From testing the Heckler & Koch VP9, I found that it could be my new favorite 9mm pistol. I would get rid of my Glocks and make the VP9 my every day carry if it wasn’t for one thing.
I have recently had a few H&K VP9’s in my classes and all the students shooting them had nothing but great things to say about them. They have always performed well with no stoppages, as I would expect from most any modern striker-fired handgun. In one such class, I was able to shoot a couple of magazines through a VP9 and found it to be an accurate and comfortable gun. Since I have been seeing them more often in class, I decided to put one to the test in a 3 day 1,500 round course I was about to take as a student.
The course was different from any other course I had ever taken. It was not defensive or tactical in any way. Houston Shaw of Shaw Shooting explained that he teaches people to shoot faster and with more accuracy. After three days with Houston, I did shoot faster and with more accuracy and I did it with a handgun that I was unfamiliar with.
The course started with 5 stages where the instructor required us to shoot steel silhouette targets placed at various ranges from 15 to 25 yards. The idea was to gauge the shooter’s accuracy, speed in drawing, transitioning from target to target, and reloading. Using the VP9, I was able to achieve the fastest time of all the students in the class. My baseline speed on arrival was 83.22 seconds. I don’t mention that because I want a trophy. I think it is important to show that even though I most often shoot a Glock 17 or 19, I was able to pick up the VP9 and shoot it well without any dry or live practice before the class. I did not familiarize myself with the gun beforehand, so I could present the perspective of using an unfamiliar firearm under slight stress.
After our baseline testing, we began as most classes do, with discussions on sight alignment, trigger control, grip, etc. As we passed through each topic, we would shoot at three and four inch circles at 10 yards working to assemble the tightest possible groups. I was shooting 115 Gr. Blaizer Brass and was able to achieve approximately 1” groups. As I began to push speed and work the trigger faster, my groups would spread out, but I can’t exactly blame that on the VP9or the ammo. The gun was accurate and able to achieve consistent hits on silhouette targets out to about 50 yards during walk back drills.
The trigger on the VP9 sets the gun apart and aids in accurate shooting. I would even say that the trigger on the VP9 was an advantage I had over some of the other shooters in the class.
The trigger on the VP9 is the best stock trigger on any striker-fired handgun I have ever used and I have used them all. The trigger has a light take up and a crisp wall that manages to not be spongy like most striker-fired handguns. The reset is positive and fast allowing a quick and precise trigger prep and press.
It is hard to choose just one feature that I like most on the VP9, but I keep going back to the feel of the grip. It just feels right. I hate to do it, but I have to quote every YouTube video review ever recorded and say, “It feels good in the hand.”
During the first day, I had to turn the gun in my hand during reloads to reach the trigger guard or as some refer to it as a European style magazine release. I chose to not attempt to burn any new neural pathways by using my trigger finger, so I stayed with using my thumb of my firing hand to release the magazine. Before we started day two, I changed out the backstrap on the VP9 for the smallest of the options and left side panels at the medium size. This allowed me to release the mag with my thumb much more efficiency.
The VP9 features a user replaceable backstrap and grip panels to adjust the feel and grip circumference of the weapon to suit individual preference. Being able to change out side panels as well as the backstrap makes the VP9 a customizable gun to fit a variety of shooter wants or needs.
A few manufacturers use the word ambidextrous to describe a user changeable control that allows the shooter to choose a side for the control. The VP9 is a full ambidextrous handgun with slide catch/release on the left and right hand sides of the firearm as well as an ambidextrous magazine release.
Heckler and Koch designed the VP9 with problem solving in mind. A somewhat unique feature to the VP9 is the patented H&K charging supports on the rear of the slide that… support charging. I found that the charging supports are a great addition to the weapon as they offered a solid surface to gain a definite grip on the slide during manipulation.
The VP9 used in this review was the LE version. The rear night sight of the VP9 LE features a forward leaning edge to offer a suitable surface for one-hand slide manipulations. This is something that I feel is important and you can read why in my article “Solving Problems, One Hand at a Time.”
Other problem solving features on the VP9 include forward and rear slide serrations. Grip cut outs at the base of the mag well allow the shooter an area to gain hold on the magazine for removal during stoppage clearances.
The Shaw Shooting course ended with all the students shooting the same timed drills we had on the beginning of the first day. Every student, save for one poor sap, was able to reduce their time. I was able to trim a few seconds off of my first time to finish the drills with a time of 77.76 seconds. The speed increase proved to be enough to take the title of top shooter in the class.
Could I have achieved the same results or better times with my Glock? I don’t know, but I do know that I did well with the VP9, it did not let me down, and I enjoyed shooting it throughout the course. Now I have to go buy one for myself.
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Daniel Shaw is a retired US Marine Infantryman now the Director of Training for Thunderbird Tactical in Wichita KS.