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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been waiting to find a small backstrap so that I could properly review a recent acquisition; a fairly early production fullsize 9mm SW99. I already had three first gen 9mm P99s with the AS trigger, but the price was too good to pass up on the SW99 plus I've always been curious about these guns.

Brief overview for those not familiar with these guns (please correct me if I'm wrong on any of this.) S&W was the importer for the P99 from the late 1990's up to the mid-2000's after Interarms which initially imported the early P99s. The SW99 resulted as a joint venture between S&W and Walther - Walther made the frames and S&W made the slides and barrels. The frames however are not identical to those of it's P99 brethern, and one would be mistaken to conclude that an SW99 is simply a rebranded P99. To the contrary, there are many minor differences the totality of which render the SW99 a unique and quite possibly (I can't believe I'm saying this given how much I like the early P99s) a better firearms.

Objectively the SW99 differs from the first gen P99 in the following regards:

  • Possesses a true M1913 picatinny rail
  • Has front slide serrations
  • Different texture on the backstraps
  • Rounded front trigger guard
  • More defined fence around the slidestop
  • Available in .45acp
  • Usually can be found cheaper than a comparative P99
  • Uses 16rd mags (the P99 did as well for a brief period)
Subjectively I've found that my SW99 differs from my first gen P99s in the following areas:

  • Better texture on the backstraps
  • More durable finish
  • Slightly cleaner trigger break in anti-stress mode
  • Less aesthetically pleasing
  • Parts seem to be harder to come by for the SW99
Let me qualify some of what I said above. I find the grooves of the SW99 as opposed to the dot-pattern on the P99 backstraps adhere to my palm better, although neither provides a texture up to par with modern handguns like the gen5 Glocks or M&P 2.0s. The trigger break is ever so slightly cleaner (especially compared to the awful split-trigger on my very early P99) on the SW99, but that could simply be a higher round count. Aesthetics, well, that's simply my opinion...the first gen P99 is a timeless design as far as I'm concerned.

As for the finish, my opinion there is largely speculative. My SW99 was LEO issue. There is significant wear on the metal night sights, and the frame has scuffs on the right hand side of the grip consistent with significant open-carry. Yet the slide exhibits almost no wear whatsoever, and it has not been refinished. I carried my olive drab P99 occasionally for less than two years in a kydex holster and it has more wear than my SW99. Based on this I'm pretty confident that the SW99 finish is at least as strong as that of the P99, and perhaps quite a bit more.

At the range it handles very much like a P99. It felt a bit more top heavy, and it also felt as though the bore axis was a bit higher, but I can't say whether either observation is justified. I ran three 50rd boxes of ammo through it - one of steel, aluminum and brass. It ate all without issue except for the steel (Winchester 115gr Forged) - one that it failed to extract twice. I only loaded the mags to 15rds because of reliability issues I'd read when loading to the full 16rd capacity. Accuracy is on par with a P99.

So my conclusion is that the SW99 is an excellent pistol and can perhaps even be thought of as an improved P99 in a number of regards. It's unfortunate that it's reputation is somewhat negative given many consider it a P99 knockoff, which it's not. This is an excellent, reliable, quality handguns. I'd readily pick up another at the right price, especially if it was in .45.


 

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I used to have a SW99 with a hard chromed slide. It was a nice gun, but I did not like it as much as a P99. And, the one I had did not have as good of a trigger on the P99 I later purchased.

This was back in 2006. At the time, P99s were impossible to find for several months when I was trying to find one. So, I bought the SW99 while I kept searching for a real P99.

 

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I'm going solely off of memory here, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

The SW99 used the "S&W rail", which Walther later used on the 2nd and 3rd gen P99 pistols. It was similar to Glock's "universal" rail, but the notch was located in a different position, and since most accessories cater to Glock pistols, most will not fit optimally on the SW99 or P99 pistols.

I didn't see it mentioned in your post, but the SW99 used a stainless steel slide and barrel that were melonite treated, whereas the P99 uses a carbon steel slide and barrel that are tennifer treated. I've also heard that all SW99 pistols were based on the .40S&W caliber, and the 9mm models used thicker barrels and different extractors in order to hold the 9mm cartridge in place on the breechface, which is large enough to fit a .40 casing. I'd like to hear if this is in fact the case. Is the end of your barrel, close to the muzzle, necked up? Is the breechface wide enough to fit a .40 casing in it?

The SW99 was S&W's only defensive pistol that could plausibly be used to win agency contracts. I believe it was made from 1999-2006. It was made after S&W lost the lawsuit to Glock. The Sigma had a pretty bad reputation and wasn't selling very well, and the M&P wouldn't be released until 2006.

S&W and Walther helped each other during that time. Walther gave S&W a pistol to use to win agency contracts, and S&W ended up diagnosing and fixing a magazine related issue on the SW99 that also plagued the .40 P99 pistols, according to an armorer I've spoken to on another forum.

Personally, I wouldn't have an issue using either one, but I've owned a 1st gen P99, and I didn't really see much improvement in the SW99.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I didn't see it mentioned in your post, but the SW99 used a stainless steel slide and barrel that were melonite treated, whereas the P99 uses a carbon steel slide and barrel that are tennifer treated. I've also heard that all SW99 pistols were based on the .40S&W caliber, and the 9mm models used thicker barrels and different extractors in order to hold the 9mm cartridge in place on the breechface, which is large enough to fit a .40 casing. I'd like to hear if this is in fact the case. Is the end of your barrel, close to the muzzle, necked up? Is the breechface wide enough to fit a .40 casing in it?

Mine is a RSA that appears identical to that of the P99, i.e. it is not stainless. The muzzle is indeed necked up, although I'll need to find a .40SW round to verify the second part of your inquiry. I use to own numerous .40 pistols but sold them off a while back and have mostly consolidated to 9mm.
 

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The rim of a .40SW round does not fit in the breechface of my 9mm SW99
This is interesting. I've heard conflicting reports on this.

I guess it is possible that they changed the design at some point, but I'll make it a habit to ask any SW99 owner this question until I get some more clarity.

Thank you for the reply. I would actually prefer it if the .40 rim didn't fit on my 9mm pistol.
 

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If I remember it was the slide of the sw99 that was interchangeable. The 9mm slide had a larger opening allowing a 40 barrelto use it.ithink is was cost an le change over reasons for this, on slide many possibilities.
J
 
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