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VP40 Review: One Heck Of A Handheld

If you're looking for a sorta-compact-sorta-not .40 S&W handgun, one that you shouldn't be overlooking is the H&K VP40, and for reasons that we will be going over in this VP40 review. Heckler and Koch are known for quality handguns and the VP series is known for outclassing most other entries among the plastic fantastics.

This H&K VP40 review is going to be a variation on that theme. The VP40 is like any other workhorse poly-framed striker pistol, but...there's no way to put it other than to say they made it so it was actually nice. So it's like a Glock, but made by someone who gives a darn.

That isn't to say Glock doesn't; of course they do. It's just that the VP9 and VP40 have a lot of details seen to that many similar guns just don't.

H&K VP40: Between A Full Size And Compact


Like a lot of other guns out there at the moment, the H&K VP40 sits somewhere between a full-size and a compact. It definitely isn't a compact...but it isn't quite a full-size either. Let's call it a full-size gun that went on a diet.

The tale of the tape!

The VP40 has a 4.09-inch barrel. The overall length is 7.34 inches, with a 6.38-inch sight radius. The gun stands 5.45 inches tall and 1.32 inches wide. The slide is machined ever so slightly differently than the VP9, so you're likely to find that a VP40 will not work in a VP9 holster nor vice versa. The VP40 is also about 0.4 inches taller as well.

Unloaded weight is 28.9 ounces, and capacity is 13+1 of .40 S&W, though a 10-round model is available in those states that hate freedom have a magazine capacity restriction.

VP40 Features

vp 40

The VP40 comes very well appointed for a "volkspistole" or "people's pistol," which many a VP9 and VP40 review has echoed by now.

The VP40 comes equipped with combat sights, which are white dot. Both front and rear sights are drift-adjustable, with a front blade and rear ramp sight. Forward and rearward serrations are machined into the slide, with the charging handles of the VP9 at the rear of the slide. It has an accessory rail for your favorite laser/light accessory, if desired.

A cocked striker indicator - a la Walther - is located at the rear of the slide, and the extractor toes out when loaded to serve as a loaded chamber indicator. Controls are ambidextrous, with a slide release located just above the thumb rest relief cut on both sides and magazine release paddles at the bottom of the trigger guard.

The trigger guard has a slight undercut, allowing for a good high grip. The gun includes three sets of swappable grip panels, consisting of three sets of side panels (right and left) and three sizes of backstrap. The grip has finger grooves like a Glock, but they're understated.

The magazine well is ever so slightly beveled. It's not a competition or race-ready bevel, but just a little one to help out a little bit. The slide also locks completely back upon being empty, so no slingshot around these parts, mister.

One of the things you'll notice that's different between the VP40 and the VP9 is after you remove the slide. The slide and the internals are beefed up a bit, to take the punishment of the .40 S&W round.

H&K VP40 Review


The VP40 is like any other poly striker gun, except it's actually nice. Many a VP40 review and review of the VP9 has noted how much nicer they are compared to other makes and models. H&K designed the VP series to be comfortable but also added some incredibly smart features...though you do have to pay for them.

The VP40 is a bit stouter to shoot than the VP9, but is far from unmanageable as it isn't a subcompact .40. There's a bit more snap, a bit more shove, but most shooters won't have too many problems.


The charging handles are an inspired touch; racking the slide is intuitive, easy and blindingly fast. The serrations are grippy, so you can get a good purchase on the slide with gloves and in almost any condition.

The polymer frame doesn't feel "cheap" in the same way that so many other polymer pistols do; the plastic feels like it's a higher quality. Maybe it isn't, but it just feels that way.

The grip is very comfortable, and the palm swell is very reminiscent of Walther pistols...which is to say it feels pretty darn good. The backstrap and slight undercut let you get a good high grip. Maybe not quite custom 1911 with beavertail grip safety high, but as close as it otherwise gets.

The sights are white dot, which some people may poo-poo but they are very usable for white dots. Targets are quickly acquired and they are easily picked up by the eye.

It's nose heavy, but not overly so. Fully loaded, the VP40 is very nicely balanced indeed.

At last, we come to the trigger. The VP9 and VP40 trigger is considered by many to be the finest factory trigger on any poly-striker gun, full-stop. It has smooth take-up and a crisp, clean break. Reset is short, tactile and audible. There are guns costing twice as much that don't have a trigger as nice as the VP40 and VP9.

However, that amazing trigger and all the features come at a price, which is - namely - the price. Which is a lot more than many other striker guns. The typical Glock 22 or Glock 23 is somewhere between $450 to $600 in most stores; the typical S&W M&P40 is closer to $500. A Canik TP9 is usually had for $350 or less.

The VP40, however, has an MSRP of $719. You can expect to pay about $600 to $650 in stores. Night sights and three factory mags can be had for an extra $100...which is actually a bargain because H&K absolutes loves to rake customers over the financial coals for new magazines. They go for $50 per.

But, is the VP40 worth an extra $100 or so over the others? There isn't any one feature on the VP40 that you can't live without, and plenty of guns that cost less in sticker shoot about as well.

If you asked the guy writing this, I, personally, would save up for this gun over an XD, Glock or P320 .40 caliber because you get a lot of cool features for not that much more in sticker in the broad strokes; it's hardly the difference in sticker between a Hi Point and a Colt Gold Cup. If you told me I had to go get a poly-framed striker gun in 10mm Light, this is the one I'd come home with.

However, that's terribly subjective. You're going to have to figure that out for yourself. Go hold one and fire one and see for yourself, as you're going to be the best judge in that instance.

About The Author

Writer sam hoober