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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I recently posted this thread trying to understand the difference between the Walther and Smith & Wesson products: http://www.waltherforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=5480

Since I seem to have to learn everything by doing I went out and bought a used S&W99. Here are my impressions, compared with the Walther P99C AS, without the benefit of a trip to the range:

My main and first impression is that the S&W is not as detailed in its machining. There is the obovious lack of bevels on the slide that make the S&W look more ordinary, but the little differences are apparent, also. The top-most part of the slide on the Walther is machined with a series of "ribs" which probably help lead the eye to the front sight, or maybe just look slick. The S&W does not have this and the same top of the slide is just one blank surface.

The front of the frame: round (S&W, no rail) and square (Walther, with a rail). The configurations are very different at this point. The S&W has forward cocking serrations, which I don't like.

Trigger: both guns were purchased used, so there is no telling how much use they had. The trigger doesn't seem all that different to me.

The barrel: The front of the barrel is very different. The S&W has a belled barrel on the front where it rides on the front of the slide, in the area where a barrel bushing would be on a .45. The Walther barrel does not seem at all flared at this point.

All in all, I am not too terribly pleased with the S&W, but of course I haven't shot it yet, the main use for a pistol. The S&W just doesn't seem as elegant as the Walther, almost the same effect as if the S&W were the earlier design of the same pistol and the Walther was the more modern version. Maybe it will grow on me - the Walther design certainly has.
 

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Did U get a SW99 COMPACT?

I have a fullsize SW99, and it has a rail.

True, the top of the slide doesn't have texturing, but honestly - I have a fullsize and compact P99 as well as the SW99. The P99 just looks cooler - but the guns are really the same. I like the texturing on the P99 frame a bit more too - especially on the front strap.

But, I have no plans to get rid of my SW99.
 

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To the best of my knowledge the top serrations on the slide are to prevent glare in sunlight so you can see the sights (the P7 has them, so does the PPK line)
and yes the SW99c does not have a rail .... but the SW99 does
 

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I have all my slides hard chromed - and serrated or not doesn't really make any difference to me - it just looks cooler.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So is it just me that makes the S&W99 compact seem kind of, well, cruder than its German cousin? Less well finished, less attractive, and kind of pedestrian?

I guess I should have done this the other way: been charmed by the S&W and then had my little doors blown off by the Walther.
 

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So is it just me that makes the S&W99 compact seem kind of, well, cruder than its German cousin? Less well finished, less attractive, and kind of pedestrian?

I guess I should have done this the other way: been charmed by the S&W and then had my little doors blown off by the Walther.
Ehh, honestly your reaction seems to match most of the others I've seen. If you can get the Walther!v:p
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ehh, honestly your reaction seems to match most of the others I've seen. If you can get the Walther!v:p
Oh, don't worry - I have both the compact and full size Walther. I think the S&W will be relegated to rear-guard duty once I shoot it a few times. I suspect that is all the experimentation I need and will return to the German product.

I drive a Toyota and wish it were a Detroit-made Chevrolet - I guess it will be the same with the Walther vs. the S&W comparison.
 

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Oh, don't worry - I have both the compact and full size Walther. I think the S&W will be relegated to rear-guard duty once I shoot it a few times. I suspect that is all the experimentation I need and will return to the German product.
It's sort of a weird little product for S&W, reselling a gun from another company designed. I can see that making a lot of the folks there somewhat unhappy with the "Not invented here" syndrome. Especially since they produce competing guns. There's just a lot of opportunity for finger pointing there that could get really ugly... OTOH, for Walther it's there product through and through so I think they have a lot more reason to get behind it and make it as great as it can be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Speaking of Walther getting behind its product, I'd sure like to see some figures about how much of the Euro police market that Walther has. The company's concentration on this market is often cited as why Walther doesn't promote their line of excellent pistols here, and I just have to wonder if it is true or not.

I don't think I have ever seen a Walther advertisement - even for their .22 pistol which has apparently made some dent in the American market. Do they think they are above promotion of their product? Are they so indifferent that they went into this deal with S&W just to sell a lot of pistol frames?

This seems like a very odd corporate culture, and, haveing finally examined an example of the curious case of the S&Walther pistol now I understand it less, and not more.
 

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I'm actually going to come down in favor a a very good strategy for Walther and one that (depending on your viewpoint) bodes well for us. First thing is cracking the American market takes a lot of capitol and familiarity with the market. Lot of competitors and they have been in the environment for some time and know it inside and out.

So if you're a relatively small German company how does an approach where you build brand recognition while learning the market and being able to grow yourself slowly sound as a strategy? Sounds good to me! Lots of details to get in order to be able to compete. Say you have a pathetic, half fast web site and need time to replace it with something which will stand up to American standards. Oh, that's right, Walther did that. You need time to line up enough dealers to make buying advertising in large scale publications worthwhile, hmmm Walther has been doing that. Meanwhile you need to be able to merchandise your name out to enough people by leveraging someone else's marketing and distribution structure. Boy, this is sounding familiar isn't it? :D I'm guessing that is exactly why Walther got in bed with S&W, learn from your competitor and build your strength off theirs.

OTOH, why you S&W get in bed with Walther? Only reason I can think of is to build up their lagging market share because they didn't have a great entry in the hot poly pistol market. You don't want to fall too far behind a company like Glock in market share since that can easily become fatal if they get too far ahead. This approach let's you learn from your competitors who have been doing it longer and more successfully than you have and come out with a product that can compete. Now Glock didn't need them so Walther was probably the next choice and did need them.

All in all a sordid little marriage of convenience which shouldn't last too much longer. S&W is looking stronger in the poly pistol market and Walther is coming up to speed. I would expect a divorce fairly soon after which Walther will start dating the Americas in earnest hoping to pick up a bad case of round heels in the process. It all depends on when the confluence of market factors becomes strong enough for each of them to believe they are better off on their own.

I'd expect to see some weird fluctuations in Walther supply as S&W uses their position as importer to restrict the availability and tries to keep them from eroding their market too much. Maybe throw in some little glitches like meeting your agreed upon market quotas but not with the most popular models, maybe you import the wrong type of trigger instead so that your partner isn't getting too strong. Hmmm, this scenario does sound rather familiar doesn't it? And what would I do as a counter move if I were in Walther's position. Hmmm, how about designing for a segment that your "partner" didn't have well covered so you could get more of your products in? Say, a very small size weapon that your "partner" didn't offer and therefore wouldn't feel like they were competing against themselves?

Based on nothing except the general rules of how business is played, I'm guessing we're right about at this stage right now but don't have a shred of evidence to support that other than gut feeling...
 

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Interesting take on the situation. I hope you're right and they really do take up some marketing here. Competition is good.

On the other hand, it's not like you can't get them, and whether or not they're "popular" here isn't all that important unless you're interested in the aftermarket doo-dads and gadgets.
 

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Interesting theory - but I don't know. Look how long the P99 has been out. They REALLY could do a better job at advertising their line.

Beretta had a Beretta range day last July. When they introduced their 90-Two, they went to ranges around the country - let people shoot their guns for free, and U could enter to win a free gun at EACH range. That was great advertising.

Walther should do that. They are NOW finally advertising some of their guns in the gun magazines in small ads, but it's kinda late to start pushing the P99 now, after its been out so long. Sorry.
 

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I think the reason they got into bed are probably fairly close to reality, it might also have been that Walther doesn't want the international market share that much and this allowed them to sell some guns without investing in building a big marketing machine or thinking much about the market. Thinking along the lines of -> Hmmm, let's sell the left overs we have from our target market and license some intellectual property and make even more money without more effort on our part. That's another pretty plausible scenario to me. Not as aggressive as I am but still it isn't a bad approach. It's also one I've seen with relatively small companies who are making enough profit they are happy and don't care to work or gamble harder.

Hard to say without a lot more inside knowledge I don't have. The future guesses are probably inaccurate since they assume both companies are on the ball and when you're possibly dealing with a manufacturer who can't keep up with its competitors and another one who just doesn't care to sell product you just aren't talking about the killer elite...
 

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FWIW Dept:

Hope this doesn't stray toooo far from the initial intent of the thread, but regarding Walther's "non-marketing" policy to the US firearms market...


Don't know if any of you folks have ever owned a Bersa/Firestorm pistol or not, but Bersa/Firestorm suffers from the same poor US marketing that Walther does.

Bersa/Firestorms are considered by most gun folks who haven't owned or shot one as a 2nd grade product. My personal observations from shooting my Bersa Thunder 9/Ultra Compact and my Firestorm FS22 indicate otherwise.

Both of my Bersa/Firestorms have been fantastic pistols.

My understanding is that the Bersa Thunder 9/40 series were designed around the fine Walther P88, while the smaller Bersa Thunder 380/Firestorm FS22 have a design heritage from the Walther PP & PPK. There is an obvious design connection easy for anyone to see who has held or fired one of these pistols.




My BT9/UC is extremely accurate, and with a capacity of 13+1 makes for a nice vehicle/home defense weapon. It is a bit too large for cc, and the name "Ultra Compact" is a stretch...

But, both pistols have been 100% reliable and very accurate.. I think I only paid $305+tax for the BT9/UC (then $125 for the CAT laser), and the Firestorm was $227 otd.

I was considering the purchase of a Walther P22 after acquiring my fine P99c/AS and P99/AS, but I kept reading horror stories about their reliability and accuracy, and considering my FS22 has neither of those issues I passed on the P22..

Anyone desiring a less expensive pistol for whatever reason would be well served by the BT9/UC or the rimfire FS22. Both come with lifetime warranties, and these pistols may be less expensive, but they are NOT cheap, or cheaply made.

The Bersa/Firestorms aren't the Walthers we all love, but they certainly could have come out of the woodpile behind Herr Walther's home.. :eek:

Best Wishes,

J. Pomeroy
 

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As far as Walther's advertising who the hell knows what they are doing. There is plenty of name recognition from the PPK,PPK/S,P38,P1,P5,P88 and P99. They have a good name within the U.S. firearms market, apparently they don't want to capitalize on it.
PX15, excellent post. Bersa/Firestorm makes some excellent pistols. I just shot my Thunder 9 FS today actually. I bought my first Bersa because it was a P88 copy. They are excellent pistols, especially for the price they are available for.
 
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