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Heckler & Koch “Longslide” P30L 9mm—Full Review

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The HK P30L is the elongated version of their standard P30, itself an evolutionary development of the USP.

The HK P30L is the elongated version of their standard P30, itself an evolutionary development of the USP.

To learn more, visit http://hk-usa.com/.

To purchase on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=P30L.

In a free market economy, manufacturers craft their wares to accommodate consumers of various means. As a result, the gun options available to American shooters are byzantine, to say the least. There will always be some companies producing sub-$250 handguns. However, for those who want something a bit higher end, there will always be a handgun waiting out there marketed for the discriminating shooter. The HK P30L is one of those types of guns.

Origins

The author found the P30L to be a good carry gun, even with the elongated barrel and slide.

The author found the P30L to be a good carry gun, even with the elongated barrel and slide.

The German firm of Heckler and Koch (HK) has its origins in the detritus of the Second World War, and they now equip some of the most capable armed professionals on the planet. For a time immediately after the war, HK produced machine tools and bicycles. Once they won the competition to supply the German Army with the G3 battle rifle in 1959, however, they converted solely to weapons production. This has remained their forte ever since.

Roller-locked HK long guns like the G3, HK33 and MP5 dominated the tactical scene in their day, and their modern offerings continue to set the standard for small arms excellence. The last thing Osama bin Laden reportedly saw in this life was the nasty end of an HK416 rifle wielded by an American Navy SEAL. I can personally think of no higher accolade.

In my opinion, one of the finest HK combat pistols is the P30. The hammer-fired P30 was developed from the Universal Self-Loading Pistol (or USP), itself a superb combat handgun. The P30 takes all that is wholesome and good about the USP and bumps it up a notch. During factory testing a single P30 fired more than 91,000 rounds without a component failure. The P30 is available in three different trigger configurations as well as compact, standard, and elongated versions.

The P30L (right) is an elongated version of the standard P30 (left). Image courtesy of manufacturer.

The P30L (left) is an elongated version of the standard P30 (right). Image courtesy of manufacturer.

SPECS

  • Chambering: 9mm
  • Barrel Length: 4.45 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.71 inches
  • Weight: 27.52 ounces
  • Grips: Integral, with interchangeable side plates and backstraps
  • Sights: Fixed, open square notch with contrast points
  • Action: Semi-automatic short recoil
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • MSRP: $1,149

Pertinent Particulars

The gun I evaluated for this article is the P30L stretched version with a V3 trigger. The “L” indicates “lengthened” and reflects the fact that the pistol has a longer slide and 4.45-inch barrel (as opposed to the 3.85-inch barrel of the P30). The P30L has three interchangeable backstraps as well as six different side panels of various widths. Customizing the grip requires that you punch out a small pin, but anyone even remotely handy could manage this chore in maybe five minutes. In the absence of a proper punch, a nail of appropriate diameter will do. By mixing and matching you can optimize the position of the finger on the trigger while bulking up one side of the grip or thinning down the other. There are lots of guns with interchangeable backstraps on the market today, but nobody even approaches the level of customization offered by the HK P30.

All of the P30L pistol’s controls are perfectly replicated on both sides of the gun. Note the frame-mounted safety.

All of the P30L pistol’s controls are perfectly replicated on both sides of the gun. Note the frame-mounted safety on this variant.

The P30 series of guns incorporates interchangeable backstraps as well as side grip panels.

The P30 series of guns incorporates interchangeable backstraps as well as side grip panels.

There are three different trigger options available on the P30: V1, V2 and V3. The V1 and V2 Law Enforcement Modification (LEM) triggers are long and predictable double-action-only rigs designed originally for Law Enforcement customers. Europeans refer to this configuration as the Combat Defense Action (CDA) system. The V2 is a conventional heavy “double action” throughout every shot. The V1, however, is markedly different.

Striker-fired handguns like the Glock typically eschew an external manual safety. In the case of a Glock, the primary safety is built into the trigger face, and the pull is a consistent 5.5 pounds from start to finish. Glock pistols are sufficiently safe and proven to occupy fully 65% of the holsters of American Law Enforcement officers. HK offers something a little bit different and equally appealing with the V1.

The decocker on the P30-series guns so-equipped is a tab oriented to the left of the hammer. This device is easy enough to master with a little practice.

The decocker on the P30-series guns so-equipped is a tab oriented to the left of the hammer. This device is easy enough to master with a little practice.

With the V1 “Light Strike” LEM trigger, the device breaks at the end of a relatively long and weightless travel at 5.4 pounds from a pre-cocked mainspring. In this configuration, there are no manual external safeties, and the trigger operates at a comfortable and consistent weight from the first round to the last. However, the relatively long takeup of the V1 trigger adds an additional element of safety to the system. This means the V1 trigger requires a bit more intentionality to operate than those of striker-fired guns. In practice on the range you never notice the extra travel on the first round. My daily carry gun underneath my scrubs at work is a P30SK (Sub Compact) with a V1 trigger.

The V3 trigger is the most flexible option, however. The V3 is a more conventional single action/double action design available either with or without an external safety. The single action/double action trigger was pioneered in the Walther PP-series pistols in the 1930s. It offers the safety of a long heavy double-action pull when the weapon is first fired that cocks and releases the hammer, followed by a lighter single-action pull for subsequent shots with the slide’s cycling cocking the hammer. While this system characterizes most modern military handguns, it does require a fair amount of experience to shoot to precisely the same point of aim in both modes. The V3 version also sports a clever little decocker tab that sticks out of the back of the slide allowing the hammer to be dropped safely on a live round.

The P30L comes with a set of high-quality three-dot sights atop the lengthened slide.

The P30L comes with a set of high-quality three-dot sights atop the lengthened slide.

With the frame-mounted external safety engaged, the gun can also be carried cocked and locked with the hammer back in Condition 1. With the hammer down the gun performs just like a classic single action/double action pistol along the lines of the military-issue M9 Beretta. The safety can be engaged with the hammer either cocked or at rest. These trigger systems are not really interchangeable at the user level but the gun can be ordered with any one of the three.

The P30L has a 4.45-inch polygonally rifled barrel. Sights are non-nuclear luminescent, and the dust cover is cut for standard Picatinny accessories. The magazine release is a thumb-operated bilateral lever. The safety and slide release levers are mirrored identically on both sides of the gun. Unlike most modern combat handguns, the controls on the HK P30L are literally indistinguishable on both sides of the weapon.

One of the unique aspects of the P30L design is a sliding counterweight that moves freely across the recoil spring as the gun cycles. This brilliant little accouterment dampens out the recoil cycle and makes the gun smoother in action. You are paying a proper premium for this gun. It is in little mechanical gems such as this that you get your money’s worth.

 Real World Range Work

The barrel of the HK P30L is indeed about 0.6 inches longer than that of the P30, itself a typical service-sized handgun. While this makes the gun an innately more stable and accurate platform, it also makes the gun bulkier to tote. My gold standard is always whether I can work through my busy 14-hour clinic days successfully packing a pistol underneath an untucked set of surgical scrubs. In the case of the P30L, it is indeed bulkier than my compact P30SK or a slim Glock 43. However, I toted the gun for a couple weeks at work in an Alien Gear IWB rig on a thin but stiff belt with no one being the wiser.

The author carried the P30L in an Alien Gear IWB holster that be found to be comfortable and easy to use.

The author carried the P30L in an Alien Gear IWB holster that he found to be comfortable and easy to use.

The ambidextrous magazine release on the HK P30L is unique. It is a thumb-activated lever that you press down.

The ambidextrous magazine release on the HK P30L is unique. You press it down to engage it.

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-11-51-46-amThe first round double action trigger pull is about what you might encounter with a Beretta M9. The pull is long and heavy but smooth from start to finish with a predictable terminus. Subsequent rounds require a light takeup followed by a conventional and unobjectionable break at the end with just a spot of creep. The pull is not as crisp as that of your tuned 1911 yet remains pleasant throughout.

On the range, that extra half-inch indeed paid dividends in the accuracy department for me. Muzzle flip is minimized on rapid strings, and the extra sight radius offers better precision that you might find on a more abbreviated heater. Once the grips are customized the gun feels better in my hand than any other polymer-framed pistol I’ve ever hefted.

Ruminations

The HK P30-series guns feed from the same magazines as the VP series. 9mm carries 15+1, while .40 S&W packs 12+1.

The HK P30-series guns feed from the same magazines as the VP series. The 9mm carries 15+1, while .40 S&W packs 13+1.

There are frequently multiple right ways to reach a common destination. If your mission is to bore 9mm holes downrange then lots of guns can get you there. However, in the HK P30L you find top-flight quality, unrivaled ergonomics, and simply superb shootability, if that is even a word.

Frugality is a desirable trait with such stuff as plastic cups or disposable garbage bags. In the event of a failure, the worst thing that can happen is that you have to gather up a little trash. Aside from maybe cursing the dog there’s no harm, no foul. When it is my life that’s on the line, however, only the best will do.

Ponder what you are looking for in a defensive handgun, and then balance that against what you are willing to spend. There have been many times in my life when I had to just make do. My very first concealed carry gun was an FIE Titan in .25ACP. At $50, that’s all the gun I could afford at the time. Nowadays, however, I’m looking for something a bit more refined. The HK P30L runs great on the range, rides as comfortably on my hip as any comparable smoke pole, and shoots predictably every single time I stroke the trigger. The experience is truly unparalleled. If you are the sort of gunman who covets the finer things, this is it.

To learn more, visit http://hk-usa.com/.

To purchase on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=P30L.

The patented HK recoil reduction device consists of a sliding counterweight to dampen out the recoil impulse.

The patented HK recoil reduction device consists of a sliding counterweight to dampen out the recoil impulse.

The HK P30L has a standard Picatinny rail molded into its dustcover. Shown equipped with a Surefire X-400.

The HK P30L has a standard Picatinny rail molded into its dustcover. Shown equipped with a Surefire X-400.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • brett phillips October 2, 2016, 8:50 pm

    Street price is not as high as listed.
    CZ’s are not as inexpensive as they once were. I traded and shelled out some cash a 75bd for for my p30. My thing was the weight. Tried a p09 which wanted so much to love ( in FDE is really a handsome gun)…. didnt do it for me personally. The p30 is something you just have to try for yourself. Quality is best of any handgun ive owned. Stupidly ergonomic. Dig having different side straps on each side. Controls great. Downside is that DA is crazy hard and SA pull is not what you would call amazing, but ive never felt a great a hk trigger in any of the hks ive shot. Id compare to a striker fired pistol, however awesomely accurate, fits like a dream and runs like a champion.

  • Bullet BoB September 27, 2016, 11:27 am

    I worry about how a person will feel, after spending that kind of money for a fine pistol, when the police take that fine gun after a person has had to fire it, never to be seen again. Oh the police will have a number of reasons for not returning your gun, “we’ve misplaced it.”, ” it’s evidence “, “it’s waiting for the judge, sherrif, DOJ to release it.” And worse of all “it had to be destroyed.”
    My thought is to buy a throwaway. At less than 21 feet, any 9mm or higher caliber will do the job and then give it to the police and “forgot about it.” It’s too good of a gun to carry daily, save it for Thursday night steel, Sunday or Saturday action pistol competition.

  • W.P. Zeller September 26, 2016, 10:49 am

    In one of our series of classes, we have a “gun buffet”, more than two dozen 9s and .38s spread out for the class to handle, then fire on the range. (It’s a popular class!)
    At one location we do this, we have a DA/SA P30L so we have gotten some time with it, and have seen scores of relatively new shooters try it out.
    The handle ergos draw universal praise, especially from women (of which we get a high proportion). The DA trigger is not loved, nor is it despised (such as the Beretta 92’s). The weird decocker suits righties well; lefties struggle.
    The paddle mag release is okay, once it’s learned. For newbies accustomed to standard releases, it’s a minor problem.
    The slide release lever is possibly the best we see- large, good leverage, well-placed, and ambidextrous.
    So the gun is fairly popular in this class, right up until they hit the price tag at the end of the class.
    We try to track what guns our people buy after this class, and while we don’t get full feedback, we know that the P30 does not result in very many sales.
    Personally, if I wanted a giant, blocky 9, this gun would be high on my list, but I’d still probably go P226 over the P30. The trigger and metal frame would win the day for me.

  • Adrion A Majette September 26, 2016, 9:38 am

    great article but there is a correction that needs to be made. the magazine release on the HK pistol is designed to be used by the TRIGGER FINGER, not the thumb. this is more intuitive, quicker, and allows for manipulation without moving the firing grip of the strong hand. it is not to be manipulated with the strong hand thumb or the support hand. please see the video i did regarding this topic:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nToyBAcvbcg

    HK. In a world of compromise some men don’t.

  • James September 26, 2016, 7:35 am

    Some people drive a Hyundai some drive a Ferrari.

  • Bill September 26, 2016, 6:49 am

    Sounds like a good gun, but how is it worth twice the price of a Cz-75?

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