The Walther PDP Compact F Series: To Hell and Back

— Travis PikeCADRE Dispatch

Red dots have taken over the handgun market and most handguns being sold are red dot ready. The Walther PDP series of pistols claims they are the first handgun built around the ergonomics of using a red dot on your pistol. They didn’t just add an optics cut in the slide; Walther designed the PDP with a grip angle that allows you to find the dot rapidly.

The Walther PDP is also a sequel to the beloved PPQ series. That’s a good mix of big claims and big shoes to fill. Let’s find out if the PDP Compact F Series lives up to either. 

pdp compact profile
The PDP Compact is a very ergonomic platform.

My typical firearms testing spans over a week, with a mix of live fire and dry fire testing. However, my experience with the PDP Compact was a whirlwind of two days at a Safariland event training with Full Spectrum Warriors. There, I was able to test the PDP Compact F series in unique and dynamic environments. 

My Introduction to the PDP Compact and the F-Series 

My first real encounter with the PDP was at the 2024 SHOT Show Range Day, so this was my first chance to shoot more than a handful of rounds through the gun. This was also my first experience with the F Series, and I can tell you off the top that the F Series is not for me. I mean, literally, it’s not built for the hands of a big dude, and that’s okay.

Walther designed the F Series for women.

Walther reengineered the grip to fit the typically smaller hands of female shooters. They reduced the circumference and made key changes to allow it to fit smaller hands. They also reduced the trigger reach and the force required to rack the slide. 

f series grip
The F Series features a grip designed for Female hands

For me, that resulted in my hand feeling crowded around the grip. My middle finger got smashed against the trigger guard. If this were a high-recoil firearm, the discomfort would be real, but it’s just a 9mm. I got over it quickly and didn’t let it affect my shooting. 

This particular model is the compact option with the four-inch barrel and 15-round magazine. It’s just large enough to fit my hand without a hanging pinky.

Walther rules the grip game, and the PDP Compact grip angle and design are quite nice. I imagine the standard PDP would fit me better, but the F Series wasn’t bad. 

Shots Fired 

The first shots fired were in service to zeroing our optics. It was a fairly quick and easy process. We did a quick 25-yard zero, and the class was ready to move.

Our next shoot was a night shoot, but since we had daylight left and plenty of ammo to burn, we got a little practice with our PDPs. Professionally, we call it a familiarization fire. 

Walther gets it right with red dot ergonomics.

This allowed me to get both trigger and holster time. I practiced drawing from my Safariland PDP holster and engaging, slowly speeding up, firing one round at a time. I’m fairly experienced shooting handguns with red dots, but a new gun and a new dot can slow you down. That’s typical, but I think Walther has it right with their red dot ergonomics. 

I never had an issue finding the dot in the 30 drawstrokes I conducted during the familiarization fire. In fact, throughout the two days of training, I never had a problem finding the dot. This includes working in some weird and austere situations. As soon as I presented the gun, I found the dot each and every time. 

I typically used a low ready, but Rich Graham encouraged us to try a high-ready position, and I had no problems going from the high ready to on target and finding the dot.

As we got into the night shoot, I lost a lot of visual cues, like the optic box. Still, I had no problems getting the gun on target and hearing the sweet ding of steel. Tracking the dot wasn’t a problem, and as soon as the red blur stopped moving, I could pull the trigger and let it go. 

pdp at night shoot
The PDP was a blast at the night shoot.

Dynamic Shooting With the PDP Compact

The night fire involved moving and shooting, draws, and versatile use of cover. We had to shoot in several awkward positions.

The next day, we conducted live fire training in and around vehicles and an obstacle course on live fire elements. This created some interesting challenges and was a ton of fun. 

The PDP handled each challenge and performed admirably.

Big boy rules were applied to reloads, and they were implemented as necessary. The smaller grip circumference of the PDP Compact F-Series made it really easy to hit the magazine release.

Walther resisted the trend of trying to compete for the smallest slide lock and this gun has a big, beefy one that’s easy to hit with your thumb. 

If you prefer the slingshot method, I have great news for you! The PDP has hyper-aggressive slide serrations that hook into the meat of your hand and don’t let go. 

pdp with mags
The PDP Compact comes with two mags

The gun does seem a little snappy for a 9mm. It’s not uncontrollable or difficult to manage, but there is a noticeable difference between my PDP and, say my Glock 19. It’s an odd phenomenon that we first noticed when we moved from frangible to standard brass-cased ammo. Maybe it’s due in part to the reduction in force necessary to rack the F-Series slide, or maybe it’s because the slide is a bit beefy. 


When it came to hitting targets, the PDP delivered. We shot lots of close-range paper and steel, but got more than a few chances to hit small targets at longer ranges.

From 25 to 35 yards, I constantly hit gongs and heard that sweet ding. We had a Know Your Limits type steel rack that became easy fodder for the students in our class. 

At the end of the obstacle course, we had a target placed at 135 yards. It was man-sized steel, and we shot at it from a tower. There was a lot going on around me, but I’m almost positive I hit it. There were lots and lots of dings going off at different parts of the course, so I can’t 100% say I hit it, but I feel 95% confident I hit it. I aimed above the target, rested the gun, and fired 13 rounds before I made my potential hit. 

For the entire class, we used two types of ammo: 115-grain Remington FMJs and Federal frangible ammo.

Remington 9mm FMJ Range ammo.

In my gun, I had no problems, not a single malfunction. I honestly expected a few from the Federal frangible stuff, but I didn’t run into a single problem. As far as I could tell, the entire class ran malfunction-free. If the PDP can run frangible, it can run anything. 

The PDP and Me 

I loved the PDP, and it convinced me to get my own. I’m going with a standard model instead of the F-Series. During the two days of intensive training, it quickly felt like a gun I’d been shooting forever. The crisp trigger, excellent ergonomics, high reliability, and killer accuracy sold me on the gun.

I think Walther has a real winner with the PDP series, and I can’t wait to snag one myself. 

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