When Heckler & Koch engineered a next generation pistol to compete for the Joint Combat Pistol program, an ill-fated US Military contract, the company enlisted the help of Hollywood for its new ergonomic grip design. Warner Bros. is proud to present the next sequel in the USP saga: the new Batman grip HK45. Joking aside, the new HK45 and P30 series are forward-thinking designs—perhaps too forward-thinking for their own good.
I’ve had considerable trigger time on the new HK45, HK45C, and P30. In fact, HK sent On Point Firearms one of the only HK45 military prototypes in the country last year. With the help of our friend, Erik at Rican Havoc Productions, we produced this video for Heckler & Koch USA:
For years, I’ve been a USP shooter. So, I’ve come to expect quality, reliability, accuracy, and beautiful design from all things HK. However, I’m not ready to sell off my stable of USP pistols and “upgrade” to the new HK45/P30 weapons system yet. Why? It’s the law of diminishing returns, my friends. For more money, you’re not necessarily getting more “gun”.Indeed, the new ergonomic “Batman” grip found on the HK45 and P30 is very comfortable and its interchangeable back straps (and side straps on the P30) make fitting these pistols to smaller hands easy. But, the original USP line was already designed to fit most hands and was considered a highly ergonomic pistol for its day. In fact, most pistols are designed specifically for male shooters of average size. That’s logical as it appeals to the majority of shooters, not just the outliers with puny hands or freakishly large ones. The HK45 is a full size pistol that shoots .45acp. Make no mistake: this is a man’s gun-- designed not for concealment, but specifically as a candidate for the military’s Joint Combat Pistol program. The P30 blends form and function very well and the grip is a major improvement over the standard USP 9mm. The HK45C grip is very similar to the one found on the current USP Compact line, albeit with interchangeable back straps. But are these new grips such an improvement that shooters should absorb switching costs to bring this into their gun wardrobe?The slides on the new HK45, HK45C, and P30 feature a smooth profile and front serrations, to boot. That’s nice, but serrations could’ve been easily integrated into the USP line. Surprisingly, some users have even experienced problems with the HE finish (see thread on HKPro). If this claim is true, it would seem the Hostile Environment finish has changed-- and not for the better. Perhaps “Hostile Environment” is now defined as your local shooting range: slightly dusty—hint of cigarette smoke and gunpowder in the air.
Atop the slide sit factory night sights on all three models. I expected Trijicon or Meprolight to come standard on an expensive German import. Instead, you get yellow glow paint. Service life: unknown.
The trigger is all USP. No improvement here. So if you buy an HK45, HK45C, or P30, invest quickly in a Wolf 10lb hammer spring and bring that heavy DA pull down to size. There’s a new cutout in the trigger guard of the HK45 and P30 that seems like it would be an aesthetically pleasing feature. Unfortunately, it rubs your finger while shooting—becoming an irritation. The magazine release, albeit extended, is not as easy to operate as the one found on the original USP line. Wisely, the HK45C was saved from both of these “improvements.”
The O-ring barrel on the HK45 and HK45C improves accuracy, but it’s a feature already found on the USP Tactical and Compact Tactical— models coming in at similar price points, but sporting threaded barrels and a match trigger (in the case of the full size Tactical.) Thankfully, fans of the “can” will be able to purchase models with threaded barrels shortly—satisfying their need to “go quiet.”
The final insult is magazine capacity. At 10rds, the HK45 is a step backwards compared with the 12+1 standard capacity found on the USP .45. Look around at other full size forty-fives from Springfield Armory, Glock, Smith & Wesson, and FN. Clearly, 12+1 is the industry standard. Why should shooters paying a premium price expect anything less from Heckler & Koch—one of the finest monikers you can find stamped on your slide? Fortunately, the P30 is no slouch in this area. It sports an ample 15-round capacity and has a more low profile form factor than its predecessor. The HK45C and classic USP Compact .45 benefit from the ability to use 10-round magazines from the new HK45, so not all is doom and gloom.
The HK45, HK45C, and P30 represent the future of Heckler & Koch pistols. Is that a good thing? Each of my USP pistols has years of service life left in them. Spare parts and magazines are easy to come by. So, there’s no need to switch platforms for a few cosmetic improvements. Are the new HK45 and P30 series good guns? No, they’re GREAT guns. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge proponent of Heckler & Koch products. I highly recommend them to my friends and clients. However, this is my opinion on the HK45: Buy one if you’re a die-hard HK aficionado. Otherwise, a USP .45 in your holster will serve you well for years to come. Regarding the P30: If you don’t already own a USP full size or compact 9mm, surely this is the one to get. It’s the best of both worlds. Compact and slim enough for concealed carry, but with enough firepower and barrel length for home defense, competition, or range duty. As for the HK45C: Wait for the threaded barrel version to hit the streets. That’ll make it an excellent upgrade from USP Compact Tactical.
Have a good one and stay On Point!
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