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Heckler & Koch P30

Heckler & Koch has provided small arms systems to meet the rigorous demands of law enforcement and the military for more than 50 years. HK is probably best known for its MP5 submachine gun with its many variants, its G3 and G36 assault rifles, and its Universal Self-Loading Pistol or USP. HK’s creativity has been shown in such pioneering breakthroughs as its use of polymers and polygonal rifling.

HK recently introduced its new HK P30 pistol. Designed for European police forces, the P30 incorporates features of the HK USP Compact pistol with the latest innovations of HK engineers. While only recently available in the United States, several European police forces have switched to this new weapon.

Among the P30’s useful features are its size and weight geared for a full range of police missions, including concealed carry. It offers interchangeable grip panels and backstraps and has a built-in Picatinny-type accessory rail. The pistol is designed with contoured surfaces to avoid snagging on holster and clothing, and has both an ambidextrous magazine release and ambidextrous slide release. Its polymer recoil absorber bushing aids in the reduction of recoil.

The P30 has a very short trigger reset, which enhances the speed of multiple or follow-up shots. Its no-snag hammer is built with a rubber insert for improved safety if the pistol is dropped. Another previous HK innovation still utilized in the P30 is the polygonal rifling, which increases muzzle velocity and barrel life. The cold-hammered, forged barrel also offers a better gas seal behind the bullet and easier bore cleaning.

The P30 has a modified Browning-type action like the HK USP. Like the HK USP Compact, the P30 uses a similar recoil-reduction system. This uses a specially designed flat recoil spring contained in the captive recoil spring assembly by an absorber made of a high-strength polymer. Major metal components like its steel slide are corrosion resistant, treated with a hostile environment (HE) protective finish. There are variations of HK P30 trigger units available. After shooting the P30, two officers offered their opinions. The first evaluator, Sergeant Kevin Insco, is a competition shooter and police firearms instructor with the Clearwater, FL Police Department. The second, Lieutenant Brad Seale of the Largo Police, FL Department, is the SWAT team assistant commander.


HK P30’s grip shape can be tailored to the particular requirements of each shooter by the removal and changing of either small, medium, or large backstraps and side grip panels. This is one of the latest innovations in adjustable grips. When adjustable grips first came out, the shooter could only change the backstrap or grip circumference for larger or smaller hands.

As handgun grips continued to evolve, a few manufacturers—like the Smith & Wesson M&P series, for example—offered grip variations in backstrap, side panels / width, or palm swells. HK P30 offers a complete system of grip variations because although one person might like a larger backstrap, others might prefer one that is shorter but with more width on the sides.

The hand-fitting proportions of the HK P30, providing that the shooter chooses the correct grip inserts that fit him best, make it a comfortable gun with good ergonomics. The P30 still had a slightly higher bore axis than the Glock, but it felt as though it sat deeper in the hand, which made it more comfortable. While the HK USP introduced the use of a gun made with molded polymer, the grip and ergonomics of the P30 were definitely an improvement over the HK USP. Since the frame is made of polymer, it is lightweight and easy to carry.

Integral Accessory Rail

Numerous handguns are produced that offer a Picatinny-type accessory rail that can take a tactical light, a laser, or a combination of both. As modern law enforcement continues to progress, it is becoming standard for officers to have a tactical light on their firearms, in part because the majority of shootings occurring in low- or no-light situations. It is better to have the light and not need it than to need it and not have it.

For law enforcement, identifying the threat and type of threat is the first decision that an officer encounters; without a light, whether attached or handheld, the officer cannot accomplish this. A weapon-mounted light is far easier, more efficient and accurate than using a handheld light. Both a Surefire X200 and Streamlight M3 were attached to the HK P30, and both fit well.

Trigger Pull Since the HK P30 is a double-action / single-action (DA/SA) unit, there are differences between the first discharged round and the following rounds. The introduction of smooth double-action-only triggers (Glock Safe Action, Sig DAK, HK LEM, S&W M&P, etc.) met law enforcement’s need for the round capacity of a magazine-fed, semi-automatic, but with the safe, longer trigger pull of a revolver. With the traditional DA/SA, the first shot is DA and much longer and heavier than the second and subsequent shots until the weapon is de-cocked. The SA trigger pull is much lighter and shorter than the DA.

Reports exist in training and on the street of shootings that occurred where the officer hit the suspect with the first round, but missed with the second, or, more commonly, vice versa. Law enforcement trainers began to see that it was a factor in officer-involved shootings, especially when stress was included. Under stress, officers performed better with a constant trigger pull for every shot, therefore bypassing the DA/SA transition.

When shooting the HK P30, even though the variant used was a DA/SA, there was not much difference in the first shot compared to the following shots. The trigger pull for the DA shot was a little smoother and lighter than a traditional DA first shot. The length of the pull for the DA shot was still there, but the transition was not as noticeable from DA to SA because of the smoothness and lighter weight.

The trigger pull for the double-action (first shot) was around 8 pounds and fairly smooth, with no increase in weight throughout the pull. The pull was also fairly smooth, with no signs of grittiness or stacking. The single-action (follow-up shots) pull of the P30 had some pre-travel or slack before hitting resistance, which is where the shot breaks. The pre-travel was light and with very little weight to pull before getting to some resistance. The SA pull broke at about 4.5 pounds with reset, comparable to the HK USP.

Field Stripping

Field stripping the HK P30 is similar to that of the USP, but the slide lock / release lever does not come out of the gun. The takedown notches are lined up on the slide and frame, and the ambidextrous slide release is pushed from the right side but does not come completely out.

The slide release is simply moved over slightly to allow the slide to come off the frame. When the slide is off, the handler can see a notch in the slide release lever explaining this. The P30’s recoil guide rod and barrel come out just as they do in the USP line, and the HK recoil reduction system / guide rod is the same as in the USP and HK P2000.


The P30’s magazine catch is the current European favorite, a dual paddle on either side of the trigger guard. This is the same type and design that Heckler & Koch has been using on its USP and P2000 pistols. This dual paddle, ambidextrous release is easy to reach and can be manipulated from the left or right sides of the pistol.

Shooters going to this design from the traditional button-type magazine release get plenty of practice due to differences in how it works: the dual paddle design needs to be pushed down to release the magazine, while the traditional button magazine release needs to be pushed in. This is a small difference, but under stress, this could be magnified.

The ambidextrous paddle for the quick magazine release is large, so the operator does not need to worry about accidentally missing it. It is also out of the way of gun operation, so it will not be hit accidentally. Through 225 rounds fired for the evaluation, there was no accidental magazine drop, something that can be a problem with some other guns.

De-cocking was naturally and easily accomplished. While the mechanism is convenient to the thumb’s natural movement, it is not in a position where it would be hit accidentally.

During the evaluation, the ranges varied from 7 to 25 yards. The ammunition used was 9mm 115-grain FMJ from both Federal and Winchester. There were no malfunctions of any kind, even though 50 of the 200 rounds used in the evaluation were rapidly fired.

The P30 is indeed a highly accurate handgun. Our evaluator said the accuracy of the HK P30 is very good for its size (it has a 3.86-inch barrel). At 25 yards, the evaluator was able to produce a 3-4 inch group. From 15 yards and closer, he found it fairly easy to keep all rounds in the A zone of an IPSC target. He felt the DA/SA transition was not difficult to learn.

Using a seated bench rest, the evaluator fired five, five-round groups with each box of ammunition at 25 yards. At 10 yards, some groups were as small as ½ inch. The light single action made it easy to shoot from the bench. Both evaluators give the HK P30 two thumbs up.

Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, OH Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a Florida-based writer and author. They can be reached at jweiss and

Published in Law and Order, Jan 2009

Rating : 9.7

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