Review: Heckler & Koch VP9 Match
Heckler & Koch is known the world over for iconic firearms such as the MP5 submachine gun and the G3 battle rifle. However, more recently, the company’s VP9 semi-automatic pistol has been stealing some of the spotlight. Since its introduction in 2014, shooters in both the European and U.S. markets have regarded it as a well-rounded, general-use handgun that could be adapted to fill nearly any role. While this is a good way to keep your collection to a minimum, it isn’t the best way to win a competition. Shooters who have to answer to a shot timer demanded a VP9 with a longer barrel, better recoil recovery and, for some, easy optics adaptability. The answer came in late 2022 with the introduction of the VP9 Match, a handgun built for extreme precision, expressly with competitors in mind.
Like the rest of the product family, the VP9 Match is a 9 mm Luger, recoil-operated, striker-fired semi-automatic pistol that feeds from a detachable box magazine. During the firing process, the slide and barrel recoil in unison until chamber pressure drops to a safe level. At this point, the two separate, allowing the fired case to get pulled from the chamber and ejected before the slide returns to battery, stripping off a fresh round and re-cocking the striker in the process.
The pistol’s frame is comprised mainly of polymer and features interchangeable backstraps to help fit it to the shooter’s unique hand size and shape. However, above and beyond most similar guns, there are also provisions to change the side panels as well, helping the end user to further customize his or her grip. All of these surfaces are molded with a multi-directional crescent-and-dot pattern that is aggressive enough to maintain a shooting grip but not so rough that you regret running it in an all-day training class. The frontstrap has three pronounced finger grooves that, depending on their finger size, some shooters are going to love and others are going to hate.
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Moving onto controls, the VP9 Match comes with your choice of magazine release. Keeping with tradition, H&K offers it with an ambidextrous, paddle-style release desirable for those most familiar with that manual of arms—or who have shorter fingers. Although quick to use, this style of release isn’t widely well-received on the American market, so the “B” variant was introduced with a reversible push-button magazine release in the traditional location. Both versions are available stateside; we used the newer B model in our field testing, but an “A” version is shown here for illustration purposes.
While the push-button magazine release is reversible, bilateral slide stops are present. This does more than just enable southpaws to efficiently run this pistol—it allows both dexterities the luxury of using either the thumb or forefinger to actuate this control. An ambidextrous safety is built into the trigger shoe, and it is disengaged when the shooter depresses the trigger.
The slide of the H&K VP9 Match is also built to win, as made evident by the aggressive cocking serrations and cocking ears. Lightening cuts are machined into the front half of the slide on both sides and at the 12-o’clock position. Although the barrel is not ported, the groundwork is laid for a skilled gunsmith to accommodate that request. With the explosive growth of the USPSA Carry Optics division driving the industry, the Match’s optics-ready slide comes with a total of five adapter plates to accommodate nearly every red-dot footprint on the market. For those interested in keeping the gun within the Production division, a set of drift-adjustable three-dot sights also come standard.
We consider the slide to be the red carpet for the VP9 Match’s signature barrel. Elongated for accuracy, it is comprised of a proprietary type of steel that H&K will only describe as “cannon grade.” Furthermore, it features an O-ring bushing system that supports the muzzle end of the barrel during lockup. This is meant to increase accuracy by providing a more consistent return to battery—as our range day would soon validate.
Accuracy was shot at 25 yards from a bench with a sandbag rest using Browning’s 147-grain X-Point Defense, Federal’s 115-grain Syntech and Hornady’s 124-grain American Gunner +P ammunitions. All three produced fine accuracy. We then installed a Trijicon RMR red-dot and set up a course of fire that forced the gun into its natural fluid environment. Each tester who navigated it got to put the gun through a series of double taps, hard transitions and port shooting. All agreed that it was remarkably agile, and the combination of the light trigger weight and short reset created the perfect formula for rapid follow-up shots.
The Heckler & Koch VP9 Match is a worthy competitor and a welcome addition to the shooting sports. We recommend this gun to anybody still experimenting with different hand positions, as they will find the modular grip system to be invaluable. The same holds true for shooters who plan on sharing the gun with somebody else. All evaluators found it effortless to handle, as the 9 mm Luger isn’t terribly abusive, particularly in a full-size platform. Overall, this pistol is a great option for the competitive shooter or, if you’re not so inclined, just as a heck of a range blaster.
Article by AMERICAN RIFLEMAN STAFF