Born of necessity: The Balkan War roots of HS Produkt and the Springfield XD

Marko Vukovic, Co-founder of HS Produkt (image source: trportal.hr)

Marko Vukovic, Co-founder of HS Produkt (image source: trportal.hr)

It may be common knowledge within the shooting community that the Springfield XD series is based off of the Croatian HS2000, but what is not widely known is the creation of HS Produkt is rooted in the Croatian War of Independence.  As early as 1991, forces in Croatia, anticipating the coming conflict over their pending declaration of independence, were trying to arm themselves.  Most arms factories in Yugoslavia were located in Serbian areas, and Croat forces were insufficiently armed with weapons from JNA (Yugoslavian National Army) stocks.  As such, the Croats were initially struggling to arm themselves as needed for full-on combat due to an international arms embargo.   Most units involved in early fighting were comprised of Croatian Police before the creation of their National Guard.

The PHP (image source: armslist)

The PHP
(image source: armslist)

To fill the need for weapons, many home-grown workshops and designs sprang up, one of those being HS Produkt in 1991.  Founders Marko Vukovic and Ivan Žabcic, both veterans of the conflict, created the PHP, which translates to First Croatian Pistol.  It was an amalgam of the Beretta 92 and the Walther P38, and though it was almost totally machined, the PHP certainly looked like two pistols mashed into one.  There was a standard and long-barreled version (PHP MV 17).  Early examples were reported to have issues, due to materiel used to create the pistols being of varying quality during wartime. HS Produkt also manufactured the HS-95, a version of Zastava’s CZ99 pistol (itself a loose copy of the SIG 220 series) towards the end of the war.

The PHP MV 17 (image source: worldguns.ru)

The PHP MV 17 (image source: worldguns.ru)

Though the larger shooting public may be unaware of the roots of one of the more ubiquitous models of handguns, the Springfield XD series certainly has an interesting history in the desperation and improvisation of the Croatian arms industry in a time of war.

The HS-95.  Note the resemblance to the SIG 220

The HS-95. Note the resemblance to the SIG 220



Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


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  • Mario AK

    Actually, one of the main contributors to the HS-9 design was Dubravko Gvozdanović, a veteran of the siege of Vukovar and, subsequently, a Serb concentration camp survivor. He made it out relatively untouched and made a career as a court-appointed expert on firearms and ballistics, defense journalist, and, more importantly, the founder of our first IPSC club and later on the official HS team as well. There’s more, but I don’t have time (or actually vetted sources, it’s been a while).

    • bank gunpawn

      i have the sig sauer p226 brand new and also some used ,
      contact via business number 6469262402 ,i also have other pistols like the glock19gen 4 ,with the springfield xd45 all registered no stolen gun
      open to good business , no trade

  • Geoff

    Yeah, born of “necessity”. More like born of ethnically cleansing and murdering Serbian villagers and civilians.
    Fail on TFB’s part here.
    And amazingly, despite 25 years to find any such evidence, there is none for any of these supposed “concentration camps” the media sold us on.

    • iksnilol

      F*** off! You Serbs were responsible for 90% if ethnic cleansing yet you play victims at every opportunity.

      • Geoff

        Incorrect on multiple accounts. The rapes, murders and tortures of unarmed civilians (including children) is then justified because you claim that someone else did it too.
        No wonder you Croats sided with the Nazis. Evil minds think alike. Fascism is still alive and well, I see.

    • Rusty S.

      The article’s title is not an endorsement of any combatant or political aim. It merely reflects that a combatant party found it necessary to create an indigenous arms industry for needed war materiel. One could also state that the British Mark I tank was a “necessary” development during WWI, without endorsing any side in the conflict. As we say here, “Firearms, not politics”

      • iksnilol

        No offense, you mentioned the Balkans. Politics will find a tiny way in here.

        • Rusty S.

          None taken, war is politics by other means, and I am fully aware of the historical tensions of the Balkans. My point wasn’t to rustle any jimmies, only to discuss the circumstances behind the eventual development of one of the more common handguns today.

          • MPWS

            You do fine Rusty and article is informative. Thumb up!

          • darko

            Like iksnilol said, as soon as you mention Balkans it’s a slippery slope.

    • Mario AK

      Pathetic

    • Lt M

      Whilst it’s true the Croats did commit some ethnic cleansing against Bosniaks, The vast majority of ethnic cleansing and genocide that occurred in the Bosnian War was committed by Serb forces against Bosniaks.
      And as for the concentration camps: Trnopolje. Manjača. Omarska.

  • vwVwwVwv

    it is sad what happened there, no mater from which vivepoint.
    i like the peoples and the country but today there is only hate.

    • Geoff

      That’s a broad stroke that isn’t really accurate. Hate for the criminals, and those who got off scot free (mostly on one side of course) and those who funded and enabled them, but for average people not hate.
      There is hate for historical revisionists though, as there is for Nazis, and that is reasonable.

      • vwVwwVwv

        you haven’t got me right, its cuz my bad english, sorry you are right.

      • iksnilol

        Yup, many people got of scot free. Especially to the East. And don’t get me started on the Dayton agreement.

        At least some cool guns were to be had. I’ve got pictures of some DIY guns, would anybody be interested in them for POTD?

  • Lt M

    As much as I understand and appreciate ‘Firearms not Politics’, having my comments marked as spam when I’m trying to provide an accurate history of the conflict to rebut Geoff’s ignorance makes me feel a little sad.

    • Geoff

      Ignorant, eh? Have you heard of Krajina? Perhaps you should look it up before you accuse others of ignorance.
      One party committing crimes does not justify another party committing crimes.

      • iksnilol

        There’s a small difference when one side commits 10 times the crimes the other side did. Kinda the reason why nobody is complaining about bombing IS.

        • Cmex

          There shall be no talk of kebab removals here. +1

  • MPWS

    With all due respect and without “taking sides”, Croats managed admirable amount of work and success in field of firearms. Let’s keep to technology only folks.
    I knew some 2nd generation Croat who told me with full confidence, that HS is “the best” pistol in the world. Fine by me; no need to dispute that.

    • iksnilol

      Much better than a Glock at least.

    • Giolli Joker

      And they made the Rucni Top RT20!

      • iksnilol

        Literally “Hand Cannon”.

  • MPWS

    Btw, technical question to those who know more: how close in conception is HS2000 to common 2-3rd generation Glock?

    • Rusty S.

      As far as concept goes, they are both polymer frame striker fired semiautomatics. The major differences are that the HS2000 has a visible cocked striker indicator, a grip safety, a different configuration to it’s trigger safety and drop safety, and a different take down lever. Furthermore, the HS2000’s striker is fully cocked upon the cycling of the slide and its trigger only releases the striker. The Glock is 2/3 cocked upon the cycling of the slide, and pulling the trigger pulls the striker back the final 1/3 and then releases it.

      • Cmex

        So the HS is safer, and it’s easier to shoot well.

  • Giolli Joker

    Regardless of any political view, I thought that the main photo was a screenshot of a Bond villain…

    • bellan

      Too much hollyweird consumption.

  • darko

    PHP or as they like to call it Prvi Hrvatski Promašaj = First Croatian Failure 🙂

    • iksnilol

      Seriously? That’s a new one.

      • darko

        Yeah, heard it from the guys from HS Produkt.

        • iksnilol

          Hey, if the guys can laugh at their own produkt then my hat is off to them.

  • Aaron E

    Interesting history of the HS pistols, but I would have liked to see just a little more connection to the Springfield XD mentioned in the title.

    What firearms most influenced the XD design? Was the XD a Springfield design simply made in Croatia, or did HS have influence on the overall end product?

    • Rusty S.

      HS2000 was designed independently in Croatia in 1999. Imported to the US as such for a few years. Licensed to Springfield in 2002 and Springfield branded it the XD.

  • Bigbigpoopi

    Good evening, Springfield…

  • Nimrod

    The HS2000 as initially imported to the US is the same pistol as the XD9. Actually the XD9 is representative of the 3rd generation H2000 to be imported. Sales of the HS2000 actually suffered because it was too cheap and perceived as just another cheap import. Springfield saw the quality of it, bought the import rights, renamed it and jacked the price up. That pretty much saved that pistol in the US. It is still exported to other countries as the HS2000. Springfield then used it marketing and design influence to get the manufacturer to come out with the XD40 and subsequent variations. I still have a couple of the original Gen 1 HS2000s. They are still good, reliable pistols.

  • Cmex

    The HS2000 is a combat pistol made by people with actual combat experience for people who were actually in combat. Of course it’s great. It’s like how Russia regularly makes great arms, because the gunmakers actually know what it’s like to have to use weapons and therefore actually bother making stuff that’s good and usable.