Home All HK VP9 First Impressions — By Amy Serrano

HK VP9 First Impressions — By Amy Serrano


Editor’s note: Amy Serrano is a regular on our Facebook Page if you have any questions about the VP9. She can also be reached by leaving a comment below. Amy is a competitive shooter and regular training class junky. When she is not shooting German pistols, she is shooting her precision rifle out past 600 yards. –Marky 


When I first started shooting semi-auto handguns, Glock was my favorite handgun. One of the few things I didn’t like about the Glock was that I couldn’t modify the grip. Then, along came the HK P30 with grooved finger grips in the front of the grip and customizable side and back grips! I purchased an HK P30 DA/SA 9mm. I was competing in a bullseye league at the time and switched to shooting my P30. My bullseye accuracy improved; however I was only shooting and practicing with it in SA mode for the league. After completion of the league, I decided I wanted to use my P30 as my EDC, so I started practicing with the gun as it would be carried – with the first shot DA. I thought I could get used to that first shot being DA after practicing (with the correct technique I learned from my shooting instructor), but I just couldn’t. The only other problem I had with the P30 was, due to my grip, the slide wouldn’t lock back on an empty magazine. Since I couldn’t get used to the DA first shot, I decided to go back to shooting/carrying Glocks and M&Ps, reserving the P30 for bullseye shooting.

TOP: HK VP9. Middle: M&P 9. Bottom: Glock 23


Standard Features on the VP9:

  • Customizable side panels and backstraps (in case anyone is wondering, the P30 grips are not interchangeable with the VP9 grips, the sizes differ slightly). The texture of the VP9 grips look similar to that of the Walther PPQ. I like the VP9 texture better than the P30 – but both are good.
  • Ambidextrous mag release paddles under the trigger guard.
  • Ambidextrous slide release – the left side slide release is shorter on the VP9 than the P30, but it seems to me that it sticks out further from the frame (on both the P30 and the VP9) than slide releases on other handguns.
  • Minor indentations on both sides of the grip well where the bottom of the mag meets the frame. I like these indentations; they make it easier to rip out a mag that is jammed in the VP9, such as what happens with a double feed.
  • Picatinny rail that can accommodate accessories up to 5.6 ounces (per manual). I did not try firing the VP9 with any accessories attached.
  • No magazine disconnect. I couldn’t find any info in the VP9 manual listing whether the VP9 has a magazine disconnect, so I chambered a round, removed the magazine, and squeezed the trigger – the gun fired. I have seen arguments on both sides as to whether handguns should have magazine disconnects or not, but in my opinion, it is a plus that the VP9 can still be fired when the magazine is removed.
  • 15 round magazines for those of us who live in “Free States”. Otherwise, 10 round mags are also available. As a bonus for those of us who already own a 9mm P30, the VP9 and P30 use the same mags. VP9 with luminescent sights comes with two 15 round mags. VP9 with factory tritium night sights comes with three 15 round mags.
  • Luminescent sights or factory tritium night sights. One of the negatives of the VP9 luminescent sights is that they are at such an angle that there is no “ledge” to use when racking the slide with one hand. With practice, it is possible to rack the slide one-handed with the factory luminescent sights, but I plan to change the sights out to a pair of night sights that have a better “ledge”. For those who keep the luminescent sights, they are good sights and easy to pick up quickly in the daylight. I have not tried them at night to see how long they glow or how easy/quick they are to pick up.
  • There is a loaded chamber indicator that is part of the extractor.
  • Extensions or ‘wings’  or charging supports on back of slide to help prevent wet hands from slipping off slide when racking the slide back. I didn’t think I would use them at first, but I ended up liking how they feel when racking the slide. They may come in handy in the summer when my hands are sweatier. I’ll find out in a few weeks when I take it to an all weekend handgun class. Thankfully, I haven’t had my hand slip off the slide of any of my handguns when wet or sweaty, but Mr. Murphy is known to show up when least expected! If someone doesn’t like the charging supports, they can be removed.
  • There is a red indicator that can be seen from the rear of the pistol that shows whether the VP9 is cocked, (rear of the firing pin that is painted red is visible) or uncocked, (the red part of the firing pin is not visible).
  • No external manual safety
  • Has a firing pin safety and a trigger safety, therefore it is considered: “drop safe”
  • Has a safety that prevents the VP9 from firing when not in battery.
  • The VP9 manual also describes the “Takedown Lever” as a “Disassembly Safety”, meaning that the handgun cannot be disassembled if a magazine is in the magazine well. Also, if the VP9 is cocked and the Takedown Lever is rotated, the VP9 will be decocked.
Photo Sep 09, 12 04 18 PM
Author: Amy Serrano with HK VP9

I was very excited when I heard HK was coming out with a striker fired version of the P30 and I immediately ordered one – purchase price $600. I ordered the one that came with the standard luminescent sights so I can choose my own night sights at a later date. As with all new firearms, first thing I did with the VP9 was to disassemble and clean it. The instructions state that after assuring the VP9 is unloaded, lock the slide back, twist disassembly lever clockwise a quarter turn, gently allow slide to go forward, and push off the frame. Disassembly was quick and easy, just as the instructions described. I removed the factory grease and lubed up the VP9 with Slip2000 gun lube. I also used some Slip2000 EWL-30 on the rails.


One of the first things I noticed after I field stripped the VP9 was the drop safety. It is quite different in appearance than what I have seen on my other striker fired handguns and my first thought was “I hope those parts don’t break easy when I am cleaning/brushing the slide”. Not to mention that: “hopefully they don’t break easily when shooting or if the firearm is dropped”!

See pic(s) of field stripped slide 



So far I have fired a total of 243 rounds through the VP9 with zero malfunctions*. The first day, I put 188 rounds through it. 135 of those rounds were standard FMJ: an equal mix of Remington 115 grain and PMC 115 grain. I also fired some defense ammo: 17 rounds of Hornady Critical Duty 135gr and 36 rounds of Remington Golden Saber Brass Jacketed Hollow Point 147gr.


Second time I fired the VP9 was during league night at one of our local shooting ranges. That night I fired 57 rounds of American Eagle 124 grain ammo. League night consists of shooting 6” steel plates in a head to head, double-elimination type match. Plates are about 15 yards away.  I had one of my best finishes and recorded my personal best time with the VP9 – I was happy with that especially considering that was only the 2nd time I had shot the VP9! I love the VP9 trigger! The trigger has a short take-up with a crisp break (trigger pull of 5.4 pounds and trigger travel 0.24 inches – per the manual). The reset on the VP9 trigger is short and is easy to feel and hear, allowing for quick, accurate follow-up shots, (not a ‘mushy-hard to feel’ reset like that of the DA/SA P30 or some of the other striker fired handguns I have shot).

Slides–Top: VP9. Middle: M&P. Bottom: Glock 23

*Technically I have had 2 malfunctions with the VP9 – failure of the slide to lock back on an empty magazine. First time was after the very first group of 15 rounds I fired and the second time was during my third shooting string on league-night. However, those “malfunctions” are due to how I grip the gun, rather than a problem with the mechanics of the VP9.  It is the same issue that I have with the P30 – the slide doesn’t lock back on an empty magazine. I’m right-handed and use the “thumbs forward” 2-handed grip. My right thumb holds the slide release down, preventing the slide release from being moved up by the empty mag, and therefore the slide doesn’t lock back. I found that if I slightly modify my grip by moving my right thumb slightly to the left, my thumb no longer interferes with the slide release.


See picture of my grip 

I’ll have to play with that some more to make sure that the slight change in my grip doesn’t affect my accuracy or speed with the VP9 (or any other handguns I shoot, as I only have this problem with the VP9 and P30).


As a side note: this problem won’t happen to everyone shooting the VP9 and isn’t exclusive to the VP9 – and that is why I haven’t counted the ‘Failure to lock back on an empty mag’ as a malfunction. For example, a couple others I shoot with on a regular basis experience the same problem on a regular basis– one with his SIG P229 and another with his M&P Pro.  It depends on factors such as the shooter’s grip and size of hands and how that interacts with the grip angle, etc. of the handgun.


Most of the holsters I own are made by Comp-Tac and for conceal carry, I carry my handgun AIWB. I have both a Comp-Tac Minotaur Holster (one half Kydex and the other half leather) and a Comp-Tac CTAC Holster (all Kydex) for my HK P30. The VP9 did not fit in either of those 2 holsters because the Disassembly Lever sticks out further on the VP9 than it does on the P30. The VP9 almost fits in the half leather and half Kydex Minotaur holster; therefore it might fit in a properly sized leather holster or other such holster that is made of a soft material. Those who know how to modify Kydex holsters can probably modify their P30 holsters to fit the VP9. There are several people who have posted lists on the internet of different holsters that they have personally tried and do fit the VP9. In addition, Comp-Tac does make a Kydex holster for the VP9, called the ‘Flatline’, which is the holster I used for league-night, (and I’m sure other companies are making VP9-specific holsters too – Comp-Tac is the only company I have researched so far).


The VP9 and the Glock 17 are almost the same size, therefore, the VP9 fits in the large-sized striker fired handgun category. Keep that in mind if you are considering purchasing a VP9 – will it be your EDC? If so, will you be able to comfortably conceal that size of a handgun? Also consider the pros and cons of a large VP9 that holds 15+1 rounds of 9mm, versus the large Glock 17, M&P Pro, or even the slightly smaller M&P VTAC that all hold 17+1 rounds of 9mm?

Author: Amy Serrano Putting the VP9 Through it’s Paces On The Clock

If you can get your hands on a VP9 to rent or can shoot a friend’s VP9, it is definitely worth trying out. There is always the potential for bugs that need to be worked out of a newly released handgun – will that be an issue with the VP9? Only time will tell. HK is a very reputable company and the VP9 will most likely stand the test of time, as their other firearms have. Personally, I love my VP9! It fits perfect in my hand, I shoot it well, the trigger rocks, and it has wings!! Now I just need to figure out which night sights I want to install!


I plan to continue to carry either my M&P VTAC or Glock 26 for now, but will put many rounds through my VP9 in shooting classes and some competitions to determine its reliability and how it continues to work for me. Assuming it continues to work well, including my ‘grip issue’ that prevents the slide from locking back on an empty mag, the VP9 may end up as my Winter carry handgun. I say ‘Winter carry gun’ because a large-sized handgun is easier for me to conceal in the wintertime when I wear heavier clothes. I’ll also be watching what others have to say about it over the long haul to see if any ‘bugs’ pop up!


Amy Serrano

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