The People’s Pistol

Since the start of the new year, I’ve been eagerly wanting to own the new Heckler and Koch VP9. But I was compelled not to jump the “gun”. What if I don’t like the VP9? What if I’m destined only to master Heckler and Koch’s USP series? What if… the PPQ is the better pistol that I needed to get instead?

I decided that it was time that I began my 1000 round testing on the VP9 by going to various gun ranges and renting it. The logic was quite simple: I didn’t want to test a brand new gun. What I wanted was to test a rental gun that’s been used, abused and has already been broken in by a few thousand rounds from previous shooters. And you know what? That was a great strategy on my part (and for anyone he’s looking to buy any new gun for the first time).

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My initial impression of the HK VP9 wasn’t impressive at all.

I initially ran the first 100 rounds through the VP9 and so far, I think I like my HK45C better. And I honestly felt that the VP9 shoots “ok” based on my initial impression. But maybe it’s because I’ve been training on a DA/SA platform that I just wasn’t sure about that striker fire “trigger pull”. (It was at a point I began to wonder why do I really need this? I really like the double action pull.)

The recoil on the gun is decent. I was able to acquire my sight picture much more quicker than on my 45 or the subcompact. I was really quite surprised that I was able to smoothly rock several dot drills easily. I was able to do keyhole drills much better on this platform and it totally beats my subcompact for sure. I’m also going to probably make a “duh” observation by saying that typically, a 9mm is much more manageable than a 45ACP.

Overall, I spent 15 mins on the range doing dry fire and manipulations with it. Lets just say that this pistol and I aren’t seeing eye to eye just yet. I felt right away that this pistol seems to be really geared more for the right handed shooters. They slimmed down the controls a lot and really repositioned the controls differently that makes it harder for left handed shooters to work the controls. The irony is that they say it’s really ambidextrous. But to me, it was not that same USP ambidextrous feeling that I already adopted to.

So my unique deliberate loading technique pretty much sucked on the VP9.

But what’s baffling me is that the older HK pistols (from the mid-90s to 2000s) all felt very natural in my hands – regardless of which series. I especially love the way the USP compact feels in my hand; VP9 just didn’t seem to have that “recognizable” feel to it. Grip-wise, it’s nice. Almost like the HK45, HK45C and the P30, but somewhat more of a M&P feel (if you can believe that!).

At the moment, my desire to run out and get one is no longer a mission priority. If anything, I’m feeling a little disappointed. Right now, I’m hoping the VP9 “GEN 2” will fix some of these issues I personally don’t like; but I doubt it. (The VP40 was just released and there were no announcement on the VP9 being updated.)

So far my beef is really with the control levers.

However, to be fair, I went to a different range after a couple of weeks and tested it out again with some more rounds downrange.

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The Second Date

The VP9 that I rented this time looked a lot more grimier and dirtier than the previous one I rented. Oh yeah, you can see the muzzle all stained from the muzzle flash and internally, it looked like a beat up engine that never had an oil changed done to it. Yet, this time around, my low expectation of the VP9 was completely shattered.

The first couple of rounds on this one, I was able to keyhole the x-ring at 7 yards with ease; which really surprised me since I normally struggled with my 45. When I switched drills, I was completely blown away how tight my groupings were, especially with the Bill Drill.

So was it the gun or my skills that actually improved?

Keeping the target at 7 yards, I performed the dot drill torture test and sure enough, I rocked that 50 round drill with ease. I couldn’t believe what I just did. I performed it pretty well. When I say “well” I meant that I kept it all within the 3 inch circle, while being generous on some of the marginal hits. Either way, the final test was when I laid down a nice 3 inch group in the snot box at 7 yards. I think that was like one of the best shooting I’ve ever did at any indoor range; sadly I didn’t have my camera to capture it all.

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Apparently, I was so involved in testing out the VP9, I hadn’t noticed that a few dudes were watching me shred that target up. Then, as I was leaving, the range officer gave me a big nod as if he approved of my shooting while those same guys pretty much made a comment of:

“Just like that huh? You came and fuck shit up for all of us.”

I found that pretty hilarious actually. I’ve never been the type that shot well nor did I felt like I shredded that target. But I’m just going to assume that they were newbies and just didn’t know better. (Of course, it’s fair to say that this range I was at, is a range where a certain school teaches regularly, in which I am not a fan of the owner and his instructors.)

Looking back on the VP9 after throwing down another batch of rounds, I was quite surprised on how well I rocked this gun. In fact, the dry fire and manipulations I did before hand was starting to feel a lot more easier. Even that extended wing tip was becoming a less of a pain in the ass.

When I left the range, I could not help but to ask myself whether or not this session changed my mind about the VP9? Or was there something else that I missed from the last session that negated a positive experience with the VP9? Yet, I left the range driving home with a new perspective on the VP9.

I think I’m starting to really like the VP9.

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