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The Heckler & Koch VP9 (known as SFP9 in Europe and Canada) is a polymer-framed semi-automatic striker-fired handgun. The VP designation in the name refers to Volkspistole, which translates to "people's pistol", while SFP stands for "striker-fired pistol". The 9 stands for the caliber designation of 9 mm. The VP9 is the third striker-fired pistol that HK has produced. A variant of the VP9, the VP40, is chambered for .40 S&W; the VP40 is known as SFP40 in Europe and Canada.
A disassembled HK-SFP9 LSH
According to the manufacturer, Heckler & Koch, the pistol was under development for more than four years before its release in June 2014. Originally, it was designed on request of the Bavarian State Police, to replace the HK P7. As HK has a long history with striker-fired pistols, they decided to update their lineup with a newly designed striker system that gives their pistols a single stage-like trigger feel with a clean break.
The VP9 is a striker-fired pistol that features a Picatinny rail, ambidextrous controls, a hammer forged polygonal barrel, and changeable back and side straps to make the pistol grip customizable for any shooter's hand with 27 options of grip configuration. It was in development for more than four years and is Heckler & Koch's first striker-fired handgun since the P7 series pistols were introduced in the 1980s. The pistols are made in Heckler & Koch's Oberndorf factory in southwest Germany.
Most striker-fired handguns have a pre-travel pull that increases in weight as the shooter squeezes it rearward. The VP9 trigger has a short, light take-up with a solid, single action type break followed by a short positive reset. The average weight of the stock trigger pull is 5.2 lbs. The VP9 trigger has a consistent pre-travel pull followed by a positive set with clean break. Disassembly does not involve releasing the striker by squeezing the trigger.
Both the VP9 and VP40 use Heckler & Koch's ergonomic handgun grip design that includes three changeable backstraps and six side panels that allow the pistol's to fit any and all hand sizes. Molded finger grooves in the front of the pistol's grip also instinctively position the shooters hand for optimal shooting.
Although influenced by other HK models, the VP9 has a few innovations of its own. The controls are completely ambidextrous. A slide release is present on both sides of the frame and the magazine release can be easily activated by left- or right-handed shooters.
A new feature is HK's patented charging supports. They are simple components that are mounted on each side of the rear of the slide and provide better gripping leverage for racking the slide rearward. The charging supports speed reloading and make operating the VP9 easier for shooters with reduced hand strength. The VP pistols use the same steel magazines as the Heckler & Koch P30 in both the 15 and 10-round capacity configurations.
The VP9 has an extended full size Picatinny MIL-STD-1913 rail molded into its polymer frame for mounting lights and accessories. The rail has been tested and certified to handle the heavier mounted accessories because of its full size which adds rigidity. This rigidity gives the VP9 superior capabilities compared to some of its polymer competitors whose frames flex under use and cannot handle the weight of some of the medium to larger mounted lights.
In United States, the VP9 is available from retailers as a standard package (standard three-dot sights and two magazines included) or as a "LE" (Law Enforcement) package (factory-equipped tritium night sights and three magazines included). The night sights are Meprolight Tru-Dot.
In late 2018, HK introduced the VP9-B (B for "button"), equipped with a push-button magazine release, in response to the preferences of the American market. In January 2020, HK updated the VP9 design with a slide cutout for mounting pistol red-dot optics, new higher-capacity 17-round magazines to replace the 15-round magazines, and iron sights with a blacked-out rear bladed sight, replacing the previous three-dot setup, all as new standard features for the pistol.
VP9 variants available in Europe include:
Due to its trigger characteristics, the SFP9-SF variant is marketed by Heckler & Koch as a Special Forces pistol and not as a police duty pistol. The SFP9-SF has a trigger travel of approximately 6 mm (0.2 in) with a relatively short trigger reset of 3 mm (0.1 in) and a trigger pull of approximately 24 N (5.4 lbf) with a maritime marine coating.
The Technical Specifications (TR) of the German Police (Technische Richtlinie Pistolen im Kaliber 9mm x 19, Revision January 2008) for obtaining a German Police duty pistol certification require a first shot trigger pull of ≥30 N (6.7 lbf), a trigger travel of ≥10 mm (0.4 in) and a trigger reset of ≥4 mm (0.2 in).
The SFP9-TR has a trigger travel of approximately 11 mm (0.4 in) with a trigger reset of 5 mm (0.2 in) and a trigger pull of approximately 30–35 N (6.7–7.9 lbf) to accommodate German legislation on police duty handguns.
Maritime variant with saltwater resistant special coating (weapon fully usable according to the NATO salt spray test and NATO long-term saltwater test as per AC225 requirements):25 and OTB (Over The Beach) capability.
OR stands for 'optic ready', the variant uses the same trigger as SFP9-SF.
sound-suppressed variant (SD = Schalldämpfer)
variant with 86-millimetre (3.4 in) barrel (SK = Subkompakt)
variant with 127-millimetre (5.0 in) barrel (L = Long)
The American-market VP9 is available in a variety of colors including black, flat dark earth (FDE), grey, olive drab (OD) green, and midnight bronze.
Standard version for the American market. Ships with two magazines and standard three-dot sights.
Subcompact variant, ships with two 10-round magazines.
Law enforcement variant that includes an additional magazine and tritium night sights.
VP9 with long slide conversion kit
Tactical variant that includes a threaded barrel and night sights; ships with three magazines.
American-style button magazine release version of the original VP9.
The P2000 SK model is a smaller "sub-compact" version of the P2000. American versions of the P2000SK will accept the longer USP Compact magazines which provide higher capacities; up to 13 9 mm rounds and 12 .40 S&W/.357 SIG cartridges. Some of the advantages of its compact size will be compromised as these longer magazines will protrude approximately 1/2" below the bottom of the P2000SK's grip. Lower capacity 10-round magazines are the same size as the higher capacity USP Compact magazines.
The Heckler & Koch P2000 SK is a polymer framed hammer fired sub compact with modest dimensions and better than average capacity. The 9mm holds 10 rounds and is still only 4.55″ high. The cold hammer forged barrel has polygonal rifling, and is 3.26″ long. It’s tucked neatly within an overall length of 6.4″, making is easily concealable. Yet the length of the barrel gives it more ballistic punch (when you compare it to some of the shorter 9mms on the market now). It isn’t the thinnest sub compact on the market, but its 1.37″ width is by no means bulky. The controls don’t stick out, but provide exceptional leverage. They are much easier to manipulate than many sub compacts.
For those who use H&K pistols, having cross platform familiarity is a strong selling point for the P2000sk. It is the smallest pistol H&K makes and it is a pistol with a purpose. The subcompact H&K is built for self-defense. The P2000 pistols are logical pairings with the larger H&K USP. They’re small, ergonomic, and have easy to use. So why isn’t the P2000 SK any more popular than it is?
The P2000 SK was developed as a subcompact ambidextrous defensive handgun. Utilizing low profile controls, low profile sights, no external safeties, and the reliability of a full size handgun, the weapon seems to fit well within the pantheon of subcompact 9mms. At the time of its inception, the P2000 SK seemed more unique. Its biggest competition was the Glock 26/27.
Shooting the P2000 SK takes some getting used to. Its grip is very tight–maybe cramped is a better. I have a hard time getting three fingers on the gun comfortably. But it isn’t about comfort. If you’re drawing the P2000 SK in a defensive situation, you won’t be thinking about comfort. And there is a replaceable back strap to enlarge the grip if you find yourself too jammed up on the grip.
Firing the pistol starts with a long double action trigger pull that breaks at a hefty 11 pounds. That may seem excessive, but the pull isn’t gritty. It is crisp and manageable and easily staged. After that initial round fires, the pistol picks up a much more manageable 4.5 pound trigger pull in single action.
The P2000 SK shoots flat, thanks in part to the deceptive mass of the pistol.
One of the best features of the P2000 SK is the way it handles recoil. The pistol’s recoil is not sharp, nor is it snappy. I’ve shot a lot of 9mms in this size, and some of their muzzle flips can be especially brutal. But with proper grip and form the P2000 SK is easily managed. Repeat shots are fast and consistent. The gun simply handles like a full size pistol.
The ambidextrous slide drop and magazine release make feeding the weapon effortless, with either hand. When holding the pistol with both hands all the controls are right where they should be and easily accessible, elevating any need to shift the gun to actuate any of its functions.
The magazines are stout, like all H&K mags, and hold 10 rounds of 9mm. If you prefer .40, the mags hold 9. The mag plates have a small nub for extra grip. It isn’t much to hold onto, but it does act as a leverage point. This is one of the extras that helps with the mitigation of muzzle flip. It is like a small anchor.Clearing your palm from the mag well makes loading easier. The decocking button sits on the rear of the P2000sk’s slide and allows the user to safely carry a round in the chamber. The double action first shot is heavy and long but easily managed to be just as accurate as the single action shots to follow.
If you would rather have a double action only version, H&K makes the Law Enforcement Modification package (which they also call Combat Defense Action). It is effectively a double action only trigger that can be dialed down from the heavy pull to as little as 5.5 pounds. The LEM package uses a pre-cocked hammer that works similarly to striker fired pistol, offering the same pull for every round.