GC-99 — A H&K VP9 Review

Recently John had an opportunity to go spend a few hours at the range with Scott Ballard to review the H&K VP9 9mm striker-fired pistol. They covered all the details of the gun from the slide to the magazines. They also fired some test shots to get an idea of how it felt, what the sights were like, and what they thought about the ambidextrous magazine release. 

This review was recorded out in the field, so you’ll be able to hear gun sounds (ahhhh, the sound of freedom!), wind blowing, and all the fun stuff that make for less-than-ideal recording conditions. 

If you’re seriously looking at buying one, you’ll definitely want to listen to this VP9 review. 

Scott Ballard Heckler & Koch VP9 review on Gunfighter Cast episode 99.

In addition to this review of the VP9, Daniel did a video review with Funker Tactical that you can check out. 

Host: John McGregor

Co-Host: Scott Ballard

Introduction/Timeline: Stephanie Kimmell

1:54 John and Scott are at the Sig Sauer Academy with Scott Ballard to look at the VP9 by Heckler and Koch. This is going to be of John’s first impressions, but Scott’s had a little more experience with it. 

2:28 Disclosure, John works for Sig Sauer so any time he is evaluating a firearm from another manufacturer, feel free to take it with a grain of salt. He wants to get some kind of initial impression. He’s been shooting it for a few minutes now and thinks he has some valid opinions on it (or will have shortly), but Scott’s had a lot of experience with it. 

3:00 Scott says they were evaluating it for some protective security details, and they actually did choose the VP9. It met the needs. That being said, it was a European detail and H&K has a much better following over there. Interpol and  Europol use H&K P30s. That P30 heritage gives the VP9 a boost in that arena because though it’s not the same thing, it is a derivative of the H&K P30. In fact, it’s actually very close.

H&K VP9 and P30. Photo credit: Ashes to Ashes photography.

The bottom end feels exactly like a P30. The grips, the different grip panels on the side, the backstrap, and mag release are all P30. It even uses P30 magazines. So, transitioning over from the P30 to a striker-fired gun, they did their homework. 

The P30 was traditional double action. They had four different versions. Scott says the one they worked with was the DA/SA with the decocking lever button on the back, left of the hammer. 

When it comes to the slide and stuff like that, quite a bit of the VP9 is exactly the same as the P30. Scott thinks H&K wasn’t necessarily trying to reinvent the wheel, they were just trying to get a good striker-fired gun. But remember, they’re no strangers to striker-fired polymer. They made polymer guns long before Glock ever did. 

A Close Look at the VP9 Slide

5:27 Aesthetically, the VP9 is a nice looking gun. For John, coming from a background of Sigs, it’s definitely different from what he’s used to. 



6:19 According to the H&K website, they worked on the VP9 design for four years. They describe it as having an HK Light Pull trigger. The model John and Scott are using for this review is the civilian version. The sights are different than the version seen in Daniel’s video review. He had the VP9 with LE sights. The sights on the civilian version are not tritium, they’re day-glow. The rear sight’s also more of a straight ramp so it wouldn’t be that great for hooking that rear sight on any gear, whereas the LE rear sight has a little bit more of a ridge.

7:23 Scott mentions other sight options. He says that Heinie, Trijicon, Meprolight, and 10-8 Performance all have good sights. For Scott, the glow in the dark part of the sights are like glow in the dark toys. On his guns, he pops them out real quick, no different than if you buy a Glock. The sights have got to go. 

So if Scott was going to carry the VP9, he’d switch the sights out. The nice thing is that they’re dove-tailed in and it’s a quick change. 

Cocking Striations

8:11 Looking at the slide, it’s got cocking striations on the front and back. John says he doesn’t do much with the striations on the front of the slide, other than look at them. He tries to manipulate the slide from the back end as opposed to the front. He tries to stay away from the front, but it does look cool. 

H&L VP9 review: cocking striations on front and rear of slide.

Scott says, “I’m just not man enough to put my hand that close to the muzzle. It scares me.”

The VP9 does have a chamber-loaded indicator on the extractor. It looks like there’s a little bit of red paint in there. 

The VP9 they’re using for this review looks like it’s never been fired before, so they’ll be firing its first rounds. John doesn’t even know what it looks like when it’s sitting on a loaded chamber, whether it’s very visual or tactile, but for commonality purposes, he’d still do a press check rather than rely on that little bit of red paint. 

As for the rear cocking striations, what makes this configuration unique are the charging supports at the back of the rear slide striations. John thinks they are polymer inserts—a little ridge on both sides to make it easier to grab the back of the slide for manipulations. 

VP9 review: charging support on slide.

Scott thinks they’re cool, there’s kind-of a CDI factor to it, but the thing that he likes about them is that they’re removable. He doesn’t think they added enough to the table to make it worthwhile, other than for some people who use a pinch technique. That’s fine, but being an old 1911 guy, he’s either using the slide catch lever or he’s coming over the top. Mag in, hand over the top, and he grabs ahold of it, rips it back, and lets it go. 

However, if you are so inclined to do a pinch, it’s definitely an attribute.

They may not offer any advantage for one-handed operation because they slip off the edge of the holster or belt too easily.

Slide Size and Ejection Port

10:57 John notices that it seems like there’s a lot more real estate on the slide to do the over-the-top technique than some other models out there. The ejection port is centered and it’s supposed to be centered to keep the balance of the gun. 

VP9 Review, ejection port

What John is referring to is that he can do an over-the-top technique, he can even use the charging support, and he won’t get his fingers over the ejection port. He’s seen a lot of people doing the over-the-top technique and they get some digits over the port so if they’re trying to clear a malfunction, they’re potentially going to make the situation worse with an obstructed ejection port.  

Striker Indicator

12:34 On the back end of the slide, there’s a charge striker indicator. When the striker is charged, you can clearly see red at the back of the slide. If the striker is forward, it’s black.

That’s something that goes back to the P7. When you squeeze the cocking lever on the P7 you can see the striker indicator sticking out from the back. It’s definitely an HK attribute.

John says it’s not something he really needs on a striker-fired gun. It might be a kind of idiot indicator if he forgot to chamber a round. But it is a way to see if the gun is cocked. John thinks the press check, being the universal method, would save him from having to rely on looking at the back of the gun and looking at the extractor to see if he sees any red paint. 

The VP9 Frame

Slide Release and Magazine Release

13:52 One of the attributes of the VP9 is that it’s truly ambidextrous. It’s got an ambidextrous slide release, so there’s one on each side. Also, the magazine release isn’t a typical American-style push-button at the bottom of the trigger guard.

H&K VP9 review: the ambidextrous magazine releases is like levers on both sides of the trigger guard.

The magazine releases are on both sides. They’re like levers that are integrated into the bottom edge of the trigger guard where the trigger guard meets the grip. You press down on a little paddle and they both move simultaneously and release the magazine. 

Scott likes the fact that it’s truly ambidextrous. You don’t have to switch anything around. You can use one hand or the other. Having shot a lot of HK’s, especially a lot of USPs, he got used to it and really liked it.

With HK guns, however, he found that he was dropping the magazine with his trigger finger. The reason he was doing that is that he has extremely short thumbs.

So, in order to get over to the mag release in just about any gun, he has to literally turn the gun in his hand as part of the operation. But when he uses the lever-style mag release on HK guns, he takes his finger off the trigger and pushes down on the mag release—without having to readjust his firing grip. Then he straightens his finger back out and it goes up on the frame up above. It’s really no worse for the wear.

He says it was a little bit of a training issue at first, but now if he grabs an HK and shoots it a little bit, it comes back to him naturally. He likes that it’s truly ambidextrous, but more importantly, he likes being able to drop the mag without changing his firing grip. 

John says he’s the same way with his Sigs. He has to shift it a little bit to get to the traditional mag release and he actually prefers that. He doesn’t want an extended magazine release or something resting under his thumb in case he grips the grip too tight under stress and dumps a magazine when he doesn’t intend to.

He likes to have to reach a little bit for the control, but this is extreme. It’s a significant shift if he wants to use his thumb to use that paddle. He likes the idea of using the index finger to reach the paddle. One of the advantages of that is that your finger isn’t on the trigger when you’re manipulating the other controls. 


16:49 The trigger is a tabbed trigger similar to what you’d see on Glocks for drop-safe functioning of the firearm. 

HK VP9 tabbed trigger drop safe

Scott’s never had a problem with them, it’s just a matter of getting used to them. On some Glocks, he’s had to actually take a little bit of excess plastic off of them because they left a bit too much in the production process and it wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. Once he smoothed that out, it was just fine.

With the HK, though, it’s a step up in quality and he hasn’t seen any problems like that at all.  


18:30 At the front of the trigger guard, there’s a Picatinny mill standard 1913 rail on the frame. How heavy of an accessory can be put on that rail?

Scott says they’re running S300 Ultras, which aren’t all that heavy. It’s a big light that protrudes out the front. He’s heard different people talking about running those different Streamlights but he still thinks you’re not getting all that big. 

On the H&K website, it says that the rail will accommodate up to 5.6 oz. 


20:02 The grip area is unique. Most firearms manufacturers use methods to try and accommodate hand sizes to their grips. The H&K has a number of refinements in that they have a replaceable backstrap, right panel, and left panel. With the pistol, you get three backstraps and six grip panels (three for the left, three for the right).

FDE VP9 in case, includes grip panels and magazine.

You can pretty much mix and match any way you want. You’ve got to have them all smalls, mediums, or larges. Although, if you wanted to, you could run a large right panel and a small left if you wanted to for whatever reason. 

20:59 The finger grooves are integral to the grip.

The VP9 for this review is set up with small panels. Scott says he finds that a lot of people like setting it up with the small size so they can really get around the gun. In some cases, they’re getting too far around the gun, so you have to be careful about that. 

21:10 One of the things Scott has really noticed on the VP9, when you say ‘finger grooves,’ yeah it has finger grooves but it doesn’t have Glock-like finger grooves. They’re not so pronounced and they’re certainly not so tight together so he finds that the VP9 is more comfortable in the hand than a Glock. He says that most of the time on his Glocks he grinds those things out of the way. But with the grip module that is on the VP9, you can do that interchangeability behind all the different things.

21:58 Scott thinks the overall finish is a little too slick. He likes blood donor checkering, though, like the original RTF—not the RTF II.  

22:17 Another thing he noticed that may be a problem with the VP9 is that the side panels might shift over time. They saw that with P30s so they started putting silicon in behind the side panels, more or less gluing them in place after determining what the person liked. Once the silicon hardened, the panels didn’t move anymore. Of course, if you want to change the panels out later, you’re going to have to fight to get the silicon out of there. 

22:50 You don’t need a whole lot of heavy tools to change the panels, but it is a hammer and punch type of operation. The pin is at the base of the backstrap, which slides in and holds in the side panels. The side panels slide fore to aft, and the back strap slides up from the bottom of the gun. The roll pin is there and you really do need a roll-pin punch to back it out. It’s not something that you just punch out pretty easily. As with all things plastic—over time, it’ll wear out, so Scott’s recommendation is to find the set up you like and leave it that way. 

23:38 It looks like that roll pin would actually be a mounting position for a lanyard if, that was something that you would want to do. the roll pin and the cross pin is what you’re actually going to latch on to if you’re so inclined. 

VP9 Magazines

24:09 As mentioned before, the VP9 takes P30 magazines, which theoretically should make them easy to acquire. About a month ago in preparation for this review, John went online to find some more magazines for it. They were all out of stock. He signed up to be notified when they came back in stock and still hasn’t heard anything. In his experience with HK, getting parts is always a challenge. 

Scott’s experience with H&K is the same. It’s not the price that makes them hard to get. He says its because they’re made of unobtanium. HK magazines have always been an issue but so have things like recoil spring assemblies and basic maintenance parts.

You don’t see an active armorer training program floating around out there from HK like you see with Sig or Glock or Smith & Wesson. There’s a certain amount of, “You get what we give you because we know what you need” kind of thing going on there. But the hardest thing about HK has always been finding those spare parts. Obviously, there are websites out there, and we know that they’re out there, but if they’re just not available because HK isn’t making them, there’s not much more you can do.

26:33 Scott remembers when the M&P was out and it was like M&P mags were made of gold. He doesn’t know of that many firearms manufacturers that make their own magazines, so a lot of times you’re limited. Companies who make magazines for one company, like Beretta for example, also might be making magazines for other manufacturers and there is only a limited number of magazine manufacturers in the world. So Scott can’t really blame this problem on HK as much as maybe it was bad planning. 

27:12 John poses the possibility that it might be part of the plan, to make sure that the gun takes off before making money on your magazines. He says he is spoiled, shooting Sigs and working at the academy. He’s got a big room of parts that he can access if he needs to. But if he chose to run the VP9, he’d want more magazines. He says he would probably go ahead and order some more mags and other parts, like recoil springs, early instead of waiting until he needs them.

28:11 Made in Germany, the VP9 magazines are strong, and sturdy—made of heavy steel. They’re zipper-backed, so they’re not welded. Instead, it’s like a dove-tailed type of lock. They have indicator holes on the back so you can see how many rounds you have left in the magazine. Unlike other magazines that have witness holes every five or ten rounds, the VP9 mags have holes for every single round after the top three. 

HK VP9, P30 9mm 17-Round Magazine
HK VP9, P30 9mm 17-Round Magazine. Notice the zippered back to the right of the witness holes.

29:06 As is typical with HK magazines, they have very sharp edges. Scott’s experiences led him to believe that a mag loader was his friend. When they’re new, they’re hard to press but he can’t fault the way it’s built.

One small issue that Scott has always had with HK magazines is that on the front, there is a slight notch with the hump cut out. He says that’s a very small amount considering what’s holding the magazine in the gun. It does positively latch, but it always makes him nervous because, as a 1911 guy, he wants that big notch in there. 

29:52 On the bottom of the grip, HK put in a half-moon cut out so you can get your fingers in there. So, if your magazine is locked up in the gun somehow, like with the dreaded double-feed malfunction, you can rip it out. 

At the bottom of HK VP9 grip, a half-moon cut out makes it easier to get magazine out if there is a malfunction.

30:12 The baseplates are made of plastic but Scott can’t say that he’s ever had any of them break. They look pretty robust, and they’re made of a softer plastic, not the brittle stuff that breaks when you drop them. 

30:38 The standard magazine capacity for the H&K VP9 is 15 rounds. The magazines fit flush and they seem to drop free pretty quickly. It doesn’t look like you’d need to use those half-moon cutouts for a standard reload but again, it’s a good feature to have if you do have to get that magazine out of there. 

Gun News - HK updated the follower, spring, and floorplate to add two more rounds to the standard VP9 magazine.
Update, March 2020: HK updated the follower, spring, and floorplate to add two more rounds to the standard VP9 magazine.

31:01 The VP9 seems like a big gun for only fifteen rounds. With other pistols out there like the full-sized 320 and Glock 17, you easily get 17 rounds in a flush-fit magazine. It may or may not be an issue, depending on the magazine capacity laws where you live.

Recently, John took a job in the non-free state of Massachusetts. When he goes to work, he has to travel there so he has to run 10-round magazines anyway. Basically, half of his week he is down in Massachusettes, and when he goes back to New Hampshire, he doesn’t switch out his magazines. So, he’s just been running 10-round magazines all the time even though it’s not illegal for him to have larger capacity mags in New Hampshire. 

Scott digresses with the question, “You’re from out of state, you really have to download your mags? 

According to John’s research, and he talked to some Massachusetts firearm instructors, the way he is carrying is under the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act (LEOSA). Basically, he can carry in all fifty states, as long as he does a few things like have retired credentials and do an annual qualification each year. According to his contacts at the Massachusettes Law Enforcement Instructors and Armorers Association, the way LEOSA was written up, it doesn’t give you any authorization to trump different states’ magazine capacity limitations. So even though he can carry on LEOSA, their lawyers said he still needs to carry ten-round magazines in his pistol. (Disclaimer, John and Scott are not lawyers, and they are not giving out legal advice here.) 

33:56 So, for John, 15 vs 17 rounds doesn’t mean a whole lot to him right now because he’s running 10-rounders anyway. But he agrees, the VP9 does seem a little on the big side. Daniel had good luck with it. He ran it for 2000 rounds and was prepared to switch over to it, but its a little big for him. He ended up asking the manufacturer if they would come out with a compact model. 


HK VP9 threaded barrel

33:34 The barrel length is just a hair over four inches, which is usually a mid-range gun, at least in John’s experience. Four and a half to five inches is full size so it does seem to have some of those characteristics for a compact version. Every manufacturer gets to determine what their version of compact and full size is. It seems like the VP9 is in a middle spot where it’s somewhat compact in its barrel length but it’s not so compact in the grip area.

Is the H&K Concealable?

If you put it next to the Glock 19 or the 320 Compact, both 15+1 guns, the VP9 is just slightly larger. It may not make all that much of a difference. If you’ve got a good IWB or OWB holster, and you dress appropriately, you could conceal the gun. Guys running around in shorts with no belt and an open light summer shirt over a wife-beater might run into problems concealing a big gun like this.

35:55 HK is going to be releasing a P30SK which will be a sub-compact (that’s how you spell compact in German: Kurz). If they’ve done it with the P30, it’s just a matter of time. The VP9 came out in July, basically mid-year of last year, and there isn’t a whole lot of negative response out there. It seems like if you shoot one, you like it. It seems to be a viable option for military and law enforcement applications, but also for concealed carry. 

36:50 At Sig Sauer Academy classes, they’re not selling you Sig Sauer guns. Their biggest consideration is the fit of the pistol. If it fits, John’s not going to be worried about if it’s 15 rounds or 17 rounds. That’s not going to be a big negative. 

Can you shoot it? Scott says he doesn’t get hung up on the brand if the person can hit it. That’s like arguing about caliber. To him, it doesn’t make sense. If the gun works every time, reliability trumps all. 

Back to the Barrel

37:52 The barrel itself is cold-hammer-forged with polygonal rifling. In fact, if you really want to get technical, it’s got six grooves. and a right-hand twist that twists once every 9.8 inches. 

Some people get hung up on polygonal rifling, but John says if you shoot jacketed ammo through them they work just fine. He shoots jacketed ammo because he’s concerned about his lead levels anyway, which is something that people should consider if they do a lot of shooting. At a class over the weekend, he talked with a student who is a real training junkie. That guys lead level was well over six, nearly to seven. That’s risky to your health, and chelation isn’t a pleasant experience. There are some older guys out there who still cut and swag their own bullets, cast their own bullets, but John’s not a big fan.

Polygonal rifling is certainly accurate enough. He hasn’t found too many people who could shoot more accurately than the pistols. If a person can stand back 15 yards and constantly put all the bullets in the same hole, then he’ll be impressed and say, “Yeah you should probably put one of those super match-grade barrels on there.”

John does have some M&Ps and some Glocks switched over to Storm Lake and other types of barrels, only because he had worn the other barrels out. Those barrels have land and groove traditional type of rifling but John doesn’t think he notices that much of a difference. 

39:40 According to the marketing materials, the polygonal rifling “should contribute to a longer service life and a slight increase in muzzle velocity.” 

Overall VP9 Stats

40:05 The suggested retail price for the H&K VP9 is $719.00, which is very unlike HK. HKs usually go for a pretty good price. For them to put a striker gun out there at that range, they’re a little more serious about it. 

HK VP9 review

Overall Length: 7.34 inches

Height: 5.41 inches

Width: 1.32 inches

Barrel Length: 4.09 inches

Trigger Pull: 5.4 pounds

Trigger Travel: .24 inches 

42:02 The VP9 has serial numbers on the frame, the slide, and the barrel. It’s a European thing. 

H&K VP9 Review — First Shots

42:42 John McGregor shoots the VP9 at fifty yards. He hits. (It’s not really fifty yards. It’s seven yards.)Here are his first impressions at the end of his first magazine. 

The trigger felt good, not a lot of takeup but it was even takeup. He says it has a good crisp break, not much crunch, more like a little bit of glass rod, but not quite a soft carrot. It’s got a good affirmative reset that you can feel and hear. The tabbed trigger didn’t really bother him. It’s definitely not smooth under his finger, there’s like a ridge there in the center, but it doesn’t bother him. 

44:13 Inside the trigger guard, it’s kinda got a relief cut in the bottom to accommodate the travel of the trigger. That’s to make sure your glove doesn’t get caught underneath the bottom of the trigger if you’re going to shoot with gloves. 

44:43 The sights are plenty colorful enough in the daylight that John and Scott are shooting in. However, John would swap them out for something that has a ridge on, it just for the ability to do one-handed manipulations.

44:57 The Chamber-Loaded indicator on the extractor is pretty much non-existent. Maybe legally you can say it’s there but it certainly doesn’t show a whole lot of red paint. As for the tactile feel of it, John could barely feel that it was there with his bare fingers. There is no chance he’d be able to tell if there was a round in the chamber if he had gloves on.

45:24 Scott says he hasn’t shot it for a while which might have something to do with why he shot a wonderful group on the berm right next to the target. He had a little bit of difficulty finding his way under the target. So, if this VP9 were his, he’d definitely be drifting that sight over, which, he points out is nice about this gun: it does allow you to drift the sights. He thinks that’s a big advantage on the gun.

45:57 He hasn’t been a big fan of the reset button on the VP9 as he is on some others. It’s not quite as positive so if you’re a reset shooter that may be an issue. However, he says not to take his word for it. 

46:56 John and Scott shoot the VP9 again, rapid-fire. 

47:22 Scott says they’ve noticed something about the P30 and VP9 magazines. If you smack the bottom of the mag, you can get the top round to pop out. So, if people use an incorrect technique—inserting the magazine while it’s still locked open and then patting the bottom of it—they’ll literally get that round to walk forward. When they send the slide forward, it can cause a malfunction because they’re sending one round, and possibly another, forward. It’s a technique and training thing. The proper technique is to drive the magazine in, period—no more patting on it. Then come over the top, hit your slide release, do the pinch thing, however you release the slide, you shouldn’t have a problem. Just be aware that if you pat the bottom of the H&K VP9 magazines you’re going to get that top round to walk forward.

48:48 When John was shooting, Scott observed the ejection pattern of the brass as it was coming out. He stood off to the right, hoping to get hit by brass, but none hit him. It actually hit about two feet from John, at 3:30 and made a nice little pile.

The ejection pattern was consistent, which is always nice, (especially if you want to set your buddies up and shoot brass down their shirt or something). In this case, they look at it as a reliability kind of thing. All the brass should end up in roughly the same location. If it goes all over the place then either the pistols doing different things, or it could be operator-induced.

With the VP9, all of the brass came out of the ejection port. None of it bounced back and hit John in the head, which is always a plus on any pistol.

Scott points out the size of the ejection port and says you’d be hard-pressed to get anything stuck in there. They’ve definitely got it opened up and it has bevels on the front and back edges. 

49:55 Shooting again, firing sounds. 

50:11 Scott says when he looks at the back of the slide from a shooting standpoint, the little wings on the slide kind of bother him. “I feel like its…crooked.” He’s referring to the charging supports.

Does the H&K VP9 shoot accurately? 

51:37 John shoots some more. He fires five shots fairly quickly for a One Hole. Scott says it’s pretty good and John says, “Actually, I’ve improved. I have two one-holes there.” So he has doubled the amount of One-Hole drills he was able to perform on this.

The One-Hole is the obligatory drill that must be performed at all Sig Sauer functions. John moves on to another drill with a couple of shots to the body, and one to the head.

Once he’s done and out of ammo, he says, “I did find myself going for the button that wasn’t there. But it didn’t take me an insurmountable amount of time, when it’s not under the thumb, to get to the index finger over there.”

Scott says, “It’s a training thing.” 

H&K VP9 Review — Final Impressions


52:53 Scott says, “I like the gun. It works. It certainly shoots better than I can. It was comfortable. I didn’t find a lot of problems with it. I do believe that it’s too slick. I said that before and I’ll stand behind that one. It’s just a little too slick for my hands. But, would you be well served if you owned one? Absolutely.” 

53:18 John offers his opinion, saying, “Absolutely. I would have no reservations about carrying this for a defensive purpose.”

As for the lack of aggressive texturing, John points out that he’s noticed that sometimes a too-aggressive texturing makes it more difficult to carry concealed. It’s more likely to hang up on your cover garment. 

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say, maybe the benefit to this grip texture that’s not as super-aggressive as you would like, it’s not going to get hung up on your concealed carry gear, either, like a more aggressive stippling would. That might be an advantage to somebody.” 

Thoughts on the Ambidextrous Mag Release

54:16 Even though John didn’t really practice the reload drills, at the end, he came on an empty magazine. His thumb instinctively reached for the mag release where it is on all the classic-line pistols. Not finding it there, it didn’t take but a fraction of a second to get his finger over to the mag release. As previously discussed, it’s a training issue. 

John offers a word of caution. If you haven’t shot this mag release before, you don’t want to go to the gun store, buy a box of hollow points, load up, stick it in the holster, and think that you’re ready to go. 

You’ll want to spend a little bit of time, not an insurmountable amount, to get yourself used to that type of magazine release. 

It’s good and John likes the fully ambidextrous quality to it. If you pick one of these up it’s going to run the same no matter if it belongs to a right-handed or left-handed shooter. 

55:16 Scott makes the point that it doesn’t matter which side is your strong side. You have to train to the support side, too. Not because you’re going to get hit, (which, yeah that might happen), but you’re far more likely to be using your other hand to move somebody out of the way or any number of things. So, if you can’t run that gun with both hands, easily, you’ve got to rethink that. This gun is made so you can manipulate it with either hand. 

55:46 Between the two of them, it was a brief test. Fifty to a hundred rounds. 

What about the trigger?

55:56  John liked it. He didn’t think he was as good as he could be if he spent some time with it. It seemed like a good trigger press for him, with a good affirmative reset. He doesn’t have any complaints about the trigger at all. 

56:16 Scott agrees. If he spent more time shooting it, he’d probably be better off. At the end, it printed reasonably good One Holes for both of them. For people who aren’t familiar with it, the One Hole isn’t an accuracy test for the gun. It’s an accuracy test for the shooter. It tests whether or not you can keep your front sight in the same spot while you’re pressing that trigger. At the end with those last couple of One Hole drills, they were definitely able to print a decent group with it. He thinks that once you get used to the trigger, it works really well. It’s got a good break. It’s got a positive reset. There aren’t any complaints on it. 

Is it reliable?

57:00 Obviously, John and Scott haven’t tested anything as far as reliability with the limited amount of rounds they fired through it. However, Daniel tested his for 2000 rounds with no problem.

H&K has a good reputation as far as reliability is concerned. John says he wouldn’t anticipate a reliability issue going into this gun.

Obviously, with any pistol, he’s going to want to buy enough defensive ammunition and put that through the gun just to make sure that his defensive ammo cycles. When John tests his mags and ammo, 200 rounds is the bottom of the scale. If he gets 200 rounds of defensive ammo through, that’s good enough for him.   

57:51 Generally, Scott runs about 200-250 rounds to test out his mags and ammo. With the 1911s, he does a little bit more. He says it’s important to not confuse endurance testing that manufacturers do with real-life applications. One of the things you have to remember is that you have to test your gun the way you’re going to fight with your gun. 

Ask yourself, does it clear your garment? Is it in the way? How do you carry it? How does it work?

Scott says he and his co-workers have done endurance testing for manufacturers. They’re handed the gun and, say, 10,000 rounds. After shooting 250 rounds, they have to cool the gun down, relube it, and shoot another 250 rounds.

That’s not the same as working the gun from a holster after having carried it. 

“You’ve got to work that gun a little dry if it’s your carry gun because the oil evaporates. So when you’re testing it, truly test your kit, but test your kit in a hard-core fashion, because you know it’ll work in an optimal condition. Anybody can go to the range, lube their gun, and have it work. But can you carry it for three weeks, and then go to the range, and shoot it, and will it work?”

That’s more of the test that Scott thinks people need to understand. Sure, the manufacturer may have put 30,000 rounds through the gun in endurance testing, but how many people are ever going to actually get to that point?

Scott wants to know how it works after he gets it wet, or after he ignores it for a month. He knows how well the VP9 stands up because they did that kind of testing with it. They abused the VP9s.  They were hard on them. They got them dirty and blew them off. They hosed them off and dunked ’em in water, and the gun continued to run. He was really impressed with the VP9, not just in endurance, but also in durability. He says, “Put it in context in your life. If it works within the context of your life, then you could probably be very comfortable and confident carrying it.” 

59:59 The endurance testing is almost a theoretical verification, whereas what Scott just described is a more practical approach. 

You might feel things like grip texture and stuff when you take it out of the box. And it might be fine when you take it out of your lock-box. But it’s not until you actually put the gun in use, that you’re going to find out if it’s too aggressive for your clothing, as far as your cover garments and so forth. How many rounds you put through in testing is a very good point, as well.

VP9 Takedown

1:00:55 The final aspect of this H&K VP9 revies is how to take down the pistol for maintenance.

Basically, John says, if you’re familiar with Sig pistols at all, it’s very similar.

H&K VP9 takedown. Field stripped for maintenance.

On the left side of the pistol, right above the trigger is a take-down lever which is in a horizontal configuration normally, if you lock the slide to the rear.

From there, move the take-down lever in a vertical position, when you bring the slide forward. You can slide the slide forward off the frame of the pistol.

The recoil spring and recoil spring guide rod are one unit, so they don’t’ come apart. They come out and then the barrel comes out of the slide. 

You’ve got to take the magazine out of the pistol in order to field strip it. You do not have to pull the trigger to field strip the VP9. Other than that, it’s pretty much standard semi-automatic procedure for taking it apart and doing maintenance. 

What do you think?

1:02:03 If you’ve got any feedback or want to ask any questions about the show, let us know.

Gunmag Training's Chief Instructor Daniel Shaw is a retired US Marine Infantry Unit Leader with multiple combat tours and instructor titles.  Since retirement from the Marine Corps, Daniel teaches Armed Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers weapons, tactics and use of force. Daniel takes his life of training and combat experience and develops as well as presents curriculum to help Law Enforcement, US Military and Responsible Armed Citizens prepare for a deadly force encounter.  When he isn't directing marketing for Gunmag Warehouse, Daniel travels the US teaching and training under Gunmag Training, and discusses all things hoplological and self-defense related on The MagLife Podcast.

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