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Discussion Starter #1
Sorry, I have no way to post pics yet. I am still recovering from the recent Hunt101 disaster.

I recently took delivery of a new Walther P99C. I was considering the P99C or an HK P2000 SK, since I shot both a Glock 26 and 27 a few years ago and really disliked the grip ergonomics. Glocks tend to point up for me, and since the rest of my combat pistols all point pretty much along the same axis, I passed on the polymer. But the lure of a lighter-weight pistol for hiking and IWB carry with lighter clothing got me thinking again. Both the Walther and HK seemed to fit the bill on paper, but I really wanted to handle them to see how they naturally point for me. I resolved to wait until one of my local dealers got one in stock. But fate intervened in the form of a recent 'liquidation' sale by Walther to their distributors of their stock of P99C AS models. A Walther P99 for $500? How can you go wrong? For more information on the P99 and AS, QA, and P990 trigger actions, I recommend going to the unofficial Wather P99 FAQ page by Dr. Lunde: http://www.praxagora.com/lunde/WaltherP99FAQ/

My little P99C AS came in a black plastic Walther box with two magazines (one with a flat floorplate and one with a finger extension floorplate), a Master gunlock, instruction manual and warranty registration card, round finger-ring type plastic cleaning rod with slot, three extra front sights of different heights with a tiny Allen wrench for removing and installing the front sight, an extra rear grip insert for a smaller backstrap profile (the large-size insert was pre-installed), a fired case for those states that require it, and (surprise!) a signed test target. The test target, labeled 25 meters and signed by Herr Kloker, shows five holes in a 2.25-inch group located pretty much dead center. The holes look like they were made by round-nosed bullets. That's what my Beretta 92FS and SIG P228 did out-of-the box with NATO ammo for me, bench-rested at 25 yards. Clearly, this was a good sign. The pistol was also very clean. I'm used to pistols by Beretta and SIG arriving with a fair amount of brownish-yellow grease. The Walther had very little residue, yet was not 'dry' by any means.

The engraving is nicely and deeply rollmarked and not laser-etched like some of the new full-size versions I've seen in shops. All metal parts are nicely matte black finished. The barrel ramp is highly polished and both slide-to-frame fit and barrel-to-frame lockup was tight. The slide-on-frame action was smoother than a typical SIG, but not as smooth as a typical Beretta. I was surprised at how thin and narrow the slide rails are. These are not full-length rails like on a P228, but four sets of 'male' rails on the frame, like the Beretta 92FS, and even thinner in cross-section than a Glock. Those of you who know more about pistol engineering can chime in here, but I'm just making an observation.

The trigger action was very smooth. I've heard of P99-series pistols needing several hundred trigger pulls to smooth out the action, but mine already seems to be as good as my P228 (pre-LTT). The trigger face, on the other hand, could have been much better. This is one of those plastic-surfaced parts that Walther should have paid extra attention to. If the trigger surface feels cheap, a customer may come to associate this particular part with the rest of the pistol. Beretta's new plastic triggers have been smoothed, so you don't feel the molding ridges on the sides. My Walther's trigger has two low, but fairly sharp ridges about an eighth-of-an-inch in from the edges. Coupled with a tiny amount of 'flash' from the molding process on the back side and bottom tip of the trigger, this is at best an annoyance, and at worst a sign of poor craftsmanship. It's unfortunate that everything else about the construction of the pistol seems first-rate, but this one thing stands out because (ahem) you do have to use the trigger to fire the gun.

The magazines are Mec-Gar OEM models. The shiny black metal bodies and the 'Made in Italy" stamps are a dead giveaway. They all fell free when the mag release was pressed downward with my trigger finger. In fact, probably due to the new magazine springs, they were propelled with significant force out of the grip! I took them apart and found that they were immaculate inside and out--none of the brownish-yellow grease I thought I'd find. The finger-extension floorplates rattled a bit more than the flat floorplates. The fit seemed a bit loose, but nothing to get too concerned about.

I used Hoppe's Elite Gun Cleaner to degrease and Break-Free CLP to lube and protect. The take-down catch in front of the trigger guard worked as promised, and the slide, barrel, and recoil spring assembly slid off as easy as any Beretta or SIG. The recoil spring is not what I expected to find. I've seen the standard Walther P99 coiled flat spring, but the compact version uses an assembly like the HK: a dual-spring setup that is painted blue in color. The actual recoil rod is two pieces that look like they are made of metal. I expected plastic and will investigate further when I have a chance to disassemble it.

For the record, here are the weights of some popular pistols when loaded to capacity with Winchester 9mm 115 gr JHP:
Walther P99C, 10 rounds: 25.5 oz.
Beretta 92FS Compact Type M, 8 rounds: 33.75 oz.
SIG P228, 13 rounds: 34.25 oz.
Beretta 92FS Inox, 15 rounds: 40.5 oz.

I was unable to get to the outdoor range to try some targets at 25 yards. But I did find the time to shoot 200 rounds of FMJ and JHP ammo at various distances from 7 yards to 50 feet. At lunchtime, I shot 100 rounds of Winchester 124 gr. NATO FMJ and 100 rounds of Federal 124 gr. Tactical JHP. No mechanical problems whatsoever. I fed a magazine full of alternating FMJ and JHP through with no problems. At 7 yards, all ten bullet holes from both the FMJ and JHP created one big hole, slightly left of center. At 50 feet, I got consistent five-shot groups in the 2.5-inch to 3-inch range. The AS trigger really shines when emptying the magazine as fast as you can. The trigger reset is very short, and the break is quite clean and unexpected. I have mixed feelings about the red dot on the rear of the striker. When pulling through the long double-action stroke, the emerging red dot might distract someone trying to focus on the front sight. Once I noticed it, I had to make a conscious effort not to look at it and wonder when it would disappear.

Going through the first box (of NATO FMJ) I sent two or three fliers up and to the right. This also happened when I shot the Glocks, once upon a time. I'm guessing that I was anticipating the recoil. Once I settled into a rhythm, those fliers stopped happening. The ergonomics of the grip made the Walther seem less prone to muzzle rise than I thought it would be. The Federal Tactical ammo gave a sharp but light push. The NATO ammo seemed to have a longer impulse. Neither strained my ability to keep the sights on-target. I found that my big hands and long fingers enabled me to easily manipulate the decocker with my thumb without shifting my grip much. This surprised me, since what I read on the Internet had prepared me to have to use my weak hand to do the decocking. I did find that using the thumb and forefinger of my weak hand to pull the slide back (under the muzzle and in front of the trigger guard) to press-check/cock the striker worked great. Although, I think I will keep the heavier, longer double-action pull of the decocked striker while carrying. Just my preference.

The little P99 fit quite well into the same High Noon Hidden Impact IWB holster I originally bought for my SIG P228 and also use for my Beretta Compact Type M. All three pistols fit into the holster like it was made for them. Go figure. I guess I didn't have to order that FIST Kydex holster after all. Oh, well. I guess I'll have to write up a comparison when the Kydex model shows up in the mail.

My ratings are as follows (out of a possible 5 Rounds):

Reliability: 5 rounds
Comfort: 4 rounds (would have been 5, except for the poorly molded plastic Trigger.)
Accuracy: 4 Rounds (really quite impressive for a small gun with relatively short sight radius)
Capacity: 5 rounds (10-round magazine in a subcompact? Outstanding.)
Finish: 4 Rounds (would have been a 5, except for the plastic Trigger)
Trigger: 3 Rounds (the SA and DA pulls are great, allowing for the unique AS system, but the finish of the trigger itself was poor)
Takedown: 4 Rounds (only Berettas and classic SIGs are easier to field-strip)
Concealability: 3 Rounds (Not as good as a single-stack .380, but pretty small and light)
Overall: 4 out of 5 rounds. Terrific value. Makes me want a full-size P99 next.

ciadst
 

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WOW! Excellent review. I think it makes me want an P99c even more! I'm trying to talk a friend into buying one too. I'll direct him to this very review. Very informative, unbiased, and thorough. Thanks again.

-stunks

P.S. Hey! You can't dock the gun twice for the rough trigger in two different categories (finish and trigger)
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (onebigcubano @ Aug. 20 2005,14:15)]What a great review.  Well stated and explained.  

You were able to get a 2005 P99 Compact?  WOW!  Source?
And if it is 2005, is the mag release long or regular sized?


I'll be able to tell in a week but I'm curious whats in that box in the mail hehe.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Here are the photos, via Photobucket. No, my Compact does not have the long magazine release, although I wish it had. A longer release would prevent my having to curl my trigger finger back to actuate it.


Out of the box. See, it's not impossible to thumb the decocker. I did shift my grip here, so you can see more of the pistol.


Positioning the weak hand to cock the striker.


Tiny frame rails.


The rear of the striker, showing the red dot.


I'm going to write Walther about their plastic trigger. I can't imagine it would cost much to clean these up before assembly.


The dual-spring recoil assembly. I discovered that the inner rod is plastic, and the outer rod is some kind of metal.


The factory target, shot at 25 meters.


One of my first targets, shot to check functionality, as fast as I could pull the trigger and re-acquire the sights. 10 rounds to slide-lock, then a reload and 5 rounds to slide-lock.


One of my first slow-fire targets. Note the flier in the upper right. I think I was not used to the particular recoil impulse of this pretty light pistol. After a few rounds, these went away.

Enjoy!

ciadst
 

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Cool, thanks for the good review and pictures! How odd that walther changed the mag release for the full size and not the compact.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It's possible that they will institute a 'running' change this year to the Compact frames. Judging from the number of Compacts being liquidated, they should be able to run their old stock down pretty soon. The Compact and Full-Size don't share the same molding, so it should be no surprise that the switch to the 'new-style magazine release' frame would not happen simultaneously.

What I want to know, as an ambi, is if they will ever standardize on an ambidextrous slide catch/release lever, like on the HK P2000 SK. I've seen drawings, but no photos of this type of release.

ciadst
 

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Great thorough review ciadst, thank you for taking the time to post all that info, very helpful.
I have been shopping around for a P99C the last few days and in looking at photos on the net notice that the slide release looks different / longer on some of them. Anyone know what that is about?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi stevehf48,

I don't know anyone who has seen a compact model with the ambidextrous slide release. I thought those were an SPR just for the German police trials. Some illustrations--but no actual pictures I've seen--show that style of release, along with the shorter mag release, so I don't know what to think.

If anyone knows more, please enlighten us. I'm an ambi myself, so I'd buy a P99 with this style of slide release in a second.

ciadst
 
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