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Thread: HK VP9 1,000 Round Range Report: Pour yourself a mug, letís have a talk.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    HK VP9 1,000 Round Range Report: Pour yourself a mug, letís have a talk.

    “Death Ray”, “mini-rifle”, “best handgun made” (ever?)…are a few of the descriptives I’ve read about the VP9 over the past year from other shooters reviewing this new striker gun from HK.

    Are they right?

    Before I answer that question(s) from my perspective, I invite you take a literary walk with me back 17 years into my handgun shooting experience. Through the years, I’ve lent my ear to many, read aplenty, and have experience of my own…all have melted to form my individual experience and opinion on handgun shooting. I offer mine to toss into the melting pot to help another arrive…and maybe save some money or time…both always in short supply.

    Further, I think it compliments the review, and why I am shooting this pistol today, after these many'll note I'm opinionated and if you disagree, no problem, share it or not, I understand we arrive at different places for different reasons.

    A Glock 22 was my first foray into serious handgun shooting.

    40 S&W being the new thing, relatively, more oomph than the 9, increased capacity over the .45. I didn’t like the Glock 22. Not even a little bit. A lot of recoil, weird grip angle and, I thought, inaccurate. We had to down load the magazine one round, as full magazines wouldn’t seat.

    Time revealed that my instruction was poor and would have mitigated most of the negatives I found with the gun.

    Time and good instruction has not changed my opinion on Glock .40 recoil…harsh.

    My next platform was the SIG P-Series, a P228 9mm.

    Normal grip angle (hate, hate, hate), lower recoil and accurate. My instruction had marginally improved and I shot the gun fairly well, though DA remained a difficulty for me. Low left type errors. I distinctly remember the quality of that particular specimen. Made in Germany markings, the attention to detail was, coming from a Glock, extraordinary. Knowing what I know now about SIG, the 1990’s was when SIG was producing their best handguns in any P-Series flavor. Build quality (inside and out), attention to detail, and the guns showed a certain careful consideration of design. Made in Germany most def.

    Time went on and a change in life was made and I was issued my first HK, a P2000 in .40.

    A great gun, well made, same attention to detail in its manufacture as the German P228. Accurate, reliable, LEM trigger fair, but I never mastered it (only qualified marksman on the FLETC PPC). The duty load, if I recall accurately, was the Speer Gold Dot 155 grain…very hot, stout recoil, alas more manageable than the Glock 22 of previous mention.

    At this point in time, my skill in shooting had progressed over the years. I knew the concept of front sight focus, having a good trigger pull to not disturb the sights, drawing from my holster and executing a decent press-out. My grip was still inadequate and the aforementioned still needed refinement, but I was on my way.

    Another change in agency and the P229 .357 SIG became the new standard.

    Still, SIG quality is mostly excellent in the P-Series line and my P229 exemplified this. All the attributes of the German P228 were there, IOW, solid build quality. The P229 in 357SIG is not really a handgun…it is a true mini-rifle. From 1.5 to 50 yards, one only need keep the same sight picture. The .357 SIG shoots very, very flat. We never shot past 50, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could go to 100 yards with the same sight picture (elevation). I like the round. Stout, but very manageable recoil in the P229 platform, extreme accuracy and, if cost wasn’t a factor, it would be the only round I carry. Over the course of my time with the gun, I put nearly 50K through it, and I had one malfunction at 13K. The recoil spring end had caught itself inside the hole / hollow portion of the guide rod. This occurred because the recoil spring had not been changed at its regular interval and had become very short. A fresh recoil spring and she was purring again.

    The instruction I received on running the P229 was world class. The refinement I needed in my technique was buttoned up nicely. Thumbs forward (no more thumb over thumb), front sight focus, smooth trigger, reset and prep, proper follow through / sight picture were drilled into us students.

    Copious amounts of dry-fire, plenty of live fire and simunitions. I know it’s a point of contention with some well-known instructors whether dry-fire is worth the time, but I am convinced that it is a mandatory part of a shooter’s regimen. Dry-fire allowed me to run the DA/SA to its peek performance (and a lot of free ammo). It allowed me to qualify expert every quarterly qualification.

    A few years ago I left that agency (FAMS).

    The duty had taken its toll and I suffered some health problems. Still suffer, but to a much lesser extent. Gone were the days of giving notice with a training instructor and walking out of the ammo vault with 500+ rounds of Speer Gold Dot. I think back on it now and I could have paid my rent selling the ammo on the side. I was more interested in matching my better peers and shot frequently instead.

    Now, I’m going to make some further remarks on the DA/SA platform, and it is going to dovetail into the HK VP9 report.

    It’s going to pit DA/SA against striker fired somewhat, where feeling on the two can be vigorous.

    Shortly after separating, I attended a 3-day Advanced Pistol Training Course hosted by Bruce Gray. I was still at my peak with DA/SA. Attending this particular course were some accomplished shooters; local LE, FED LE, civilians and one Politician. One well known shooter to this forum (I think), and unbeknownst to me at the time, was Mr. Hilton Yam.

    I post this picture not to brag, but to qualify my statements on DA/SA and to prove that I had attained a good level of skill with the DA/SA action. This picture represents a drill Mr. Gray had the advanced students perform at the end of the third day. It involved splitting a playing card in half, edge wise, from seven yards, timed. A student could choose to do it from the high-ready or from the holster. I chose to do it from my leather thumb break holster and, on the draw, in DA, split the card in half in 1.5 seconds timed:

    (I had Mr. Gray sign the card (in upper right corner) for authenticity, figured I might get a lot of BS calls).

    I have found that since my separation, my DA accuracy has slipped at distance. It took around two years for this to develop. 0-15 solid, 25-35 yards, and I’m throwing DA shots just a hair over the right shoulder. Not all mind you, but enough to count. This occurs, in my sessions, consistently enough to frustrate me in the extreme. I know it is trigger control…you know it is trigger control. I dry fire three times a week, and I a practice every 7 to 10 days. I used to shoot 10-15K a year as a FED LE, but now, as a civilian, with a matching ammo budget, I am now relegated to 5-7K a year.

    It is what it is.

    I’ve read other shooters lament on various forums, over the years, and even a few previous Glock shooters in the FAMS, that the DA/SA takes to much practice to master or to stay competent with. I used to think these shooters were not dedicating their time to it or were venting at the tool rather than their poor fundamentals.

    The DA/SA will highlight that in a hurry.

    There comes a point in this shooting journey where you’ve acquired enough skill and fundamentals work that you should know the game. Plenty of money has been spent on me to shoot well and, at a certain skill point, shooting a handgun accurately through a basic skill spectrum (PPC) really shouldn’t be that hard.

    Sure, all of us, civilian, LE or competition / instructor, still make our mistakes and have to harden up on the basics. Gremlin or not, I am convinced that my diminishing skill in DA/SA had to do with fewer rounds to run on it over time, and I’m not interested in devoting more rounds to stay on top of it.

    I’ve also grown tired of carrying a fully loaded, high-capacity, metal gun…in Florida heat.

    The striker experiment began and started off badly:

    After that debacle, I took member SLG’s advice in that thread to heart, that I should stick with the SIG and what I know. After all, I had become a SIG Armorer and knew the system inside and out. It takes time to know a platform well. Stay with it; stay comfortable, only I wasn’t.

    I dump the Glocks…and shortly afterward…have a frustrating day with my trainer P229 9mm. More distance trouble. On impulse, I say screw it, walk into my LGS and purchase an HK VP9 and take my a** right back to the range with 300 rounds.

    I shoot the FAM PPC that I practice regularly, and shoot a perfect 300 expert score, first 60 rounds with the VP9... all within times and using simulated barricades. I’ve never shot a perfect score with the SIG:

    It’s a clue that my gut feeling was right. My fundamentals were, mostly, solid. Yes, I had a Gremlin in my DA and I tried to beat that Gremlin, I really did, but I’m tired of messing with it.

    Again, as I said, after enough skill has been acquired, hundreds of hours on the range, the BS needs to hit the road.

    We all need to be honest with ourselves sometimes…what are we trying to achieve and what is the best way or tool to achieve it?

    This is where I’ve arrived after 17 years of handgun shooting, after much advice and training from wonderful instructors and the privilege to work with some outstanding men and women.

    The HK VP9 Range Report:

    The first thing I picked up upon right away was the attention to detail, the build quality and the ergonomics. Holy hell kittens, the handle is what Gaston tried to do, but did it a** backwards (hate, hate, hate). HK did it. I had never handled a P30 previously, where I guess this style grip got started, but man did HK get it right! I went with small panels all around and a rubber sleeve.

    Nowadays, as it lamented here on this forum and elsewhere, handgun manufacturers are cutting quality corners; SIG, Glock, S&W. It’s sad and uncalled for in the age of CNC, but it’s where we are. All my SIGs are 90’s, early 2000’s, and there is a reason for that; build quality. Mr. Cohen has made SIG profitable and I commend him for that, but he’s altered the P-Series recipe when he didn’t have too. If it’s not a carbon slide model or it doesn’t have a short extractor, I won’t touch it. Too much time has proven those designs and I’m not interested in outsourced MIM from India or new unproven extractors. Glock and S&W suffer from the same

    Up front, it’s obvious, HK does not compromise. She is well-made…and she shoots as good as she looks.


    -Attention to detail
    -Build quality – high
    -Zeroed in from factory, shoots POA-POI at 25 yards
    -Mild recoil
    -Laser accurate
    -The finest ergonomics (IMO)
    -Best striker trigger I’ve felt
    -No BTF
    -The size is right

    I’ll elaborate on a few of those pro’s….I’ve shot the PPQ, the Glock 22 and 19, the M&P and finger banged the P320. I like the Glock and HK striker trigger the best, the S&W the least, the P320 I would like after some work, and the PPQ for range only. Coming from a 10lb DA and 4.5 SA, I like to think I have a well-tuned trigger finger. Predictability is a necessary asset in a carry platform. Both the Glock factory 5.5 and the HK striker deliver this. Both have a definitive wall that you won’t run through on presentation and a predictable break; the HK having the cleaner break over the Glock.

    The 3.5 connector on the Glock I found too light and did not provide a sufficient wall…for a finger accustomed to a 10lb first shot pull.

    The S&W is not worthy of mention, its reset being awful. The PPQ has a clean break, but too light of a wall and no way to change that. I also thought the PPQ build quality, both polymer and steel, seemed inferior to the HK. Just an opinion, but it’s mine.

    Recoil has been mild overall; slightly sharper with NATO and HP. Front sight tracks fast and the gun can be run quickly. Excellent trigger and reset. Perhaps the most predictable trigger I’ve ever shot. The ergonomic grip is a pleasure to hold. All attributes translating to excellent accuracy…yes…the VP9 is a “mini-rifle”. It’s too easy to shoot well.

    Ammo I’ve run through her for the first thousand: Aguila 124 and 115, Winchester 124 NATO, Speer Gold Dot 115, Federal 115 HP 9BLE and Freedom Munitions 115. All ammo has run flawlessly save for the FM 115…this load is weak and caused intermittent FTE’s. Come to find out, the out of the box VP9 does not like weak ammo and I ran the FM after 200 rounds of Aguila 124 and 115 (which ran fine). 700 rounds down the pipe since the FM, and the gun has run like a top. So, not an HK issue, but an ammo one. The lesson is no weak ammo in the beginning.

    No ‘BTF’ whatsoever.

    All magazines seat easily and firmly when fully loaded and reloads, under time, are smooth and almost effortless. Using the trigger finger for the magazine release is different, but intuitive. The gun handles.

    A big pro worth mentioning is that HK takes the time to sight their guns in from the factory. I purchased the HK LE model with night sights. I can take or leave night sights, but when a gun comes factory zeroed, I save the money and work and go with night sights. The VP9 has a generous sight radius and I have no trouble focusing on the front sight, it is clear.

    We should not underestimate the value of this service. On my SIG’s, every single one, and the most recent Glocks, I had to purchase a sight tool and hassle to re-zero. Time and money wasted on something that should have been done from the factory…period:

    When you factor in the cost of new sights, sight tool…let alone an APEX extractor…the VP9 LE at 625$ is the best value in striker fired guns.

    Lastly, on the size of the gun, it’s bigger than a Glock 19 (no doubt), but smaller than a Glock 17. It is nearly the same size as my carry P229, albeit a half pound lighter and I don’t mind the size because she shoots so darn good:

    There is no con list, as the FM FTE’s were it and not the guns fault.

    Thank you, HK…and in my gratitude for the attention to detail so lacking in the industry and for the time spent to make this pistol right, and ready to run out of the box, I bestow the best compliment I can on a manufacturer …I purchased a second one in .40….which has mild recoil as well, just a wee-bit stouter than the 9mm.

    Concluding this range report, gents, I hope my experience has been of aid to at least one of you. In choosing a new handgun to purchase, and the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees, I think it behooves all of us to support a company that delivers what all of us want; everything I have already listed.

    I am now converted to striker and will stay there, so long as the HK continues to run as it has. I will sell a few SIGs and buy another VP 9mm. I hear HK needs some $ help, so whatever I can do to help the company to continue to deliver the high quality product I received is the least I can do.

    I’m shooting to my high standard again and, most importantly, enjoying shooting.

    Last edited by Patrin; 08-24-2015 at 02:10 AM. Reason: Refinement

  2. #2
    You have won the "warpedcamshaft's longest forum post I've actually read in one sitting so far" award... It's prestigious.

    This was an enjoyable read for me... thanks for posting it.

    Also... is that a bicycle inner-tube wrapped around the grips of the pistols in the photos? I also spotted a CSAT target and Leopold optics boxes... which likely indicate you are a classy individual.
    Last edited by warpedcamshaft; 08-24-2015 at 03:48 AM.

  3. #3
    Thanks for a very informative and educational read. I appreciate the effort that went into it.

    As a noob, I also really like my VP9.

    Last edited by RJ; 08-24-2015 at 07:53 AM.

  4. #4
    Great post. I just finished an article on living with a VP9 daily for the last year. Experience mirrors much of yours...except I don't shoot as well, but my partner is able to milk the accuracy potential out of them.
    Just a Hairy Special Snowflake supply clerk with no field experience, shooting an Asymetric carbine as a Try Hard. Snarky and easily butt hurt. Favorite animal is the Cape Buffalo....likely indicative of a personality disorder.
    "If I had a grandpa, he would look like Delbert Belton".

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Northeast, NJ
    Excellent read. Thank you! Thanks your service too.

    The VP9 is the one pistol that I haven't tried of the newer offerings that interests me. Reports like this make my wallet nervous.

  6. #6
    Site Supporter JodyH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    New Mexico
    I approve of this message... except for buying anything in .40, that I disapprove of.
    "For a moment he felt good about this. A moment or two later he felt bad about feeling good about it. Then he felt good about feeling bad about feeling good about it and, satisfied, drove on into the night."
    -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy --

  7. #7
    Member Symmetry's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    A very well written post as a whole. Let us know how the .40 holds up. A excellent performing cartridge, given that the platform is durable enough to handle it and user friendly enough to help the shooter's scores.

  8. #8
    A very informative review. Thank you sir! Looking forward to any future updates. Also nyeti... where and when is your article coming out?

  9. #9
    An excellent read. I read it last night but wanted to sleep on it before commenting.

    I agree with everything you have written except the conclusion. I think you are evaluating the VP9 like a game gun and not as a defensive gun. For a game gun, my priorities are how easy it is to shoot other stuff. For a defensive gun, my priorities are not shooting myself, not shooting something I don't intend to, and then how easy is it to shoot something you do intend to shoot.

    What makes the VP9 easy to shoot other stuff, the short, light trigger, makes it easier to shoot yourself and things you don't intend to shoot. Your testing is pure shooting, and does not account for the not shooting yourself or others unintentionally part.

    At the risk of having become Darryl, I think short, light striker triggers are overrated on a carry gun, regardless of how they perform on pure shooting tests. I do love pistols with short, light triggers to game, and think the VP9 and 320 are great additions to the striker world.
    Likes pretty much everything in every caliber.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Fantastic report sir, very interesting and it kept my interest through every line. When HK comes out with either a VP9c or VP9sk I will have one. My USPc .40 is the smoothest shooting .40 that I have shot, much smoother than my previous P229R DAK .40 or my P239 .40. Thank you again for such a great thread!

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