Heckler & Koch has been the premier manufacturer of polymer-framed .45-caliber pistols since the introduction of the P9S .45 ACP some 30 years ago. In the early 90s, HK introduced their USP series pistol in .45 ACP. My previous agency was one of the first to issue this pistol to their S.W.A.T. team, and it is their issue pistol to this day. The USP is well known as a very reliable and accurate pistol. I carried several extensively, both on patrol and as my issued S.W.A.T. gun.
The development of the USP led to the MK 23 SOCOM pistol. The MK 23 was very large, and was not well received by the end users due to its size. However, they were exceptional in regards to their accuracy and performance, especially when used with a Knight’s Armament suppressor. This led to the USP Tactical, which utilized all of the good parts of the MK 23 (O-ringed, threaded barrel; suppressor-height adjustable sights; match trigger), but in a smaller and handier platform. Many special operations units around the world have adopted this pistol.
The sizes of the USP .45 and MK 23 platforms have always remained a drawback. With the introduction of the HK USP Compact .45, those with average and smaller hands got a terrific pistol that was an exceptional performer. This fact was not missed within the SOCOM (Special Operations Command) community. Working with their customers inside of SOCOM who desired a smaller suppressed .45-caliber pistol, HK developed the USP CT (Compact Tactical) .45, which was also known as the MK 23 Mod 1, as a follow-up to the MK 23. This pistol utilized HK’s 5-pound LEM (law enforcement module) trigger, and a longer O-ringed, threaded barrel and a Knight’s Armament suppressor (like the MK 23 and USP Tactical). The HK USP Compact .45 uses a smaller, 8-round magazine that allows for a much smaller grip than the full- size USPs. The compact grip fits my hand far better than the full size, and the HK USP Compact .45 is one of my all-time favorite carry pistols.