Heckler & Koch has introduced their first
striker-fired pistol design in over thirty years. HK pioneered
striker-fired pistols with the introduction of the VP70 and
VP70z. These were also the first polymer-framed pistols,
preceding the Glock by a decade.
The latest striker-fired pistol from HK is the VP9, which is the
subject of this review.
At first glance, the VP9 looks like just
another polymer-framed double-stack 9x19mm pistol. That it is,
but the details in the execution of the design puts the HK VP9 a
cut above many of the similar pistols on the market. The
workmanship and finish of the VP9 are first rate. There are no
visible tool marks, inside nor out.
One notable feature of the VP9 is the
excellent trigger pull, for a pistol of this type. The trigger
on the test pistol released crisply with four and one-quarter
pounds of resistance, after a short, smooth take-up. Like most
pistols of this type, the VP9 also has the thin blade
"safety" inset into the trigger blade. The trigger
must be preset by cycling the slide, either manually for the
first shot, or by the firing cycle of subsequent shots, until
the slide locks back on an empty magazine. The steel magazine
holds fifteen cartridges, for a ready-to-go capacity of sixteen.
Ten-round magazines are available, for those who live where the
populace keeps electing idiots for legislators.
The grip of the VP9 can be conformed to fit
almost any hand, by switching the backstraps and side panels.
The pistol ships with three backstraps of various sizes, and
three pairs of side panels, to allow for a custom fit to the
The VP9 sits relatively low in the shooter's
hand, for a straight-back recoil impulse, allowing for faster
follow-up shots. The front of the trigger guard is grooved and
slightly concave, for shooters who like to place the trigger
finger of the support hand in that position, as I do. Don't
judge me. I was taught that way. Every time I shoot at Gunsite,
the instructors threaten to remove my finger, permanently. The
trigger guard is also large enough to accommodate a gloved
Another feature that I really like on the VP9
is a very simple one, but highly useful for those who have
limited hand strength: the protruding ears at the rear of the
slide to help the operator to manipulate the slide rearward to
chamber a cartridge. HK calls them "charging
supports". They protrude about one-tenth of an inch outward
from the sides of the slide. Whether you grasp the slide with
thumb and forefinger, or push the slide rearward with the hand
atop the slide, the supports make the operation easier, and will
make the difference between not being able to operate the weapon
and doing so successfully, for those with limited hand strength.
Great idea. Also, if not desired for some reason, the charging
supports are easily removed.
The slide to barrel and slide to frame fit of
this weapon are very tight; not overly so, but enough to
eliminate play between the upper and lower halves of this
pistol, aiding overall quality and accuracy. The sights are the
familiar three-white-dot pattern, and both front and rear sights
are adjustable by drifting in the slide dovetails. The sights
are also, thankfully, made of steel. Tritium night
sights are an option, if desired.
The large extractor also serves as a visual
and tactile loaded-chamber indicator, and the rear of the firing
pin (striker) is painted red, to serve as a visual cocking
indicator. The controls on the VP9 are ambidextrous. On the
right side of the pistol is a slide lock release lever to
accommodate left-handed shooters. The magazine release is also
ambidextrous, and is located at the rear of the trigger guard.
The levers push downward to release the magazine, and are easily
reached with the trigger finger or the thumb of the shooting
The carbon steel slide is coated with a
corrosion-resistant carbon-nitride finish. The black
hammer-forged barrel has polygonal rifling, which should reduce
fouling buildup and make cleaning easier. The front of the frame
wears a section of 1913 Picatinny spec rail for the installation
of a laser or white light.
specifications for the HK VP9 are listed in the chart below.
Weights are listed in ounces. Linear dimensions are listed in
inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as
measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull scale. Height
includes sights and magazine base with the magazine in place.
Maximum width is measured across the grip portion of the frame,
with the medium-sized grip panels installed.
|Weight with Empty Magazine
||Yes, Picatinny Spec
|MSRP, as of June 27, 2014
fired a variety of ammunition through the VP9 over the
chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the
chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet
weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint
bullet. DPX, Buffalo Bore Lead Free, and Double Tap Tac-XP
are hollow-nose homogenous copper bullets that are made
by Barnes Bullets. Guard
Dog is a FMJ with a soft plastic core to promote rapid
expansion. FP is a frangible, pre-fragmented flatnose bullet.
FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. PB is Pow’RBall,
a specialty bullet from Cor-Bon. Glaser is a pre-fragmented
bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above
sea level, with an air temperature of eighty-eight degrees
Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of forty-six percent.
Velocities were recorded at ten feet from the muzzle.
Bore Lead Free +P HP
Bore Lead Free +P HP
|Double Tap +P Tac-HP
|Double Tap +P FMJ
|Atomic +P HP
|WCC NATO FMJ
Bore +P JHP
Bore +P JHP
Bore +P+ JHP
Bore +P JHP
Shooting the VP9 yielded no surprises. As
expected, the HK pistol fed, fired, and ejected every cartridge
that I loaded into it. In other words, it ran like an HK. The
trigger action is butter-smooth, which contributed greatly to
the practical accuracy of the pistol. The slide never failed to
lock open on an empty magazine, and the mags fed flawlessly. The
pistol points very well in my hand, and handles the recoil
beautifully. There is no pain to the hand when shooting this
VP9, even with +P+ ammunition.
Another notable feature of the VP9 is its
price. The VP9 is made in Germany, and that usually means it
will be relatively expensive, compared with other pistols of its
type, but the VP9 is priced well below the cost of other HK
semi-automatic pistols. As of the date of this review, the
suggested retail price is $719 US, and that price includes a
hard case, instructions, HK decal, two magazines, and the extra
grip and backstrap inserts.
Check out the VP9 and other HK firearms
online at www.hk-usa.com or www.heckler-koch.com.
For the location of an HK dealer near you,
click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order the VP9 online, click on the GUN
GENIE at www.galleryofguns.com.
order quality 9x19mm ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com,
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