The CP 88 was the first Umarex replica to use a rotary pellet holder hidden within a cast body designed to look like the slide and frame of a semi-automatic pistol. The same basic design was used subsequently for Umarex replicas of the Walther P 99, Colt 1911, Beretta 92, H&K P30 and others. This design provides a reasonably accurate, reliable and powerful multi-shot air pistol which is a very good visual replica of the original, but it doesn’t replicate any of the functionality of a real semi-auto pistol.
I have owned two CP 88s – an early 6″ Competition in gloss black and a later 4″ model in semi-matt finish.
Real steel background
The P 88C is a recoil operated, locked breech semi-automatic pistol which uses conventional Browning style locking. The pistol is of steel construction and has non-adjustable sights and a high capacity, double stack magazine.
The Walther P 88 was introduced in 1988 (as for many Walther pistols, the model name is taken from the year of introduction) by Carl Walther Waffenfabrik as a military and law enforcement sidearm. It wasn’t particularly successful, receiving criticism for being heavy and bulky as well as for being too expensive (over $1000) for the budgets of many potential military and police users. It was however very accurate and became popular with target shooters. In 1996 this model was discontinued in favour of the P 88C (Compact) version which was slightly less bulky (barrel length was reduced from 4″ to 3.7″) and a little cheaper.
Walther also provided a sporting version, the P 88 Competition (sold as the P 88 Champion in some markets), which was available with adjustable sights and other minor changes and was also offered with a lengthened 6″ barrel. Some target shooters regard the P 88 Competition as the finest sporting handgun ever made.
The Umarex CP-88
UMAREX Sportwaffen GmbH & Co. KG was founded in 1972 and manufactures sport and competition firearms, ammunition, airguns, airsoft guns and signal pistols. In 1993 Umarex bought Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen, though guns continued to be manufactured using the Walther name and trademarks. No surprise then that when Umarex decided to launch a new line of multi-shot replica air pistols, they started with a replica of the then current Walther P 88C. This replica, the CP 88, was launched in 1996 and was an immediate success. Early models were lauded for quality construction and a hard-wearing glossy black finish which closely resembled blued steel. Later models featured a semi-matt finish and some folk feel that the high quality of the original model has been reduced in these “second generation” CP 88s. The CP 88 was followed by replicas of other classic pistols which used the same basic mechanical design.
The CP 88 is powered by CO2, has a 3.75″ rifled barrel and weighs a hefty 2.25 pounds. Also available is the CP 88 Competition with a 6″ barrel. The standard version came with sights which were adjustable for windage only, but some 6″ versions were supplied with fully adjustable competition sights.
Packaging and presentation 4.5/5
Like all the Umarex pistols which share the basic design of the CP 88, this comes in a very nice, well-padded hard case. The pistol is supplied with one rotary pellet holder, an allen key for sight adjustment and a short user manual.
Early (gloss finish) models were supplied in a blue hard case which featured foam with cut-outs for the pistol, CO2, pellet holder(s), allen key and a tin of pellets. Later (matt finish) models came in a generic black hard case with eggshell foam. Some people feel that the later black cases are not as high quality as the original blue cases, but overall the packaging of the CP 88 is far better than the cardboard box supplied with most replica pistols.
Visual accuracy 8/10
Visually, this is a very accurate replica of the P 88C. Authentic Walther markings are included. The only prominent difference is that the replica features additional vertical banding at the nose of the slide and a thicker plastic pad where the base of the magazine would be on the original.
Other minor visible differences are the lack of an extractor pin and extractor cut-out on the right of the slide, a barely visible join between the rear and front parts of the slide and the lack of a lanyard loop on the replica. However, these are minor differences, and given that this replica weighs almost precisely the same as the original, this looks and handles very much like the real weapon.
Functional accuracy 3/15
OK, let’s be honest here: this is a revolver dressed up to look like a semi-automatic pistol. Unsurprising then that there is almost nothing on the CP-88 which functions in the same way as the real weapon.
The CP 88 was the first Umarex pistol to use a rotating pellet holder within what looks like the body of a semi auto pistol. Operating what would be the takedown lever on the original allows the front part of the slide to move forward, giving access to the removable rotary pellet holder. Up to eight pellets are loaded into the holder, which is then placed within the slide and the front part of the slide is pushed backwards to lock closed. The rear part of the slide is fixed and the slide release is moulded in place and has no operational function.
What appears to be a magazine release on the left of the frame is actually a release for the right-hand grip. Removing this gives access to the CO2 chamber. What appears to be the base of the magazine is a hinged pad which allows CO2 piercing.
The slide mounted, ambidextrous safety looks identical to the safety on the original weapon, but doesn’t incorporate a de-cocking function.
The CP 88 can’t be field stripped. It is possible to detach the moving front part of the slide by removing the screw below the muzzle, but this won’t give access to much more than the slide return spring. Any further disassembly involves splitting the two halves of the cast body, which isn’t recommended unless you’re confident you know how to correctly reassemble the various springs, sears, pins, cams and selector plates you’ll find inside.
The 6″ CP-88 Competition which I owned was probably the most accurate multi-shot air pistol I have ever used – it was easily capable of placing all eight shots precisely, consistently and within a one inch group. However, there is one important caveat – this accuracy is possible only in single action, which means manually cocking the hammer before each shot. In single action the trigger pull is light, crisp and consistent. In double action the trigger pull is long and heavy, just as on the original. For me at least, double action shooting meant groups of 2½ – 3 inches, which rather negates the point of having such an accurate pistol. On the real pistol only the first shot is generally fired in double action – the moving slide then cocks the hammer allowing single action for all subsequent shots. The lack of a moving slide on this replica means that you either have to cock the hammer before each shot, or shoot in double action and accept reduced accuracy.
Power is very good on the CP-88. On my 4″ version I typically saw 360 – 380fps dependant on weather conditions and pellet type. On the 6″ version fps was around 380 – 400, again dependant on weather conditions and pellet type. On both versions power was slightly lower when shooting in double action.
One issue with my 4″ CP 88 (and with several other Umarex pellet firing replicas I have owned) is that it shoots around 2½” high at 6yds. The sights are non adjustable for elevation. I tried several different pellet types, but none cured the problem. See here for an article on how to modify the rear sights to compensate for this.
Soon after buying my first CP 88 I suffered a number of misfeeds and failures to fire. I was able to trace this back to poor seating of pellets in the rotary holder. This seems to be a feature of all the Umarex guns which use this system, and is easily overcome by ensuring that each pellet is firmly pressed down into the holder before it is loaded into the pistol.
Quality and reliability 14/15
In general, Umarex products are way ahead of Taiwanese and most Japanese competitors in terms of build and finish quality. The CP-88 is no exception, though some would argue that earlier models (particularly those finished in gloss black) were of better overall quality. There are no major known problems with the CP-88, though these pistols have been known to suffer from indexing issues after firing a very large number of shots. If you’re looking for a used example, it’s worth remembering that original CP 88s are now more than sixteen years old, so it’s almost inevitable that there will be some wear and degradation of seals and moving parts.
Reliability is good, and I suffered very few issues with indexing or shooting on my CP 88s. The moulding seen on the CP 88 is of exceptional quality, with sharp edges and clearly defined details throughout. Although made from low temperature cast metal, this pistol does a very good job of replicating the appearance of the milled steel original.
Overall Impression 13/15
This has the heft and feel of a real gun. Early models in particular have an indefinable feeling of quality that is rare in replica pistols. The CP 88 appears to be made of denser, heavier (and presumably stronger) materials than most air and airsoft pistols. When you hold a CP 88, it feels like an air pistol that will last for a very long time indeed.
I’m conflicted about the CP-88, as I am about several of the Umarex pellet firing replicas. It looks and feels like a real gun and it’s very well made as well as powerful and accurate. But it fails to replicate any of the operational features of a real semi-automatic pistol. I can’t help thinking that if I wanted an accurate target shooter, I could buy a more specialist pistol. And if I wanted an accurate semi-auto replica, I could buy something with blowback. The CP-88 doesn’t really excel in either respect, though I suppose you could argue that this makes it a good compromise. It is also unfortunate that this replica isn’t based on a “classic” or especially popular original pistol. For many people, the P 88C just doesn’t have the emotive appeal of, for example, the Colt 1911 or even the Beretta 92 series
So, if you’re looking for a well-made, accurate and powerful multi-shot air pistol which looks and feels very like the original, the CP 88 is a good choice. However, if you want something which more accurately reflects the experience of shooting a real semi auto pistol, you may need to look elsewhere. It all depends what you are looking for.
Total score: 77.5/100
You can buy this replica at Pyramid Air here.