Walther CP99 Compact – Blowback Action Semi-Auto Part 1
Walther’s Concealed Carry P99 model on Air
By Dennis Adler
When Carl Walter GmbH introduced the .177 caliber CP99 air pistol some 15 years ago, it was a bold new design that helped launch the current generation of air pistols based on real, cartridge-firing semi-autos. Today, that same model is still among the most popular of all Umarex Walther CO2 models, but the original CP99 lacked one essential feature that really sells semi-auto air pistols today, a blowback action.
At the forefront today is a new Walther air pistol, the CP99 Compact, which duplicates the size and basic operating features of the 9mm and .40 S&W compact Walther models. The CP99 Compact is a very realistic looking airgun, at least from one side (the right side of the gun has a manual thumb safety not found on the cartridge-firing models). The CP99 Compact, does, however, have that all-essential blowback action that cycles the slide and chambers the next BB from a magazine contained in the grip. This latest model is actually a better training gun than the original CP99 pellet model, and is another officially branded Walther product.
Blowing back in the wind
When Walther began development of the CP99 blowback action model the decision had been made that the new air pistol would not be another full sized version, but rather the Compact variant which was gaining popularity in the law enforcement and civilian marketplace for concealed carry use. As a CO2 variation, the CP99 Compact would also be an ideal choice for firearms training, as had been the original pellet-firing CP99. Even though the airgun is not an exact copy of the 9mm and .40 S&W Compact models, it shares the same frame, slide and standard grip dimensions, same trigger design, and integrated ambidextrous triggerguard magazine releases.
Where the airgun significanlty differs in handling (and for use in training) is with the design of the magazine. The BB magazine and CO2 capsules are not contained within a single magazine as they are with a number of current Umarex semi-auto designs like the Beretta 92 A1 and Colt Model 1911. The BB magazine for the CP99 Compact still loads into the grip, but it is a thin, stick-type with a grip-sized floor plate, while the CO2 capsule is inserted into the grip frame by removing the backstrap panel. The tensioning screw is also built into the base of the CO2 chamber.
Aside from the airgun’s necessary concessions, the overall handling of the air pistol is nearly identical, including the dustcover accessory rail, triggerguard configuration, grip contour and texturing, once again making the CP99 Compact a great and very affordable training aid for learning holstering, drawing, and carry techniques without involving a live firearm. The accurate features reproduced on the CP99 Compact also allow practice in slide operation, magazine release, target sighting and sight reacquisition, since the slide is moving. All that’s missing is recoil.
In terms of weight, balance, and trigger pull, the air pistol is a little heavier at 27 ounces; the actual P99 Compact weighs 20 ounces (empty), trigger pull is a light 3 pounds, 15 ounces average, with 0.75 inches of travel, and nearly a full release to reset. The airgun has the same balance in the hand as a cartridge-firing model, and when you pull the trigger on the CP99 Compact and that slide comes back, there’s a sense of authenticity that makes firing this air pistol a true learning experience, even if your only goal is to perfect shooting paper targets at 21 feet.
In Part 2 the CP99 puts steel downrange
A word about safety
Blowback action 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, blowback action models more so, 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.