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Heckler & Koch

If you want to buy a gun from a company with a distinguished history, and don’t mind the price tag that comes along with that reputation, then a Heckler & Koch (HK) gun may work for you. HK was the supplier of the German police force and military for many years, so you know that these firearms meet a high standard. For those people with a little more disposable income, you can do no better than an HK gun.

Heckler & Koch (HK) has a long and exciting history. It was founded in Germany by Edmund Heckler, Theodor Koch, and Alex Seidel in 1949. HK’s founding coincided with the armaments ban in Germany. The French, who controlled Oberndorf—where the HK factory is located—wanted to destroy the pre-existing Waffenfabrik Mauser AG factory. Heckler, Koch, and Seidel snuck into the factory in the dark and saved as much of the equipment as possible.[1] Initially, the company that Heckler, Koch, and Seidel founded only made parts for household appliances and bicycles. But, after the armaments ban, HK began manufacturing firearms.


Check out our reviews on OWB Holsters and IWB Holsters.


Heckler & Koch-A Controversial History


HK quickly made a name for themselves by creating firearms for the German military. In 1959 the G3 infantry rifle became the standard in the country.[2] By the 1960s, HK expanded their product offerings with the MP5, a submachine gun that gained HK an international reputation. The business grew so much that by the 1970s HK had to structure their company into two divisions: hunting and sport and police and defense. This restructuring allowed HK to concentrate more fully on creating weapons specifically designed for both civilians and the military. The 1970s began HK’s strategy of turning their popular military rifles and pistols into civilian appropriate models.


HK began changing in the 1980s. Like many companies worldwide, they fell for the idea of diversification. Diversification was a buzz-word at the time and meant that many companies moved away from only providing one or two products to providing a whole range of products. Sometimes the new product lines were not even in the company’s original industry. For example, many film studies joined conglomerates that also provided mattresses and built parking lots. In HK’s case, the company began providing machinery and plant engineering. They also made automation and precision technology in addition to their firearm offerings.[3]


HK has been bought twice since their diversification period. The first purchase occurred in 1991 when HK was bought by Royal Ordnance. The aerospace company returned HK to its original product, firearms. Then in 2002 private owners purchased the company from Royal Ordnance. These owners have increased the number of products HK produces and brought the company to the United States’ lucrative market.



Some might argue that all firearms manufacturers will create a certain amount of controversy during their lifetimes, especially those that have been in business for decades. However, the controversies surrounding HK eclipse many other companies. Instead of creating controversies around a specific feature of their firearms, as Glock did with their trigger safety, HK has been accused of racketeering.


Many of HK’s military-grade firearms have made their way to dangerous regimes around the world. In fact, the G3 rifle has been licensed to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, and Mexico. In addition, this weapon has been found with almost every terrorist group on the planet.[4] The above list only mentions one of HK’s military firearms, others have been used for ill purposes as well.


The problem with HK’s leadership allegedly turning a blind eye towards these firearms purchases is that in Germany it is illegal to trade with these countries. Because of this the German Customs Criminal Office (ZKA) out of Cologne actually recommended criminal charges against certain HK employees.[5] They have also imposed fines on the company.


The good news here is that HK has responded to these charges with action. In 2017 the company quietly released the information that they will no longer license or sell firearms to non-green countries. As a news article explains, “‘Green countries’ are defined by the company’s own criteria based on three classification systems: NATO membership or being a ‘NATO-equivalent country’ (Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland), Transparency International’s corruption index, and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index.”[6]


HK’s decision makes them the only firearms manufacturer to impose such a stringent export policy on its guns. Leadership at HK have also discussed creating a “victim’s fund” for families who have had a love-one killed by an HK weapon.[7] Their response to the charges of illegal arms dealing has set HK apart from its competitors. As this recent situation illustrates, HK now puts creating a safer world ahead of purely making a profit.


H&K Models

Today, HK creates a lot of various types of firearms, including pistols and rifles. The company also makes and sells suppressors for their guns. Today we will focus on HK’s various pistol designs. They currently make eighteen models of pistols; although, these can be further organized into seven families. Even so, the sheer number of pistol models sets HK apart from most other firearms manufacturers. Read on for a quick description of the different varieties. You can go to our shorter break-out articles to learn more about each individual pistol.



One of HK’s more recent releases. SK stands for SubKompact (sub-compact in English), for this is a small version of the famous VP full-sized pistol. The VP9SK shoots only 9mm. It has HK’s adjustable VP grip feature, ambidextrous controls and charging supports found on all larger pistols. HK has also built the VP9SK to be compatible with all HK magazines.


            VP Tactical

The VP Tactical comes in .40 S& W and 9mm varieties. Its threaded barrel makes it different from the rest of the VP line. Other than the barrel, this gun is exactly the same as the VP9 and VP40 discussed below.



HK’s 9mm standard pistol, the VP9 has an extended Picatinny rail, charging supports, and the patented VP grip feature.           



The VP40 is another variety of the VP model, but this time the pistol shoots 40 S&W instead of 9mm. Otherwise, all of the features that come standard on the VP9SK, VP Tactical, and VP9 appear on this gun.



The SP5K is another new pistol developed by HK. It became available in 2016 and has been designed to mimic the look and handling of HK’s famous military MP5K submachine gun.







With the P30SK, HK has designed another sub-compact to fit into a famous line of full-sized pistols. In this case, the sub-compact 9mm x 19 pistol has all of the features of the larger P30 and P30L.



This full-size pistol shoots 9mm x 19 and .40 S&W. It does not have as many updated features as some of HK’s newer model pistols. But, it does include a spurred hammer, ambidextrous slide levers, and Picatinny rail.



Like the VP pistols described above, the P30L is the same pistol as the P30 except that it includes a lengthened slide/barrel. The P30L can be purchased for 30 S&W and 9mm x 19 calibers.



HK modeled this civilian appropriate pistol after one that many European agencies use on a daily basis. In fact, the gun comes with either a DA/SA or LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) trigger depending on its use. This pistol also provides the ambidextrous controls and interchangeable backstraps found on many HK models.



HK always creates families of their different model pistols. The P2000SK is an example of this as it is the sub-compact version of the P2000.



HK sought to improve the older design of the USP45 and ended up with the HK45. Like the USP45, the HK45 shoots .45 ACP. HK also introduced the changeable backstraps, a new Picatinny rail, and mostly ambidextrous controls with this pistol.


            HK45 Tactical

The HK45 Tactical provides customers the opportunity to buy an HK45 pistol—which obviously shoots .45 ACP—but with the addition of a threaded barrel and Meprolight three-dot tritium night sights.


            HK45 Compact

As one might expect, the HK45 Compact is a smaller version of the HK45 and HK45 Tactical. However, it still includes the many features that made those pistols famous, like the former’s incredible accuracy and durability rating.


            HK45 Compact Tactical

The final version of the HK45 series, the HK45 Compact Tactical is a small version of the HK45 Tactical full-sized pistol. HK made the HK45 Compact Tactical to include a threaded barrel, 10-round magazine with extended floorplate, and replaceable grip panels.


            Mark 23

HK claims that the Mark 23 .45 ACP pistol is the most tested in history. The gun was originally developed for the U.S. Special Operations Command in 1991, with the first guns being released in 1996. The Mark 23 is a civilian version of the famous military pistol.



HK designed the USP specifically for the US market. It comes in 9mm x 19, .45 Auto, and .40 S&W calibers. It also has a fiber-reinforced polymer frame—which HK developed—a manual safety, and HK’s patented recoil reduction system.


            USP Compact

The compact version of the popular USP. The USP Compact keeps all of the features and calibers found with its larger brother while also providing an ultimately concealable weapon.


            USP Tactical

The USP Tactical is the most enhanced version of the USP and USP Compact. The polymer used in the frame of the pistol keeps it light, while the threaded barrel, adjustable trigger, and adjustable target sights guarantee accuracy.



HK firearms are known for their reliability and high-quality manufacturing. The company continues to make innovations that extend the life of their products, such as polygon rifling to extend the life of their barrels. They also have a commitment to customer service as shown with their warranty policy.



HK provides a limited lifetime warranty on every one of their firearms purchased after January 1, 1998. The lifetime warranty only applies to the original purchaser, and firearms purchased at a licensed Heckler & Koch dealer. Even though the warranty is more restrictive than others in the industry, its comprehensiveness proves HK’s commitment to customer satisfaction. If there is ever a defect found with parts or materials, then they will replace the firearm at no additional cost to you.


HK recommends contacting them for a return authorization (RA) number before sending in your defective gun. When you have the return authorization number send it and your gun to


Heckler & Koch, Inc.

Attn: Service Department/RA# _______

5675 Transport Blvd. Suite 200

Columbus, GA 31907 USA


Should you spend the money to buy an HK pistol? Ultimately the answer is up to you. Those that love this manufacturer claim that the high price tag pays for the ultimate durability and accuracy in all of HK’s firearms. The company’s long history of providing guns for the German and European militaries speaks volumes about their quality.


Heckler & Koch also constantly attempt to improve as a company. They have begun an export program that is actually stricter than their home country of Germany. This will try to ensure that HK guns do not fall into the wrong hands. Additionally, they continue to update and improve their product offerings for both military and civilian divisions, which highlights their company-wide commitment to the motto “no compromises.”


[1] Debbie Dragon, “Heckler & Koch History: How One of the Biggest Firearms Brands Came to Be,” Newsmax (April 14, 2015), https://www.newsmax.com/fastfeatures/guns-heckler-koch-firearms/2015/04/15/id/638478/ (accessed 3/13/18).


[2] Heckler & Koch, “Chronicle,” Heckler & Koch GmbH,” https://www.heckler-koch.com/en/company/history.html (accessed 3/13/18).


[3] Heckler & Koch, “Chronicle,” Heckler & Koch GmbH,” https://www.heckler-koch.com/en/company/history.html (accessed 3/13/18).


[4] Ben Knight, “Heckler & Koch Quietly Becomes World’s Most Ethical Gun-Maker,” Deutsche Welle (August 31, 2017), http://www.dw.com/en/heckler-koch-quietly-becomes-worlds-most-ethical-gun-maker/a-40316221 (accessed 3/13/18).


[5] “German Arms Maker Heckler & Koch ‘illegally exported’ Rifles to Mexico,” Deutsche Welle (May 8, 2015), http://www.dw.com/en/german-arms-maker-heckler-koch-illegally-exported-rifles-to-mexico/a-18437977 accessed 3/13/18).


[6] Ben Knight, “Heckler & Koch Quietly Becomes World’s Most Ethical Gun-Maker,” Deutsche Welle (August 31, 2017), http://www.dw.com/en/heckler-koch-quietly-becomes-worlds-most-ethical-gun-maker/a-40316221 (accessed 3/13/18).


[7] Ben Knight, “Heckler & Koch Quietly Becomes World’s Most Ethical Gun-Maker,” Deutsche Welle (August 31, 2017), http://www.dw.com/en/heckler-koch-quietly-becomes-worlds-most-ethical-gun-maker/a-40316221 (accessed 3/13/18).


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