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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

walther pd380

The Walther PD380 Changes the .380 ACP Game  

Acceptance can be a difficult thing to, well, accept. But after shooting my fourth one-inch group, I accepted the obvious: the new Walther PD380 was one damned accurate semi-auto pistol chambered in .380 ACP. 

Not that I was hoping otherwise. But my expectations…  

The trend with .380 ACP pistols is to make them small enough to conceal just about anywhere on a clothed human body. While that’s perfect for the “concealed” part of concealed carry, most of these palm-sized peewees are difficult to hold securely and fire with anything like precision. 

walther pd380
Range Day with the PD380.  

I’d gotten to the point, apparently, where I assumed most pistols in .380 ACP weren’t going to be terribly accurate. 

Walther Arms Inc. and their new PD380 pistol trashed that assumption! For those who want a very accurate and easy-to-shoot .380 AUTO that’s still compact enough for concealed carry? The PD380 is the starting point. 

walther pd380 magazines
The PD380 includes two (2) 9-round steel magazines. 

Careful Design 

walther pd380 design
Great accuracy in a .380 ACP platform: Walter’s new PD380 semi-auto. 

Poly-framed and hammer-fired, the PD380 carries 9+1 rounds of .380 ACP. The recoil was very manageable in my shooting, even when shots were fired off fast and furious. Walther’s grippy Performance Duty Grip Texture provided a very solid hold. 

walther pd380 grip
Walther’s Performance Duty Grip Texture provided a very solid hold. 

The steel slide featured deep serrations front and back that really grabbed my fingers and made pulling back the slide quick and easy. No gripping the slide and then re-positioning fingers as the initial pullback held up. 

walther pd380 accessory rail
A handy accessory rail for a light or laser. 

The PD380’s trigger was wide and serrated for a firm purchase. That trigger system, by the way, was single-and double-action. The double-action option allows a shooter to carry the pistol with a loaded chamber and hammer down for added safety. A pull of the trigger cocks the hammer and fires the pistol, which then is in single action with the hammer back and ready. 

walther pd380 trigger
The pistol’s trigger was nicely wide and deeply serrated. 

The pistol also sported an ambidextrous, manual safety, at the rear and top of the slide. The three-dot sights came up to my eyes nicely, and the rear sight was elevation and windage adjustable, too. 

walther pd380 safety
PD380’s manual, ambi safety (bottom), and fully adjustable rear sight (top). 

Close-Quarters Shooting

walther pd380 range test
At five yards offhand, the PD380 and DRT’s Terminal Shock drilled this .70-inch group.  

I first ran the PD380 at five yards offhand, and it was one accurate hole puncher with both range and self-defense ammunition. Five shot groups of one-inch were easily accomplished with Browning’s BTP full-metal jacket range rounds DRT’s Terminal Shock and Federal’s HST round, the latter two self-defense loads. The best groups were .70-inches with DRT and .84-inches using the Federal HST. 

Not Your Average Semi-Auto

The PD380 is a bit different than most semi-automatic pistols currently on the market. Take the slide release, for example. It doesn’t have one!  The slide only stays open with a magazine inserted into the pistol. 

walther pd380 magazine release
The PD380 featured a unique paddle system magazine release. 

The magazine release is going to represent a learning curve, too. Unlike the standard mag release button found just behind the trigger guard, the PD380 uses an ambidextrous paddle system. The one-piece paddle is located on the bottom and rear of the trigger guard and extends to both sides of the guard. 

Depress the paddle, and the magazine pops right out. But it required some real practice for me to get comfortable with manipulating that mag release. The easiest way I found to remove the magazine was to: 

1) Keep the pistol pointed downrange; 

2) Grip the slide with the thumb and fingers of my non-shooting hand; 

3) Push down on the left side of the paddle with my shooting hand’s thumb. 

One-handed dropping out of the magazine, though, was very awkward.  

10-Yard Test

walther pd380 range test
Federal’s HST self-defense put six rounds into 1.5 inches at ten yards. 

My next shooting test was at 10 yards and from a rest. Groups averaged between 1.75 and 2.25 inches, well within acceptable self-defense, close-range engagements.  My best five-shot group was 1.4 inches with the DRT Terminal Shock, while the Federal HST pegged a six-shot string at just 1.50 inches. American Eagle’s range .380 ACP scored a 1.6-inch group, too, for five shots. 

Double Action? 

In single action, the trigger pull on my PD380 measured 2 pounds, 15 ounces and was very crisp. Double action pull ramped up to just over 7 pounds, and the pull was long, though steady.  

Some will carry the PD380 with a round in the chamber and the hammer down as a safety precaution and to keep the cocked hammer from snagging on clothing. I wondered, though, how much that heavier, double-action first shot might affect accuracy.  

With a little practice, not much. 

To test out my pull weight versus accuracy question, I set up Champion’s high-definition LE Green Silhouette Target, printed on a cardboard sheet measuring 24-inches wide by 42-inches high. I held the PD380 at low ready, counted to three, quickly raised the pistol, got my sights on target and fired off the first round in long pull double action, followed by a single-action shot a split second later. 

Shooting from five and seven yards, nearly all my shots (first and second) were on target. This included a series of 16 shots (half at double action, half at single) that pretty much Swiss-cheesed the silhouette’s head area.  

walther pd380 accuracy
Massive headache! Half the shots were fired in double action first, with fast single-action follow-ups.  

.380 ACP Accuracy 

brian mccombie with walther pd380
McCombie ran the PD380 hard with a variety of range and self-defense ammunition without a hiccup from the pistol. 

Social media firearms circles are filled with posts arguing that the .380 ACP is and is not an effective self-defense round. Well, that subject requires a whole different article.  

What is undeniable, though, is that the softer shooting .380 ACP has many fans for concealed carry and home defense. For those who appreciate this round, and want great accuracy in a pistol, the new Walther Arms PD380 will be a prime consideration. For more information, visit waltherarms.com

Specifications: Walther Arms PD380 

Action: Semi-Auto, Hammer Fired  
Caliber: .380 ACP 
Slide: Steel 
Frame: Polymer, Matte Finish, Performance Duty Texture Grip 
Barrel: Steel 
Barrel Length: 3.7 inches, 1-7 Twist 
Magazines: 2, 9-Round, Steel 
Sights: 3-Dot, Rear Adjustable
Trigger: Wide, Serrated Front 
Safety: Ambidextrous, Rear Of Slide 
Height: 5.18 inches
Width: 1.24 inches 
Length: 6.56 inches
Weight:  20.6 Oz. (W/O Magazine) 
MSRP: $449 

Four New Walther Arms PDP Series Pistols
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