Walther P99 AS (ambi controls) review & range report


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5-SHOTS
April 28, 2011, 09:03 AM
Hello, I recently sold a J-frame to purchase this: a Walther P99 AS 9mm pistol. This is the last version of the P99. I’m certainly not new to semiautos (I owned a Bernardelli first model striker fired .32ACP, a Beretta 84F .380ACP, I own a Colt Government 380 MK IV Series ’80 .380ACP and I’ve shot a bunch of other semiautos) but this is my first polymer 9mm pistol!

I chose this particular pistol because I really liked its features such as fully ambi controls, second strike capability, decocker, all steel fixed “glow in the dark” sigths, ergonomic grip with interchangeable backstraps and so on.
But the thing that really convinced me to take it home is the pointability: everytime I hold it (one or two handed) and I point it (with one or two eyes opened), I always find the sights straight on target without making hand’s adjustments. Never find a gun like the P99 in this aspect.

I really like the finish of the gun. The machining of the slide is superb both externally and internally: no tool marks of any kind and all the edges are rounded and connected. The slide appears to be bead blasted after the machining, so the finish is very uniform. The black finish is one of the modern surface oxidation and it promises to be very durable. I love the look of the slide, in particular the extended serrations that make it very easy to operate. Writes are clear and well made.
The barrel itself is a little masterpiece of machining and appears to be as hard as a rock. Two words to describe upper parts: top notch!
The frame is made of polymer and metal trigger parts are made with one of this modern processes called MIM and sheared plate, just like every polymer pistol on the market. Heat treatment makes the difference in this case.
Recoil guide rod is made of polymer while magazine body is made of steel. Being made of “cheap” materials, the frame does not have a particular appeal, anyway it is well assembled.
“Barrel to slide” fit is rock solid while there’s a little shake on the “slide to frame” fit; this does not affect the accuracy because the 5 shots factory group at 25 meters (a little more than 25 yards) shows a 1”1/3 group excluding the flyer and a 2”1/6 group over all: not bad in my book…

Operation of the gun: the Walther P99 AS is a SA/DA striker fired pistol with a particular trigger called Anti Stress: the main characteristic of the AS is that the trigger stays always in its fully forward position both DA and SA, so the travel of the trigger is very long to prevent unintentional discarges. After the chambering of the first round you can safe carry this pistol using the button on the top of the slide to decock the striker, so you can shoot the first round in the DA mode. Once the first round is fired the slide partially cock the stiker and the trigger returns fully forward: now the SA trigger pull is lighter but long, as mentioned. If you are at the range and you want a more accurate shot in the SA mode, you can gently pull the trigger till you feel a click: now the trigger stays near the frame, in the same position you know on the others SA/DA pistols.
The magazine release is a ambi lever and it is very easy to operate with your trigger finger (less easy with your thumb…): I love it! Slide stop levers are wonderful.
I also love the position of the decocker button that I can operate one handed. If you are lefty, you has only to take a little practice to activate it with the thumb: I made it several times with no problems.
The gun has a loaded chamber indicator and a loaded striker indicator that protrudes from a little hole on the rear plug of the slide.
The P99 does not have an external safety (I don’t consider its decocker an external safety…) and it doesn’t have internal locks.
Field strip is very easy and safe: infact to disassembly the pistol you have to previously push the decocker button and not to pull the trigger. So if you forget to unload the chamber before stripping the gun you’ll can always kill yourself by banging your had against a wall discovering a cartridge in the chamber, but at least your wife and your sons will be safe…You can also take down the striker assembly and the extractor as described on intructions. Cleaning the gun is very easy and fast.

Range report: as you can see on pics, my gun is chambered for the 9x21 IMI cartridge. This is because in my country 9x19 Parabellum is a military&police-only cartridge, not allowed for civilian semiautos. However the 9x21 IMI has the same OAL of the 9x19, so internal volume for the powder is the same; everything is the same for both caliber: powder, primers, bullets, reloading data, dies, performance. The only visible difference is the bullet that in the 9x21 appears to be seated deeper in the case than the 9x19.
First trip at the range I shot 155 rounds: 100 Fiocchi 124gr CP-RN, 50 Geco 124gr FMJ-RN and 5 Sellier&Bellot 124gr FMJ-RN. No jams of any kind.
Accuracy is very good at all distances. I shot only two or three groups at 15 meters and they were tight in my book, in the same class of my father’s HK P30 and CZ 75 P-01. I did many plinking even at 70 and 100 meters with great luck. Also my faher shot the P99 and he did better than with his guns: this is because the feeling of the grips is great, the gun stays lower on hand and SA trigger is very light and smooth.
DA trigger is very smooth: the trigger seems to translate rather than rotate around a stud and I love this feeling. If you like revolvers you’ll love this trigger. The transition from the first DA shot to the second SA shot is more natural than traditional SA/DA pistols because you find the trigger always in the same position. Slide stop levers are ones of the best in business: the right one has no plays and they are flat and easy to operate. The slide stays always opened after the last shot even with the “thumbs forward” grip.
Sights are great for fast target aiming and the dots are green, bright and huge.
Extraction is powerful and the cases land always in the same place. Strikes are powerful and well centered; there’s no visible difference in power between a SA strike and a DA strike. I shot the 5 Sellier&Bellot for last, all in the DA mode, pulling the trigger very very slow trying to produce a light strike but no way: S&B are known to have the hardest primers in the world but no problems with the P99. I’m a little maniac against light strikes and this is the reason I prefere a gun with second strike capability; infact I think that in stress situation I’ll not able to ear a click instead of a bang and I’ll not able to do the “tap, rack, bang” procedure expecially if I’m pulling the trigger very fast, so in case of a light strike I bet my life on a second trigger pull. I don’t know if I’m wrong or not but this is my thought.
Back to the range report, other two guys tried the P99 and they were impressed to say the least. We all felt that the muzzle flip is there but the recoil is very soft and slow for a 9mm, never painful or anything. You can shot the P99 all time long with no fatigue.
I have medium hands and I think I’ll stick with the medium backstrap because I don’t want to change the pointability of the gun that, as I mentioned, is simply superb for me.

Conclusions: the Walther P99 AS is IMHO one of the best three SA/DA polymer pistol on the market and one of the few FULLY ambi pistols on the planet. I can’t really find a thing I don’t like on this pistol. The price is fair (It costs 14.3% more than a Glock 17, 7.2% more than a CZ 75 P-01, 6.7% less than a Beretta Px4, 21.4% less than a HK P30) and the performance is great!
There are only two things to verify before purchasing it: the trigger reach (if you have short fingers it could be a problem even with the small backstrap) and the factory paper group!
Please, correct me if I’m wrong but, for what I’ve understand on various forums, the Walther P99 AS is one of the most under rated and under advertised pistol on the US market and, belive me, this is a shame.

Best regards, 5-SHOTS.

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Seven For Sure
April 28, 2011, 10:03 AM
Great write-up! Glad you like your new gun. You can get a little more juice from the 9x21 by loading truncated (357sig) bullets since the OAL for most 125's are shorter than most 124's made for 9mm. Check out Speer Gold Dot's for 357sig for self defense. They have a really wide meplat and shallow HP cavity which equates to a pretty short 125 gr. .355" bullet. Good shooting to you.

Fishbed77
April 28, 2011, 03:41 PM
Nice write up. There is no doubt in my mind that the P99AS is the best polymer 9mm pistol on the market, at any price.

5 SHOTS, I agree - it's almost criminal that Walther and S&W don't do more to market this pistol in America.

FCastle88
April 28, 2011, 04:20 PM
Overall a good review, I love my P99 as well, but I have to point out one thing. The gun only goes into the long but light AS mode when a round is chambered, after the first shot the gun reverts to the short SA mode, like a regular DA/SA gun, the trigger does not return fully forward after being fired, as you say in your review.

balance 740
April 28, 2011, 05:56 PM
Thank you for the report 5-SHOTS, and I am happy that you like the P99.

I've had my 1st generation P99 (9x19) for years now, and with close to 5,000 rounds through it, it hasn't had a jam that I could blame on the pistol. I agree with you when you say that this is an under-rated pistol, and lots of people on the Walther forum would probably agree with you that S&W and Walther do very little to advertise this pistol.

I see you have the ambidextrous model that I have been looking for. I've heard that the ambi models have been standard for the P99 for years now, but S&W is only importing the regular models to the U.S. A few have gotten here though, and if I ever find one, I'll pick one up myself as I am a lefty too.

I also own a P30, and I would put both in the same league quality-wise, with the better trigger going to the Walther. These really are great pistols, congratulations.

FCastle88
April 28, 2011, 06:50 PM
Thank you for the report 5-SHOTS, and I am happy that you like the P99.

I've had my 1st generation P99 (9x19) for years now, and with close to 5,000 rounds through it, it hasn't had a jam that I could blame on the pistol. I agree with you when you say that this is an under-rated pistol, and lots of people on the Walther forum would probably agree with you that S&W and Walther do very little to advertise this pistol.

I see you have the ambidextrous model that I have been looking for. I've heard that the ambi models have been standard for the P99 for years now, but S&W is only importing the regular models to the U.S. A few have gotten here though, and if I ever find one, I'll pick one up myself as I am a lefty too.

I also own a P30, and I would put both in the same league quality-wise, with the better trigger going to the Walther. These really are great pistols, congratulations.
I'm a lefty as well, the ambi slide release model is available in the US as the model with factory night sights, I got mine from Buds for $647, the best price I've found on them. A few ambi models have also been turning up with regular sights as well, but the only way to be sure you get the ambi model is to buy the night sights model.

5-SHOTS
April 29, 2011, 06:14 AM
Thanks to everybody.

Seven For Sure: thanks for your suggestions.

FCastle88: ooops, you are right: the AS trigger works only if you manually rack the slide with the trigger finger out of the trigger guard. I apologize.

balance 740: yes, I also think it is in the same league of the HK P30.

Best regards, 5-SHOTS.

5-SHOTS
May 7, 2011, 06:20 PM
Shot other 250 rounds today without problems, including 50 crappy reloads with lead truncated cone bullets. Three women tried the gun and were impressed with the comfort and accuracy for them.

5-SHOTS
May 10, 2011, 07:07 PM
I forgot: I tried the small backstrap and it works even better for me than the medium one. I shot the 250 rounds mentioned in a training course of combat shooting and the gun was perfect. I'm in love with the P99...

Jbabbler
August 1, 2011, 10:30 AM
Thanks for the write-up. Last week I found a great deal on an SW99c and found your review very reassuring. I like the DA/SA trigger as well and have found it easy to adapt to over a few hundred rounds. The SA is hard to beat with any other polymer, striker fired pistol IMHO.

searcher451
August 3, 2011, 12:21 PM
That's a nice review on a terrific, and underrated, pistol; thanks for taking the time to share it. The P99 has proven itself to be reliable, accurate, and durable, a quality firearm with one of the best trigger configurations on the planet, IMO. Add in the three backstrap options to ensure a good fit for your hands, and it's a tough firearm to top, regardless of price paid. The P99C is my daily carry piece. If you add a magazine extension to it, you can carry it comfortably with the 15-round mags and still find it to be remarkably concealable.

sigarms228
August 3, 2011, 09:52 PM
Thanks for the nice review!!

I really never gave the P99 a second thought until my son came home with one. Next time at the range and he asks if I want to shoot it and I say "sure" not really expecting much excitment but I was BLOWN AWAY by it. His is .40 though and the recoil was pretty stout especially compared to my P229 but it sure was comfortable and I shot a nice tight group very first time.

Thinking about getting a P99 AS in 9MM or a PPQ for myself. The SIG SP2022 is another poly pistol that just blew me away and I own one. HKs - not so much for some reason including P2000 and P30.

http://i669.photobucket.com/albums/vv60/kk9zz/P9912h.jpg

chrome_austex
August 4, 2011, 12:51 AM
My 2nd gen 9mm P99 has over 3k through it. Lately Ive been shooting a lot of IDPA with it. Id also like to have a P99C AS if I could. So far its holding up really well. Its an extremely high quality gun, with very intuative and fast ergonomics (for me anyway)

The weight is all slide and no frame, so a good grip technique helps. 16rd mags are very reliable and dont click like some of my 15rd mags tend to do.

searcher451
August 4, 2011, 04:54 PM
The P99C is my daily carry piece. Don't leave home without it. :) I recently had a satin nickel finish applied to the slide (Mac's Restorations):

http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x43/searcher451/DSC_0077.jpg

Gunner442
August 4, 2011, 10:21 PM
Bella Pistole! Walther it totally underated! I own several and love the fit in the hand, the pointability, and the accuracy of the 99's full size and compact. Very easy shooting in .40 S&W also

Jbabbler
August 5, 2011, 10:59 AM
Nice looking P99 Searcher. The Satin Nickel looks real nice on that slide. My SW99c has a blackened Stainless Slide an I have considered having it bead blasted.

http://i212.photobucket.com/albums/cc81/jbabbler/Smith%20Wesson/SW99c.jpg

searcher451
August 5, 2011, 01:31 PM
Thanks; Mac does nice work. I've had three pistols revamped at his shop and have never been disappointed. One of them was picked up for a bargain because it was poorly stored and was so badly rusted and pitted that I doubted whether it would ever work again. He had it back to me in two weeks and worked a miracle or two. It's now my primary BUG.

That's a fine-looking SW99, JB. Then again, I never saw one I didn't like.

5-SHOTS
August 5, 2011, 08:04 PM
Hey guys, your Compacts are wonderful! How is the grip on the hand's palm? It is comfortable for the little finger? I really like the Compact and if I could find the adapter for the 15 rounds magazines it will be on my wish list. The thing I really don't like on the Compact are the plastic sights.

Gunner442
August 5, 2011, 10:31 PM
I have large hands. The 99's fit my hand nicely. With the pinky grip magazine I get a full hand grip. My 40( SW) and 9(Walther) shoot accurately and as reliably as my full size 99s. Great pistols

DAdams
August 6, 2011, 11:56 AM
Being primarily a revolver owner the P99AS in .40 was my first full sized semi-auto. The full sized Walther fits me better than others I tried including SIGs and HKs. A close second is the S&W M&P.

The grip design alone is a marvel, and after you hold this gun, it should come as no surprise that Walther contracted Morini, the maker of some of the best target and competition grips that can be made (which, of course means that they find themselves in the hands of some of the best shooters in the world).

I like the relative light weight of the Walther too.

Here is the P99AS and M&P 40c. I have a few full sized mags for the M&P and an XGrip and a Storm Lake Barrel in 9mm.

I find the ergonomics slightly better in the Walther.

http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m22/dadams111/P1010009-2-1.jpg

http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m22/dadams111/P1010024-2.jpg

http://forum.pafoa.org/general-2/9149-walther-p99-review.html
A great old review.

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