Test: new Walther PDP F-Series in 9mm Luger – Not just a ladies' choice!

But does a gun for women necessarily have to be pink or small(er)? Carl Walther's Ulm-based think tank has further developed its successful PDP polymer pistol and launched the PDP F-Series, a gun designed specifically for the needs of women. Our test report reveals whether this will take the hearts of all female shooters by storm or whether even men can look forward to the latest addition to the PDP family.  

Interestingly enough, work on a variant of the PDP designed to meet the requirements of female users or those with smaller hands began even before the original version was ready for the market. According to Bernhard Knöbel, Managing Director of Carl Walther GmbH, it all started during a meeting at the U.S. subsidiary Walther Arms in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Actually, it was about the projected PDP, the development of which was largely complete at that time, when the increasing number of female gun owners in the USA and their needs came up. Quite quickly, it was decided, "Why don't we build a PDP specifically for women?" But this inevitably led to the next question: what do women really want when it comes to guns? Philosophers, poets, politicians and men have often racked their brains over this. But when it comes to pistols, German gun manufacturer Carl Walther claims to have solved at least this mystery.

All kidding aside, if you take a closer look at the development process of the PDP F-Series, Walther left nothing to chance in order to achieve its goal. In particular, they worked closely with experienced female shooters and trainers during the development process. First and foremost, Tatiana Whitlock and Gabby Franco. Whitlock is a renowned shooting instructor and part of the Walther Arms Defense Division, while Gabby Franco, who belongs to the Walther Performance Division, can look back on a 25-year shooting career spanning several disciplines (both Olympic and dynamic disciplines). In addition, Walther itself was able to draw on a wealth of experience from the designing of sporting guns for Olympic shooting sports such as the GSP or LP500, where the individual adaptation of the grip to the actual user is virtually the be-all and end-all. And since a not small proportion of these guns end up into female shooters' hands, Walther is very well aware of the ergonomic differences. Based on measurements of thousands of female shooters' hands, a huge database grew up that could ultimately be used profitably in the search for optimal ergonomics. In addition, in the course of the development, the F-Series modified grips were repeatedly shipped back and forth between the U.S. and Germany: material was removed or added elsewhere to achieve the ideal dimensions. Based on feedback from testers as well as the wealth of experience of in-house developers, the F-Series focused on the following three areas:

  • Trigger reach
  • Grip contour
  • Racking force

In the end, the polymer grip was extensively redesigned in terms of both dimensions and shape, trigger position was moved backwards, and even the lock system was revised to reduce forces during loading activities. In view of these numerous, far-reaching changes, it is not surprising that Walther considers the PDP F-Series to be virtually a new gun by its own admission

Technical details of the Walther PDP F-Series designed especially for women

The Walther PDP F-Series, available with either a 4" or 3.5" barrel, has ideal dimensions for concealed carry.

As soon as you pick it up and compare the grip feel with that of a standard PDP, you immediately notice the completely redesigned grip section. If you then rack the slide and pull the trigger, you finally realize that the F-Series is not just a shrunken version of a full-size pistol, but that a lot of development work has gone into it. Compared to a conventional PDP polymer grip, the grip circumference has been reduced by more than 2.5 mm for improved ergonomics for small hands. The area of the grip spur, moreover, has been made slightly more voluminous. At first glance, this measure seems absurd. But since the area between the thumb and index finger on the back of the hand is generally less pronounced in women than in men, the grip spur can be better supported there when shooting. This, coupled with the hump-like contour of the back of the grip, which is now further upwards, ensures a better overall hand position and ultimately greater recoil control, as the shooter can get "behind" the gun better.

The completely disassembled Walther PDP F-Series 4". With the exception of the new, two-piece firing pin unit, it is technically similar to the already familiar PDP.

In favor of a slimmer grip, the side contours familiar from the PDP also had to give way. Instead, the sides are now flat along their entire length, shrinking in width from 30.1 mm to 29.2 mm. As a positive side effect of this slimming, the magazine release button is now also easier to reach with shorter fingers. Fortunately, the "Performance Duty" surface texture with its distinctive tetrahedron design, which allows outstanding control when shooting, has been retained. Since an optimized, slim grip for small hands is only half the battle, however, and the trigger operability is at least as important, trigger reach has also been reduced.

This was not achieved by shifting the pivot point of the articulated Performance Duty Trigger ("PDT"). The new contouring of the trigger blade alone reduced trigger reach by over 7 mm. Otherwise, the PDT also scores in the F-Series with extremely cultivated trigger characteristics with a clearly defined wall and short reset. The measured trigger weight on our test pistol was 2,420 grams using the copper "Light" trigger spring. In order to reduce the force to overcome when racking the slide, the striker-fired system was completely redesigned and a new, two-piece firing pin unit was made. This is said to reduce racking force by about 20%, according to Walther. The F-Series striker-fired handgun also comes "Optics Ready" straight from the factory, featuring the Gen2 Optics Cut, which is about two millimeters longer. All sights intended for Glock pistols can be used as mechanical sights thanks to matching dimensions. The F-Series comes factory with Glock's well-known combination of white-dot front sight and fully adjustable rear sight with white outline. In addition, the PDP F-Series also features the grippy "SuperTerrain" serrations in the front and rear slide areas. Unlike the other PDP models, the transition between the slide flanks and the top of the F-Series has been given a subtle radius in favor of easier reholstering. The pistol is available with 3.5"/89 mm and 4"/102 mm barrel lengths. Like all barrels in the PDP series, they feature a polygonal rifling. Grip length is the same for both and is designed for the PDP Compact and PPQ magazines, respectively, with a capacity of 15 cartridges.

On the shooting range: the Walther PDP F-Series fitted with a Bushnell RXS-250 Sight under practical test conditions

Despite the new, two-piece firing pin assembly, the Walther PDP F-Series is still a striker-fired pistol. The copper spring resets the trigger. It also significantly determines the preferred weight. The copper trigger spring is the lightest factory variant (measured trigger weight of our test gun: 2,420 grams).

For practical testing, we equipped the PDP F-Series with a corresponding Walther optics adapter plate and a Bushnell RXS-250 with 4-MOA dot reticle. Thanks to "boresighting" with a laser cartridge, the mini red dot sight was zeroed in just a few shots, and we were able to quickly begin the accuracy check. Six loads ranging from 115 to 145 grains were used, including two proven handloads. Two 5-shot groupings were always shot for the calculated average accuracy indicated in the table from a shooting rest at the 15-meter distance. The best result was achieved by the Hornady 124-grain TAP CQ with 17 mm. After the compulsory part, freestyle followed in the form of various standard drills – first and foremost "Dot Drills", "Bill Drills" and the time-honored "El Presidente Drill". The pistol also passed this part of the test with flying colors. Despite the compact size of the PDP F-Series, the combination of the Perfomance Duty Texture, the significantly slimmer grip and the modified geometry of the grip back ensures very good shot control. Regardless of their different glove sizes (6 vs. 9), both authors were equally impressed by the flat side surfaces of the new F-Series grip. The shortened trigger reach was a particular delight for the author, as she was able to place her trigger finger almost perfectly with the center of the last phalanx on the trigger blade. And the reduced racking force also benefited her during gun manipulations under time pressure. For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that the PDP F-Series completed the entire practical test, which included a good 500 rounds, without any malfunctions.   

Walther PDP F-Series: a gun (really) just for women?

Ammo: using Hornady 124-grain TAP CQ, our Walther PDP F-Series 4" punched this 17-mm group into the target at the 15-m distance.

The "F" in the F-Series stands for "Female". However, after shooting over 500 rounds, we think that the "F" could also well stand for "Fantastic". Yes, of course, the gun was primarily designed for female shooters with correspondingly smaller hands. But there are also men with small hands who can benefit from the improved ergonomics, and the PDP F-Series can be shot very well even with average-sized hands. The grip's flattened sides, in particular, give it excellent pointing properties. In addition, a slimmer, compact, yet easy-to-handle gun makes sense for anyone who is allowed or required to carry a firearm. For example, a concealed carry license holder, or as a police officer in plain clothes. In this area of application, the PDP F-Series can also profitably bring all its concealed carry advantages and its footprint is comparable to a Glock 19X or Glock 43X. There is also a sporting field of use for the two F-Series models.

Walther PDP F-SERIES 4" in 9mm specs and price

Carl Walther
PDP F-Series 4"
9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity:
15 rounds
Polymer with steel inserts
Steel, black coated
Barrel Length, Profile:
4”/102 mm, polygonal rifling 
Rear Sight:
3.7 mm, fully adjustable with white, non-glowing outline
Front Sight:
3.7 mm, with white dot
Sight Radius:
163 mm

Trigger safety, firing pin safety and disconnector

Trigger Action, Pull Weight:
SA, 2,420 g average 
Weight (incl. Magazine):
585 (670) g
Dimensions (LxWxH):
184x136x34 mm

Hard case, 2 magazines, replaceable backstrap, tools, safety chamber flag

Price: 849 euro
*Average of 5 measurements with Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge

Our test conclusion: what the Walther PDP F-Series can offer

We are sure that the latest addition will continue the success story of the PDP pistol family. Especially in the USA, the shorter 3.5" model variant has turned out to be a true shooting star. In addition to a clean finish, practical features, impeccable function and very good shooting performance, the F-Series impresses above all with its well thought-out ergonomic concept, which is a clear benefit not only for female users, but generally for shooters with smaller hands in terms of handling and shot control. The price for both currently available variants is 849 euros. 

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