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The HK VP9 Family of Pistols

The HK VP9 Family of Pistols

Heckler & Koch are known for their high quality, durable firearms, that come with a hefty price tag. However because of their reliability, the price tag is worth every penny. This holds true for the VP series of handguns.

There are numerous different variations within the VP series, but today we're going to be going over three of their 9mm offerings: the VP9, the VP9SK , and the VP9 Tactical OR. These are the American designations for the series while the European models are designated SFP9. There are a few models that are merely minor variations supposedly for Military and Law Enforcement, although these modifications can still be purchased on the standard pistols.

To prevent any confusion as to which is which we will only refer to them as the VP9, VP9SK, and the VP9 Tactical OR.



The VP9 is a striker fired, semi-automatic handgun. The third striker fired pistol produced by Heckler & Koch, this full sized pistol began to be developed in roughly 2010. Four years later in 2014 it was finally released.

Its development began when the Bavarian State Police requested something to replace the HK P7. Heckler & Koch decided this was the perfect opportunity to update their striker-fired lineup. Over the next five years the VP9 became very popular and will now feature three upgrades that were not found on the original release. These upgrades will be covered later.

Starting at the user/gun interface, also known as the grip, we have a reinforced polymer frame. This frame features a modular grip to ensure a comfortable and repeatable grip on the pistol. This is achieved with the various grip modifications that have a total of 27 different configurations.

Next we have the magazine release. There are two variations of VP9 magazine release and they are not interchangeable. The push button release is most familiar in the American mind as the standard magazine release. Models with this style of magazine release allow for the release to be reversed for the gun to be either set up for right or left handed use.

The second type of magazine release is H&K's ambidextrous paddle release. This release does not need to be swapped to a left or right hand setup, allowing for ambidextrous control of the magazine release without having to do any modifications. Whether the pistol features the paddle release or push button is determined at purchase.

Next comes the trigger. The trigger features a trigger safety similar to Glock pistols. This is the only “External” safety on the gun (in addition to a cocked striker indicator). The trigger is rated at 4.5 to 5.4 pound trigger pull. It also features .24 inches of trigger travel and a reset of .12 inches. This allows for faster, more accurate shots with the pistol. The trigger is referred to as a single-action trigger which also aids in accuracy when compared to double-action-only triggers.

HK VP9 Field Stripped

Moving forward, just bellow the barrel there is a segment of rail available for mounting lights, lasers, or “Aimers”. The technical specification for the rail states that it can accommodate 5.6 ounces without impacting performance on the MIL-STD 1913 rail. This allows for the safe use of force multipliers without significant deviations in accuracy.

The VP9 features a 4.09 inch barrel. This is where most of the accuracy of the pistol comes from if we take out the human factors of aiming, trigger press, and grip. This somewhat longer barrel results in a 7.34 inch overall length and a 1.32 inch width. The height of the pistol is 5.41 inches.

This brings us to the sighting systems and a few of the changes in 2020. Because of consumer feed back the standard VP9 sight is now a high visibility front sight with clean black serrated rear sights instead of the original three dot system. New models will ship with the new sight unless a night sight model is requested.

The sight radius of the VP9 is 6.28 inches according to the manual. This more than likely applies to both types of iron sights and brings us to the next major change for 2020 production VP9s.

As of 2020 all VP9s will be optics ready. This means as long as the appropriate mounting plate or floor plate is selected for your optic, you will be able to attach a red dot sight to the pistol without any additional milling work. This allows for some customization without the added cost of custom work on the slide.

Next we have the capacity of the VP9. The VP9 features standard magazines with 20, 17, 15, and 10 round capacities. Originally the VP9 shipped with a number of 15 round magazines but as of 2020 the standard magazine is now the 17 round magazine.

Number of magazines, magazine capacity, and sight type are determined at purchase.

Finally the weight. The VP9 weighs 26.56 ounces with an empty magazine. This is the weight as given in H&K's manual and might differ from their website or other sites.



The VP9SK is the compact version of the VP9. This packs most of the features of the VP9 into a smaller package with a few minor differences. Those differences are found in the dimensions, the available capacities, the sight options, and the trigger.

Starting with the less obvious difference, the VPSK has a slightly heavier trigger rate range than the standard VP9 with a 4.5 to 5.6 pound trigger pull. Beyond this the triggers are identical.

Next we have the dimensions. The VP9SK is 6.61 inches overall with a sight radius of 5.73 inches. The width of the pistol is 1.32 inches, the same width as the regular VP9. The height of the pistol is 4.57 inches. This shows that the overall length and height of the gun were modified to make it a compact model.

This requires to barrel to be smaller in order to fit the shorter slide length. This shrinks the VP9SK's barrel to 3.39 inches.

The next major difference is that there are no optics ready VP9SKs currently. The slide is not milled to accept any of the standard optics mounting plates.

Finally we have capacity. Due to its shorter height there is less grip and there for less magazine capacity. There are 10, 13, and 15 round magazines available for the VP9SK from Heckler & Koch.

The VP9SK is also lighter than the standard VP9. The VP9SK comes in at 24.3 ounces, roughly 2 ounces less than the VP9.

HK VP9 Tactical OR

HK VP9 Tactical OR

Our final variant of the VP9 is the VP9 Tactical OR. This pistol is a very slight combination of VP9 and VP9SK features. For the most part the Tactical version is the exact same as the VP9. It has the same magazine capacities, it is optics ready, and is a full sized pistol. However there are a few differences.

It shares the trigger pull range of the VP9SK with a 4.5 to 5.6 trigger pull weight. But it is slightly larger than the standard VP9. The Tactical OR is 7.95 inches overall with a 6.38 inch sight radius and features a 4.7 inch barrel. All of the other dimensions match the VP9.

But why does it have a slightly longer barrel? The Tactical OR comes suppressor ready. This means the barrel and slide are extended to accommodate the additional weight and threading for a suppressor.

The basic iron sights are also different than the standard VP9. The Tactical OR features suppressor height tritium night sights. These sights are taller than normal sights in order to clear the added length of a suppressor. They will provide a 1/3 co-witness with whichever red dot is mounted to the pistol.

All of these differences shift the weight of the Tactical OR up to 26.9 ounces with an empty magazine. This makes it just a fraction heavier than the standard VP9


The VP9 series is a reliable set of striker fired pistols. The VP9 meets the standard requirements for a full sized pistol while the VP9SK is a good option for those who want more for a compact option. For those who want a little more modularity the Tactical OR differs enough from the VP9 to fit for specialized needs.

The largest benefits of the VP9 series are its single-action trigger, rail, and optics ready options. These features prepare it for the future of the duty and concealed carry world. This allows for the end user to get more possibilities to add force multipliers to their handgun without getting custom work done to the pistol.