A decade ago, shortly after my 21st birthday, I purchased my first handgun, a Springfield XD chambered in .40 S&W. I was pleased with the handgun and it did absolutely everything I wanted it to do. Its only downfall was that the slide was not stamped “Heckler and Koch”. At that time in my life I was reading a lot of Tom Clancy and Richard Marcinko Books, and occasionally played the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six video game. All the main characters, heroes and villains, used Heckler and Koch weapons. Any web query and gun counter guru all agreed that Heckler and Koch made the best firearms in the world. Granted it would be hard to legally own an MP5 or a G36, but the H&K USP and P2000 series were readily available at my local Sportsman’s Warehouse. I wanted one, that’s all there was to it. I spent the summer farming and ranching as well as working for the USDA Forest. I saved up enough money, sold the Springfield XD to a good friend and found a Heckler and Koch P2000 for a decent price on Gunbroker.
My first outing with the Heckler and Koch P2000 was slightly disappointing. The gun had very sharp recoil and the trigger was very different from the Springfield XD that I had grown accustomed to in the previous months. My first group at 15 yards was terrible and the very sharp slide left some nice cuts on my right hand. I kept the P2000 for several months and shot it as much as possible. Though I loved the ambidextrous magazine release, the custom back straps and the de-cocker I could never get used to the trigger and the slide bite was proving to be a huge distraction. Through the years I came across several Heckler and Koch handguns that were decently priced and hard to pass up, the H&K USP and the H&K USP Compact. Though they were fun to shoot, I never got used to the trigger and both handguns turned into small but profitable investments rather than shooters. I have never had a Heckler and Koch handgun jam on me. All the Heckler and Koch handguns I have owned were very accurate and cycled any ammunition that was loaded into the pistol.
9 years after selling the HK P2000 I was rather intrigued when the TFB Editor emailed me and told me a Heckler and Koch P30, chambered in .40 S&W, was on its way to New Mexico for review.
Heckler and Koch makes six variants of the P30. These pistols are only chambered in 9 x 19mm Parabellum and .40 S&W. End users looking for a .45 ACP should look at the HK 45, USP and Mark 23 series. I was sent a Version 3 pistol with Tru Dot night sights. The Version 3 features a DA/SA trigger and a de-cocker. The Version 3 does not have a manual safety. Key features found on the Heckler and Koch P30 series pistols include:
- MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for mounting lights and accessories.
- HK Recoil reduction guide-rod.
- Interchangeable backstrap and side grip plates.
- Fiber reinforced corrosion proof polymer frame.
- Different hammer sizes to compliment certain styles of carry.
- Several different trigger modes specific to various models.
- Polygonal bore profile that is supposed to increase velocity, increase barrel life and facilitate easier cleaning.
- Ambidextrous controls.
- Lock out safety mechanism to disable firearm.
- Corrosion resistant blued finish.
- Bobbed and Spurred hammers available as well as hammer and firing pin safeties.
As soon as I was made aware that I was going to be testing a Heckler and Koch P30 I stopped by my favorite local sporting goods store and purchased a Heckler and Koch branded airsoft replica of the P30. Setting up a steel plate in my back yard I was able to run several hundred bio-degradable airsoft pellets through the pistol in preparation for live fire testing. The airsoft gun gave me a good feel concerning the ergonomics, bore axis, light placement, magazine release functions and reloading of the pistol. One issue I noticed immediately in my manipulation with the handgun was the slide release lever and its proximity to my thumbs. I shoot using a “Modern/Isosceles grip” where my thumbs are indexed along the slide and are pointed forward. Using this grip I found that my right hand thumb was sitting atop the slide release and was perfectly in-line to get some nice “slide bite” as well as prevent the slide from locking open, indicating an empty magazine. I immediately had a suspicion that the engineers in Oberndorf built the pistol with the Weaver grip in mind. This suspicion would come true on the live fire range.
Unboxing a Heckler and Koch handgun always reminds you why you are paying a premium price. The finish, material, and engineering are all top notch. The test sample I was sent featured a lock, and several different side panels and rear back straps to customize the grip. The frame was scalloped and the polymer grip was textured. The controls were ambidextrous and all manipulations of the handgun could be done with either hand or even one handed should the need arise. After making sure the pistol was clear, the pistol was disassembled. The barrel of the handgun had a light coating of oil that I wanted to clean with a dry patch. After reassembly I experimented with several of the side panels and backstraps, and found a configuration that allowed me a solid grip on the pistol and kept my right hand thumb as far away from the slide release as possible.
Due to the ammo shortage I was only able to purchase 300 rounds of ammunition for testing. Ammunition used for testing was a mix of Fiocchi and PMC. Testing was done at Calibers Shooting Range in Albuquerque New Mexico. The pistol cycled the ammunition flawlessly, and the recoil reduction guide rod made recoil a lot more manageable. Because I was shooting a .40 S&W I was not able to get back on target as quickly as if I had been shooting a 9mm. My suspicion about my grip negatively interacting with the slide release proved true. On several occasion the slide failed to lock because my thumbs were accidentally making contact with the slide release. I also found that I was getting slide bite on my right hand. Switching to a Weaver style grip these problems went away immediately. For the rest of testing I maintained a Weaver grip and was able to maintain very good groups. Heckler and Koch have done absolutely nothing to enhance the trigger on the HK P30. The trigger was soft and mushy. Unlike a striker fired handgun, there was no telling sign that the trigger was reset. It took many rounds to instinctively know where the trigger was reset in order to find an efficient degree of trigger manipulation. As long as I followed the fundamentals…sight picture, sight alignment, trigger control and follow through, I was able to maintain an excellent degree of accuracy. After several hundred rounds no malfunctions were experienced. As expected the Heckler and Koch P30 performed flawlessly.
After test firing, the pistol was stripped and cleaned. Cleaning was done with M-Pro 7, and there was minimal carbon fouling. Heckler and Koch handguns are made to handle a lot of hard use. Heckler and Koch, upon request, was kind enough to provide some rough technical data concerning maintenance schedules and parts replacement. Heckler and Koch advises replacing the following parts around the 30,000 round mark. Please note that these parts can last up to 60-70,000 rounds with no problems.
- Firing pin Spring
- Firing Pin Block Spring
- Hammer Strut Spring
- Recoil Spring
- Trigger Return Spring
- Flat Spring
- Extractor Spring
Some things that may degrade these parts faster is firing +P ammunition, lack of lubrication and how much the firearm is fired in a certain time period.
The Heckler and Koch P30 is an incredible handgun. Having not shot a Keckler and Koch firearm in 7 years I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed testing and shooting the pistol. Getting to review firearms, as well as being an armorer I see a lot of weapons that are poorly made and will fail during critical times. The Heckler and Koch P30, frankly, was a breath of fresh air. The engineering, finish, and attention to detail are of the highest caliber and are a true testament to Heckler and Koch’s engineers as well as to their quality control. I am seriously considering the Heckler and Koch P30 as a concealed carry gun. I found that I had no problems concealing the pistol and I liked the safety associated with being able to carry the gun loaded with the hammer down. I feel that this is safer than a striker fired pistol. My one gripe against Heckler and Koch is that they don’t offer Armorer classes for civilians. Glock has been offering civilian armorers classes for several years. Smith and Wesson recently started offering civilian classes for the M&P line. I think these classes appeal to younger shooters and independent minded Americans who like to customize and rebuild their own weapons. If Heckler and Koch offered civilian armorer classes I would seriously consider changing my shooting style back to a Weaver grip, relegating my custom striker fired pistols to the safe and making a Heckler and Koch P30 my primary pistol. The Heckler and Koch P30 is the Ulfberht of modern times.
Do you have any experience with the Heckler and Koch P30? Tips, questions, sarcasm, gripes and jokes are welcome in the comments below!
Load that bipod…stay safe!