Gun Review: H&K VP9

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H&K has been in the striker-fired pistol game for a long time. In 1970 Heckler and Koch produced the world’s first polymer framed pistol, the VP70, that also featured a striker rather than a hammer. The P7 series also featured a striker but with the advent of the USP and Mark 23, the company nearly went to making hammer fired guns exclusively (aside from small numbers of P7s being made until 2008). That all changed with the advent of the new VP9 pistol which is similar in appearance and fitment to the P30:

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The VP9 accepts P30 magazines, and the interchangeable back and side straps are also included so that the user can configure the pistol in the most comfortable way (I run the right side strap a bit larger than the left).

Field stripping is very simple too. You simply pull the slide back until the takedown lever reaches the small relief in the slide and turn the lever down:

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The first time I took the VP9 to the range, I shot about 3 magazines through it for a quick function test before doing a full review. I was very surprised at how well the VP9 shot that day, and I gathered a large bag of 9mm to take it out with a photographer to really run the gun hard.

I took two loaded mags out, as well as a bag of 200 rounds of loose miscellaneous 9mm ammunition.

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My friend Patrick came along to help me with photos, and he brought along a Glock 23 to compare the size of the VP9 with. The VP9 is marginally larger than the Glock:

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So how does it shoot? Well to test that I had to make a target. I grabbed a random poster I had at the shop and some stick-on targets to use as a bullet dumpster:

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I am prepared for extreme backlash.

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I eagerly loaded up the VP9 and got to work. One thing I really like are the “wings” on the rear of the slide that make charging the gun easier. I chambered a round and began firing:

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Recoil is low on the VP9, and the trigger reset is quite good:

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I blew through 15 rounds quickly and went to check the target. All in all I think I did well considering how quickly I was shooting:

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However my second mag was much, much better:

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My friend Patrick also gave the VP9 a go and got similar results:

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So the VP9 worked well and shot as well as any other striker fired wondernine. But what about other features?

First and foremost I wanted to see if the pistol would feed backwards:

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Unfortunately it didn’t. In fact, H&K seems to have put a countermeasure into the mags that make loading the bullets in backwards difficult. It really tries hard to pop a backwards round out, so maybe H&K is tired of that meme.

After that shenanigan, Patrick and I tried to see if the gun would function with extreme limp wristing:

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It ate two magazines flawlessly when fired in this fashion.

But what about limp wristing while upside down?

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It also ate a magazine this way.

But what about limp wristing with your off hand while upside down? Well here the gun struggled and resulted in a few malfunctions. One stovepipe, one failure to feed:

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Seeing as how I often do spectacular dive rolls at the range while shooting a pistol, this broke my heart.

So all in all I have fired about 275 rounds or so and I feel that this gave me enough experience to adequately provide a review for you the readers. My final thoughts on the guns:

The Good:

  • Price (I see them going for $600 or so, and even less in pre-orders)
  • Comfort (the P30 style back and side straps are amazingly pleasant)
  • Accuracy (I am a poor shot with a pistol, but even I made this gun dance)
  • Reliability as long as you are not upside down
  • Simple to take down
  • Mag release is long and easy to operate
  • The trigger is quite good
  • Easy to charge with the rear “wings”

The Bad:

  • The slide release is a bit too low profile for me
  • A bit larger than some compacts such as the Glock 19 or 23

The Ugly

  • You cannot shoot this gun during a John Woo style inverted rolling dive without a jam

All in all I would say that the VP9 is a good buy should you see one for around $600. It is very refreshing to see the words “affordable” and “HK” in the same sentence and I hope that this little gun catches on. If you see one at your local gun store, check it out!



Alex C.

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


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  • JSmath

    I’ve found most guns will jam if you aren’t actually performing an inverted rolling dive while firing in the offhand, limp-wristed upside-down position. Pretty much everything, but my Matever jams then.

    • sianmink

      I once got a .40S&W T/C Contender to jam like that, but I’d probably die if I ever tried it again, and also it was about -30F and I’d used the wrong lube.

  • Bruce

    I’m a hammer gun guy, I wonder if they will bring the price of the P30 down to match?

    • Chance

      As if.

    • I don’t think they will, but that would be really cool.

    • HKGuns

      Why would you even remotely think this is possible?

      To the bore axis troll…..Keep shooting your gLoCk’s, nobody cares.

  • Are the plastic wings strong enough to rack the slide off a belt or ledge? If not, has HK hinted at releasing metal wings?

  • mlk18

    I understand why everyone compares new guns to the G19/G23. What I don’t understand is why people just don’t say “it’s pretty much the same size as a Glock 17”. The VP9 has a slightly shorter slide but pretty much the same size overall as the original Glock. Concealment is in the grip length not the slide length.

    • sianmink

      I think it’s because it has magazine capacity and barrel length directly comparable to a compact Glock, yet it’s otherwise as large as a big boy Glock.

    • I’ll buy that.

      • LCON

        For a dollar!!

  • J.T.

    “with the advent of the USP and Mark 23, the company nearly went to making striker fired guns exclusively”

    *hammer fired

  • James

    I want to see a side by side review of this with a Walther PPQ. They look remarkably similar.

  • Full Name

    Is there anything about this gun to recommend it over a Glock?

    • Comfort, ergonomics, trigger, front slide serrations, ambi controls, doesn’t look like a lego.

      • Steve Truffer

        But Legos are fun and you can do whatever you want with them.

        • LCON

          You say that now… But step on one well barefoot.

          • I used to sweat stepping on legos, and then I lived in the UK for a while and stepped on these a few time. My feet are still traumatized:

  • dp

    BTW, did you record trigger pull distance from initial or take-up to striker released? Any idea how much that could be? Thanks.

    • About a third of an inch or 0.8cm.

      • dp

        That is very short!
        They probably offset with heavier load for it. I also expect, there might be partial pre-cock. That’s about all tricks in the drawer.

  • Chris Hale

    Shut up and take my money H&K..

  • sianmink

    How many mags did it come with? This is important as I expect H&K will charge about $70 each for replacements.

    • JohnnyBGood

      $42 from midway

  • Vhyrus

    I’ll keep my PPQ, but nice effort.

    • Dusty1

      Agreed!

  • Andy

    No comments on the crazy muzzle flip because of the high bore axis? You have THREE pictures of the gun pointed 45 degrees in the air because of the muzzle flip. None of my Glocks or CZs tilt like that.

    • JohnnyBGood

      i know you have to exaggerate to prove your point but none of those pictures show 45 degrees including the limp wrist photos…

      • JohnnyBGood

        whoops, the stove pipe picture looks a lot closer to 45 degrees…

        • Andy

          That is 45 degrees down. Look at the three shots that were taken while firing. Okay, so 30 degrees? 35?

    • Maybe my shooting style is different than yours? I don’t firm up like many people, but rather relax and let the gun shoot and allow the recoil to roll. Also, if you took some high frame-per-second shots of any of the guns you listed, you might be surprised to see how much the gun actually flips. It reaches the apex of the angle for such a short period of time that the user will seldom notice.

      • Andy

        Your grip is fine. It’s not you. It’s the high HK bore axis. Look at the side by side pic comparison. The web of your hand ends up in the same spot, but the HK rides significantly higher. Here is a crappy video of a guy shooting a full auto G18 with not nearly as much muzzle flip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDT8-0VlSxI

        • When shooting my machine pistol, and yes I have a select fire glock, you know what you are getting into and you hold on much differently. That is a poor comparison.

          • Andy

            I would have thought a G18 would have been way worse. I have a video of me shooting one and I’m all over the place. Okay. Here is a guy shooting a G17 in slow motion. Admittedly, I did find some high speed Glock videos with extreme muzzle flip, but they appeared to be shooting one handed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHIPJe0Ff84

          • It’s all about style, man. Keep in mind that my sinewy frame, long arm length, and low muscle mass all contribute to muzzle flip.

          • Big Blue

            Or maybe it’s the gun? I guess we won’t know if you can’t do a proper review.

        • Mr_X

          I really stop paying attention whenever someone mentions “high bore
          axis” as a complaint. Train more, whine less.

    • Blainestang

      Yawn. If the gun allows the shooter to shoot accurately at a rapid pace, which Alex seems to indicate, then what difference does the maximum muzzle flip angle make, or even less importantly, the axis differential. If the gun allows quick, accurate shots, then who cares if the axis differential is 8″ and the muzzle flips to 90*. All that matters is performance. Bore axis height may be a vague indicator of performance, but doesn’t really tell you anything without more testing. Same thing with Torque when it comes to cars. You can have a car with 500 ft*lb of torque, but without knowing the curve or the RPM you make that torque at, you know nothing. If it makes 500 ft*lb of torque at 1000 RPM, but takes a dump after that, congrats, your car has 100 hp and you’ve probably got a turd of a car. Whereas, if you make 300 ft*lb of torque at 8,000 rpm, you’re talking 450hp and you will wipe the floor with the 500 ft*lb car.

      Anyway, check out this MAC video (if I’m allowed to post this here) to see the horrific muzzle flip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CReqwUsjHLw

      • Axel

        I lost you when you started talking about cars. Can you explain all the car stuff in gun terms?

        • Blainestang

          Not sure if you’re being facetious, but it was just an analogy relating performance *indicators* to actual performance. Maybe a sports analogy is better. Let’s say you’re looking for a fast lineman (fast follow up shots) for your football team. So, you look at a *picture* of Warren Sapp and say, oh, he’s fat (has a high bore axis) so he can’t be fast (quick follow up shots). Well, you’d be wrong. Warren Sapp was fast as heck for a lineman, but you wrote him off based on a picture and his weight (bore axis) instead of actually measuring his performance, which is what actually matters.

          • Brocus

            maybe just talking about guns is best

  • William

    Random poster?

  • John

    Can a glock 19 pass the weird tests perfectly???

  • big daddy

    Nice shooting & nice gun.

  • Tumbleweed

    It would be nice to see a similar review on the PPQ!

  • Thanks for gun sharing blog.

  • Harold

    Nice write up Texan.