The Walther CP99 was released in 2000 and quickly became one of the most popular Umarex multi-shot pellet shooters. It’s easy to see why – it’s reliable, rugged, compact, not too heavy or large and it is supplied with alternative backstraps to suit hands of various sizes. It’s also reasonably accurate and powerful. It isn’t particularly attractive looking (to me at least) but it is entirely practical and functional. I have owned two CP99s, but I had very different experiences with them. Due to a problem with cocking for single action shooting, I didn’t use the first example much at all though my second example was much better and a really enjoyable shooter.
Real steel background
The Walther P99 is a short-recoil operated, locked breech, semi-automatic pistol manufactured by Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen in Ulm, Germany. It is available chambered for 9mm or .40″ rounds. The standard magazine holds 15 rounds in 9mm and 12 in .40. The pistol is manufactured using a glassfibre-reinforced polymer grip frame incorporating a replaceable backstrap and a steel slide. Several versions of the P99 are available including the AS (Anti Stress), Quick Action(QA) and Double Action Only (DAO).
First generation P99 with olive frame (left) and second generation P99 DAO (right)
The first generation P99 incorporated a distinctive ski-jump style lower trigger guard while second generation pistols (from 2004 on) have a more conventional straight trigger guard. Second generation models can also be distinguished by longer magazine release levers and larger slide grip serrations. Early pistols featured a proprietary Walther closed accessory rail under the barrel, but second generation versions were provided with a standard Weaver style rail.
The P99 was designed as a sidearm for law enforcement and security forces as well as for civilian use and was a direct replacement for the Walther P5 and P88 pistols. It has an internal striker rather than a hammer and the striker tip protrudes from the back of the slide to indicate that the pistol is cocked. The P99 was first offered for sale in 1997 and is currently used by law enforcement and security forces in Europe, Asia and North America.
“Ah the new Walther, I asked Q to get me one of these.”
The P99 was initially launched in 1997, the same year that the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies was released. In a nifty piece of product placement, Bond (then played by Pierce Brosnan) swapped his venerable Walther PPK for a Walther P99 in the movie. Now, it seems to me that this doesn’t really make much practical sense – surely what a covert operative like Bond needs is a concealed-carry weapon and not a full size military sidearm? Wouldn’t the P99 Compact have been a more logical choice? But when has practicality ever stood in the way a useful marketing tie-in! To celebrate, Walther produced a special edition of the P99 featuring the serial number 007 as well as the coat of arms of the Secret Service.
Bond retained his P99 for three more movies before reverting to a PPK in Skyfall in 2012. The P99 has made a number of other movie appearances including The Matrix Reloaded, The Bourne Supremacy, The Dark Knight and Tomb Raider (where, trivia fans will be delighted to hear, it was wielded with some gusto by to soon-to-be James Bond, Daniel Craig).
The Umarex Walther CP99
Olive finish frame with black slide
The Umarex Walther CP99 is a non-blowback, licensed replica constructed of metal (slide) and polymer (frame and grip) and featuring accurate Walther markings. It’s similar to other Umarex pellet shooters in having an eight-shot rotary pellet holder concealed within the slide, the front part of which moves forward to enable loading. However, it’s different in having a drop-out magazine which holds the CO2. It’s also notable that the CP99 has no external hammer, relying on a firing striker inside the rear part of the slide, an identical arrangement to the original. The rear part of the slide can be retracted to cock the pistol for single action (a de-cocker is provided) and a short under-barrel accessory rail is included. The CP99 has a rifled, approximately 3½” long barrel. The backstrap is removable and the CP99 is supplied with two alternative backstraps. Unlike most versions of the Walther P99, the CP99 has a manual safety on the right side of the frame.
Nickel finish slide
The CP99 is available in all black finish, black with a nickel finish slide (replicating the titanium slide option on the original), dark earth finish or with an olive green frame and grip and a black slide. In 2015 Umarex also released the very smart Snowstar edition of the CP99 in white finish with contrasting black trigger, sights, magazine release, de-cocker and backstrap. Umarex also sell a silencer adaptor and an under-barrel laser sight for this model.
Packaging and presentation 4/5
The Umarex Walther CP99comes in a sturdy, well-padded hard case. The pistol is supplied with two rotary pellet holders, a replacement backstrap and a short user manual.
Visual Accuracy 8/10
The original P99 is a functional looking pistol and the CP99 replicates this faithfully. Actually, that’s not doing it justice – compared to something like the elegant Colt 1911, this is a surpassingly ugly pistol which clearly fell out of the ugly tree and hit every ugly branch on the way down. Now, you have to admire a design brief which completely ignores any form of aesthetic appeal in favour of functionality (compare this to the Beretta 9000S for example, a great looking pistol but functionally very poor). This is a handgun after all and it’s designed to be used, not admired. And the squat angularity of the P99 certainly makes it look like a no-nonsense shooter – it’s no handbag gun. But still, it’s a difficult pistol to get excited about in terms of looks.
First generation Walther P99 (left) and Umarex Walther CP99 (right)
However, that’s purely a personal reaction, and given that the CP99 is so popular, many people obviously disagree. And I have to admit that I did eventually come to appreciate the squat angularity of the CP99. This is certainly a pretty reasonable visual replica of a first generation P99. The semi-matt black finish on black versions is a good match for the Tenifer finish of the original. The dark earth and olive finish are a good match for military versions of this pistol. The overall profile of the replica is a very good match for the original (unlike many Umarex pellet shooters, this doesn’t feature additional serrations at the front of the slide). The only minor visual differences are the manual safety on the right of the frame on the replica, the lack of an ejector pin, the lack of a protruding cocking indicator and takedown buttons. The flat area of the frame immediately below the slide seems a little deeper on the replica, but this is barely noticeable. The accessory rail on the CP99 is a standard open Weaver style, more typical of second generation P99. There are also some very minor differences in the profile of the slide behind the ejector port, but overall (and particularly from the left) you’d be hard pressed to tell the original from the replica.
All black version
Markings include the Walther logo and are generally similar to the original – there seem to be a wide variety of markings applied to the P99, so it’s not possible to say much more than that.
Overall, this is a good visual replica of the P99.
Functional accuracy 8/15
This is a revolver, OK? So it’s never going to replicate the function of a semi-auto pistol. However it does have a drop-out magazine so that the magazine release operates as it does on the original (as does the de-cocker). Only the slide release catch doesn’t work as per the original – here it releases the front part of the slide which moves forward an inch or so to allow loading of the rotary pellet holder. The original P99 doesn’t have a manual safety catch, but this replica is provided with a sliding safety on the right of the frame. Sliding this forward safes the pistol – holding down a small internal part of the catch allows it to slide back, exposing a red dot and allowing the pistol to fire. It’s similar to the safety on the Umarex Walther CP99 Compact and is fiddly to use and almost impossible to release with one hand.
The Umarex CP99 can’t easily be stripped or dismantled. It is possible to detach the moving front part of the slide by removing the screw below the muzzle, but this won’t give access to much more than the slide return spring. Any further disassembly involves splitting the two halves of the cast body, and this is made even more difficult here because of the one-piece, moving rear part of the slide. I haven’t tried disassembling a CP99 and I don’t know anyone who has. Fortunately this seems to a reliable pistol which works well with a minimum of lubrication so it shouldn’t need frequent disassembly.
Before I get in to the detail of shooting the CP99, I want to talk briefly about double and single action use. As noted earlier, I have owned two CP99s, both purchased used. My first was a virtually new nickel slide model. The second was a well-used and elderly black version. These were very different to shoot. My first CP99 was almost impossible to shoot in single action as the rear part of the slide was very stiff indeed and this was compounded by the slippery nickel finish which made it very difficult to cock. In double action the trigger pull was so long and heavy that it was difficult to shoot with any degree of accuracy. I used this pistol very little. My second version was older and obviously well-used, though in good condition and it was a pleasure to shoot. The slide could be easily pulled back to cock for single action and even in double action the trigger pull was much lighter. This second CP99 was fun to shoot and capable of tight groupings. I enjoyed this second pistol very much, and it was regularly used. And the moral of the story is: Try before you buy.
Racking the rear part of the slide to cock for single action
Now, it may be that the CP99 becomes easier to cock with time as parts are bedded-in, or it may even be that the specification of the return spring or some other part was changed at some point or even that my first example had a fault. Whatever the reason, if you’re considering buying a CP99 I suggest that you try cocking it first. If you can’t do this easily, then only buy if you’re prepared to accept the inevitable loss of accuracy which comes with double action shooting. And hope that it improves with use. The score in this section assumes the ability to shoot in single action.
Preparing the CP99 for shooting is simple. CO2 is stored in a drop-out magazine which incorporates the firing valve and which is released by operating the ambidextrous catch at the bottom rear of the trigger guard. CO2 is loaded into the magazine after turning the magazine base clockwise and the retaining screw is then finger tightened until the cartridge sits snugly against the seal. Piercing is done by turning the magazine base anti-clockwise. It’s a neat and efficient system that loads CO2 without leaks or drama. Pellets are then loaded in the eight-shot rotary holder which is inserted by opening the front part of the slide via the slide release catch. The front part of the slide is pushed back until it locks.
Six shot, six yards, freestanding, single action using RWS Hobby pellets.
The rear sight is adjustable for windage only, but not in the same way as on most Umarex pellet shooters. There is no allen screw retaining the rear sight here. Instead, with the rear part of the slide retracted, looking from underneath two cross-head screws are visible. If these are loosened, the rear sight can be moved from side to side. In terms of elevation, both my CP99s shot approximately ½” above the point of aim at six yards which I found close to ideal. The CP99 makes a satisfying bang and being non-blowback has very little recoil. I got 70 – 80 full power shots from a single CO2. Shooting a six-shot string with new CO2 over the chronograph on a chilly February day I got an average of 344fps (with a high of 350 and a low of 341), not too shabby for a pistol with such a short barrel. I generally used RWS Hobby pellets, and I suffered very few misfeeds or jams provided that the pellets were tamped down carefully into the rotary pellet holder. Very occasionally the rear part of the slide on both my pistols seemed to lock halfway back, preventing cocking. However, releasing it and re-cocking generally fixed the problem. I seldom use the manual safety on my replicas and the CP99 was no different. Which was probably just as well as the manual safety on the CP99 is rather fiddly to operate though it seems to work reliably. Accuracy is surprisingly good in single action (given the short barrel) at around 1½” at six yards. Double action shooting tended to give groups of around 2½”, though this deteriorated during extended shooting sessions as my index finger grew tired. The trigger pull in double action is long and fairly heavy, and even in single action isn’t particularly crisp, though it is light and short.
There is no external visual cue that the pistol is cocked, but the de-cocking button on the top rear of the slide works as you’d expect – pressing it releases the internal striker with a audible “click”.
Quality and reliability 14/15
On the black version, the colour and finish on the polymer frame and grip and metal slide are a good match. This is difficult to achieve (there are lots of airsoft replicas where the frame and slide just don’t look as though they belong together) but it’s something Umarex seem to get right almost every time. Though you can see on the pictures of my elderly all-black version that the finish on the slide had faded a little over time to a dark grey. The finish on all versions seems very well applied and appears resistant to wear and scratching. Like most Umarex pistols, this feels like a well made and constructed pistol. Everything fits nicely with no rattles or wobbles, the gap between the front and rear parts of the slide is well concealed and all controls work cleanly.
Dark earth finish
I’m not aware of any particular issues with the CP99 beyond the usual wear and tear associated with age. Some early examples are now over fifteen years old but most seem to just keep on shooting without any major drama (it was notable that there was almost no difference in power between the relatively new and much older examples that I owned). It may be coincidence that the best of my CP99s was an older pistol, but I do wonder if the CP99 gets better with extended use as it wears-in?
Overall Impression 14/15
This a reliable, well-made and entirely functional replica which shoots accurately and powerfully enough to be satisfying. I like the drop-out magazine and working de-cocker and I appreciate the overall heft and quality feel of the CP99. On the other hand, I don’t much care for the fiddly manual safety and on my first CP99 the double action trigger pull was so heavy that it made accurate shooting very difficult. I even came to eventually appreciate the chunky looks of the CP99 and to accept that Walther designers seemed to have completely ignored aesthetics in favour of functionality. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing – after all, these things are principally designed to be used, not admired.
The issues with cocking and single-action shooting on my first CP99 almost caused me to write this replica off altogether. However, my second, older version was much better and I even grew to appreciate its no-nonsense looks. Just like the original, this is a functional pistol which does just what it says on the box. It’s accurate enough to be a satisfactory target shooter and more powerful than the short barrel would suggest. I enjoyed shooting my second CP99 too – it’s short, handy and points well. I don’t like the fiddly manual safety, but then I rarely use the safety on my replica pistols so this wasn’t a huge issue.
Limited edition Snowstar finish CP99
This faithfully replicates the look, feel and weight (though not the function) of the Walther P99 and while it may not have the visual appeal of, for example, the Colt 1911 or even the Beretta 92FS, it’s a fine replica air pistol in its own right. With the important caveat that I’d suggest that you will want one which can be easily cocked for single action shooting and/or which has an acceptable double action trigger. Shooting this, especially for extended periods in double action, is never going to be especially accurate though you will have the consolation of developing an index finger capable of crushing walnuts. Other than that, there is no reason that a CP99 won’t provide long term shooting satisfaction.
Total score: 84/100
Walther CP99 on the Umarex website