Heckler & Koch P30SK: A Carry Gun You’ll Want to Carry to the Range!

Check it out at HK: http://hk-usa.com/hk-models/p30sk/

Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=p30sk

All the beauty and grace of a full-sized P30 - now in a Sub-Kompact fun size!

All the beauty and grace of a full-sized P30 – now in a Sub-Kompact fun size!

Selecting a carry gun is a very personal choice, and everyone will have their own criteria for weeding out the non-contenders. However, with the market so rich today in high quality and reliable small pistols, no matter how strict your personal requirements are, there are likely a half-dozen or more to choose from. Well, you can add another one to that list – because the new HK P30SK from Heckler & Koch ticks all the boxes.

Aside from the obvious things like size, capacity, and reliability, one of the things I look for in a personal carry gun is for it to be a fun shooter. Why? Because if it’s fun to shoot it – I will. I’ll keep in regular rotation at the range, and I’ll get very proficient with it.

I’m deliberately avoiding using the word “train” here, because that seems like work. I don’t want shooting my carry gun to feel like work, I want it to feel as natural as breathing – and hopefully it will help me continue to do just that.

Specs-HKP30SKUp Front – The Specs

The P30SK is a true H&K, made in Germany and sporting the traditional HK controls. The gun is fully ambidextrous out of the box, with a slide stop lever on both sides and the signature dual magazine release paddles at the bottom rear of the trigger guard. That mag release is usually the polarizing factor – some love it and some hate it. I have found them very easy to adapt to and use and I’m not afraid I’ll forget how to use the button style. The slide and barrel are finished in a black “hostile environment” finish, which I think means that you can carry this gun at Liberal gatherings. The P30SK is the tiny carry version (the ‘SK’ is for “Sub-Kompact”) of the famous P30. And yes, the magazines from your P30 will fit – as will those from your VP9 – because they are the same. We just need someone to make a sleeve!

The P30SK grip can be adjusted to user preference with alternate side panels and backstraps.

The P30SK grip can be adjusted to user preference with alternate side panels and backstraps.

The Ergonomics

With the caveat that how a gun feels in the hand is a purely subjective opinion from the owner of that hand, I find the P30SK to be one of the most comfortable pistols to hold and shoot among all compacts. It’s even far better than many full sized duty pistols. It all starts with the grip. The polymer frame is molded into a familiar looking HK grip that includes pronounced finger grooves on the front strap, the interesting “bacteria under a microscope” stippling pattern, and the back strap or palm swell that is a changeable part. HK provides three with the pistol – S,M,L. You’ll need a punch to swap them out, but it’s pretty easy to do and easy to find one that feels “just right” to you.

One of the most criticized elements of the stubby compact pistols is the “dangling pinky” complaint. Unless you have extremely tiny hands your pinky will indeed dangle (or wrap beneath, as I prefer) at the bottom of the P30SK. A future nice-to-have would be a 12-round extended magazine with a pinky rest. Controls are, as mentioned, fully ambidextrous and very easy to find and use.

Fully ambidextrous, with no sacrifice for lefties. All controls are in easy reach, even for shooters with small hands. Note the small red “loaded chamber indicator” at the front end of the extractor. I find this feature to be of little value because you can always see it.

Fully ambidextrous, with no sacrifice for lefties. All controls are in easy reach, even for shooters with small hands. Note the small red “loaded chamber indicator” at the front end of the extractor. I find this feature to be of little value because you can always see it.

Both the slide stop/release and the magazine disconnect can be used without any adjustment to your shooting grip. Both controls also function very smoothly and facilitate speed reloads well. Another element of ergonomics that is important to me, yet seldom discussed, is whether any of the pistol’s controls will interfere with or cause discomfort with a “thumbs forward” grip.

That is my preferred shooting style, and it’s amazing how many gun makers put a takedown lever or slide stop right where it will either cause me pain, cause me to interfere with the action, or both. On the P30SK, my forward thumb rests comfortably at the front end of the slide stop lever with no problems. This gun is very comfortable to hold and to shoot.

Trigger(s)

My copy of the P30SK has the LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) double-action only (DAO) trigger and a bobbed hammer. Other variants of the P30SK have a double-action / single-action (DA/SA) trigger with a spurred hammer. This is a key distinction between SKUs – the others being the options of night sights and external safeties. I have fired hundreds of rounds through both trigger types with the P30SK, but I’ll focus on the LEM primarily because I’ve used it more frequently and more recently. I will say that the DA/SA version is about as good as DA/SA gets, unless you have a tuned revolver. The DA pull is long and heavy, but surprisingly smooth and grit free, with a crisp break. The SA follow-ups are equally crisp but there is a short amount of pre-travel.

With the LEM option, it's the same smooth trigger pull every shot.

With the LEM option, it’s the same smooth trigger pull every shot.

The LEM trigger is my preference, and I waited extra time to get the P30SK configured with it. I’m not averse to a DA/SA gun, but given a choice I’d rather have a consistent trigger pull. That’s what the LEM gives you – a lighter consistent trigger pull every shot, first to last. This essentially makes it a hammer fired gun that behaves and feels more like a striker fired gun. What you give up is a de-cocker. That control is standard on the DA/SA models (a push button to the left of the hammer) and safely drops the hammer over a loaded chamber without the possibility of firing. This is far preferred to de-cocking the hammer Western-style, where a slip could result in a loud bang.

The LEM is either hot and ready to rock, or has an empty chamber – there is no third option. However, unlike a striker fired handgun the LEM trigger does provide a second strike capability – albeit a very heavy one. The trigger can be pulled with the hammer un-cocked (having perhaps just fallen on a round that did not fire) as many times as desired. The pull is long and heavy, but was not designed for ordinary use. It’s a nice “best of both worlds” feature.

The trigger on the LEM is quite nice. But if you’re a striker fan you will notice a few things you might not initially like. Pre-travel (or take-up) is long for the first shot, though it is extremely light. You’ll know when you’re just about there because the tension will change. There is still plenty to go… maybe another ¼” of travel, but it is very smooth. Then the break – which is grit free and crisp. There is a tiny amount of after-travel, but you’d need a micrometer to measure it. Most likely it is just the parts flexing. Reset is fairly long (maybe 3/8”) and once again there will be take-up before the next break. This is the nature of hammers instead of strikers in a DAO configuration. It only takes a short time to acclimate to the trigger and you’ll be double tapping with ease. My observed measurements of this trigger yielded an average of 5 lbs. 6 oz.

The pistol with LEM cannot be put into single-action mode. There is no spur on the hammer for manual manipulation, nor is there a catch in the mechanism where it would remain cocked.

The Four “F’s”: Form, Function, Fit & Finish

Heckler & Koch make good quality firearms. When you pick one up, or just look closely at it, you can see that it was well designed and made. No rough edges, no ill-fitting parts. No part of the gun looks like it was left as “good enough”. One minor observation is that the ‘lefty’ slide stop lever (the one on the right side of the pistol) is a bit “jiggly”. I doubt it would actually come off or fail to work, but with regular use I wonder if it might show early wear.

The quality of fit and finish continues inside, with a cold hammer forged barrel (with polygonal rifling) that is well machined and has a generous and polished feed ramp. The dual spring recoil spring and guide rod assembly is also over-engineered, using a hook/catch connection to the barrel lug as opposed to the more common partially rounded detent. What this does is transfer the bearing surface on the slide lock pin from the barrel lug where most pistols have it, to the rear plate of the guide rod. My engineering degree hasn’t come in the mail yet, so I won’t try to pretend I know exactly what this accomplishes, but I presume it creates a more stable platform and hence, better accuracy. The flat wire recoil springs help make the gun shoot flat.

Field strip is simple and ordinary looking...

Field strip is simple and ordinary looking…

...but closer inspection shows the non-standard design and fit.

…but closer inspection shows the non-standard design and fit.

The dust cover portion of the poly frame includes a picatinny rail that is quite generous for a pistol this small. Over a full inch of mounting space and three notches should accommodate lights, lasers, or other accessories easily.

This pistol is equipped with the optional Tritium night sights. I like night sights on a carry gun. They are a three-dot combat configuration and display very well in daylight as well as darkness. Made of steel, and with a forward bevel, the rear sight can also serve as an aid to emergency slide cycling via belt, boot, or whatever is handy.

The HK P30SK just looks and feels like a top quality handgun. The Euro-style paddles for the magazine release are among the best.

The HK P30SK just looks and feels like a top quality handgun. The Euro-style paddles for the magazine release are among the best.

Tritium night sights can often be harder to see in daylight. No so with the TRU-DOT set on the P30SK

Tritium night sights can often be harder to see in daylight. No so with the TRU-DOT set on the P30SK

Accuracy and Performance

Let me start with performance and just get that out of the way. In over 600 rounds of all types and brands of ammunition (including my hand-loads), this pistol never once failed to feed, fire, eject, or make me smile. It’s a shooter, and it’s reliable.

Results of my tests, above. Very good results overall, with Speer Gold Dot performing exceptionally well.

Results of my tests, above. Very good results overall, with Speer Gold Dot performing exceptionally well.

When it comes to accuracy, my motto is that almost every gun can shoot better than I can shoot it. That is certainly the case with the P30SK, though I will say that I shoot it pretty darn well – it’s one of those guns that makes the shooter look good.

My setup for testing accuracy. It still leaves room for human error - but not much.

My setup for testing accuracy. It still leaves room for human error – but not much.

The results of rested (but not in a vise, which means still room for human error) groups at 20 yards with a variety of the top self-defense ammo were very good. I even had to review my video of the target for one group to verify that two rounds did indeed enter the exact same hole. In steadier hands, or a machine rest, I think this gun would be scary accurate!

Results at 20 yards were good for a variety of top-shelf self-defense loads.

HK P30SK 10
HK P30SK 9

HK P30SK 8
HK P30SK 7

Carrying the P30SK

As fun as this pistol is to take to the range an put hundreds of rounds through, it was clearly designed as a concealed carry gun. As is often the case with a brand new pistol model designed for EDC, it can take the holster makers and other accessory products a little time to catch up. So I was more than thrilled when I reached out to StealthGear and they said they already have the P30SK covered! I consider StealthGear’s Onyx holster to be the Rolls Royce of IWB holsters and am grateful to them for proving me with one. The P30SK carries well. At a pound and a half, it is not too heavy – especially with some forward tilt to center the weight of the loaded magazine. In a 2-clip holster like the Onyx, you just forget it’s there.

The P30SK rides comfortably - even luxuriously in this StealthGear Onyx holster.

The P30SK rides comfortably – even luxuriously in this StealthGear Onyx holster.

Before I’ll put a gun on EDC duty, even for an evaluation, I train with it. It can takes a lot of reps with some handguns before I feel like we’re on the same page – but the P30SK was feeling like an old friend after less than half-dozen draws. I feel completely confident walking out the door with this gun at my 4 O’clock.

The HK P30SK draws from IWB about as intuitively as any gun I've ever tried. If you think the author’s extended pinky is impressive here, you should see him with a tea cup!

The HK P30SK draws from IWB about as intuitively as any gun I’ve ever tried. If you think the author’s extended pinky is impressive here, you should see him with a tea cup!

In closing, let’s talk about the elephant in the room for a minute – the desire for a sub-compact VP9 from H&K. You know you’ve thought about it, maybe even wished for it out loud. And it may come, or it may not – but I’ll let you in on a little secret – if you pretend the hammer isn’t there… this gun IS it!

Check it out at HK: http://hk-usa.com/hk-models/p30sk/

Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=p30sk

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Tedd P May 23, 2017, 8:34 am

    When the P30sk was released, I checked it out at my local gun dealers shop and just HAD to have one. It was the most comfortable sub-compact i’ve ever held. Since the V3 was the only variant available at that time, I waited the required torture time for the V1 with LEM, night sights, and 3 mags. I REALLY wanted the LEM for it’s easy first round trigger pull. I’ve carried concealed for over 25 years but it was after carrying the P30sk for only about 8 months that I managed to combine the LEM with a brain fart, resulting in a very loud bang and a shattered femur. (Sig V-Crown JHP, in case anyone is interested.) When I was finally able to hobble around on crutches, I felt absolutely naked without the P30sk at my side but still didn’t trust myself with that wonderful LEM. So, I bought a V3 with the de-cocker. I’m due for my 3rd surgery soon, after which I intend to return to carrying the V-1. (Renewed respect for firearms in general has resulted in zero brain farts).
    After all that, I need to explain the actual reason for writing in this comment section. I have a problem with people who nit-pic non-issues in an attempt to sound knowledgeable. If a “wiggly slide release” is a major issue, don’t buy the gun. If the price is too high for the quality received, don’t buy the gun. If it’s a double stack that isn’t as thin as a single stack that bothers you, don’t buy the gun. In defense of the P30sk, it performs beyond my expectations. In fact, as a concealed carry, the only thing it DOESN’T do that I wish it could is compensate for stupidity. That one is on me! And, by the way, no. Neither of my P30sk’s are for sale.
    Thanks for allowing me to rant.

    • Sal May 28, 2017, 12:13 pm

      Good luck in a full recovery. I bought the sks model because I’m getting a bit on in years and brain farts are more of
      a worry. I’m not in law enforcement so unless I’m in a really nasty environment I leave the safety on and rely on that
      double action pull to prevent me from doing something stupid. Now, 20 years ago, I would be carrying the LEM model.

  • Tom Rock February 23, 2017, 12:18 pm

    I bought my P30SK ,V3, several weeks ago on the internet. I can’t take the dam thing down. The slide is difficult to rack, and feels frozen. The only way I can get the slide release button, on the right side, to release, is after working up a sweat, drawing blood from my hands, the using the end of my needle nose pliers to punch it out. I put 80 rounds through it two days ago, took it down to clean and oil with the same amount of difficulty stated above. When it finally came apart, I cleaned it and over oiled the slide edges, and the areas around both the right and left side slide release. Guess what, my hands still hurt, and I had to punch the left side release lever to get it in. I took it to a GunSmith, who only shook his head, and told me to send it back to H&K. I did that this morning. And, yes, I followed the manual…Seems like a nice gun. Bought 2 new mags with extended floor plates for my pinky. Ordered a custom fit leather holster for big bucks. So I think I’m about to take a financial bath on this HK.

  • cecil norwood February 10, 2017, 12:31 pm

    One great pistol! You can get mag extenders for the pinky problem in 0-2+ at hkparts.com. Holsters and all sorts of goodies for your H&K.

  • Rick October 22, 2016, 11:03 pm

    Got mine @ shooters in Jax Fl under 600.
    Love it, absolutely reliable and accurate.

  • Claudio DiVenezia June 23, 2016, 12:11 am

    JUST GOT MY HK-P30SK IN JUNE OF 2016. NIGHT SIGHTS, SAFETY, DA/SA, DECOCKER FROM MY FAVORITE GUN STORE FOR $700 OUT THE DOOR! A WORK OF ART. DESIGN & BALANCE ARE FLAWLESS. COLD FORGED BARREL CAN TAKE BEATINGS OTHER GUNS CAN’T HANDLE. GRIP IS WHATEVER YOU WANT TO MAKE IT. QUALITY IS THE AURA AROUND THIS FIREARM. HAS MIMIMAL RECOIL. SPRINGS ARE NOT ROUND, BUT FLATTENED TO ACCOMPLISH THIS SUPERB RECOIL. THERE ARE MANY FINE GUNS. YOU HAVE TO LOVE THE GUN YOU HAVE, IT MAY BE YOUR LIFE! I LOVE MINE!

    • Brian July 21, 2016, 3:42 pm

      Love the P30SK. Been carrying one for almost a year now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  • Brett October 8, 2015, 9:46 am

    Hk p2000sk grip extenders work as do the slanted floor plates which are $5 or so from midway. Bottom of the grip is identical as far as I can tell.

  • Stuart Shaw October 6, 2015, 3:47 pm

    In this review you note interchangeable mags with the full VP9 and full size P30. You also wished there was a 12 round mag with pinky grip for this pistol. I believe the standard P30 mag is identical to the P2000SK 10 round mag with is interchangeable with the 13 round full size P2000 mag. This mag already has a pinky built on it and X-GRIP makes an adapter sleeve for the 13 rounder so it is perfect fit 13 round set-up. Also if you are looking to ADD a pinky floorplate to any of these pistol’s mags you can use the PIERCE PG-26 floorplate grip extension and you have a pinky floorplate. You do have to drill a new detent hole in the center of the extension of the right diameter for an H&K mag but this a an EASY job. So now you have a solution converting H&K mags to having pinky extenstions and to re-sizing your 10 round P30 to 13 rounds plus one in the pipe (14 total). Note: I have carried daily a P2000Sk with both the modified 10 and 13 round mags with no real concealment issue. If I need a little more concealment, on occasion, I just opt for the 10 found mag…. same gun just a little less “heel” sticking out.

  • Stuart Shaw October 6, 2015, 3:47 pm

    In this review you note interchangeable mags with the full VP9 and full size P30. You also wished there was a 12 round mag with pinky grip for this pistol. I believe the standard P30 mag is identical to the P2000SK 10 round mag with is interchangeable with the 13 round full size P2000 mag. This mag already has a pinky built on it and X-GRIP makes an adapter sleeve for the 13 rounder so it is perfect fit 13 round set-up. Also if you are looking to ADD a pinky floorplate to any of these pistol’s mags you can use the PIERCE PG-26 floorplate grip extension and you have a pinky floorplate. You do have to drill a new detent hole in the center of the extension of the right diameter for an H&K mag but this a an EASY job. So now you have a solution converting H&K mags to having pinky extenstions and to re-sizing your 10 round P30 to 13 rounds plus one in the pipe (14 total). Note: I have carried daily a P2000Sk with both the modified 10 and 13 round mags with no real concealment issue. If I need a little more concealment, on occasion, I just opt for the 10 found mag…. same gun just a little less “heel” sticking out.

  • Fletch F Fletch October 6, 2015, 2:32 pm

    This is my current EDC. Absolutely love it. Got mine new for under $600 with night sights. Add night sights to a Glock and see where your price is at. I’ve carried Glocks, SIG’s, Springfields, and others…love this one the best. Conceals well, incredibly accurate, handles and shoots fantastic for me. Bottom line, find what fits you and your needs. Great review.

  • Bersa Thunder Plus October 6, 2015, 9:39 am

    I’ll stick to high capacity in the first magazine 15 rounds. Slap in a new mag and the slide jacks a round in all by itself.

    And yes it is highly accurate , like a walther ppk with a lot more pows….

  • Rene Monzon October 5, 2015, 9:50 pm

    H&K’s are nice weapons, no argument here. But for me, My G26 has the same capacity and does it’s job for CCW. if i can have my shirt untucked ..I.E. weekends, evenings.. My G19 has 15 +1 capacity…And if i need to be super “stelthy” My M&P Shield works just fine. And i beleive the H&K costs about what my Shield and G26 cost together.. Having said that, you performed a very thourough and concise review..

    • John May 3, 2016, 10:23 pm

      Cost what a shield and a glock together cost? I get tired of hearing this garbage. You can get the HK from buds for under $600. So the glock and S&W each cost about $250-275, right? Got it.

  • Bill beaudry October 5, 2015, 3:06 pm

    G-19/26 still remain the best options

    • coldblast July 14, 2017, 10:49 pm

      Sig P320c looks better, shoots better, is more reliable, is built better, breaks down further-easier, comes from factory with night sights, and from many dealers is only about $100 bucks more. Sig is also more valuable in the long run. Glocks are the Honda civics of the gun world. Affordable and reliable. I like my Glocks, but they are nothing compared to HK or Sig..its a entirely different world.

  • Beau October 5, 2015, 3:04 pm

    G-19/26 remain the best options

  • Mr.James October 4, 2015, 1:24 pm

    I regard H&K’s Arms at the top of the function, duty, design chain with a few other makers, the choices can get complicated. Money for guns is to me allways a no question subject. You just have to save a little longer to get what you want. In any case you only need what you can carry and you should cary what

  • Mark N. October 4, 2015, 2:08 am

    It would have been nice if you’d mentioned that this little gun has a ten round double stack mag. I had to download the owner’s manual to track that down, strangely enough. Its a bit on the porky side at almost 24 oz, least ways for a pocketable pistol, and rather thick in the middle, coming in at 1.37″. Another feature not mentioned is its (high cost) polygonal rifling. (Personally, I am not so sure that polygonal rifling makes any significant difference at SD ranges,but if people want to pay for it, so be it.)
    So let’s compare this to a similar gun, the Kahr P series, which also sports polygonal rifling, or the down market CW version that does not. My CW is DAO, is 7+1, has a three finger grip, is less than an inch wide, and cost less than $400. And it weighs less than 16 oz with an empty magazine. (The P series is priced comparably to the H&K.)

    • Monzon October 5, 2015, 9:38 pm

      gee Mark..maybe you should get your $$ back from the “poor” evaluation..Ohhh, thats right, its free….

  • Justin Opinion October 2, 2015, 10:54 am

    MSRP: $719 – $819. The model shown is at the top end of that.

    • kbeckett March 26, 2016, 1:58 pm

      It’s well worth paying a few extra dollars when the time comes to using it. Nice weapon and a great review.

  • Justin Opinion October 2, 2015, 6:51 am

    MSRP is $719 or $819, depending on configuration. The one shown here is at the high end.

    • Mark H. September 23, 2016, 3:10 pm

      I was able to pick up my LEM w/Night Sights ($819 model) for only $670. In my opinion it is worth the $170 more over a glock. A good bit of that is the cost of the night sights and the extra mag.

    • John January 14, 2017, 12:42 pm

      MSRP puts it around that price. I got mine for $650 with 3 mags, two of which have the updated pinky rest mag, also with night sights. Great price for the whole package IMO

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