The Heckler & Koch VP9 Stands Above A Crowded Field
By J.B. Wood
The HK VP9 is a full-size pistol in 15-shot 9mm and .40 S&W (called the VP40, capacity is 13). Ours is basic black,
but other versions have frames in grey, Flat Dark Earth or OD green. All the controls for right-handed use on left
side of the HK VP9 are easily accessible.
At the present time, seems like almost every maker is offering a striker-fired polymer-frame pistol. Two years ago, Heckler & Koch’s entry had some notable differences. The original VP9, the one shown here, was a full-sized 9mm pistol. More recently, they have offered a “tactical” version, with a threaded barrel for a suppressor.
Also, there are now “compact” and “sub-compact” entries, better for concealed carrying. And last year came the VP40, in .40 S&W chambering. Those who still favor the “10 Lite,” will welcome this one. In the two smaller 9mm versions, the only real differences are in magazine capacity.
Several of the other makers offer changeable inserts for the back of the grip-frame, to adjust for hand size. HK goes beyond this. In addition to small, medium and large back inserts, they include sets of inserts for the side panels. The VP9 can be fitted to any hand.
In the operational area, there are good serrations at both front and rear on the slide. And an added HK touch: At the rear edge, small protrusions on both sides are a real help in the retraction. The manual calls them “charging supports.” If you don’t want them, flat replacements are offered. Versatility defined!
The sights are square-picture, with 3 dots. Both front and rear are laterally adjustable in their dovetails. On my test gun, there was no adjustment needed. On the underside of the grip-frame at the front, there’s a standard rail for a laser or light. For those who still use this archaic hold, the front of the triggerguard is slightly concave and grooved.
Some makers of striker-fired pistols refer to their trigger systems as “double-action-only.” Technically, this could be correct, sort of, if the striker is half-cocked when the slide is cycled. In the VP9, the striker is fully cocked. Thus, it is essentially single-action, with a soft trigger take-up of about 3/16 of an inch.
The final let-off, on my test pistol, averaged 5.5 pounds. Crisp, no creep, and very little over-travel. While we’re here at the trigger, let’s admit it has one of those little “flipper” safety levers. Well, this one is nicely fitted, and has no excessive lateral movement, like some others.
The long trigger pull qualifies as another safety. As in most modern pistols, an automatic internal striker-block safety is unlocked only in the last bit of trigger pull. There is no annoying magazine-disconnect safety. If the magazine is lost in a scuffle, you can still fire the last round in the chamber.
The magazine release is an excellent design. Twin tabs at the lower rear of the triggerguard are pushed downward to release. Better than a push-button, this makes inadvertent operation unlikely. The tabs on both sides are friendly to left-handers. The slide latch is also in this category and its lever on the right side is long, with good leverage.
Larger-capacity magazines will usually have a row of counter-holes on the back, most of them staggered, left to right. On the VP9 magazine, these ports are in a vertical straight line to the left, and numbered 4 to 15. This makes it easier to tell, at a glance, how many rounds you have left. In the hard-polymer case, there is also a nice magazine loader.
I tried out the VP9 with several different loads and for a gun that does not claim to be a “target pistol,” the accuracy was surprising. Whether standing, 2-hand hold, at 7 yards, or seated, casual rest, at 15 yards, it delivered neat little 3- to 3.5-inch groups, right in the middle of the targets. Impressive.
For the after-shooting brush-out, takedown is easy. Lock the slide open, remove the magazine, and turn the takedown lever to vertical position. Restrain the slide, release the hold-open latch and ease the slide off the frame. Remove the captive recoil spring unit and the barrel. Everything goes back in the same order.
The full-sized version shown here would be fine for home or car. For concealed-carry, you might be better served by the compact version, the VP9SK. For the basic full-size pistol, suggested retail price is $719. For this, you get HK quality and a lot of good features. Not bad!
Remove the magazine and ensure the chamber is unloaded. Lock the slide open, and turn the takedown latch down to vertical
Restrain the slide, release the slide latch, and move the slide assembly off the frame
Remove the recoil spring unit. The spring is captured and won’t fly.
Remove the barrel
Takedown completed and your VP9 is fieldstripped.
5675 Transport Blvd.
Columbus, GA 31907
Type: Locked breech semi auto
Caliber: 9mm (tested), .40 S&W
Capacity: 15, Weight: 26.56 ounces
Length: 7.14 inches
Height: 5.41 inches
Width: 1.32 inches
Barrel length: 4.09 inches
Grips: Polymer with interchangeable backstraps and side panels