Retrospect Series: Walther CP99 Blowback Action Compacts Part 1
Walther’s Concealed Carry P99 CO2 model
By Dennis Adler
Concealed carry has many definitions, the most basic being carrying any size handgun concealed from view either by clothing or other means. It is, in fact, easy to conceal a full size Government Model 1911 with the proper cover, the same for a Glock 17, a Walther P99 or PPQ, for example. But not everyone needs a duty-size gun for CCW; most people with concealed carry permits prefer subcompacts or compacts for easier and more comfortable carry in calibers like 9mm. Walther recognized that when the P99 Compact was added to the line in 2004.
While the 9mm and .40 S&W P99 Compact models are no longer produced, Umarex (Walther) still manufacturers the CP99 Compacts as CO2 models. Added to the Walther CO2 line in 2006, the two blowback action BB models, black and bi-tone, have been staples of the Walther airgun line for 14 years, along with the original CP99 pellet model going back some 20 years.
The CP99 was a bold new design that helped launch the current generation of air pistols based on real, cartridge-firing semi-autos. The Compact, which duplicates the size and basic operating features of the original 9mm and .40 S&W models, added the advantage of blowback action, and is another realistic looking airgun, at least from one side (the right side of the CO2 models have a manual thumb safety not found on the cartridge-firing models).
Blowing back in the wind
When Walther began development of a CP99 blowback action model, the decision had been made that the new air pistol would not be a full-sized gun like the CP99, but rather the Compact variant to compliment handguns gaining popularity in the law enforcement and civilian marketplace at the time, like the Glock 19. As a CO2 variation, the CP99 Compact would also be an ideal choice for firearms training. Even though the airgun is not an exact copy of the 9mm and .40 S&W Compacts, it shares the same frame, slide and standard grip dimensions, same trigger design, and integrated ambidextrous triggerguard magazine releases. Where the gun differs for any training application is in the use of a separate CO2 cartridge in the grip frame and a stick magazine with a full-sized floor plate. On the plus side of the design the seating screw is built into the base of the CO2 chamber so it is never seen.
Aside from the airgun’s necessary concessions, the overall handling of the air pistol is nearly identical to the centerfire models, including the dustcover accessory rail, triggerguard configuration, grip contour and texturing, once again making the CP99 Compact a very affordable training aid for learning holstering, drawing, and carry techniques without involving a live firearm. The accurate features reproduced on the gun also allow practice in slide operation, magazine release, target sighting and sight reacquisition.
The CP99 Compacts have a very pocket friendly retail price well under $100 which makes them excellent entry-level CO2 pistols with a quality build and authentic features as well as the Walther name. In terms of weight, balance, and trigger pull, the air pistol is a little heavier at 27 ounces; the actual P99 Compacts weighed 20 ounces (empty), trigger pull is a light 3 pounds, 15 ounces with 0.75 inches of travel and nearly a full release to reset, and has the same balance in the hand as a cartridge-firing P99 Compact. When you pull the trigger on the airgun and the slide comes back, there is a sense of authenticity to this Walther air pistol that makes firing it a learning experience even if your only goal is to shoot paper targets at 21 feet.
In Part 2 the CP99 Compact puts steel downrange.
A Word about Safety
Airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.