Odd Guns: The H&K VP70z

I have been wanting to start a series of articles for a while about odd and unique guns that for whatever reason are just not popular in the United States. I have admired TFB writer Ian McCollum’s personal blog “Forgotten Weapons” for years, and while he gets his hands on firearms that are truly obscure and incredibly rare, I would like to put the spotlight on firearms that are in between common and forgotten.

You have to start somewhere, and I figured a great place to begin would be with the Heckler and Koch VP70z. While Ian has done a piece on this pistol, a second viewpoint can’t hurt!

I acquired this gun in Novermber of 2012 and have not fired it until the time of this article (March 2014).

The VP70 was designed and first produced in 1970 and built until 1989. The model here is the VP70z, the semi automatic version of the true HK VP70 that was offered with a unique stock that allowed burst fire:



It sure would be cool to have a model capable of burst fire, but the 1968 Gun Control Act prevented the importation of NFA items for civilians, so all the VP70s you see are pre-may dealer samples. As a result the gun I have is a semi automatic only pistol:


Want to make a Glock guy mad? Remind them that it was H&K, rather than Glock who made the world’s first polymer framed pistol! H&K beat Glock to market by 12 years, but admittedly the Glock is a much, much better gun. My VP70z came with all the above pictured stuff for about $550, so they aren’t exactly expensive firearms.

The VP70 functions via straight blowback. There is no Browning style tilting barrel or HK style rollers to delay the opening of the action, so the VP70 functions like a Hi-Point pistol; The heavy slide and stiff recoil spring have enough mass and tension to delay the action from prematurely opening.


Field stripping the gun is simple. You pull down on the takedown lever and pull the slide rearwards and up, like a PPK or other .380acp pistols. This leaves you with the slide, frame, and recoil spring:


The VP70 is also interesting in that is holds 18 rounds, one more than the Glock 17! This was incredibly high capacity in 1970, and even today 18 rounds is considered high.

The magazines are loaded like an AK or AR15 as well; Rather than push and slide rounds in, you simply push them down and click them in (a double-feed design):


The VP70 is not without it’s drawbacks however. The gun is about the size of a Beretta 92fs, and looks like a Star Trek Phaser:


So how does it perform on the range? Well, if you have followed my posts in the past then you know I am an H&K guy… but quite frankly the VP70 is a horrible, horrible gun to shoot. While I experienced no jams, the heavy double action trigger pull (that is worse than any DA revolver I have ever shot) is just miserable. I even found myself placing my left and right pointer fingers on the trigger to help pull the damn thing!


That said, it did go bang every time:


Grouping was also not terrible at 10 yards, but with a DA/SA gun I usually do MUCH better:


All in all the VP70 is not pleasant to shoot, but it did pave the way for all the “wondernines” that came after it, and stands in history as the first polymer framed pistol. You can find them for $500 and under with relative ease, and I do believe that in the future they will be somewhat collectible as a curio. However if you are looking for a fun shooter or a utilitarian handgun, the VP70z is not for you!

Thank you for reading the first “Odd Guns” installment. Stay tuned if you enjoyed this article!

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Andrey Martim

    I had known the VP-70 when first played Resident Evil 2, where Leon had one, also available with the Burst-Selector Stock later ingame… I see it as a great pistol in it’s time, but defased today. It’s design (Stocked Auto Pistol) could be used today with all the PDW fuzz, however.

    • Phil Hsueh

      It was also used in Aliens, it was the sidearm used by both Vasquez & Lt Gorman.

      • st4

        That’s the reason I own mine. “Game over, man!”

      • valorius

        I thought vasquez had a 1911.

  • rsw

    if you cut 2 rings off the striker spring i fixed the trigger a bunch.

  • FourString

    Brilliant post.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    An excellent and generally well-written “first” article of the genre you have chosen, Alex — congratulations! Just an afterthought, of course, but have you considered possibly doing a joint review of some sort with Ian McCollum? Some of us on TFB are regular readers of, and contributors to, Forgotten Weapons, and I have always found Ian to be open-minded and generous of spirit.

    • Ian has actually contributed some articles on TFB in the not too distant past.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Hi, Phil :

        Thanks for the reply. I know that Ian has been a guest contributor on several occasions. Perhaps I didn’t explain my proposition too clearly — I was suggesting a cooperative joint review of the point-and-counterpoint type that would provide a really interesting and slightly broader-ranged perspective right from the beginning for all to discuss rather than the usual single-evaluator perspective followed by a flood of reader’s comments. A sort of Siskel-and-Ebert type critical evaluation, only geared specifically towards firearms rather than the movies.

  • anonymous

    Is there something in the water?

    Hilton Yam blogged about the HK VP70 a few days ago at Modern Service Weapons: “HK VP70: First in Polymer” (3/28/2014).

    Perhaps it’s the start of a new retro-fad. If so, I’m going to regret having sold mine back in the mid-1990s.

    It was the 3rd handgun I ever bought. At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of trigger pull. All I knew was “H&K” (In a world of compromise, some men don’t), “plastic gun” (before Glock), and “18 round magazines” (one more than Glock). Oh, and the guy who sold it to me was a Vietnam-era SEAL. What was there about the H&K VP70Z for an impressionable young early-20-something male not to like?

    And you say that “it looks like a Star Trek phaser” as though that were a bad thing.

    VP70 is not without it’s drawbacks however. The gun is about the size
    of a Beretta 92fs, and looks like a Star Trek Phaser – See more at:
    VP70 is not without it’s drawbacks however. The gun is about the size
    of a Beretta 92fs, and looks like a Star Trek Phaser – See more at:
    VP70 is not without it’s drawbacks however. The gun is about the size
    of a Beretta 92fs, and looks like a Star Trek Phaser – See more at:

    • I agree with Alex on the trigger. It’s without a doubt one of the worst I’ve ever shot.

      • Hyok Kim

        Worse than Nagant?

  • Lance

    Interesting weapon any fan of the original resident Evil games remembers the VP-70 from RE2.

    • Paul Wang

      u forgot aliens and also aliens colonial marines

      • st4

        I’m still trying to forget about Aliens: Colonial Marines.

      • valorius

        Let’s rock!!!

  • Michael

    I shot one a few years ago. the sights were terrible. I think they were set up for shooting with the stock, not arms out like a regular pistol. Wish I had bought it though.

  • John

    I have a VP70z. Very accurate. More accurate than my Glock 19 or Sig Pro. I practice the trigger pull a lot with a Laserlyte trainer until I got use to it. It’s really not too bad and it’s built like a tank. I really like mine. Yes, the factory sights do suck but you can mod them.

  • Mazryonh

    Pick up a VP-70z and you can feel just like a Colonial Marine of the USMC as the mission gets screwed and you get cocooned and used as an Alien incubator! (Given the constant references to Aliens here I’m surprised this wasn’t mentioned in the article above.)

    Or you can buy a Five-seveN with an oversized underbarrel light/laser sight and feel like you’ve joined the Colonial Marines of the 12 Colonies, just without the experience of being ripped to pieces by the claws of Cylon Centurions!

  • janklow

    i have one of these hanging around the safe: never fails to fire, always awkward to fire. article is spot on.

  • kingghidorah

    Airsoft replicas of the stock are around and look great. I sold vp70z in the 90’s ad went with a p226, which was virtually unobtainable at the time.

  • JT

    I’ve wanted one since Gunsmith Cats OVA

  • Guest
  • Pete Kapustynski
  • Fruitbat44

    I can’t believe I missed this! Interesting article about a real firearms rarity. Of course it is a shame you couldn’t have got to play with a burst-fire capable version with a detachable stock-holster, since I wonder if in that configuration the VP70 might have found a niche as a PDW type weapon. Probably not though. However it was still a great article though.
    Re: The VP70 in the movie ‘Aliens.’ One of the best movies ever made IMHO. The VP70 is shown being used by Gorman and Frost, and you can see Ferro grabbing for one in the dropship. Vasquez does however use what looks like a 1911; I think she fires fifteen shots from it with out reloading . . .
    The VP70 also got a mention in literature, in the 1983 James Bond novel ‘For Special Services’ by John Gardner – I vaguely recall reading it and thinking, “Not bad.” – Bond is armed with a VP70. I can’t remember if he ever got to use it with the stock attached though.
    Anyway, thanks for the article.

  • Polock

    I have one also! Weird gun, with no resale interest, even tho it is a H&K.
    Guess I keep it around for kindness, I suppose–

  • Hyok Kim

    U.S. military tested VP70 in the 70’s. It was the least reliable of the bunch they tested.