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Empowered: Walther Arms Woman-Centric PDP F-Series

Walther Arms has introduced the PDP F-Series of semiautomatic pistols and immediately set a new standard for addressing the needs of today's fastest-growing segment of shooters: Women.

Empowered: Walther Arms Woman-Centric PDP F-Series

(Image courtesy of Walther Arms)

I’ve been on the front lines of firearms journalism since 2011, and during that time there have been two constants as it relates to female shooters. First, they are and have been the fastest growing segment of new gun owners, and their representation in all related consumer categories, from personal defense to competition and hunting, has steadily increased. Secondly, handgun manufacturers have often seemed completely baffled as to how best to address the needs of this vital market.


Many will recall, with no small cringe, the initial urge to “Pink it and shrink it.” In other words, currently cataloged products were given a supposedly feminine aesthetic and, more often than not, manufacturers were pushing smaller guns, subcompacts, on female customers. Sure, these tactics moved some inventory, but anecdotal evidence suggests this marketing tactic appealed more to male consumers buying for their ladies, rather than to the women themselves. It also revealed a fundamental misconception that continues to pester female shooters at ranges and gun store counters: Small guns are not ideal for new shooters. Once more for the people in the back: Small guns are not ideal for new shooters!


Yes, the average woman’s hand is smaller than the average man’s, but that does not mean a subcompact pistol in a defensive chambering like 9mm is a better fit than a compact or full-size. We know this! Smaller guns have less area to hold on to and less weight to absorb recoil. The result is that subcompacts kick harder and are tougher to control than full-size guns in the same chambering. This has always been the case and it’s why we train and compete with larger, heavier guns, even if we opt to carry something smaller. The advantage of little guns is concealment and portability, not shootability. And the ladies who actually shoot, train and choose to carry for their personal safety and the safety of their loved ones know this.

Empowered: Walther Arms Woman-Centric PDP F-Series
(Image courtesy of Walther Arms)

I recently attended a defensive handgun course and was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly half of the participants were women. To be clear, this was not a new-shooter orientation or basic marksmanship course – those have their place, too. But this class was a dirty, sweaty, scrap-your-knees and callous-your-hands gunfighting class. Amazingly (or not), I didn’t see any pink guns, and nothing smaller than a Glock 19-size compact. The recipe of pairing a 4-inch barrel with 15-round capacity for 9mm ammunition continues to be the most versatile combination of size and capability – small enough to carry but large enough to shoot a lot.

As my training experience illustrates, strides have been made in the past decade. It is understood that women and men both seek defensive firearms that are accurate, reliable and as easy as possible to shoot, while still being discreet and portable. There have also been very successful attempts to address the needs of not just women, but anyone for whom the standard semiauto offering can pose physical challenges. Most notable is Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield EZ line of 9mm and .380 Auto pistols which offer easier-to-rack slides, plenty of safety features and magazines with rimfire-esque loading-assist lugs. They address the concerns of shooters with hand strength and dexterity issues who still want a capable defensive firearm.

Now, Walther Arms has gone even further, and women stand to benefit: Enter the PDP F-Series.

Empowered: Walther Arms Woman-Centric PDP F-Series
(Image courtesy of Walther Arms)

So, what is it? According to Walther Shooting team member, Olympian, and firearms instructor Gabby Franco, “The PDP F-series is the result of a revolutionary approach to creating a pistol with female shooters in mind. Walther Arms took the difficult task of developing a mid-sized frame handgun that offers high ammo capacity with a smaller grip, shorter trigger, and excellent ergonomics like no other.”

No question, the company had a winner in the PDP 9mms. Those guns have some of the best production triggers available in striker-fired semiautomatics and the ergonomics were on point, from the frame’s contouring and Performance Duty texturing to the Superterrain slide serrations that enhance purchase during manipulations. The guns were also built from the start to be not just optics-ready, but optics-optimized, with ergonomics that account for the taller sighting plane of most red dot designs. The PDP’s combination of features and performance earned it Guns & Ammo 2021 Handgun of the Year honors.





For the F-Series, Walther is keeping all that PDP goodness, but has redesigned the frame to better fit not just the size of female hands, but their structure. Note, the frame wasn’t chopped to make a shorter pistol, instead the circumference was reduced to allow a firmer grip with smaller hands. As well, the trigger reach was reduced so that female shooters who may have shorter fingers don’t sacrifice leverage or grip security when pulling the bang switch. As an added benefit, the force required to rack the slide has been reduced by 20 percent, according to Walther. This was achieved by developing a new operating system with a durable two-piece striker.

At launch, two models will be available, one with a 3.5-inch barrel and the other sporting a 4-inch tube. Both will feed from 15-round PDP Compact magazines, and both will fit PDP Compact and Full-size holsters. And, of course, both are optic-optimized and use the PDP’s electronic sight mounting system.

Empowered: Walther Arms Woman-Centric PDP F-Series
(Image courtesy of Walther Arms)

With its PDP platform, Walther proved it can build not only a great defensive platform, but one of the best modern, striker-fired defensive semiautos extant. Of the newest edition, Franco continued, “The F-series is the best tool in the market for self-defense, law enforcement, target shooting, and competitive shooting. It makes me proud to be part of a project to bring a pistol that contributes to many women’s quests to become better shooters!” Given the performance of the PDP and the intensive consideration designed into the F-Series, I think she’s probably right.

Recommended


PDP F-SERIES 3.5” SPECS

  • ITEM #: 2849313
  • CALIBER: 9MM
  • BARREL LENGTH: 3.5”
  • SLIDE LENGTH: 6.5”
  • TRIGGER PULL: 5 LBS
  • MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 15 + 1
  • MAGAZINES INCLUDED: 2
  • SIGHTS: WHITE DOT – ADJUSTABLE SIGHTS
  • MSRP: $699

PDP F-SERIES 4” SPECS

  • ITEM #: 2842734
  • CALIBER: 9MM
  • BARREL LENGTH: 4”
  • SLIDE LENGTH: 7”
  • TRIGGER PULL: 5 LBS
  • MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 15 + 1
  • MAGAZINES INCLUDED: 2
  • SIGHTS: WHITE DOT – ADJUSTABLE SIGHTS
  • MSRP: $699
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