Heckler and Koch handguns have never been my first choice, but that changed a few years ago when I borrowed a friend’s VP9 to take a 3 day 3,000 round handgun class. I ended up taking high shooter in the class with a gun that was unfamiliar and in the process, I found that the VP9 was a great choice for me, and I have been anticipating the HK VP9SK pistol ever since.
Check out how the HK VP9SK Pistol does on the range in Daniel Shaw’s VIDEO.
I bought my own VP9 the following week and that VP9 now has over 15,000 rounds through it. I’ve taken classes and taught with it almost exclusively for two years and I am yet to experience a stoppage of any kind. It has been wet and muddy and while it is rarely cleaned, I keep it well lubricated.
The only thing that I didn’t like about the VP9 was that it was too large for me to conceal during the warmer months of the year. That problem is now solved with the VP9SK and the wait is over.
HK VP9SK Pistol: Trigger
To me, the VP9 trigger is the best out of the box trigger on any striker-fired handgun currently in production. There are some close seconds, such as the Walther PPQ and the Sig P320 to name a few. The Hudson H9 is likely to take them all soon, but that’s a story for another day. A good trigger is one that has a crisp wall as close to that of a high quality 1911 as possible. I also prefer a light take up that has a consistent feel all the way to the wall and a positive pressure reset after firing to have the trigger back in a firing position as my finger meets it after the gun cycles.
The VP9SK trigger is exactly what I was hoping. The VP9SK trigger has a light take up and the same crisp wall that VP9 shooters loved about the original. Having a great trigger in a defensive handgun is one of the most important aspects of handgun selection. Granted, the majority of defensive shootings do not require a high level of precision, but there are acceptations and a shooter with the ability to deliver precision at a rapid rate is safer for his or herself as well as bystanders.
Like the VP9, the VP9SK offers completely ambidextrous controls allowing left-handed and right-handed shooters to manipulate the magazine release and slide catch/release.
The VP9SK also has the charging supports found on the original model. I found that I like the charging supports as they aid in obtaining a positive grip on the slide for stoppage clearances during less than ideal weather conditions or when wearing gloves. Unfortunately, my original VP9 lost the left side charging support somewhere around the 3,000 round mark, but the right one is still hanging on. Hopefully, my VP9SK will keep them both.
Side note, H&K will send out replacements if you’ve had the same problem.
The grip is user-configurable and designed to fit your hand. The VP9SK comes with small medium and large backstraps as well as the same three size options for side panels that allow each person to configure the grip that he or she prefers.
I prefer the small back strap with a small side panel on the right side of the grip and a medium grip panel on the left side to allow more surface area to protrude and enable a firm press on the grip with my non-firing hand.
The sights on the standard model VP9SK work great for aiming and are the same design as the original VP9. The sights are typical 3-dot photoluminescent sights with two on the rear and one on the front. The rear sight is a ramped style sight that doesn’t work well for one-handed manipulations. Heckler and Koch offers an L.E. model of the VP9SK that comes with a few extra perks including nights sights and a rear sight with a forward-leaning edge that was designed for one-handed manipulations.
I have the standard model but will be picking up the VP9SK LE as soon as possible. If you are considering the VP9SK to become your defensive handgun, I would suggest you take a look at the LE model and the added value that package offers.
The magazine is the same magazine as the P30SK and a shorter version of the P30/VP9 magazines that have been in use for years. Standard P30/VP9 magazines work in the VP9SK for those like me who prefer to carry with a flush fit magazine while having a full-sized 15 round spare magazine in the pocket.
H&K States that 13 and 15 round magazines will be available in November of 2017. I am guessing this means magazine with an extended floor plate and not the standard P30/VP9 magazine that is already available.
HK VP9SK Pistol: Feel and Recoil
The VP9SK is soft shooting like the original VP9. The smaller grip fits the hand well, but like most subcompacts, it only allows room for the middle and ring finger of the firing hand with the flush fit magazine. Shooting with the extended floorplate magazine felt great and made a perfect fit for my hand with enough room for a full grip.
The VP9SK has a cold hammer-forged barrel made with high-grade steel and a polygonal bore profile. I was able to hit a 4″x4″ steel plate about 8 out of 10 shots at 50 yards from a two-handed standing position. Once you start getting out that far and beyond, ammo is more of a factor than the handgun in most cases.
During my short testing for this article, my wife Andrea and I fired exactly 550 rounds using 3 different types of ammunition. Andrea encountered an issue of the gun not going all the way into the battery at about the 475 round mark using Herter’s 115-grain ball and I later experienced the same problem firing one-handed when trying to replicate it with the same ammo. The problem never occurred with the other two types of ammunition and the Herters made up about 1/4 of the rounds we fired.
Both times the stoppage occurred, the slide would not lock back to the rear as if something was stopping it a millimeter or two from the rear position. I have not yet determined the cause, but I will update this when that information comes available. We fired 550 rounds and had two negative issues. That isn’t bad compared to a lot of guns that I test, but it’s far from the reliability I have experienced with my original VP9.
HK VP9SK Pistol: Verdict
As long as the problems we encountered were break-in or ammo related, the VP9SK looks to be a solid choice for concealed carry or anyone who carries a defensive handgun and wants a feature-rich firearm with a trigger that I consider to be best in class.
After all the time I have with the original VP9 and my short time and 550 rounds with the VP9SK, I can say that the gun has proven to me that it is safe, accurate and reliable enough to carry for a much more extended review that starts right now and I will update as it goes on.
About the Author: Daniel Shaw
Daniel Shaw is a retired US Marine Infantry Unit Leader with multiple combat tours and instructor titles. He has developed curricula and training standards for pre-deployment training and Marine Security Forces such as the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FAST) and the Naval Nuclear Security Program. His direct action experience includes Level IV VBSS and In Extremis Hostage Rescue. Daniel has been a DOD/USMC firearms instructor for over 16 years. Since retirement from the Marine Corps, Daniel has gained over 4 years of experience teaching Armed Citizens, Law Enforcement Officers, and Active Duty Military. He holds numerous instructor certifications from the US Marine Corps to include foreign weapons and master instructor of handgun, rifle/carbine, shotgun, and medium to heavy machine guns.
Daniel takes his life of training and combat experience and develops as well as presents curriculum and also creates digital media content to help Law Enforcement, US Military and responsible Armed Citizens prepare for a deadly force encounter. Daniel was named instructor of the year for 2015 by the Kansas State Rifle Association and serves as sitting committee member and consultant to the KSRA training committee. Daniel is also a Cabela’s pro staff team member. As Cabela’s only Pro Staff Member with expertise in the defense and tactical arena, Daniel works to help Cabela’s reach defense and tactical end users with quality products as well as training and information. Daniel travels the US teaching and training under his company Shaw Strategies.