A 550 Round First Look at the HK VP9SK Pistol with Daniel Shaw

By Daniel Shaw, GetZone.com Contributor

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.
HK VP9SK trigger
In my opinion, the VP9 offers the best out of the box trigger of any striker-fired handgun. Now the VP9SK takes the same spot as a subcompact. The ambidextrous magazine release can also be seen in the photo.
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.
The majority of misses occur due to an improper trigger press, so having a better trigger, helps mitigate the problem. For information on a proper trigger press, check out the article “Handgun Skills with Daniel Shaw | Why You’re Probably Pressing the Trigger Wrong.”

The Controls

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.
VP9SK slide
The charging supports help the shooter gain a solid purchase on the slide during manipulation.
Side note, H&K will send out replacements if you’ve had the same problem.

The Grip

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.
VP9SK grips
The user-configurable grip with so many options helps the VP9SK appeal to a wide variety of shooters.

The Sights

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.
VP9SK sights
The sights on the standard model VP9SK are a standard 3 dot system in a greenish-yellow with a ramped rear sight that is less than optimal for emergency manipulations. The LE model of the VP9SK comes with night sights that have a forward-leaning edge for slide manipulation and it comes with an extra magazine. All that in the LE package for just a little more than the magazine would cost in retail.
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

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.


HK VP9SK with 15 round P30/VP9
The VP9 is a soft shooting sub-compact handgun. As you can see, the 15 round P30/VP9 magazines work in the VP9SK. The mag shown here is extended with a magazine extension from Xtech Tactical.
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.
HK VP9SK pistol barrel
As far as barrels go, HK put a solid one in the VP series handguns including the VP9SK. Cold hammer forged from cannon grade steel with a polygonal profile.



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.


HK VP9SK pistol range test
After 550 rounds in a short time, our test gun was starting to get dirty.
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.
HK VP9 pistol
My VP9 showing some finish wear with over 15,000 rounds through it.







HK VP9SK pistol in the box
The VP9SK, one flush fit 10 round magazine, one extended floorplate 10 round magazine and all the grip options you could ever want.




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.

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