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Hendon Publishing

Heckler & Koch

The P2000 US is the newest addition to the Heckler & Koch service pistol line. Based on the successful HK USP Compact pistol, the P2000 was designed to meet the needs of several European police agencies. HK states that the design requirements included reducing the probability of “handling-related stress drivers” during police missions and improving the hit-rate capabilities of the individual shooter due to modular grip sizes and ergonomic design concepts. Additionally, the pistol had to be of a size and weight to comply with a full range of police missions, including concealed carry.

The design of the P2000 reflects considerable human engineering, with an emphasis on safety and ease of operation. Beating out its competitors in exhaustive testing, the P2000 has been adopted as the new official German police pistol. The P2000 US, which is currently available in both 9x19 mm and .40 S&W, is a further refinement of the P2000 German Police Model (GPM) for the U.S. market.

The P2000 US utilizes HK’s unique, patented double-action only (DAO) trigger system that was first introduced in 2001 on the USP Compact LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) model. A popular law enforcement sidearm, the USP Compact LEM in .40 S&W was recently chosen by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to arm airline pilots.

The LEM system was originally developed to meet the needs of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). It combines the advantages of a cocked striker system with the advantages of a double action (DA) hammer system. In a nutshell, it provides the safety and consistency of a DAO trigger with a reduced pull weight. Unlike many pre-cocked / partially pre-cocked designs, the LEM system has a second strike capability in the event of a misfire.

Retracting the slide pre-cocks an integrated striker (cocking piece) in the hammer. The hammer returns forward with the slide, although the cocking piece remains cocked. When the trigger is pulled, the hammer is driven forward by the cocking piece to fire the pistol.  As the majority of tension has been taken off the trigger, a lesser amount of pressure is required than with conventional DAO systems. 

The trigger may be pulled a second or third time in the event of a misfire, but at a full double-action pull weight. There’s no need to first retract the slide to re-cock the striker.  The LEM system has a short, one-fourth-inch trigger reset distance that’s comparable to single action (SA) designs, allowing for rapid multiple or follow-up shots.

The LEM trigger can probably best be compared to a two-stage trigger with a VERY long first stage. After taking up the initial slack, a firm spot is encountered that breaks crisply. It’s easy to pre-stage the trigger, if desired.

The LEM trigger pull on the sample pistol measured 6.4 pounds, with a 2.0 pound take-up. Second strike DA trigger pull weight was 15 pounds. It should be noted that the trigger pull of the LEM system can be set to the user’s preference with a simple spring change.

As is the trend with modern service pistols, the P2000 US doesn’t have any external manual safety systems that need to be intentionally manipulated (or fumbled with under stress) by the operator. All of the safety systems are automatic. The only external control is an ambidextrous slide release lever. The slide release is easily operated without the operator having to shift his grip on the pistol.

The P2000 is dimensionally very similar to the USP Compact 9mm / .40. The pistol has a 3.62-inch barrel. Because of the size similarity to the USP Compact, most holsters for the Compact can also be employed with the P2000.

The P2000 features a modular grip design with interchangeable backstraps, similar to the Walther P99 and Smith & Wesson SW99. The interchangeable backstraps allow the user to easily adjust the grip size and trigger reach to suit the individual shooter’s hand, making the P2000 ideal for officers of all sizes. The pistol comes with three interchangeable backstraps— marked “S” (small), “M” (medium) and “L” (large). Changing the backstrap is a simple matter of driving out a small roll pin at the base of the backstrap, sliding the existing backstrap off, replacing it with the new one, and replacing the roll pin.

There are other enhancements, as well. The sides of the P2000 grip have vertical ridges, instead of the stippling found on the USP Compact. Shallow finger grooves on both sides of the grip make the pistol feel slightly thinner than the USP. The external surfaces are contoured to avoid snagging. The slide on the P2000 is of a low-profile design. It has been scalloped for smoother holster insertion. The hammer is bobbed. All outer surfaces have been de-horned for a snag-free profile. However, the edges of the trigger could benefit from chamfering, if the sample pistol is representative.

A molded-in accessory rail on the bottom of the dustcover allows tactical accessories, such as lights and lasers, to be installed. The P2000 US has an industry-standard mounting rail instead of  the proprietary mounting rails of other HK pistols (including the P2000 GPM), allowing a wide range of after market accessories to be mounted..

The corrosion-proof polymer frame of the P2000 is constructed of the proprietary high-strength, fiber-reinforced polymer used in HK’s .45 ACP Mk 23 Mod 0 pistol that was developed for the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in 1992 and used in the USP. Two pairs of steel inserts are molded in on each side of the frame for slide bearing surfaces. The front pair of inserts is just forward of the slide stop. The second pair of inserts is located at the rear of the frame, behind the ejector. 

HK pioneered the use of composite / polymer technology in handguns with the development of the VP70Z and P9S pistols in the 1970s. Polymer is cost-efficient, durable, corrosion proof and lightweight, all important features for a service pistol.

Like the USP, the P2000 uses a modified Browning type action of the linkless Peters-Stahl type. A captive recoil spring assembly with a polymer recoil absorption buffer at the front is employed. The pistol has a large hook extractor located on the right rear of the ejection port. The extractor also serves as a loaded chamber indicator. The top of the extractor is marked with red paint which is visible when a round is in the chamber. The P2000 US is available with or without a magazine disconnect safety.

The barrel is cold-hammer forged and has polygonal rifling with a 1:10-inch RH twist. It has a fully supported chamber. Polygonal rifling provides the benefit of less barrel wear, a better gas seal behind the bullet, and easier cleaning.

All major metal components on the P2000 are corrosion resistant. Outside metal surfaces are protected by an extremely hard, special “HE” (Hostile Environment) nitro-carburized black oxide finish. Internal metal parts are coated with a special Dow Corning anti-corrosion process that also reduces friction and wear.

The magazine release is identical to the release on the USP. Fully ambidextrous, it’s located just forward of the grip frame on the bottom of the trigger guard. The magazine release is pressed downward to release the pistol’s double column box magazines. 

Unlike the GPM, the P2000 US employs the same magazines as the USP Compact.  Standard LE capacity is 12+1 rounds in .40 S&W caliber and 13+1 rounds in 9x19 mm.   A 16-round magazine is also available. The magazines are metal and drop free from the pistol when released. Magazine floorplates are rubber to reduce the chances of damage if dropped. There is a choice of interchangeable flush-fitting and extended magazine floorplates.

HK’s patented, integral Lock-Out safety device is standard. The Lock-Out safety, which replaces the lanyard loop insert on the USP, is in the backstrap of the P2000. It uses a special two-pronged key. When engaged, the Lock-Out safety blocks the movement of the pistol’s hammer strut and hammer, preventing the pistol from being fired.

Three-dot sights are standard. Tritium sights are available. The P2000 has a low-contour rear sight and ramp front sight that are dovetailed into the slide. The sights are drift adjustable for windage. If needed, elevation adjustments can be accomplished by changing the height of the front sight.

Field stripping is accomplished in the same manner as the USP. To field strip the P2000 US, first remove the magazine. Retract the slide and inspect the chamber to verify that the pistol is unloaded. Line up the clearance notch in the slide with the slide stop. Push the slide stop out from right to left. Remove the slide forward off of the frame. Press forward on the recoil spring assembly to remove it. Lift the barrel out of the slide.

Over 300 rounds of 40 S&W 155-grain JHP, 180-grain JHP, and 180-grain FMJ rounds were fired through the pistol during the range test session. Black Hills ammunition was employed. There were no malfunctions of any kind. Accuracy was quite good for a service pistol, with five-shot groups averaging 2.04 inches at 50 feet, fired from a sandbag rest. Practical accuracy was quite good as well, with offhand groups averaging under three inches at 50 feet. Accurate “double taps” were easy to accomplish. Although the velocities of the rounds weren’t measured, the velocities from a polygonal-rifled barrel typically run three to four percent greater than those from a conventionally rifled barrel of identical length.

The P2000 US is a progressive design that combines the features of the popular USP Compact LEM with enhanced ergonomics and an industry-standard rail. The result is a versatile, user-friendly design that’s ideal for law enforcement service.

Eugene Nielsen provides investigative and tactical consulting services and is a former officer. He may be reached via e-mail at

Published in Law and Order, Jan 2004

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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