H&K P30 – 9mm
Heckler & Koch. The brand that’s been on the mind every armchair commando since the 80’s. It’s the brand that has somehow become more popular in spite of their longtime unwritten/unofficial slogan: “H&K: Because you suck, we hate you”. Maybe it’s John McClain in Die hard killing the bad guys with the popular MP5, or Ethan Hunt firing the G36 in Mission Impossible III and single-handedly taking out a Predator drone. I don’t know. But if movies are suppose to mimic real life, then I needed to get my hands on a piece of H&K hardware. After all, what kind of “operator” would I be if I didn’t own an H&K product?
Since H&K tries ever-so-hard to make it impossible to own any kind of militaristic rifle at a decent price, I opted out of a rifle purchase. Instead, I purchased a pistol. I didn’t have a 9mm pistol yet, and with the prices of ammo these days (9mm being one of the cheaper and prevalent offerings), it seemed like an obvious choice. From there, H&K offers a few different pistol lines that are readily available: USP, HK45, P2000, and now a new P30 series. Reading up on the P30, I opted for this version. I have held a USP before, and it was a bit too blocky feeling; nearly as bad as a Block, **AHEM**, Glock (See what I did there?). The P2000 felt better, but I wanted a full size pistol. HK45 was out due to the price and it was also 45 ACP, so what was left was the P30. H&K, especially in the new P30 series, offers their pistols in a number of styles and features, even though the body is seemingly exact in appearance. For instance, I had a choice between P30 9mm V0, V1, V2, V3, V4, V5, and V6. Then there are the options in Long slide, Short slide and external thumb safety. I cant even find out how many different versions there are, but it would seem to me there are at least 20 different options but probably closer to 30+. Needless to say, someone looking at H&K P30 pistols for the first time are in for a LOT of confusion. I’ll keep it short and sweet buy saying that I opted for a Single Action LEM (Combat Defensive Action, or CDA) trigger system with a 4.5lb pull weight. This translates to the P30 9mm LEM V1.
The LEM trigger is actually what sold me on this platform. It is a rather ingenious trigger system that acts like a DAO trigger (Dual Action Only), but instead of having the standard 10-12lb trigger pull of a DAO trigger, the cocking of the hammer or racking of the slide preloads the trigger and turns it into a 4.5lb trigger! You still have the long pull, which brings the hammer back as you pull the trigger, but it doesnt take a ton of finger juice to pull it. In fact, the only time you would ever find yourself having a 12lb trigger pull is if you racked the slide and chambered a round, pulled the trigger and the shot failed to fire. At this point, the hammer is down and not preloaded…..if you pulled the trigger again in an attempt to try and make that failed round fire, it would be a 12lb pull. It is like the first shot of a DA/SA trigger. I hate DAO pistols because I don’t like long and hard trigger pulls. I can deal with long pulls if the weight is light, which is why I didn’t go with the V2 (it is 7.3lb).
My version has no safety. And I love it. And that’s why California hates me! They don’t like pistols without safeties (Okay, let’s be honest: California hates ALL guns, but to CA, guns without safeties will always have a special place reserved in hell). I don’t feel this pistol needs a safety. You can’t accidentally bump the trigger and have it go off. The hammer can’t accidentally fall and fire off a shot (the hammer is always down on a DAO pistol, remember? Yes, even when chambered). Therefore, a safety would simply be a hindrance or another reason to mess something up if you are ever in the heat of the moment and stress takes over…..it’s just one less thing to worry about.
The recoil on this pistol is extremely light. First off, it’s a 9mm. Pretty much anyone can handle that recoil. But this pistol does a superb job at keeping the pistol relatively light, while simultaneously taming recoil down below other competing pistols. Having said that, the P30 does have a somewhat “mushy” feel to the recoil. It’s anything but snappy. And it certainly isnt fast. Maybe it’s because I’m used to my Kimber Ulta CDP II which has a 3″ barrel. It cycles extremely fast. I’ve also shot a Ruger LC9 which is another DAO with no trigger preload…..it too has a fast slide cycling time. Maybe it’s my taste, but I do not find this mushy feel particularly attractive or desirable. Be that as it may, it has a very light recoil so the mushiness isn’t strong.
I believe this comes standard on all P30 models, but the sights are “glow in the dark”. Do not mistake this for night sights: Without first being in light, these will not glow like the tritium sights do and will do you absolutely no good for “bump in the night” situations. I strongly prefer true night sights that do not rely on light for night time use. However, in the day time they are much better because they simply look like large white dots. Tritium sights on the other hand do not stand out well in the daytime….they have a lackluster snot color and do not glow. For daytime use, I would prefer fiber optic sights, and night time use, tritium. I feel the standard P30 sights are a compromise between both: Okay in either situation, but excels in none. As it is, H&K could have just put white dots there that have zero use at night…..so I guess that’s a plus. But for an $800+ pistol, tritium would have been good form.
The trigger itself, I would rate only as “decent” overall. I highly rate the LEM usage, or rather, the way it works. But the feel of it, I personally think, could use more work. The trigger doesn’t have a perfectly crisp break, but it’s far from terrible…..I’d put it between good and great. Let’s say “Pretty Good”. Now, you have to understand that being a DAO pistol, you will ALWAYS have a long uptake to hit the 4.5lb break point on the first shot. The uptake is probably about 2lb and then the break is 4.5lb. It seriously feels like a good 3/4″+ of uptake, so understand this about this pistol and make sure your okay with that before dropping this kind of coin. I’ve made my peace with it. But I’d say the biggest pitfall about this trigger is the reset: It feels like a good 1/8″ or so to reset the trigger for the subsequent shots. I shot my H&K P30 along side a Walther PPQ, which, granted…..is a completely different gun, albeit VERY similar in ergonomics. The Walther is a Striker Fire pistol, which does not have a hammer. Striker Fire pistols have very different feeling triggers. I personally like hammer based triggers because they tend to have much lighter uptake and crisper breaks. In the case of the Walther, it was the complete OPPOSITE of the H&K P30: The break was mushy and practically non-existent, while the reset was a mere mouse-click! It left me begging for a mix between the two: The break of the P30 and the reset of the Walther. Unfortunately, life is not typically so perfect. C’est la vie. But getting back to the P30, I feel that maybe I am being too picky. After all, this IS intended to be a combat trigger, not a match grade race trigger. In this light, I feel it does it’s job well.
The ergonomics of this pistol are really what drew me to the P30 in the first place. Never in my life had I picked up a pistol and felt like it was custom molded to my own hand. The words, “Like a glove” do not do it justice. It really is the most comfortable feeling pistol I have ever felt. A very close 2nd place is the Walther PPQ….that also molds into the hand very nicely. The H&K P30 comes with different sized backstraps, side-straps and front-straps. If that’s what you call them. That’s what I call them. So you have your own customizations based on your hand size and preferences: Fat, skinny, finger grooves or slick side, you name the configuration…you can probably have it.
As for the use, the slide lock is very long and is easily accessible with the thumb without moving your hand’s position on the grip….unlike most 1911’s. It is also ambidextrous, featuring the long slide lock on both sides.
One great thing about the P30 is that the rail section under the muzzle is finally based on the 1913 picatinny standard. Unlike the USP and P2000, you can put any picatinny light or laser on the underside rail. The USP and P2000 required an adapter that was unnecessarily expensive and only added weight.
The slide features grip serrations at the back of the slide under the rear sight, as well as on the front of the slide under the front sight post. They are not extremely aggressive or sharp, but I actually prefer that because sharp slide serrations only wear out holsters faster, and if the slide is long enough, can rub your leg raw if the holster doesn’t cover the muzzle.
The front of the trigger guard is also flat for placing a support hand finger. Although, I would recommend that people don’t do this as it tends to make you pull your shots one way or another. But hey, it’s there if you like that.
Accuracy and Function
Surprisingly, I have not yet experience lights out shooting with the H&K P30. It’s the best feeling pistol I have ever held, but for some some reason I have yet to be very accurate with it. To be clear, I am not denigrating it’s accuracy because in all honesty, I am not the best of pistol shooters. I have some good days, but there are so many people out there who can hit a 2″ bullseye every single time from 10 yards, and I just cannot do that. One reason might be due to the bulk of my pistol experience being on a 1911 platform. As you well know, 1911’s do not utilize hinge triggers and have mouse-click breaks and mouse-click resets. It’s just a different feel all around. And I’ve been spoiled by it. I am still getting used to the H&K hinge trigger. But having said that, I have shot a Ruger LC9, which is a DAO hinge trigger and shot lights out with it….and it is not exactly known for having superb accuracy. Also, I am using my own reloads, and maybe I haven’t found the right combination of projectile/powder/overall length for best accuracy. So needless to say, it would be unfair of me to judge the P30 on accuracy at this point.
One thing I should note about this pistol is that when you load your magazine, if you slam it home, it will automatically tick off the slide release and chamber a round. I am not sure if this is intentional, but I personally like it. In the heat of the moment when stress is highest, it is one less thing to worry about. But, if you’re not careful and dont realize that it just chambered a round, then it can be dangerous. Just know that it does this, and in my view, is a positive “quirk”.
Taking the pistol apart is so easy. Yes, even a caveman could do it. It breaks apart much like a 1911, where the slide lock is what is holding the slide on. But instead of popping it out separately and pulling it out altogether, it simply pushes in and out maybe an 1/8th inch and gets out of the way of the slide, so you can pull the slide off. From there, you pinch or compress the spring assembly/guide rod and it pops right our of position, and then you can pull out the barrel. It’s rather strange how that spring assembly stays on without coming out of place. It seems so precarious, but it does indeed stay on. Just know that you have to place it in the dead perfect center, otherwise the slide will refuse to go all the way back on. If you noticed in my pictures, I have grease on the pistol instead of lube….after doing this and feeling the slide reciprocates, I would not recommend using grease over lube. It actually slowed down the slide to the point you could feel it. It was too thick, for sure. Yeah, it might work in the summertime when it’s warm and the grease isnt so viscous, but why risk it? Just use lube and it will run without impedance, summer or winter.
Magazines and Release
The H&K P30 has a non-standard magazine release when it comes to U.S. consumers. Instead of having a button on the left side that releases the magazine, this pistol has an ambidextrous lever on either side at the base of the trigger guard. At first, I wasn’t so sure about this system. But the more I used the system and played with it, the more I have grown accustomed to it, and now even prefer it! I really like being able to release the magazine with my trigger finger instead of being forced to alter the position of my hand on the grip to release the magazine, or using my support hand. My one complaint so far is that the magazine release sticks up slightly higher than the trigger guard, making it so that when I pull the trigger, my fingernail catches on the edge of the pointy edge of the mag release. A simple solution would be to file down to release so that it is flush with the trigger guard. Or, there might be a way to adjust how far the release lever sticks up….that I don’t know for sure. Unfortunately I don’t know of any H&K armorers in my neck of the woods, and H&K doesn’t have much of a California presence as it is, since most of their pistols are not on the approved handgun roster list (nor do they care), so I can’t find out if that is adjustable. One thing is for sure though: Having the release slightly in the way forces the operator to learn good fingertip positioning on the trigger. If you use the very tip of your finger, it will never come in contact with the release, negating this problem. Still, it **could** be an issue if you use gloves.
The H&K P30 comes with two double stacked magazines that appear to be of high quality. They have very good anti-tilt followers and feel very robust….not likely to wear out soon. In a free state, they hold 15 rounds in the 9mm version. Unfortunately, my state’s law forces us to bastardize the mags down to 10 rounds. Anyway, the downside is that extra mags are expensive.
In the end, I certainly cannot say that I wouldn’t recommend this pistol. But I also am not going to be one of those rabid fanboys who are so brand loyal that everything else sucks and that H&K has the only viable option. Yes, the H&K P30 is very nice and has lots of great features. But is it worth its price? Only you can answer that, but I submit that you can likely find other similarly reliable pistols and one that feels just as good in the hand for a lower price. I know for a fact that in CA, pistols are more expensive than other places, and I have seen the Walther PPQ on sale for $625. That’s basically 25% lower. So in a monetary sense, buying the H&K P30 may not be the smart buy. But again, for you it may go back to the H&K novelty and you just love everything H&K. Or maybe you’re like me and just can’t get over just how good it feels in your hands. Whatever the reason, the P30 is definitely not a stupid buy. It is definitely not a waste of money. And it is definitely not just a bunch of hype. It is a serious contender and in my view, should be on your short list of pistols to get. Yet even still, I feel that if you’re going to drop that much money on a pistol, at least do your homework and go to a store that has them in stock and hold one. Feel it. Pull the trigger (after you’ve checked and double checked that it’s unloaded). Then hold some other pistols and compare. And even better, if you get a chance to fire some live rounds through it, that will give you a really good understanding of what to expect. I am not disappointed in my purchase, even at the high dollar amount, and I suspect you would be happy with it too.