HK VP9 Handgun Review
Heckler & Koch VP9 is a relatively new entrant to the striker-fired handgun arena from the company that originated, and then stepped away from, double-action only pistols for decades. Maybe HK was waiting to have enough innovative features that could do more than replicate familiar ones in today’s market. If so, this is an impressive effort. There’s a lot to like about the VP9, and a couple things that leave a person puzzled. I’m going to hit the highlights.
At a glance
At 25.56 ounces, the VP9 is four ounces lighter than the Springfield XD 9mm, half an ounce heavier than the Glock 17, and 1.5 ounces heavier than the M&P 9mm. Its 4.09-inch barrel places it in the full-size category. If the abundance of concealment holsters available for this gun is any indication, lots of people are choosing it as a hefty concealment partner. On the frame is a sizable rail that allows for attachments of virtually any pistol light/laser accessory, expanding its utility as a home defense/bedside gun.
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What’s to love
The first of three major innovations begins with the grip design. The VP9 goes beyond the modern standard of three sizes of backstrap inserts for depth adjustment. It also has three choices of grip side panels, making the grip’s circumference more or less full in the operator’s hand. The panels are easy to change with the removal of a simple roller pin. With the medium and large panels, the grip has a distinct hump in the center, which Walther PPQ fans will find familiar (in fact, if there was any copycat business going on in the product development phase, it was surely by someone who’s fond of the PPQ profile). This gives the operator the sense of the gun naturally filling the hollow of the palm. The “hump” effect is largely negated with the smallest backstrap panel. Replacement panels are $9.95 and appear to be readily available from the manufacturer.
The VP9 is suited to a wide range of shooters, as the grip adjustments allow shooters with very large hands as well as those with smallish hands to reach the trigger with room to spare. This writer wears a women’s size 8 glove, and the VP9 is a good fit with the smallest grip panels. Two large-handed men who participated in testing also prefer the smallest panels.
The grip is pebbled all around and offers good traction without being rough. Speaking of traction, the term “grip” can also be applied to the slide. Here, HK took a chance and offered something truly new—removable inserts on each side of the slide, located in line with the rear sight, to assist in charging. The concept sounds a little weird and unwieldy, but these little protrusions do offer subtle leverage and indexing, and are well out of the way when the gun is holstered and in use. The five shooters in our trial were all skeptical of this feature at first, and all decided it was at least cool-looking, and at best useful, after operating the pistol.
The low bore axis of the VP9 and its operator controls make it exquisitely shootable. A three-dot, nighttime-luminescent adjustable sight system is better than most stock sights, though the brightness of the front sight is lacking, perhaps due to being in the holster and less exposed to recharging sunlight.
The paddle-style magazine release is efficient to operate—faster, in fact, than the traditional firing hand thumb-to-mag-release motion when performed with the trigger finger, or by thumbs long enough to reach the paddles without changing grip position.