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Thread: USP Compact Surprise

  1. #1
    Member KevH's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
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    Contra Costa County, CA

    USP Compact Surprise

    Boredom

    Since late 2018 I haven't been shooting nearly as much as I used to for a number or reasons (work assignment, two kids, bad tendonitis in my right arm, insert other lame excuse...). I seem to be lucky if I make it to the range a couple times a month just to keep my skill up and 98% of my shooting has been with a 9mm Glock or a J-frame since those are what I actually carry. Sure, I've spent a decent amount of time playing with RDO's since that's the new shiz, but even that is only fun for a bit. Shooting has become a task or work related chore. To be honest, shooting striker-fired plastic guns and even my beloved 1911 has gotten to be pretty damn boring for me.

    So this morning I had time, knew the range was empty and the weather was nice, so I thought, "What the hell." I did something I haven't done for years and decided to take up a bunch of guns and just go plink around by myself. I brought a Don Williams Hi Power, a USP 45 with the Hybrid Match LEM, Grayguns P226 wearing Nills, and a bone stock USP 40 Compact I picked up in a trade with a forum member last year. They're guns that basically I never shoot anymore, or in the case of the USP-C, have only shot once.

    The other aforementioned guns were fine, but nothing special. I have to say, the H&K USP Compact LEM in 40 S&W simply blew me away. I didn't want to put the stupid thing down!

    Gun Background

    Taking inventory of ammo last year I realized I have quite a bit of 40 S&W ammo in my personal inventory and my department still has quite a bit of it in inventory with the amount of folks carrying a 40 S&W down to the fingers on one hand and falling (we had around 130 carrying it back in 2012). I then realized that I personally own only one 40 S&W handgun which is a Glock 22 Gen3 that I keep for sentimental reasons and has basically been usurped by my wife. So I traded an extra Glock 17 I had lying around for a bone stock Variant 1 USP Compact 40 S&W wearing a set of dim Meprolight night sights that came with four mags.

    I took it out to the range shortly after receiving it and found the DA/SA trigger to basically suck. I put a couple of mags through it during a break between teaching and then back it went into the safe. I thought about selling it and then decided a few months ago to buy an LEM kit for it, installed it one night, but didn't really have the chance to mess with it again until today.

    A Brief Review

    This is one of those guns that doesn't feel magical holding it in the hand, but is pure magic shooting it. Even with the coarse Meprolight 3-dots, I didn't have a problem hitting 3x5 cards at 10 or 15 yards. What surprised me though is without glasses I was able to hit the 3x5 card with consistency at 30 yards with Federal 180gr HST. It is an inherently accurate gun. I also find it an inherently shootable gun, much more so than many of our current striker fired options out there. I also don't find the recoil to be bad in the slightest. In fact, perceived recoil felt less than the BHP running standard Federal 124gr American Eagle.

    I was concerned about LEM being too weird for me. I had played with it on P30's in the past and never cared for it. The LEM-hybrid match on the USP 45 I have I always found to be too light for any type of social use and that particular gun is another one I keep for sentimental reasons (it was a retired co-worker's duty gun). The LEM in this USP Compact has an extremely light take-up, a crisp (although fairly light) wall and an extremely short reset. Color me impressed.

    Reliability was what I would expect out of a USP: 100%. I've been around enough of them over the years to know they don't break easy and I'm not particularly worried about this one.

    One thing I want to try is a 5+6 Detent Plate (if I can find one) to see what it is like with a manual safety. I don't think it's needed, but I just want to see what it is like.

    Thoughts

    Why was this thing so fun? No clue. Maybe it's because it's something different.

    Maybe it's the fact that it's a yester-year's hotness bone stock gun with mediocre sights shooting what's become a nearly cliché obsolete cartridge that makes me look like a way better shot than it ought to.

    I'm currently assigned to the admin division of my PD so my normal attire is a polo and khaki pants and I only work as a patrol supervisor only once in a blue moon to try to stay relevant.

    It was only one range day, I'll need a few more (see how that works? just gave myself a reason to shoot more) , but I'm actually considering qualing with this thing and carrying it for awhile in and out of uniform.

  2. #2
    Member Greg Bell's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
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    Middle Georiga
    I agree, fantastic gun. Those guns were always "bet your ass" guns that could be trusted right out of the box to feed pretty much any ammo commercially available. I had a USP .40 compact and at one point a P2000 SK and I they were always very accurate and totally reliable. I wish someone would rip-off or improve the old Surefire rail adapter for the USP railed guns. That, in my mind, is their only real Achilles' heel. I sourced one for my USP .45 by shear luck (I remembered seeing one at a gun range like TEN YEARS before and sure enough it was still there because of the owner's propensity to mark everything at full retail).




    I am sure I will be tarred and feathered but I think people are going to start revisiting .40 cal at some point (the wheel of caliber is always turning). A lot of the guns designed around the cartridge are extremely rugged and well designed. I remember having .40 caliber guns like my USP and 229 for years and it wasn't until everyone started complaining that I realized it was so hard to shoot.


    It is always fun to find a gem that you already own!

  3. #3
    I always thought the 40 Compact was a cool gun, a buddy had one I wanted but I didn't pull the trigger. Now I'm stuck with .40 ammo and no gun!

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Bell View Post
    I am sure I will be tarred and feathered but I think people are going to start revisiting .40 cal at some point (the wheel of caliber is always turning). A lot of the guns designed around the cartridge are extremely rugged and well designed. I remember having .40 caliber guns like my USP and 229 for years and it wasn't until everyone started complaining that I realized it was so hard to shoot.
    I always thought my P229 was really soft shooting and easy to shoot, at least at my level at the time.

  5. #5
    Site Supporter entropy's Avatar
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    Reliable. To the extreme. The only issue in nearly 20 years of use for me was a broken firing pin on a “pre mod” version. I think enough of them that I went out and bought a USP .45 and configured it with the same LEM version for field use. Not the prettiest, not my favorite, but it will be the sole survivor in the safe if it ever comes down to that. Not even a question.
    Working diligently to enlarge my group size.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by KevH View Post
    Boredom
    The other aforementioned guns were fine, but nothing special. I have to say, the H&K USP Compact LEM in 40 S&W simply blew me away. I didn't want to put the stupid thing down!
    Would it be inaccurate to say that, if one wanted or had to have a carry gun in 40s&w, the USP Compact is probably THE one to have or at least in the top 3? Although it's been many years, I distinctly remember shooting one in .40 and being amazed at how little recoil it had relative to even some full-size .40's from other manufacturers.

    May it please the PF court, I realize the other 2 out of 3 are likely required to be a 4006, shorty 40, or other 3rd gen S&W.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Super77 View Post
    I always thought my P229 was really soft shooting and easy to shoot, at least at my level at the time.
    I was shocked when I shot a 229 in 40. It felt like a 9mm. If I had to shoot 40 that’s probably what I would get.

  8. #8
    Site Supporter
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    I had a chance to buy a USP40c while I was deployed. My FFL buddy even offered to let it live in his safe until I returned. The price was $425 and I'm deeply regretting not getting it.

    If shooting a USP40 full size is any indication, the compact is likely to be awesome too. I like my USP45 but I can shoot the USP40 much better for some reason.
    Don't beg the question when the answer is war

  9. #9
    Member KevH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig_Fiend View Post
    Would it be inaccurate to say that, if one wanted or had to have a carry gun in 40s&w, the USP Compact is probably THE one to have or at least in the top 3? Although it's been many years, I distinctly remember shooting one in .40 and being amazed at how little recoil it had relative to even some full-size .40's from other manufacturers.

    May it please the PF court, I realize the other 2 out of 3 are likely required to be a 4006, shorty 40, or other 3rd gen S&W.
    At the height of 40 S&W's dominance in the LE market my agency opted to issue the 155gr Hydra-Shok followed by the 155gr HST. When available, the 155gr TMJ was our training ammo. It had pretty darn good ballistic performance, but oh man, did it abuse guns and have some harsh recoil. I much prefer the cartridge in 180gr for shootability and I don't think you really lose much in ballistic performance. In fact, the 180gr variety of the typical duty rounds (HST, Ranger-T, Gold-Dot, ect) does quite well against auto glass and other barriers.

    From memory...
    - I had way too much experience shooting Glocks in 40 S&W and don't care at all for Gen2, Gen3, or Gen4 guns in the caliber one bit (Gen5 may be different, but I've never shot one in 40 S&W).
    - I found the SIG P229 to be fairly pleasant in the caliber.
    - The original USP mitigated recoil quite well, but had sort of a funky slide impulse. I never warmed up to it because of the crappy DA trigger pull, but after starting to play with LEM that my be a good option. It's just a fairly large gun for what it is.
    - The Beretta 96 was always a problematic gun and for the 11 round magazine capacity, I don't think it was worth the trouble.
    - The 4006 and other 3rd Gen S&W guns were okay, but damn were they heavy and did they have a limited capacity. I have a soft spot for the 5906. The 4006 never did much for me.
    - The Springfield XD wasn't bad in 40 S&W, but the other issues related to the platform are what they are.
    - The S&W M&P 40 may just be the epitome of the caliber. My department issued it from 2007-2016. You get 15 rounds of ammo, fairly flawless function, in a lightweight package, and with quite mitigated recoil. The California Highway Patrol still issues it.

  10. #10
    Member JonInWA's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
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    Auburn, WA
    Both of my HKs (VP40 and P30L in V"1.5" LEM) are by personal choice in .40. I think HKs are built not only to stand the gaff of continual use, but are also (at least in my choices) eminently ergonomically tailorable with OEM-provided backstrap and sideplate components. It can take a bit of work and experience to figure out the best individual combination, but they're well worth the effort. I can instinctively pick up and shoot my HKs (even despite their being .40) better than almost any other of my choices (the others that fleet to the top in this regard are my Gen 3 Glock G17 and G19, and venerable Ruger P89).

    HK also does a superb job in the engineering of their RSAs, which are a major factor in mitigating/dissapating recoil forces.

    When you factor in accuracy, durability, reliability, and low maintenance, HK constantly mantains a hig position in my handgun preferences and use.

    What's not to like? The Germanic engineering involving multiple fiddley small parts making detailed disassembly of the receiver daunting (at least for me). The things are like Russian nest dolls inside... I suspect it has a side effect of somewhat chilling organizational interest, due to the increased resource comittment (time and components) (even if they're unlikely to break inside of their forecasted replacement periods), especially when annual detailed takedowns and reassembly are required.

    Best, Jon

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