The first thing I noticed about the VP9 upon removing her from her brand new box was the weight. I was expecting something lighter than it is – but this is NOT a bad thing! I was expecting something lighter than HK’s previous offerings due to the cost of the pistol. I expected something less. I expected something sub-par (for HK) – AND I WAS WRONG. This pistol feels great in the hand as far as weight is concerned. It balances perfectly in the hand. Not too front heavy, nor too rear heavy.
What should one expect from HK besides quality? Once again, I was expecting a flimsier Polymide (polymer) frame. Maybe thinner metal on the slide. WRONG AGAIN. Comparing the VP9 hand-in-hand to the P30LS, I feel no discernable difference. Measuring the widths of the magazine well with a set of calipers, they are about equal in various spots. All of the controls are metal as I had hoped such as the slide release and the disassembly lever.
Oh, this trigger. This is a VERY nice trigger. It’s not the best trigger I’ve ever felt (looking at you HK P7 & HK P9S), but for a polymer combat pistol? This will rank among the top for sure. Its a two-stage trigger very much like the trigger found on the HK MR556A1. Theres a soft take-up to a very defined wall, and a crisp break. Upon racking the slide with the trigger still depressed the reset is nice and positive. My finger is almost moved forward on a spring-like tension during reset – like an aid in resetting. When HK says “short, positive reset” – they weren’t kidding.
I noticed an interesting thing with the physical trigger itself – the middle section of the trigger is actually spring-loaded unlike competitor pistols with similar triggers where the middle section sort of flaps around. The middle section is actuated on a roll pin towards the top of the trigger unit.
While not new but definitely note-worthy – the VP9’s Magazine release is similar to the HK45C extended magazine release. From a video HK produced, the HK Shooting Team mentions that they requested the Magazine release be moved forward just slightly. I can say that this definitely helps. I do not find myself moving my hand around simply to activate the magazine release. Fantastic!
Disassembly Lever & Slide Release Lever
One feature that is definitely new on HK pistols is the addition of a disassembly lever. A new lever exists forward of the slide release lever that is used to field strip the pistol. As the VP9 owners manual states, “with the slide still locked to the rear – rotate the disassembly lever, located on the left hand side of the frame, until the lever is pointing downwards to approx. the six o’clock position. Then, push the slide forward, removing the slide from the top of the frame.”
This is a tremendously awesome feature. On most traditional striker fired pistols, the trigger must be depressed and the pistol uncocked to allow disassembly. From my understanding, this is how most negligent discharges occur with striker fired pistols – when trying to disassemble them and simply forgetting to check the chamber for a live round. This is a terrific additional safety feature. As stated above, the disassembly lever is made of a metal construction.
The slide release lever is similar to any other slide release lever. The one point to note is that on the VP9 – the slide release lever is very thin-profiled. This is great for concealed carry. It does not extraneously stick out from the side of the pistol any more than it needs. Its worth noting that there is a long hemispherical ridge on the slide release length-wise to aid in activating the lever.
The slide, much like the P30LS I’ve previously reviewed, is also a work of art. Every surface, angle, edge, and contour seems to have had a lot of thought and planning go into it before being sent to be milled. Once again, not a single area of this slide has not had at least some milling work done. Forward and rear cocking serrations are very similar to the P30 series serrations. The most notable addition to the VP9’s slide are the new “charging supports” – little wings at the rear of the slide that are supposed to aid in racking or charging the pistol. They appear to be made of a very hard polymer and are added to the slide after milling. As I write this and rack the slide, I notice that I am using the supports and they do make it easier.
Another notable addition (or bring-back, technically), there is a cocking indicator on the rear of the slide. When the firearm is cocked, a red indicator is visible. Upon firing (or decocking by dry-fire), the indicator moves forward and is unable to be seen. This is very similar to the P7 series of pistols that also had a cocking indicator on the rear of the slide – the firing pin itself would protrude out the rear when the cocking handle was squeezed.
We can see a few interesting things here when looking at the frame. The largest new addition is the large, stainless steel rail section added near the disassembly lever. This is the only point of true contact the slide has with the lower. The slide doesn’t seem to rub against the Polymide frame which also means that heat wont be transferred to the frame either.
Upon closer inspection of the fire control group – it looks like there is a section available for a detent plate (a la USP series) and a circular hole for a control lever/thumb safety lever. Very interesting. Perhaps we will see a VP9 variant with a thumb safety and/or decocker!
If we look at the under side of the VP9’s slide – the first thing I notice is the stark red recoil spring assembly. I know this thing is brand new, but that sure is red. I love it! It removes simply and is a captive recoil spring. Only a tiny bit of force is needed to remove and replace. One can also see the firing pin (striker) and the firing pin spring towards the rear of the slide.
The barrel looks and feels just like any other HK pistol barrel – polygonal rifling as true as any other HK pistol barrel I’ve seen. Traditional HK lathe marks down the length of the barrel. The caliber, serial, and HK logo are all present as usual. There is an additional set of markings, however – “CIP” above an “N”. It is a new requirement found on all 2014 and forward HKs. It represents the Permanent International Committee for Firearms Testing or Commission Internationale Permanente pour and abbreviated CIP. This is the European test branch for ammunition standards and a new requirement in addition to the standard proofing.
You may also notice that the locking lugs at the bottom of the barrel do not look like the lugs on other HK pistols. This one is certainly much more pronounced and rounded – this is to allow the disassembly lever the room it needs to function.
I’m very pleased with what I have in my hands. Its been a long time coming, and the wait was worth it. I believe this is the right time for HK to be coming back to the striker fired pistol game. I plan to take the VP9 out to the range tomorrow and I will follow this article up with a range report.
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