Walther CP88

Walther CP88 Competition Part 1

After more than 15 years this is still the top 8-shot 4.5mm target pistol

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Walther CP88 is a true competition derived pistol design based on the 9mm P88 Champion model, which used a 6-inch competition barrel and single action trigger.

The Umarex Walther CP88 is a true competition derived pistol design based on the 9mm P88 Champion model, which used a 6-inch competition barrel and single action trigger.

There’s an old belief that if you do things right the first time you don’t have to do them over again. A little more than 15 years ago Umarex and Walther did something absolutely right called the CP88, and it is still one of the very best 4.5mm multi-shot pellet pistols you can own.

The 9mm semi-auto it was based upon, the Walther P88 was, at one time, one of the top ranked semi-autos in Germany for law enforcement use, a finely crafted, high-capacity 15+1 pistol with exceptional handling and accuracy. It was, however, an expensive handgun for law enforcement use and was only produced in its original version from 1987 to 1993, when it was replaced by the slightly smaller and less expensive P88 Compact. The lower manufacturing cost was due to minor changes in the pistol’s design which simplified some of its features. The Compact version was discontinued in 2003, by which time the new polymer-framed, striker-fired Walther P99 had replaced the P88 in the holsters of most German law enforcement officers.

The CP88 has an overall length of 9-inches and weighs 2.5 pounds (40 ounces) empty. Note the ambidextrous safety and ambidextrous magazine release buttons, like the 9mm models.

The 4.5mm Umarex Walther CP88 Competition has an overall length of 9-inches and weighs 2.5 pounds (40 ounces) empty. 

For the market segment (both in Europe and the U.S.) it was intended for, which was law enforcement, the P88 was almost too good of a handgun, yet it provided every feature police officers carrying a semiautomatic pistol could possibly want. It was built on a lightweight precision alloy frame with a 31.5 ounce carry weight, had fully ambidextrous operation, a double action, single action trigger, a decocker, and adjustable sights. It was nearly a target pistol, and in fact, two target pistol versions of the recoil-operated, locked-breech semiautomatic 9mm pistols were produced. One was the P88 Competition with an SAO (single action only) trigger, standard length 4-inch barrel (the P88 Compact had a shorter 3.93 inch barrel), and a very limited production P88 Champion model fitted with a 6-inch competition barrel and the SAO trigger. Discontinued in 1992, today you’ll pay upwards of $3,000 for a mint condition P88 Champion and between $1,500 and $1,800 for a 95% to 98% percent condition gun, according to the Blue Book of Gun Values. Now, if you like the look of the P88 Champion and don’t mind stepping down from 9mm to 4.5mm, you can have one for a whole lot less.

Although the ambidextrous safety on the CP88 does not work as a decocker, a cocked gun on safe, with the ambidextrous safety down, (shown here in the up or FIRE position) will not fire. The trigger can be pulled and the hammer will fall but the pistol will not discharge.

Although the ambidextrous safety on the CP88 air pistol does not work as a decocker, a cocked gun with the safety lowered (shown here with the ambidextrous safety in the up or FIRE position) will not fire. The trigger can be pulled and the hammer will fall but the pistol will not discharge.

Once again, like the original 9mm semi-autos, there are two versions, the Umarex Walther CP88 Competition with the 6-inch Champion barrel length, and the CP88 with standard 4-inch barrel length, but it is the Competition version that is the more appealing of the two 4.5mm pellet-firing models.

The 6-inch barrel length CP88 Competition uses a standard notch rear sight and serrated blade front.

The 6-inch barrel length Umarex Walther CP88 Competition model uses a standard notch rear sight and front blade.

The CP88 is not a new gun compared to the latest crop of CO2-powered air pistols, but rather a 21st century standard bearer of the legendary 20th century models now long gone and now considered to be collectible firearms. Interestingly, the Umarex Walther CP88 has actually been in production longer than the 9mm P88 models!

The base of what appears to be the bottom of a magazine is actually the CO2 seating device. The ambidextrous right side magazine release is actually used to press out the left grip panel for loading the CO2 into the grip frame. With the grip panel removed, the CO2 is loaded into the channel and the thumb screw tightened. Closing the seating lever pieces the CO2 and makes the gun ready to fire.

The base of what appears to be the bottom of a magazine is actually the CO2 seating device. The ambidextrous right side magazine release is actually used to press out the left grip panel for loading the CO2 into the grip frame. With the grip panel removed, the CO2 is loaded into the channel and the thumb screw tightened. Closing the seating lever pierces the CO2 and makes the gun ready to fire.

At one time during the CP88’s production run there was actually a third version, a very handsome nickel plated Competition model. If you were lucky enough to purchase one, it is now a collectible as well. The latest matte black oxide finish CP88 Competition model pictured has the same great design. This version is fitted with the factory optional hardwood checkered grips in place of the standard hard plastic grips. It’s a worthwhile upgrade both for looks and handling. But the CP88 is more than just a good looking version of a legendary 9mm Walther semi-auto, the Champion model is also an impressive and affordable 4.5mm target pistol that has earned the rights to its famous name.

Next week in Part 2 we explore the features, operation, and accuracy of this time proven 4.5mm 8-shot pellet pistol.

4 thoughts on “Walther CP88

  1. Dennis,

    I have the nickel plated version of the CP88 Competition with the original black plastic grips. I think it looks better than the matte black oxide version in your review. Although I’m not bothered by the white text on the black air pistols, I do like that the engraved text on the nickel version is not painted.

    When I purchased my nickel CP88 Competition back in 2012, I hadn’t read anywhere that it was a limited edition. What were the years of production for the nickel version? I also never seriously considered that it or any other of my Umarex action pistols would become collectibles except for the limited edition replicas that Umarex has released more recently. If the nickel CP88 is now considered a collectible, what can I reasonably expect for any appreciation in value over the coming years?

    I’ve often wondered whether the name CP88 Competition was because it replicated a competition level P88 firearm or because Umarex intended the CP88 Competition pistol to be used in 10 meter air pistol competition. Is there any level of 10 meter air pistol competition in which the CP88 Competition pistol would be used?


    • Well you are fortunate to have purchased the nickel plated version when they were available. They were discontinued in just the last year but had been on the market almost since the beginning. When I say “collectible” it is in the broadest definition since the value won’t really go up that much, but rather the nickel model becomes “collectible” simply because it is no longer offered. Will it be worth more than a blued model in the future, absolutely, but by how much will be determined by demand on the secondary market. To answer your question about using the CP88 Competition in 10 meter pistol matches, it is not comparable to air pistols built specifically for 10 meter competition, but it is a good training gun to improve shooting skills at 10 meters.


  2. The next great advance in replica airguns would be a blowback ,semiauto feeding from a co2 ,stick mag like the bb pistols . If not that a pistol looking like a. Colt Woodsman Match Target , S&W 41.



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