Story and Photos by Leroy Thompson
For those of us who like Walther pistols, the introduction of a new one is always somewhat of an event. Such Walther designs as the PPK and PP have been around for more than three-quarters of a century and are still among the better self-defense pistols. Walther has, however, introduced new 9x19mm pistols to replace the classic P-38, though that design still remains quite good, as well.
As new Walther service pistol designs have come out, I’ve tried them all. I owned both P5 and P88 pistols, and considered both quite good. Later, when the P99 was introduced as a replacement for both of them, I tried it, liked it and started carrying it.
The P99 incorporated various features that are considered de rigueur on the latest generation of combat pistols, including a polymer frame, an internal striker, interchangeable backstraps, an ambidextrous mag release, an accessory rail and non-protruding controls. It’s a good pistol, although I prefer the original version, which allowed carry requiring a first round DA pull or a lighter pre-cocked first round pull. This system was later replaced with a choice of three types of action.
One other feature I really liked with the P99 was that extra front sights were supplied so that the proper elevation could be achieved whether using 147-grain subsonic or 115-grain +P+ loads. Since I find few pistols that come from the factory with sights properly regulated, this was a real boon.
I carried the P99 for a year or so, and became used to it and shot it well. Others seemed to get especially interested when James Bond carried a P99 in one or more films. It also achieved some success in military and law enforcement sales.
I remember being contacted by one police department armorer who had read an article I did on the P99 and had a couple of questions based on the article. That was a decade ago or more, but I remember one of the questions pertained to the technique I used to quickly prepare the pistol for a lighter SA shot when carrying the pistol in the heavier DA mode.
Smith & Wesson marketed the P99 under the S&W name and I have a .40 S&W version from them plus my original Walther P99 in 9x19mm. I have rarely shot them over the last few years, however. Nevertheless, when I heard about the new Walther PPQ, which incorporates “improvements” on the P99, I got enthusiastic again and requested one to test.
To read this article in its entirety, pick up a copy of the November issue of Gun World, available at newsstands now.