Heckler and Koch’s list of innovations is a long one. The first polymer-framed handguns is most certainly at the from of the list.
HK’s VP9 handgun has been in the field long enough to prove that it is a reliable, accurate, and durable handgun. The VP9 combines a polymer frame with striker-fired technology. The VP9 is a result of market pressure for a more affordable HK as well as a polymer-frame, striker-fired handgun versus the hammer fired HK USP.
I have long been a fan of the HK P30. The HK P30 is accurate, reliable, and a favorite HK. The double-action first-shot HK P30 was a logical starting point of the VP9 project. The frame is practically identical to the HK P30, and the pistols share the same magazine. The side panels, not just the grip straps, are removable and changeable. This means that everyone will be able to get a good handfit. The geometry and texture of the frame make for excellent ergonomics.
No handgun offers a better design for combat use. While the VP9 is similar to the P30, the double-action first-shot P30 demands that the trigger finger come from above the trigger and to the rear. With the VP9, the press is straight to the rear. With the striker-fired VP9 trigger, the grip is subtly changed, resulting in a lower bore axis. It is noticeable to a trained shooter.
The VP9’s magazine release is the typical HK paddle release. Hit the magazine release and the magazine drops free. It works well. The slide lock is ambidextrous and very fast to manipulate. Another feature that makes handling easier is the generous cocking serrations. There are also two protrusions on the end of the slide that allow easily racking the slide on a belt or holster mouth if need be.
The VP9 differs from the P30 in that the VP9 is a striker-fired pistol. There is a safety lever in the trigger—in Glock fashion—but otherwise the VP9 is the familiar draw-and-shoot type of pistol. The trigger feels more like a single action than a double action. The trigger breaks at 6.0 pounds—ideal for most of us. Reset is rapid. During dry fire, the trigger reset was audible as I racked the slide.
I have been at this a long time, but the trigger took acclimation. The beginning saw average results. In the end, after concentration on the trigger and plenty of dry fire, I have a pistol that I am able to fire and hit better with than any other striker-fired handgun. The combination of the grip, trigger action, and good combat sights gave excellent results. For those willing to practice, the VP9 responds well. The fast reset allowed fast, and accurate, double taps and hammers.
The VP9 is among the most comfortable 9mm handguns to fire. The low bore axis resulted in less muzzle flip and recoil was straight back. Recoil was greater than a steel frame CZ 75 or Browning Hi Power simply because of the VP9’s lighter weight. As an example, when firing the Hornady 124-grain XTP, the difference in recoil in the new American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P was noticeable. I prefer the +P load for carry use and will practice to master it, but recoil is a factor, albeit a smaller factor for practiced shooters.
The majority of the cartridges fired were a handload that I have had good results with. A combination of the Hornady 124-grain FMJ bullet and enough WW231 powder for 1090 fps functions in every carbine and pistol I have tested it in. I fired a solid 400 cartridges in evaluating the VP9 for this report. (This was also important practice with a personal carry gun.) Results were excellent.
The VP9 is designed to be fast on target, to give good combat accuracy and fast follow up shots. It delivered. I fired a good quantity of the SIG Sauer 115-grain FMJ and a single magazine of the V Crown JHP load with good results. I also fired a quantity of the Hornady 124-grain XTP and the new 124-grain XTP +P load with excellent accuracy.
25 yards is a long reach for a handgun, but firing for accuracy from a solid benchrest gives some indication of the pistols quality and inherent accuracy potential. I fired a singular 2.5-inch group with most a little larger. With quality ammunition, the VP9 offers excellent accuracy. Overall, the VP9 is a handgun well worth its price. Performance is outstanding and pride of ownership is a plus. While there are less expensive handguns that offer good reliability, the HK is worth its price.
25-yard Tests, Five-shot Group, Average of Two Groups
|Hornady 124-grain XTP||2.5 in.|
|Hornady 124-grain XTP +P||2.6 in.|
|SIG Sauer 115-grain FMJ||3.0 in.|
|Hornady 124-grain FMJ||1090 fps||2.9 in.|
|Hornady 90-grain XTP||1388 fps||2.6 in.|
Have you shot the VP9 or would you like to? Share your experiences in the comment section.