Range Review: Walther Arms PDP Full-Size Match Polymer

Walther’s PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch pistol chambered in 9 mm Luger is optics-ready and weighs only 26.9 ounces, which is 14 ounces less than the full-sized PDP Match Steel Frame.

by
at USPSA posted on June 9, 2024
Waltherpdpmatch Polymer RR 1
Pictured above is the Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch pistol equipped with a Vortex Defender-ST red-dot optic, Henning Group extended base pads, ZR Tactical recoil system and LOK Grips heavy weighted backstrap.
Photo by Jake Martens/USPSA

Walther Arms released the PDP Full-Size Match Polymer earlier this year, right around the same time as the PDP Match Steel Frame model hit (read my review). The heavy weight five-inch model was followed up by the 4½-inch and four-inch steel-frame models. Now it’s time for the Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch model to get some attention.

The PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch is the lightweight brother to the PDP Match Steel Frame. It’s the same gun minus the steel frame, so it just doesn’t tip the scales as much. The steel frame adds 14 ounces of weight that the polymer model gives up—but is that a downside or not?

Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer 5-inch
Optics-ready and with 18-round capacity, the polymer-framed Walther Arms PDP Match pistol chambered in 9 mm Luger (Item No. 2872595, MSRP: $1,099) features a five-inch barrel (1:9-inch twist), performance duty textured grip, dynamic performance trigger, enhanced magwell and a ported, tenifer-coated slide, the latter for weight reduction and barrel cooling. (Photo courtesy of Walther Arms)

 

The polymer-framed PDP Match has Walther’s Performance Duty Grip Texture. Developed by Walther to provide a premium, yet functional grip, the Performance Duty Texture provides an aggressive surface to maintain proper grip performance. With its tetrahedron design, it is non-abrasive, so there will be no irritation to the skin or clothing of the user. The firmer you grip it, the more it sticks to your hand, but it will not rub you the wrong way when carrying and rubbing against your skin. The PDP Match Steel Frame grips have the same pattern—however, the material feels a little less “grabby” compared to the polymer. The PDP Match Steel Frame has the advantage of allowing the users to change to aftermarket grips; the polymer, however, allows you to get the grip stippled or to apply grip tape, which can be less expensive than new grips.

The Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch model ships with an aluminum magwell and 18-round magazine that works with the magwell installed. Henning Group, ZR Tactical and others offer extended base pads that work with the factory magwell and specific to both PDP Full-Size Match models. With the magwell installed, the PDP Match is legal in USPSA Limited and Limited Optics. Remove it, and you have a USPSA Carry Optics and Production division legal gun. If you want to beef up the polymer model, LOK Grips offers a backstrap insert that replaces the factory plastic one. The LOK adds 3½ ounces of weight into the butt of the gun and makes a noticeable difference in the overall balance and how the gun reacts when shooting. The other key aftermarket upgrade, especially for competition, is the ZR Tactical Long Stroke recoil system. I can’t recommend this enough for these models. Once I installed the ZR Tactical Long Stroke with its added weight and the LOK Grips backstrap, all the stars aligned for this gun.

Walther PDP Match Polymer & Federal Syntech ammo
With the magwell installed, the Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch pistol can be used in USPSA’s Limited and Limited Optics divisions. If you’d rather compete in Carry Optics and Production, simply remove the magwell, as shown in the photo above.

 

The slide on the both of these PDPs are both optics-ready and equipped with SuperTerrain slide serrations. These are not just aesthetic, they are designed to offer shooters a superior grip on the slide, facilitating faster and more reliable slide manipulations. On the PDP Match models, the serrations are ported (not the barrel), reducing the weight of the slide. The PDP Match comes equipped with Walther’s Dynamic Performance Trigger. Out of the box, these are arguably one of the best striker-fired triggers available. It offers a crisp, clean break and a remarkably short reset. The pretravel on the PDP Match Polymer was just slightly longer than on its steel-framed big brother, but on the Wheeler Digital Scale the average of five pulls was three pounds, 4.2 ounces, with a similar short reset.

At the range, the the Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch pistol was flawless from the box, running through about 250 rounds of different 9 mm Luger ammunition. I had the ZR Tactical recoil system installed along with the LOK Grips heavy weighted backstrap. The Vortex Defender-ST red-dot optic with factory plate was mounted as well. The Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer weighed in at 34.4 ounces with an empty magazine; equipped with a Henning base pad, the Steel Frame with ZR Tactical Long Stroke, Vortex Defender optic and the same empty magazine was 45.1 ounces, a 10.7-ounce difference.

Jake Martens shooting the Walther PDP Match Polymer handgun
At the range, the author fired about 250 rounds of different 9 mm Luger loads through the Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer with no malfunctions.

 

The PDP Match Steel Frame shoots softer, obviously, and some of the “feel” is going to be subjective between users. I ran both guns side by side shooting the same drill, with almost the same results. I had better hits with the polymer gun on the Near to Far drill. With the heavier gun, I was pushing shots low, getting more C hits. The recoil impulse on the Steel Frame was more push back into my hand compared to the polymer grip. The dot movement on the polymer tracked better for me than the Steel Frame. The two biggest differences that I noticed between the polymer and the steel are that the beavertail on the steel frame is extended and is a little thicker, while the polymer is short and flat. I felt like I had a better grip on the lighter gun, and the other is that it felt more secure in my hand than the metal gun. The grip on the polymer frame is relieved around the magazine release and the trigger guard undercut is slightly higher, which added to that more secure feel between the two pistols.

I did not have the factory magwells installed on either gun. The magazine well opening on the PDP Match Steel Frame is more flared on the front, however the polymer grip was a little more forgiving on the reloads. Both guns have front accessory rails for lights and other attachments. I was able to use the same Red Hill Tactical double-layer Kydex holsters for both gun with no issues.

Multiple views of the Walther PDP Match Polymer
Besides adding a Vortex Defender-ST red-dot optic using the factory-supplied mounting plate, the author upgraded his Walther PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch pistol with Henning Group extended base pads as magazine extensions, a LOK Grips backstrap insert and ZR Tactical’s Long Stroke recoil system. The aftermarket upgrades increased the weight to 34.4 ounces (sans magazine).

 

Takedown on the PDP Full-Size Match Polymer five-inch pistol is the same as all of the other Walther PDP models and like all of the other polymer versions; the guns are modular between frames, barrels and slides. The Steel Frames are not interchangeable like the polymer models. One of the other nice features of the PDP Match Polymer is the price. MSRP is $1,099, compared to the Steel Frame at $1,899. Adding the LOK Grips backstrap for $74.95 brings the weight of the guns closer, but still keeps the price at a difference of $68 per ounce less.

Whether you are looking for duty gun, carry gun or a competition gun, Walther’s lineup of PDP pistols have everything you could need. From compacts, suppressor-ready to heavy weight competition guns, the PDP lineup is ready to serve you in whatever situations you might find yourself in. Check out the entire Walther Arms lineup at waltherarms.com.

Article from the May/June 2024 issue of USPSA’s magazine. All photos by Jake Martens unless otherwise noted.

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