Monday, June 25, 2007


I began shooting almost 30 years ago, but it wasn't until last year that I purchased my first handgun. As with other interests in life, I did a lot of research before deciding on which one to purchase. When I decided I wished to own a handgun, I didn't expect it to be the first of several... therefore it needed to be one that I would be satisfied with for a very long time.

After much online reading, I was leaning towards the Walther P99. I examined one in the store, and liked the ergonomics a lot. However, the price was higher than I wished to pay. A friend took me shooting, and I tried his Sig 9mm. The DA/SA trigger had a very heavy first pull, and I found the decocker to be difficult to manipulate. The range we shot at had several guns for rent, and I decided to try the Glock 19. The gun was a good size for my hand, and I preferred the constant weight of the trigger pull compared to the Sig. I decided it was the best choice.

Two weeks later, I found a G19 for sale on Glocktalk. As luck would have it, the seller was a a local guy who was planning to attend a Bill Goodman show here in Cincinnati that weekend. We made arrangements to meet at the show. The gun was in very good condition and had night sights installed. The price was fair, so we exchanged IDs and I became a new gun owner.

Since then I've become a fairly regular shooter. Though the range is not a place I require myself to go religiously, I do try to shoot at least twice a month. I would estimate I've shot about 1500 rnds through the G19, and over time my skill has improved. It's been a very reliable gun, and lives up to the reputation as being tough as well as easy to strip and clean.

But as many gun owners know, it's often the case that over time you find yourself looking at other guns. Though I've been happy with the Glock, I've never loved it. While I couldn't determine exactly what it was, something was missing... I didn't have any special fondness for it. If one can "bond" with their weapon, I never bonded with the G19.

Over the past few weeks, I'd found myself thinking back to the Walther. After a range trip, I spoke with a salesman. He removed a P99 AS from the gun case, checked the chamber, and set it on the counter. I held it my hand, and was again surprised how "right" it felt. The grip was perfectly sculpted, the action of the slide was precise as Swiss clockwork. The trigger - though DA/SA - was far more smooth than the Glock. The only problem was that the store had no P99 available for rent. I'm a firm believer that if a gun is intended for self-defense, it should be fired before purchase. Online reviews and examinations at the counter only go so far.

A week later the Smith&Wesson/Walther rep was at the store and had samples of all their weapons. He was more than willing to let me try the P99 on the range. I purchased a target, loaded 10 rounds in the magazine, and put the target to around 5-7 yrds. I slowly pulled the trigger, feeling a smooth takeup and predictable breaking point. The round fired, and I was amazed at how close to the bullseye the hole was.

19 Rounds later I retrieved the target, looked at the groups - and couldn't stop smiling. I returned the Walther to the factory rep, and he asked me how I liked it. I told him I was about to buy one.

3 Weeks and 450 rounds later, I believe I've found my gun. I'm still getting familiar with the sight picture, trying to consistently present the gun with the front sight placed correctly above the POA. It's taking some adjustment, due to having a higher axis than the Glock as well as the DA/SA trigger... but the groupings don't lie. The Glock is a fine handgun, for sure - but in the past 3 weeks, I've been more accurate with the P99 than I ever managed to be with the G19.

Sometimes our first choice is actually the best one... yet we choose other things before realizing it.

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