HK VP9SK 9mm: The Long Awaited VP9 Mini-Me – Full Review

The VP9SK gives HK fans a compact version of the striker-fired VP9 ready for CCW duty.

The day that Heckler & Koch released the VP9, handgun enthusiasts nearly lost their minds with joy. The very next day, even while basking in that euphoria, everyone asked “but when is the sub-compact version going to come out?” While some people can and do carry the VP9 as a concealed weapon, most of us smaller-sized people with smaller clothing just can’t. About a year after the VP9 entered the market, HK released the P30SK and I wondered whether that might shelve any plans for an SK version of the VP9. After all, it met all the criteria – except that the P30 line is hammer fired and the VPs are striker fired. There are folks out there that just don’t cross that line, one way or the other. So, while I absolutely love the P30SK (see review), I know many who have been holding out for the VP9SK. Was it worth the wait?

THE SPECS

The VP9 is not really all that large a pistol, but it is a full duty-sized gun. And while some folks can and do carry it concealed, I prefer something much smaller for everyday carry. I don’t want my life or my wardrobe to revolve around my carry gun. So, for those of us who are average height and build, and wear normal clothing, a smaller version is much appreciated! How much smaller? Well, really not dramatically smaller, except in a couple of key dimensions: height and length. The latter of those is less important, unless you carry appendix-style, which I don’t. The single most important dimension of a handgun for concealed carry is the height from the bottom of the magazine baseplate to the top of the rear sights. Why? Because this is what will cause printing and self-consciousness if it protrudes too far. Good holsters help, and some forward cant helps, but what helps most is a short butt on the gun!HK shortened the height of the VP9SK by a full inch compared to the full-sized VP9 (4 ½” vs. 5 ½”) – a significant difference. The overall length has also been rolled back from 7-3/8” (VP9) to 6-5/8” (VP9SK). The thickness of the gun remains the same. Also remaining are a number of features that helped make the Hk VP9 a runaway best seller: ambidextrous controls make the pistol universally ergonomic and intuitive. The paddle style magazine release remains, located at each side of the lower trigger guard. The slide stop/release is easily reached and operated by the thumb of either hand.

HK shortened the height of the VP9SK by a full inch compared to the full-sized VP9 (4 ½” vs. 5 ½”) – a significant difference. The overall length has also been rolled back from 7-3/8” (VP9) to 6-5/8” (VP9SK). The thickness of the gun remains the same. Also remaining are a number of features that helped make the Hk VP9 a runaway best seller: ambidextrous controls make the pistol universally ergonomic and intuitive. The paddle style magazine release remains, located at each side of the lower trigger guard. The slide stop/release is easily reached and operated by the thumb of either hand.

As usual, where the biggest sacrifice occurs when cutting size and weight for a sub-compact pistol is ammunition capacity. The VP9SK holds 10+1, rather than the 15+1 of the full-sized gun. Depending upon which version of the pistol you buy, it comes with either two or three 10-round magazines. My copy was delivered with two – one flush baseplate and one with the “pinky rest” extension. I’ve really become a fan of the pinky rest, when designed well, because it gives you the feel and strength of a full grip but the angle also helps reduce visible height and potential printing. For a backup magazine, or for range days, the full sized 15-round magazines from the VP9 or the P30 fit and function perfectly in the SK. There are also aftermarket sleeves available to fill in the space created by the additional length, making it truly feel like a full-sized duty gun.

Instantly recognizable as a VP9 series pistol, the subcompact is much smaller.

SHOOTING THE VP9SK

If you’ve ever shot the HK VP9, then you have essentially shot the SK version. Where you’ll notice the difference is the shorter 4½” grip (with the flush magazine) of the SK. For just about everyone this will present the “what do I do with my pinkie?” feel. I usually just curl mine under the butt of the gun, but not everyone is satisfied with that feel. I have friends that won’t shoot a gun unless all five fingers have a home. Okay, I exaggerated a bit – I don’t really have friends… but I know other people that shoot. Take heart – unlike my HK P30SK that came with three magazines, all with a flat baseplate – the VP9SK comes with two magazines (as tested), one of which has the angled ‘pinkie extension.’ The extension does not change capacity, nor does it significantly alter the “printing height” of the pistol when holstered. But it provides a firm and comfortable place for that small fifth finger, and feels like a full sized duty pistol. It is also important to note that the magazines for the VP9SK are shared with the P30SK, and the full sized mags from the P30 and VP9 make perfect extended capacity magazines for the VP9SK. This makes for useful backup magazines for carry and excellent mags for range days.

Sizing the VP9SK to fit any shooter is just a matter of selecting the best combination of parts.

Shooting the snubby version of the VP9 is virtually identical to shooting its big sister, with the aforementioned caveat about grip length. There is an obviously shorter sight radius, but this is not terribly perceptible. Recoil impulse is slightly snappier, as we would expect, but by very little. The standard sights are identical, and the trigger feels the same. All-in-all, there is virtually no difference shooting the sub compact versus the full size. The ergonomics of the pistol is also identical to the larger version, with much consideration given to those whose dexterity is ambiguous. And to further clarify what the most often misused word in firearms really means – “ambidextrous” means that a control can be equally operated by either hand at any time, without modification. HK pretty much wrote the book on that subject, with every control being provided equally left and right. The “ears” at the rear of the slide – those polymer handles that help draw the slide rearward, are still present on the SK.

I tested the accuracy of the VP9SK from a rested position 15 yards from my target, using what has become my go-to ammo, SIG Sauer’s Elite Performance. I shot both the full metal jacket and jacketed hollow point (called V-Crown), both with 124 grain bullets. The V-Crown performed best, as it generally does for me. But even my off-hand shooting at half that distance yielded very nice groups without much effort. The natural point and shoot feel of the VP9 has not been lost by reducing its size.

SIG Sauer Elite Performance performed very well in rested testing from 15 yards.

Off-hand from 8 yards, ammo such as Magtech and Herter’s Select were also accurate and reliable.

JUST MY OPINION

Any popular duty-sized gun will eventually spin off a sub-compact version of itself, either as part of a planned product line, or in response to market demand. Very few firearms manufacturers say ‘no’ to a crowd of shooters waving fists full of money at them (I say ‘few’, because amazingly some seem to). Along the way, some make the mistake of modifying the design too much to make it fit the smaller footprint, and very subtle changes can affect the way the pistol feels or the way a control is operated. There are some pistols that I love in full size, but don’t like much in sub-compact for just this reason. The VP9SK is not at risk of being on that list. Heckler and Koch nipped and tucked in just the right places to make a smaller, more concealable VP9 that feels and functions exactly the same as the duty sized gun.  For me, double-stack subs are still a bit on the thick side for carry in the summer, but when the bulkier fall fashions are all the rage, I have enjoyed carrying the HK P30SK a lot. This pistol is the nearly identical striker fired version. One word of warning though, followed by one of celebration – the VP9SK will not fit into any custom holster made for the P30SK (trigger guard is the main reason); but it slips perfectly into all my Kydex VP 9 holsters, and just leaves some “room to grow” at the bottom end, like a nice pair of hand-me-down shoes.

Full sized magazines, like this 15-round VP9 mag with an aftermarket sleeve, make the SK feel like a duty pistol.

This custom Kydex holster from Multi Holsters was made for the VP40. The VP9SK fits like a glove.

The VP9SK is priced at the upper end of the market, but this should surprise no one. HK quality has always come at a slight industry premium. The LE version of the gun that offers an additional magazine and a very good set of night sights will run about $100 more than the one tested here. If you like night sights and have ever checked the prices of HK magazines, you’ll recognize that as a good deal. I think HK delivered exactly what people wanted with the VP9SK. Short of it being a single-stack that somehow magically holds 10 rounds, I don’t know how it could be improved. Shooting this gun extensively, I had zero failures and zero jams. What I had lots of was fun.

The “striker cocked” indicator (the red dot is only visible when cocked) is also present in the SK.

The polymer “ears” to help the user retract the slide, introduced on the VP9, are also on the SK. The author is a fan.

For more information, visit http://hk-usa.com/hk-models/vp9-sk/.

To purchase a VP9 series pistol on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=VP9.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Todd L September 14, 2017, 9:11 am

    Haters are going to hate and to each is his own. I love it as I do my full size VP9 great gun! No FTF with around 800 rounds through it a tack driver. I carry it probably 90% of the time without difficultly. Looks nothing like a freaking hi point but very similar to a PPQ both great guns with looks also. The only problem with the VP line still no VP45.

  • Archangel September 12, 2017, 3:44 pm

    The day that Heckler & Koch released the VP9, handgun enthusiasts nearly lost their minds with joy?
    Perhaps if some supermodel came with it and was naked!
    That thing is UGLY and looks like it should cost $120 with HI-POINT printed on the side!
    Then again, I guess the name “Heckler & Koch” is all that matters to some.

  • Jim88 September 11, 2017, 10:06 pm

    Billing it as a compact pistol? Not knocking it, but it’s appeal will not be as an easy to conceal pistol. In this config it will compete with Glocks, Springfld XD, Smith M&P. There are at least a few other true compacts 9s, if that’s the point. The Kahr P9 & CW9 come to mind as innovative, reliable, reasonable compacts, and they been around for quite a while. What ever you choose… at least Hillary won’t have anything valid to say about it. Enjoy your freedom!

  • Ernie September 11, 2017, 9:35 pm

    You know, my Taurus PT-111 Pro has 12+1 rounds capacity, striker fired, loaded round indicator, has an external safety, accurate as hell and has double strike capability! Price… Around $300.00! Take that HK!

    • Roy September 13, 2017, 9:59 pm

      Yeah but it’s a Taurus. 😉

    • Trent99 October 30, 2017, 12:48 pm

      As an owner and shooter of both, the PT111 is a fantastic little gun for the price, but with the VP9sk going for $505 from Buds the quality is no contest. And if you thought the Taurus was accurate you need to shoot the Hk, not even a competition. Not saying the Taurus isn’t accurate or a decent gun in any way, but the Vp9s quality, accuracy, and support blow it so far out of the water they shouldn’t even be worth comparing. And having managed a local gun counter for about 2 years the only guns I had to send back to the manufacturer more than the PT111 (several reasons, but the main being the horrible design of the mag release failing, breaking, and falling out) were the Mossberg .22s and the Rock Island Revolvers. Glad you got a good one, but Taurus will never be in the same league or conversation as Hk

  • ScranunSlim September 11, 2017, 3:16 pm

    Still regret passing up a NIB 9mm Star BKM

  • Norm Fishler September 11, 2017, 1:34 pm

    I shot a friend’s VP 9 not so long ago and although there was no overwhelming sense of positive or negative either way, even my friend, who is a novice hand gunner, had to comment that my CZ75 was considerably ‘smoother’. I cannot imagine that this chopped and channeled version would be any different. In short, I think it’s okay, but certainly not worth the asking list price . . . or even a considerably discounted MSRP.

  • Jjones September 11, 2017, 12:19 pm

    Walther is one of those companies who hasn’t made the subcompact of a best seller. Where the hell is the ppq compact Walther? Please take my money

  • Walleye September 11, 2017, 10:28 am

    This overpriced striker fired 9mm does nothing as well as the Walther P99 C AS, which is priced $100 less than the HK… And from a short distance, they look about the same.

  • sifter September 11, 2017, 9:50 am

    Nice. But my FN FNS 9 compact conceals just fine, comes with two 12 round and one 17 rd mag, is dead accurate with a center hold, and more accurate than my single stack Kahr. The $200+ I save over the HK can go for ammo.

  • Rob September 11, 2017, 9:43 am

    So it’s more expensive that the standard VP9?

  • luis eduardo telles benzi August 25, 2017, 3:15 pm

    Hk was
    The first wondernine. But has the problem of the trigher, so hard.
    Was it solved?

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