A "Personal Defense Weapon" (PDW) refers to a class of compact, lightweight firearms designed primarily for close-quarters combat and personal protection.
This acronym almost always refers to a very short, collapsible, folding rifle, or submachine gun.
The definition should technically include any weapon that one could use to defend oneself with, but the term PDW has come to describe small, very handy little rifles.
A PDW would be used by someone like a secret service agent, or undercover Law Enforcement officer like an FBI agent or DEA agent.
Here's a more detailed overview:
Origins and Purpose
PDWs emerged as a solution for troops who might be encumbered by full-sized rifles but need more firepower than standard sidearms offer. This includes vehicle crews, support troops, and special forces.
The primary objective is to provide enhanced defensive capabilities in situations where engagement distances are short and rapid deployment is needed.
Size and Portability
PDWs are typically more compact than assault rifles but larger than conventional pistols.
Many PDWs use specialized ammunition designed to offer better penetration against modern body armor than traditional pistol rounds but with reduced recoil. Examples include the 5.7x28mm for the FN P90 and the 4.6x30mm for the HK MP7.
While designed for close combat, PDWs typically have an effective range that exceeds that of standard pistols, often bridging the gap between handguns and rifles.
PDWs often come with high-capacity magazines, allowing for sustained fire.
Depending on the jurisdiction, PDWs might fall under specific legal classifications due to their size, features, or ammunition type. This can affect ownership, transfer, and usage rights.
Comparison with Other Firearms
Submachine Guns (SMGs)
While there's some overlap between SMGs and PDWs, the latter often prioritizes armor-piercing capabilities and ergonomics suitable for non-infantry personnel. SMGs, on the other hand, typically fire standard pistol calibers.
SBRs (Short-Barreled Rifles)
SBRs are compact versions of standard rifles. While they share size similarities with PDWs, they may not share the specialized ammunition or specific design features geared towards personal defense against armored threats.
In essence, a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) offers a compact firearm solution optimized for close-quarters engagements, bridging the gap between handguns and rifles, and is especially tailored for encounters with armored adversaries in the modern shooting sports and defense landscapes.