by B.B. Pelletier
We’re going to finish the Walther P99 Q air pistol today with accuracy tests of both pellets and BBs. Several readers suggested that the double-action only trigger-pull would lead to larger groups, and I have to admit I thought so, too. A DAO pistol can be made to be very accurate, but it entails gunsmithing of the trigger that costs many times the price of this pistol. As they come from the factory, there are but a few DAO pistols, whether they’re air-powered or firearms, that have what I would call decent triggers.
The P99 Q trigger is one that “stacks” as it approaches the release. Much like a Colt revolver of the 1920s, the trigger-pull increases in weight dramatically just before the sear releases the hammer to fire the gun. Smith & Wesson found a way to overcome this and as a result they surpassed Colt as the world’s premier maker of revolvers before World War II. The stacking invariably causes the shooter to pull shots to the side opposite the shooting hand. A right-handed shooter will pull shots to the left while a lefty throws them to the right. This can be overcome with a lot of training, but it has to be practiced all the time, or you’ll revert to pulling your shots.
I’d earlier estimated the trigger-pull at 12 lbs.; but after firing about 100 careful shots, I have to say that it varies between 12 and 15 lbs. I had to use two fingers to keep from throwing my shots. That’s one finger on either hand, as shooting this gun was a two-handed proposition.
Having learned some lessons when shooting the Bronco with open sights and reading glasses last week, I was able to shoot that same way for this test without any problems. Instead of using a 75-watt shop light, I illuminated the target with a 500-watt quartz lamp that defined the bull very well. The rear sight was also sharp against the bull, and I don’t think I gave away any accuracy.
I shot from a standing strong-side barricade position for the whole test. That means I used a support to steady my right hand while shooting. I was standing for all shots and the pellets were shot at 25 feet, while the BBs were shot at 20 feet.
The P99 Q isn’t a target pistol, and we shouldn’t think of it that way. It’s a plinker and an action air pistol with minute-of-pop-can accuracy at 20-25 feet. If I could show that to you here, I would. But for this blog paper targets still work best.
I first tried RWS Hobby pellets. They turned out to be a very good choice, but I had to shoot about five clips before I found the best way to shoot the gun, so the first targets of Hobbys only hinted at what they might do. Once I was using two hands with two fingers on the trigger, I was able to lob pellets into a fairly tight group that was only limited by the gun’s slow gas flow.
When I waited a minute or more between shots, the CO2 gas had time to flow through the small pierced hole and into the valve, making velocity a more stable thing. These Hobbys went into a group measuring 1.191 inches between centers.
The next pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS, a domed pellet weighing 7.3 grains. They shot tantalizing groups with but a few strays, and I thought I was onto something, but no matter what I did I couldn’t get all the pellets to go to the same place.
Again, the JSB Exact RS domes were tantalizing. The dark smudge on the target is a black bull drawn on the back for a different project. The felt-tipped pen seeped through the paper to make the smudge. One shot is in the darkest part of the smudge, and the hole at the lower right has two pellets. Group measures 2.055 inches between centers.
Several readers correctly predicted that BBs would not be as accurate as pellets in the pistol, and with what we know about the situation, I’d have to agree. Not only are BBs round and made of steel so they cannot be spin-stabilized in flight, they’re also smaller than pellets and therefore do not fit the bore as well. There’s no way they’re going to be as accurate. As I mentioned in the beginning of this report, I moved up from 25 to 20 feet for BBs because I wanted to keep them all on the target paper.
The first to be fired were Crosman Copperhead BBs. They fit the BB clip (loading from the front, only!) very well and functioned perfectly.
Next, I tried some RWS Match Grade BBs that Pyramyd Air does not carry. They were a tighter fit in the clip and produced a smaller 8-shot group. Both BBs seemed to group to the same relative place as pellets, though with much larger distributions.
The RWS BB was more accurate, grouping eight in 2.996 inches at 20 feet.
Well, that’s it for the P99 Q. There were no malfunctions during the test once the pellet-seating tool was used. The gas flow problem I describe in this report is an issue if you want to fire the gun fast, which is what action pistols are designed for. Backing off on the piercing screw seemed to work when I let the gun rest for at least 10 seconds between shots, but shooting faster than that knocked the velocity down in a noticeable way.
This is a fine action pistol for the price. Considering that it accepts both BBs and pellets, it’s very accommodating. Buy it for fast plinking fun, and you’ll be getting a lot for your dollar. Just remember that it’s a double-action only pistol, so you’ll need a strong trigger finger.