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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As an owner of Walther pistols this question crossed my mind when I decided to add a 9mm semi-auto to my collection.  The P99 was a natural candidate together with the H&K P2000 and others.  While searching for info, the name of the SW99 came up and attracted my attention, so I decided to check it as well.
A visit to the “Walher P99 FAQ” revealed the following statement: “The SW99 frame, although made by Walther in Germany, has a rounded trigger guard. The shape and composition of the SW99's slide is also different. The slide and barrel of the SW99 are stainless steel and melonite-finished. The slide and barrel of the P99 are steel and tennifer-treated. The P99 is considered by most to be superior to the SW99.”
On the other hand the article “SW-99 - Statistical Data Included” published in “Guns Magazine”, of Nov, 1999  by Charles E. Petty make the following statements:
“Mechanically and operationally the Walther and the S&W are as peas in a pod, but cosmetically there are some notable differences. They involve both the frame and slide.”
And
“Actually both guns were very similar with one notable exception. The Walther showed a very extreme "first-shot syndrome" that increased the group average by almost an inch. The first shot out of the magazine was frequently high. The S&W didn't do that at all and the average accuracy was, for a service pistol, very good.”

From additional research I learned that the Melonite process is very similar to the Tennifer process and equale in hardening effect on the gun parts.
I know that for many it is an emotional subject, but I am really interested in your experiience and your opinion.
 

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I don't know if you can say that its inferior, however in my opinion, the P99 is better. And I'll list my reasons why:

I do not like the Melonite finish. Every SW99 that I've seen New In Box, has had the finish flaking off somewhere on the gun. The finish also leaves a gritty feeling in the mechanics of the gun also. The triggers on the SW99 have always felt worse than the P99's. Why, I don't know, because theoretically they should be the same. I also don't like the looks or feel of the SW99. It feels "bulkier" to me and the grip is slicker. Also, I've found that the P99 is more accurate. You're quote from the Guns magazine is the first I've seen that said the P99's accuracy was worse than the SW99's. In all the other articles I've read, when they compare the two or even articles on just one of the guns, the accuracy has always gone to the P99. The SW99 slide to frame to barrel fit doesn't seem as good either.

I'm also slightly biased. I don't like the way S&W has handled the Walther line as a distributer. I've had problems with S&W getting me information and even had a major run in with them on an order of new P99's to where Walther Germany had to get involved to make things right. Personally I don't think S&W should have anything to do with Walther.

This is just my opinion.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]I'm also slightly biased. I don't like the way S&W has handled the Walther line as a distributer. I've had problems with S&W getting me information and even had a major run in with them on an order of new P99's to where Walther Germany had to get involved to make things right. Personally I don't think S&W should have anything to do with Walther.
I would have to fully agree with that. I looked at both in purchasing a new pistol and experienced some less than savory sales techniques on the part of SW dealers pushing SW products. It got to a point that I was told that Walther did not make the P99 anymore and only put the Waltehr name on the P22. But hey, we have a nice SW99 we can sell you.

Funny, I went to another gun store and had not one shred of trouble ordering a P99 in 40 SW.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is all very interesting and I wonder why you have experienced a worse trigger response. Personally, after firing both guns (both after break in) I couldn’t notice any difference, but maybe it was the result of both being heavily used. The sales ethics and the shape of the slide do not project on the performance of the gun. Personally, I like the looks of the SW99, but agree that the P99 looks more “threatening”. As for the flaking, it is an aesthetic issue mainly as the black color is the result of the oxidation phase and not the nitridizing which induce the strength to the metal. If S&W adopted the Melonite QP instead the Q process the surface would have a polished finish and wouldn’t suffer from flaking. As for accuracy, it is resulting from the barrel lock to the slide. The frame has very little influence if any at all. From what I checked tolerances are similar for the SW99 and P99.
I feel that in terms of cost performance the SW99 is not a bad choice. If I had to decide on performance and reliability only, I would probably choose the H&K P2000, but it is too expensive and the price is not justified for civil use. If I had to choose a pistol for military service I would recommend the H&K USP. This is from my experience, the best pistol existing today.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (zeevbi @ June 29 2004,3:21)] As for the flaking, it is an aesthetic issue mainly as the black color is the result of the oxidation phase
Maybe it's an aesthetic issue, however, if one part of the gun is crap, what's to say the rest of the gun isn't crap? Would you buy a new car with the paint peeling off? Who's to say that if they can't get the finish right, the inner workings aren't right either.

You make reference to barrel locking with the slide. In a couple of SW99's that I've seen, the barrel has been loose.

I don't see the cost being that big of a deal. I can usually buy a P99 for the same price as a SW99. If not, its only $50 more at the most.

Personally from what I've read, the tenifer finish is better than the melonite. I'm just a dumb electrical engineer and not a chemical engineer, so this might be a wash anyway.

I don't think the H&K's are any better than the P99 or the SW99. I see no advantage to them at all. The P99 passed the same rigorus test that H&K did as well as Glock and others. In MHO, the H&K's are overpriced blocks.

As for military service, nothing beats the good ol' 1911.
 

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I have a H&K P2000 and a P99.
I carry the P99, the wife carries the P2k.
They are pretty much equal in every way, ergonomics, accuracy, reliability, except the P99 DA/SA has a better trigger than the P2k LEM........IMO.
;)
Ohh....... the P99 and SW99 are pretty much identical, except Walther tends to have better QC than S&W. The P99's are on average better finished and have better fitting parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Did some field work today and checked 12 new SW99s from 3 dealers. None of them had any finish flaking off the gun. Checking some used ones in a range and talking to repair shop didn’t reveal any complains on this issue. I wonder if this was the result of a damaged production batch. It is definitely reflects on S&W’s QC or sales policies.

While making the investigation, I was surprised to learn that the main problem with the gun is its factory installed plastic rear sight. It tend to get loose. The usual practice here is to replace the sights with Trijicon metal night sights.

I also spoke to a friend who works in the defense industry. He is specializing in military small arms. I mentioned to him the complains about the slide sitting loose on the frame of the SW99 compared to the P99. What he told me was quite interesting. He claims that for defense tasks the accuracy of S&W is more than enough. He claims that the Germans tend to work with very small tolerances. In Germany, where the amount of dust in the air is quite small this is not a problem. When the gun is being used in dry areas, that usually have elevated levels of dust and sometimes also send particles in the air, the guns with the small tolerances tend to fail. In his opinion the tolerances built into the SW99 are the right ones. Bottom line – higher reliability
 

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Maybe S&W finally got their finishing process to work then. I haven't picked up a SW99 and looked at it for a long time now, so maybe they've improved.

As far as reliability goes, the P99 has been subjected to mud, ice, water, dirt, sand and a host of other things. It kept on working. I haven't ever heard of the SW99 going through these tests. I agree with your defense industry friends assessment about drier areas of opperation, but the P99's tolerences aren't that tight.

Currently there is a member of this board who is running a reliability endurance test. I did a similar one a couple of years ago. I ran 6000 rounds through my P99 without cleaning it. I never had a problem. I live in a deserty area (albeit not Iraq) and the gun was very dirty. I used it for IDPA competition and also for what my club calls Patrol Shoots. In the patrol shoots I was crawling around in the dirt and my P99 got very dirty. It still ran like a charm.

Maybe you should do an endurance test with a SW99.
 

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I've never really been that impressed with the fit and finish on S&W guns.  -Don't get me started on their quality, I had a new revolver from them that broke within 100 rounds using factory ammo.  (Their warranty dept. did step up and do the right thing, but I ended up selling the gun.)  

I'm familiar with the whole tolerances argument.  Yes, in combat pistols you want more play between parts than you have in target guns.  That is one of the things that helps make the Glock such a reliable gun.  I've handled the SW99 gun and while I agree it is looser than the P99, I have my doubts that it will be much more reliable.  I live in the desert and the dust in the air thing is a ridiculous concern.  You'd have to go through a sandstorm for it to be an issue, and if you did get hit by one, you'd clean the weapon at your first opportunity whether it was a P99, a SW99, or a Beretta 92 (M9) with its exceptionally loose tolerances.  

-It's funny, HK's are not noticeably looser than Walther's P99 and I believe someone was just recently crowing about how great the HK's were for a military sidearm.  It seems the tolerances-reliabiltiy issue doesn't apply to a gun an individual likes.


-Given the tests the P99 has passed, I'd be surprised if the SW99 had any quantifiable edge.  
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My days of crawling in the dirt with guns ended years ago. After being through four wars and many commando operations I am happy with visiting the range from time to time and just shoot on targets for sport and entertainment. I do have interest in guns from technological aspects and appreciate innovation when I see it.
As for the endurance test with the SW99 – if I have to predict the results, it will pass with the same results as the P99. The reason is that the frame and trigger mechanisms are identical as far as I could see when I disassembled both. Slide and barrel are identical where it matters, i.e. striker, barrel slide lock, etc. Corrosion resistance of slide/barrel is at least as good as the slide/barrel of the P99. I really don’t expect any surprises here. But as I mentioned before, my days of crawling with guns are over and I clean my gun when I am back from the range.
By the way, not all the Walthers are reliable. I had a 7.65 ppk for more than 30 years and it gave me many troubles although I always keep my guns well maintained. It was sensitive to impacts and when it fell on the ground it ended up with a broken firing pin and deformation to the hammer mechanism. The P99 and the SW99 as a result, are very different. I dropped both on the floor from 3 feet without any damage. I was worried about damaging the frame, but it passed this test easily.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (zeevbi @ June 30 2004,3:57)]The P99 and the SW99 as a result, are very different. I dropped both on the floor from 3 feet without any damage. I was worried about damaging the frame, but it passed this test easily.
Geez...... remind me not to shop in the same gunstores that you do.
If you deliberately dropped my P99 on the floor......... we'd be having some words.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Don't you want to know how robust is your gun? <bib grin> And this is the reason the USP is so reliable. You can drop it and it will not fire or break.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (zeevbi @ June 30 2004,3:57)]By the way, not all the Walthers are reliable.  I had a 7.65 ppk for more than 30 years and it gave me many troubles although I always keep my guns well maintained...
I don't think I said that all Walthers are reliable.  I'm not that brand loyal.  If a different company came out with what was possibly a better gun and the ammo wasn't prohibitively expensive (i.e. the Five-seveN from FN), I'd be there.


I simply remarked that I didn't like the fit and finish of S&W guns.  I know given enough time in the business, every company has at least one dog of a firearm model and a few lemons within the successful lines.  I admit that I may be encountering those lemons from S&W.

Regarding the PP, for a gun that first saw production in 1929, it was a fairly solid piece compared to its contemporaries.  Comparing its ability to survive a drop on concrete to a gun that is much more modern is like me comparing the 2004 Mustang to the 1967 Mustang.  -Styling issues aside, the '67 just doesn't have the suspension, brakes, or engine to keep up.  Telling me that a Glock or HK or even the P99 and SW99 faired much better than a Walther PP in a drop test is no surprise.  They should.  They've had the benefit of 50+ years of technological advances.

The question I have is how the gun with looser tolerances is supposedly more accurate than the one that has tighter tolerances.  Since tolerances are always at odds with accuracy, this seems suspect.    
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I never claimed that the SW99 is looser than the P99, someone else did. I said that the tolerances are just right and made a general statement about the positive impact of looser design when the gun is being used in a harsh environment. I don’t have the tools to compare the tolerances of the SW and the P. As one of you have mentioned it is immaterial. I even didn’t claim that SW is more accurate than the P, I just said that the accuracy of the SW is more than enough for self defense. As for the drop test, this is a standard test for mil use. A gun that will not survive this test is considered a toy.
Although sharing your views regarding the age of the pp and its innovative design when it first came out (and remember, I had one for a long time and got rid of it after I couldn’t trust it anymore) the fact that the same design is still being produced is a wonder to me.
If I was misunderstood in anyway I am sorry. I had no intention to offend any of you.
 

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I don't take any offense and I didn't mean any offense.  It's just a discussion.  


I attributed the accuracy comment to you, since you were citing an article comparing the groupings of the P99 and SW99.  As I had read it before, I thought you were endorsing / in agreement with the comment.

With the tolerances, I'm aware that Devin brought it up, but it seemed that by advancing your friend's opinion (i.e. the looser tolerances of the SW99 being right), you were again endorsing / in agreement with the sentiment.

When you take the two together, they seemed to be at odds.  -Whatever the case, I don't want to re-hash the details.  I can accept that I might have read it wrong.  -I think both pistols offer fine combat accuracy and what separates them is subject to personal preferences.  

I do have to agree with you about the amazement of the longevity of the PP design.  I had thought when the compact 9mm's came out the  PPK/S would go into the night, but nope.  -Few pistols have that kind of lifespan or have been as frequently cloned.  -I just saw a Hungarian FEG PA 63 in .380 (for $200) at my local gun shop.  The frame was aluminum instead of steel, it had an added curve to the backstrap to make it more grip friendly, but the sights aren't nearly as nice as what the PP has.  -I always find it interesting to see what people change when they're aping a design.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Before the PP I had a CZ clone. I think it was model 71. This was a mediocre gun that had the reputation of being a prostitute self defense gun in Germany (no kidding). It went through a complete modification phase. The first thing was making the hammer bigger and heavier and at the same time I reduced the strength of the spring operating it. It made the DA trigger pull considerably lighter, but the extra weight of the hammer guarantied primer activation. The second thing was to increase the strength of the spring of the firing pin safety lock. The original was a joke and knocking the gun down could release the safety and fire a chambered bullet. The third step was improving the finish of the slide inside and outside, including reworking the grooves. All these made it a good gun and in many ways better than the original PP I had. I still have it in my possession and consider it a toy, but I feel that the CZ designer could learn a lot from examining the modifications
 

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I'd still like to see an endurance test done on a SW99. I'm sure it would fair just as well as the P99, but I'd still like to see the results.

The PP design seems to have its fair share of lemons. I had an American made PPK/S that started out as a jam O matic. After I took it apart and deburred some rough edges on the slide, then cleaned and lubed it well, the thing ran like a champ. I did trade it off on a German made PP. My German made PP's and PPK's have for the most part ran flawlessly, except for one. Its a 1968 vintage PPK and I believe the problem is either with the magazine or the ammo I'm using. The gun is in such great shape, that I haven't shot it much, so I haven't really tried to figure out what is wrong, because I want to keep it in good condition. On the flip side, I have a 1930's vintage PP and PPK. The PP is in pretty bad shape and runs with any ammo you put into it. The same with the PPK.

Concerning the drop test. Its already been done in German Police tests and by certain gun rag writers, so I figure I don't have to do it. Plus, who wants a big dent or gouge in their brand new pistol?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Jam O matic <grin>, this is a fair description. At the end every second bullet jammed. The main source of troubles was the magazine. The design is bad. If you keep the magazine loaded for a long period the spring loose strength. Have you tried using a new magazine?
I wonder why the Walther lost to the H&K in the German police test. Any idea?
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (zeevbi @ July 01 2004,11:48)]I wonder why the Walther lost to the H&K in the German police test. Any idea?
Because all government procurements are political in nature.
H&K called in more "favors" with the German politicos than Walther or Sig did.
It's the nature of Government contracts.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (zeevbi @ June 30 2004,6:58)]Don't you want to know how robust is your gun? <bib grin> And this is the reason the USP is so reliable. You can drop it and it will not fire or break.
By dropping your pistol you've actually proven next to nothing.
Your drop test proved that when dropped from the exact height you dropped it from, onto the exact surface you dropped it on, at the exact angle you dropped it at it didn't break that time.
But different heights, surfaces or angles might cause completely different results.
...
That and now your pistol is dinged up for no reason.
 
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