Right on Q!

JB-PPKIn the 1962 film Dr No, Secret Service agent James Bond 007 was issued with a Walther PPK sidearm, although gun aficionados will probably  have spottedJB-CP99 that the model shown in the film was actually a Walther PP, and Bond’s gun was delivered in 7.62mm calibre rather than the .380 normally issued to American service personnel. However, despite a brief flirt with the Walther P5 in Octopussy, the seven-round ‘PPK’ went on to become James Bond’s signature gun in the films that followed – right up until Tomorrow Never Dies, after which it reappeared (complete with silencer attached) in Quantum of Solace. It was also used – as a 9mm – in Skyfall.

In the final act of Tomorrow Never Dies, though, Bond is seen changing from his PPK to the more potent, 16-shot 9mm Walther P99 – the new gun of issue for the agent’s escapades in The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day and in the 2006 ‘reboot’ of Casino Royale.

Seeing as I drive an Aston Martin, frequently gallivant around the world and have a string of lovely young women always in tow, someone – we’ll call him N – thought I’d be just the man to see which airgun version I should next take on assignment into the, erm… garden!

Both these airguns are 4.5mm steel BB-firers, being made under licence to Walther by Umarex, and distributed through UK gun shops via Armex. They’re powered by a standard 12-gram CO2 capsule and feature a blowback action that gives them a nice ‘kick’ in the hand as the next round is automatically cycled. To reflect its CO2 powerplant, my ‘P99’ derivative is actually dubbed the CP99, and this version is the Compact model. 

The PPK

The PPK

Oddly, though, my ‘PPK’ has no ‘C’ suffix – and it’s actually the PPK/S variant. This was the model used in Quantum of Solace – though, sadly, the one N’s issued doesn’t have the same palm-print activation that Q gave to the real Mr. Bond!

True to the films, though, my CP99 does have a slightly better firepower than the PPK/S, running an 18-shot magazine – three more than the PPK’s capacity. Both

The CP99

The CP99

magazines are of the ‘stick’ type, located at the front of the pistols’ respective grips. The PPK’s is released via a press-button behind the trigger on the left side of the frame, while the CP99’s drops out with a press of a lever situated either side of the base of the guard.

As with all BB pistols, loading is a little fiddly – but given the amount of fun returned with semi-auto CO2 pistols, it’s worth it. Loading the plastic stick of the PPK/S is the more difficult as you have to hold back the sprung plunger with your thumb as you drop in each round. On the CP99’s stick – more substantially made of metal – there’s a ‘lock’ system to hold down the plunger, which makes things a lot easier. 

Unlike the PPK/S, which is loaded from the top down, you load the CP99’s magazine ‘upside down’ courtesy of a wide loading aperture at the base of the grip. Also, the top end of the stick is magnetised, so each new round is subsequently ‘grabbed’ nicely in line with the breech after each shot – an innovative system very becoming of a secret agent’s handgun!

Both pistols are mainly constructed of metal, so feel very substantial in the hand, and the plastic grips they sport have well-defined moulding – they’re certainly worthy of their price tags, those being around £135 for the CP99, and £103 for the PPK/S. Of course, being the later model, the CP99 boasts grips that are slightly more ergonomic in the palm, where the swollen backstrap and finger scallops really aid a good hold. 

But the PPK, as a multi-purpose handgun, hasn’t stood the test of time for no reason – and I had no issues pointing either of the Walthers. Actually, as much as I wanted to favour the newest technology, there was just something about that PPK/S that made me keep picking it up – it’s a very tactile gun, despite its more basic design.

Accuracy-wise, it’s unfair to judge either of these guns on paper – you don’t really buy a 4.5mm BB repeater for blasting out bullseyes! You do, however, pick them for unpressurised fun, and that comes in abundance with the Walther duo. They’ve got some poke – the CP99 clocked up a max of 285fps, and the PPK/S 275fps – and will certainly register a solid thump on a tin can out to 10 yards, the range at which I’d say you can expect any sort of hit-rate return.

Their sights are non-adjustable combat opens, but given the short ranges over which you’ll be enjoying them, their POI alignment will be good enough – and, actually, they’re both such pointable guns that you end up ‘forgetting’ the sights. By that, I mean you tend to shoot the Walthers by instinct – just as you should any sidearm.

Okay, tin cans aren’t likely to shoot back – but I can see why these guns have enjoyed such popularity in the military and law enforcement services over the years. They’re very much a ‘part of you’ when in use and the CP99 has the option of adding some form of laser sight to the short, Picatinny-style accessory rail that’s integrated into the frame, just under the muzzle.

Both pistols feature a manually operated safety catch on the right-hand side of their frames. The PPK/S’s is a little crude, requiring a short lever to be swung up (to F) or down (to S). The CP99’s lever has the added safety feature of an integral lock that has to be drawn back to engage and disengage its safety catch – but although it’s the more reassuring of the two, it’s also probably the most  awkward to operate.

Handgun triggers are never the lightest in the world, but those on the air pistols tested are very manageable. The CP99’s got the slightly longer travel, but both guns’ triggers break cleanly, with the right compromise between safety and let-off weight. The latter is aided by their particularly wide blades, the CP99’s smooth face being no less than 11mm! It’s the slightly more ‘hooked’ of the two, as well – though on the longer shooting sessions, I tended to favour the grooved face of the PPK/S’s trigger.

To gas up the CP99, remove the stick mag...

To gas up the CP99, remove the stick mag…

...unscrew the cam-twist base of the grip and pull off the backstrap.

…unscrew the cam-twist base of the grip and pull off the backstrap.

Insert your capsule and twist the cam back to pierce it

Insert your capsule and twist the cam back to pierce it

Gassing up the pistols is a quick and easy operation – the CP99’s probably being the easier of the two, however. After removing the stick mag, you unscrew the cam-twist base of the grip, pull off the backstrap and insert your capsule before twisting the cam back to pierce it and release the gas into the firing chamber. With the PPK/S, you have to pull off the left grip plate and operate a conventional turnscrew which protrudes – a little to obtrusively in my view – below the grip with your finger and thumb.

Even though some of the CO2 gas is used to cycle these pistols’ blowback actions, each capsule still gives a decent return in terms of shot-count – 50 shots for the PPK/S and an impressive 90 for the CP99 Compact. Like all fast-fire CO2 pistols, however, power output drops if they’re cycled rapidly – and velocities will increase in the warmer weather. That’s nothing to worry about, mind you – both these Walthers are safely below the UK’s legal 6ft/lb limit for air pistols.

So, which of these was the best 007 gun? Is it the PPK, which appeared in more Bond movies than the P99 – or is the newer Walther better by virtue of its more up-to-date spec? Well, having gone head-to-head with the airgun versions, I don’t think even Mr. Bond could have split them – they’re both terrific pocket rockets, and their blowback actions really add to their overall appeal. These aren’t just great authentic looking guns to own – they’re immense fun to shoot, too. 

The CP99 may look the sexier of the two, have a slightly greater magazine capacity and more user-friendly loading system, but I ‘did’ more  with the PPK/S, the super compact dimensions of which just seemed to be the more enjoyable when wrapped within my palm. It’s certainly got what it takes to scare the Living Daylights out of any tin can that dares to enter my garden range… 

PPK-gas-up

To gas up the PPK/S, remove the stick mag…

PPK-gas-up-2

…pull off the left grip plate and operate the turnscrew. Insert the cartridge…

PPK-gas-up-3

…clip the grip plate back into place and pierce the capsule

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Posted in Air Pistols, CO2, Tests

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