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Shooting Walther PDP Match Competition-Ready Pistols

Some days, I feel like Walther Arms is an underdog. They constantly innovate, actively listen to their customers, and have been releasing new pistols at a consistent rate in the last decade. Yet, I’m constantly surprised there aren’t more people considering these guns for their own use. Some of the guns Walther Arms has released in the last decade that I find innovative are the Q5 polymer- and steel-framed pistols, the full-size PDP, and even the PDP-F series, designed and made to fit women’s average hand size. As a professional competitive shooter, I spent a season using the Q5 polymer gun to compete with and absolutely loved that gun. The all-new PDP Match pistols even remind me of the Q5 guns in many ways. So, what’s the hype, you ask? Let me tell you about these workhorses after shooting both of the new steel- and polymer-framed Walther PDP Match pistols.

Matched Pair: Walther PDP Match Pistols

These guns are outfitted with every feature a competitive shooter would want a gun to have out of the box. The two offerings fit different budgets, but the polymer-framed gun still allows someone to get into competitive shooting at a reasonable price point. 

Dynamic Performance Trigger

The most exciting feature of the Walther PDP Match pistols is that they are outfitted with the Dynamic Performance Trigger from the factory. This is a flat-faced trigger with a safety built into it. It’s set at 5 pounds but doesn’t feel like a heavy break because of how smooth it is to pull. These triggers constantly sell out. Walther sells them separately for people to upgrade their older model PDPs with this trigger.

Almost every stock handgun I have ever owned and shot in competition has been upgraded with an aftermarket trigger. The Dynamic Performance Trigger is one trigger that I would run as is from the factory in competition. There is only one other company whose trigger I have also run stock from the factory, and that is the Canik SFx Rival polymer- and steel-framed pistols. Most manufacturers aren’t as interested in building competition handguns or investing the time and money into a factory competition-style trigger. I think this trigger is what Canik and Walther both get right.

Enhanced Magwell + Magazine Base Pads

After a trigger modification on most factory handguns, I always look for an aftermarket magwell and compatible base pad extensions. A mag well is an essential upgrade to make for competition shooting that assists in faster reloads on the clock. Base pad extensions are a necessary upgrade to increase capacity to remain competitive against other shooters who are also running higher-capacity guns or base pads. Walther Arms knows this about competition shooting, and instead of the customer looking for aftermarket accessories, they manufactured the Walther PDP Match pistols with the enhanced magwell. The steel-frame version includes extended base pads to hold 20 rounds instead of the factory 18. The magwell requires the use of the aluminum base pads, as the standard polymer base pads will not seat in the magwell.

Factory Optics Mounting Cut

I have a strong opinion that gun manufacturers should make all handguns optic cut from the factory so the choice to add an optic is always there. The unfortunate part about owning a non-optics-ready gun is that if the time comes for someone to want a red dot, they either must purchase a whole new handgun or find a qualified gunsmith to mill the slide to fit a specific optic. These are not ideal choices, because purchasing a new gun just to mount a red dot is expensive, and having the slide milled permanently modifies that handgun to be optics-only usually. 

The factory optics mounting cut on the Walther PDP Match pistols allows you to mount a red dot optic and co-witness the iron sights, depending on your chosen optic height. You must request an optic plate from Walther Arms’ website for your gun, so you need to know what red dot optic you want to mount on it. Walther allows one free optic plate to be requested, and after that, you can purchase additional plates online.

The Walther PDP Match comes in steel and polymer framed versions.

Steel Frame vs. Polymer Frame

The PDP Match pistols are identical other than the overall weight of each handgun, the frame material, and the way the handguns disassemble. The Walther PDP Match polymer-framed pistol comes with three different backstraps in sizes small to large to customize the grip size. Obviously, this frame is made of polymer but still features the Performance Duty Texture. The steel-framed pistol has a wrap-around grip panel, with the Performance Duty Texture as well.

The felt recoil is the biggest differentiator between the polymer-framed and steel-framed pistols. The same ammunition shot through both guns feels different in each one. The heavier the gun, the less felt recoil you’ll experience. For people who shoot in competitions, the heavier gun will return your sights faster than the polymer-framed gun because of the felt recoil. I’ve also found that I can be a bit sloppier with my grip pressure on steel-framed guns because they don’t move as much in my hands as their polymer-framed counterparts. This isn’t good fundamentals and not something I recommend, but I’ve found steel guns to be more forgiving due to their overall weight. If I were to choose between the two for competition and if I had the budget for it, I would recommend the steel-framed gun over the polymer to have a little bit more of a competitive edge.

Aftermarket Compatibility

The aftermarket support for firearms truly makes the world go round. Gun manufacturers are almost at the mercy of ammo plants, holster manufacturers, and other accessory companies to ensure that customers have what they need to carry, compete with, or just enjoy their firearms. Walther Arms is one of the few manufacturers that have embraced the aftermarket support for their firearms, so much so that they created an entire web page for compatible aftermarket accessories. Now, customers can go straight to WaltherArms.com and find lights, holsters, base pads, mag wells, guide rods, springs galore, and more, knowing that they will be compatible with their Walther Arms firearm.

The Walther PDP Match comes optics-ready.

Definitely Worth the Hype

The Walther PDP Match pistols are a huge win for competition shooters everywhere. Walther really paid attention to the market and needs that competitive shooters have, from the trigger to the mag well to the extra capacity on the base pads. So many new competition shooters struggle to find a gun out of the box that is race-ready, and I can say the Walther PDP Match pistol is ready to roll from the factory to your first stage. 

For more info, visit waltherarms.com.

Walther PDP Match Polymer Specifications 

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Barrel: 5 inches with a 1/9 Twist
  • Slide Material: Steel
  • Frame Material: Polymer
  • Overall Length: 8.5 inches
  • Height: 5.7 inches
  • Weight with empty magazine: 26.9 ounces
  • Magazine Capacity: 18 rounds
  • Magazines Included: 3
  • Trigger Pull: 5 pounds
  • MSRP: $1,099

Walther PDP Match Steel Frame Specifications 

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Barrel: 5 inches with a 1/9 Twist
  • Slide Material: Steel
  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Overall Length: 8.37 inches
  • Height: 5.75 inches
  • Weight with empty magazine: 41 ounces
  • Magazine Capacity: 18/20 rounds
  • Magazines Included: 3
  • Trigger Pull: 5 pounds
  • MSRP: $1,899
Flared magazine wells on the PDP Match.

Test Firing Results

Walther PDP Match Polymer

Ammunition Velocity (The average of five rounds using a LabRadar Chrono) Accuracy (Best five-shot groups at 15 yards in inches)
Sierra 124 JHP 1,166 FPS 2.25 inches
Remington 147 990 FPS 1.25 inches
Super Vel 124 FMJs 1,093 FPS 1 inch
Federal Syntech 115 1,171 FPS 2 inches

Walther PDP Match Steel Frame

Ammunition Velocity (The average of five rounds chronographed using a LabRadar Chrono) Accuracy (Best five-shot groups at 15 yards in inches)
Sierra 124 JHP 1,167 FPS 1.5 inches
Remington 147 994 FPS 1.25 inches
Super Vel 124 FMJs 1,008 FPS 1.25 inches
Federal Syntech 115 1,180 FPS 2.75 inches

Real Avid Tools 

RealAvid tool kit.

Mounting an optic is an easy enough process, but it is crucial to tighten your optic plate screws and optic screws to the recommended amount to ensure your optic doesn’t come off or shift zero. I trust Real Avid Tools to get the right amount of torque to set my optics up for competition. The Smart Drive 90 is a handy kit to keep in your range bag and makes optic mounting a breeze. (realavid.com)

ZR Tactical Springs and Base Pads

ZR Tactical base pads.

Competition shooters typically reload their own ammunition and tend to shoot lighter loads than most factory ammunition. I use 147- or 124-grain 9mm ammunition and always mount a red dot optic on my competition handguns. These slower-moving bullets combined with an optic mounted can slow the performance of the slide, which can result in stovepipes and other malfunctions. I used a 13-pound recoil spring in the PDP Match steel-framed gun and a 15-pound recoil spring in the PDP Match polymer-framed gun from ZR Tactical to ensure my guns ran with this ammo and optic combination.

I also upgraded the Walther base pads with ZR Tactical’s brass base pad and conversion sleeve base pad. For added weight to the gun, I prefer brass base pads, but especially for easier reloads, as the brass allows the magazine to drop quickly and freely from the mag well. The conversion sleeve base pad eliminates over insertion plus adds texture to the base pad to grip the magazine better when performing a reload. (zrtacticalsolutions.com)

Muddy River Tactical Holster

Muddy River Tactical Holster

If you already own a Walther PDP pistol and have a holster for it, your current holster might fit the new PDP Match pistols. The new PDP Match pistols are not exactly the same as the original PDP guns, but because they are similar in frame size, length, and width, many of the PDP holsters are compatible. If you don’t have a holster yet, Muddy River Tactical offers outside the waistband, inside the waistband, light-bearing holsters, and even a Duty & Range Holster, which is what I use for the PDP Match. Muddy River Tactical truly customizes the holster to your gun. They have you choose your hand orientation, light model, and holster attachment choice. You can also add a matching magazine holster. The only thing I adjusted for the Walther PDP Match pistol was the trigger retention screws to fit the handgun properly. (muddyrivertactical.com)

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