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!