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HK VP9SK Review

Overview

HK is a company famous for its double action single action handguns. Many people don’t know that they also designed the first marketable striker-fired handgun with a polymer frame, the HK VP70 that predated the Glock by over a decade. People were somewhat surprised when HK entered the striker-fired market with the HK VP9 series of guns.

The HK VP9 was loosely based on their HK p30 series which is a hammer-fired HK pistol. When the HK VP9 was introduced there were very few other striker-fired options on the market the main players were the Glock, the Springfield XD series and the Smith and Wesson M&P. So, HK sought to take in a higher-end portion of the market.

While the HK VP9 at that time came in at a higher price point than its contemporaries, the HK VP9 was still much cheaper than HK’s polymer hammer-fired handguns that came in around the $1000 price point..

One of the complaints of the HK VP9 was it was quite a large handgun being the size of a Glock 17, but only holding 15 rounds like the Glock 19. HK wanted to introduce a smaller firearm to appeal more to the concealed carry crowd. So, they introduced the HK VP9SK. SK is HK’s terminology for a subcompact. They have the HK P2000SK which is their hammer-fired subcompact variant.

Features

The VP9 SK is a striker-fired handgun that has a 10-round flush fit magazine. There is also 13 and 15 round extended magazines that include ergonomic sleeves that match the profile of the grip. The sleeve will also prevent the magazine from being over inserted.

The gun ships with two to three magazines depending on the package that you order. One magazine will be flush fit and the extra magazine or two magazines will include a pinky extension that does not add any capacity to the gun but does enable you to get a longer grip on the gun. The gun will also take 15 round HK VP9 and p30 magazines. The HK VP9 and p30 series use the same exact magazines. So, you can use HK p30 SK magazines in the VP9 SK as well.

The mag well on the HK VP9 SK is slightly beveled on all four sides, so it does help with reloading the gun. But an issue some larger hands may have is the rear of their palm of their shooting hand will hang off the back right corner of the grip for a right-handed shooter. That means your hand could potentially get between the magazine base plate and the grip itself when they’re trying to insert a new mag. Thus pinching the palm of their hand or fumbling your reload.

Ergonomics

The ergonomics of the HK VP9 SK are arguably really good. They’re very similar to the HKp30SK and many say they’re the same, but honestly, the guns do feel different when you handle them side by side. The polymer on the HK P30 series just seems to feel more quality than the polymer on the HK VP9 series.

One extremely unique feature about the HK VP9SK is it not only has removable back straps but it also has removable side straps. That means that you can dial in the grip to whatever your preference is as far as the feel of the gun. You can not only build up the back strap, but you can also build up the sides as well and you have the option to make one side of the grip larger than the other side, so the gun is perfectly balanced for your right or left hand.

This is a feature only seen on the American market with the VP9 SK, the HK VP9, and the HK P30 series. There is no beavertail on the HK VP9 SK, but there is a nice deep tang that allows you to get your grip on the web of your hand as high on the grip as possible, and it’s rounded nicely on the edges with a gentle slope. So, it’ll work with hand sizes ranging from large to small.

The texturing on the HK VP9 SK is somewhat unique. It has a stippled look to it, but it’s as if the stippling has been sanded over by about two-thirds. The texture itself feels somewhat grippy and almost with almost a rubber-like feel. There are two finger grooves on the front of the HK VP9 SK grip. Those finger grooves will either work for you fantastically or not work at all, so keep that in mind before purchasing the firearm.

With the flush magazine, the general feel of the HK VP9 SK is small the gun is roughly the size of a Glock 19. But the grip itself feels more similar in height to a Glock 26.

You can only get two fingers on the gun with the flush fit magazine- unless you have really small hands. With the pinky extension, most people will be able to get all three fingers on the gun and the pinky extension is ergonomically shaped to mold nicely into the bottom of the grip. There are two indentations at the bottom of the grip on the side panels that allow you to get a greater purchase on stripping out the magazine if you’re to have a malfunction and need to strip out the magazine.

Sights

The HK VP9 SK comes with two different sighting options. I have the LE variant which comes with three-dot night sights but they also have the same sight picture with three-dot luminescent sites. The night sights on the gun and the luminescent science offer a decent sight picture, but it’s nothing to brag about. They are the same as standard old school night sights.
With offerings from companies like Amerigo and Trijicon being the norm for night sights the factory sights really seem outdated.

There are aftermarket options for the HK VP9 SK and the sights. That said the aftermarket options are relatively few compared to most of the HK VP9 SK’s competitors. As far as mounting a red dot on the HK VP9SK, there are no factory offerings at this time. HK does offer the full-size VP9 with a red dot cut. So, perhaps they’ll consider adding an HK VP9 SK 2020 red dot optic compatible model in the future.

Controls

There is only one external safety on the HK VP9SK and that is the trigger safety to make the gun drop safe. It is a single action only striker fire trigger, so the trigger safety is definitely a nice touch if you plan on carrying the firearm for defensive use.

Magazine Release

The magazine release on HK pistols is somewhat unique. Currently, the HK VP9SK is only offered with a paddle-style magazine release that is the norm on HK pistols.

The HK paddle-style release is something you’ll either love or you’ll hate. Most Americans aren’t quite used to that design but Europeans seem to love them. It is a perfectly ambidextrous system and many say it’s slower than the button style releases that most Americans are used to. But in my testing, I haven’t found it to be any slower than the button style release. It’s a bit different because you can access the grip with either the thumb of your shooting hand, your middle finger or your trigger finger. So, there are lots of options and you’ll have to find which technique works best for you.

Most people have to break their grip to drop the magazine. I’ve done speed tests between the HK VP9 SK paddle release and other guns with the traditional button mag release, and I have not found any speed difference on the reload. Dropping the magazine is usually the least critical part of getting a fast reload. Most of the time savings come in inserting the mag and dropping the slide efficiently.

Slide Stop

The VP9 SK features a sheet metal slide stop like most other guns in its class. The slide stop itself is ambi. But the slide stop set up for right-handed shooters on the left-hand side of the gun is much larger than the slide stop on the right-hand side of the gun set up for left-handed shooters.

The slide stop itself is kind of a disappointment- it feels flimsy compared to the rest of the gun.

The slide stop is pushed up by the follower in the magazine when there are no rounds left in the magazine and presses onto a cutout on the left-hand side of the slide. Due to this, it’s harder to drop the slide on the VP9SK using your left-hand thumb as a left-handed shooter than it is as a right-handed shooter using your right-hand thumb just due to leverage and how it is applied to dropping that slide.

The slide stop is somewhat recessed into the frame so you don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting it but that can be a downside if you want to lock the slide back. Using the slide lock to lock the slide back isn’t hard though, it’s just different than most other guns considering how recessed the VP9SK slide lock is. Honestly, for how recessed it is, I don’t think HK could have made it any easier to lock back or drop the slide with that style of design.

CZ Shadow 2

ACTION: Semiauto
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 10+1
BARREL: 3.39 in.
OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 6.61/4.57/1.31 in.
WEIGHT: 23.7 oz.
CONSTRUCTION: Black-Nitride steel slide, Polymer frame
SIGHTS: Steel; 3 Dot
TRIGGER: Striker
PRICE: $749
MANUFACTURER Heckler Koch USA

Overall Ergonomics

Overall, the VP9SK definitely feels great in the hand that said it feels like it should hold a lot more ammo for its size and weight. The gun only holds 10 rounds with a flush fit magazine, yet remains to be similar in size to the Glock 19. It would be nicer if the gun held 13 or 14 rounds in a similar-sized format. But the HK has a bombproof reliable magazine and for that, you’re going to sacrifice a little bit of capacity. That said, most of its contemporaries also have very reliable magazines that are sufficient to carry. HK is just way overbuilt in that aspect.

The grip customization is a nice touch and the ambi magazine release will be a favorite of left-handed shooters everywhere.

Now the slide on the HK VP9SK was somewhat unique for its time in that it included both front and rear cocking serrations. While this feature is now the norm on most handguns and they have been updated to include it if they didn’t have before when the HK VP9 SK was introduced they were not a common thing.

One unique feature of the gun that stands out from all other guns on the US market besides the HK VP9 is plastic wings that fit underneath the rear sight that allow you to get a better grip when racking the firearm. These wings are an extremely unique feature and do help some shooters. A lot of shooters do not care for them while some love them. That’s something you’ll need to keep in mind when checking out the HK VP9 SK. The good thing is if you drift out your rear sight the wings are easily removable if you don’t like them.

HK VP9 SK serrations don’t feel that aggressive. That said, they do work quite well when racking the slide of the firearm using either the front or rear serrations. The front serrations extend from 3/8 of an inch in front of the ejection port, towards the nose of the gun for almost an inch and a half. So, there is plenty of room to get a good purchase on the gun using the forward serrations.

The rear serrations are identical and cut to the forward serrations, and they all are deceiving in how well they work for manipulating the firearm. My biggest complaint with the ergonomics of the gun is that you can only get two fingers on the gun itself. And if you can get three the finger groove in the front of the firearm will likely cause issues for you when gripping the gun.

Trigger

When the HK VP9 first came out, everybody was talking about how good the trigger was. At that time Glock, the Smith and Wesson M&P, and the Springfield XD were the most popular handguns on the market. They were the only striker-fired options out there. Due to this, everybody was looking for a better trigger in striker-fired handguns. The M&Ps had that hinged trigger and it was considered standard to add an aftermarket trigger just to make the gun usable.

The XD’s have never been known for their great triggers outside of a few competition models and the Glocks people have always complained about their stock triggers until the recent introduction of the Gen 5 Glock, and even then, people still aren’t happy with them. So, people lauded what a great trigger HK produced and a striker-fired gun. And frankly, I have no idea what they were talking about. Maybe the earlier guns had better triggers but I haven’t seen any evidence of that.

The trigger itself has a light take-up before you hit a wall and then it has a plasticky long break. The reset is light with no forward force and it resets barely in front of the wall.

The trigger is fine and perfectly sufficient, but I would put it in the same class as other striker-fired triggers on the market. It’s nothing exceptional. It’s not great. It’s not horrible. It’s a perfectly mediocre trigger option. If you’re a fan of a short reset, the HK VP9 SK will not entice you. The reset on the gun isn’t incredibly long, but it’s not incredibly short either and is roughly twice as long as its Glock counterparts. It is also twice as long as the Smith and Wesson M&P and the Sig P320 series.

Maintenance

Maintenance on the HK VP9 SK is straightforward. You’ll want to unload the magazine out of the gun, check the firearm to make sure there is nothing in the chamber. And then you’ll need to twist the lever in front of the slide stop down 90 degrees and the slide will slide off the firearm where you can then remove the recoil spring assembly and the barrel.

The good thing about this design is it does not require you to pull a trigger to disassemble the firearm. This is somewhat unique to most other striker fire guns on the market. And at the time the Smith and Wesson M&P was the only gun that had a provision to avoid pulling the trigger and that was considered a big selling point considering there were lots of stories of law enforcement officers shooting themselves with their Glocks when taking them apart and having to pull the trigger before cleaning the gun.

Personally, if you practice safe firearm handling standards pulling the trigger to disassemble a firearm is not an issue. But if that’s something that scares you, this is a great gun to look at.

Overall Aesthetics of the Gun

The HK VP9 SK is really a gun that’s going to come down to personal taste. In my opinion, the polymer of the frame kind of ruins the gun, because I’m comparing it to the HK P30 series which has probably the nicest polymer of any striker-fired pistol on the market. The serrations on the slide are attractive and the gun isn’t any attractive by any means, but it’s just a standard striker fire gun without any details or elegance that really sets the gun apart. But this is a personal opinion and your mileage may vary.