Let me sound off first by saying I have never been a tactical wizard with pistols. Hell, we
barely even trained with them in the Marines until you were an NCO or above, or in MARSOC.
My first professional training with a pistol was the Beretta M9 on an impromptu range in the
middle of the artist formerly known as Khorasan. It was weird because Marines train and qualify
with the M9 and MSOB (Marine Special Operations Battalion) were running 1911’s in the field. I
guess that’s what happens when you are the brand new bastard child of the Special Operations
Community… Adapt and overcome. Anyway let’s get back to the point: I originally had minimal
pistol training or pistol systems exposure until later on in life, and I still consider myself a student
in pistol work. However, I do have enough experience now to bring you a stellar pistol
recommendation that I’ve seen dropped into a novice shooters hands that made them shoot on
the next level.
My first pistol purchase out of the Marines was what I was familiar with, so I picked up a
1911 chambered in .45. I later swapped the 1911 for a Glock 21, keeping that old mindset that
you need .45 for stopping power. I began to really enjoy the reliability and magazine capacity of
the Glock, and was glad I made the swap. Around this time I started to look into different
calibers more, as a by-product of training with more serious shooters. I began to grow
accustomed to the idea of the 9mm, having more rounds in the mag, similar ballistic capabilities
of .45 (with proper rounds), and ultimately less recoil, allowing for quicker follow-up shots.
So I picked up a Glock 43 for concealed carry initially and began to train draws from concealed, as
well as multi-target drills. At that point, I was ready to make the swap to 9mm on all my pistols
because nothing the .45 offered outweighed the bonuses of running 9mm in my opinion.
Once I had made my decision on caliber, the next step was to look for a full size carry
weapon to go with my kit. My Ole Lady was a police officer at the time and we got her a Glock
34 to run on duty, so naturally I used it to train drills in the off time with her as well. Although I
was becoming a better shot, I still wasn’t great. Then one day while training pistols I was offered
to try out a buddy’s H&K VP9, so we swapped holsters and weapons and got to work. I drew
from holster and fired a perfectly centered up head-shot at 25 meters on the first shot. Not a feat
by any means, but what I’m getting at is this gun is so natural to fire, that on the first shot I hit
exactly where I wanted, without ever touching the gun prior. I surprised myself, and knew in that
same moment, that this was the pistol for me.
First off, the VP9 is an H&K so toss your worries aside about its quality because it has all
the qualities. I have short thumbs so I always had to rotate to the side of any pistol to release
the mag, which almost always un-seats a good deep, high grip for firing. This weapon rectifies
that problem and then improves upon it with an ambidextrous mag release lever that you push
down. That means you can release the mag with your pointer or middle finger without
compromising your grip at all. It also feels more natural pointing a lever downward, where you
want the mag to go. The grip is absolutely the most ergo grip of any pistol I have ever held,
period. Not only does it feel great with the default grips installed, but there are six side panels
and three back straps you can interchange out in ANY combination in order to fit your personal
It is a striker-fired pistol, which most people complain about the trigger pull on striker
fired pistols but let me tell you, H&K has done wonders on this one. The pre-travel is a flat,
consistent pull and the break and reset are crisp and pronounced. The slide has front and rear,
aggressive milling for grip, as well as what they call charging supports near the rear. These are
great for when you have a weak grip or were unable to obtain a positive grip while charging the
weapon. They will stop your hand from slipping back off the slide, allowing for charging in less
than desirable conditions. The factory night sights are ridiculously bright, surpassing many of
the aftermarket sights I’ve used on other pistols, which makes for one more thing you don’t have
to worry about after your purchase. It comes with quality, P30 steel 10 or 15 round magazines
from the manufacturer and finally, a picatinny rail for accessory mounting.
In my opinion no other pistol I have tried on the market has the VP9 beat on overall
quality, ergonomics, or function. I cannot give this pistol enough praise. However, I have found
that pistols -more so than rifles- are not a one-size-fits-all. I had to go through shooting multiple
pistols from multiple manufacturers before I found something that felt natural for me to shoot. So
while I suggest the VP9 as a great place to start your hunt for the perfect pistol, it may not be
what you end up using when it’s all said and done. Please do yourself a service and try as many
different pistols as you need, to find the one that fits your style of shooting and tactics. Do not
under any circumstances let yourself be chained to a platform or manufacturer by blind loyalty
when there may be another option out there that takes your shooting to the next level.