As this journalist has mentioned before, I appreciate it when loyal readers hit me up with new article ideas.
After my latest Glock 19 article was published and I shared it on my social media pages, Glock fanboys and Glock haters alike chimed in with their views. Among the haters, two actually offered a friendly suggestion to try out the Heckler & Koch VP9 striker-fired 9mm pistol. Since HK does indeed make fantastic firearms, I thought, “Sure, why not?” Any excuse to go back to the range and add another gat to my “been there, done that” list, right?
Let’s get on with the HK VP9 review, shall we?
HK VP9 History and Specifications
The last time an HK pistol bore the “VP” (Volkspistole; literally “People’s Pistol”), it was rather inauspicious. The VP70 9mm debuted in 1970 and worked well for James Bond in the novels, but was unloved by real-life shooters. By contrast, the VP9, debuting in 2014 and made in HK’s Oberndorf factory in southwest Germany, has received a much warmer reception among private citizens, law enforcement, and military shooters including the Lithuanian Armed Forces and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Per the manufacturer’s official info page, “The VP9 is Heckler & Koch’s latest, and most successful pistol design.”
From there, HK announces upgrades such as “17-round magazines will replace previous 15-round versions” and “New sight configuration, which includes a high-visibility front sight and a ‘clean’ black serrated rear.” Moreover, “HK’s famous cold hammer forged barrel — made from cannon grade steel — ensures long service life” and “The VP9’s machined steel slide is protected from corrosion and wear by HK’s hostile environment finish.”
Additional specifications include a barrel length of 3.39 inches, an overall length of 6.61 inches, a width of 1.32 inches, a height of 4.57 inches, and an empty weight of 24.3 ounces.
Personal Shooting Impressions
“Variety is the spice of life,” as the saying goes, so instead of one of my usual Beltway area indoor range, I decided to check out the FreeState Gun Range in Middle River, Maryland, which turned out to have a super-friendly staff. Granted, the range is somewhat ironically named in light of Maryland state government’s historic antipathy towards the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as was starkly demonstrated by the fact that FreeState’s rental HK VP9 was limited to state-mandated 10-round magazines. But eh, them’s the breaks.
For this live-fire eval, I purchased 50 rounds of Magtech 9A 115-grain full metal jacket “hardball” and my preferred ICE-QT paper target. I divvied the accuracy test with 25 rounds of head shots at 7 yards followed by 25 yards of torso shots at 25 yards, fired from my preferred classic Weaver stance.
The gun’s ergonomics are a true testament to Teutonic engineering, including the totally ambidextrous mag release and slide release. Regarding the latter, for whatever reason it is way longer on the right side of the frame than it is on the left side. Perhaps the manufacturer decided to be kinder to southpaws?
And then there was the trigger. Wow, this was the crispest and most enjoyable trigger of any striker-fired pistol I’ve experienced from any manufacturer.
Accuracy? In a word, wonderful, bolstered by excellent sights in addition to that trigger. At 7 yards, 21 rounds gouged out a gaping hole where the paper bad guy’s right eye socket had previously been. The remaining four shots from that sequence were very satisfying strikes within the 5-zone of the noggin. At 25 yards, I threw one lousy flyer leftward into the 4-zone of the target’s gut. That was a crying shame, as the other 24 shots were delightfully centered in the 5-zone, with nine of the rounds taking the tiebreaking 5x-ring. Suffice to say my groups at 7 and 25 yards alike were enough to earn me some major props from the FreeState range staff.
Reliability was flawless, as one would expect from an HK firearm. It brought to mind the company’s early 1990s slogan, “In A World of Compromise, Some Don’t.”
Bottom line: this is the sweetest-shooting striker-fired 9mm pistol I’ve ever fired. Yes, more so than my Glock 19 or Glock 26. Yes, my Glock 21SF is an absolute tack-driver, but that one’s a .45 ACP, and mine has an aftermarket 3.5-lb. trigger connector, as opposed to the factory stock trigger on the VP9 that I rented.
It is also the sweetest-shooting HK pistol I’ve fired. Yes, even more so than my beloved P7 9mm or the Mk 23 SOCOM .45 ACP pistol, and way more so than the P2000 LEM .40 S&W that I carried when I was a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer. Suffice to say it is the first autopistol added to my “must have” list since the .45 ACP Beretta PX4 Storm back in June.
A quick detour back to the subject of Glock haters: After I posted my VP9 shooting results on my FB page, my old high school buddy “Misfit,” who’s first and foremost a SIG Sauer fanboy but also likes HK, couldn’t resist this snarky remark: “It’s amazing what happens when you shoot a *quality* polymer, striker-fired pistol, isn’t it?” Haha, touché, Misfit, touché.
Want Your Own?
True Gun Value states that “A HECKLER & KOCH VP9 pistol is currently worth an average price of $573.03 new and $533.22 used. The 12 month average price is $587.70 new and $531.88 used.” That seems a little too good to be true, especially for an HK product. Omaha Outdoors currently has three pages’ worth of VP9s listed, at a price range of $935.60 to $2,299. Meanwhile, Palmetto State Armory has a price range of $699.99 to $1,089 for their in-stock specimens. (They don’t bother listing prices for their out-of-stock versions).
Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.
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