It’s a little odd, then, that HK stood by with no substantial P7 updates and no new striker-fired handguns while the concept was gobbled up and popularized by competitors. Sales grew to epic proportions in the civilian and police markets.
Maybe HK was just trying to make their next striker-fired product perfect. If that’s the case, they got darned close.
Enter the VP9. This feature-rich, flexible, dependable 9mm just may be one of the most accurate polymer-lower handguns available today.
The VP9 is an average weight for a full-size handgun at 25.56 ounces unloaded. The interior of its 4.09-inch barrel is nicely polished with octagonal rifling.
The standard features of this pistol are part of what justifies its comparatively high purchase price. Its beefy accessory rail can accommodate most pistol lights. HK added removable polymer inserts near the rear of the slide that offer traction for running the slide—not terribly useful in normal practice, but if one were to need to run the slide on some inanimate object or a boot heel, may make all the difference for the operator. HK says the inserts are for people with weak hands; I’m not sure they’re large enough to provide leverage.
Night sights are a common upgrade, of course. The VP9 saves the hassle because it comes standard with luminous sights. The three-dot system charges up under sunlight or artificial light. And so long as they’ve been in the light, they’re BRIGHT; almost too bright when used in total darkness. Problem is, the front sight is usually hidden in my holster, so it doesn’t take a charge like the rear ones. But the system works well enough that I’ve not been tempted to replace it.
Almost expected on a decent polymer range gun these days is an adjustable backstrap. Here’s another place where the VP9 stands above the crowd. HK not only gave us three choices of backstrap, they make the side panels adjustable as well. The wider panels increase not only length of pull, but the roundness of the gun in the hand. Just about any adult hand size can fit this gun.
The grip has been accused of being a knockoff of certain Walther designs, and indeed there’s a resemblance. Maybe some reader has insight into any cross-pollination between companies. In addition to the grip, HK put a paddle-style mag release on the VP9. At first I was sure I’d hate it. But I’ve found the transition between a push-button release and this one is natural. For people who dislike mags that can be released while the gun’s holstered, the VP9 may have special appeal.
It’s evident from their press about the VP9 that HK is most proud of the trigger. It has a smooth 5.4-pound pull, 0.24 inch of travel, and a sweet 0.12 inch to reset. As mentioned in my previous polyarmory installment, the only stock trigger I’ve found to be better is on the Canik TP9-SA.
Another standout feature is that the VP9 Is all-ambi, all the time. The extended slide lock on the right side of the frame actually makes it somewhat easier to be left- than right-handed. Every left-handed pistolero should love this gun.
While it has a long way to go to catch up to my Glock 17 in reliability testing, the VP9 is on its way. At this point, it’s run approximately 2,500 rounds with zero glitches. Without argument, it cycles the cheap but factory-made, brass-cased ammo I use routinely.
The steel magazines work great and contribute to the excellent dependability of the VP9. I’ve dropped the mags several times on concrete and in dirt, and they’ve not offered up any trouble.
Accuracy is fantastic. The barrel stays rather flat when the slide cycles. The gun astounded me recently when I took aim at a one-yard square steel target at 150 yards and was able to ring it with non-match ammunition. This is where the HK outshines every other striker-fired pistol I’ve worked with.
My only complaint, and this is my only dissatisfaction with the gun, is the mag capacity. The VP9 occupies a footprint like other full-size 9mm pistols that have 17 or 18 round magazines. HK put so much excellent design behind this gun, but the mag seems to be where someone quit trying.
HK doesn’t advertise the color of this firearm, and I assumed it’d be plain black upon its arrival. Indeed, I thought it was, until seeing it in the sunshine. The steel aspects are black; the polymer is a deep chocolate brown. I’ve come to love the subtle coloring.
The VP9 has earned its place among my favorite pistols for its dependability, accuracy, and included night sights. The trigger is indeed outstanding in its class, though I feel the Canik TP9-SA’s edges it out by a narrow margin. Real-world prices currently hover around $650-700.