Heckler & Koch (HK) will introduce their new VP9SK sub-compact striker fired 9mm pistol at the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta, Georgia this week. The VP9SK is the sub-compact version of the HK VP9 pistol that has earned wide-ranging praise as one of the best striker fired pistols on the market. So far only the 9mm sub-compact version is available, but you can expect the .40 S&W version to come out in the near future.
The VP9 or VP40 have been adopted by dozens of law enforcement agencies, and have quickly found a favorable eye in the civilian market as well. The HK VP9 series of pistols now appears to have the most popular sizes available for shooters, including full size, compact, and now sub-compact. This new VP9SK sub-compact is poised to be very competitive in the ever-growing concealed carry market, even if its entry is a little behind some key players.
Heckler & Koch VP9SK
Heckler & Koch (HK) has been steadily increasing the VP9 series of handguns to fill the needs and desires of the incredibly diverse pistol market. With the addition of the VP9SK the VP9 series has completed the standard sizing options familiar in most handgun offerings.
The HK VP9SK will maintain al of the same features and characteristics of the larger framed VP9 series pistols, only coming in a more compact profile designed to accommodate concealed carry or shooter’s will smaller hands. One of the most important aspects of the VP9 pistols is the completely ambidextrous controls. This includes magazine release (plunger) on the trigger guard, the slide release levers, and slide charging supports.
The VP9SK, like other VP9 pistols, uses the plunger style magazine release system. Instead of the more common push-button magazine release on the grip of the pistol, HK uses a downward plunger located on the back of the trigger guard. There are good and bad aspects of either magazine release feature. The VP9 plunger will likely require a re-training if the shooter is used to push-button releases, though many who use the plunger system say it becomes more intuitive and faster to use than the push-button alternatives once it is learned.
The slide release on the left side of the VP9SK takes on a more standard profile, with a short rectangular shape that is easily manipulated by the right thumb. On the right side of the VP9SK the slide release is a longer bar sitting flush to the frame, with a textured horizontal box to activate the release. The right side slide release lever is slightly smaller than the left side option.
The ambidextrous charging supports are small, vertical polymer inserts mounted on the rear of each side of the slide. These polymer inserts provide an excellent gripping surface for the slide manipulation technique involving the shooter using the thumb and forefinger to “pinch” the slide for rearward movement.
HK VP9SK Features
- Machined steel slide
- Cold hammer-forged “cannon grade” barrel
- Polygonal bore profile for superior performance
- HK hostile environment finish – slide, barrel, all metal components
- Lightweight polymer frame
- HK modular grip panels
- HK modular lateral grip panels
- Comes with flat and extended grip 10-round magazines
- Optional 13 & 15-round magazines coming in November, 2017
- Accepts VP9 and P30 15-round magazines.
HK VP9SK Specifications
- Slide Material: Machined steel
- Slide Finish: HK hostile environment finish
- Frame Material: Polymer
- Overall Length: 6.61 inches
- Barrel Length: 3.39 inches
- Height: 4.57 inches
- Width: 1.31 inches
- Weight: 23.07 ounces (with empty magazine)
- Safeties: Drop, Trigger
- Sights: Standard 3-dot
- Capacity: 10; 13 and 15-round magazines coming in November 2017
- MSRP: $719.00.
HK VP9SK Grip
The sub-compact VP9SK comes with the completely adjustable VP9 series grip, including interchangeable back straps and lateral grip panels. This highly modular design allows the shooter to tailor fit the VP9SK grip to as close a perfect grip as possible. Though there are now several manufacturers offering adjustable back straps, HK is currently the sole manufacturer to include a lateral panel adjustment as well.
If you’ve never held an HK VP9 pistol you owe it to yourself to hold one of these pistols in your hand. The HK grip is one of the most comfortable and naturally fitting pistol grips I have ever handled, and there are plenty who agree with me on this feature. The grip angle is about as perfect as you can get. The adjustable back straps and lateral panels literally create a grip that feels custom fit to your hands.
The grip texture is placed on the lower 2/3 of the grip and is pronounced enough to provide the desired traction, but is soft enough to keep shooting pleasurable. By keeping the texture on the lower 2/3, HK provides grip traction for the last three fingers, while keeping the thumb and trigger finger placed against the smoother polymer frame. When recoil occurs there is less discomfort at the top of the hand from rubbing against a rough texture as the pistol raises and lowers. However, with the last three fingers secured on the lower 2/3 grip texture the pistol remains secure in the shooter’s hand.
(NOTE: These observations were made shooting the larger VP9 series pistols, but the concept will be the same in the similar though smaller design of the VP9SK).
Finally, HK does include molded finger grooves on the front of the grip. Lately the discussion of molded finger grooves has been highly controversial, with both camps making passionate arguments for and against. Personally I do not mind finger grooves; however, that is likely because I have not found a pistol with finger grooves that does not still fit my grip. Some hand sizes will not fit just right with stationary grooves.
For that reason, the VP9SK may not be suitable for those shooters. It should be observed, though, the molded finger grooves on the HK VP9SK and other VP9 series pistols are rather muted, reducing their overall negative impact. The positive effect for shooters whose hands fit in the grooves is additional grip control. Shooting 9mm does not produce excessive recoil. However, with modern self-defense loads, and the potential for rapid fire during a self-defense or training scenario, any extra grip control can be a very positive feature.
HK VP9SK Trigger
The HK VP9 series pistols earned high praise and popularity due to one of the best striker fired triggers on the market. The VP9SK will maintain the same trigger system as the larger VP9 series pistols. HK markets the VP9 series trigger as a “precision strike trigger.” The VP9 trigger is designed with a short, light take-up and a solid, single action break. Following the trigger break, the VP9 trigger will provide the shooter with a short but positive reset.
The trigger takes on a similar appearance as competitor striker fired pistols, with a trigger bar safety extending out in front of the actual trigger. Some shooters do not like this feature, but I have found the trigger bar safety to be a very nice feature that allows me just enough distance to gauge and understand the trigger pull weight.
Having shot the HK VP9 series pistols on several occasions, I can agree it is one of the best striker fired triggers on the market. The trigger is smooth with very little if any creep. Trigger pull remains constant, with just a slight uptake in pressure just before the trigger breaks to fire. Reset is very smooth with a short travel distance, allowing for incredibly fast and accurate follow-up shots on target.
Trigger reset is a skill that must be trained with often to acquire proficiency. Without proper muscle memory from repeated training, a shooter trying to use trigger reset may inadvertently start jerking shots as they engage reset on some shots but miss it on others. However, with proper training, I have found trigger reset to be an outstanding feature to decrease shot times, and increase accuracy.
HK VP9SK Slide
The VP9SK slide is made from machined steel and includes slide serrations on the front and rear. The addition of front slide serrations has been a very positive feature lately, as a trend in competitive shooting sees the shooter grasping further forward. This slide manipulation technique keeps the firearm and shooter’s hands further forward so in theory they can complete the work task and return to a shooting stance faster. Regardless of how this plays out the additional serrations are a nice feature, opening options, and providing a nice profile for the VP9SK.
The ambidextrous slide charging supports are a nice addition. These small vertical polymer inserts at the rear of the slide provide shooters a more positive grip surface when charging or releasing the slide from the rear. This is another feature showing HK is staying abreast with trends and thinking outside of the box for solutions.
The VP9SK slide, along with the barrel, spring and all other metal components, are treated with HK’s hostile environment finish. This finish is most likely a nitriding or Melonite® treatment to provide outstanding corrosion protection while also helping to prevent nicks and scratches.
Another important feature on the slide is the loaded chamber indicator. HK uses a small round port on the back side of the frame, facing the shooter. When the chamber is loaded a red dot appears in the port to let the shooter know the firearm is loaded and ready to fire. When the chamber is empty this red dot disappears.
HK VP9SK Frame
The VP9SK frame is made of lightweight polymer like most striker-fired pistols are configured. The polymer frame provides incredible strength and durability while not adding unnecessary weight that steel framed pistols deliver.
The frame comes with a 3-position MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail on the under side to provide the shooter the option of adding a light or laser to their pistol. The addition of a rail pretty standard in modern pistols, both striker fired and traditional hammer fired. The ability to add a light, in particular, is an incredibly important purchasing feature. Many confrontations occur at night, or at least low-light locations. Having the ability to light up your target for positive threat identification cannot be understated. If you don’t have a light on your pistol, you need to carry a hand-held every time you carry your pistol – which we recommend almost always!
The HK VP9SK is made in Germany, but will be distributed from the HK headquarters in Columbus, Georgia. The VP9SK carried HK’s Lifetime Warranty.
Owning an HK VP9 series pistol is on my check list. I have had some other priorities recently, but I’m really pushing the VP9 up on my want/need radar. These are extremely well-built pistols, loaded with features that meet the demands modern pistol shooters. The VP9SK size, weight, and features are very competitive and some added features like grip angle, grip size adjustments, ambidextrous controls, and loaded chamber indicator help the VP9SK stand out.
From the front and rear slide serrations, to the ambidextrous slide charging supports. From the Picatinny rail, to the fully adjustable grip and lateral panels. From one of the best striker fired pistol triggers to the optimized pistol grip. The HK VP9 series pistols are outstanding. I think the VP9SK will make a strong mark on the concealed carry market.
I’m very glad to see a sub-compact version arrive for police officers who are already carrying the full size VP9 or VP40. This pistol will make an ideal companion as a back-up and off-duty pistol. The BlueSheepDog crew highly recommend officers carry a back-up pistol, and we also encourage a near 100% of-duty carry as well (outside the home = carrying for protection).