Heckler & Koch flexes its tactical muscle with the VP9. It’s suppressor-ready, right out of the box.
The VP9 Tactical is one of Heckler & Koch’s (HK) newest offerings. The Tactical model is identical to the VP9 that debuted in 2015, but it has a threaded barrel (M13.5 X 1 LH) with a thread protector and night sights and comes with three magazines. The Tactical has an MSRP of $899, versus $719 for the base model. HK’s website sells a threaded barrel separately for $189 for those who want to upgrade their VP9. HK will soon release a tactical version of the VP40 in .40 S&W.
The Tactical is German made with a polymer frame, steel slide and a polygonal-rifled, cold-hammer-forged barrel. The pistol is 7.95 inches long and 5.41 inches high, making it a duty-sized handgun because of the added .61 inch from the threaded barrel. Capacity is 15+1.
The Tactical is single action and striker fired. This means the striker is fully cocked by the cycling of the action, and pressing the trigger simply releases it. In contrast, the triggers of M&Ps and Glocks retract a partially cocked striker to full tension and then release it. Technically speaking, this makes them double-action pistols.
The Tactical’s single-action trigger eliminates the springy, “rubber band stretch” feel of other striker-fired pistol triggers. The Tactical shares the pivoting trigger lever used on the Glock. This feature augments an internal firing pin retainer
that unlocks the striker from its cocked position only when the trigger is depressed, allowing the pistol to be safely carried with a chambered round.
My sample’s trigger pull measured 5.8 pounds using a Lyman electronic scale and exhibited a bit of creep and slight overtravel. Because the trigger shoe is fairly wide (wider than the M&P and Glock), it gives the impression of a lighter trigger pull. The trigger mechanism resets at about ¼ inch after the break.
The Tactical shares the superb ergonomics of the HK P30 series pistols, although the shape of the grips and controls is not identical. The Tactical’s grip has shallow finger grooves that are far more comfortable and fit a wider range of shooters’ hands than the narrow grooves on gen-3 or -4 Glocks.
Moreover, this pistol uses HK’s unique adjustable grip; girth can be changed by switching side panels, while trigger reach can be changed by switching backstraps. Trigger reach is critical for marksmanship, because the shooter’s finger should be positioned so that the trigger is drawn straight to the rear, rather than sideways or downward. Changing the grip to fit your hand or for cold-weather use when wearing winter-weight gloves is done by removing a 1/8-inch roll pin and sliding the backstrap and side panels off.
Slide and mag releases on the Tactical are fully ambidextrous and large enough to activate easily without changing your grip. Larger slide release levers allow you to chamber a round by activating the release instead of pulling back and releasing the slide or searching for the small, abbreviated levers so common on many of the leading competitive models. Using the slide release to chamber a round is far quicker than the slide pull method and does not require two hands.
In addition, large, bilateral (ambidextrous) levers facilitate clearing a double-feed stoppage, which is best done by locking the slide to the rear and then clearing the feedway. The Tactical’s superior design is obvious when you attempt to lock the slide open on a small lever pistol if one hand is injured or while wearing gloves.
For dropping the magazine, the Tactical uses levers that tilt downward instead of buttons that push inward. Activating the lever release is done with the trigger finger—not the thumb, as with the button-style release. To drop the magazine, slide the trigger finger rearward along the trigger guard until the lever is contacted. Alternatively, do a “quick tap” directly onto the lever with the tip of your finger. A consistent grip aids marksmanship, and no change in grip is necessary to use this system.
The Tactical is supplied with Tru Dot night sights that are not tall enough to give an unobstructed sight picture when shooting the pistol with a mounted suppressor. As a result, I switched to Heine EZ-Lock sights using an MGW Sight Pro to do the job. The Sight Pro is a high-quality, professional-grade tool made of heavy-duty steel and aluminum.
THE VP9 TACTICAL OFFERS A LOT OF VALUABLE FEATURES THAT MAKE IT EASY TO SHOOT WELL AND AT A VERY COMPETITIVE PRICE.
To change sights, simply mount the pistol’s slide to the Sight Pro using a dedicated steel shoe that fits into the slide rails. Then turn the screw-type sight pusher handle to drift the sight off the slide. It takes about 20 minutes to change both sights the first time around, but the task can be done in much less time and on the range, because you don’t need a workbench or a vise.
I tested the Tactical for accuracy using the standard sights and then changed to the Heine sights for shooting with the SIG Sauer suppressor.
The Tactical is an accurate pistol. Using any of the three test loads, the best five-round groups shot off a bench at 25 yards were under 2 inches. This pistol shot exactly to point of aim at 20 to 25 yards with the Freedom Munitions 124-grain ammo. The other loads came within 2 inches, making sighting corrections unnecessary. Reliability was also perfect, with no stoppages.
Handling and comfort were exceptional; and, just like the HK P30 pistols, briskly seating the mag into the pistol grip releases the slide to chamber the first round. That’s a feature I like.
The Heine EZ-Lock night sights are well designed and well made, with features that enhance the shooter’s ability to shoot quickly and accurately. For instance, both the front and
rear sights have fine, horizontal grooves milled in their rear faces to reduce glare from the sun. In addition, to eliminate what I call “sight distraction” (where too many features on the sights distract the shooter’s focus), Heine sights have just a single tritium-filled vial on the front and a smaller-diameter vial on the rear.
Proper sight alignment has the front tritium dot sitting atop the rear dot like a figure 8. I just tested a pistol with night sights that had smooth, rather than grooved, sight faces and three horizontally arrayed tritium vials surrounded by white circles. Without question, the Heine sights work much better for precision aiming and at no loss of speed.
Although the Heine sights are fixed, the rear is easily adjusted by hand for windage after loosening two set screws. Finally, these sights have square leading edges that allow the shooter to rack the slide by catching the sight on something (e.g., the edge of the holster) should one hand become injured.
I tested the Tactical using SIG Sauer’s SRD45 suppressor. The SRD45 comes with two pistons that fit most .45-caliberthreaded barrels and a spacer to use on fixed-barrel host weapons such as rifles. However, customers can get a 13.5 X 1mm LH piston from SIG to fit the VP9 Tactical. The SRD45 has a .45-caliber bore, but it can be used on most smallercaliber pistols with less-efficient sound reduction, compared to a matched-caliber unit. (No data is included in this article, because SIG does not publish sound-reduction data on the SRD45 mounted on a 9mm pistol.)
THE VP9 TACTICAL SHARES THE SUPERB ERGONOMICS OF THE HK P30 SERIES PISTOLS …
The SRD45 is made with a grade-9 titanium tube and contains 10 17-4 stainless steel baffles. Using stainless baffles throughout, rather than a stainless blast baffle followed by aluminum secondary baffles, makes this unit more durable than many others I have seen. It is 7.9 inches long, 1.375 inches in diameter and weighs 12 ounces. The SRD45 can be disassembled for cleaning, but it is not something that should be done frequently unless exposed lead bullets are used, with lead accumulating on the baffles.
The Tactical maintained complete reliability with the SIG suppressor attached. As a reflection of the SRD45’s booster device, the Tactical cycled perfectly, even when shooting limp wristed while pointing the pistol downward—a challenging test for any suppressor. Point of impact shift was a negligible 1 inch directly below the point of aim at 16 yards. If this POI shift is an issue, the SRD45 can be adjusted to rotate the shift around the POI. It cannot, however, be adjusted to correct the POI shift.
Aiming the Tactical with an attached suppressor is much more precise using the Heine sights than without. These sights are just tall enough to clear the back of the suppressor, although I would have preferred them to be slightly higher. The Tactical still fits into my Alien Gear Cloak Tuck Holster with the tall sights installed.
The SIG SRD45 did not produce any “first-round pop” (i.e., a louder report for the first round that is caused by the suppressor having the most oxygen in it). However, while firing in 45 degree (F) weather, the suppressor’s body emitted considerable mirage after just a few shots, thereby distorting my sight picture. Mirage is caused by temperature differences between the air and the surface of suppressor. Using a suppressor cover would solve this problem.
The VP9 Tactical offers a lot of valuable features that make it easy to shoot well and at a very competitive price. With upgraded sights, nothing else is needed for those who wish to mount a suppressor and shoot with it accurately. GW
RELIABILITY WAS PERFECT WITH OR WITHOUT THE SUPPRESSOR ATTACHED.
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