THIS HK IS
THE NEW HECKLER & KOCH VP9SK SUB-COMPACT 9MM HAS WHAT IT TAKES WHEN YOU TAKE IT WITH YOU
The new Heckler & Koch VP9SK sub-compact 9mm has what it takes when you take it with you.
Sometimes being a handful is a good thing.
The new VP9SK from Heckler & Koch is a double-stack 9mm that gives you a little something extra to grasp and once you get your hands on this pistol, you won’t want to let go.
NOT A SKINNY GUN
I know. Slim, single-stack 9mm pistols are all the rage these days. That’s because people seem to be more concerned with carry convenience than actual self-defense capabilities.
A pistol designed with a staggered (commonly called “double-stack”) magazine has some advantages, however. For one, there’s the higher capacity. Instead of 6+1 rounds, a typical double-stack gives you 10+1. Carry a spare magazine and those 21 rounds can be comforting travel companions. Another advantage is that because a double-stack is a bit wider, it’s normally easier to manage the recoil because the impact is spread across a larger surface. And, as I mentioned, there’s more to hold. Skinny guns can have a tendency to torque sideways in your hand, especially if your grip isn’t the most firm or steady. When would that be? That might happen when firing from awkward positions or one-handed during a defensive situation when you’re fending off an attack or diving for cover.
OK, so what’s so special about this HK pistol specifically?
The VP9SK is the sub-compact model in HK’s striker-fired VP series. It has a 3.39-inch barrel with polygonal rifling that is supposed to benefit both accuracy and velocity.
It features a machined steel slide finished in matte black. It has cocking serrations front and rear as well as charging supports—slight protrusions on both sides at the rear of the slide that allow for a positive grip when manipulating the slide. The forward serrations I could live without—I find them wholly unnecessary—but adding these small grasping wings at the rear
“FOR ANYONE IN THE MARKET FOR A TOPNOTCH CARRY GUN IN 9MM, IT WOULD BE HARD TO FIND A BETTER ONE THAN THIS HK VP9SK.”
is a great idea. They provide a solid hold so there’s no fumbling the slide when chambering a round.
Red marks on the top of external extractor and at the rear of the striker give visual indicators that a round is chambered and the striker is cocked.
There is no manual safety on the slide or frame. There is the usual blade safety in the trigger itself. Internally, there’s a firing pin block, but it pivots out of the way when the trigger is pulled rather than being depressed as with the plunger systems found on other pistols.
ALL IS AMBI
Righties or lefties will feel equally at home with this pistol. All of the controls are ambidextrous. Slide lock release levers are on each side of the polymer frame. The magazine releases consist of levers on each side of the trigger guard. This setup, different than the usual push-button mag releases found on most semi-auto pistols, shouldn’t concern you.
While you want consistency in the way your firearms operate, I find these releases are actually better positioned. You are less likely to depress this type of release accidentally, which could mean dropping your magazine and leaving you with a single-shot pistol with which to survive an encounter—not a good thing.
Of any of the differences in pistol controls, this style of magazine release is perhaps the easiest when it comes to making the adjustment. It simply takes very little training to get used to it. After a few speed reload drills, it’s second nature.
Two 10-round magazines come with the VP9SK. One is flush-fitting with the grip. The other has an extended floorplate that allows you to get a full grip on the pistol, further enhancing your ability to control the pistol. You can purchase the longer, 15-round magazines designed for the full-size VP pistols.
These will work fine, especially with the available sleeves that fit over the magazines to fill in the gap below the SK’s grip and the magazine floorplates.
The VP9SK comes standard with fixed metal sights mounted in dovetails. These three-dot sights appear to be painted on with phosphorescent paint. After being exposed to light for a short time, the sights glow green in the dark. The sights work well in daylight and would provide an advantage if you walked into a dark room from outside.
True tritium night sights are also available. A third magazine (one with an extended baseplate) is included with the model equipped with night sights.
Field-stripping the VP9SK is easily accomplished without tools or the need to pull the trigger first. Lock the slide the rear, remove the magazine and check to ensure the gun is completely empty. Then, rotate the takedown lever—located on the left side of the frame—to the down position. From there, you can unlock the slide and slip it off the frame. The captured recoil spring/guide rod assembly and barrel are then easily removed.
This HK pistol is not blocky like
“THE GOOD GRIP, TOGETHER WITH ITS VERY GOOD TRIGGER ... MADE THE PISTOL EASY TO SHOOT WELL.”
some other double-stack designs. It was contoured to fit my hand well as-is. But the pistol comes with two additional sets of backstraps and side panels that allow you to customize the grip to your liking.
The good grip, together with its very good trigger—measuring 5.25 pounds on my gauge—made the pistol easy to shoot well. The trigger seemed more crisp than on many other striker-fired guns and the reset was short and easy to discern. Fifteen-yard groups were in the 1.5-inch range with all ammo tested. More important than the ability to shoot tiny groups from the bench, a defensive handgun must perform well when handled quickly from the holster. The sights must be easy to acquire, the gun must be controllable shot to shot and target to target, hits must be close to point of aim and reloads have to be fast and sure. The HK VP9SK excels in all of these areas.
Just as important, too, is that there were no malfunctions of any kind throughout my work with this gun.
Most of my time with the VP9SK was spent in informal plinking at soup cans and a 5-inch plastic ball. I also did some transition and speed reload drills, loading the magazines with two rounds each, drawing, engaging two targets with one round each, reloading and repeating.
Shooting the gun was fun due in large part to the recoil being controllable, thanks to the wider grip of the HK combined with the relatively mild 9mm rounds.
HK is a major handgun manufacturer, so the holster makers are quick to get on board with products compatible with their new pistol models. For the test, I went with the versatile DeSantis Vanquisher, which is a one-size-fits-most type of rig. But the company also makes its Tuck This II and Sof-Tuck inside-the-waistband holsters specifically for the VP9SK. Crossbreed Holsters also has models available for the pistol, including the excellent Founder’s Series Freedom IWB holster.
I WANT ONE
For anyone in the market for a topnotch carry gun in 9mm, it would be hard to find a better one than this HK VP9SK. It’s an excellent pistol from an excellent manufacturer. It has a feel of quality about it that gives you the feeling that this could be your primary self-defense weapon for many years to come.
The problem for me is that, even though I love this HK pistol, I already have pistols in this size range that fit the same role. So, do I trade away one of my older guns and go with this HK or should I just face the unfortunate fact that I can’t buy every gun that I want? Decisions, decisions…CC
“RIGHTIES AND LEFTIES WILL FEEL EQUALLY AT HOME WITH THIS PISTOL.”
Below: The small “wings” at the rear of the slide provide a sure grip when chambering a round.
Above: The VP9SK barrel features polygonal rifling, which is believed to promote greater accuracy and velocity.
Below: The firing pin safety inside the slide of the VP9SK rotates aside rather than depresses when the trigger is pulled.
Above: Extra backstraps and side panels allow the owner to customize the grip of the VP9SK. Below: The threedot sights feature phosphorescent paint that glows in the dark after exposure to light. True tritium night sights are also available.
Takedown of the VP9SK is easily accomplished without the need to pull the trigger first, eliminating one more route to a negligent discharge by those less disciplined in gun handling procedures.
Above: Finding a holster that will accept the VP9SK should be no problem. In this case, the author used a DeSantis Vanquisher.
Right: The VP9SK comes in a padded hard case, but this is a gun you will carry more than store.
Below: The VP9SK comes with two magazines, one with a flat floorplate and one with an extended floorplate. The capacity of each is 10 rounds.