Heckler and Koch is best known for their superb all metal frame pistols such as the 1980s classic P7M13, and the MK23. However, as a true master of their craft, they have also produced several polymer-framed pistols. They quite literally invented the genre with the innovative VP70, the world’s first polymer pistol, introduced a dozen years before Gaston Glock decided to stop making curtain rods. Their USP and P2000 series pistols have a legion of supporters and users that include the US Customs and Border Patrol agency. Their best full size polymer frame design now stands as the P30 pistol.
Designed by Frank Henninger and using the same basic short recoil–operated locked breech with a modified Browning-type linkless cam action and vertically tilting barrel of the P2000, the P30 is updated with a more advanced set of features. Standard options include the Picatinny rail commonly seen in most combat grade pistols made since the end of the Cold War, interchangeable back strap inserts that are used along with swappable grip shells to adjust grip size and cant, a recoil reduction system and a serrated decocker for SA/DA models. Like the Beretta PX4, the P30 comes standard with Polygonal bore rifling, billed to promote accuracy and extended barrel life.
An optional “S” model adds an ambidextrous safety on both sides of the frame. HK makes extensive use of nitro-gas carburization in metal components to provide an extremely hard coating that resembles a black oxide. It has sold well to German and Swiss police forces, in many cases replacing 1970s and 80s produced SIG P-series pistol.
The P30 was designed to be the ultimate law enforcement pistol. While similar to the P2000, the P30 made various improvements in ergonomics. The P30 is fully ambidextrous and features interchangeable backstraps as well as interchangeable grip shells for even more customization. It has a forged barrel and the overall build quality is top-notch.
Ergonomics and Recoil
If you think three backstraps that come with most polymer guns are “innovative” think again. Even cheap headphones now come with small, medium, and large earbuds. True innovation is the P30, with not only three backstraps, but six asymmetrical side panels as well. That means there are exactly 27 ways to configure the grip on the P30. So is this a marketing gimmick or the real deal? That depends. Many people are just fine adapting to the feel of a specific handgun; for them 27 different configurations is no doubt overkill. However, the P30 is currently the only handgun that doesn’t ask you to compromise. The custom grip and ergonomics make the perceived recoil a non-issue with the P30. This is a very soft shooting gun.
Trigger and Accuracy
A popular option for the P30 is a new hybrid trigger system. The HK gang offers what they call the HK Law Enforcement Modification (LEM) trigger with a bobbed hammer that gives full time constant trigger pull on a double-action non-striker fired hammer, much like the legacy Double Action Kellerman (DAK) concept on SIG’s P-series pistols. With two large German manufacturers who cater to military and police sales producing this same flavor of action that gives you a double action trigger that breaks like a single, expect it to appear in other designs by other companies.
The standard trigger on the P30 is not great. Not only is it a bit heavy, but it is very long and a bit inconsistent. The P30 trigger also has to be fully extended before it resets, something that can take some getting used to during rapid fire. The sights on the P30 are superb and feature a Super-LumiNova paint that really helps when transitioning into a darker environment. Accuracy was seemed better than average in our tests, especially at rapid fire and for a gun this size.
Reloading and Disassembly
Reloading was fast and easy thanks to the dual paddles on each side of the triggerguard. Breakdown is much the same as the HK USP and P2000 designs before it, via a center pin that holds the slide/barrel/spring assembly to the frame itself. Unlike the USP the P30’s take down pin does not come completely out during field stripping, which is a nice improvement.
Reliability and Durability
The P30 performed flawlessly in our tests and most reviews we have read second the P30’s reliability. Also, since the P30 is essentially the same inside as the P2000 which went through extensive trials and R&D before its adoption by the US Border Patrol. In a recent test conducted by HK, a stock P30 fired 91,000 rounds and kept on ticking.
The only true downside of this HK polymer product is that the MSRP of it is over $1,000, which is almost twice that of its principal competition, the Glock 12/22 and the Smith M&P series. For this, however, the end user gets quasi-night sights, coated with photo luminescent (but non-radioactive) paint standard and HK’s long record of R&D success behind it.