Retrospect Series Part 6 – Walther CP99 Postscript

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.

The CP99 was one of my first multi-shot pellet guns and remains a personal favorite. I have three; the all black gun, stainless slide bi-tone with the optics bridge and red dot scope, and the OD green Military version. Almost everything you do with the airgun is identical to handling the 9mm model Walther.
My 9mm Walther P99, purchased almost 20 years ago, and the CP99 purchased around the same time. These two are among the very first paired CO2 and centerfire pistols used for firearms training. The idea was for the air pistol to be used by police recruits (for Germen law enforcement agencies carrying the P99) as a low-cost training gun because the German-made Umarex Walther air pistol fit the duty holsters and could be used with the Walther light laser, made for the centerfire guns. In terms of size and weight the guns are almost identical. This is where the current concept of 1:1 CO2 models had its beginning (and with the earlier CP 88).

History and the CP99

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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 CO2 model has a white square front sight which is easy to line up in the U notch rear. The 9mm model has white dot sights for the rear and front. Also note the striker status indicator at the back of the 9mm pistol, with red indicating the gun is ready to fire. However, that only means the action is cocked. It does not mean there is round chambered. When the gun is de-cocked, the indicator does not show. There is a separate chambered round indicator on the right side of the slide. The CO2 model also has interchangeable hard rubber backstrap panels.

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.

In case you’re wondering if reading the instruction book is a good idea when you haven’t shot a gun in a few years, yeah, it’s a good idea! This is the page that explains how to shoot the CP99 single action, something I had forgotten about when I wrote last week’s articles comparing the CP99 to the HK P30.

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.

To shoot single action you have to pull the slide to the rear for every shot. This rotates the internal pellet magazine, cocks the action and stages the trigger for single action firing. This is one way to rack the slide by grabbing it from the rear. There is a lot of resistance because this motion is doing three tasks at the same time. It is pretty close to the resistance of racking the slide on the 9mm against a heavy recoil spring.

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.

Racking the slide once in a while is not bad, doing it for every shot can be tiresome and the easier way to do it is to lay your hand on top of the slide and use all your hand strength to push the slide back, rather than your thumb and finger at the rear to pull it. This practice is also used on centerfire guns as an alternate way to rack the slide. (On centerfire pistols just mind where your little finger is positioned when using this method.)

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.

In profile it is easy to see how much the trigger take up is reduced by pulling the slide to the rear and cocking the action. Trigger pull is much lighter and the length of travel is a mere 0.25 inches, compared to 1-inch on double action. If your want a lighter trigger pull, it is worth the effort.

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.

Is the gun more accurate fired single action? Yes it is, and after this sub 1-inch group from 10 meters I called it a good day.

1 thought on “Retrospect Series Part 6 – Walther CP99 Postscript”

  1. Dennis one tip, if you get the new magazine; try loading 7_ 8 lead Gamo or copper plated smart shots. It seems to eliminate the bouncing back problems, for mine at least. Maybe this way the light spring controls the down forces generated.

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