Heckler and Koch is not known for cutting corners. Take one look at social media and you’ll see how much success they’ve had with the hashtag #nocompromise. That doesn’t happen unless there’s actually something to it. By the time SHOT rolled around this past January, the VP9 was still a hot item but it was old news. It had made enough waves by then to be on all of the major “Top Guns of 2014” lists, and the P2000sk wasn’t debuted until April. So when I walked by H&K’s booth at SHOT Range Day, I decided to play with the different colored HK45’s and the sand one was a nice change. I know that some people prefer the OD Green option over Sand, but I’m a fan of dirt, so I opted to test this one. And surprise surprise: it actually fit right in outdoors. This review sample was the V1 version, which had a DA/SA trigger setup and a decocking lever/thumb safety on the left side only. The test gun I received came with two 10-round magazines and night sights. You lefties would have to make sure you found a version with controls that are accessible for you (V2, I believe). And it probably goes without saying, but this is more of a general HK45 review than anything specific to this model because the only difference in this and the standard HK45 is the color.
Barrel Length: 4.46″
Width: 1.54″ (at lever)
Weight: 31.2 ounces (empty)
Trigger pull: 11 lbs DA; 4.5-5 SA (on this sample)
MSRP: $1199 (MSRP is less with standard sights, and street price is less across the board)
I own a VP9 and I had shot a friend’s USP45 a fair amount, but I hadn’t really messed with the HK45 in the past. So when I picked it up and hit the 80-yard steel 4/5 times on the Aimpoint half of the bay in Boulder City at SHOT Show’s Industry Day at the Range, I knew I wanted the chance to spend some more time with one. And I enjoyed every minute of it. This pistol was accurate, reliable, and well-engineered. It handled the .45 ACP caliber very well, and sending rounds downrange with it was a a good time. One thing that you wouldn’t know if you haven’t picked one of these up before is that the ergonomics are outstanding. That’s something that cannot be said of very many larger-framed pistols (especially popular doublestacks in .45—hello BRICK), so it bears repeating. If you were thinking of something to use for home-defense, that’s particularly useful because when you grab something in a half-asleep stupor and point it at an intruder, it might help if it actually shoots where you point it. Practice certainly helps ensure that as well, but let’s be honest: not everyone has the time to practice as much as they would like. The night sights on this sample gun were bright and easy to pick up, and the controls were intuitive and easy to manipulate (particularly for 1911 fanboys like myself). Moreover, for someone with bad eyesight like myself, pointability is something that weighs heavily on my choice of a home defense weapon. If the sights are fuzzy and I only have time to grab the pistol and not my glasses, I want to make sure I can hit what I’m trying to hit. (Of course you have to be sure you ID your target, so that was in no way meant as a “shoot first” piece of advice.)
The double action (DA) trigger pull was fairly typical—it felt a little bit like a square peg in a round hole. But that’s the last substantial critique you’ll hear of this gun. And it isn’t a deal breaker in the least because the safety on these guns allows them to be carried condition one just as safely as a 1911. Particularly for a nightstand gun (which this would be for me due to its size), I don’t have the least bit of concern keeping it “cocked and locked.” If this bothers you, you can certainly leave it ready to go double action, but keep in mind the stock DA pull is long and weighs in at about 11 pounds (that is not tough to fix, nor is it particularly difficult to shoot the first round DA as long as you practice). Single action, the trigger was very consistent and broke between 4.5 and 5 pounds every time on my digital Lyman gauge. It was a service trigger, to be sure, but it had a clean, repeatable break that made it easy to shoot well. Personally, I like the SA a lot more, and I think most people are going to shoot it that way a lot better. But if you want the same pull every time without carrying cocked and locked, there is an LEM version as well that a ton of people really like.
There were a total of zero malfunctions, failures to do anything, or “ammo” problems throughout the entirety of the evaluation period. This is certainly a trustworthy platform. Recoil was smooth and the design of the HK45 handled .45 very well. The gun weighs in at around 31 ounces empty, so that was somewhat to be expected, but since a steel 1911 weighs about a half pound more, it is worth noting that for the weight, the recoil mitigation is probably a little bit better. Take down of these guns is a breeze because all it requires is pushing the slide stop out of the frame with the slide pulled back to the appropriately-sized notch and then riding the slide off the front of the frame. I don’t think this gun would require you to field strip or clean it very often, but if you’re like me and you like to clean things after each range session, it won’t take you long at all to field strip an HK45, lube it up, and get it reassembled.
Accuracy was above-average, certainly for a polymer pistol. HK is well-known for producing accurate pistols, and this one was no exception. The cold hammer forged barrel featured polygonal rifling and was capable of producing off-hand groups of a few inches at 20 yards (at left). With anything from Sig Sauer or Federal FMJ to Wilson Combat Hornady HAP JHP match ammo or various brands of duty ammunition, this pistol gobbled everything up and produced similar results across the board. That includes a solid performance with the light-for-caliber Buffalo Barnes 160 grain low-recoil load pictured (at top).
I know that the Sand color won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (the black over FDE on the HK45 Tactical is pretty tough to beat), but the HK45 on the whole is a really nice weapon that I enjoyed having the opportunity to test more in-depth. Whether you buy it in black, tan, green, or pink (sorry guys, it doesn’t come in pink yet), it’s a great full-size option in .45. Once I started writing this review, a friend of mine bought an HK45 Tactical with a threaded barrel to shoot suppressed. It proved to shoot on par with this one and didn’t change any part of my opinion. I will say, though, that if you might want to suppress one of these down the line, I would definitely recommend purchasing that version up front. It’s just more cost-effective. Now if only HK could hurry up and release that compact VP9 . . . hint hint 🙂 HP
-Colt Driver; Heckler and Koch HK45; MSRP $1199
*Handgun Planet would like to thank HK-USA for sending us a demo gun to use for purposes of this review.