TFB REVIEW: H&K VP9SK Subcompact Polymer Pistol

VP9SK

There is nothing more highly coveted in production pistols than a debut from Heckler and Koch. From legendary designs to German precision to their history with special operations forces, H&K firearms are idolized by shooters worldwide. Those that scoff at these GmbH-made guns usually do so based on retail prices or on philosophical reasons. I’ll waste no time on “because they hate us” discussions here, instead I will introduce you to the VP9SK – the much anticipated, and affordable, younger brother of the widely accepted H&K VP9.

I will get my disclaimers out of the way early:

I am no Hans Gruber, former GSG 9 team member or Teutophile. In fact, I have never personally owned an H&K firearm. My reviews here at TFB focus on giving you a general overview on guns and gear so that you have a little more information than before you started reasoning. Let’s be honest, a few range sessions, some pictures and 4-500 rounds down a barrel does not make for the most comprehensive review in the history of firearms. However, I think it is a good starting point for those who may be in the market for a subcompact pistol or the VP9SK specifically. As with all the reviews here at TFB, I was loaned, not given, the VP9SK for a short period of time.

Also, please follow all of the safety rules when handling firearms.

Initial Observations:

The pistol, spare magazine and spare parts come traditionally packaged in a plastic and foam-lined case. And while it’s nothing special, the precision cut spaces for the extra gear seems well planned and executed. Sure, it’s just a pistol case, but it should prevent most owners from having to buy a better transport/storage option.

VP9SK Specifications:

The below specifications basically speak for themselves. By the numbers, the VP9SK and the third generation Glock 26 would be in a dead heat, with most categories being a tossup between them. Of course, my review gun is chambered in the best pistol caliber to walk the earth (you heard that right), 9mm, but one would think that a VP40SK in 40S&W will make a showing eventually, even with the 10mm-light cartridge waining in popularity.

If you like raw numbers, here are the details from hk-usa.com as will as a page from the official owners manual for the VP9SK:


My review gun was the “commercial” (non-LE) version that uses light activated luminescent front and rear sights as opposed to traditional Tritium night sights and includes only one spare magazine instead of three. All things being equal, the $100 price difference would push me towards buying the LE version for the extras/upgrades. Not to worry, the LE variant is available to anyone with the proper amount of cash, not just badge holders.

H&K VP9SK – Available Configurations

  • Commercial Version – Part No. 700009K-A5, VP9SK, 9mm with 1 flat and 1 extended floorplate 10 round magazines – MSRP $719
  • LE Version -Part No. 700009KLE-A5, VP9SK, 9mm with 1 flat and 2 extended floorplate 10 round magazines with night sights – MSRP $819
  • NOTE: 13-round and 15-round extended magazines will be available November 2017.

While we are here, let’s talk about the sights. Even though they aren’t my preferred H3 infused style of dots, they were extremely bright even in direct sunlight. In addition, they were respectably bright in darkness, even after only a few moments in ambient light for a “charge”. It’s obvious that these sights aren’t made from the same glow-in-the-dark ceiling star material we had as kids. My guess is either moon rock material or diluted Predator blood. Samples have been sent to the TFB lab for analysis.

For those that are interested in having extra copper and lead in reserve, H&K will be releasing 13 and 15 round magazines with molded finger/grip floor plates. Personally, I think the power of this little pistol comes from its size and would rather carry it in the most compact version possible. If a tactical reload is required, a slimmer (possibly cheaper) standard VP9 15 round magazine will be able to handle the situation all the same.

Nice Touches:

The rear slide serrations on the SK include removable inserts call “charging supports”. The small polymer pieces give the shooter an extra amount of grip surface to rack the slide. Don’t like them? No problem, the inserts can be removed by gently tapping the rear sight slightly to the left and right. Then the inserts can be slid up and removed. Slick.


The magazine release is ambidextrous, however the style is an atypical finger guard vertical paddle. I’ve read users who hated the H&K system, but I got used to it and actually started liking it better than the plain old vanilla mag release on my Glock 26. If you have not had the opportunity to try the H&K style release, give it a chance to win you over before writing it off. However, I’d suggest a good amount of range time and dry fire practice to reset your muscle memory. I’d suggest about 4,000 hours of practice before fielding any new carry gun. Scratch that, double it.

The three-piece grip panels are well thought out, with the ability to swap between three different sizes. Even though I have fairly large hands, I preferred the smallest panels. Removing them is easy – use a small punch to tap out the pin holding in the backstrap, slide the current size out and the new size in. It reminded me of the battery door on the old Gameboy handheld system. Wait, most of you are way too young to remember that ancient, Donkey King filled Nintendo.

I hate and despise warning labels on guns. What’s next, every steak knife will be engraved with “warning -sharp” on the blade? But, H&K found the least conspicuous place for their legal scratches. Even still, I plan to read these warning labels every time I shoot a pistol: range or gunfight – doesn’t matter.

Ah, the accessory rail on a subcompact pistol. Glock, are you listening? Even though this gun is meant for concealed personal protection, a solid weapon light is welcome on all my guns. Of course, depending on the light, the head will stick out farther due to the short barrel and slide, but advances in LED technology have produced some awesomely small weapon lights. The new Surefire XC2 comes to mind.



Overall, the aesthetics, finishing and overall feel of the VP9SK is exactly what I would expect to roll out of an H&K factory – beautiful and functional. If I were to make opposite sex comparisons, I would say the SK is a Maggie Gylenhaal rather than a Penelope Cruz. Decipher that as you will.

Range time with the VP9SK:

Ah, so here’s where I tell you about my sub-second split times and 50 yard MOA groups, right? Sure, ‘so there I was…’

In all serious, I put the VP9SK through what I would consider to be a standard weapons familiarization course similar to something MIL/LE agencies run guys and girls through on guns that may be encountered in the field, but not issued as duty sidearms.

First is a 10 yard, 10 round slow fire set to check functioning and accuracy. Perfect, no issues. Then I followed it with brief untimed course of fire designed to practice reloads, shots at different distances, double taps – all between five and 25 yards. It’s not as regimented as it sounds and is roughly equivalent to a typical LE-style untimed qualification course.

During that initial “alone time” with the SK, I didn’t experience failures of any kind. My grip and hand positioning was natural and the recoil was a moderate blip that you would expect from a lightweight, short-barreled pistol: more than a larger handgun but not enough to factor in to the actual shooting experience.

For me, the one real show-stopper of this gun was the trigger. Smooth and light, I was really impressed in both the pull and reset. In fact, I’d be shocked if there were any after market options for drop in replacements. Seriously, the Glock trigger has always been fine for me – not match grade by any means, but nowhere near as awful as some shooters let on. However, after pulling the VP9SK trigger a few hundred times, I was slightly depressed to have to return to my Austrian triggers. (Cue the sad violin.)

Ok, so the custom 1911 owners in the world probably won’t be as impressed as I was, but this trigger is still a real delight.


I did not shoot this pistol for groups, although I had no problem whacking 6″ steel targets at 25 yards consistently. Which should be good enough for a subcompact gun in defensive scenarios.

Follow up shots were easy and fairly quick, even without the new trend in pistols: a compensator. Magazine exchanges and reloads were smooth and consistent. And the grip angle isn’t too steep or too shallow.

Honestly, I couldn’t find anything to dislike about this gun and being a Glock fanboy, I looked pretty hard. I mean I didn’t kick the VP9SK through the mud or toss it out of an airplane or anything. But I wanted to be annoyed by something, and I wasn’t. It is a nice, solid pistol that performs really well as a subcompact defensive gun.


Conclusions:

I really enjoyed my time with the VP9SK. It is well made, accurate and functioned flawlessly for the half a thousand rounds I sent into tangos (that’s what I call the berm behind my target). Even though it is small, it has a rail for a light/laser, magazine compatibility means reloads will give you 15 rounds and the trigger is superb for a striker fired pistol.

Having said all that, you do not have to take my word as gospel. Shop around, read up on other reviews and try to at least hold one for a comparison before you lay out your cash. But when you are ready, I doubt you will be disappointed.

Cons

  • Not a Glock (sarcasm)

Neutral

  • Magazine release – I like it, but you may not
  • Price – affordable but not inexpensive
  • No threaded barrels (yet)

Pros

  • Trigger
  • Function
  • Appearance

VP9SK

The eagerly anticipated subcompact model of the acclaimed Heckler & Koch VP Series handgun, VP9SK (in 9 mm) has all of the sought-after characteristics of larger frame VP pistols but in a more concealable design.

The highly-rated HK VP precision strike trigger is also found on the VPSK. The VP trigger surpasses those found on competitors. It has a short, light take-up with a solid, single action type break followed by a short positive reset. The net result is trigger quality unmatched in production striker fired pistols.

H&K Usa – www.hk-USA.com

 



Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete
https://www.instagram.com/tfb_pete/


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  • PTMcCain

    I’ve really enjoying mine. I replaced my P30SK with this one. The P30SK simply did not fit my very large hands, this one fits like a glove, right out of the box. Many VP9SK owners are reporting that the trigger on these feels better than the VP9 trigger, which makes no sense, but I and a number of others who have the VP9 are reporting this. HK reports they use the identical trigger group in the VP9SK that they put in their VP9s, but … still … noticeably better. I’ve put 500 rounds through mine so far, both JHP +P, cheapo brass 115gr and so forth and works and runs like a champ. No issues. Very easy to shoot and control, etc.

    But, here…let me get these comments in here before others do:

    HK, because we hate you.
    Bullets in magazine backwards.

    There.

    • M.M.D.C.

      “HK, because we hate you.”

      The joke that won’t go away.

      • PTMcCain

        It serves a useful purpose at this point … it instantly reveals people who use it to be people who are profoundly ignorant about HK and German export laws, etc. People may as well now say, “Because I’m an idiot, I’m going to repeat “HK, because we hate you.”

        🙂

        • KestrelBike

          “HK: because we don’t give enough of a s*** to skirt around export laws like everyone else who desires to sell to US civilians.”

      • Stephen Shallberg

        More like: “We hate you because we can’t have you cheap, like the Glock girl down the street…yeah she’s fat and ugly, but she always delivers for $399. Why can’t the stunning and exotic HK girl do that for us too?”

    • Stuki Moi

      Trigger components on these new polystriker guns, have tolerances that make it really hard to compare gun model to gun model. Unless you’re in HKs QA department, testing VPs fresh off the like back to back with VPSKs, one being better than the other is a tough call to make.

      Tolerances sloppy enough, to make my Lecia M3 snob self, want to commit harakiri out of shame for what the world has come to aside; I want to try this one out. The extended magazines, with ergonomic grip “sleeves,” are supposed to be designed too fit and function without the all too common pinching during firing. And you have enough rail for a led light. Hence a real, full function, largely uncompromised weapon, in a size meaningfully smaller and more concealable than the G19…..

  • Holdfast_II

    Look at he size of the first (i.e.middle finger) finger groove on the HK and then on the Glock. No wonder I always find Glocks a little uncomfortable.

    • PTMcCain

      All I can say is that I truly have HUGE hands..I require XXXL sized gloves. This little subcompact is perfect for my monster hands. And its ability to swap panels on it to customize for hand size is awesome.

  • USMC03Vet

    Eww paddle release. Filthy Europe strikes again.

    • PTMcCain

      Says a person who has no clue about the benefits and utility of a paddle release. Another point of ignorance often revealed in these discussions.

      • USMC03Vet

        Self immolate.

        • john huscio

          HK paddle releases work excellently (at least for me), i dont get the often visceral hate many have for them……..now walther paddles are indeed awful…

      • RocketScientist

        Or, I dunno, maybe due to differences in training, or physiology, or heck just personal preference, he just LIKES the “american-style” push-button release more and is faster with them? People are allowed to have opinions.

        • PTMcCain

          I no and I’m saying anyone making such an idiotic assertion has no idea what he is talking about. He could have said “I prefer…” but instead he chose to stupidly bash the paddle release and you foolish have chosen to defend him.

          Away with ye!!

          🙂

          • RocketScientist

            Ohhhh, I see. So his “filthy europe” comment hurt your fee-fee’s and you got all butthurt since you can’t take a joke. Got it.

          • PTMcCain

            Wow, what a perceptive person you are!

            LOL

            I always am amused by a person who can’t even post under his real name trying to insult people.

            It is so Kindergarten.

            LOL

          • RocketScientist

            Wut.

            You criticize people for insulting others online, when in just this comment thread, you’ve called the people you’re replying to ignorant, idiotic, stupid, foolish and infantile? Or is that only ok when you’re using your actual name? Here. My full name is Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Alfonso Antonio Vicente Eduardo Angel Blas Francisco de Borja Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton Klossowski de Rolo III. Now it’s OK? BTW, if you read back through my comments, I never actually insulted you, in any way. I said you got your feelings hurt and were offended. Just because I used idiomatic vernacular doesn’t make it an insult.

          • PTMcCain

            I win. LOL.

          • RocketScientist

            Huh? Won what?

  • Anonymoose

    Pros: not a Glock

    • Christopher Wallace

      Did you just assume my pros bro?

      • Anonymoose

        The only modern pistols lower than Glocks are “budget” pistols and limited-life Kel-Tecs.

        • Stuki Moi

          And since Kel-Tecs are still absolutely awesome weapons for all but high volume competition use and 30 year hard use existences as USMC sidearms, that resolves to…………

          • Anonymoose

            Hi-Point, Sccy, Ring of Fire companies and their successors, and the lowest of the Turkish knockoffs.

        • I’ve had a little pf9 for 7 years with no issues. I’ve put thousands of rounds through it, no malfunctions. I’ve had sigs act like crappier guns.

  • A.WChuck

    Nice review. Now to begin my mantra, “donotneed,om,donotneed,om,donotneed,om…”

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Thanks. Wants blur into needs fairly easily. 😉

  • Bucho4Prez

    Since we will probably never get a compact PPQ… This thang here is the next best thing.

    • PTMcCain

      The PPQ is a fun range toy.

      • Bucho4Prez

        Hmm… Not sure if you are trying to wind a man up, but it shall not work!

        • PTMcCain

          Unlike you, I’m not in to “winding a man up.” Walther is cheap piece of crap compared to a HK. But…hey…ignorance is bliss, I hear.

          • Bucho4Prez

            I’ll have you know I paid top dollar for it! Why you little…

          • PTMcCain

            I’m sure you did…pay top dollar to wind a man up.

            LOL.

            🙂

          • Bucho4Prez

            Oh, my! Someone fetch my fainting couch, I don’t know if I can take these withering attacks on my purchases!

          • PTMcCain

            I doubt it is your “purchases” that are “withering” but hey…if you feel a need to chat up your choice of Walther…ok…we are all very impressed, I’m sure.

            And I particularly think that the fact that you post anonymously really adds to your credibility.

            Well done!!

            Clapping for you.

          • Pete – TFB Writer

            Kids, shake hands and move along. I can’t tell what you’re even arguing about.

          • john huscio

            PPQ is a great gun, but the recoil impulse is sharper/flippier than it needs to be.

    • bjensen

      P99c’s are still available.

      • Bucho4Prez

        May be worth a look. They are probably the AS double/single model though, which is hard to go back to.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    The trigger on mine has a little to much creep for my tastes. The P320 I have and my Gen 3 glock have less creep. The break is better on the VP9sk but the the reset on the glock is better and I’d say the reset on the P320 and VP9sk are even.

    The slide serrations on the VP9sk are perfect though. Very easy to grasp without being sharp.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Thanks Harrison. You see a lot of handguns so your input is appreciated.

  • john huscio

    Having done the grand brand tour of pistol manufacturers, I’ve settled on glocks and HKs.
    Glock 19 for spring/fall carry, glock 17 for winter carry/nightstand duty and vp9/p30sk for summer.

    I made a foolish mistake selling a p30sk to a freind and have had sellers remorse ever since…….id like to shoot the p30sk LEM and vp9sk back to back and see which one shoots/handles better…..i love HK’s paddles more than any mag release on any other pistol and that alone is a huge plus in their box.

  • aweds1

    I want to see this and other polymer frame pistols without molded rails.

  • gunsandrockets

    I actually like the paddle style mag release, and prefer it for a concealed carry handgun. I wouldn’t have guessed that until I handled one for myself.

    What I really like about the current marketplace is the wonderful variety of features that is available. Not everything is a Glock clone.

  • Dougscamo

    “I’d suggest about 4,000 hours of practice before fielding any new carry gun. Scratch that, double it.”….not trying to be fractious but is this a typo, joking, or for real, Pete? Considering 8 hours a day, 5 days a week comes out to 2080 hours….over three years (nearly four) before you would field it as a new carry gun? The rounds that would be expended would wear the pistol out before I carried it….and then buy another one? Hmmmm……?

    • PTMcCain

      No..it should be 40,000 hours!!!
      🙂

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Lol. I guess I have to work on my stand up routine.

      • Dougscamo

        OOOPS!….

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          Not your fault. Half the time I think I’m funny, the other half I’m an idiot.

      • ePoch 270

        No, it was a good joke. Don’t dumb it down for “that guy”.

  • bjensen

    Looks good for a (slightly) overpriced P99c clone…

  • Mark Horning

    The VP triggers have always been better than a Glock. The paddle mag release I could get used to.

    It’s the stupid finger groves that I can’t stand.

  • mindflayer

    Enjoyed the review.

    I will stick to my current pistols.

    Maybe…. I don’t know. I passed on the H&K VP9 due to lack of subcompact option.

    You know, I wonder if the local store has one of these for me to try.

  • Repoman3737

    I want one just have to wait for the govt overlords here in Massachusetts to say the gun is safe to use here.. i cant wait to move.. hopefully less than a year. Anyone heard if any mass dealers have any yet or estimate of when?

  • I love my VP-9sk. I’ve been carrying it daily since it arrived with zero complaints so far. It’s a very nice change from my usual Glock 33.