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

Rusty S.
by Rusty S.
Marko Vukovic, Co-founder of HS Produkt (image source:

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)

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:

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
Rusty S.
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. Editor at

More by Rusty S.

Join the conversation
2 of 27 comments
  • Nimrod Nimrod on Jun 15, 2016

    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 Cmex on Jun 19, 2016

    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.