09 May 2015

LET'S TALK GUNS: HK VP9 Review and Comparison with Apex M&P9, P30L

UPDATE 9 May 2015:
tl;dr - VP9 trigger will smooth out with use. It is good value for money: very reliable, very accurate, and very easy to shoot. The trigger is good enough. At that price point you have to compromise somewhere and it is in the trigger. Everything else about the gun is outstanding. Out of the box is it superior to the M&P9.

This has been the most popular post on my blog by quite a lot so I am adding more information after shooting all the guns with more people, several more times.

Shot the P30L, M&P9 and VP9 with 4 shooters of various skill levels. All guns had XS 24/7 Big Dot sights.
Considered in isolation everyone preferred the trigger on the M&P9. It is as close to a 1911 trigger as I have ever fired. Apex parts are boss.

Even with the trigger advantage some people preferred the VP9 overall because of the ergos: grip, mag release, little wing things on the slide. The LEM trigger was not a fan favorite early in the day but it grew on people.

Overall the VP9 has performed very well. It is my go-to carry gun because while the trigger in the M&P9 is superior I did have an issue with the magazines (which seems to be resolved now), and I am in the market for an aftermarket barrel because I am not thrilled with the accuracy. The barrel lockup is not as tight as in the VP9 and I think that is a contributing factor. (I know it is not the trigger. :))

Word is that Bruce Gray of Gray Guns is working on a drop-in trigger kit for the VP9, and HKPro is selling springs that will reduce the trigger pull weight below 4 lbs. That is too light for a carry gun so they are not an option for me.

You can find the M&P9 for less than $400 (plus minimal fees) if you shop around. That is a damn good deal. I expect the VP9 prices to come down to the $500 range before too long.

Will update with more info as appropriate. 

13 Sept 2014
Posted this review on a forum but it was behind a paywall. There are a lot of VP9 reviews and comparos popping up. Here's another one.

tl;dr: The VP9 performed well but I think the trigger is too heavy. Hoping it smooths out with use. Would definitely lighten the break if I could. It's a good gun for the money if you live outside of CA. (Note that 'good gun for the money' is very definitely not the same thing as being 'a good gun', full stop.)

Full version:
Brought a mixed bag of guns out to the range to introduce some new shooters. Experience varied - we had two very new shooters, three gun owners that shoot occasionally, and me. (I take classes as often as my schedule permits and augment my time away from the range with dry practice.)

Guns that people were available to shoot:
  • HK45 light LEM
  • P30L 9mm - light LEM
  • M&P 9mm - ATEi action work
  • VP9 - new and unfired
  • P2000 9mm
  • FN 5.7 (lulz)
  • MR762 (nice)
  • Springfield 1911 (LULZZZZZZZZ)
  • HK45 in standard issue DA/SA
I was mainly interested in comparing the striker guns, and also how the new shooters would react with their limited exposure to the different 'weapon systems' (har). I'm glad someone brought a 1911 so that the new shooters could get some experience with a gun that doesn't work. (Already worked the bugs out of my M&P or else they could have used that.)

The VP9 rated about the middle of the pack. The trigger is too heavy out of the box and the gun needs some use to smooth it out. Most of the HK models on offer had fired at least 1000 rounds so they were broken in. Even accounting for break in, the trigger on the vp9 was not popular. Too heavy. I understand why people say that it is similar to a Glock. That's not a flattering comparison. After some break in I will either send mine off for some trigger work or get a lighter spring. Not sure. As is, I think it's got a ways to go.

No one hated the VP9 - it wasn't at the bottom of anyone's list, but it wasn't anyone's favorite. That's about what I would expect from a $600 gun on a table full of more pricey options. People liked everything about it BUT the trigger. The VP9 doesn't make a lot of financial sense where I live. By the time you get done paying the extra fees and tax you could have bought a M&P and had the custom work done. Or bought a P30L. Both options are superior to the VP9. I like the gun but don't plan to reach for it in case of emergency. I'll reevaluate after it has seen more use.

If you live in a part of the country where you don't have to pay extra fees and can get the VP9 for the street price then I think it's a competitive option. It is accurate and as far as reports go, reliable.

Most of the guns ran flawlessly. The only gun with issues was the 1911. When we got together at the beginning of the day and I heard someone brought a 1911 I asked if they brought a gunsmith to make sure it works. That didn't go over very well but I didn't say a word when it jammed repeatedly, failed to feed, etc. The 1911 is the Harley Davidson of handguns.

Overall a safe, fun range day. The new shooters are looking forward to picking up a new HK before the end of the year (probably the P30L).
See you out there.

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