TFB Review: The Competition-Minded Heckler & Koch VP9 Match

    VP9 Match

    I’ve been shooting competitively for a couple years now. I haven’t taken it too seriously and the number of matches I’ve attended is still in the single digits. In all of those competitions, I’ve shot my mostly stock third-generation Glock 19. The pistol is a workhorse but is by no means aimed at competitive shooters. I always wanted to get my hands on a pistol that had competition in mind from the get-go. I saw people running tricked-out guns that cost more than my car. That clearly wasn’t for me. So, what options did I have? Not many. Heckler & Koch isn’t exactly known for affordable pistols, but that changed with the VP9. Now, in its more competition-driven configuration, the H&K VP9 Match gives shooters like me a chance at that race gun we always wanted, without needing the second mortgage.

    VP9 Match

    SPECS

    • Overall length: 8.78″
    • Barrel length: 5.51″
    • Height: 6.50″
    • Weight: 24.16 oz
    • Caliber: 9×19 mm
    • Capacity: 10/17/20
    • MSRP: $1,099

    Load: First Impressions

    VP9 Match

    Opening the robust case that the VP9 Match came in made me feel like I was just accepted into an elite club. The layout was precise and the included pieces expansive. The sharp and brazen lines of the pistol were immediately apparent. Alongside the gun were four magazines, a magazine loader, and several replacement grip panels.

    VP9 Match

    Most pistols these days come with replacement backstraps. This one came with backstraps as well as the side panels to match. One thing that I thought was, to be honest, kind of dumb, ended up becoming a feature I wish I had on all my pistols. Behind the rear serrations are cocking ears. They barely stick out and aren’t necessary, but just like the backup camera in your car, you don’t realize how much you use it until you no longer have it.

    VP9 Match

    There are slide serrations at the front and rear of the slide. They’re deep and give you a positive purchase. The slide comes ready for an optic and uses a plate system. Something that really piqued my interest was the o-ring. At the end of the 5.51″ barrel is an o-ring bushing (extras came in the box), the purpose of which is to enhance lockup for “extra accuracy and consistency”. I’m not sure I’m skilled enough to notice a difference, but I was intrigued nonetheless.

    VP9 Match

    Make Ready: First Shots With the VP9 Match

    VP9 Match

    I understand the importance of scientific accuracy testing, but that’s just not me. I don’t really care about putting them all through the same hole. As long as rounds go where I want them and accomplish the level of accuracy I currently need, I’m satisfied. To my amazement, my first round (seen above) went EXACTLY where I wanted. Still using irons, I decided to shoot some quick and causal groups. This is the first one. This is 10 rounds.

    VP9 Match

    These were shot at about 15 yards, semi-rapid, and with very little effort. The gun just kept coming back exactly where I needed it and putting the rounds right on the money. This is honestly the most accurate I’ve ever been with a handgun without taking my time.

    VP9 Match

    A large part of that was the trigger. The face of the trigger is comfortable for my medium-sized hands. There’s more takeup than I expected, but once you get to the wall, the break is crisp. It’s not glass rod crisp, but it definitely feels like breaking a very dry breadstick. For those who don’t understand my brain, that’s a compliment. The reset springs your finger forward, putting you right where you need to be for follow-ups.

    Beeeeep: Match Performance

    The word “Match” is literally in the name of the gun. There was no way I was going to do this review without putting the VP9 Match through some stages. The quickest one I could get into was a local IDPA match at DCF Guns in Castle Rock, Colorado. No,┬ánone of my equipment was legal for IDPA, but that wasn’t the point. I wanted to see how the gun performed when I hit the gas pedal. Given, my gas pedal has the get-up of an 18-wheeler, but I was going to push myself and the gun the best I could.

    VP9 Match

    So, what did I run? While I believe holsters specific to your firearm are always the way to go, I can’t afford a new holster for every gun I review. I ran the VP9 Match in a Blackhawk Omnivore. On the gun, I had a Streamlight TLR-1 HL for holster integration. On top, I mounted a Shield Sights RMS2 red dot. I have very little red dot experience, but when better to learn than in the middle of a match? I used my Raptor Tactical belt and some prototype mag carriers from AttackPAK. Ammo was 124 grain Federal American Eagle FMJ.

    VP9 Match

    The night involved four stages: Backyard Massacre, Skills To Pay the Bills, Wrong Way, and Retention Redemption Charger (minus the charger).

    VP9 Match

    Other than having some trouble finding my dot, the VP9 Match was on point. I shot faster than I usually do and had no problems keeping rounds within a couple of inches of each other. This was even true firing with my support hand only.

    VP9 Match

    Since I don’t like to make things easy on myself, I had a very complicated plan for the Wrong Way stage. It involved an extra round and two shots on a distant target, and was meant to force a reload while moving.

    VP9 Match

    This was the first time I noticed that the gun wasn’t locking back on empty. This threw me off a bit. I should have trusted my math, but instead, I panicked and decided to stow the mag to avoid a possible penalty. This ate up time as I was still trying to stow the mag when I was already standing at the firing line.

    VP9 Match

    I got the mag stowed and went back to work.

    VP9 Match

    The last stage featured a swinger with two targets that only had their heads exposed. I was sweating this one but ultimately found it far less difficult than I had expected. The weight and ergos of the VP9 Match brought the dot of the RMS2 right back on target, making those headshots no problem at all.

    VP9 Match

    Clean Run: The Good

    There is so much to love about this pistol. The gun is incredibly accurate. The overall feel, ergonomics, and impressive trigger allowed me to really see what the gun was capable of. The controls are low-profile but aren’t difficult to activate. The magazines are easy to load and hold plenty of ammo to accomplish whatever you’re trying to do.

    VP9 Match

    Procedural: The Bad

    I really only have one complaint about the VP9 Match. A lot of us have problems going to slide lock because of the grip we use. On most pistols, my forward thumb is the culprit. However, on the VP9 Match, the slide stop is very far back. In this case, my strong side thumb is keeping the slide from locking. No matter how I alter my support hand grip, I still have this issue.

    VP9 Match

    The magazine release is fine. It works. For a gun aimed at the competition market, I think I would like an extended mag release from the factory.

    VP9 Match

    DQ: The Ugly

    Quite the opposite. I think this gun is beautiful to look at. This is the last thing in this review because it’s the least important. However, I think it’s important that you like the way your gun looks. Just like your car, its main purpose is utility, but having pride in your machine feels good. In all honesty, I felt really cool having this gun on my hip. I got a lot of questions about it, and it opened up conversations with strangers to who I enjoyed talking throughout the night.

    VP9 Match

    In Conclusion

    VP9 Match

    The price to performance ratio is heavily in favor of the shooter. This is a great gun for those looking for a race gun that they can start with. That said, I think it would end up being your favorite pistol to compete with for a long time. Take a look at Heckler & Koch’s website to see all of the VP9 variants. Don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Regardless of what you shoot, I encourage you to get out, compete and make our community stronger!



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    Nic L

    Stemming from his childhood love of WWII history, Nic’s passion for firearms continues to grow as his maturity level recedes. He has competed in local USPSA, IDPA, and rifle competitions, and has an almost unnatural affection for Rosie, his Gen3 Glock 19.

    @the_brutal_rooster


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