Heckler & Koch Pistol Shootout P30 vs. HK45

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The look a lot alike and they are a lot alike. The Heckler and Koch P30 and HK45 are much the same gun with a few minor variations, and of course the calibers are different. The P30 comes in 9mm and .40S&W and the HK45 is .45ACP.

For size, the HK45 is a bigger gun, longer, taller and about a half inch taller even. Here is the P30 laid over the HK45

One difference between the guns is that the P30 has removable grip panels, and it comes with two other thicknesses, whereas the HK45 just comes with one extra backstrap.

The backstraps and grip panels can be combined to a wide variety of grip combinations.

Both guns have a magazine release that is part of the trigger guard. It looks awkward at first but you can do one handed mag swaps once you practice with it.

The major difference between the guns is that the P30 has a separate decocker on the back of the frame. The HK45 has a decock down, safety up system that feels very 1911′y to put the gun on safe. The P30 is the same, except the decock is on the back instead.

We shot all of these boxes of 9mm as well as a few others in the P30, and we had not one failure to feed, eject, or fire. The gun runs.

For the HK45 we had some Hornady Critical Defense on hand, as was able to get these other brands for testing. Likewise, the gun went bang every round and accuracy was consistent.

We inadvertantly discovered that Walmart is selling Federal .45ACP that has small pistol primers instead of SAAMI specification large pistol primers.

Though it will be a headache for reloaders out there, the small primer .45ACP Federal worked fine and was consistent. All the brands of ammo shot consistently into about 2″ at ten yards in the HK45 for ten shots in the magazine.

This is what most of the P30 targets looked like, 15 rounds each. The average was probably under 3″ at 10 yards, but as you can see with the higher quality ammo the groups shrunk considerably for most shots, but over 15 rounds you get a ton of human error with a short pistol-sized sight radius.

According to the HK website, ten round is all you get in the HK45 even in states that allow more.

Both guns came with this recoil buffer looking plastic sleeve that fits over the recoil spring. This could be the patented recoil reducer system on the HK guns.

The trigger pulls on both guns were almost exactly 5 1/2 pounds in single action and 11-12 pounds double action. They are high quality guns and the triggers won’t stack up or bind no matter what angle you pull from. The reset is considerably longer on our test P30 than it is on the HK45, noticeably so.

The HK45 is assembled in Newington, New Hampshire from German and US made parts. If you are going to choose from one of these guns, our choice is definately the HK45.


Heckler and Koch, HK-USA
http://www.hk-usa.com/US

Sometimes you are browsing in a gun shop and two pistols look very much the same, yet you really wish you knew the differences. That is the case with the HK45 and the HK P30. Both pistols look pretty much the same, except one is .45ACP and the other is a slightly smaller 9mm. When HK sent us these guns for general review, we thought, as you might, that they are exactly the same, but they are not. If you find yourself standing in a gun shop deciding to impulse buy a brand new HK pistol, this is a bit of an overview as to what is the same in the two guns and what is very different. The HK P30 and HK45 are the new era of Heckler and Koch pistols. HK took the strengths of the ubiquitous USP and added some of what have become standard features on modern polymer pistols, and these two guns were result, along with a few other models that are also very similar. Both are great guns, and caliber considerations aside, the differences in the guns are mostly semantic. Several of the features on the P30 and HK45 are exactly the same and either would be a good choice in a duty, security, or personal defense pistol.

HK was the first to develop a magazine release that is part of the trigger guard. We saw this design back on the Walther striker guns a while back. With practice, it is easy to do one handed magazine changes without the fear of accidentally dropping your mag because you inadvertently pushed the button. It is a nice feature. The sights are also the same on our two test guns. Both are glow in the dark tritium, but I was unable to tell on the HK website if they always come standard. Both of our guns were also double action/single action, but other configurations on these guns are available. Several major police departments in Europe have adopted the P30 and also the HK45, so the department standard can be ordered in one type of action, double/single, double action only, and with a safety/decocker or just safety.

The major functional difference between our two guns is in the decocker. The HK45 came with a standard down = decock when the hammer is back, and up = safe whether the hammer is down or cocked. This gives you the option, once you have fired the weapon, of clicking the safety up like you would a 1911 before holstering, or decocking before holstering. You can also carry the gun cocked and locked by design, which is impossible with most double/single action guns. The P30 is much the same as the HK45, except the decocker is a separate button at the back of the frame. I think it is a unique device, and once you get used to it, is easy and intuitive to use. The nice thing about the side decocker on the HK45 is that it is set back further than like a decocker on a Beretta 92 relative to the grip frame and web of the hand. You can easily decock without having to tilt the gun to side. The P30 takes this one step further and the gun is decocked from the back. I don’t know which is better.

The “skateboard tape” feel to the grips on these guns is very much the same between the two, and neither of them have the abrasive quality of true skateboard tape which a few guns in the market have mimicked and that hurt to shoot. The HK grips are both textured and usable. The major difference in the grips between the two guns is that the 9mm P30 comes with different size side grip side panels as well as different sized backstaps. This gives you a varying array of palm swell sizes to try if you are so inclined. Our test gun of the P30 came with 2 extra backstraps and two sets of side grips. The HK45 does not have the side grip panels, and came with one extra backstrap.

Both guns come with front Picatinny rails, and both guns have HK cold hammer forged barrels. They also both have a patented recoil system from HK that I couldn’t find much information on, but which could have something to do with the plastic buffers that are part of the recoil spring. See the pictures on that one. Both guns have front and rear slide serrations, and both guns have steel slides that ride on what seem to be impossibly thin rails in the frame. Both guns have loaded round indicators and both guns take down similarly, except with the P30 the cross pin system stays in the gun and is slightly more elegant compared to standard takedown systems.

Accuracy testing on the HK45 and P30 gave maybe a slight edge to the HK45. I was able to repeatedly shoot into about 2″ at 10 yards single action only. The P30 shot into just a bit more than that, but the comparison is a bit unfair because I only tested full magazines and the 15 round 9mm P30 magazine holds 50% more rounds than the 10 round .45ACP HK45 magazine. Both guns shot to point of aim out of the box pretty much, though you would want to fine tune them to your shooting style. These are high end hammer fired pistols, so before going out with these two guys, I stopped at 3 gun shops and Walmart to collect up as many types of ammo as I was able, but carry ammo and range ammo. Both guns shot every round perfectly with no misfires or failures to feed. Don’t ask me why HK seems to have only made 10 round single stack mags for the HK45. Maybe it has something to with weight. But the gun should hold at least 4 more rounds for that size.

I should note here that the P30 was formally tested 2009-2010 in an endurance test for police tryouts and fired over 91,000 rounds without any failures. The P45 is rated at 20,000 rounds. These are world class pistols that you can shoot and shoot and they most likely will not break down. There is a reason why all but one army in the world carries hammer fired pistols (the lone exception being Austria where Glocks are made). It is because they are steadfastly reliable. Are they actually more reliable than the newer striker guns out there? Who knows, but these are for sure nice guns. The P30 also comes in .40S&W as well.

The HK45 was apparently developed as a possible candidate for the Joint Combat Pistol (JCP) and Combat Pistol (CP) programs administered by the U.S. military in their search for a new service handgun to replace the Beretta 9 M9, which is a model 92. These programs were suspended before completion and no pistols were selected, but apparently HK had tooled up to make the guns in the US, and that is where they are made today. The gun says Columbus Georgia on it, but according to the website the manufacturing facility is in Newington, NH. The guns indeed say on them “Made in USA.” Go figure.

There are certain brands in the gun market that draw consumers to them simply by word of mouth, and that rely on some kind of internal desire to own something exclusive, similar to a BMW kind of thinking. Heckler and Koch guns invoke this emotion like few other gun companies do, and these guns are truly elegant . Go stop at a well stocked gun dealer and they should have some of these guns in the case. They are more expensive than many other guns that will be in the case side by side with them, sometimes twice as expensive. But you will of course own a legendary Heckler and Koch pistol. You can’t really go wrong buying either the P30 or the HK45. And because it is at least assembled in the USA by Americans, we vote for the HK45.

{ 27 comments }

{ 25 comments… add one }

  • Kurt July 9, 2012, 3:13 am

    Based on the photos above, it looks like those HKs have their “luminescent sights” which is similar to glow in the dark paint and not actual Tritium sights.

    That doesn’t mean they don’t work well though. The luminescent sights have not given me any issue on my P30.

  • Charles Prince July 9, 2012, 8:00 am

    I demonstrated the HK45 to a Sheriff’s department here in Texas. The general opinion was the HK45 was lighter, which was good. The downside was the lighter weight causes more recoil, even with the HK recoil reduction system. The rubber O ring on the end of the barrel does add to the accuracy. Opinion was the HK45 was very accurate. Deputies carrying the old Colt 911 did not have any interest in upgrading to the HK45. Deputies with the Glock 40 cal were also not interested. HK prices are really exorbitant when you compare to Glock. Especially when compared to the Glock law enforcement pricing. I do not see this HK45 making any inroads on Glock sale in the USA.

  • GKJ July 9, 2012, 11:34 am

    I own an HK P30L and like the gun very much. It is accurate and the pistol is of course well made. The grips stand out to me as some of the best and I like the magazine release in the trigger card. Since the “L” version is slightly longer, I felt it was a bit better balanced and a little more accurate to shoot. You mentioned the “night sights” during your review which is the only down side for me. The ones I have which are standard are NOT truly night sights. They will only hold illuminate for a short period of time after being exposed to light, which, in my opinion is one of the most ridiculous and dangerous features a manufacturer has ever presented. Who could trust a night sight that would loose illumination over the course of a shooting session. Pictue this, you are in a fire fight for you life and all of a sudden you can not see your sights any more. The sights are great in the daylight and because of the “lime” color are quick on the pick-up, but otherwise – WTF ???

    • Adam December 2, 2012, 7:26 pm

      I’m no expert but I’d imagine that if you were indeed in this fire fight for your life and you suddenly couldn’t see the sights on your pistol, which are literally less than an arm’s length away, then how can you see what you are shooting at?

  • SC July 10, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I never liked the feel of the USP or any of HK’s polymer guns. That all changed when I shot a P30 then went out and purchased one a week later. I have shot over a thousand rounds a month through mine this year and have had one malfunction which looked to be a bad case. Mine is setup with the LEM trigger which makes the gun very simple to shoot. The out of box accuracy never ceases to amaze me.

  • IH July 30, 2012, 8:41 pm

    I own both the HK 45 compact and the P30L v3. Likethem both but actually like the way the P30 feels in my hand a little better. However the safety/decocker on the HK 45 is the best on any pistol I know of. I have a Glock as well that is equally fun to shoot but there is a quality/feature difference on the HKs that make the differential worthwhile IMO.

  • Dan September 4, 2012, 11:57 pm

    Yuck it says made in america? Are there any HK45′s that are made in Germany? What a shame… Oh well, it looks like I’ll take a 2nd look at the Walther PPQ.

  • Fred November 19, 2012, 4:33 pm

    ‘There is a reason why all but one army in the world carries hammer fired pistols (the lone exception being Austria where Glocks are made).’ Balderdash. many armies around the world use striker fired designs the Finnish, the Dutch, the Israelis.

    • Administrator November 19, 2012, 6:41 pm

      This is absolutely true but it is more a factor of hard military primers than anything else. Consumer primers are considerably softer since Glocks have become so dominant in the market. With almost all pistol out these days striker pistols are just as reliable as hammer fired and this just a matter of preference.

      • Scorpy August 1, 2013, 6:23 am

        Isn’t the power of the hit on the primer namely defined by the power of the spring that shoots out the firing pin (in a striker-fired design), so you could have an equally hard punch quite easily?

        Like it’s been said, Glock has a long history of military service. Sweden and Norway, for instance, adopted it as their standard sidearm in the 80s, with many after that. Finnish and British militaries are example of fairly recent examples, replacing Browning designs. Besides that, H&K had limited military service with striker-fired guns (VP70, P7 to wider extent), Walther P99 is in limited service with the Finnish Military and, according to wiki, Iraqi Army, and Springfield XD is a re-badged Croatian service pistol, the HS2000, also in service around the world.

  • bhp9 December 3, 2012, 3:34 pm

    I realize that gun-writers are paid to sell guns but lets face facts. In my real life testing of Plasticky pistols that are striker fired v/s all types of hammer fired full frame pistols 9mm/45 etc., the striker fired pistols failed miserably and that was with soft commercial primers not even the harder military primers. Don’t believe me! Then try seating a high primer without power or bullet. Chamber the empty case with the high primer and attempt to fire it with a striker fired pistol. I guarantee you it will fail to fire. Not so with most of the hammer fired pistols. This means that under severe conditions of cold, dirt and ice you cannot rely on a striker fired pistol to fire as reliable as a hammer fired gun period. The test proves it.

  • bhp9 December 3, 2012, 3:37 pm

    I must say I was disappointed with the accuracy of the HK pistols. My plasticky Walther p99 shoots twice as accurately compared to the groups you posted and it costs half as much but as I stated its striker fired and not as reliable as the HK pistols. My striker fired Walther failed the high primer test.

  • bhp9 December 3, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Assembled in America explains the poor accuracy of the pistols tested. Barrel lock up was obviously loose on these guns. The tip off was the 10 yard test. Gun writers do this when the pistols are poor in the accuracy dept. When they are good they are tested at 25 yards.

  • bhp9 December 4, 2012, 12:19 pm

    Anyone know if the 9mm p30 is assembled in the U.S. just like the .45acp model is?

  • Doug December 20, 2012, 11:34 pm

    My P30, bought about a year and a half ago, was made in Germany.

  • TomCat January 3, 2013, 9:03 pm

    Earlier this year I purchased a P30LS V1 in .40 S&W. I loved this pistol so much that I purchased the exact same model in 9mm for my wife. Both of these guns are stamped “DE” (for Deutschland), indicating they are manufactured in Germany. However, I’ve read that some are now being manufactured in the USA.

    • PistolFrog February 20, 2013, 9:06 pm

      All of the H&K handguns are made in Germany, with the exception of the HK45 and HK45 Compacts, which are made in NH.

  • Traianvs January 11, 2013, 4:55 am

    The Norwegian armed forces has used the Glock 17 since 1986, designated P80. Since then, the pistols have been used in service in all climatic conditions, from -45 to +55 degrees Celsius. In rain, sun, deserts, coastal- and swamps it seems to function without any problems, be it in Norway, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Bosnia or Kosovo, or on naval wessels in the Arctic or off the Horn of Africa.
    The first couple of years, it gained a reputation for malfunctioning, but it soon became apparent that user error was the cause. The guns were literally bathed in oil, as was standard for the armed forces’ rifle (AG3) of the time. Once it became clear that two drops of oil was sufficient, the malfunctioning stopped.
    As for hard primers in NATO ammunition, I’ve never heard of that being a problem. Malfunctioning in general is never a problem with these guns. Personally I was most impressed on an excersise where the weather changed between -10 and +5 degrees Celsius. My squad all had P80′s in holsters inside the combat west, where a lot of snow and grit accumulates during infantry drills. After two days of manuvering, with no sleep and little rest, we did a live fire excersise where the final target was to be taken out using our P80′s. All of them fired, no problems at all. Even though they were frozen, with snow everywhere, some of it compacted. The changing temperatures had also made sure there was ice everywhere.
    In service I have had four different P80′s. The changes occurred due to changing service locations. The last one, a Gen 3, was issued to me brand new; the whole company got brand new handguns at the same time. As far as I know, mine was the only one with a problem. The casings were ejected with a rearward trajectory, and sometimes hit me around the eyes. Two minutes with the battalions gunsmith, and the problem was fixed. That was the first and last problem I ever had with a P80, or Glock 17.

    Oh, by the way, this adds to the list of national armies using striker-fired handguns, as well.

  • pat Di.Marco March 30, 2013, 10:44 am

    i just biught a H&K U S B 45 acp found it was made in virgina paid $925.00 i will~~~~~ !!!!! sell it never fired i dont want it why??/ not Made In Germany, look at the ZEISS camera Lens THE BEST well that is it i will take a loss on the firearm so i can have closer any opinions??/ thank you P:at..

    • jerod bristo September 21, 2014, 2:26 pm

      Im more excited to have an HK45 because it was made here. What kind of crappy american are you that you wont buy american.

    • jerod bristo September 21, 2014, 2:28 pm

      Im more excited to have an HK45 because it was made here. What kind of crappy american are you that you wont buy american.

  • buddy September 12, 2013, 1:51 am

    just bought hk 45c…extremely inaccurate…terrible trigger…but looks are great….but then who cares about looks for 1100+ would rather have a terribly temperamental kimber..at least it’s accurate…now what…need to dump it and absorb loss…never again

  • FMJ September 20, 2013, 7:10 pm

    So you bought a HK45 , and you probably like it until you found that’s it was assembled or built in USA!

    I remember in 4-1998 buying my first Sig a P229 in 40cal !
    Some said it was a POS because it didn’t use a German stamp slide . But used a USA Forged Stainless Steel Slide.
    The rest of the pistol was German ! One of the best pistol I’ve had in my 30yrs of holding a permit.

    Hey my mothers maiden name is Gummere and 1/2 German and have blonde hair and blue eyes.

  • Aaron January 24, 2014, 8:07 pm

    My comments are a little late, but then so was the article. I own both, reliable, accurate, will feed anything. Unfortunately, the author of this article leaves a great deal to be desired. A little fact checking would be a start. More than just the striker fired comment and the non-tritium sights.

  • Alex January 31, 2014, 4:21 pm

    I dont get the anti-American built B.S.? I am glad they are built here in America. HK wouldnt endorse it if were crap. In fact, I was more apt to buy it because it is being built by people from the greatest nation in the world. I own the P30s, HK45CT and the HK45. All are great. I carry Colt 1911″s because they arnt some copy. I love American made. Other countries build nice weapons too but if I could have it built with American hands then all the better. Sad to see all the “American built” haters.

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