Heckler & Koch P30SK Shooting Review

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Heckler & Koch’s recently released P30SK is the subcompact version of their hammer-fired mid-sized P30 9mm handgun. The P30SK shares its basic design features with the P30, but has a shorter 3.27″ barrel and shorter grip with a 10-round double stack magazine. Roughly comparable to a Glock 26, the P30SK features the same ambidextrous safety as the P30S model, as well as a decocking button at the rear of the slide. The P30SK comes in six models with three different kinds of trigger groups (any of the three available with or without night sights), including P30SK LEM “V1” light DAO, P30SK “V3” DA/SA without safety but with decocker, and P30SKS “V3” DA/SA with safety and decocker. The model I received for T&E was the P30SKS V3 model with night sights.

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The H&K P30SK with its bigger stablemate.

 

That Heckler and Koch handguns are well-made is universally known in the shooting world. In contrast to my utilitarian Glock 19 the P30SK has an attractive style, a lustrous dark black finish, and a number of additional features.

Chief among these features is the V3 DA/SA fire control group. While I personally prefer the simplicity of the Glock’s arrangement, for those who like DA/SA guns, the V3 fire control group is designed to offer the maximum number of possible actions to be combined and performed in any order. The safety can be activated with the hammer forward or back, the slide racked with the safety off or on, the hammer cocked with the safety off or on, etc. As a result, the gun can be carried in any mode the user wishes, from cocked and locked, decocked and on safe, decocked safety off, to a drop-safe cocked/safety off mode. The ability to clear the P30SK while on safe and the dedicated decocking button at the rear of the slide make the P30SK a very safe pistol, if the user wishes.

Though the P30SK is hammer fired, the trigger felt to me to be very similar to the striker-fired unit in my Glock, albeit a bit lighter. Averaging three trigger pulls, the P30SK’s trigger clocked in just a hair below six pounds:

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In comparison, the Glock’s trigger was just over seven pounds:

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Of course, the double action on the P30SK is deliberately heavy, but it’s still worth mentioning that it was at least above 12 pounds weight:

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Like its bigger brother, the P30SK comes complete with a set of interchangeable grip panels and backstrap. I tried each configuration and settled on the smallest, partly because I feel that smaller grips are a lot more comfortable in general, and partly because I knew I wouldn’t be the only one shooting the pistol. HK’s interchangeable backstrap system is easy to use, requiring only a punch of the correct size and a hammer, and the grip stays together well enough that the gun can be shot for a short period of time to determine the correct fit. Obviously, once a grip configuration is decided upon, the pin should be replaced for a more permanent solution. I really liked H&K’s system, and the P30 family’s grip in general.

One thing that was immediately apparent about the P30SK was its size. It is a surprisingly large pistol for its class, partly because it is hammer fired. It certainly is larger than a Glock 26 (although I did not have one on hand for comparison), and it is even comparable in some respects to the Glock 19:

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The P30SK compared to the Glock 19. Still shorter and not as long as the Glock, I was surprised at how big the subcompact was nonetheless.

 

All first impressions behind me, I was eager to take the P30SK to the range. Sadly, the gun ran into trouble in the first three magazines, shooting Fiocchi 115gr ammunition:

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A little less than ten malfunctions occurred within the first 23 rounds fired. After the 23rd round, the gun had no malfunctions of any kind that shooting session. After we got home, I took the gun apart to see if there were any obvious problems with it, and I found nothing. The magazines were in fine shape, the handgun wasn’t rubbing anywhere, extractor tension felt good; all of the usual suspects turned up fine. If these malfunctions were the result of a “break-in”, I would have expected to see some rubbing or wear in critical areas that could be slowing down functioning in a brand-new gun, but there was nothing like that. Was it just the ammunition?

I took the P30SK to the range several more times, and switched the ammunition to Geco 115gr. Most likely as a result of this, the gun ran absolutely fine, and I had no further issues with reliability. My overall feeling about the gun’s reliability and dependability is very good, but those first 23 rounds are an excellent example of why it’s important to try out ammunition and firearm combinations before you depend on them.

Once I had that issue sorted out, I was better able to evaluate the gun’s shooting characteristics. Overall, my impression was very favorable, within the context of subcompact double stack handguns in general. In particular, I was extremely pleased with the P30SK’s accuracy:

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A very tidy 10-shot group at 10 yards. I am not the best handgun shooter in the world, but I was very pleased with the P30SK’s inherent shootability.

To get the input of someone who might better represent a first-time handgun buyer, I handed the P30SK over to my SO, and she shot the group below, at the same distance:

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Will the P30SK make you a marksman? No, but with good ammo it won’t hurt, either.

After the shooting session I asked her opinion of the pistol as a whole:

Weight: good. Not noticeably fatigued after a 10 shot group. Unlike most other pistols I’ve shot.

Recoil: More than I’d like, but I was still able to bring the sights back on target after every shot.
Grip: Lots of friction, but puts the most stress on the ring and pointer finger.  Those two fingers were already a little sore after just two 10-round groups.  The grip isn’t long enough for my pinky, which I find a little annoying, though I never felt at risk of dropping it.
Trigger: Fine, but nothing special.  Didn’t have any roughness and was consistent, so there didn’t seem to be any effect on accuracy.
Accuracy: No problem at all.  The first 10-round group and a couple of fliers– the product of getting used to a new gun.  The second group was a tight three inches at 5 yards with no fliers.  Which is as good as I’ve ever done anyway.
Brass: Apparently, the direction the brass flies can vary according to the shooter.  Unfortunately, for me that means flying straight into my face.  At one point a casing even managed to get lodged in between my ear and safety glasses– resulting in a rush to get my glasses off and dislodge the burning piece of metal. This seemed to happen less the more quickly I shot the gun, but was not reliable in any sense.  In the first group I shot slowly and 10/10 hit me in the face.  In the second group I readjusted my grip and shot more quickly and only about 2-3 hit me. Looking back, it was probably the way I held the gun that caused the cases to fly straight back into my face.”

Regarding her final point, it is interesting to note that her above group was shot with each spent case flying backwards towards her face. Ejection pattern aside, the gun is certainly very shootable! I agree with her assessment that, most likely, her grip was the major factor in why the gun ejected brass in that way. While I think in most cases the ejection pattern will not be an issue for most P30SK shooters, if you are small of stature it may be worth your time to shoot one for yourself to find out, before you make a purchase. All that said, things like this can happen with even well-made high quality guns, so be sure to wear eye protection at the range!

Finally, how does the H&K P30SK shake out in the final assessment?

The Good:

  • Good trigger
  • Well engineered DA/SA fire control group
  • Great ergonomics
  • Great accuracy
  • Reliable with good ammo
  • Excellent fit and finish

The Bad:

  • It is a bit larger than the competition.

The Ugly:

  • With some shooters, the gun may eject brass straight backward at the shooter’s face.

As H&K’s newest subcompact handgun, the P30SK is a very good option. While my preference is towards simpler, more utilitarian handguns, I would recommend the P30SK to anyone with average-or-larger-sized hands who is looking for a subcompact handgun. For those with smaller hands, or who have trouble finding handguns that fit well, the P30SK may be the best option thanks to its interchangeable grip panels and good ergonomics, but my recommendation is to shoot it first to make sure there are no issues with the ejection pattern.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • GI Doc

    Looks like limp-wristing malfunctions combined with underpowered ammo.

    • The malfunctions the H&K had were probably due to underpowered ammo. Everyone who shot it then was an experienced handgunner, so limp-wristing is unlikely.

      I probably should have mentioned in the review that that was my first suspicion regarding the funky ejection with my SO. I deliberately limp-wristed the gun after she shot it and couldn’t replicate that ejection pattern.

      I think it had something to do with her grip, though I can’t imagine what else it would be.

  • gillhoop

    puny pathetic plastic gun

    • john huscio

      Let me guess, 1911 derp?

  • Nicks87

    I cant believe there is still a market for DA/SA pistols. So many great striker fired guns on the market I’m not sure why anyone would bother with DA/SA.

    • Not_a_Federal_Agent

      It’s almost like… People like different things. I know it’s hard to understand, but some people actually have preferences that are not the same as yours.

      • Nicks87

        Oh, you must like DA/SA. Sorry if I hurt your feelings but the concept is antiquated and garbage. DAO and striker fired are better for a variety of reasons. It’s not just a preference but there is science behind it as well.

        • Not_a_Federal_Agent

          Actually, I don’t really. I am not a particular fan of any Sig DA/SA pistols, and definitely not any HK striker or hammer fired guns. I like my CZ75B SAO, Glocks, and Steyr. The only DA/SA gun I have any affinity for is a CZ SP01 Shadow. But I can appreciate people liking things that I do not. I’d like to see some of this “science”, but considering you’re going to post a Larry Vickers video, I’ll save you the time and just say your opinion is already discredited.

          • Nicks87

            How have you discredited my opinion? Plus, if you don’t want me to post a Larry Vickers video it means you don’t care about what the truth is, you just want to be right. Ignoring the truth or an experts opinion only discredits you, not me.

        • MPWS

          I am on board with you on this one and I am glad someone spells that out so clearly. The DA/SA are not exactly “garbage” but they are antiquated for sure. Just too awkward to use.

          • G0rdon_Fr33man

            Antiquated for what exactly? Modern law enforcement/military? I can agree to that, but for competition, not at all.

        • Simon R.

          Options, Nick. Some people like options. Like me. And some people also hate striker fired handguns. Like me again. Science shows striker fired weapons have their own issues as well.

        • HKGuns

          Exactly how is it antiquated? Please explain how striker fired pistols are “so much better.” Oh, please to explain the wonderful science you speak of…..ha.

          I own both and you’re 100% FOS.

        • Yallan

          The attraction is psychological. DA/SA choice makes people feel more skilled than they really are. ie they can use ‘sniper SA mode’ when they need to pull off that hostage shot in their daydreams.

        • Doug

          DA/SA is, “antiquated and garbage?” Mike Pannone and his choice of carry, a CZ, might disagree with you. And he’s a far more credible source than you a million times over.

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      I understand you don´t shoot any sort of competitions. If you did, you´d see how misguided your statement is.

      • Nicks87

        Actually, I do. I shoot a stock Glock 17 in IDPA/SSP and it works great. I also have a G34 that I’m going to start shooting in open division as well.

        • G0rdon_Fr33man

          Well, those are self defence oriented sports, and Glocks make sense there, but in IPSC you won´t be competitive in Standard or Open with Glock. You´ll be up against SVI and the likes. Production, possibly, but Sphinx 3000/SDP is on the list so you´ll be up against those. Lots of other local variants. The tightest, best tuned pistols with the best trigger pulls are not striker fired. Period.

          • Nicks87

            Exactly, real world vs. gaming. Nuff said.

          • G0rdon_Fr33man

            Stop making a fool of yourself.

          • Nicks87

            Sorry but competitions are a controlled environment. You know the course of fire, you know what your targets look like and where they are going to be, you know when to draw and holster up. You know what shots are going to be DA and which ones are SA. It’s a game. DAO/striker just translates better to real world situations. Of course expensive comp guns are going to be more accurate than off the shelf pistols but it’s not realistic to carry one on a daily basis. They work great in a controlled environment but the real world is a different story.

            “Lots of other local variants” What? Like 1911s? Yeah I think you know my opinion on those pistols as well.

          • G0rdon_Fr33man

            Not all of us are into guns for self defence, which obviously seem very strange to you. As long as shooting exists as a sport, SA/DA-pistols are never gonna be obsolete, which was your original claim. What suits law enforcement need is irrelevant and is really no comparison to a proper bulls eye pistol. I shoot guns to have fun. Not to prepare for a war or a hypothetical situation, so your “real world situations” don´t apply. You can wear your Crye Presicion panties, and I´ll wear my team shirt, Ill shoot my X-Six, and you can have your Glock for self defence. If I do have to shoot a burglar, I´m pretty sure he won´t care about the model anyway.

            Local variants, as in, local shooting competitions. Pardini GT9, Sig Sauer P210 and X-Six dominate the field. If you use a Glock, you´re just filler on the ranking boards.

          • Nicks87

            If Crye Precision made underware as comfortable as their other gear I would definitely buy some, maybe a tactical man-thong. I’m glad DA/SA pistols fill a niche, I’m sure we will see a lot more of them being produced in the future. ///sarcasm///

        • iksnilol

          Shhh, don’t embarass yourself. IDPA and the like isn’t accuracy oriented, that’s why Glocks and strikers work there.

          • Nicks87

            “isn’t accuracy oriented” Really? Are you being serious?

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, shooting metal plates up close isn’t really precision. I am sorry I used the word accuracy, it is just that in the language I usually use, the words for “accuracy” and “precision” are literally the same.

        • CJR

          Uh-huh. So you’d know then, that both the USPSA Production national champion and the IPSC Production world champion choose to run DA/SA guns?

          I prefer DA/SA guns for a number of reasons. I like having an exposed hammer that I can block while reholstering. I like having a much better single-action trigger than on the Safe Action guns.

          What trigger action you prefer is your own preference, nothing more. To claim that science favors one style or the other is simply nonsense.

          • Nicks87

            $1500 target pistols that are tuned by a pro gunsmith. We aren’t even talking about the same thing.

    • Greg

      I really hate striker fired always have. It feels like a bbq lighter. Hammer fired hands down for feel.

      • no

        I have and prefer striker-fired guns, but the BBQ-lighter made me giggle.

  • MPWS

    Question of essence: how ejection is supposed to work while extractor is at bottom edge of ejection port? How the case can clear the opening providing extractor claw is narrower than the casing diameter which is typically the case (even with other guns)? I just do not get this. Creating problem of this kind just does not make sense and your pictures are indicative of that. If some complex interaction between case and claw is supposed to take place, perhaps that may be the reason, but still: WHY?

    Btw, two drilled holes for coiled pins right on top of slide are definitely taking away from elegance of this otherwise sophisticated product. Go to Beretta to get clue how to do it.

    • Cartridge cases are round.

      • iksnilol

        Dayum, I never really thought of that.

    • MSA

      I trust the German engineers. 🙂

  • MKabar

    You can’t shoot 115gr ammo from new H&K. Use 124gr for th first 300 rounds or left slide back for 1-2 days. Recoil spring is stiff when it’s new.
    After the first couple hundreds rounds it will shoot 115gr without any issue. I have over 30000 on H&K with zero mallfunctions (not counting faulty ammo).

    • “You can’t shoot 115gr ammo from new H&K”
      Then why can I do it with every other one of their 9 mm products?

      • 115gr is the untermenschen bullet weight, Heckler & Kochs only work with superior Teutonic 124gr bullets.

        Everyone knows this.

        • ostiariusalpha

          The problem is that 9mm is a military round. Basically, Italian and military are two words that don’t belong in a sentnce togthr. See what I mean?

        • German police ammunition tends to run much lighter, or at least it has in the past.

    • Rick5555

      Leaving the slide back for a day or two…will do “nothing” for the recoil spring. Doesn’t matter if the spring is contracting or retracted. What cause a spring to loosen up or become weaker, is the constant back and forth movement. Compressing and decompressing wears the tension on springs.

      • Haunted Puppeteer

        This.

        Properly heat treated springs should only exhibit wear on use (cycles), not prolonged compression. This is related to the myth of leaving magazines loaded being deleterious to the springs.

  • Dear HK,

    Please bring back the P7 and P9.
    That is all.

    -Alex

    • Darkpr0

      Since we’re wishing for stuff, G11 plz =)

      • ostiariusalpha

        LSAT ammo compliant, plz.

      • Every time someone brings up the G11, I feel an overwhelming urge to rain on their parade.

        • Darkpr0

          Just cuz I want one doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. My favourite bolt-action is a Ross Rifle, after all. B)

    • Ed

      They reply Alex……. Hay were H&K and you SUCK!!! LOL

  • Scott

    My Glock 34 did the same thing with 115gr ammunition for the first few hundred rounds. It never stovepiped for me, but it consistently stovepiped for my wife and also tended to send the hot brass back at her, one time even sending one down her blouse. The problem went away, which I attribute to 1) it being broken in, and 2) her adapting her grip so as not to “limp wrist” it.

  • Simon R.

    Ive owned no less than half a dozen HK pistols, various models, and I haven’t had 10 total misfeeds or failures that weren’t due to poor ammo. HK’s don’t like all bullet nose profiles.

  • Lance

    Stay with the G-17/19 over this alot cheaper and it wont shot brass in your face.

    • Don’t Drone Me Bro

      Gen 4 Glock 17/19 is between $525-550. You can find P30SK’s as low as $556 from Bud’s Gun Shop. Not exactly a lot cheaper. Also, Gen 4 Glocks are pretty notorious for brass to the face.

  • USMC03Vet

    This pistol should only be shot with thick cold weather gloves on since it was designed for that. I mean look at those gigantic protruding controls on it. Not my cup of tea, but if I were a polar bear having to EDC in cold weather….

    • john huscio

      The LEM version has no controls, aside from the slide lock.

      • CrankyFool

        And, presumably, a trigger.

        🙂

        • john huscio

          Well yea, that too.

  • iksnilol

    Why would you use Fiocchi? Especially in such a nice pistol like that. I mean, sure, their shotgun ammo is nice but their pistol ammo I’ve always been wary of.

  • ostiariusalpha

    So, is this like H&K’s G42; try to sell as many P30SK pistols as possible before releasing the VP9SK that everyone actually wants?

    • john huscio

      Nah, its a legit great pistol (at least the LEM variant). You’ll be waiting for the vp9sk for at least 3-5 years considering HK’s glacial pace of product development….

  • john huscio

    Put 50 rounds down the pipe of the V1 light LEM variant last weekend. Extremely impressed. Will probably trade in a gun for one

  • Miffed

    I’m no glock fanboy, but there is something to be said about spending $800 on a pistol and you can’t even rely on it out of the box with any ammunition choice in it’s caliber. And of course that being said: my G19 gen4 out of the box to this day (5 months old) over 1300 rounds through it various loads (all factory of course) not a single stove pipe, failure to feed, or bobble, period, end of story. So what are you willing to depend your life upon…..nuff said