Heckler & Koch recently introduced the P30. While clearly derived from the popular USP (Universal Service Pistol), the P30 is quite different in its execution and details. Let’s take a close look and see what the P30 has to offer.
Like the rest of the USP breed, the HK P30 is a fiber-reinforced polymer-framed pistol with stainless steel inserts at stress points. The pistol is a conventional modified Browning design that features a hammer-forged, polygonal rifled barrel with an extended ambidextrous slide stop that feels just about perfect in our rather large hands. There’s an ambidextrous magazine release perfectly placed for access by the fingers of either hand. Releasing the magazine is accomplished by pressing downward on the release. This may take some getting used to for those who are accustomed to pressing inward on the magazine release. We find the release natural and easy to use. The magazines not only drop free when the release is pressed downward, but are under slight spring pressure, so they pop out every time. Even so, the grip panels have slight “tear away” indentations so the magazine can be positively grasped by the floor plate and yanked free, should the need arise.
The dust cover has grooves in either side for accessories. The extractor serves as a visible and tactile loaded chamber indicator with a small red line that shows when there is a round in the chamber. The extractor itself stands slightly above the slide’s surface when the pistol is loaded, but not much. Even so, it can be used as a tactile indicator.
The sights aren’t tritium, but have what HK calls “long glowing” inserts of a material called Luminova. These inserts actually glow in the dark like tritium inserts. Luminova isn’t radioactive either, so HK’s making them standard is a good idea. The inserts visibly glow even in daylight. We put the P30 into a desk drawer for half an hour and the sights were still glowing when we removed the P30, so we can’t really say how long they will continue to glow, but most gunfights are over in a few seconds, so the Luminova seems a good alternative to tritium.
The P30 is a relatively conventional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol with a long takeup and relatively heavy trigger pull for the first shot and a shorter, lighter pull for succeeding shots. There is no external safety, but there is an unconventional decocking button. The DA takeup is smooth and even at almost exactly 10 pounds with a crisp break. The SA trigger is a two-stage trigger that breaks crisply at 5 pounds with zero creep and a tiny bit of overtravel. Actually, it is quite good.
Once the initial round has been fired DA, subsequent shots are all SA. When the trigger is squeezed and the pistol fired, the slide resets the fire control and all that is necessary for succeeding shots is to move the trigger finger slightly forward to reset and squeeze off another shot. The P30s DA/SA mechanism is one of the best we have tested in a pistol of this type.
Since there is no external safety, the P30 has a unique decocking button at the left side of the hammer. While unconventional, the decocker is actually intuitive to use because all that is necessary is to raise one’s thumb and press the button to decock the pistol. We consider this method superior to side mounted safety/decockers because the possibility exists that when moving the safety down from safe to fire on some pistols, the safety can go beyond the fire position and decock the hammer.
On other pistols, we’ve had this happen on more than one occasion. HK’s button decocker virtually eliminates the possibility of inadvertently decocking the pistol while being just as accessible as a standard side mounted decocker.
The “big news” with the P30 is the grip. The P30’s grip is the classic 1911 angle, the best ever devised. A pistol with this grip angle points naturally, like pointing one’s finger. Unlike just about any other pistol, the P30 has replaceable backstrap inserts and grip panels in three sizes that can be exchanged to accommodate just about any size hands. Other pistols have replacement backstraps, but the P30 is the only pistol we have seen with so many grip options.
There are two replacement backstraps and two grip panels. Our test pistol came with the standard “medium” backstrap and grip panels installed. Replacement takes only a few seconds and is accomplished by pressing out a pin at the heel of the butt. The backstrap can then be removed. Once the backstrap has been removed, the grip panels can be slid off the frame and replaced. All grip components are stippled in a rough pattern that is comfortable, easy to grasp and control even with sweaty palms or gloves. Widely spaced serrations on the slide enhances one’s grip and ease pulling the slide to the rear. The heel of the grip is open to accommodate a lanyard loop. It doesn’t get much better.
As mentioned, the P30’s operation is similar to many other modern semi-autopistols in that it’s modified Browning, using the ejection port to lock into a lug on the barrel. Feeding is from a 15-round staggered magazine that tapers to a single round at the feed lips. This enhances reliable feeding. Another feature that enhances feeding is the position of the cartridge relative to the chamber.
The cartridge in the P30 magazine is held in almost a perfect alignment with the chamber. The pistol’s feed ramp is part of the barrel and drops into position in the frame as the pistol recoils. The fresh cartridge doesn’t have far to go to make its way into the chamber and there is no need for ramping or throating, as is the case with some pistols.
The P30 also comes with a “Lock-Out device.” This consists of a small integral device incorporated into the magazine well that, when engaged, blocks any movement of the trigger, hammer or slide. The device is accessible through the magazine well using a two-pronged flat key. Turning the lock 90 degrees clockwise so that the two small holes are moved from parallel to the magazine well to perpendicular, locks the pistol.
The P30 dust cover contains MIL-STD-1913 rails for mounting lights or other accessories. We chose to fit our P30 with one of Laser Devices’ Las/Tac 2 high intensity LED lights that mounts directly to the rails with no adapters. The Las/Tac 2 snaps into place on the MIL-STD-1913 rail and is activated with the shooter’s thumb or index finger. It is also available with a pressure pad switch that attaches to the grip and comes customized to the contours of the triggerguard.
Pressing the ambidextrous switch down gives momentary illumination, while an upward pressure gives constant high intensity 150-Lumen light with a very bright central “hot spot” for target identification and engagement and a less bright “corona” for searching. The central hot spot is so intense that it will flash blind anyone foolish enough to look directly into the light. The Las/Tac 2 is waterproof to 20 meters, shock resistant and has a continuous runtime of 1.5 hours using two 123-lithium batteries.
We obtained a BlackHawk Law Enforcement Level 3 SERPA retention holster. Although Level 2 SERPA holsters have been available for several years, the Level 3 is mandated by many law enforcement agencies for patrol carry and is worth serious consideration.
BlackHawk’s Level 3 SERPA is arguably the best holster of its type available. For what it’s worth, the first time we saw a SERPA demo, the BlackHawk representative hooked the holster to a range house rafter, then inserted a pistol and began doing pull-ups using the pistol as a grip. If a pistol is in a SERPA holster, it is going to stay there until the user decides to draw it.
HK pistols have a well-deserved reputation for reliability and accuracy, and the P30 didn’t disappoint us. Because of its 1911-style grip angle, the pistol pointed naturally and felt just right. When empty, the pistol feels slightly top heavy like all polymer-framed pistols, but when the pistol is loaded, the weight of the ammunition offsets this.
Recoil of the 9mm pistol was easily controllable with all brands of ammunition tested. The pistol sits low in the hand, so recoil forces are minimized, reducing muzzle flip and making follow-up shots easy to accomplish. We did not have a single stoppage during our testing of the P30.
HK hit a homerun with the P30. The pistol we tested proved to be absolutely reliable, accurate and easy to use. For anyone looking for a 9mm handgun, the P30 is a good place to start. It is innovative, accurate and reliable.