Dressed for Suppressed
HK INTRODUCES THE VP40 TACTICAL
Heckler & Koch’s next-gen VP40 Tactical, out-of-the-box suppression in a strikerfired semiauto.
Heckler & Koch has added the VP40 Tactical model to its line of VP9/40 striker-fired polymer frame pistols. Released just prior to the 2017 SHOT Show, the VP40 Tactical extends the line to include a suppressor-ready tactical pistol chambered in .40 S&W.
HK is credited with introducing the first commercially available, polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol in the VP70(Z). Many believe that this handgun was ahead of its time and was therefore destined to be less than a great success. The VP70’S trigger pull and high price were also instrumental in its failure to become widely accepted. The last HK striker-fired pistol prior to the VP9/40 was the venerable P7 squeeze-cocker pistol
manufactured from 1979 to 2008. Unlike the VP70(Z), we believe the VP9/40 series is destined to be major success. HK has made significant improvements in many areas, but the trigger, ergonomics and safety features stand out in the VP9/40 line. It took some time, but HK has created an outstanding pistol in the VP9/40 series.
The VP40 Tactical is a striker-fired polymer frame which uses a modified Browning linkless short recoil operating system. It features a light, constant trigger pull for each shot. The striker is fully cocked by the slide so the trigger only operates the firing pin safety and releases the sear, providing a lighter and more linear feel than some striker-fired pistols.
The VP40 Tactical and its siblings share features from the P30 line while using the new striker firing system, including the “precise pull” trigger. P30-style magazines are used in the VP40 Tactical and other VP9/40 versions.
The one downside in the VP40 Tactical’s design is its complexity. A Gen 4 Glock 22 has 34 parts according to Glock, whereas the VP 40 Tactical has 53 parts by our estimation (not including the magazine, grip panels, back strap, charging supports and sights).
The heart of any gun is its barrel. The barrel used in the VP40 Tactical is manufactured from a proprietary canon-grade steel in HK’S Oberndorf factory in Germany using a cold hammer-forging process. Similar barrels used in HK’S P30 models have been known to last for 90,000 rounds or more. The VP40 Tactical barrel uses polygonal rifling rather than the traditional land-and-groove rifling. An O-ring-assisted lockup as is found on other HK tactical handguns is not used on the VP40 Tactical. Metric 14.5x1 threads are used on the barrel end for suppressor attachment. A thread protector is included.
A machined high-carbon steel slide is used on the VP40 Tactical. It is protected from corrosion and wear by HK’S hostile environment black, nitro-carburized finish. HK installs what they call “charging supports” on the rear sides of the slide below the rear sight. These allow a better purchase when manipulating the slide. They do not work well as contact points during a one-handed slide rack. The front of the steel rear sight is better suited for that task. Deep serrations are also milled into front and rear sides of the slide to provide a good grip surface for slide manipulation.
The recoil rod uses a captive recoil spring. A cocked striker indicator is located in the rear
“The VP40 Tactical is well designed and solidly built… It would be an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for a striker-fired .40 S&W pistol to run suppressed.”
slide plate and the extractor acts as a loaded chamber indicator. Sights are steel tritium night sights; they are not high “suppressor” sights. You might assume that since the gun has a threaded barrel for a suppressor and night sights that HK would have used suppressor sights. The rear sight is drift-adjustable for windage. Elevation is changed by installing a different height front sight. No sight changes were necessary on the pistol that we evaluated.
The VP40 Tactical’s frame is made of highstrength polymer. It features an ergonomic grip design with molded finger grooves and incorporates interchangeable grip panels (3 sets) and back straps (3). The Grip panels and back straps fit extremely well. When installed, it’s hard to tell that they are not part of the frame. The grip texture provides good friction with the hand yet is not so rough that it abrades clothing and car seats. A MIL-STD 1913 rail is molded into the dust cover to allow accessories weighting up to 5.6 ounces to be mounted underneath the barrel.
The rails on the HK VP40 Tactical are not molded into the polymer frame as they are in many similar handguns. Instead, they are part of the locking block (forward rails) and the trigger housing (rear rails). Since they are separate from the polymer frame, they could be replaced if they are worn down, cracked or broken without having to replace the whole frame, which is the serialized part of the pistol.
All controls on the frame are ambidextrous. The magazine release is a paddle located on each side at the rear of the trigger guard, rather than the push button style found on most U.s.-manufactured semi-auto pistols. HK has used this on every handgun since 1993 when it was introduced on the USP and Mark 23 handguns and it works quite well once you get used to it. This design also allows the use of standard P30 magazines. Relief notches are molded into both sides at the bottom of the grip to allow easy
access to the magazine’s baseplate in the event a magazine fails to drop free during reloading.
If the heart of a pistol is its barrel, then the trigger is its soul. HK worked hard to deliver in the VP line a trigger that they believe is the best available in a striker-fired pistol.
It is a true single-action trigger in that the striker is completely cocked by the rearward motion of the slide. The trigger has approximately 0.18 inches of take-up at 2.5 pounds, then breaks cleanly without stacking and almost no over-travel. The reset is approximately 0.08 inches and very tactile. There is none of the “squishiness” (a very technical term) associated with the triggers on many striker-fired pistols. A wide trigger face helps distribute the load on your trigger finger, making the trigger pull feel lighter than it actually is.
There is no external safety, but there are three safeties on the VP40 Tactical. The first is a pivoting trigger safety toggle. This keeps the trigger from moving rearward unless it is depressed while the trigger is pressed. It also operates as a drop safety. A firing pin safety blocks the forward travel of the firing pin unless the trigger is depressed, thereby
HK’S VP40 Tactical comes with an ambidextrous magazine release and slide catch, MIL-STD 1913 rail, charging supports and a threaded barrel.
The VP40 Tactical has a feed ramp integral with the barrel and a loaded chamber indicator (red) on the extractor.
The pistol comes packaged in an injection-molded case with three magazines, three back straps and three sets of grip panels.
The HK VP40 Tactical comes standard with a threaded barrel for installation of a suppressor