Gun Review: A Tale of Two Volkspistoles: The H&K VP9 & VP40

Thanks to Othais for his help with this image.

Thanks to Othais for his help with this image.

Heckler & Koch has had an unusual relationship with the striker-fired handgun. The world’s first polymer-framed striker-fired production pistol, the VP70, was an H&K, and what many consider to be the company’s finest handgun ever, the P7, was also striker fired. However, aside from those two, Heckler & Koch had not produced any other striker-fired handguns, despite being one of the world’s major pistol design and manufacturing firms. Had, that is, until the summer of 2014, when the company released a brand new handgun, which harkened back to the aforementioned VP70 with the name VP9.

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The VP9

Following right on its heels later that year was its bigger brother, the VP40, a pistol that as we’ll see is not just a rechambered VP9, but a truly larger handgun using the same basic design. Heckler & Koch reached out to The Firearm Blog to review these two handguns together, to compare and contrast them with each other and with other firearms. To accomplish this, I chose to evaluate not only a Glock 19 – the Austrian direct competitor to the VP9 – but also a Colt 9mm Government Model 1911 alongside the two guns. Given the reputation both volkspistoles have received for having excellent triggers, the latter should give us a proper base of comparison. Neither the Glock nor the Colt have had any modifications made to them of any kind; both are completely bone stock (even my Glock’s sights are stock, something that gun experts web-wide tell me is very dangerous, for it risks the wrath of the heavenly SEALs who ride their RHIBs across the night sky bestowing blessings upon the properly tactical, and curses upon fudd apostates).

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Bigger, and more powerful: The VP40

The VP9 is a 15-shot semi-compact service handgun in 9x19mm Parabellum. It is rated for 9x19mm NATO ammunition, as are all HK firearms. Its stablemate, the VP40, has a reduced capacity of 13 rounds of .40 S&W, due to the increased diameter of the ammunition. Oddly, the “VolksPistole” designation of both firearms is the regional name for the US; abroad the guns are called “SFP9” and “SFP40”, the “SFP” referring to “Striker-Fired Pistol”. Both handguns feed from P30 magazines of their respective calibers. Unlike the P30, the VP/SFP series does not use different trigger modules, having only one type of striker fired mechanism.

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The four handguns together. Note that the volkspistoles are closer in size to the Colt 1911 than the Glock 19.

 

I received the VP40 first, and my initial impression was that the gun is unusually large. The slide was extremely wide, and the frame taller than I had expected. The VP40 is much larger than a Glock 19, and by extension the competing Glock 23:

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The VP9 arrived later, and while it’s noticeably smaller than the VP40, it is still a significantly larger handgun than its competitor:

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Compared to each other, the Volkspistoles are close but distinct in size, with the biggest difference being the thicker slide on the VP40:

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In terms of basic fit and finish, the VPs were exactly what one would expect from H&K: Seductively finished major metal components, tough but plasticky plastic components, and a handful of regrettably cheap-looking stamped steel parts. Among polymer striker-fired handguns, though, the VPs are a pair of made-to-order Rolls Royces in terms of appearance.

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On the right is a Glock 15-round 9mm magazine, and on the left is an H&K 15-round 9mm P30/VP9 magazine. Note the greater size of the H&K magazine.

 

A major selling point of the VP series is their supposedly lighter, better trigger. My impression of the trigger was that it did not have a different feel to the Glock’s, but it was certainly lighter. Interestingly, Heckler & Koch went to great pains to re-work the striker mechanism in the VP series to give a different, crisper pull, and I was surprised that this seemed to make no difference in the overall character of the trigger. However, as is shown below, the pull was significantly less than the Glock and very close to the Colt:

vp9triggerpull

And the VP40:

vp40triggerpull

One thing to notice is the good consistency of pull for both VPs versus the Glock below. This is due to the Glock’s trigger safety, which is straight and makes it very difficult for a pull gauge to find purchase on the trigger while disengaging it. The VP series has a bow- or crescent-shaped safety that guides the gauge properly to the middle of the trigger while still disengaging. This is in my opinion only an issue when measuring the trigger with a gauge. It may be that I am just extremely used to the Glock’s trigger, but I have never felt this affected my shooting with the Austrian handgun. My opinion is that in practice the Glock’s trigger is just as consistent in pull as the VPs’ or Colt’s, though obviously considerably heavier than either:

glocktriggerpull1911triggerpull

For a seasoned Glock shooter, the Heckler & Koch volkspistoles offered very little new. Their shooting characteristics are very nearly identical, with the exception of a somewhat higher bore axis that I found reduced my speed (though it’s not like I was Jerry Miculek to start with). That’s not to say that the VPs offer nothing over the Glock. One of the quirks of Gaston’s design (at least for me) is the need to rotate the firing finger down and away from the frame to avoid “dragging wood” which can have a significant negative effect on accuracy. This has, with considerable practice, become second nature to me, but I found that it was unnecessary with the VP9 and VP40. Further, both H&Ks have the same modular, contoured P30-type grip that has become famous for its good ergonomics. Again, as a Glock person, I actually find this grip a little strange and difficult to index, but for those who do not like Glock grips the VPs do offer a highly customizable alternative at a reasonably competitive price. One minor ergonomic note is that the placement of my hands caused – almost without fail – my thumb to push down on the slide release during shooting, which resulted in the slide going home at the end of every magazine. This is an issue of  the shooter adjusting to the handgun, and based on my past experience with practice I would be able to avoid this problem, but since the VP series has a very generously sized slide release assembly, it is worth mentioning. Finally, it was my hope that the large size of the VP40 would pay dividends in terms of recoil impulse, but despite this, I found that the VP40 recoiled significantly harder and more sharply than any of the other three.

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The H&K VP9 in full recoil during slow fire. Note the placement of my thumb, right over top of the large slide release. This induced failures of the slide to lock back.

 

Mechanically, I had no failures (aside from the aforementioned shooter-induced slide lock failure), mechanical problems, or other functioning problems.

For accuracy, the VPs shot very close to the Glock 19 at 10 yards. The VP9, Glock 19, and Colt were all were fed Geco 124gr 9x19mm ammunition, while the VP40 was fed Perfecta 170gr .40 S&W. Neither brand is the highest end, most accurate available, but I am also not the most accurate shot with a pistol. The results should still be illustrative; below are some representative groups shot during the several range sessions I took with the guns:

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In this case I shot my Glock 19 with the TLR-1 light that normally lives on the rail, but it didn’t affect the group size. Group sizes are roughly the same, with the Glock being perhaps a little smaller:

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The Colt printed a tighter 9-shot group side to side that strung vertically, probably due to my own error:

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The H&K VP series are Glock alternatives that may appeal to those who do not think the Glock is the right handgun for them, but still want a polymer-framed striker-fired pistol with the same features (or lack thereof). Its lighter trigger doesn’t represent a revolution in striker-fired trigger technology, but it might offer some shooters with lower hand strength a less fatiguing shooting experience. The interchangeable grip panels and backstraps make for a gun that is more customizable than a Glock. Unlike the more expensive and (in my experience) more accurate P30 series, the VPs seem to offer similar accuracy to Glock handguns, although that may not be true for every kind of ammunition. For those who already have gotten used to the Glock platform, the VP series does not really offer much different, except a more pleasing finish and appearance. However, given that there is no “best” handgun, even within the striker-fired, polymer-frame semi-compact service handgun category, the VP may be a welcome addition for those who previously could not find the striker-fired handgun that is right for them. Some shooters may find their size and shape more forgiving than that of other handguns, while Glock-shooters like myself will mostly find them to be redundant to and bigger than the old Austrian standby.

 

The Good:

-Lower weight trigger than a Glock, comparable to factory 1911 trigger weight

-Interchangeable backstraps and grip panels give a large number of grip configurations

-Just as accurate as a Glock

-Much better looking in my opinion than either a Glock or M&P

 

The Bad:

-Very large for their class

-Not as accurate as the P30 series, in my experience

-Higher bore axis led to more muzzle flip

-Retails for about $100 more than a Gen 4 Glock 19

 

The Ugly:

-There is really nothing ugly about the VPs.



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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  • Bruce

    If I was going to buy a new plastic handgun, it would be the P30 because DA/SA is the one true way… Oh wait, no politics. 🙂 Good review. I don’t think anybody would be under-served by these guns no matter what their purpose.

  • ABeiruty

    Please do not compare HK to Glock. It is like comparing a VW to Audi. And I love my P30. HK should make 18rd mags for the HK P30L

    • Some Guy

      I suppose now is a bad time to point out that VW and Audi are the same company and Audi’s lower end offerings are just rebadged VWs

    • G.K.

      No, actually It’s more like Audi trying to copy a more successful design from VW at a significantly higher price and somehow making an inferior product in the end, while people still fanboy the Audi just because of It’s brand name.

      Sorry that H&K made yet another mediocre for the price attempt at a modern handgun, only the striker fired edition this time.

      • john huscio

        The vp9 definitely feels much better in hand and the vp9’s price is competitive with glock

        • G.K.

          Hate to say it but I still get the same “is this designed for people with blocks for hands?” feeling with the VP9 as I do with many other newer H&K handguns, it may not be as bad as the HK45, but it sure as hell doesn’t fit my hands at all, the Glock with the geavertail backstrap feels much better to me.

          Really, if I had to pick a German made striker fired polymer design to fanboy, I’d go with the Walther PPQ M2 hands down, which is an amazing pistol in general and even better when you realize you can score one for around 50-100 dollars cheaper then a VP new.

          • john huscio

            Weird, after switching to the smallest backstrap the grip was perfect like it was locked into my hand…..different strokes I guess…..the PPQ is a great gun, but it had noticeably more snap to it when shot back to back with my vp9 and 3rd gen g19 (first pistol I ever bought, gave it to my mom after I got a p226),

          • Beju

            My father had a chance to shoot the PPQ M2 and the VP9 back-to-back.

            He said that the PPQ had the best out of the box striker fire trigger he’d ever shot, and bought one a week later. After shooting his, I was in agreement with that statement.

  • David

    I own a VP40 and several Glocks. Comparing the HK to the Glocks isn’t fair to Glock. Holding the VP is like a really good, firm handshake. It just feels right. Holding a Glock after feels very blocky

  • Edeco

    Interesting to see the HK brand glock compared to the Glock brand glock. I’m glad my dog in this race is more compact. That’s my typical of my preference in products (bare bones) compared to a certain style of German industrial design, like solving problems very thoroughly, arguably over-solving.

    • Blue Centurion

      HK produced striker fired handguns eight years before Gaston Glock and also produced polymer handguns before Glock. Yeah, I’m a fanboy.

      • Edeco

        It’s commendable that HK did those things early. But Glock having realized the potential, it’s like HK had the ball, got to the 1-yard line and stopped to scratch their butt 😛

  • Jason Guhl

    While the triggers may have the basic feel, the VP9’s trigger is far more predictable. They don’t have near the mush/creep that the Glock does. Also, in my experience I print tighter groups with my VP9 than the P30, USP or P2000. The VPs really should be compared to a Glock 17/22 due to size.

    I am a slight HK fanboy, but I love Glocks too. I honestly believe the only advantage Glocks have is capacity.

    That being said, I still think the best striker fired handgun out there is an FN FNS.

    • Wait, but they have the same capacity and barrel length as the Glock 19/23. If they’re bigger, that’s a negative people should know about.

      • Bill

        As much as I harp on size efficiency, it’s hard to quantify the ergonomics of a pistol. They may be slightly bigger with the same capacity and barrel length, but if they are commensurately slightly more shootable, that’s a potential win. It’s like we are on a race to make the smallest gun, and neglecting how well they handle.

        • Put your mind at ease: I found the Glock more shootable.

          • Nicks87

            Having put plenty of rounds through the VP9, P30 and Glock 19/17, I still prefer Glocks. Not to say that the H&Ks aren’t good guns because they are, I just don’t like them enough to buy one.

      • Rick5555

        Are you aware why HK offered 15 round capacity? When the VP9 could easily have a capacity of 17 rounds. Germany has some odd export laws, when it pertains to capacity in pistols. So, I do think the VP 9 is more inline with a G17. The G17 has a half inch longer barrel. That difference alone, both models are in the same class per se.

        • They stuck with 15 on the VP9 because they wanted the ability to use existing P30 mags. So why was the P30 designed to use 15 round mags? Not sure really, especially when HK made and sold an 18 round double stack pistol in 1970 to the general public.

        • I don’t have the guns anymore, but IIRC the reason the mags only hold 15 is because the cartridge stack comes together more gradually than a Glock’s does, so the mags are taller. I’m not sure whether a more square magazine with a more abrupt stack taper could fit in the VP9 or not, but it’s not like the magazines are reduced capacity just because they have a follower block or something.

          • ostiariusalpha

            It’s supposedly done for increased reliability. I’ve never noticed that the Glock mags are hurting in the reliability department, so it seems like they’re one of those solutions for a problem that no one has.

          • Theoretically it does improve reliability, but I’m not sure what the actual empirical figures look like.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I can never shake the suspicion that some German prejudice against +15 standard capacity magazines is the subtext to the “improved reliability” design.

      • Sianmink

        When someone sells a good aftermarket VP9 magazine that doesn’t cost the usual H&K $50 extortion price, it could easily hold 17, 18, or even 19 rounds.

        • Blue Centurion

          Extortion is at the behest of the vendor my friend. Not HK.

          • Sean Archer

            No it’s not, I buy direct from HK and the mags cost well over $40 wholesale.

          • Blue Centurion

            Oh really, I wonder how other large vendors get them for under $40? In any case I have seen them going for way over $55 a magazine which IS gouging. The VP9 is a duty weapon for me and agency pricing is significantly less. In any case stock up now, they’ll be heading north of $50 in 2016 for certain.

      • Jason Guhl

        I agree, that’s why I said its closer to a G17/22 size. I wish there was a VP9 in a Glock 19 size.

        Striker fired P2000 anyone? P2000 is my favorite handgun.

        • In terms of size, they are absolutely closer to a G17/22, but in all other respects they are comparable to a G19/23.

    • Rick5555

      The FNS and the FNS(c), are my primary ccw pistols. As well as, my favorite pistols too. I’m a lefty and the gun just fits my hand exceptional. Personally I don’t think the FNS get a fair shake or the credit it’s due. Just my opinion.

      • Dan

        You have no idea how torn i am between the FNS and P320. I am in love with both of then. I am at the point now that they may both come home with me.

  • Nashvone

    This is an interesting choice for an article. While I enjoyed the side by side comparison, the smarta$$ in me kept wondering “Did you want to take a belt sander to the butthurt of three very dedicated groups of fanboys?”

    • derpmaster

      It would have been interesting to throw a PPQ in to the mix given how extremely similar they are to the VP9.

      • Nashvone

        Even though I have a PPQ, I didn’t even think of that. I would say that other than the ability to run dirty, the PPQ will spank my Glock17 any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

        • Some Guy

          I honestly wish someone would do a long term reliability / durability review of the P99 platform.

          A shooter for a Walther sponsored competitive shooting team (ipsc maybe) claimed to have 124K+ rounds through a single P99 with nothing but spring changes but that could be BS and as far as I know no one has done the sort of testing that people do with Glocks all the time.

          • Nashvone

            Unless they were in a Bruce Willis movie, I highly doubt that anyone has ever put 124K+ rounds through any pistol change without a barrel change or 10.

          • Kivaari

            Hammer forged barrels with “polygonal” rifling is what makes them pretty much beyond wearing out. My personal G17 had 22,000 rounds through it when I stopped keeping track. I shot close to 30K and it wasn’t close to showing bore wear.

  • hami

    A recent discovery on the German side of H&K’s website revealed plans for a VP9SK, (roughly the same size as the P30sk) a VP9SF, and two VP9SDs. The SF has a re-worked trigger, SD implies a threaded barrel, and the other SD will have a milled slide for a red dot.

    • john huscio

      If/when the vp9sk comes out, there’s a 90% chance I’ll dump my PPS for it.

    • Blue Centurion

      Show a link please.

  • Bill

    I read two mentions of “high bore axis,” which means two shots drunk before noon, but it is a Saturday.

    I wouldn’t hesitate to go to a fight with either, and think the Glock 19 rates with the Colt LW Commander as the epitome of a size-efficient gun. However, a lot of companies have learned from Glock’s 30+ year run, and made engineering changes that Glock has chosen not to do. Lining these up against a “new” striker fired pistol like the SIG P320 might be interesting.

    It’s costly, but you may want to consider getting a Ransom rest, or at least described identically sandbag each gun. two many time so-called accuracy tests are just a one-time indicator of shooter skill, and with an unfamiliar handgun at that.

    • I wasn’t expecting the higher bore axis to matter during shooting, so I was surprised when it did, or at least appeared to. The VPs are both flippier than my Glock 19.

      • Bill

        Sorry, frequently carrying a SIG I get sick of the phrase. Along with a rest, maybe shooting all tested guns in front of a graph-paper style background would help quantify this phenomenon, which has to be awfully subjective based on the gun, grip, stance and other variables. That’s the great thing about a Ransom rest – consistency.

        • Beju

          FWIW, I’ve felt that weight and grip compatibility make a bigger difference in perceived recoil than bore axis does, at least in 9mm service pistols. I thought that the gen 4 G17 I shot had more significant recoil than a P226 or an XD9 5″, at least when in my stubby fingers.

          I am jealous of the holster and parts selection for Glock pistols, however.

        • jng1226

          You don’t shoot enough to notice the difference. Honestly, as a USPSA competitor having logged 10s of thousands of rounds where split times and transitioning between targets makes a difference between winning and losing, there IS a difference between platforms. There is a reason you don’t see high-bore axis guns like Sigs winning at the top levels. Ben Stoeger and the Beretta he used to compete with are an exception.

          • Bill

            I’ll just let that slide, and be content with guns that win at the lowest levels, like Detroit and Afghanistan, or maybe its just that I shoot enough that it doesn’t matter. That’d be a scary thought.

            Now I’m hoping for a gunfight, just so I can get on video yelling at the perp: “Hey, your split times suck!” And I’m still downing a shot every time I hear or read “high bore axis.”

        • disqus_f62emCdwDh

          Bill, I hear you on this point. I primarily shoot S-S these days, and in 9X19 it really isn’t an issue. P220s in aluminum in .45, sure, but not in 9.
          My only issue with the VP9 was in an IWB holster for a few hours, some perspiration started rusting the slide stop. Of course, Nathaniel mentioned the superior outward finish of the VP9. I fail to see why two extra rounds is that big a deal when you already have 16, but to each his own. Mostly, as he stated, ergonomics for those of us raised on the 1911 grip angle, and the trigger pull.
          H&K was first with the hammer-forged polygon-rifled barrel, first with striker fired system in a postwar handgun, and probably does more in -house durability testing than any other manufacturer (my hunch).

  • Chris laliberte

    I am definitely an HK fan, I started with the USPs and have only enjoyed the improvements in the P30 and then the VP striker fired guns. I recently capitulated and got a Glock, and was pleasantly surprised by how well it performed in close. I particularly like the wide-ness of the frame–wider than the slide–where the support thumb rests, it provides positive purchase, the best I’ve found, for the true “thumbs forward” firing grip, and provides amazing control for rapid follow-on shots. I really wish HK would figure out this little trick for the support thumb to positively control recoil (that and a 17 or 18 round magazine. Seriously HK? Your brilliant engineers can’t figure out how to count higher than 15?)

    I was disappointed that this review didn’t move out beyond 10 yards. That is where I found the HKs (and 1911s) to just leave the Glock in Kindergarden. At 20 yards, I expect to ring an 8″ steel plate with every aimed shot. It’s what I’m used to, coming from an HK upbringing sprinkled with a short affair with a 1911 in 9mm. But move out past 20 yards with a factory Glock 17 (no upgraded match barrel) and the Glock starts to fall silent on the steel, in a very inconsistent way–same sight picture, same trigger pull, and sometimes it hits, sometimes it misses. I’d put it down to ammo–except that at the same distance, the HK and 1911 ring the gong every time. So maybe it’s me with the Glock trigger? Maybe. Maybe it’s the gun. I was hoping this review might provide additional perspective on this particular issue.

    • I agree, 25 yard + is where accuracy starts to change majorly. In fact some say that 35 yards is the true test for a pistol’s accuracy.

      • Nicks87

        35 yards is what convinced me to try a red dot on a pistol.

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      I agree. Shooting a pistol at 10 yards does noe prove any sort of accuracy. Ransom rest and 25 yard and you are getting there. I all practical sense, accuracy boils down to trigger weight, ammo quality, technique and concentration. Inherent accuracy in pretty much all modern guns are more than good enough.

      • Leo

        some nonsense ^ pistols are for close combat, carbines and rifles after are for the longer than 10-15 yards shootings. i personally can’t see my targets well without optics as I have on my carbines.

        • G0rdon_Fr33man

          I didn´t argue about what pistols are for, just how the writer performed his “accuracy test”, which doesn´t prove anything.

          Also, is it really that difficult to understand that guns can be used for other things than selv defence and police/military?

          I´m into guns for competition, not self defence.

          • An accuracy test with a spread of several inches proves something, though perhaps just the author’s inherent limitations with handguns.

            Having said that, I shoot the P30 more accurately than either the Glock or VP series at that distance, so it’s not all me.

    • Matt L.

      The only thing I can say, as a sample size of one, is that I haven’t had that issue with Glocks. The one time I had a chance to do longer-range shooting with a friend’s Glock 17, I had no trouble hitting bowling pins every time at 40 yards, and ~25% of the time at 100yds. This Glock was bone stock except for a Ghost-brand trigger connector (I think?) that brought the pull weight down a little and cost $25 on Amazon. Was this an especially accurate example of the G17? I know I don’t know– but there’s my experience, anyways.

      • Jwedel1231

        That ghost trigger may have significantly improved accuracy. A lighter, crisper trigger always helps. Also, since you only shot one Glock and only shot it once it sounds like you haven’t experienced a stock Glock trigger. What I gleaned from your comment is that a small improvement on the trigger can make a Glock very accurate, even to the uninitiated.

    • Tierlieb

      Sorry mate, that’s you with the Glock trigger. While I have over 200 hours collected in pistol courses experience, but I am just some random guy on the internet. So ask some famous people instead:
      Tom Givens, for example, has all of his students shoot 20+ yards at the intermediate course (and this is followed by two more courses) at a 6″ target, iirc. And nearly everyone brings a Glock. If the gun could not do that reliably, we’d all know.
      I’ll agree though that the Glock trigger and the standard sights do not make this as easy as they could.

      • Chris laliberte

        Ok, so it’s likely the trigger rather than the barrel’s inherent accuracy. And I know I shouldn’t expect to be good on all triggers just because I am good with one or two (HKs and 1911s), but still–I think it says more about the Glock’s trigger than it does about me that I shoot so inconsistently, in slow fire, with the Glock, doesn’t it?

  • ostiariusalpha

    Ergonomics of grip and how the pistol feels when fired is so subjective, there’s simply too many different hand sizes and shapes to declare one an indisputable winner. Personally I find my VP9’s modularity more forgiving for different hands than the Glawk, but there’s just that group of folks that find the overall size and grip style of Gaston’s gun just right. The size of my VP9 seems to suit me well, and the difference between my factory trigger and the many stock Glocks I’ve tried is anything but subtle. Even the recoil management of the gun came naturally to me, though it probably helped that I’ve never developed a high thumb grip style.
    As for the VP40, I too found it surprisingly jerky compared to the .40 S&W chambered Glock and M&P pistols, especially considering it’s bulk.

  • Shmoe

    The 1911: still the reference standard for pistol handling. This is pleases me.

  • RantGirlRants

    As a VP9 owner myself, I have to say it is extremely accurate and easy to get tight groups at 15, 20 and 25 yards. While the Gen 4 Glocks are better ergonomically than previous models, the customizable backstraps and side plates make my VP9 feel as if it were custom made for me.

    Glocks are fine guns, and I used to have a Glock 17, but I prefer my VP9.

  • Kivaari

    Perhaps a better comparison would involve using a G17 and G22, instead of the G19. The slide going forward when empty is a problem for me after two-plus decades of Glock use.
    I used to prefer SIG service pistols regardless of caliber, until the P228 and P229 came out.
    I rode the slide release so much that I finally gave up on owning them. When the newer variants came out with the wider grip area that forced the thumb lower on the grips, the pistol became awkward. It is essentially what happens with the HK for Nathanial. In the end, I chose Glocks, first because they were issued. Then out of preference. Every time I tried to play with other makes, I found the mental and physical “Glock conditioning”, left me staring at the target with a safety on or a slide closed on an empty chamber. It contributes to the old saying about being wary of the man that only has one gun. They likely know how to use it.
    It also helped cut down on how many pistols were in the safe, and that saves money for more ammo.

    • The VPs have the same barrel length and capacities of the Glock 19 and 23, respectively.

      • Kivaari

        For concealed carry I find the height of the pistol to be more important than barrel length. The VPs being “tall” makes them harder to conceal. Adding an inch to the barrel and slide doesn’t change how well they hide. Glock 19s are better for concealment than the G17 thanks to the modest height.
        As with revolvers a 4 inch S&W M19 with small grips packed as well as a M19 with a 2.5 inch tube. Besides the visual appeal, a balanced look, always strikes me as being “right”. Same with a 16 inch M4 carbine. It doesn’t look balanced. Yet if you put a mid-length upper on the AR, it looks better. I know it’s pissy little things like that, that catch my eye. An M4 with a 11.5 inch barrel just looks right. OK, that’s a lot of words to justify my preferences.

  • uisconfruzed

    I own several Gen 3 Glocks, they natural point for me better than anything else I’ve handled. The VP9 fits me great vertically. It doesn’t index consistently left to right for me.
    I’ll still keep my stock Glocks, they just work for me.
    Find a quality weapon works for YOU best.

  • NewMan

    Decent article. Don’t know if this has already pointed out, but the main reason why the VP40 is so large is because it is actually built to handle the .40 (unlike the .40 GLOCK). HK tend to over built their guns for extra reliability and durability. I’m willing to bet that the VP40 will outlast any .40 GLOCK

  • Stefan Romeo

    I don´t think your groups are representative for the accuracy potential of the pistols. I shot the SFP9 only once and was immediatly better than with my glock 17 I am using for several years now (about 4 inches and less on 25 m).
    You stated that you were slowed down due to the higher bore axis of the VP. I think it would have been clever to measure it with a shot timer to prove it.
    A friend of mine which is a pretty goog IPSC shooter, changed from the G17 to the SFP9 and immediatly got the best results in his sporting career.

  • Sam Chen

    Now if H&K will introduce a VP45 😀

  • edition30

    …if anyone cares to know, they call the it the SFP9 over in Germany because Brügger & Thomet already came out with the VP9 (https://www.bt-ag.ch/shop/deu/category/bt-vp9). That’s why they had to use a different name.

  • Zapp Brannigan

    For me, the biggest negative to all the HK handguns is the magazine release. It is very awkward to use compared to the pushbutton type found on other handguns. I know that with practice I could learn to accommodate that different design but I don’t see the reason to do so given that there are pistols out there that use the more conventional pushbutton.

    • Blue Centurion

      Practice makes perfect. After enough reps, it is more efficient than the button and makes for a 100% ambidextrous handgun.

  • fishydude

    My wife owns a VP9. She loves it. She has arthritis in her hands and elbows. The VP9 is a easy to rack and the thumb paddle mag releases she absolutely loves.
    I had my niece shoot it at the range. She weighs maybe 110# soaking wet. She kept that muzzle darn near flat. She would have no problem getting a second round on target quickly.
    It is larger than my FNS9 which holds 17 rounds. But the slide spring is too stiff for my wife to rack it. (Her EDC pistol is a Walther CCP that live up to the marketing hype for ease of use)

  • fishydude

    But there are some nice after market 30 round mags for it 🙂
    My wife’s VP was only about $40 more than my FNS9. She can’t rack the FNS9 but she can easily rack the VP9. Arthritis sapped her grip strength.

  • Rick A

    Not very impressive shooting…that aside a Glock 17 would have been a more appropriate comparison. I really like the VP9. The VP40 is a monstrosity in comparison. They shoot well for me, feel smoother than Glocks, and come back on target naturally. The longslide Glocks are my preference, though they are a bit big and long for any practical purpose outside of so called “practical shooting.” The 15 round mag thing is no big deal. At one time 15 rounds was a standard capacity for any full size 9mm. A lightweight Commander sized 1911 in 9mm is a thing of beauty, though they’re considered antiquated and don’t hold enough bullets for most kids these days.

    • BigFED

      Or a Springfield EMP! The EMP is damn near the “Lincoln” of compact, “1911” style pistols.

    • Yes, I am not a great shot with a handgun. :

  • Tierlieb

    Could you be more precise about that weird German export law? Because
    a) I had not heard of it and
    b) Sig Sauer does not seem to care much

    • Josh

      SIG is a swiss company, I’m fairly sure, and also has a factory that’s actually based in New Hampshire.

  • CavScout

    Is there any reason these full sized H&K’s were compared to a compact gun, then called big? Compare it to an XDm and then tell me the VP is big. I don’t have or want a VP, just saying I’m alarmed at the regularity of people, with Glocks especially, comparing apples to oranges.

  • BigFED

    I have all of the same group of pistols plus couple of ones not included, like the Springfield Armory EMP (in 9m/m & .40S&W). A more proper comparison of the VP9/VP40 would use the Glock 17/22 and not the 19/23. And there is NO comaprison of any of those striker fired units to a SA 1911 style.

    As to ANY other factor, bore axis, trigger pull, etc, those are of NO consequence in a real shooting event. Those factors ONLY apply when at the range. On the street, they don’t matter and are NOT the focus of any attention (oh, damn the high bore axis caused me to shoot a litle low …)!

    Last thing, for now, I have always liked HK products of all kinds, but the one factor that, in MY opinion, that adversly affects sales is that HK only seems to think BIG!!! If anyone thinks thet the VP/P30 or ANY HK pistol is compact or sub-compact, I’d hate to see what one thinks full-sized is! And spare me with those ones that HK does use the words “compact or sub-compact” in THEIR description. I can describe my self as anything I want , but the reality is 5’9″, 260lbs of way out of condition FAT guy, (and I am 72 retired) so all the physical fitness crap does not apply to my current ability to shoot straight! My EDC is either a VP9 or a SIG P320c.

  • Eurk Burkell

    When, Oh, when will the plastic pistol fad die? 15 long years and counting. . .