challenge. The fact I could drop it on the Walther with the stock magazine release was a massive bonus for me.
The reduced grip circumference was the first feature I knew the ladies were going to love. One of the first things I tell women to look for when shopping for their first firearm is to see how it feels in their hands.
Meaning, can you get into proper form with comfort? Do you have enough to hold onto or too much? Can you drop the magazine and rack the slide with ease? For me, both versions of the Walther PDP F-series—the 3.5-inch and 4-inch—checked all the boxes.
The PDP F-Series Is Easy to Operate
From a female’s specific point of view, I appreciated how easy the slide was to rack! I tried racking the slide even without proper form, which would be using force in opposing directions on the slide and grip. It was still easy to operate, which I appreciate as someone who has less grip strength.
Another thing I think the ladies will appreciate is how smoothly these pistols shoot for striker-fired guns. They aren’t snappy at all. The recoil is well-balanced, and the firearm itself has such a nice grip and texture. As a result, it also helps you control the recoil through your grip with comfort and ease.
I fell in love with the trigger after shooting a couple of cases of ammo and running through some shooting drills. I remember thinking, “wow, is this stock too?”
For a striker-fired pistol, I was more than pleased with the triggers on each Walther. They are comfortable, reliable, steady, and provide a smooth break. To me, the feature of a curved trigger is what made it so comfortable and secure feeling.
A big takeaway from the Walther PDP F-Series guns is that they have an excellent foundation for a new shooter. Specifically because the stock components are so great. However, it would also be an awesome gun for an advanced shooter because it’s so easily upgradeable. For example, the PDP F-Series is red dot and weapon light ready.
Two Sizes, Similar Feel
I wanted to compare the 3.5-inch and the 4-inch models side by side for an overall feel while shooting. So, I had the idea of giving Sean and myself a blind test to eliminate any subconscious bias we might have about how half an inch could affect recoil.
Sean is a more experienced shooter and guessed spot on which model I handed him blindly. He said he could notice a slightly softer shot from the 4-inch model. While I, however, said, “I couldn’t tell the difference if you paid me a million dollars.” Ha-ha, fun game to test our blind reactions!
From that, I would recommend choosing between the two models purely based on which model feels better in your hand. Simply because you won’t notice a life-changing difference in recoil. The rest of the specs are the same.
They both hold 15 rounds of 9mm. So, for me personally, I would probably go with the 3.5-inch model. But just to have a half-inch less to conceal and carry this gun if I wanted to.
Overall I would 10/10 agree with Sean’s opinions of the Walther PDP F-Series. I am so grateful he allowed me to get time on another great gun. I’m always looking to add options to my list of personally tested guns I can recommend to friends—male and female—competitors or new shooters with confidence.
I’m so glad that the Walther guns lived up to their high expectations.
It was a good time on the range with Mariah. She opened my eyes to some features, as well as likes and dislikes (I don’t recall any of those). The pistol is amazingly easy to shoot accurately at an upped pace.
And I’ll reiterate the fact that when she placed one of the pistols in my hand with my eyes closed, I could immediately tell which was the 4-inch version. It’s got a 15% smoother feel under recoil.
Testing was done at 15 yards for accuracy and on the 4-inch version only. With three different loads on hand, the Hornady 115-grain FTX shot a sub-2-inch group at 15 yards, standing with my hands on a sandbag. Quite impressive.
It’s too bad Walther is dead set on the F-Series moniker. I believe some guys won’t buy it because of that, although they are missing out on a totally awesome pistol. With that, maybe they should have called it the A-series, for all-around awesome for all shooters. Eh, it’s just a thought, and I’m no marketing major.
All ribbing aside, the PDP F-Series from Walther is frickin’ awesome. I’ll take one, please.
For more information, please visit WaltherArms.com.
Walther PDP F-Series Specs
Barrel: 3.5 inches, 4 inches
Overall Length: 6.5 inches, 7 inches
Weight: 23.7 to 24 ounces (empty)
Sights: Three-dot rear windage adjustable