Art of the Gun: The H&K USP

The epitome of cool

Recently, I watched the first episode of the new season of 24. Jack Bauer, the show’s main character, was sporting a new H&K P30. In the first two seasons, he usually carried a SIG Sauer P228 (that would often switch to a P229 in the middle of the scene—because Jack Bauer is so badass his gun changes size as to not incur his wrath.) However, in Season 1’s finale, Bauer dual-wields two H&K USPs. Then in Season 3 his side arm switches to a USP Compact and remains by his side over the next five seasons. Seeing Jack with the P30 reminded me of how cool the USP—both full size and compact models—looked throughout the show.

Though the gun isn’t known for its elegant look, the Heckler and Koch USP just says, “Business.” Based on the M1911, Heckler and Koch optimized many of the design characteristics for a polymer frame. They took successful parts and features of many of their previous firearms to create a paragon duty pistol: the P7’s squeeze-cocking mechanism, the VP70’s DAO trigger, the blowback delaying system of the P9S, the cam-locked action of the 1911 and Hi-Power, and added a proprietary new recoil-reducing spring on the guide rod. Taking all these different parts, H&K pieced them together in a polymer frame and cloaked the gun in their signature “Hostile Environment” finish. The result was a gun optimized for duty carry and defensive use. Whether using the full size model, or concealing the compact version, the USP delivers solid accuracy, easy operation—even while wearing gloves, and the safety needed for a daily carry weapon.

Black compact 9mm, barrel pointed to the left on a white background
The compact 9mm can be a formidable handgun if the shooter is skilled.

During the testing phase, shooters put the USP through rigorous trials to ensure its safety before placing it into service. The pistol was dropped hammer-first on while loaded and cocked without discharging, frozen and fired, heated up and fired, and even had a bullet lodged in the barrel and fired again to clear the lodged bullet…both bullets exited the barrel, with only an unnoticeable bulge in the barrel—and still shot a 4-inch group at 25 meters. Though we here at Cheaper Than Dirt! don’t advocate clearing a lodged bullet in this manner, the anecdote demonstrates H&K’s devotion to safety in developing the USP.

If you’re looking for a gun you can place your trust in, lets your adversary know you mean business, and make you feel like Jack Bauer at the range, the H&K USP is the gun for you.

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