p99c 010

(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)

By Jonathan Yaphet

In the American marketplace, the subcompact handgun category is a crowded field. Every major manufacturer has at least one baby model available, and many have several for sale. Some are slightly larger, smaller, thinner, thicker, longer, or shorter, but they all share the same characteristics: barrel length at or below 3.5 inches, double stack 10 – 13 round magazine, and a short grip for easy concealability. These guns are considered the best all-around carry guns, and there is one that sets the gold standard: the GLOCK 26. It has what many people consider the best combination of weight, size, and capacity for the average concealed carrier, not to mention it’s rock solid reliability and above average accuracy. But is it the best? Are there options out there that can give the baby GLOCK a run for it’s money? As a matter of fact, there is one…the Walther P99c AS . . .

On paper, you would have a hard time telling the two apart. They both have more or less the same weight, barrel length, and standard capacity. They come from (roughly) the same part of the world. They’re both polymer framed and striker fired.

p99c 001

As similar as they may sound, there are a few features that make the Walther stand out from it’s Austrian counterpart. For starters, while the Walther is a striker-fired pistol, it has a traditional DA/SA operation, something very uncommon for hammerless handguns. The AS in the name stands for ‘anti stress’. When you first rack the slide the striker is fully cocked, but the trigger is in the same place as it would be for a double action shot.

When you fire the gun, the trigger will be extremely light for about half the travel. You will eventually hear a click which signifies the end of the first stage. Now the trigger is in single action mode. If you release the trigger at this point, it will stay back in the single action position unless you decock the gun or re-rack the slide. If you keep pulling you will feel slightly more resistance for about a quarter inch, then just a tad more until you hit the break.

Overtravel is imperceptible. The reset is super short with a nice reassuring click. If you prefer, you can also decock the gun and carry it in double action mode. In this mode the trigger is long and heavy (but smooth) just like a traditional double action pistol. Once it fires it will revert to single action again. This also means that if you get a hard primer you can simply pull the trigger again and give the round a second chance to fire. This gun gives you all the advantages of a traditional SA/DA as well as all the advantages of a striker fired gun with virtually none of the drawbacks.

Walther makes two other versions of the P99c: a DAO version which always has the long heavy pull, and a QA (Quick Action) version which only has the light single action trigger with no DA option. It’s up to you which version you want, but why pick only one when you can have both?

The Walther also has an ambidextrous magazine release, but depending on who you ask, that might be a bad thing. That’s because the P99c uses a paddle style release. I personally love the paddle release because you never have to change your firing grip to drop the mag, but some people hate them. Your mileage may vary.

The extractor pulls double duty as a loaded chamber indicator. It isn’t the best system I’ve seen, but it works. The P99c also has a rail for all your nighttime shooting accessories. On a subcompact it’s probably not necessary, but it’s a nice touch.

p99c 009

The P99c comes in a standard hard side foam-lined case, pretty par for the course at this price point. Two ten-round magazines are included, one with a flat base plate and one with a finger extension. The mags look and feel well made, and the finger extension is just the right length. Additional front sights are also included in order to get the gun shooting exactly where you want it. The rear sight is adjustable for windage. Also included is a second backstrap for a more personalized fit (I have short sausage fingers so I have the smaller backstrap on). Under the top foam you’ll find a manual and the factory supplied test target proving the gun shoots better than you do (Unless your name is Miculek). A plastic cleaning rod and blue chamber flag round out the package.

I am not a GLOCK owner (I don’t even play one on TV), but I decided that if I was going to make so many comparisons to a gun I didn’t even own it would only be right to put my money where my primary vocal orifice resides and pony up for a rental at the local shooting gallery. I even brought along my Sig 2022 to see how the baby 9s do against a full grown handgun (spoiler: quite well, actually).

Before the shooting started, I took some comparison pictures (I apologize in advance for the picture quality. Underground bunkers Indoor shooting ranges aren’t known for their ambient lighting). The Walther is just a hair longer and taller than the GLOCK. Weight and general handling are very similar for both guns. Fit and finish are also comparable, but since the GLOCK is a rental I really can’t compare too closely. I shot a total of 100 rounds through the guns: 40 from the GLOCK and Walther, 20 from the Sig. Federal FMJ 115 grain was the ammo du jour. All targets were shot from 20 feet with 10 shots per target. Results below.

p99c 017

These are the best groups from each gun. All in all, not a huge difference between them. My last name is not, in fact, Miculek, so I am pretty sure a more proficient shooter could tighten all three of these up a bit. I did not notice any significant difference in recoil between the two subcompacts. All guns were 100% reliable (duh, German!).

p99c 019

So, after all is said and done, is the P99c better than the GLOCK? In my opinion, yes, although admittedly not as much better as I thought before the test. In fact, I can give you at least 4 reasons the P99c is better than it’s rival (and two big reasons why it isn’t, but more on that later).

p99c 022

1. It’s sexier

Lets be honest: the GLOCK is no looker. It has all the visual appeal of a 2×4. Looks may not win gunfights, but the GLOCK (any GLOCK) isn’t going to make the best dressed lists. The P99c, on the other hand, is hotter than Bar Paly in a sauna. The angled slide, the sharp engraving, the big Walther logo. It’s just a handsome piece of machinery. A small point, but when you’re competing against Gaston’s vundarpistole, every advantage helps.

2. It has a better trigger

The trigger on the P99c is the real difference between these two guns. The P99c is not only lighter in AS mode, but it gives you carry options as well. Don’t feel comfortable carrying it cocked? Then don’t. Don’t like a long, heavy pull? Then do. In other words, if you like your single action, you can keep your single action…for real.

3. It’s safer

The GLOCK has a bit of a (probably undeserved) reputation for negligent discharges, most of which stem from two features: a relatively light, short trigger and the need to pull the trigger before disassembling the gun. The P99c solves both of these. Even in SA, the trigger pull is longer (albeit lighter) than a GLOCK, which means you have that much longer to notice (and hopefully stop) a ND before it happens. As I stated before, the P99c has a de-cocker. If you feel the AS trigger is too light for safe carry, simply de-cock it and now you have a long heavy trigger for your first shot. The de-cocker also allows you to to disassemble the gun without pulling the trigger. In short, you never need to pull the trigger… until you do.

p99c 006

4. It’s not a GLOCK

The GLOCK is the Toyota Corolla of the handgun world: reliable, affordable, practical…and completely boring. You can’t take five steps at a gun shop or range without running into whole tables full the damn things. Everyone has one. I don’t want to sound like a hipster, but wouldn’t you rather have something more unique? Besides, there’s nothing more satisfying than looking condescendingly over the rim of your Ray-Ban wayfarers at some clueless pleb before saying “No, it’s a Walther P99c. It’s very rare…you’ve probably never heard of it.”

Of course, not all is rainbows and unicorn farts in the land of Walther. There are two problems with the gun that might be a deal breaker for some. The problems aren’t actually with the gun itself, though. The biggest problem is finding one. I mentioned earlier that these are uncommon. Uncommon might be a bit of an understatement…’rarer than hen’s teeth’ is more accurate. The .40 caliber version is in plentiful supply, but as of this writing I can’t find a single 9mm version, new or used, for sale on gunbroker or gunwatcher. Because of this, expect to pay very close to or over MSRP to get one.

There is also the matter of accessories. While the GLOCK has a nearly infinite supply of holsters, magazines, sights, and other widgets, the Walther’s selection is significantly less. Standard capacity mags are easy enough to come by (although a bit pricey), and extended mags are also not terribly rare either (PPQ m1 mags will work in the P99), but the adapter sleeve? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Holsters are a similarly sticky wicket. While there are a few companies that make Kydex holsters for the P99c, you most likely will not find anything off the shelf at your local Cabela’s. The good news is that some GLOCK 26 holsters will fit the P99c due to their similar dimensions. I run a N8² Tactical holster with mine and it works great.

All in all, this gun is a winner. If you can find one for sale (and that is a big if) I highly doubt you will regret the purchase. If you want a longer, lighter trigger in your carry gun, or you simply enjoy a DA/SA trigger, you can’t go wrong with the P99c.

 

SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber: 9 X 19
Barrel Length: 3.50”
Overall Length: 6.60”
Weight: 20.80 oz
Finish: Black
Capacity: 10+1
Price: $629 MSRP

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Style * * * * *
Look at your GLOCK. Now look at the Walther. Now back to the GLOCK. Now back to the Walther. Sadly, your GLOCK isn’t a Walther.

Ergonomics * * * *
Interchangeable backstraps? Check. Ambi mag release? Check. Pinky extension? Check. We are good to go.

Trigger * * * * *
THE reason to buy this gun. True DA/SA, a light and smooth pull, and a multitude of carry options. Take that, Safe Action.

Reliability * * * * *
You dare qveztion ze German engineering? NEIN!

Accessories * *
The biggest downfall. While it does have a rail, holsters, mags, and other amenities will be fewer and pricier. You’ve been warned.

Carry * * * * *
Light, tight, and outta sight. On par with the GLOCK 26. You aren’t doing better with any other double stack.

Overall Rating * * * *
No other pistol on the market does what the P99c can do, and it does it well. Aside from availability, there is no reason not to have one.

58 Responses to Gun Review: Walther P99c AS

  1. Nice review, I’ll have to keep an eye out for one of these for my CC. I’ve long avoided glocks because of their trigger and 2×4 looks. This looks to be just the ticket for me. Thanks for writing this up!

      • What do you think about Okeechobee Shooting Sports? Quite an amazing place!

        GunBuyer has both the 9mm & .40SW P99c AS for $513.78. For $508.51, you can get the 4 1/8″ 15-rnd P99 AS and $513.78 for the .40SW verson there as well.

        WikiArms doesn’t even list them. Cheapest ones list on Wiki are with GrabAGun & Buds.

        • I have never been there. I shoot in my backyard so no need to go anywhere. If you can get the guns at that price new, better act fast. A great price.

  2. I have been considering this gun but have not been able to find one or even a P99 to look at and hold in my hand. I currently use a Glock 26 and a Kahr CM9. A person I know who is a LEO instructor actually suffered a negligent discharge from a baby Glock which he almost lost arm and his life. The way it occurred makes me worried about carrying mine. The primary reason why I am interested in the P99c or a PPS is that I am left handed. Thus I gravitate towards these Walthers or H&Ks with the paddle magazine release. Nice review, it makes me want to look at one more strongly now.

    • My distributor has them in stock. I am in Okeechobee,Fl. & have our federal firearms license…I can get & send to your local Gun Store..

    • And if everyone was perfect there would be no need for safeties at all. Heck, we wouldn’t even need more than one gun rule.

      But they aren’t, so we do.

      • I’m not saying safeties are useless or you shouldn’t own guns with them. But in my opinion, they don’t make the gun safer. You pull the trigger, gun goes boom. That’s why people need to handle them properly when cleaning and shooting them. Proper handling is more important than a heavier trigger pull or safety lever. But that’s just me.

        • I agree. But you know you can’t fix Stupid. That’s why those guys need safety’s. Lol

  3. I’m not a Glock guy, but I get really irritated whenever people call Glocks ‘boring’, etc. Why is that a bad thing? There are plenty of real things about Glocks which merit criticism; to go on and on about how they’re boring or unsexy is just plain snobbery.

  4. I’ve been meaning to ask– why is it that “Glock” always appears as “GLOCK?” Is that how Gaston spelled it, with all capital letters? I’m not singling out this review; that seems to be the accepted spelling everywhere I look. My Colt says “COLT” on it, but I never see people write about their COLT 1911.

    • That’s how the company spells the name. Just like SIG SAUER rather than Sig Sauer. Smith & Wesson, not Smith and Wesson. We try to be as accurate about these things as we can.

      • Not to go all hipster but, according to Rumorpedia:

        “The origins of the original SIG company lies in the Swiss Wagon Factory created in 1853 by Friedrich Peyer im Hof, Heinrich Moser and Conrad Neher.[1] After winning a competition put on by Switzerland’s Federal Ministry of Defense, a contract to produce 30,000 muskets was awarded. They changed their name to Schweizerische Industriegesellschaft (SIG), German for “Swiss Industrial Company” (in French regions of Switzerland was known as Société Industrielle Suisse).[1]”

        As for why GLOCK capitalizes it… no clue here.

        • Same with LEGO. It isn’t an acronym, but I guess it looks better to have all the letters in caps.

      • Pretty uppity for an upstart plasticmonger.

        Thanks for the explanation. Henceforth, I shall be referred to as ANDY. 😉

      • “Just like SIG SAUER rather than Sig Sauer.”

        Actually, it’s ‘SIG Sauer’; seeing as how ‘SIG’ is the acronym for ‘Schweizerische Industriegesellschaft’ (German for “Swiss Industrial Company”).

  5. My wife has a S&W99c. She used it as her carry gun for years before trading up to a Shield. From personal experience, the kick of the .40S&W version of the 99c was a little too much for my liking. It’s a bit thick as well (almost as thick as my G30). I never liked the DA setting either, but I’m a bit biased because I like my carry guns to be somewhat uniform with SAO and no manual safety. Just a personal preference. I never fired the 9mm version, but I would steer clear of the .40 version… too snappy. It was reliable though; several thousands of rounds without any malfunction. Ate everything as far as I can remember and was one of those people that did like the location of the magazine release. Finding extra mags was a bitch and holsters were impossible because it just wasn’t that popular.

  6. I have a Standard P99AS that I bought to compare with my typical carry Glock 19. It is everything noted in the review above. After shooting both back to back for a while, I have continued to choose a G19 for daily carry. The Walther is a vvery nice pistol and I shoot it marginally better. It is, however, slightly heavier than the G19, magazines are difficult to come by. It is not convincingly better that I wish to invest in holsters for the pistol. And after a while, I realized that all the various trigger modes are redundant, redundant and overly futzy. Plus: parts? forget about it.

    Better than both G19 and P99, is the Steyr M9, IMO. It also suffers from rarity.

    Nice review, Interesting pistol.

  7. I took me close to a year to find the P99c AS in 9mm… paid pretty close to full freight, and it was worth every penny! The trigger makes all the difference, IMHO. Worth every penny. (And I own Glocks… but they’re for sale now!)

      • They’ve just barely become available again. They’ve been nearly nonexistent the last couple years. It makes sense BJ couldn’t find one. Walther just sent out a big shipment of them finally. A few months ago I search every corner of the internet for a 9mm version. Absolutely nothing, zero, zip. People are buying them as fast as they can now that they’ve reappeared.

  8. I agree with your comments regarding Glock (utilitarian-like) reliability but not your subjective criticisms of the 26’s aesthetics “shortcomings” (guys shouldn’t really argue like women ;)…Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. That said, I have learned never to mock or even underestimate the capability/value of anything with Walther on its respective-slide. I’ve had super performance from the Colt-Walther 1911-22 as well as the S&W (Walther) M&P22. So if I were in the market for a sub-compact I would not hesitate to consider the P99c AS (as the PPQ is hideous ;).

  9. I guess I must be the only person in the world that looks at the new Walthers and think they are ugly?

    On looks alone, I would pass on one….

      • Only in relation to those classic Walther lines. Modern pistols look like modern pistols for largely practical reasons though and beauty follows function.

  10. Still a newb to firearms after four years or so. I’m starting to carry my alloy guns as much as I can as compared to my polymer wonders. I just shoot better with them. Especially second and third shots.

    I’ve done run and guns (60 yards, two shots, repeat x 3) to get heart rate up and whatnot to simulate stress – still, the less choppy recoil of a heavier gun seems to suit me.

    I’ve read others who feel like this, and wonder when there will be a trend shift eventually. Not saying polymer guns are bad, I have three… merely they take more to control after first shot.

  11. Only in the past decade or so have subcompacts been considered “…the best all-around carry guns,” Before that they were considered backup guns. By best I take it to mean “if you only had one gun” and that honor goes to a compact like the XD/m with a 3.8″ barrel. That said the barrel length of the G26 and Walthers PP99C make these subcompacts much closer to compact sized. That makes them suitable for “if I had only one gun….”

    From the description I do like Walthers better than the Glock but then again I still prefer the PC to a MAC. However, I am very satisfied with my Springfield I think it is superior to both guns.

    • “Mac” is the short version of “Macintosh”; “PC” is in caps because it’s an acronym for “Personal Computer.”
      Hey, we’re trying to get “GLOCK” written correctly, may as well do the same for other areas 🙂

      • Your GLOCK is a $300 pistol that costs $500-$600. Springfields are just as reliable and are less prone to NDs to boot.

        • “Your GLOCK is a $300 pistol that costs $500-$600.”

          {Rimshot.wav} 🙂

  12. Nice review. I rarely see these at any gunshop. And being in a temporary financial distress reality I couldn’t justify 5 or 600 bucks. I may go with a used Glock for carry too…

  13. how can you keep a straight face, and claim to be able to compare two guns, by firing 40 rounds out of each?
    your bullshit quotent is showing. I don’t buy guns cause they are sexy or pretty. like my favorite dump truck, it does the job it was designed to do. and glocks or GLOCKS do just that. so do my springfield XD9’s and my M & P 9’s. I used to place a lot of stock and faith in TTAG reviews, but lately, I think they are based on someone wanting to get their name on the byline.

    • As the author of this article I feel I need to clarify that I have owned this pistol since March and put over 500 rounds through it as well as carried it regularly. The 40 rounds was simply an apples to apples comparison with another very similar and more widely known firearm. I don’t have unlimited funding to go out and buy a G26 and dump half a case through it. I probably should have clarified that in the article. To assume that the only rounds that I as the owner of the gun had run through it were the ones mentioned in the test is pretty absurd. It sounds like you’re just trolling for an argument honestly.

  14. I’ve got both the P99 and the c. Love ’em both. Usually train with the 99 and carry the c. I always carry decocked. That first DA shot out of the holster is just as accurate or more so than the 2nd+. It’s just a matter of getting used to it. I’m no longer even consciously aware of the hard first trigger pull. I prefer this mode as there’s so much going on and potential for problems in clearing a garment and drawing at full speed on the move. DA/SA + striker fired is the primary reason I chose these two.

    My spare mag for the c is a PPQ M1 mag with a sleeve. Training mags for the 99 are Magnum Research Baby Desert Eagle mags, with sleeves when I want to use them with the c. They’ve both eaten everything I’ve fed them and all malfunctions can be attributed to the operator.

    One caveat about the 99’s is that Walther’s warranty is only one year. I’ve heard that they stick to it and that their CS is less than stellar.

    • Could you go into a little more detail as to which mags fit which guns?
      I had a p99as for a while and am very sad I sold it.
      Can you fit the 15 round p99as mags in the p99cas?

      • Yes, the full size mag will fit the c with or without the sleeve. Without the sleeve you run the risk of damage if you drive the mag home. If you gently insert it with the slide open you will be ok. I got my sleeves from Earl’s Repair Service. Costly, but worth it. Use only mags made in Italy by Mec-Gar, they make them for Walther. Other mags are iffy. There’s a forum dedicated to the P99, well worth checking it out.

      • If you’re not opposed to a little DIY modding, you can make PPQ M2 mags work with a P99(c) (and visa versa) as well… you just need to Dremel the mag catch groove in the proper place. I do this with my range mags so I can swap them between the PPQ and P99c, works great and I’ve had zero problems with feeding, ejecting, or anything else.

        Caveat: because the PPQ mag catch groove is lower on the magazine than the P99 groove, to use the modded mag with your PPQ you have to depress the mag release until it’s fully inserted… hence, the reason I only recommend this for range use.

  15. Thanks for the review. Walthers are often overlooked, but are innovative in their form factor (ergonomics). Hand-feel is a big deal. Only the individual shooter can assess it. So, it’s tricky to discuss in review.

    A factor not mentioned, that should be, is the width of the P99 at various positions, esp. compared to the Glock. That dimension is very important for carrying.

  16. I really laughed when I read this part. Awesome: “Look at your GLOCK. Now look at the Walther. Now back to the GLOCK. Now back to the Walther. Sadly, your GLOCK isn’t a Walther.”

    I love the P99’s look. It’s sharp and aggressive but functional. Even before I was really a “gun guy” I was never particularly impressed by the look of the Glock, or performance. The P99’s got the edge in both areas in my experience.

    Also, he’s absolutely right about the trigger. The AS trigger is amazing.

  17. Full size P99 AS to me is the best 9mm pistol ever made with the CZ-75 and the Browning High Power. Revolutionary trigger and prefect balance and ergos. As respected as any 9mm in Europe. Just never quite caught on in the US due to marketing and 90’s weapons ban. The gun is that good.

  18. Just wondering how many folks on here actually carry for a living, meaning that is your job and it is life and death to use your weapon? I would take your word for it over any of us other rec shooters.

  19. After a lot of research, and testing, My wife agreed that this was her new CC firearm, after convincing her that a Ruger LCR 380 with laser was just a bad idea. We went through quite a few compacts. PP9C was the easiest for her to rack slide on, (arthritis), great trigger, and very concealable. As she had never dealt with a semi, she was amazed at how much more controllable the muzzle flip was, along with how well the trigger performed.

    I actually enjoy this pistol alot. But my perferred CC is the FNS-40C. Quality on the Walther is first rate. Bit pricey, but the DA/SA is actually a very well though out system and works beautifully. Capacity a bit low, but this is a purse gun, it works, and is extremely reliable and accurrate at 10 to 15 yards, and easy for weak hand manipulation.

    Tried having wife fire my FNSC-40 and VP-40, and just too heavy and rack sliding a problem for her on both. A really good pistol, for her intended purpose of SD.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *