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Walther PDP F- Series Review: Best Handgun for Small Hands?

The Walther PDP F-Series is designed with small-handed shooters in mind, but does this 9mm, 15+1 handgun really work for tiny mitts? Only one way to know...

The last couple of years has only served to reinforce just how good the Walther PDP is in my mind. There have been a few variants that have come out during that time to diversify the lineup.

Recently, Walther came out with another offering called the F-Series. It’s a little change that’s going to have a big impact.

All smiles at the range.

As a firearms instructor, I can tell you one of the most important fundamentals for the successful operation of a handgun is good grip. The PDP F-Series has been optimized for shooters with smaller hands.

We took it and a smaller-handed shooter out to the range to see how much better it might be. The results were a little surprising, and we’ll share them all below.

Table of Contents

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Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Reduced slide force
  • Great ergonomics

Cons

  • Optics system not compatible with older PDPs
  • Last round lockback (bigger-handed shooters)

The Bottom Line

The PDP F-Series is an evolution of a very fine handgun into something much more palatable for smaller-handed shooters. All the great features of the original PDP have been carried over into a reduced circumference grip and reduced length of pull.

Better grip = better control

Specs & Features

Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Width: 1.26”
  • Length: 7.25”
  • Barrel Length: 4.00”
  • Height: 5.4”
  • Weight: 24 oz
  • Capacity: 15+1

Features

  • Reduced trigger reach
  • Reduced slide force
  • Works with all hands sizes

Source: Walther

667
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Background

In 2020 I was one of a lucky few invited to attend a preview of the Walther PDP. A handful of media folks flew out to The Site, a former Blackwater training facility in Illinois.

We were trained by the Walther Defense Division, a cadre of high-level firearms instructors on the PDP. We burned through a few thousand rounds shooting in all kinds of scenarios and conditions.

OG PDP

I was impressed. The PDP was accurate, reliable, and the ergonomics were phenomenal.

I didn’t know it at the time, but feedback to the engineers at Walther had already begun to try and get them to accommodate smaller-handed shooters. The team at Walther met the challenge head-on, measuring thousands of hands to learn the key differences between women’s and men’s hands.

Science is fun

They came up with a grip that still follows the general shape of the original PDP but is reduced in circumference. In addition, the distance between the backstrap and trigger was reduced.

Who Is It For?

The PDP is a defensive carry gun by design. It’s optics ready and has other great tactical features optimizing it for this role.

Delta Point Pro

The F is designed for people with smaller hands, but here’s something surprising we learned during testing — it still works great for larger hands!

This effectively opens the range of who this gun is for to all sizes of shooters.

Fit & Feel

When my wife first picked up the PDP F-Series, I saw the surprise in her eyes. She’s accustomed to other brands of firearms that are less complimentary in the ergonomics department to her average-sized hands.

Not only did she like the shape of the grip, but she loved the reduced girth.

When we got on the range, she was able to establish a two-handed grip that was more complete than she’d ever experienced before with a full-size handgun.

PDP F-Series in front of PDP Compact

That translated to better control of recoil and quicker follow-up shots. She was really impressed that there were fewer gaps in her grip and more contact between her hands and the gun.

I was almost as surprised when I shot the PDP because I suspected the grip would be too small for my 2X hands. That was not the case at all.

Worked well for me too

Although there was more overlap of my hands, the grip was solid and did not feel crowded. The resulting performance was at least as good as the original PDP.

The PDP has one of the best, stock, striker-fired triggers on the market today. Measuring the F’s trigger on my Lyman digital gauge, I found it averaged 4 pounds 11 ounces but was otherwise similar to the original.

The aggressive grip texture combines with the relaxed finger grooves to provide excellent grip and allows shooters to better mitigate recoil.

The sights were standard PDP, three white dots, though the rear is adjustable for elevation. These were designed by Walther to be compatible with Glock sights should you want to upgrade.

PDP F-Series (left) PDP (right)

One note on the optics plate — it is different from the original PDP. Walther upgraded all the PDP models with this change in January of 2022.

There is a channel running the length of the firing pin channel now, protecting it. The slide is milled deeper on both sides as a result.

PDP F (left) PDP (right)

A standard flat plate from an original PDP would not marry up without creating a gap. The F optic plate has a recess in the middle to accommodate the channel in the slide.

As mentioned, this isn’t a dealbreaker by any stretch because Walther will send you one plate of your selection. However, your old plates won’t work optimally on the new F.

How Does It Shoot?

Shooting at a distance of 7 yards for accuracy, I fired a number of three shot groups. My initial groups were all touching. The F is accurate.

In all other ways, I found the F to perform exactly like the original PDP. Most of that is extremely good, though there was only one negative.

Accuracy is great, reliability is super, and the F fed fired and ejected with ease. My big hands and high grip cause me to not get last-round lockback as I tend to ride that slide release.

My smaller-handed shooting companion did not have that problem at all and absolutely reveled in the better control she had while shooting the PDP F-Series.

What Sets it Apart?

The PDP is one of the best striker-fired handguns on the market right now. The F stands apart from many similar guns because it has an intentional design to fit smaller-handed shooters better.

It does this without being too small for larger folks which is truly impressive.

By the Numbers

Reliability: 4/5

Like the original, the F ran great with everything we fed it. Over the course of roughly 600 rounds, we had no malfunctions. Magazines locked up, fed, and cleared cleanly. The only issue is the aforementioned failure to lock back. Again, this is particular to folks with bigger hands who creep up on the slide release and was not a problem for my wife.

Ergonomics: 5/5

The ergonomics on the PDP were already class-leading in my mind. The F opens that up to a wider array of shooters.

Accuracy: 4/5

My first shots with the F were all touching, but my groups widened slightly after everyone warmed up.

Customization: 4/5

There is good aftermarket support for the PDP, and many things will translate. The slide is the same (other than the optics plate), and most other things are similar.

Value: 5/5

MSRP of the Walther PDP F-Series is $699 though I’ve seen different colored options for higher. This is a great value for a feature-packed gun with excellent performance.

Overall: 4.5/5

667
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Upgrades for Walther PDP F-Series

As stated, there is ample support in the aftermarket, and despite the decreased grip circumference, standard PDP magazines still fit in the F. The gun has a rail so you can mount accessories as well as your favorite optic.

Final Verdict

I really didn’t have many notes for Walther when they made the PDP in the first place. The gun is a solid value and true performer.

MISSING: One PDP F

The one thing they realized, though, was the opportunity to make it more accessible to a wider segment of folks who enjoy shooting. This truly is one of the best possible upgrades!

Are you picking up the Walther PDP F-Series? Let us know in the comments below. For ladies looking for more options, check out our article featuring the 10 Best Handguns for Women.

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24 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Bull o' the Woods

    I'm running XS model F8 sights on my PPQ, with which I am greatly pleased. Those cost ~$125 plus installation. *IF* I bought a red dot, it would be an Aimpoint or Trijicon model. So there's another ~$400-500. I've seen little or no discussion of co-witness for pistol red dots. I use lower 1/3 co-witness with the red dot on my AR. If co-witness is worthwhile on a pistol, there's another rabbit hunt to determine which irons co-witness with which red dot. I easily can see spending the street price of a second PDP-F (~$650) on new sights and a red dot for shooting iron or punching paper at long distance. Makes no sense to me, but it's a marketing dream for aftermarket equipment makers. I try (don't always succeed, but I try) to spend my shooting dollars on training first, ammo second, and guns & gear last. Definitely cool gear but I don't see the value proposition.

    August 4, 2022 7:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bull o' the Woods

    I like the idea but am unwilling to pay an extra ~$150 for an optics plate I will never use. No one has convinced me I need a red dot on a pistol. I'll stick to my PPQ until the red dot insanity goes away.

    August 1, 2022 5:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Silky Johnson

      The pistol red dot “craze” isn’t going anywhere, dude. Nothing wrong with iron sights, but it’s 2022 and red dots are the present and future. Give them a try, you might like them.

      August 1, 2022 5:42 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Sean Curtis

        Preach Silky.

        August 2, 2022 8:54 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Bull, I'm glad the PPQ is working for you--the PDP is a direct descendant and owes much of its success to it's predecessor.

      I'm not sure anyone will convince you of the red dot, but don't be surprised when it doesn't go away. The ability to switch back to target focused shooting alone is worth it in my mind. You might think of it as some new techno fad, but it's really taking us back to how we've aimed since we were shooting bows and throwing spears.

      August 2, 2022 8:53 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mickey

      Hi @Bull o' the Woods,
      I was a guy who had the exact same thought process as you when it came to pistol shooting. Finally I decided to try a red dot on top of one of my pistols. I went with the Holosun 507C with the Vulcan ACSS reticle. It took exactly 1 hour of shooting that pistol out at our club and I was 100% hooked. My groups from 10 to 25 yards improved exponentially when using the red dot vs irons. It wasn't even close. I used it on my Canik SFX, which is a very accurate pistol right out of the box, especially for a polymer, striker fired pistol. I decided to try the red dot on a Taurus G3, a downright inexpensive but still very reliable polymer striker fired pistol. The results were stunning. I'm a fairly decent marksman with irons, I'm a much better marksman with red dots. I've since converted every carry pistol, every competition pistol, and every range plinker to red dot topped. I will never go back to irons. Red dots aren't a fad, they're selling huge numbers of them and literally 85% of new pistols coming to market seem to have an optic ready slide version in the offering. There's no reason to use irons when dots make your shooting so much more accurate. Granted, I have lots of training under my belt, and have spent 100's if not 1000's of hours out at our club. (Thank goodness for cheap 22LR) Safety and great fundamentals are still mission critical to all disciplines of shooting, but red dots on a pistol are the game changer everyone has been talking about for a while now. The odds of ever having to use a pistol in a self defense scenario are thankfully almost zero%. As licensed concealed carriers we're taught to avoid conflict first and foremost. I've been very good at that my entire life. So why the big deal with red dots then? Simple, it makes all of our range trips that much more fun. To be able to take your pistol and shoot point of aim and actually get the same point of impact and to have it be repeatable is a hoot. It's also fun to take shots on steel out at 100 and 200 yards using the red dot on a pistol. Before you totally write them off as a fad, I highly suggest trying one for a an hour or two. My guess is you'll never look back once you do.

      PS, we recently took a one night class at a local range. The shooting portion was at different distances. Through 30 rounds I had one ragged hole in my target. The red dot is why I was able to do that.

      August 2, 2022 8:13 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Sean Curtis

        Mickey, this is great testimony, thanks for sharing. I find that as I age and my eyesight changes, the red dot simplifies things too.

        August 4, 2022 6:58 am
        • Commenter Avatar
          Bull o' the Woods

          Has anyone found out whether Elisjsha Dicken [couldn't his parents spell?] of Greenwood Mall fame was using a red dot? Shooting and moving at 40-50 yards is the only scenario in which a red dot on a pistol makes any sense to me. It would only get in the way drawing from concealment inside seven yards.

          August 4, 2022 7:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Duriologist

    Great article. I have a Springfield XD-M Elite 4.5" and a CZ P-10 C. The XD-M is a nice, well-balanced shooter. I love the grip on the CZ but it's too aggressive for my wife. We really like its trigger, too. We shot a two-year-old Walther PDP at the local range and we decided a PDP was in our near future. We both have smaller hands and don't like a lot of recoil, so this F version sounds like it would be a great match for both of us.

    July 31, 2022 5:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Thank you!

      If you liked the standard PDP, I'm betting you will both love the F. The reduced grip circumference doesn't directly affect recoil, but it enables the shooter to mitigate it with more control.

      August 1, 2022 11:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bill

    I certainly hope someone offers a -$1.00 off coupon for the PDP-F

    July 29, 2022 11:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Good luck with that Bill! While I admire thrift, I'm betting the F might be a little tough to find at first.

      August 1, 2022 11:52 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    ojizarco

    In JULY 2022 I purchased a Walther PDPF pistol.
    Left to right the pistol shoots accurately however in elevation the pistol shot quite low.
    At a range of about ten meters the groups were ten centimeters too low or an angle of
    ten milliradians to low. After turning the rear sight adjustment screw counter clockwise as described in the manual, there was no change in elevation. The adjustment seemed stiff
    stiff and the "clicks" desribed in the manual were not felt or heard. Walther's customer
    was useless. They wanted to know how many rounds were fired and what brand of ammo.
    On closer inspection with a micrometer the sight adjustment seems to be like an eccentric
    cam with one full turn moving from low to high and then back to low, or it's damaged.

    July 29, 2022 6:18 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    B MoAZ

    Since I have short, stubby fingers I picked up the F in 4". Threw on a Holosun, Ameriglo tall night sights and some DIY pieces of Hogue rubber Wrapter grip. It runs perfect so far, only a few hundred rounds. The grip is still a nice handful, not skinny by any means. I just wish it was another 1/4" or so longer to get a full purchase. Trigger seems slightly heavier than my PPQ 45, but just as sweet. I think their marketing blew it by doubling down on the female thing, they should've just labeled this the "Mini" or something. Overall it's a winner for anyone.

    July 28, 2022 5:22 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Thanks for sharing, I'm glad it's working for you! The F is great and really works well for a range of hand sizes. Female shooters are a growing segment in this industry and I for one, am glad. The more folks (of all stripes of life) that get onboard, the more support we'll have in all areas of shooting interest.

      July 28, 2022 7:05 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jacki Billings

        Amen to that! We need as many people as possible seeing the benefits of gun ownership. I think it's really cool Walther is making models that welcome more shooters into the fold.

        August 2, 2022 9:35 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Walt

    Thank you for the review!!
    I will definitely put this on the list for my daughter's first gun. She has petite hands and this may be a good option. The Glock 19 was a bit chubby in her hands.

    July 28, 2022 5:15 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      By comparison Walt, the F is much slimmer and has great ergonomics. This would be a great first choice.

      July 28, 2022 6:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark Onak

    After a couple years of shooting a Glock 19, my very petite wife got a Shield 9. Much better fit for her hands, and her accuracy has improved. Think I'll get her to try this Walther...thanks for the article!

    July 28, 2022 5:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Hey Mark, it's all about finding what works best for each person right? The Shields are great, but I'd be interested to see what your wife might think of the F. More secure grip, more contact on the gun, usually translates to better performance.

      July 28, 2022 6:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ken

    I have used Walther weapons most of my life ppk,ppk/s' p38,p99.When I first saw the DPD-F I thought that it would make a great concieled carry gun. But after reading all of this F business It has really turned me off.Is Walther sales down or something? I think the whole thing is a case of bad marketing.As far as the PDP-F you can keep it for your new customers. BYE

    July 28, 2022 4:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bob

      ..not sure why it would turn you off..?

      July 28, 2022 6:26 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Ken, I bet they are going to sell like hotcakes, and rightfully so. Any option that creates a more optimal shooting experience for a wider array of folks lifts the whole industry.

      July 28, 2022 6:53 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jacki Billings

        Amen! The more welcoming we make the industry, the more allies we have fighting for 2A. I love that Walther is catering to a notoriously underrepresented demographic and making a great gun that is functional and fun to shoot! And if the F isn't your flavor, there are other Walther models for the taking. :)

        August 2, 2022 9:34 am
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