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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Not a Glock (sarcasm)
- Magazine release – I like it, but you may not
- Price – affordable but not inexpensive
- No threaded barrels (yet)
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.
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