The Walther P99 has been and probably will continue to be one of the most iconic pistols for gun enthusiasts worldwide. Some may recognize it as the most used pistol of icon James Bond. So why did Walther discontinue one of its most iconic pistols even after its evident popularity? Stay tuned to find out!
What is the Walther P99?
The P99 is a semi-automatic pistol first released in 1997 by the German firearm manufacturer Walther. It is available in 3 calibers: 9 mm, .40 S&W, and.45 ACP. It used to be available in 16 rounds but was updated only to contain 15.
It was a striker-fired pistol that was the preference of many of the military and police forces worldwide. The mechanism allowed for a lighter trigger and made it easier to train with since it had fewer components.
When it was first released, many people loved the unique features that set it apart. It was accurate and easy to use with its factory 3-dot sight. Its handle focused plenty on ergonomics, making sure to keep it lowkey and classic but sit perfectly on your palm.
It was extremely sturdy with its reinforced glass polymer body. This composition makes it robust and lighter, with the P99 weighing in at just 22 ounces. Although do not start to assume that the P99 is small, the length is a hefty 7 inches, three-fourths of which the barrel makes up.
Walther P99 Special Features
All of this makes the Walther P99 really attractive beyond its iconic image. Many enthusiasts even say that the Walther P99 was ahead of its time, with special features coming up in the next section.
The Anti-Stress Trigger system is one of the unique features of Walther pistols like the Walther P99 and Walther PPQ. The AS mode provides the security of a hammer-fired pistol and the easy shooting of a striker-fired one.
The AS functions by having two levels of trigger press, the first time you would pull the trigger, it would be heavy. According to Walther, it makes the user aware that they are about to pull the trigger, which helps fight against misfires and better accuracy.
The second level is shorter and easier, allowing for multiple shots unless the trigger system is completely reset.
The Cock Stricker Indicator is a feature now seen in many other pistols, but it’s worth noting that, together with the AS mode, it helps make the user more aware of the trigger.
Another fan-favorite feature is the design of the gun, making it ambidextrous. It has take-down tabs and mag release on both sides, making it easier for left-handed users.
Many also say this may have been a more unnecessary feature, but catering to a broader variety of users made the firearm more desirable.
The back strap is the portion that allows the gun to rest securely on your palm. However, the Walter P99 cam with a pretty ergonomic design allowing for the interchangeable backstraps allowed customers to find a better fit for their palm.
It can greatly affect how you hold the gun and its trigger. Many gun enthusiasts who have smaller palms really appreciated this feature.
Corrosion Resistant Coating
The Tenifer finish on the P99 made the gun nearly physically immune to being corroded. It does not rust and is one of the most reliable, especially in field work which exposes the gun to the elements.
This would be the perfect gun for anyone who wanted to invest in a pistol that would stay in pristine condition for a long time.
Who was the target market of the Walther P99?
The Walther P99 was not the easiest firearm to procure because its main target or customer base was military and police personnel. As you may have read from the features, this specific gun was perfect for them since it was reliable.
Walther actually had plenty of government units from around the world using the P99. The Walther PDP is replacing it as of late.
This may have been more popular with the military, but it also had a following with self-defense owners and competitive shooters. Especially with the news of its discontinuation, many have scrambled to purchase one for their collection or use.
How did the Walther P99 affect modern pistols?
Here are some of the things to know about how it affects modern handguns.
The Walther P99 may not have been the first striker-fired pistol, but it was still relatively new and contributed to its popularity. Many were hesitant to use these types as they were initially deemed less safe than their hammer-fired counterparts.
However, due to the popularity of the P99 and the Glocks, striker-fired pistols soon became more popular.
Walther was definitely one of the first few manufacturers who took the science of ergonomics and applied it to their models. A notable reason why many soldiers actually preferred the P99 is how comfortable they were.
Considering that this was a time when guns were used often, hand fatigue in soldiers used to build up faster than with the Walther P99s. Many other companies noticed how important the gun’s fit to the palm was to the balance of using a gun and applied it to their own models.
This science of ergonomics is why we see more and more modern pistols have a better shape suited for palms, ridges, and friction etches to help with grip. It’s one of those less noticeable yet sensible changes that they made.
As described, the Walther P99 was light yet compact. This compact design made it more attractive for the military and police, who had to carry multiple firearms.
It was also easier to conceal carry it, so many companies followed suit in either designing a compact variant or a compact model.
Why was it discontinued?
The Walther P99 has yet to be officially discontinued, unlike its variant, the P99c. It’s now only manufactured in small batches; even its contracts are moving for the PDP. It has a similar case with the PPQ discontinuation. Walther is now only manufacturing the Q4 and Q5 in small batches.
So why? Essentially it was just the change in the market. As previously mentioned, most were purchased by the military and police, but now they have switched to more recent models like the Walther PDP.
The final and most apparent reason is the new models. When the P99 came out, it immediately became a fan favorite for its sleek design and innovative features. Gun enthusiasts even claimed that it greatly impacted the future of pistols.
When the PPQ was released, it had all the standard features of the P99 but just better. This is why many governments jumped on the PPQ when it came out. This is also what happened to the PPQ when the PDP came out.
It was gradual but apparent that the P99 would also eventually end up being discontinued slowly. With the release of the Walther P99 Final Edition as the proper send-off, soon, the Walther P99 may be officially discontinued.
Are there any pistols similar to the Walther P99?
Here are some Walther pistols you may be interested in that have a similar design to the P99
Walther P99 Final Edition
When the Walther Company released news that they would make the Walther P99 Final edition, many understood that although they had not officially discontinued it, the Walther P99 was on its way to having that status.
This final edition may be your last chance to own a P99 model. This edition has an army green body and a grip with a matte black slide.
Walther PPQ Q5 Series
For a good reason, one of the remaining PPQ variants is the Q5 series. The Walther PPQ line itself had one of the best triggers around. The Q5 series takes it a step further. Not only is it highly accurate and easy to use, but it also preserves the shooting capability of its previous predecessors.
Another great addition to that is its price. The Walther Q5 is an affordable model with great specs. Any other model with the same capabilities would be twice the price range.
The Walther PDP has stolen the hearts of many military, police, and gun enthusiasts around the world for an excellent reason. The body is comfortable and has an excellent grip, even with sweaty hands.
The full-size houses 18+1 rounds are available in 9×19 mm Parabellum and are very accurate. Walther made the PDP with red dot ergonomics for those red dot users. It sits at an angle where you can naturally find the red dot.
The Walther P99 was an iconic gun. Even when its decline for use came with the entry of other models like the PPQ and PDP, the P99 could still hold its ground even though it was designed 26 years ago.
It had excellent features, was sleek, and catered to any user. That resiliency and how it shaped modern pistols may be why it took so long to be discontinued. While we may now rarely see the P99 in the market again, rest assured that Walther will continue to carry its parts for those who own one.
The end of the Walther P99 is genuinely the end of an era.