The German concern of Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen developed their Walther P99 semi-automatic pistol primarily for sale to law enforcement with security groups with civilian self-defense markets also in mind. Its design was sound through utilization of a stout frame, reliable internal action and proven Walther pistol pedigree despite being an overly conventional offering. As a semi-automatic pistol, the P99 functions through a self-loading, short-recoil operation, this based on the original Browning cam-lock system seen in the Browning Hi-Power marks, which feed from a detachable magazine inserted through the base of the grip. The P99 was first marketed in 1996 in an original 9x19mm Parabellum form and then adopted to the American market in a .40 S&W model and an Israeli 9x21mm IMI chambered form.
The P99 was born in work undertaken during 1993 and into 1996 under the direction of Horst Wesp. The finalized model was unveiled in 1997 as a wholly modern take on the existing Walther semi-automatic pistol lines - primarily designed to overtake the P5 (1977) and P88 (1988) models then in circulation. Externally, the P99 was given a detailed sturdy steel slide which shrouded the barrel and required internals. An ejection port was clearly identified at the midway point of the slide while iron sights were located at the front and rear in the usual way (Phosphorescent steel sights, 3-dot marking). While steel was used for the most-abused parts of the gun, the frame was largely of fiber glass-strengthened polymer to help offset weight gains and promote a lightweight design.
Internally, the P99 was designed around an internal striker mechanism as opposed to the widely-accepted external hammer arrangement. This worked well to lessen the chance of the pistol snagging on clothing when being drawn for speedy firing. A visible indicator along the right side of the slide allowed the operator to quickly and clearly see and feel if the chamber was loaded prior to cocking the weapon or pulling the trigger. A red cocking marker is also present at the rear of the gun for visible recognition of the striker's current position. A quick-reaction facility allowed the weapon to be carried pre-cocked to which the pistol could then be made fully-cocked with management of the trigger as normal. To prevent inadvertent firing, the P99 was afforded no fewer than four permanently operating safeties (trigger, striker, drop and decocking). All primary controls were implemented as ambidextrous for a truly universal product reach. Walther P99 pistols could also accept a slew of tactically-minded accessories when equipped with Picatinny MIL-STD 1913 rails. This included laser aimers, tactical lights, lamps and silencer barrels. For the latter, a suppressor is offered that threads over the muzzle for some sound reduction qualities. Three different backstraps can be affixed to the grip for a perfect hold.
The P99 was primarily chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge, a widely-used and accepted German-originated pistol cartridge the world over. Magazines were internally springloaded and each cartridge was fed through the grip handle while magazines then being ejected via an ambidextrous release system found on the trigger ring. The standard P99 model (9x19mm) initially held 16 rounds in its magazine while the .40 S&W model fed from a 12-round magazine. In time, magazines were revised to feed from 15 and 11 round counts respectively. Magazine counts of 17- and 20-rounds eventually appeared - all magazines completed of sheet metal construction.
The P99 was offered in three distinct trigger group versions: Double-Action Only (P99DOA), Quick Action (P99QA with preloaded internal striker) and Anti-Stress (P99AS with decocker). The P99 was additionally sold in two major frame versions - the base full-sized P99 and the P99C, a compact variant with reduced magazine capacity and maximized concealment in mind. The P99C has been further offered in the three listed trigger actions (DAO, QA and AS) as well. The P99Q became a special police-market variant. The P99 ultimately evolved across three primary generational forms known simply as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Generation. 2nd Generation models appeared in 2004 mainly saw updates to their slide detail. 3rd Generation models were given longer magazines with another slide revision and squared trigger ring. Training versions have also become available form Walther.
Various police forces of the world have gone on to accept the reliable P99 in their inventory including Canadian, German, Dutch, Finnish, Malaysian and British (Nottinghamshire Police) city police forces. The Finnish Army has adopted the type as well. Special units of the Irish An Garda Siochana use the P99C. The Iraqi Army has been handed the P99 in considerable numbers.
The P99 is produced under license in Poland by Radom as the P99 RAD. The American concern of Smith & Wesson markets the P99 as the SW99 with barrels and slides manufactured stateside. Unlike base P99s, the SW99 is also available in a .45 ACP form.
The most modern form of the P99 family of sidearms is the PPQ, first unveiled in 2011 developed for German law enforcement.