Umarex Walther PPQ

Umarex Walther PPQ

Not big on change

By Dennis Adler

Were it not for the 4.5mm muzzles these Umarex Walther CO2 models could pass for the 9mm models at a glance. In fact, the CP99 was first used as a training gun when it was released in Germany 18 years ago. Police were already carrying the 9mm P99 and for recruit training the CP99s were used for handling familiarization, magazine reloading (using the same triggerguard ambidextrous magazine releases and extra CO2 magazines). The PPQ CO2 model was introduced 11 years later with the same alterations to the original P99 model, including new rear slide serrations and the addition of front serrations. The airgun is accurate but not exact, lacking the integrated blade trigger safety feature. The PPQ is priced considerably lower than the CP99.

It is funny that I commented about gaining experience through mistakes in a recent article and then made one, well not a mistake, more of a misspoken statement about the Walther PPQ CO2 model being new. In my mind it is new because it is more up to date than the CP99, which was the first modern CO2 pellet model to be introduced by Umarex and Walther.  (The CP88 was earlier but not as new of a firearms design as the then groundbreaking 9mm P99, the first striker-fired DA/SA polymer framed semi-auto).The CP99, as I have mentioned before, was also one of the first modern air pistols to be adopted as a training gun for police and military. It was originally used by German law enforcement to train officers issued the 9mm P99 models. This was almost 20 years ago, and since then many CO2 models have been used for law enforcement and military training, as well as civilian training, most notably the Sig Sauer P226 and S&W M&P40 blowback action CO2 models. But the PPQ has sort of lived in the shadow of the CP99. When it was introduced in 2011 Tom Gaylord reviewed the “new” model. And this is where my personal resistance to change kicked in.

Times change, back in 2000 the CP99 came in a hard plastic case. With a retail of $200 you got an excellent CO2 powered pellet pistol that closely resembled the 9mm model. The PPQ is priced at around $70 and comes in a blister pack.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

I like to put things into context and after being an author, editor and publisher for over 40 years I’ve got a heck of a lot of context built up. About 18 years ago when Tom Gaylord and I worked on the first edition Blue Book of Airguns along with Dr. Robert D. Beeman and publisher Steve Fjestad, the CP99 was, well, groundbreaking. It shared its place with the also new Umarex Beretta 92 FS CO2 model and slightly older Walther CP88 semi-auto style rotary magazine-fed pellet-firing pistols. The CP88 was, and still remains, one of the more expensive top-of-the-line models from Umarex. In the real world of Walther firearms, the P99, introduced in Europe in 1995, was being adopted by law enforcement around the world by the turn of the century, including in the United States. Smith & Wesson was also in a marketing and manufacturing partnership with Walther and building the P99 as the SW99 (2000 to 2004), sold to U.S. law enforcement and the civilian market as a Smith & Wesson model. S&W was also manufacturing the PPK in the U.S for Walther, since the gun control act of 1968 had made importation of the PPK from Germany illegal.

One of the PPQ airgun’s more clever designs is using the right side ambidextrous slide release as the manual safety. Push it down and it puts the CO2 model on SAFE. The CP99’s worst feature was the manual safety on the right side, which was not a feature on the centerfire models.

When I began the first edition Blue Book of Airguns, the CP99 was a must have air pistol. The P99 had by then become the new James Bond gun, replacing the PPK during Pierce Brosnan’s time as 007, right up into the first Bond film staring Daniel Craig, Casino Royale. Walther had actually orchestrated Brosnan’s change from the PPK to the P99 for Tomorrow Never Dies. So when the company began making changes to the P99 it was viewed by many with a jaundiced eye, including yours truly, who had one of the early 9mm models. Each progressive design change found disfavor with a portion of P99 enthusiasts until the gun evolved into the P99Q and P99QA, the “Q” modifications being the predecessor to the first model PPQ, which came out in 2011 with the PPQ CO2 model being introduced concurrently. And you can see where this is going; the PPQ (and second version PPQ M2) became Walther’s new star as the P99 began to age gracefully. But the transition with the CO2 models did not exactly follow suit.

The real deal circa 2011, an early style 9mm P99 (top) and a then new PPQ 9mm. Note the blade trigger safety, and elongated ambidextrous slide release lever used on the PPQ.

In the opinion of some firearms authorities, the P99 had been a perfect 9mm (and .40 S&W) semi-auto; a traditional double action, single action trigger with a decocker, combining a more modern lightweight polymer frame and striker-fired design with a visual and tactile loaded chamber indicator. By the time the gun had evolved into the PPQ the trigger system was changed to DAO (with an integrated blade safety in the trigger), the decocker was gone, as was the loaded chamber indicator used on the P99, and with the improved PPQ M2 the last of the P99’s noteworthy features, the ambidextrous triggerguard magazine releases. All that remained was the basic shape, and this equally translated to the CO2 models. The commensurate changes also served to lower the MSRP from $200 for the CP99 to $70 for the PPQ. It went from being a mid-priced, pellet-firing semi-auto design air pistol, to an entry-level priced CO2 pistol. On the consumer side, it was all a good thing; for Walther enthusiasts, not so much. Not that there is anything wrong with the PPQ, it’s just not a CP99, just like a PPQ and PPQ M2 are not a P99. It’s all a matter of context; in the world of CO2 pistols it is always a battle between features and retail price points. The PPQ brings it down to the best (read more affordable) combination.

A bit of an oddity, the PPQ (right) has a molded-in loaded chamber indicator at the rear of the slide, which the centerfire PPQ does not have, but the P99 did. On CP99 models there is no molded-in indicator, which would look better (and correct), as evidenced by the PPQ. The newer model also has yellow dot sights and the rear is adjustable for windage; a better sight design than Umarex had when the CP99 was developed.
Here, you see the back of actual P99 and PPQ models and the juxtaposition of the rear loaded chamber indicator on the airguns is explained at a glance. The P99 used a double action, single action trigger with a decocker (lever on the left top of the slide in front of the rear sight). This is also reproduced on the CP99, although the air pistol is a DAO.

PPQ CO2 downrange vs. CP99

Loading the CO2 in the CP99 is the same as a self-contained CO2 BB magazine, only without the BBs. This was one of the air pistol’s most exciting features 18 years ago because the CO2 magazine could be used for reload training even though there was nothing one could do but drop the magazine and load another. The slide does not lock back (or even move back) and loading is with the 8-shot cast alloy rotary magazine. But the CP99 was a near perfect match for the centerfire model, fitting all then current CP99 holsters and it could even mount the original Walther laser on the dustcover rail. This pretty much holds true for the lower-priced PPQ CO2 model except for loading the CO2, which is a design predecessor to the system used by Sig Sauer; not exactly the same but similar in operation. The PPQ is a pretty slick setup; pull the fake magazine base pad down and the backstrap swings up exposing the CO2 loading channel in the grip frame. The CO2 seating screw is recessed inside the base of the grip and exposed when the base pad is pulled down. Load the CO2, close the backstrap down and push the base pad back into place. The PPQ is ready to run.

Other differences for the money are evident in the CP99’s use of interchangeable backstraps like the P99. The PPQ air pistol does not have the interchangeable backstrap because it uses an entirely different means of loading the CO2. The elongated slide release works the same as the original P99’s shorter release lever, opening the breech, allowing the front half of the barrel and slide to move forward on the frame to insert an 8-shot rotary pellet magazine. The PPQ design lever is easier to operate because it offers the same long release design as the 9mm models, allowing the shooting hand thumb to exert more force (torque) on the slide release mechanism.
The CP99 and PPQ use very different approaches to loading CO2. From 2000 to 2011, Umarex redesigned the mechanism to make the PPQ more affordable by doing away with the individual CO2 magazines. This reduced the PPQ’s value as a training gun despite both models using the same rotary pellet magazines. The ambidextrous triggerguard magazine releases on the PPQ models are molded in, non-functional pieces, unlike the working releases on the CP99.

The PPQ was the first gun up and chronographed at an average velocity of 346 fps, with a high of 351 fps, a low of 335 fps, and a standard deviation of 5 fps using 7.0 grain Meisterkugeln Professional Line lead wadcutters. The CP99 running the same ammo clocked a high of 351 fps, a low of 328 fps, average velocity of 341 fps with a 7 fps standard deviation. Keep in mind, this CP99 and the cast alloy rotary magazines it is using are 18 years old.

The DA trigger pull on DA/SA semi-autos is always heavy, with both the CP99 and PPQ using DAO triggers it is always heavy. The CP99 was actually close to the DA pull on the centerfire model with a long, heavy pull that averages 8 pounds, 11 ounces. It is one consistent single stage pull that stacks all the way through to a very crisp break. It is a trigger you can become familiar with and learn from, so that heavy trigger pulls need not be uncomfortable. The same cannot be said for the PPQ’s heavy, stacking, and inconsistent two-stage feeling trigger that chugs along through three quarters of the 10 pound, 1.5 ounce average pull then clicks into a second stage with a short even pull to fire. It is not a great trigger and is best handled with a true double action finger position using the middle joint and not the tip of the trigger finger. It’s no CP99, or even a PPQ. The 9mm PPQ has an average trigger pull of 5 pounds, 2.5 ounces. There’s nothing to learn here.

Both air pistols use the same operating system, loading 8-shot cast alloy rotary pellet magazines at the breech. The front half of the barrel and slide move forward for loading. The PPQ’s advantage is the addition of an injection molded 8-shot rotary BB magazine. While pellets are loaded from the back (ratchet side up as pictured) the BB magazine is loaded from the opposite side using retainers in each chamber to hold the .177 caliber BB in place. Although the PPQ has a rifled steel barrel, Umarex claims that firing steel BBs will not harm the rifling.
With the plastic BB rotary magazine the .177 caliber steel rounds are loaded into the front of the magazine (ratchet down) and pressed firmly into the magazine chambers.

At 21 feet the CP99 delivered 8-shots into 1.18 inches. First using the Meisterkugeln 7.0 grain lead wadcutters, the PPQ (which has better sights but a harder trigger to manage) delivered its 8-round magazine into a 2-1/2 inch string with 5 shots clustered at 1.25 inches and three going slightly wide. This was about the best I could do with the model. With more trigger time it would probably keep all eight rounds at a little over 1 inch. Another point is that the cast rotary magazines for the PPQ are not as finely crafted as the older rotary magazines made for the CP99. With the plastic rotary magazine and eight .177 caliber steel BBs, I managed a best group measuring 1.25 inches. The steel rounds clocked an average velocity of 332 fps with a high of 349 fps, a low of 318 fps and a standard deviation of 11 fps for eight shots. The PPQ is not an even match for the CP99, not in price, not in accuracy and certainly not in trigger pull. But for the price it is all the airgun it can be, and bear the Walther name.

The CP99 can pack them in from 21 feet delivering eight lead wadcutters with a total spread of 1.18 inches and several overlapping.
The PPQ’s heavy trigger makes consistent accuracy more challenging, but it can be managed with practice. My first run with the PPQ delivered eight lead wadcutters in a vertical string (less one) measuring 2-1/2 inches with the tightest cluster measuring 1.25 inches.

As for me, like I said, I’m not big on change. I like the PPQ for what it is and some of its better features like the elongated slide release levers, with the right side being used as the safety, clever and well engineered, and I like the sights, but overall I’ll still pick the CP99 if I want a non-blowback action, pellet-firing CO2 pistol. I made the same choice in 9mm as well; still a P99 man.

The Airgun Experience will return in one week with the “You asked for it gun test.” In the meantime, as we await the arrival of new 2018 models, if you have a gun test or comparison test you would like to see in Airgun Experience, send a comment and let me know your favorite match up.

Post article follow up

I ran an additional test with Gamo 4.5mm lead round ball ammo and got the following results:

CP99 average velocity with the heavier 8.2 grain round lead ball ammo was 295 fps to 300 fps. With the PPQ average velocity was 289 fps to 295 fps, just a hair slower.

Accuracy at 21 feet with the CP99 was 1.24 inches for eight shots. The PPQ with its better sights delivered its eight rounds at 1.01 inches, which is better than the PPQ did with 4.5mm lead wadcutters.

So yes, you can shoot the less expensive Gamo (or H&N) round lead pellets through the cast alloy rotary magazines and the CP99 and PPQ will work perfectly.

3 thoughts on “Umarex Walther PPQ”

  1. Would you consider testing the CP99 and PPQ with the Gamo lead balls? I may buy the Gamo lead balls, but first I’d like to see how well they perform with these two pistols.

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