Retrospect Series Part 6 – Walther CP99 Postscript
Remembering all the details and options
By Dennis Adler
One of the interesting things about being considered an authority on anything is the moment you realize that you forgot something. I have owned this trio of Umarex Walther CP99 pistols for almost 20 years, one of them has even been back to Umarex for repair, and after all those years, in spite of what new models have come along, I still consider them among the best made CO2 pellet pistols you can own. Until the other day, I hadn’t fired the standard model (black finish) since 2016 when it came back from repair. It has been several years since I fired any of them, with the guns protected in their hard plastic cases. I keep these separate from the “inventory” of air pistols that come and go over the years for magazine articles and for use in Airgun Experience, because they are my personal guns. But I’m dancing around the point of this CP99 Postscript article. In doing my comparison with the HK P30 last week, I forgot that the Umarex Walther CP99 was an actual DA/SA pistol and wrote it up as a DAO (and I have since gone back into the article and corrected that error). I simply forgot that the CP99 has the capability of being fired single action and that the decocker is a functional feature. How could I do that? I haven’t fired the CP99 single action in, well, let’s say in “recent memory” and have shot the guns as DAOs except in my initial review of the CP99 in 2001, and again in a reprint of that article for Airgun Experience in 2016. So, here is my full review of the Walther CP99 DA/SA model.
History and the CP99
As I have noted in past articles, the CP99 was initially intended to be a training gun for German police, as well as a sport shooting pellet gun with the panache of a legitimate Walther pistol. And at the time of the CP 99’s introduction, the centerfire P99 design was highly popular, having been introduced into the James Bond films in 1997 with Tomorrow Never Dies. The P99 remained the Bond gun right up to the 2006 franchise reboot with Daniel Craig as 007 in Casino Royale, after which Bond went back to packing a PPK in Quantum of Solace, A PPK/S in Skyfall and PPK in Spectre. But the P99 has never lost its popularity, nor has the CP99.
With a metal slide, polymer frame, and interchangeable backstrap panels, just like the striker-fired cartridge models, and same general measurements, the airgun fits most P99 holsters. The pellet model also accepts all original P99 accessories including the Walther rail mount laser, as well as all current rail mount lights and lasers, again making the CP99 a good choice for learning the handing of accessories as well as the 9mm P99.
The CP99 also has the same triggerguard mounted ambidextrous magazine releases, which in the case of the airgun, releases the full-sized magazine carrying the 12 gram CO2 cartridge. To load the CO2, remove the magazine, rotate the floorplate three-quarters of a turn clockwise (until it stops); I always add a drop of Crosman Pellgun oil on the tip of the CO2 cartridge before inserting it, then turn up the base screw until tight and rotate the floorplate back around, at which point you will hear the CO2 cartridge being pierced. Insert the magazine back into the grip frame and you are ready to load and shoot. For reload or tactical reload training, you can have two extra CO2 magazines loaded and interchange them at will, as removing the magazine from the gun and reinserting it will not deplete the CO2.
When loading, which is done by depressing the slide release lever allowing the front half of the slide to move forward on the frame, the gun should be set to safe because, unlike the centerfire model which has no manual safety, there is a rather large and unmistakable one added to the right side of the frame. After loading the rotary magazine, simply grasp the sides of the barrel and push it closed. Take the gun off safe, and there are two ways to begin shooting.
Like a centerfire model, you can pull the slide back to cock the action and you are ready to shoot. Suppose you decide not to shoot? You can use the de-cocker on the top left of the slide, just forward of the rear sight, exactly the same as you would decock a P99. You can also fire the gun double action for the first round. So this entire procedure is identical to the cartridge-firing models, one very good reason why the CP99 was used as a training gun.
Sizing up the CP99
How does the airgun stack up against the 9mm for size and weight? The 9mm P99 has an overall length of 7.1 inches, height of 5.3 inches, width of 1.3 inches, and carry weight of 25 ounces (with empty magazine). The CP99 has the same measurements and weighs slightly more at 26.5 ounces (with the empty CO2 magazine). The trigger shapes are nearly identical, with the airgun having a narrower trigger shoe. Double action trigger pull on the 9mm model averaged 10 lbs. 3 oz. and SA 6 lbs. 14 oz. The CP99 averaged 8 lbs. 4 oz., DA, and 5 lbs. 2.5 oz. SA. The front and rear sight designs are also the same; however, the CP99 does not have the white dot on the rear. It also does not have the striker status indicator at the back of the slide which indicates if the action is cocked.
The CP99’s rifled steel barrel is 3.25 inches in length (factory spec but actually measures 3.375 inches from the breech to muzzle) vs. the P99’s barrel length of 4-inches. But remember, there is zero recoil and a rifled barrel pellet gun is far more accurate than a BB gun’s smoothbore barrel, so at 10 meters the CP 99 is good enough for target shooting, though not what one could call a “precision” target air pistol.
A new shooting test
My old test with Meisterkugeln had eight wadcutters at 1.25 inches inside the X. My test last week using H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters and firing double action off hand from 10 meters had put eight H&N alloy wadcutters into 1.125 inches. Today to wrap up this new test, I am going to use the H&N and fire the gun single action by cocking the action for each round. Like other Umarex models using this same type firing system, if you want to shoot single action you have to manually cock the gun (which also rotates the internal magazine to the next chamber), for each shot. The disadvantages of a non-blowback design. The CP99 is a bit more demanding that simply cocking the external hammer on a CP 88 or Beretta 92FS pellet model. You have to grasp the rear of the slide like you were chambering a round, and pull it to the rear. In reality, the effort to do this is also as great as actually pulling the slide back on a centerfire P99, so it is quite realistic in that respect.
Shooting the H&N alloy from 10 meters, using a two-handed hold and firing single action, my best 8-shot group was in the 9, 10 and bullseye with seven of the eight touching edge to edge for a spread of 0.843 inches and a best five rounds at 0.56 inches. Even I know when to call it a day! The old CP99 is still a keeper.