An epic run, for what proved to be an epic duty sidearm, is finally coming to an end. Walther Arms announced the Final Edition model of its seminal P99 pistol. The special-edition pistol marks the final variant, ceasing production of a model that began in 1997.
Final Edition Marks End Run for Walther P99 Pistol
“After a quarter of a century of continuous production the time has come to say our final farewell,” stated a Walther Arms release. “This Final Edition P99 AS is chambered in 9mm and features the desirable OD Green frame with special “Final Edition” engraving on the slide. This pistol will come in a durable and equally as limited special edition custom fit weather-proof case and will include a challenge coin to commemorate the final edition.”
This final run for the P99 will no doubt create some serious buzz among Walther fans. For anyone wanting a solid duty-style or concealed carry blaster, the P99 remains a solid choice. With the “Final Edition” markings and OD green frame, this version stands apart.
The Final Edition Walther P99 will retail for $849.
On March 7, 2014, Tactical Life’s Leroy Thompson reported:
Although generally a weapon designated “P99” would indicate that 1999 was the year in which it began production, this is not true of the P99, which began development in 1994 and was in full production by 1997. Presumably, the “99” was to indicate that it was a weapon for the dawn of the new century. As the latest service pistol design of Carl Walther GmbH, the P99 had a distinguished heritage dating back to the P.38, the standard German sidearm during World War II.
Between the two pistols, Walther produced the P5, an updated P.38 designed to meet German police specifications, and the P88. The P88 retained many characteristics of the P.38 and P5 but incorporated a double-stack 15-round magazine. I owned a P88 and, like most owners, enjoyed its accuracy. However, the P99 replaced the P88 after only a few years, bringing a substantially different design.
I bought one of the first P99s that came into the U.S. However, this took place during the Clinton magazine ban, relegating me to 10-round magazines instead of 15-rounders. I learned, however, a small number of 15-round magazines entered the country, imported just before the ban went into effect. I bought two at $150 each. Meanwhile, I planned to use the 10-rounders for practice and the 15-rounders for carry. Of course, after the ban expired, I bought a half-dozen 15-round magazines.
From the time I first unpacked my P99, I was impressed with many of its features. I found its grip quite ergonomic, especially since it came with three interchangeable backstraps—a very innovative feature at the time. I found the smallest one the most comfortable for me and installed it by pushing out a pin at the base of the grip, removing the medium-sized grip that had come installed on the pistol and replacing it with the smaller one. Another ergonomic feature that I found I liked was the ambidextrous magazine release located along the bottom of the triggerguard. I soon learned to operate it with my trigger finger, which allowed me to keep my shooting grip on the pistol.
The triggerguard is good-sized and allows use while wearing a tactical glove or light winter glove. For the most part, the P99 has a streamlined profile with few protrusions to snag during the draw. The takedown latch and slide release are both very flat against the frame. The rear sight does stick up a bit but is beveled so it is less likely to catch on a jacket lining. This rear sight is adjustable for windage. A feature I really appreciate is that the P99 comes with front sights of different heights to allow the shooter to tailor the elevation to the load being used. I have, too often, spent hours trying to find a load that will shoot close to point of aim because I couldn’t change the front sight, so this is a real boon.
I put about 500 rounds through my first P99 initially for familiarization. The pistol offered multiple modes of carry. The P99 uses an internal striker and operates somewhat like a conventional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol–somewhat. The striker moves to pre-cocked mode, with the trigger forward, in DA position, upon pulling the slide to the rear, round chambered. Like a set trigger, users can pull the trigger partway to the rear without resistance.
At this point, the trigger may be pulled with a crisp pull of, reportedly, 4.5 pounds. On each subsequent round, the trigger will return to this forward position and the striker will remain pre-cocked. An alternative carry method allows the trigger to be used in DA mode after a panel atop the slide is pressed. After the first round, the action will return to the pre-cocked mode. Note that Walther has produced a double-action-only (DAO) version of the P99, but I prefer the DA/SA model.
At first when I carried the pistol, I used the pre-cocked mode with the trigger in the forward position and took up the slack prior to firing. Eventually, though, I decided to carry it in the DA mode, especially when I figured out that if I needed to take a carefully aimed shot, I could readily put the pistol in pre-cocked mode by just pulling the slide back a fraction of an inch. When I got my first P99, Mitch Rosen made me an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster for it, and I’m still using it 15 years later.
Ammo & Mags
Although I tried one P99 in .40 S&W a few years ago, I prefer the 9mm version because I can obtain ammo at a better price, and with ammunition such as CorBon’s 115-grain JHP, which duplicates +P+ performance, I still have a very effective self-defense round. I’m happy with the standard 15-round magazine, featuring a baseplate designed perfectly to let me slam a magazine home with the palm yet doesn’t protrude too much. There is a plus-two magazine available, but it protrudes a bit.
Takedown is quite easy with the P99. After clearing the pistol, simply pull back the slide, then the takedown catch on each side of the frame. The action allows removal of the slide.
Anti-Stress P99 Test
When asked to evaluate the latest P99 AS I jumped at the chance. “AS,” by the way, stands for Anti-Stress, which is the current designation for the combination pre-cocked DA/SA trigger pull. There are also the P99 DAO and P99QA (Quick-Action—similar to a Glock) versions. I didn’t really need a new P99, as my original one has proven quite durable—the combination of the Tenifer finish on the metal parts and the polymer frame have stood up well to carry for a few months, then living in a safe and going shooting a few times a year. But, I was still anxious to try the latest version of the P99 AS.
Walther pistols are normally quite accurate. I carried a PPK in .380 ACP for many years as my second gun—a first gun in a few cases—when I was working on overseas security details. The pistol always impressed for its accuracy. Since I sometimes carried .380, I often practiced 50 headshots on a silhouette target during training. Walther target pistols designed for Olympic competition have an excellent reputation as well. I have found the P99 to be no exception. When testing the P99 AS for this article, it put five rounds in the 10-ring (one barely touching the line) at 25 yards. That’s very good. In two range sessions I’ve put 300 rounds through the P99 AS, and it has been utterly reliable.
As with most contemporary combat autos, the P99 AS has an accessory rail. I wanted to try it with a light and laser mounted, as I’ve found that some pistols are more ergonomic and comfortable for using illuminators/pointers than others. I chose to use the Streamlight TLR-2s, which is one of my favorite light/laser combos for a couple of reasons: It incorporates a strobe, which can be disorienting when used during an entry, and I find its quick-attach/detach system faster and easier than many other mounting systems.
The TLR-2s comes with four types of rail locking keys, enabling fit to almost any pistol with a rail. The S&W99/TSW key worked for the P99 AS. After mounting, I found I could easily operate the ambidextrous paddle switch for the light, along with the laser toggle. It is a good choice for the Walther, and would be very effective for law enforcement or military use.
P99 On Duty
I heard from a friend in the Garda Siochana—the police force of Ireland—that they had adopted the P99. That is, indeed, the case, as the Special Detective Unit (Aonad Speisialta Bleachtaireachta in Gaelic) is using the P99C (Compact). That the SDU chose the P99 is impressive, since this is the armed police unit in Ireland that deals with a wide array of missions, including counterterrorism, armed response to incidents involving armed criminals, protection of large transportations of cash, VIP protection and witness security. SDU detectives also conduct surveillance on dangerous criminals and terrorists. Additionally, the Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is a subdivision of the SDU. The ERU functions much like the FBI HRT in dealing with barricaded suspects, hostage rescue and high-risk warrants. But I am not sure if the ERU carries the P99C or the full-sized version.
I had also heard from a friend who is an ex-Finnish police officer that the Finnish Defense Forces are using the P99 as the PIST 2003, and that Finnish police, customs and border guards are using the P99QA. I have not been able to find out if the Karhu Team (Bear Team), the Finnish police counterterrorist unit, has switched from the HK USP they were using to the P99.
Among other police agencies that use the P99 are the Montreal Police, various German police agencies, the Royal Malaysian Police and Dutch police. Various Portuguese police agencies also use the P99, but it is always difficult to be specific with these agencies, as they buy new pistols but keep older ones in service, so at any given time a large agency may have a dozen or more pistol types on the street.
Polish police are using a version of the P99—the RAD—produced by Lucznik Arms Factory. Over the last decade or so, there have been a few U.S. law enforcement agencies that allowed officers to carry the P99 and, I believe, a few smaller ones that issued it. As I remember, the New Jersey State Police adopted the SW99—the Smith & Wesson version of the pistol in a joint venture with Walther—in .40 S&W; however, they asked for a lot of alterations that adversely affected reliability and, thus, doomed the pistol with the agency.
Does MI6 use the P99? Indeed, in The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day, and Casino Royale, the P99 is James Bond’s issued sidearm, and there was a P99 “Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service” commemorative edition. These commemoratives are quite hard to find due to a licensing disagreement that caused most of them to be withdrawn from sale. I can’t say definitively that MI6 has not used the P99, but I can state that normally when MI6 needs armed personnel, they use members of the SAS or SBS who are armed with the Sig Sauer P226 or P228. Now that British armed forces are switching to Glocks, they may have Glocks. That’s all I can say, as I don’t want 007 knocking on my door, with or without a P99!
I liked the Walther P99 when I first tried it 15 years ago or so, and I still like it today. It takes a while to get used to the AS system, but once you do, it works well and allows for very accurate shooting. I don’t know if I’ve talked those of you reading this into getting one, but I have talked myself into asking for an invoice to buy my test P99 gun. I got out the fiber hammer and the roll punch and switched out to the small grip—I’m fully committed!
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