I’ve had my Heckler & Koch VP9 for almost two months and I was finally able to take it to the range. I wanted to hold off on the review until I was able to shoot it, as what good is a review without actually shooting the gun? I took a .50cal ammo can of 9mm to the range with a friend and we shot a few of the guns we own. My interest was primarily on comparing the VP9 to my Glock 19. The G19 has been my daily carry gun for some time now. Actually, it’s been my daily carry gun for two years. This was primarily driven by the fact that the G17 had been my go-to gun for so long. The G19 was a natural choice for me as I had the same trigger, same sights, and same light. The only difference was two less rounds and a slightly smaller package.
As a life long student of all things, especially when it comes to guns, I’m always looking to evolve my setup. The G19 is a great gun, but it’s boring and there’s a few things that are less than desirable. Enter the VP9. This new handgun developed by H&K has some interesting features. This isn’t the first striker fired gun by H&K, but it’s probably the most popular, or at least most talked about. While the P7 was a great gun, it did have some shortcomings and it certainly wasn’t a polymer pistol. In today’s world, polymer is king and for very good reason.
The VP9 has great ergonomics. When you pickup the gun it feels like you’ve just put on a hand tailored suit. Even if you don’t like the exact configuration that the gun ships in from the factory, chances are you can change out some of the side panels or palm swells to find the right setup for your grip. For me, with my large hands, I found the factory configuration to be a great fit.
The first shots I took with the gun were like butter. The gun ran so smooth with little felt recoil. Putting rounds down range with the VP9 is a very pleasing and pleasant experience. Maybe one of the few more pleasing experiences is shooting a custom 1911 style handgun. But this side of a custom gun, the VP9 is great. The Smith & Wesson M&P Pro has nothing on the VP9, and for those of you who have shot the M&P Pro, you know it’s a great shooting gun.
All around I feel the VP9 has been designed by people who really understood what the current polymer market looked like and what needed to be produced. The result is an exceptionally well-balanced gun that is phenomenal to shoot. The gun has sleek lines, ambidextrous controls, phosphorescent sights. However, probably the biggest improvement over other striker fired guns is the trigger. I know that a lot of people are going to say that Walther has a better trigger with the PPQ and that the PPQ was actually on the market first. That’s fine, but no one is carrying the PPQ in any serious numbers. The PPQ also doesn’t look nearly as good as the VP9 or even the Glock in my opinion. The PPQ, like a lot of Walther offerings is a good gun, but doesn’t have the market share and will never be able to get it.
With all the good things I’ve had to say about the VP9 I’m sure you believe I’ve found the holy grail of replacement carry guns.
But, I haven’t.
The VP9 is a great gun, and I look forward to shooting it more. But there’s some issues which I’ve noticed. First off, the VP9 is slightly bigger than the Glock 19.
From the picture above, the G19 with light is on the left. The VP9 is on the right. Since I do carry a light on my carry gun, this isn’t really an issue. But, the VP9 is more closely sized to the G17. In that case, the VP9 loses in the capacity department as it holds two less rounds, or 4-5 less rounds with a normal Glock magazine extension base plate. 15 rounds ought to be enough, and that’s what I carry now, however I need to remark on the size differences. Someone who carries a VP9 should know that the gun is the same size as a larger capacity Glock 17.
The second issue is the sights.
As you can see in the picture above, the sights are phosphorescent. This means that they glow when exposed to light. The paint used on the sights is able to capture the energy the light in the room is giving off, and then radiate that energy back off as light. I don’t really care for this tactic, as my gun is usually covered. There’s also the chance I’ll be out at night or in a dark area for hours on end. Coming out of a theater where it’s been dark for two hours into a dark parking lot isn’t the place where I’d want these sights. Now in the above and below pictures you should be aware that I had just hit the sights with 500 lumens, which is quite a lot of light.
Before I had illuminated the sights I had found them mediocre at best. Both the front and the rear are bulky and blocky, making quick sight acquisition hard. This was less than desirable during my drills where I would bring the pistol up and try to take a first shot as soon as my sights were aligned. In contrast, my Glock is running Warren Tactical two lamp tritium sights. Even with the tritium vial in the front sight, the blade is smaller than the VP9 front blade. There’s also more gap between the front blade and the rear notch on the aftermarket sights than the VP9. I feel like the VP9 sights are squished together.
The good news is the sights are easily fixed by replacing them. The bad news is this adds another $100 or more to the price of the pistol. Please don’t spend too much time worrying about the sights. Like any gun, either you will or you won’t like the sights. Personally I’d rather see tritium filled sights than the phosphorescent painted ones they have. But even on my Glocks I’ve replaced the sights. This is the personal touch that people do to make the gun point and aim the way they want it to.
Lastly is the trigger. Wait, I know, I said the trigger was awesome. It is awesome and I think it’s great. But the reset is very lacking on the VP9. I wasn’t able to really put the gun through its paces at the indoor range I was at. So I was stuck doing some target style shooting which allowed me to really focus on the trigger. The take up is great, the break is great, the reset sucks. This is one place the Glock trigger really shines. If Glock and HK could have babies, they could make the best trigger (and likely gun) ever to grace us polymer pistol users.
So what’s the conclusion? Am I going to replace my Glock for the HK? Not today. I think the VP9 has a ton of potential, and it proved to be a great shooter. But there’s not enough to sway me yet. 15 rounds for 15 rounds is fair, even if the gun is a little bigger. The sights are a non-issue because I replace all of my factory sights anyway. The trigger can be learned, and I suspect in faster shooting scenarios the reset is moot. The real downside, at least now, is load out. And what I mean is I’m already setup for the G19. I have magazines all over the place. I have a few hundred rounds loaded in magazines just in my truck alone, including a 33 round G18 magazine. This is one area the Glock dominates the VP9. There’s a larger aftermarket and magazine selection for the Glock than there is for the VP9.
Coming into this blind, I would probably go with the VP9. It’s a great gun that is well-rounded and will be what most shooters are looking for. The Glock is showing its age with the brick like grip and lack of exciting features. You cannot go wrong with either gun, but the H&K VP9 is certainly a sweet gun and will be something I may work towards making my primary carry gun.