HK VP70z: The Original Plastic Wondernine

H&K became a household name because of their rifles, but their innovative pistols certainly shouldn’t be overlooked either. In this episode of TFBTV we shoot the VP70 pistol, the first handgun ever to make use of a polymer frame.

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Alex C.

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


  • Richard

    One of these was the first 9x19mm handgun that I ever fired.

  • Burt Maclin

    I notice that this looks a LOT like a Hi-Point with a much sleeker slide.


      To keep it sleek, they cut the rifling grooves too deep. Deep groves allowed more gas to escape and thanks to that, H&K was able to use a lighter and sleeker slide. On the downside, muzzle velocity was considerably lower.

  • A.WChuck

    Duty gun? No, dootie gun.

  • Schnee

    Whatever problems you have with your trigger pull, I assure you they are not as bad as a VP70Z’s trigger. Its trigger feels like you are caulking cold Liquid Nails.

  • Dan Atwater

    I would say the COP 357 trigger is worse. At least the VP70Z is the same awful pull every time, with the COP you get four different, distinct brands of awful.

  • Bill

    Original? Yes
    Plastic? Yes
    Nine? Yes
    Wonderful? No

  • Dean Carpenter

    Even back in the day this was a rare gun and many dealers who had a new HK P7 for sale never heard of a VP70Z. Might have bought one if I could have found one but bought a P226 instead. No regrets at all. Still have it.

  • Drake

    I have shot one these from friend that had one they look cool they feel good in hand. But they absolute have worst trigger pull any handgun ever made long heave double action pull for ever shot you shoot one these you well never ever complain about Glock style trigger pull . First thing people need now Hk made VP70z start life as machine pistol with stock . It did sell well as one at time they sold few public witch bomb do absolute bad trigger pull. Still nice handgun Hk made a lot better handguns sent they made VP70z.

    • BearSlayer338

      VP70Z trigger is bad,but there are much worse triggers out there,I have yet to find a gun with a worse trigger pull than a Detonics Pocket 9.

      • Sulaco

        Not all were bad I had an early Pocket 9 and the trigger pull was not bad atall.

        • BearSlayer338

          Must have had a trigger job then cause I owned three of them and the trigger pull in DA was horrible on all of them,or maybe you were using them in SA mode,the SA trigger was ok but DA was the worst. If they had better triggers and weren’t a pain to feildstrip then I might have kept one.

  • KestrelBike

    Who else keeps reading that as wolverine?

    I shot an IDPA match and an older teenager was using one of these. His holster was huge haha. Some guy said he needed to get a better holster, not quite understanding that safariland probably wasn’t tripping over themselves to develop one for that pistol.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Rifles? Most people are actually more familiar with their SMGs.

  • d_grey

    Would you guys consider reviewing the HK P9S? Many folks regard that to be an improved design.

    • stevec

      Make it a P9S in .45ACP. You’ll be very surprised

      • d_grey

        100% agreed!

  • jay

    I’d get one just so I could mess with the trigger. What would you think of it with a 4-6lb pull?

    • ghost930

      I picked one up at a gun show in the 80’s for about $350 if I remember right. It had a wonderful trigger job on it. Actually better feeling than a new Glock (had more trigger take up though), and my front sight blade had a white insert in the groove portion. I tried to track down who had done the trigger job, as it was totally reliable, and very smooth and light, but never could pin down who, or what shop did the work. I traded the gun away in the late 90’s, and it’s one I wish I had back now. Everyone that shot it was amazed at the trigger difference, and it was very accurate, and back then you had to love a gun that held 18 rounds.

      • jay

        Sweet! So different from anyone elses stories though. I’d really like the vp70. A short stock and 3 round bursts would be way more controllable than full auto.

  • I’m pleased to see that most dislike this gun
    That means it should be extremely cheap to buy.

    • Paul Joly

      Hk => high price point

      • Red McCloud

        You can find these for under 400 USD if you look hard enough, very unloved guns.

  • Tony Williams

    This gun led to a change in UK firearms law. I remember seeing one of them fired at Bisley when it was new out – with the stock, in burst fire mode (shots so close together they sounded like one long bang). That was legal at the time, as the definition of an automatic weapon was one which carried on firing for as long as the trigger was held down. So they soon modified the auto ban to cover burst fire as well…

  • guest

    Polymer fame in itself was not new. Short recoil tilting barrel was not new. And neither was the use of a striker. What was new about the… ugh, this stupid term… “wondernine” Glock is the entire design of the gun from A to Z. Kinda like when Apple released first iPhone it’s not that they re-invented something… it’s the way it was all put together.

    Also: hands shaking like that of an alcoholic, left eye closed when shooting, blinking on the first shot.
    Alex! Someone is shooting way, waaaaay too little! Less toys in your collection and more spent ammo casings is the only way to fix that.

  • janklow

    have one in the safe and i’ll never sell it (because who would buy it) but man, is that trigger pull baaad

  • Lance

    The gun who only got popular in the mid 90s due to the game Resident Evil 2.

  • I did not get your email—-

    • I sent the email to these two accounts in 2015:

      I sent you a copy of the email, Phil. I hope you read it, thanks.

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    As an owner, I love the weirdness.

  • Ted Eng

    You say, “This gun wasn’t actually produced for very long.” I’ve seen stats saying it was manufactured from 1970-1989. Close to 20 years.

  • I was surprised to learn that a Makarov PM improvement program in the 1960s actually produced a PM with a polymer frame (with full-length steel rails for the slide, redesigned disassembly mechanism and magazine release). The suitable polymer was found after several tries. Web sources say that the last version, TKB-023, passed all the standard torture tests, but was refused adoption on grounds of unpredictability of plastics with long use and storage. That would, surprisingly, make a Makarov PM the first polymer-framed pistol.

  • maodeedee

    A friend of mine bought one in the late seventies and we took it to the firing range and after he fired 40 rounds through it he had a blister on his trigger finger that hurt like hell and he let me fire it.

    I loaded up the mag and fired 18 rounds and that was as much as I wanted to shoot it. It must have had a 25 pound trigger.

  • Jackson Andrew Lewis

    i own one……… it has never jammed, filed to feed or been innaccurate…… but that 20lb trigger pull and the weight of it due to the slide/blowback design are the two things than just killl the pistols practicality for even 70s use…..

  • Archie Montgomery

    I remember when this poor creature first saw light of day. I remember handling one somewhere and that memory escapes me; perhaps I’ve suppressed it. I’m sure I never shot one, but I did ‘try’ the trigger pull.

    Good to hear you admit you don’t like it. I guess it serves to remind us all of the possibility of failure.

    You describe the trigger pull as ‘double action only’. As I recall, the VP70Z fired by a striker, and the long pull merely compressed the striker spring until the sear slipped off, the striker fell and the gun discharged.

    The butt stock and the three round burst mechanism. My thought is, the device was designed as a police department gun. It turns into a ‘submachinegun’ of sorts with little adjustment. It would probably be more useful with a stock and three shots at a time.

    I seem to recall James Bond – post Fleming – carrying a VP70z in a story. Only once; I’m pretty sure the author was NOT a shooter.

    If someone gave me one, or sold me one cheap, I’d keep it. Right next to the Dardick and the Gyrojet.