Retrospect Series: Walther CP99 Blowback Action Compacts Part 2
Walther’s Concealed Carry P99 CO2 model
By Dennis Adler
To make this test of the CP99 Compact as realistic as possible I am using the same holster for the CO2 model that I have for my 9mm Walther P99; a Safariland ALS injection molded paddle holster. This is designed for the full size P99 but the Compact fits as well even with a shorter barrel length. As proof of how accurate the CP99 Compact is to the cartridge-firing models, the ALS (auto locking system) thumb release locking system in the Safariland holster works perfectly with the airgun. Makes sense since Umarex and Walther are two sides of the same coin.
From a CCW perspective, most people carry a semi-auto handgun with a round chambered and the safety on (with guns that have manual safeties). The Walter P99 series were designed without manual safeties and the guns could be de-cocked for carry with a chambered round, requiring the first shot to be fired double action. This could be shortcut by pulling the slide about a ½ inch to the rear after drawing to cock the striker. Conversely, others feel uncomfortable carrying concealed with a chambered round and prefer to rack the slide after drawing. It is a personal choice, the latter costing you time.
Since the CP99 Compact does not have a DA/SA trigger, the manual safety added to the right side of the frame acts as a de-cocker when set and you audibly hear the firing mechanism decock when putting the lever on SAFE. Unfortunately, putting on FIRE requires that the slide be racked again to reset the trigger. Catch 22 is that the CO2 model is not a DA/SA and the trigger does not change position when de-cocked. You don’t know if the action is ready to fire or not if a gun has been de-cocked and then had the safety put back into the FIRE position. Granted, this is not a common situation but it is possible. Umarex created this situation with the mandated manual safety, and using an SAO trigger, but they also provide an interesting fix with the loaded chamber indicator (red dot at the back of the slide). This is similar to the original P99’s striker status indicator. The red dot is not present if the safety is engaged (because the gun has been de-cocked) or if the safety has been taken off but the slide has not been cycled. So yes, there is a way to know if the gun is ready to fire. To do this with a gun on SAFE you pull back on the serrated center section of the manual safety and then push it back up to the FIRE position, (red dot exposed). It is awkward and the worst aspect of the air pistol’s design, but it works.
The CP99 Compact gives you the same handling experience as a centerfire model with the exception of lighter resistance when chambering the first round, and of course, no muzzle lift or loud report, just a subtle crack in the air as it fires, and the feel of the slide coming back to re-cock the striker (internal hammer).
The Compact’s stick magazine holds 18 steel BBs, but it is still released from and loaded into the grip in the same fashion as a 9mm or .40 S&W magazine. Reloading practice with the CP99 Compact is in actuating the ambidextrous magazine release built into the triggerguard (inserting the stick magazine) and releasing the slide to chamber the first round as you would with the cartridge-firing model.
Speed and Accuracy
The general theory with most compact CO2 models is a sacrifice in velocity, but that remains more a fact with guns that use self-contained CO2 BB magazines. Those with separate CO2 and stick magazines almost always have average velocities close to the larger models. I say almost because the Umarex Walter PPK/S uses that system and still falls below 300 FPS. The CP99 Compact, can average up to 345 fps, the two I have are clocking 315 fps to 320 fps average with Umarex Precision steel BBs. This is lower than when I tested this pair back in 2016 but about on par with Tom Gaylord’s original test of the CP99 Compact in 2006. The ambient temperature for the indoor range is 72 degrees. My earlier tests in 2016 were shot outside in August so temperatures were in the high 80s, and that will account for most of the differential in velocity between 2016 and 2020; the guns are otherwise functioning perfectly.
As for accuracy, at 21 feet, also the same distance for close quarter combat training with compact and subcompact cartridge-firing handguns, the air CP99 Compacts placed 10 shots in the 10 and X with a total spread of 1.187 inches and a best five at 0.75 inches. I ran another target using Crosman Match Grade BBs and my 10-shot spread measured 1.5 inches with best five clustered into 0.56 inches, but all but six put out 10 round hit low.
Overall, I still like this old airgun for a number of reasons; first that it is a Walther branded pistol, secondly, it handles close enough to the old 9mm and .40 S&W models to make it acceptable for fundamental handgun training, and last, as an air pistol just for plinking and shooting paper, it stands up as a well-built, easy to use, quality airgun at less than $80. When you put all that together, the 2006 Walther CO2 model still stands up to the test.