SUPPRESSOR-READY

GER­MANY’S HK FLEXES ITS TAC­TI­CAL MUS­CLE.

Gun World - - Contents - By Andy Mas­si­m­il­ian

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.

GUN DE­TAILS

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.

RANGE TIME

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.

SUPPRESSOR FIRE

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.

Take­down is sim­ple and safe. The take­down lever will not pivot un­less the mag­a­zine is re­leased and the lever moves the trig­ger sear out of en­gage­ment with the striker. The sup­plied Tru Glo sights (above), with their 3-dot, in­side-ofwhite-cir­cle pat­tern, ver­sus the Heine EZLok, with the Straight 8 (be­low)

The VP9 Tac­ti­cal takes the fea­ture-laden VP9 fur­ther with a threaded bar­rel, night sights and three mag­a­zines. The pis­tol per­formed ex­cep­tion­ally well alone or paired with the SIG Sauer SRD45 suppressor.

Re­mov­ing a sin­gle roll pin with an 1/8-inch punch al­lows you to change the grip. Sup­plied are three dif­fer­ent-sized pan­els for each side and three back­straps for a tai­lor­made fit.

The MGW Sight Pro in use. The HK sights came off, and the Heine sights were in­stalled with­out dif­fi­culty or fit­ting. Ad­just­ing or chang­ing sights can be done on the range.

(Above) An in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able grip, am­bidex­trous slide and mag­a­zine re­lease levers that are large enough to eas­ily ac­cess all help dis­tin­guish this pis­tol from the com­pe­ti­tion. (Be­low) Note the large trig­ger guard for added safety when wear­ing win­ter-weight gloves.

The SRD45 has a stainless baf­fle stack that can be re­assem­bled in any or­der—but the direc­tion of the baf­fles must be cor­rect. Shown at the top are an ex­tra pis­ton, fixed-bar­rel spacer and take­down wrench. At the bot­tom is a heat-re­sis­tant carry bag that can be used to han­dle a hot can.

VP9s have “charg­ing sup­ports” at the rear of the slide to fa­cil­i­tate cy­cling the ac­tion for those with weaker grip strength. They can be re­moved by re­mov­ing the rear sight.

(Above) Here is how the sup­plied 3-dot sight and the Heine Straight 8 look with a mounted suppressor. The dif­fer­ence in pho­tos ap­pears sub­tle, but the added height of the Heine makes a big dif­fer­ence in sight­ing. (Be­low) Note the red-col­ored cock­ing in­di­ca­tor at the rear of the slide and the glare-re­duc­ing ser­ra­tion on the Heine.

Sup­pres­sors re­duce

the muz­zle blast sig­nif­i­cantly but won’t af­fect the sonic crack!

of bul­lets trav­el­ing more than 1,050 fps. Use sub­sonic ammo (147 grain for 9mm) if you don’t in­tend to use

hear­ing pro­tec­tion.

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