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)

    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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