Walther P99: A strike-fired successor of Walther P88

Author: Eric Sof

Last modified:

The Walther P99 is a successor of the Walther P88 pistol, mainly developed for law enforcement but also had certain success on the civilian market. The gun entered serial production in 1997, while its idea and design came in the mid-1990s. Besides the original Walther P99s produced in Germany, this model was produced by the Radom factory in Poland and Smith & Wesson in the United States. However, in both cases, frames are supplied from Germany. The pistol is still produced up to this day.

Design

The Walther P99 is genuinely an innovative tool with a polymer frame and a steel slide. Its working principle makes it a striker-fired pistol. The ergonomics, dependability, accuracy, and safety features were decades ahead of their time, according to the manufacturer. When publicly unveiled, P99 had several unusual features and was considered a step forward for the Walther company. The first version was chambered in 9×19 mm Parabellum, while the .40 S&W version was introduced in 1999.

Walther P88 was introduced in 1988 in 9 mm Parabellum chambering
Walther P88 was introduced in 1988 in 9 mm Parabellum chambering (Photo: XY)

As I mentioned earlier, the Walther P99 is a striker-fired pistol. It is also short-recoil operated, which means it fires with a locked breech and uses a modified Browning locking system. Its triggers mechanism is unusual because it works in double-action mode, similar to hammer-fired pistols. It can also be fired in a single-action mode.

The P99 Series is the only hammerless pistol available to offer three trigger options:

  • P99AS – Anti-Stress Traditional double action and single action modes, and the added feature of the anti-stress trigger position is engaged after reloading.
  • P99DAO – Double-Action-Only The striker is at rest with no preload for a long smooth trigger pull. The pull is consistent in length and force from the first shot to the last.
  • P99QA – Quick-Action Partially preloaded striker provides a constant short light trigger pull. This variation is a favorite among many sportsmen and police tactical units.

One of the variants also comes with a double-action-only trigger mechanism. There is also a variant with a quick-action mechanism (P99QA) that features a partially pre-cocked trigger for a constant trigger pull from the first to the last shot. This pistol has an automatic firing pin block safety.

Walther P99 chambered for 9x19mm round, First variation with green polymer frame
Walther P99 chambered for 9x19mm round, First variation with green polymer frame (Photo: XY)

The P99DAO (direct-action-only) version has a slightly different automatic safety built into the trigger. There is a loaded chamber indicator and a cocked striker indicator. Another unusual feature of the baseline Walther P99 is a decocking button. It is located on top of the slide. Other pistols typically have a conventional lever on the side. This button is relatively large on the standard P99 as it decocks the striker.

The decocking button is much smaller on the P99 QA (quick-action), which is used only during disassembly. The P99AS has a double-action/single-action stageable trigger with an extremely short reset.

The P99DAO lacks decocking button, as its firing pin is permanently disconnected. All controls of the P99 are fully ambidextrous for right or left-hand operation. The first-generation pistols only have a slide release on the left side of the frame. The magazine capacity of the P99 varies from 8 to 16 rounds, depending on the caliber and version. A full-size version chambered in 9×19 mm is fed from 16-round magazines, while a similar version in .40 S&W is fed from 12-round magazines.

P99 QA field stripped to its main parts
P99 QA field stripped to its main parts (Photo: XY)

Walther P99 has an iron sights made of a very durable polymer. The rear sight post is dovetailed into the slide and is adjustable. The sights have white inserts for firing at night. The P99 has three interchangeable grip backstraps: small, medium, and large. So the shooter can install the backstrap that suits him most. This weapon has an accessory rail under the barrel and can be fitted with a laser pointer, tactical flashlight, or other accessories.

Users

The Walther P99 has been adopted by the Finish armed forces, the Iraqi army, and many law enforcement forces and police departments worldwide. In the civilian market, it was widely accepted as the successor of Walther P5 and P88. The pistol is also used by the German Police in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate and has been ordered by Bremen, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.

The Walther P99Q was also chosen in 2012 to replace older pistols and revolvers of the Finnish Police, Customs, and Border Guard. This gun was also chosen to replace the Walther P5 of the Dutch Police in 2013. In 2014 the Walther P99Q was also chosen to replace the Makarov PM of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.

James Bond’s weapon of choice

In the 1997 movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, James Bond switches from his trusted Walther PPK to the new Walther P99. He will keep this gun in The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, and Casino Royale.

James Bond's favorite weapon of choice since the 1997 and the movie Tomorrow Never Dies
James Bond’s favorite weapon of choice since 1997 and the movie Tomorrow Never Dies (Photo: XY)

Variants

Walther P99C

It is a compact version. The second generation of the P99 pistols was introduced in 2004. These pistols were slightly redesigned and had better ergonomics and new model designations. The P99 was renamed to P99AS (Anti-Stress).

Walther P990

The P990 with a double-action-only trigger mechanism was renamed to P99DAO. The P99QA (Quick Action) pistol retained its name. The ambidextrous slide release is proposed as an option for second-generation pistols.

Radom P99

Radom P99, a Polish license-produced version, chambered in 9×19 mm Parabellum. Frames for these pistols are supplied in Germany. This pistol is a standard sidearm in service with Polish police.

Smith & Wesson SW99

Smith & Wesson SW99 is a close copy of the Walther P99 manufactured in the USA. Frames for these pistols are supplied in Germany. Furthermore, Smith & Wesson also developed and produced a version of this pistol chambered in a .45 ACP cartridge.

Special Editions

Walther released two limited editions of the P99. The first series was never for sale in the USA, and the second was only briefly for sale before they were taken off the market, probably because of a licensing issue. These unique versions are marked with the serial number 007 and with a coat of arms of the Secret Service, and a certificate refers to the strictly limited number of pieces.

One thousand pieces were produced of each model The P99 was supplied with two interchangeable backstraps and a spare magazine.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Germany
Manufacturer:Walther Arms GmbH, Sportwaffenfabrik, Ulm
Production:1997
Caliber:9×19 mm Parabellum
Weight (unloaded):720 g
Length:180 mm
Barrel length:102 mm
Muzzle velocity:300 – 460 m/s
Magazine capacity:16 rounds
Sighting range:50 m
Range of effective fire:50 m
Content on this website is free to use and share, but please provide a link back to Spec Ops Magazine as a source. All content is protected by copyright and may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written permission.
Share on:

2 thoughts on “Walther P99: A strike-fired successor of Walther P88”

  1. Is it true that the P99 has been replaced and is now a legacy model no longer being made? If so, is the P99QA unsupported by Walther? I have. P99QA in .40 cal.

Leave a Comment