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.
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.
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.
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.