POTD: The Finest Handgun Heckler & Koch Ever Made

Many consider the H&K P7 to be the finest handgun ever offered by the company, or even of any company. YouTuber LifeSizePotato recently posted a picture of his P7M13 to Imgur, an image hosting/social media site:


The Heckler and Koch P7 is an unusual gas-retarded blowback handgun, which utilizes pressure from the expanding propellant gases to retard the rearward movement of the slide until the pressure drops. The P7M13 is the double-stack variant of the single-stack H&K P7, and was offered to the US Army during the M9 pistol trials.




  • Alex

    Im sorry, the title led me to believe the article was about the Mk.23 SOCOM pistol. P7 is alright.

    • Giolli Joker

      You’re comparing a ballet dancer to a wrestler. 🙂

    • nester7929

      The Mk.23 is great if you have hands like Andre the Giant.

      • G0rdon_Fr33man

        Grip ain´t much different than the 45 tactical, which no-one seems to complain about.

      • Limousine Liberal

        Anybody want a peanut?

      • avconsumer2

        (or are in a wetsuit / drysuit / arctic gear with gloves on)

    • santi

      If you love that pistol. it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a P7. I can only see the MK23 going up in price when they run dry in production.

  • santi

    HK! If you are reading, I’ve said this before a million times. Make a polymer frame of the p7 m13 to lower production cost and re-release this unto the world! It would sell like hot cakes.

    • Patrick

      Not sure this would technically work. The action relies on a piston (under pressure) that keeps the action closed until pressure drops. This piston is attached to the slide and is inserted into the frame where gas is bled from the barrel. A polymer frame would probably not work unless it is strategically reinforced to deal with the pressure and heat.

      • Mack

        Isn’t the Walther CCP this exact thing in a poly frame?

        • Giolli Joker

          No, it’s ten times uglier. 🙂
          Maybe Patrick’s doubts are behind the reasons that made Walther raise a lot the bore axis compared to the P7…

        • john huscio

          Not impressed with the CCP, Felt really cheap in hand.

      • santi

        Oh solid point! I trust that the brilliant engineers to do a work around this fact just fine. A heat shield would do wonders OR we could actually just do away with the fluted chamber gas ejection system and solely rely on the extractor to do the job, which would even lower the cost of production.

        • iksnilol

          But the gas system is sorta important if you don’t want it to blow up or something… that’s at least my understanding.

          • santi

            Another good point but most handguns are not gas operated and it’s been proven to be safe in it’s functioning for decades and decades upon that. The only other pistol that I know of that is gas operated is the Desert Eagle.

          • iksnilol

            That’s true, but those other pistols use short recoil mechanism. While the P7 becomes a straight blowback if it doesn’t have the gas system. I don’t have to explain why straight blowback in a lightweight 9mm pistol is bad?

          • santi

            You know I’ve run across that theory before. Lets think about the Walther pistols, Makarovs, other pistols of that nature. They are proven designs. I don’t think the Browning design is the gospel truth when it comes to pistols and reliability. The only way to know is if someone volunteers their P7, let us plug up the gas port and have the P7 rely only on the extractor to do the job flawlessly.

          • iksnilol

            That’s a good way to blow it up. It’s called physics. Simply because the slide doesn’t have enough mass to function as a pure blowback with such a high pressure cartridge.

            Walthers and Makarovs use low pressure cartridges such as .380 or .32.

            The Browning design isn’t the best, that’s true.

          • santi

            I don’t agree that would happen, the pressure of the explosion will be relieved out of the business end of the barrel just as all blowback pistols do. The path of least resistance, the inherent design of the barrel. Walther P38’s were 9mm, and Lugers were as well. I can’t see an explosion happening if one were to plug up the gas port at where the barrel port meets the gas tube. This to keep any gas from expanding into the gas tube. Idk, agree to disagree.

          • iksnilol

            Neither the P38 or Luger were straight blowback. You are comparing apples to giraffes.

          • santi

            Okay…you are right. Does that satisfy your ego? So it’s not exactly a blowback. I’ll leave the engineering to those that HK deam fit to oversee the re-release if they feel it’s a good idea to do so in the future. See you later Keyboard Commado.

          • Giolli Joker

            Santi, don’t escalate.
            There’s no need.
            As you realized gas-delay is integral part of the P7 pistol.
            “The only way to know is if someone volunteers their P7, let us plug up the gas port and have the P7 rely only on the extractor to do the job flawlessly.”
            You’re actually confusing two aspects of the handgun operation, the extractor won’t even be strictly needed on a pure blowback, the pressure on the casing and breechface is enough to allow reliable extraction. But if you make the P7 a pure blowback, slide mass and recoil spring force are not enough to keep the slide from opening before the bullet has left the barrel, that would mean having the thin wall of the casing being no longer supported by the chamber (as it’s being extracted) while the pressure inside it is still dangerously high, that would be harmful to pistol and shooter as well.
            On a normal, gas delayed, P7 MAYBE, you could get rid of chamber fluting, but it is there because the delaying of the action is such that the force on the slide could not be enough to allow proper extraction of an expanded casing.
            (If you check the video of JM shooting the HK-91, you get a brief intro on how fluted chambers work.)

          • santi

            Thank you for the clarity. I definitely see what you mean. Looking forward to watching that video.

          • santi

            Just saw the video with JM and it gave me a good insight about the inner workings of fluted chambers.

          • iksnilol

            I am a Keyboard Commando for explaining that something would blow up?

            Doesn’t really satisfy my ego, though it is nice to know that I possibly saved a P7 from getting blown (and you from bodily harm).

            Also, they aren’t “not exactly a blowback”. P38 is short recoil, locked breech. Luger is toggle-locked, also short recoil. It’s sorta like saying SVT-40 and AR-15 are same mechanism.

          • santi

            First off, it was an obvious hypothetical, a jest to show good nature. I wouldn’t risk my life for something so measly. Secondly, your overall tone in the discussion evolved into more of a knee jerk reaction to my idea of getting the P7 back on the market. So I dare to dream of reinnovation. You know your stuff. I never said I was qualified to re-engineer the pistol. So, I digress for the third time.

          • Tassiebush

            The HiPoint pistols are examples of 9mm blowback pistols. I have no experience with them but by the sound of things the slide is very heavy to provide enough inertia to slow the opening and they work okay apparently but at the expense of that weight.

          • iksnilol

            I’ve always wanted to see a HiPoint, y’know, the real steel and all?

          • Tassiebush

            They actually fascinate me a bit. I looked into them after Patrick’s recent article. I get the impression from reading up on them that they are a triumph of low cost mass production. Almost what a liberator pistol would be if it was made today. Apparently it was one of the first pistols to use a polymer frame and the whole slide is cast alloy contracted out to automotive parts manufacturers. I think the barrel is about the only piece of steel and they make it up to .45acp as a straight forward blowback design! They come with a lifetime warranty too (presumably because it’s economical to replace them). That’s all genius in my books.

          • Hyok Kim

            HK did make one for .38acp. Wouldn’t have worked with 9 or more powerful cartridges in the same weight class.

          • Tom

            The Steyr GB also used a gas delayed blowback action. The advantage (over tilting actions) is the fixed barrel. Of course you could skip the gas delay and use a roller delayed blowback like the HK P9.

          • santi

            Didn’t know that!

          • Tom

            It pretty much faded into obscurity after loosing a competition to equip the Austrian military (was won by some upstart knife making company but that was the last we ever heard of them and their silly plastic gun). Steyr did try to get it sold on the US market but their distributor took the specs and made their own version which did not work well at all and by the time Steyr were importing Austrian made pistol into the US the reputation of the pistol was very bad which together with a high asking price basically sank the pistol and any chance of further development.

            From what I read it was not a bad handgun, big and heavy (it was a full sized 18 round service pistol) but was accurate and very reliable (the Austrian made ones).

          • abecido

            Or better yet, a roller locked recoil action such as the CZ-52 in which the barrel recoils in a straight line rather than tilting.

          • Patrick

            I have an affinity for weird locking mechanisms and happen to own both a CZ-52 and a P7M8. Both are fine guns, but I would trust the P7M8 over the CZ-52. The reason is that in a roller-lock design, the roller lock into recesses in the frame of the gun which are weak points in the frame. Overpressure could cause the frame to bulge and the locking mechanism to fail with potentially catastrophic results.

            The P7M8 is amazing in its simplicity. The P7 failures I have heard of in Internet lore involved people who had their pistols nitrided. This resulted in failures where the front of the slide cracked (over-hardened?).

            My next weird gun will be a Xcalibur from Grand Power with its rotating lock mechanism. This also unlocks in a straight line.

          • Giolli Joker

            I like your approach.
            The Grand Power is a great gun, wait for the 10Auto.
            Next a Strike One?

          • Tom

            I go for the roller delayed of the P9 purely because the barrel is stationary at all times. Along with straight blowback and the gas delayed blowbacks it seems the only way to get a fixed barrel in a decent length/size handgun. Of course how much of an advantage a fixed barrel gives is open to discussion and I rather suspect the answer in practical terms is none.

          • Giolli Joker

            Other two sexy handguns there…

          • Anonymoose

            Also the Micro Desert Eagle (which is not actually related at all to the regular one).

          • santi

            It’s pretty interesting that such a small pistol has a gas assist.

          • Tom

            The Micro Desert Eagle, aka Baby Eagle and Jericho does not use a gas system, its a conventional titling action modeled on the CZ 74. The similarity in appearance is just that, the two guns function very differently.

          • Anonymoose

            The Micro Desert Eagle is gas-operated.

          • Tom

            I was confusing it with the Jerichos I see now its a different animal all together. Strange to put a gas delay on something so small.

          • Giolli Joker

            The P7 is not gas operated but gas delayed, there’s still gas involved but the Desert Eagle employs a completely different system.

          • santi

            So maybe the gas delay is actually an integral part of the functioning of the P7, in that it can’t exist without it. I figure the that browning design uses lugs to delay and the P7 uses gas to do the same. I read up on the assisted gas system the Desert Eagle. Thanks for the clarity.

          • Axel

            He’s not saying they should take out the gas retardation system, he’s saying they could take out their fluted chambers that assist with case ejection. But that doesn’t deal with the heat problem, but the CCP seems to have figured that out. And the polymer actually helps with keeping the heat low for the shooter.

          • iksnilol

            I understood it as removing the gas system. Since he mentioned plugging the gas system.

            Fluted chamber doesn’t hurt to have it, it only really mangles brass if the pressures are too high.

        • Tassiebush

          Polymer framed blowback. Sounds like a HiPoint

      • FXDWG69

        The piston would melt a plastic frame.

      • Limousine Liberal

        You are correct. It would not work.

    • D Fox

      Absolutely ! As an every day carry , I’d like something lighter, but i Love my P7M10 !

  • Vitsaus

    Its great from a development standpoint, but for practical use, it is lacking in a few ways. Chiefly, it gets extremely hot very quickly. The squeeze cocker/safety is certainly not for everyone. Its heavy for its size and magazine capacity, and the sights could be better. It was obviously a gun that was meant to be carried more than fired, and when fired, not for very many rounds. Its very much a “European” sort of approach to policing, as it was designed as a police pistol.

    • jcbauerca

      Yes unlike our police here in the US where they tend to shoot more than carry like the European Police. I think the European approach is not too bad if you are a minority.

      • Vitsuas

        I am a “minority” and I grew up in LA, and I’ve never had trouble with the police. Might be because I was raised not to break the law.

        • Hyok Kim

          Why do you think ‘minority’ in general might be raised to break the law?

      • Tom

        Most German (and many other continental police agencies) police have ready access to SMGs so the issued pistol is much less likely to be used in anger.

        As for minorities, I think the police in Europe are just as capible as shooting them as in the US. Despite the media attention I am not sure the police in the US are any more likely to shoot minorities than anyone else.

        • Giolli Joker

          Regardless of minorities issues, the legitimate use of deadly force by European police forces is generally much more restricted than in the US.
          If this is better or worse depends on the specific situations that the officers have to face.

          • Tom

            I can only speak for the UK but here its not so much that there are more restrictions as much as there is more reluctance on the part of officers to open fire. Legally the police can shoot (without warning) on anyone the deem to pose a serious risk to life. Thus if you are carrying a weapon they can shoot you, if you are attacking someone they can shoot you, if you are driving dangerously they can shoot you. Its just that the very rarely shoot anyone and seem much more patient when it comes to stand offs and the like. I think most people are still smart enough to understand that they are not going to win a gunfight against the police. Even the IRA (with military training and weapons) tried in the 1970s and soon realised that no matter how good you or your weapons are you will be outgunned by the police.

      • Hyok Kim

        I do agree police in U.S. get off relatively easy with NDs, fatal or not.

    • HKGuns

      Have you ever even shot one? The squeeze cocker is probably the best most intuitive safety ever devised.

      As far as heat, the conversation is around defensive use, not blasting 200 rounds at the range. It takes 5+ magazines for the thing to get hot. I doubt you’ll have 5 magazines on you in a defensive role.

      Also, way to promote the Obama and Co. narrative of Police using excessive force. You should be ashamed and banned from posting in this comment section.

      • no

        Exactly, ban people who don’t share the “correct” opinion.

        • HKGuns

          Go away. Ban people who post nonsense.

          • iksnilol

            Such as yourself? You are breaking pretty much the only rule of TFB, which is no politics.

            Your comment was good until the last paragraph, then it veered off into politics&nutjobs category.

        • Tom

          The group think must be enforced at all costs, screw that whole freedom of expression and market place of free ideas crap.

  • Plumbiphilious

    I wish they’d bring this back. It looks so very concealable and comfy, reverse grip lever aside.

    • Limousine Liberal

      The single stack variant with an American style magazine release — the P7M8 — is indeed an excellent carry piece.

      • Rodford Smith

        It’s heavy, but actually about the same weight as a Ruger Mark I/II/III. The weight helps with rapid fire. The single-stack versions are quite flat and with a good holster fit snugly against the body. It has a 4.2″ barrel and the sights are well separated and quite practical for quick shooting. It’s also built like a vault door.

      • Hyok Kim

        I prefer the heel release.

  • Limousine Liberal

    It is said that with respect to the HK P7 series pistols shooters fall into one of two categories:
    Those who acknowledge it as the finest handgun ever designed and…
    Those yet to shoot one.

  • Jack


    “Alas, your Mr Takagi did not see it that way… so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.”

    So wrong but Rickman made it sound so right. And HK made it look so good.

  • Hatman

    Finest pistol made? Hardly. It’s overly complicated and uses a gas system that heats up the whole unit quickly. Just about no one uses them for competition and they pretty much ruin brass for reloading with their fluted chamber.
    They are way too expensive to buy, The finest handgun made was & is the magnificent Colt Python.

    • Bill

      I’d give a kidney to have the one I traded off back, but most of your points are dead on. I took the stocks off mine once and thought I was looking at the transmission to a 1971 Triumph Spitfire.

    • Rodford Smith

      I have reloaded and reused literally thousands of fired cases from my three P7 pistols with no problems. The deformation of the brass is trivial. Most people see the powder lines made by the flutes and think the brass is distorted, but it’s actually still smooth.

    • Hyok Kim

      I thought the article meant ‘the finest pistol made by HK’.

  • Vic Nighthorse

    My beloved P7M8 was stolen 15 years ago. It is probably crazy but replacing it was like trying to replace my dog. It took time, and by then it was out of production and I have been unwilling to pay the price for a used one. I switched to Five Seven which seem soul-less in comparison, but the trigger area doesn’t get hot after 2 single stack mags. I’d buy new steel P7 in heartbeat.

  • WFDT

    For a time this was the service pistol of the United States Park Police.

  • santi

    There is no argument here. This is case and point.

  • Tyler Horne

    That can’t be right, because the Mk.23 is the finest piston H&K ever made.

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    I’ve shot it, as well as maaany other designs, and while a good pistol, very well made, and a cool design I fail to see why is “the finest pistol ever made” by anyone.
    It certainly wasn’t imitated by anyone, a sure measure of “lack of flattery”.
    But some people get emotional about guns, and have a lot of free time to endlessly discuss things…

  • evan

    Anyone who shots my P7 PSP falls in love with it and offers to buy it. Sorry not for sale. OH by the way i bought it a year ago at a small town pawn shop for $650. its an 1981 non police trade in. looked brand new. came iwth two mags and i even found 4 more at another pawn shop for $30 each!

    • ostiariusalpha

      Nice! Can I buy that off you? LOL!

    • Giolli Joker

      Great photo too… beside the fact you’re shooting lipsticks.

  • PeterK

    This is one of those guns that really needs a remake. Modernize the ergonomics, then pretty much sell as is. I’d sell a kidney for one.

  • Rodford Smith

    Love these things.

  • Wosiu

    Bulgarian Arsenal P-M02 pistol also have this system.

    BTW, Steyr GB is again in production as P-18 pistol of German company Sport Systeme Diettrich.

    • Giolli Joker

      Cool info, thanks.

      I had never heard of SSD before… they have interesting products, it’s a pity that they don’t care to have an English website.

  • Larry Moto GP rules

    I have the PSP P7 built in 1983, its the pistol that got me interested in guns in the first place. Hans Gruber had one so I needed one too, bought it a few years ago and it was worth it. Feels awesome in the hand, very accurate and the trigger is silky smooth. Anyone who wants one best get one quick the prices are going up and supply is dwindling. It is the Queen of the gun safe highly recommend

  • nevadan99

    I don’t like plastic guns. Might be lighter, but if I can’t lift a real gun, I shouldn’t be carry one.

  • Clyde Bower

    Many years ago we took a first gen P-7 and although it was in excellent shape it was sent to H&K for a factory rebuild. About a week later I received a phone call from H&K, the gentleman on the phone had a thick German accent. He proceed to interrogate me about who was the owner, who the present owner was. He declared the pistol was in excellent shape but they would replace all of the springs and send it back at no charge.
    After a while he introduced himself, Dr. Floren who was at the time the CEO of H&K. This was the time when the P-7 M8 was being introduced. Dr. Floren made sure to get the point that all of the execs at H&K carried the first generation P-7.
    I loved the way the pistol shot, but I quickly discovered that it roaster my trigger finger, and if I wasn’t careful I’d ended up with my knuckle burnt and blistered. That was the deciding and the P-7 was reluctantly sold.
    I’ve tried other pistols in the P-7 family, but none of them worked as well and didn’t have the appeal of that P-7.
    I’ve sort of half way looked for one but I’ve found other hand and long guns present the “gun of the moment” and the P-7 gets pushed further back on my list of “want to have” pistols.
    I’ll tell you this, if you find one at a reasonable price, snap it up and consider yourself fortunate!

  • Harold

    Eff yeah.

  • Hk guy

    I loved these handguns. For one or two mags slow fired they’re terrific, anything more and they heat up quite quickly and become less than ideal for long range sessions.

  • maodeedee

    Beautiful guns, but a gunsmith I knew didn’t like th elooks of the internal parts. he said there were little springs and things thart looked as though they would be prone to breakage.

    I’d like to see these guns be re-introduced but with the necessary internal modifications to make them more rugged and possibly at the same time make then less expensive to manufacture so they could sell at a more reasonable price. That said, if I ever find a P& for sale for a good price I wll snap it up so fast nobody will know what happened.

  • Madcap_Magician

    I bought one of the last ones to come into the country and sold it like an idiot a year later for exactly what I paid. Even my beat-to-hell C-grade P7 with the huge ding out of the muzzle crown would be worth $900+ right now.