Walther has always been a neat company — one of the few gun companies to cross over and become a part of the cultural zeitgeist.
Walther mainly did so through the PPK series of pistols and their use by famed spy James Bond.
Outside of the PPK, they’ve produced some very nice, high-quality pistols that are often extremely underrated and admittedly under-marketed in the United States.
One such pistol is the now-defunct Walther P99.
So, today, we’re going to explore the Walther P99’s design, life, and what happened to it…
Table of Contents
P99: One Unique Pistol
At its core, the P99 seems like every other modern handgun. It’s a polymer frame, striker-fired 9mm that feeds from a double-stack magazine.
Yawn, right? Well, hold those yawns.
Unlike all the other polymer frame, striker-fired pistols, the Walther P99 uses a very peculiar striker-fired system.
It’s a true DA/SA striker-fired design. DA/SA systems are normally reserved for hammer-fired handguns like the Sig Sauer P226 or the CZ 75 series.
Rarely do we see a DA/SA striker-fired gun…yet the Walther P99 went even further into the weird with an anti-stress trigger.
The AS trigger system implemented a 2-stage trigger system into the P99. When cocked initially, the striker would be in single-action mode, but the trigger would be double-action length.
Its first stage is almost weightless and brings the trigger rearward to the single-action trigger pull length. The idea was that the longer pull would help prevent negligent discharges from police in stressful situations while still providing a crisp and light trigger pull.
On top of the slide, the P99 features a button that allows you to decock the firearm into double-action mode.
In terms of triggers, the DA and SA were brilliant…smooth, light, and grit-free.
Truly works of art.
Tomorrow Never Dies
The P99 famously found its way into the hands of James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies and again in the World Is Not Enough.
It became Bond’s main sidearm but never reached that peak PPK status.
Walther produced several variants, including a DAO model, a Quick Action that’s essentially an SAO model, and a compact variant that’s rather rare.
A Game of Clones
Later, Walther teamed up with Smith & Wesson to produce the SW99.
While the SW99 isn’t a licensed clone — rather a collaboration — it did jump-start the idea of companies working with Walther to produce P99-style guns.
I own the very cool MR9 from Magnum Research, a P99 with a stainless American-made slide on a Walther-made frame. TFB did a video showing these two side-by-side. Check that out below.
When Canik came around, they started cloning the Walther P99 and seemingly had great success.
So, What Happened to the P99?
The Walther P99 was a cool pistol, and it attracted some partnerships within the American firearms world. However, it just couldn’t keep up with the likes of Glock, FN, Beretta, and even S&W.
The P99 did well overseas with contracts around the world. However, in the states, it never gained a foothold, and Walther didn’t seem interested in marketing to the American market.
Also, the American market seemed to really like the Glock style striker-fired designs, which explains why the PPQ seems to be a much more popular pistol.
Walther officially discontinued the pistol in 2021 and later killed the PPQ in favor of the PDP. (What’s so great about the PDP, come check it out in our review!)
It’s a sad affair because the P99 was a great pistol with a lot of potential.
What do you think of the Taurus CT9 and CT40? Let us know in the comments below. This is a new series for PPT, so be sure to tell us if you like it and check back next week for another What Happened. In the meantime, check out last week’s look at the Taurus CT.