by Ed Friedman - Friday, February 18, 2011
Very often, a new gun is hailed as "revolutionary." Much of the time, the revolution takes the form of a different hard case shipped with the firearm or a new style of serration on the slide. If that's a revolution, we'd still be subjects of the Queen.
The Heckler & Koch P30 is not revolutionary, nor does H&K market it as such. Rather, the P30 is an evolutionary gun, adding incremental improvements to the company's P2000 platform without a fundamental design change. Recognizing this reality, H&K chose the honest path and declared the P30 part of its "P" series, which encompasses the multitude of variants of both it and the P2000. (More photos of the P30 here.)
While an evolutionary development, the P30 boasts plenty of features to excite even the most jaded gun enthusiast. Foremost among these attributes is the pistol's totally ambidextrous operation. The slide lock, thumb safety, decocking button and magazine release can all be actuated with either hand, making the gun extremely versatile. Any shooter can master its operation, regardless of their handedness—there is simply no difference in operation between strong and weak hand.
Most of the ambidexterity is accomplished through the use of redundant levers. The magazine-release levers are located on both sides the trigger guard; pressing down activates them. They are larger than the similar-style unit found on the P2000, making them easier to operate. The safety is located just above the grip, also on both sides, and is decidedly of the H&K variety with a white "S" and a red "F" to ensure it is idiot-proof. Likewise, the slide lock is also duplicated on both sides of the frame.
The only operational control not copied on both sides of the gun is the decocking button, which is found on the rear of the frame, to the left of the exposed hammer just like on the P2000. Because it is located at the rear as opposed to the side, it too can be operated with either hand. That said, it feels like an afterthought, thrown onto the platform to accommodate users' requests rather than designed into the firearm from the start. Decocking the P30 takes some getting used to for shooters accustomed to side-mounted decocking levers.
The other major development on this handgun is the presence of interchangeable backstraps and grip inserts, making the P30 adjustable for just about any hand size. Both feature rough texturing for enhanced purchase. Finger grooves on the front of the grip have identical texturing, and add comfort and controllability. The grip parts are installed by removing a roll pin at the base of the grip, then sliding the backstrap down. This allows the grip panels to slide out toward the rear. Users must choose the properly sized grip panels and install them first, before attaching the appropriate backstrap.
Like the P2000, the P30 has polygonal rifling, though the P30's barrel is .2 inch longer at 3.86 inches. The longer barrel also increases overall length by about .18 inch. The P30 has a section of Picatinny rail on the dustcover, replacing the P2000's single accessory mount. Beyond these small differences, things get complicated.
Heckler & Koch is famous for its law enforcement and military products. You'd be hard-pressed to find an H&K gun that wasn't designed with these users in mind. The P30 is no different, and therefore includes multiple variants. At press time, only two such variants are available to the American market—the P30S and P30LS, both with a double-action/single-action trigger H&K dubs the V3. The "S" stands for manual safety, while the "L" denotes a long-slide version with a 4.45-inch barrel. Trigger groups are the main area where the P30 enters the Twilight Zone of modifications. Six variants exist, ranging from models using H&K's Combat Defensive Action (CDA) trigger (a double-action-only design with consistent pull-weight throughout the trigger's travel) to a model without a manual safety already in service with the German Federal Customs Administration. The V3 model I tested required .55 inch of travel in double-action mode and about half that distance in single-action. Pull weight ranged from 12 pounds, 8 ounces to 6 pounds, 12 ounces, respectively, in the different modes.
I tested the P30S in .40 S&W, and I was impressed with the pistol's controllability. Its 26.08-ounce weight provided ample heft to mitigate felt recoil from the sharp .40 S&W loads, while the ability to make the grip fit my small hands ensured a proper hold. It had a preference for lighter-weight bullets in testing. Accuracy was what one would expect from an H&K pistol, with an overall group average of 3.4 inches from 25 yards.
While the P30 may not revolutionize the handgun universe, it is certainly a welcome addition to the Heckler & Koch line, and that should make the multitude of H&K fanboys a happy bunch. It is an extremely versatile personal-defense pistol, which should make any gun owner happy, too.
Manufacturer: Heckler & Koch
Importer: HK USA; (706) 568-1906, www.hk-usa.com
Action Type: Short-recoil-operated, semi-automatic
Caliber: 9 mm, .40 S&W (tested)
Capacity: 15+1 (9 mm); 13+1 (.40 S&W)
Slide: Nitro-carburized steel
Barrel: 3.86 inches; cold-hammer-forged steel
Rifling: Hexagonal profile; 6 grooves; 1:9.84-inch RH twist
Sights: Three-dot-style; square notch rear, front post; adjustable for windage
Trigger Pull Weight: 12 pounds, 8 ounces (double-action); 6 pounds, 12 ounces (single-action)
Length: 6.99 inchesHeight: 5.43 inches
Width: 1.37 inches
Weight: 26 ounces
Accessories: Hard case, manual, two 13-round magazines, two backstrap inserts, three grip inserts, Lock-Out action-lock key
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