Walther P99/S&W 99 .45 comparison
So by now you guys know I love my 9mm P99AS and the reasons why.
However I still prefer .45 for a number of things, including self defense. Lets not turn this into a caliber war as we've all seen that beaten in other threads, and plenty of good reasons for either 9 or 45. Problem is (as we all know) Walther doesn't make the 99 in .45, but S&W does.
Being the fan of .45 that I am, after immediately falling in love with my Walther I started to research the SW99 option. Information seems scarce on this model, especially with much detail. I did see a good review on Gunblast, and a few personal reviews but I have yet to see anyone compare the .45 directly to the Walther. Going off accounts (thanks Shipwreck an others) that the SW99 and P99 in 9mm are basically the same performance-wise, I could only guess that the .45 would be similar if Walther made one as well.
So I did the only logical thing and bought a SW99 .45 off the internet . It is a rep demo an supposedly has about 500 rounds through it, if that's true it's not even broke in yet, that's about a good days shooting an will save me alot of bucks. I paid a little over $400 which made this gun less of a gamble, with the market around here selling it for that should not be a problem if I don't like it. Let's call it a free test ride. These guns are getting harder to find as they've been discontinued, but they are still out there. So here's a review that can maybe help some of you guys intrested, that love the Walther and want a direct comparison.
Here's the players
And a little more detail on the Smith
First my impression holding them. Very similar, just everything is a bit bigger on the .45. Unless you have small hands I doubt it would be an issue. Not the best choice for concealed carry, but I'm comparing fullsize models here and would think you could do anything with the .45 you could with a fullsize 9mm. I do like the way the Walther fits my hand better, as the Smith feels larger than it actually is, but not a problm, just different. The Smith also uses a frame that I believe is based off the "old style" P99, which is fine, probably more of a matter of personal taste there. My only gripe is that I do like the newer design mag release, which is perfect in my opinion, not just between these two guns but comparing to any auto I've shot. Even with the SW99s shorter mag release I still like it better than any thumb button.
After initial inspection the gun appears to have been shot more than 500 rounds. There is no gritty feeling in the trigger like my P99 had initially. After cleaning (it was not cleaned after it's last shooting) everything appears in good shape.
Ideally I was hoping that the .45 would be everything that my 9 is with just the difference in caliber, and shooting characteristics associated with a .45 compared to a 9mm. It came close. Basically the SW trigger is the AS trigger, length of pull, and different modes DA/SA feel identical except for one characteristic. The actually break point in SA a heavier on the .45. Keep in mind this is a range impression and I haven't actually measured it yet. Is it bad? No, I'm splitting hairs here, but it IS a big hair if you intend to do bullseye type shooting. And it's not just because it's a .45, I brought my USP .45 to the range for comparison and I liked the SA on that more for target work. The SW does have an identical reset to the Walther on the trigger, which is what I love so much about these guns, really in my opinion that's what sets them apart from most high quality DA/SA guns.
So how does accuracy compare? First a disclaimer, I'm going to post pics of a few of my targets, this is in no way an accuracy test for either weapon, but a comparison between the two with the constant being the shooter (me). I would consider myself an average shot, as I know many of you guys can shoot circles around me, but I've also looked around the range at many of the targets and feel I can give some advice to others as well. So this is probably a decent test for an "average" shooter to compare.
Both guns are more accurate than I am, but I found the Walther easier to shoot accurate, just because of the final break on the .45 trigger. Especially shooting back to back it felt like I was trying to hold forever while increasing pressure on the .45s trigger while the 9 would have fired a lot sooner, to the point where I sometimes lowered the gun to relax because I started to shake on the target. Actual results were similar, and I'll bet from a rest the groups would be amost identical, but I was shooting standing, two hands the way I would in the real world.
At 7 yards (21 feet for you guys who measure in feet ) results were about the same. 1.5 inch groups could easily be done consistently, a few of my better groups had measurements under an inch (5/8s measured CL)
Here's the Walther
Here's the SW99
I'm sure a good shooter would have had that flyer on the .45 in the same group, so that's me....not the gun. Did I mention the .45 shot really high for me. I was aiming for the black dot. No big deal as this day was about seeing what the gun could do and I will change the front sight before my next trip.
Regardless I'd say accuracy was the same except the .45 made me work for it more. Moving out to 15 Yards (you can do the math on the feet, right? ) the differences started to show up more. Again if the gun was rested I really don't think I'd see a difference, but here I started to see a lot more flyers with the .45, and even though group sizes are similar (minus the flyers) you can see the shots conentrated better with the 9mm. Both of these targets are 20 shots.
Here's a Walther target
And a Smith target
Again on the .45 target the red sticker was my point of aim to get the shots where I could see my hits on the target.
I didn't even bother with pics at 25 yards It was more of the same just spread out more. Really my groups were about 5-6"s with a high concentration of shots within three. I really believe they should all be within three or better, but again that's me. The .45 cetainley had more flyers. Of course (here's my excuse) at this point of the day I already had shot over 500 rounds between three guns, so I was a bit shakey.
So a first impression the 9mm is my choice for target work. But that's not what I bought either of these guns for, I've got revolvers for that. I want to shoot fast and accurate ENOUGH, and what I mean by enough is that a 1" difference at 15 yards doesn't really matter to me for thier purpose. This is where the recoil is a bigger issue, but being used to the .45 it came back on target well but cetainly not as quick as the 9mm.....but I expected that compromise and I'm fine with it. Shooting faster my accuracy started to equal out bewteen the two. The range I was at only allows I shot per second (no rapid fire) and at that rate my targets looked similar, and really not far off the slow fire targets. Seems the .45 trigger works better for me when being pulled faster, no not jerking or getting sloppy, just not ultra slow "suprise when it fires" type of target work.
I did get off a few doubletaps an the .45 was happy there. Being that this is designed as a service or combat type pistol I think it will prove to work well. The Walther has the advantage of being a target pistol as well.
In the next week or two I will get to the mountains where I can really let the bullets fly. This is where this gun needs to shine an I believe it will. I doubt I will notice the difference in the trigger when shooting fast at multiple targets, doubletaps and instinct point shooting, where tight groups are not as important.
I look forward to the "real" testing. Until then the jury is still out on this gun.
Last edited by Highside; 03-11-2007 at 12:13 PM.
Aloha - great review. Glad U like the gun.
How does the muzzleflip compare to say, a 1911.
Change out the front site to a taller one, and U will solve your aiming issue.
Ship, it has more muzzleflip than most 1911s I've shot, I'm sure because of the size and wieght of the gun, but so does my HK and it's a big .45, but still polymer. The Smith has slightly more than my HK, for the same reasons I'm sure.
We'll see how the recoil affects fast shooting soon, I suspect it will be similar to my HK. I realize this is a big issue for some, but shooting lots of magnum loads over the years niether .45 or 9mm seem to recoil hard to me. I often carry an SP101 .357 snub nose for a camp gun, that little gun barks when fired, and is the one I hope to replace with the Smith (not sell, just retire from duty), so the recoil isssue isn't much in comparison.
As for the front sight I'm already on it, not a big deal at the range but will be soon
Hey Highside a real good read and thanks for the pictures to go with the article. Good Job.
I have a SP101 on my wishlist......
however it will be one from Gemini customs
many say the SP101 is one of the best snubbies around out of the box... nearly indestructible
and yes thanks for the writeup ... it was a great read
Kewl. I had to put a shorter front sight on my SW99 9mm because mine shot low. That's what I love about these gun designs. The user can make adjustments.
Originally Posted by Highside
Yeah, the SP101 is a great gun, and those customs look inviting. Mine is bone stock and I've always been impessed with it, It's travled deep into the mountains an desert many times with me.
Originally Posted by uncut
Even with the short little barrel and magnum rounds I can shoot better groups with it than any auto I've tried out to 15 yards, but then I still consider myself new to autos. My follow up shots sure are faster an more accurate with my autos though.
It'll still be my camp gun for awhile as I'm just now starting to feel confident with an auto. Not sure I need to change, but I might give it a try......besides I'm having a good time
"Real" Testing in the Mountains
Well I got up to my testing grounds in the Sierras yesterday to put the new .45 through it's paces. The quick summary: I'm keeping the gun.
I gave it similar tests as I did in my P99 Mountain report, with similar results. Somthing about being in the mountains, I swear I shoot better. Even when I shot slow my groupings were better, I got a couple of 5 shot 3" groups at 25 yards, which is the best I could do with the P99 as well, both cases better than at the range....go figure.
But this day was about shooting fast, at multiple targets, which I expected/hoped the .45 would do better, an it did. Shooting quickly the difference in the trigger was not noticeable. In fact this gun felt at home during these types of drills. All of the aspects that I like about the P99 for this type of shooting came through on the Smith.
The main differences were what I had expected, not the characteristics of the firearm, but the differences in 9 vs .45. The .45 will shoot just as fast with the wonderful trigger reset, but it does take longer to reaquire sight picture, so for accurate, fast shooting I had to slow it down a hair, but that was it, just a hair. Same with doubletaps, with the 9 I could pull the trigger as fast as the gun could reset an keep a 4" group at 7 yards, with the .45 I either had to shoot a fraction of a second slower to achieve that or the group was a couple of inches bigger on two shots.
So where do you want to compomise? There is no doubt I can shoot faster an more accurate with my P99, but I can shoot even faster with more accuracy with my Mark II .22lr so where does one personally find thier balance in a defensive weapon? I'll take the .45.
The best part is the guns are similar enough in function and feeling that the P99 will be a great trainer for the Smith. I was a bit worried that I might get used to one and the other would feel foriegn to me, and that's not the case. First magazine I shot fast the .45 felt natural because of the experience with the P99, it just took a fraction longer to get a sight picture between shots, and I would naturally pull the trigger when I got the sight picture, despite the timing being a little different.
This is all good. I do enjoy shooting the Walther more for fun, and originally I bought it as a toy that I could shoot cheaply. I'm sure the Walther will be my first choice between the two on shooting expeditions, and the Smith will be my first choice between the two as a defensive weapon, but the best part is I feel confident with both for either purpose. I've got a feeling that I will shoot thousands of 9mm rounds to hundreds of the .45. I will soon be testing BOTH with hollowpoints.
I really think I've stumbled on a great weapon design (like the rest of you). How come I get the feeling at some point I'm going to have to try one in .40?
And then a compact? An maybe hardchrome one. An then........oh geez
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