When you take a close look at HK’s award winning VP9 it’s not surprising to see why it was selected to receive Guns & Ammo’s Handgun Of The Year Award. The pistol was released in June of 2014 and it’s a rendition of the experience gained with the VP70, introduced in 1970 and the first polymer frame pistol to enter the market, and the P7 pistol, which utilized a striker fired firing pin introduced in 1979. It was this experience that laid the groundwork for the VP9. Now for the salient points…

The VP9 is a polymer frame striker fired 9mm semiautomatic pistol. It has no external safeties but implements what I’ll call mandatory restrictions that prevent accidental discharges when field stripping the pistol for cleaning. The operator can not break down the pistol with a magazine in the magazine well. Second, you don’t need to pull the trigger to release the slide. This design overcomes some of the issues identified with competing pistols like the Glocks.

The VP9 includes an extended trigger guard that will easily accommodate a gloved hand. H&K incorporates European style ambidextrous magazine release paddles as opposed to the more familiar grip magazine release button. I like this feature as it reduces the risk of accidentally dropping the magazine during firing or repositioning of your hand. Some will disagree, but to each his own.

TheVP9 features a Picatinny accessory rail molded into its polymer frame. Interestingly enough, H&K wants you to limit accessory weight to no more than 160 grams or 5.6 oz. I’m not sure of the reasons for that parameter, but I can’t see that it would prevent cycling of the pistol or create structural stresses that could crack the frame. However, 5.6 oz. is probably on the high end of what is practical, but I’m going to have to check that out just out of curiosity.

One of the “complaints” you hear about the Beretta M9 is that the position of its external safety/decocker leads to accidental engagement of the safety when charging the pistol. That problem is nonexistent in the VP9, which has no external safety and includes charging supports at the rear of the slide (a la FN five-seven).

Ergonomics on the VP9 are simply outstanding; not only is the back strap interchangeable but the grip side plates as well. H&K includes three sizes of grip hardware; small, medium and large. Changing the grip to fit any size hand only requires a punch to remove a small roll pin. No other tools are required. Once the back strap has been removed you can then simply slide the side plates out. This feature makes the pistol customizable to any shooter.

Operator controls include ambidextrous slide locking levers, extended ambidextrous magazine release levers and a takedown lever. H&K includes a cocked indicator at the rear of the slide. When the pistol is cocked a bright red indicator protrudes from the rear of the slide, so even in low light or no light condition the operator knows if the weapon is cocked and locked.

As of this writing, H&K offers the VP9 in 9mm but representatives informed me that a .40S&W and .45ACP are in the works. I’d love to see a VP9 in .45ACP with a threaded and extended barrel. Maybe 2016?

The VP9 is available in 15 round and 10 round capacity and three choices of sights that includes a tritium night sight. Plan on spending from $600 to $750 depending on configuration.

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