Gun Review: HK P2000 US Duty Pistol (LEM)


The other day my brother-in-law the federal LEO stopped by for a visit. I fully and publicly admit that I struggle with jealousy at my BIL’s ability to carry in all fifty states, in airports and on airplanes. As usual, we shot the breeze about politics and guns. My bonhomie was rewarded: I got to fondle, ogle and shoot a few rounds from his federally issued HK P2000 .40 cal . . .

Back in 2005, Heckler & Koch won a contract with the feds to produce the P2000 line of pistols for the U.S government. It was one of the biggest single federal law enforcement pistol contracts ever; in the order of $26.2m. There are a lot of these guns out there in the hands of Uncle Sam’s paramilitary pros.

The P2000 comes in all sorts of flavors: double action/single action, decocking and safety lever; double action/single action, decocking lever, but no safety; double action only, with safety lever; double action only, no control lever; double action/single action, safety lever, but no decocking. I sampled variant number 9, the gun blessed with the LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) or Combat Defense Action (CDA) trigger.

“The way in which the LEM hammer is cocked is unique,” HK’s webpage proclaims. “The hammer . . . is a two-piece hammer comprised of a cocking piece (not visible with the pistol assembled) and an external (visible) bobbed hammer.”

HK devised the Law Enforcement Modification variant to improve trigger quality and reduce the effort required to send rounds downrange; a 7.5 – 8.5 pound trigger pull vs. a “normal” double-action pull of 12 to 15 pounds. At the same time, the model’s stronger hammer spring improves reliability (by increasing the firing pin indent on the primer) and reduces the slide velocity when firing “hot” ammunition.

In theory, “The enhanced LEM trigger system combines the reliability of a double action revolver trigger with the crisp, precise trigger of a single action pistol.” Seems too good to be true. Feels good.

When dry firing (racking the slide each time) the HK P2000′s trigger pull is ridiculous long and supernaturally smooth. Though heavier than a Glock’s, the HK’s go-pedal is as consistent as a Robert Farago supermodel metaphor [removed from this post by the author despite the publisher's objections]. The HK’s trigger reset is relatively short; HK claims it’s 7mm. But it suffers in comparison to the Glock’s crisp 3-4mm reset. IMHO.

The HK P2000′s uncocked trigger pull is long, heavy and, what’s the technical term? Yucky. Technically, one should only ever feel the heavier, longer trigger pull during a second strike situation (i.e., a primer misfire). This variant isn’t a DA/SA system, and there is no decocker.

Placing the HK P2000 into your hand is like slipping into a well-worn leather jacket: it feels good from moment one. (The gun wins the backstrap wars its four-sizes-fits-all solution.) Unlike the Glock, the HK P2000 points naturally. I like the fact that there are no safeties (including a trigger safety) to muck around with. My thumbs tend to ride on the HK’s disassembly pin, which eventually gets old. In one magazine I shot through the gun, the slide did not lock back on empty. I suspect my thumb (or the placement of the lever) was the culprit.

The HK P2000′s trigger guard-positioned ambidextrous mag release is hard for me to reach and manipulate with either index finger or thumb.  The gun also feels significantly heavier in hand. The web reckons the HK’s about 4-5 oz heavier than a Glock 19, which is about the same size.

I usually don’t like shooting the rather snappy .40 round, but the HK made it feel fairly tame. My groups were a typical size for me, but the point of impact tended to be a few inches below point of aim at 10 yards. More to the point, it felt like I was pulling the trigger forever.

The HK is an extremely well-built pistol. A lot of the “issues” I had with its operation are a simple reflection that I’m a Glock guy. As such, the P2000 doesn’t tempt me in the least. For the suggested retail price of $941, I would just pay a little more and pick up two Glocks, or a Glock and an Springfield XD. Still, you can’t fault this gun. And if you can, it’s probably best to blame the government. Of course.

26 Responses to Gun Review: HK P2000 US Duty Pistol (LEM)

  1. avatarJason says:

    Complicated? It’s exactly the opposite of complicated. You get a nice, smooth trigger pull, exactly the same every time, and a totally slick-sided gun. These guns are supremely accurate, second-to-none in build, and no-brainers to use. And once you learn to appreciate that trigger, you can run anything. The only reason I don’t own one of these is because my S&W 5946 is essentially the same concept with a steel frame, and I’m still pissed at H&K for discontinuing the P7M8.

  2. avatarJames says:

    I’ve had a P2000 for 8 years and just my 2 cents, I don’t disagree with any of your comments. However, I’m not a Glock guy at all, I don’t think it’s a bad gun but I hate shooting one. With my HK I can keep tight groups at all distances and have on several occasions shot clay pigeons at 75-100 yards consistently, and with factory reloaded ammo at that. I love this gun and just wanted to add a bit on the capabilities of this little beauty.

  3. avatarpercynjpn says:

    Sounds like another Euro pistol whose price is way out of proportion to its performance. IMO it even kinda looks like a Glock, at least in the side-by-side pic, and that ain’t a good thing.

    • You probably heard the advertisement about Glocks being put in the mud and then fired, well leave the Glock in the mud and walk away with the H&K. The P2000 is far superior than the Glock and yes well worth the little extra and it doesn’t complain or jam with reloads like Glock. I owned a Glock 23 and had to send it back to the factory twice, had a gunsmith work on it twice, replaced the mags and it still ftf about every 10 rounds, feels and looks like a brick and about as reliable. No goofy center trigger safety either smooth and accurate as those who have experienced it in this blog.

    • avatarjshadygrov says:

      shoot one , nothin like a clock. youll see it when you pick it up

      • Totally agree shoots much better and grips are way better than Glock. The other commenter (percynjpn) needs his eyes checked it looks nothing like a Glock. I have had mine for over 4 years now still no failures with any loads!

  4. avatarEric says:

    I spent some more time this evening cleaning and dry firing the HK back and forth with my Glock 19. I think they are both very fine pistols, but they definitely have distinct flavors to them.

    I stand by my impressions above, the HK has a very, very smooth trigger that breaks imperceptibly. I think I would prefer it for longer range precision shooting. I don’t like the long length of pull and reset. The Glock has a much shorter stroke, and reset. The Glock trigger stacks slightly prior to breaking. I would prefer it for shooting six holes in a second at close range.

    Takedown on the HK is a bit more of a hassle than the Glock, but does not require a trigger pull.

    Weight:
    Unloaded, no mag: HK 24 oz, Glock 19 21.5 oz
    Loaded: HK 33.5oz, Glock 19 30.5 oz

    I would be very happy to have the HK as my issued weapon, but I spent my own money on the Glock.

  5. avatarLC Judas says:

    I’ve been drooling over one of these in .357Sig forever. The main reason being that only this gun really could replace the Glock 23 (heavily customized) that I hold so near and dear. I have nightmares about weapon failures. The lack of a second strike feature in the Glock has fueled more than one of them. I have never had a round fail to ignite but if I were buying a gun on functional ability alone I would take an HK P2000 if taken for Every Day Carry shopping and being allowed to pick for myself without price being an object.

    I do find that the brand charges a premium in a time where guns that work exceptionally well out of the box are no longer a slim minority. That has traditionally damaged HK sales and without buying high gloss chrome, fancy engravings or a multi-tone finish a price this high remains steep for something with only workhorse appeal.

    • avatarDavid T says:

      With Glocks, Tap, Rack, Bang if it fails to fire. I always get a buddy to load a couple of snap caps or empties into my magazines when training, so I won’t see a malfunction coming. That never worries me. the only thing I fear is a type III Malfunction, in that case I hope to have the thought process of throwing it into the face of my attacker and drawing my BUG. The way I train is to try a tap rack while moving, if it fails drop the magazine, rack it 3 times, insert my reload and get into the fight. It still worries me though as I have to set this scenario up, so I do know it’s coming, and knowing its coming it takes me 5-6 seconds to clear it. It’d take twice that without knowing, probably longer if in a gunfight.

  6. avatarSlab Rankle says:

    DAO is a worthless system only designed as a sop to public opinion for PR sensitive police departments. After all, we can’t have cops running around with cocked hammers, can we? No, because that would look DANGEROUS, and worth several OMGs! No joke. That’s the only reason DAO was introduced. The only thing worse is the Glock pattern, where there’s no manual safety and no way to decock the gun, short of emptying it.

    The traditional DA/SA system is still best, and my HK USP40C with a real safety and a real decocker is as good as it gets, bar none, apart from the extra sharp point on the trigger that eventually draws blood.

    • avatarGary says:

      There is no decocker on a glock because it doesn’t cock until you pull the trigger and it, nor revolvers, have safetys for the same reason.

      • avatarSlab Rankle says:

        You’re only half right. The Glock striker is partially cocked by the operation of the slide, and the remaining cocking impetus comes from pulling the trigger.

        However, there’s a huge difference between the relatively short trigger of the Glock, and the long double action trigger of the revolver. Also, it’s easy to decock a revolver. There’s no way to decock the (as we now know) partially cocked Glock.

        Apples and oranges, my friend. Apples and oranges.

        • avatarDavid T says:

          There is a way to decock the Glock. It’s drop the magazine, rack the slide until you see no brass, then point in a safe direction and press the trigger. If I am carrying a pistol, I want it to fire if I pull the trigger. That is why a 1911 is supposed to be carried cocked and locked.

    • avatarDon says:

      I just converted my HK USP40C from DA/SA to the LEM trigger and have never been happier with the gun. To each his own I guess.

    • avatarrockymtnut says:

      I used to think like you until I bought a p30 in .40 cal with light lem afterwards I bought a p2000 in same configuration I’m sold on lem.

  7. avatarDon says:

    Eric, thanks for the good review. I have a HK USP40 compact with the DA/SA decocker and safety….not sure which variant that is. I am a Glock shooter and have not been very consistent with the USP 40′s DA/SA (I know….practice…practice) . I have tried carrying it cocked and locked as well as decocked and unlocked but I am not proficient at either. I have read the LEM module can be added to USPs with relative ease ( and about 80 bucks). In your opinion would the LEM make the trigger better suited to a shooter more comfortable with Glocks like myself? I have considered selling it and getting an XD (plus several boxes of ammo).

    • avatarEric says:

      I have no time on other HK variants. However, I really like the LEM trigger and could go back and forth between it and the Glock no problem. The trigger is the same each time, pull it and go bang.

      I personally think a DA/SA system is the worst possible for a Self Defense handgun, not to mention the safety.

      • avatarDon says:

        Well Eric, based on your review I bought a LEM trigger and dropped it into my USP40 compact. This is absolutely what this gun needed for me to enjoy it. As you indicated the trigger has the same great pull every time. No issues jumping between this and my Glocks. Thanks again for your review.

  8. avatarjoe zugliani says:

    Have an HK 45C and put the LEM trigger in it. To me, it is the best set up for a defense gun I could get. I can get double taps on target with ease. I plan on owning a P-30 one day and this one will be ordered from factory with LEM installed already. My other self defense gun is a Sig P-239 with the DAK trigger. Cant beat either one in my book.

  9. avatarBobby Russell says:

    Check out what happened to one P2000 carried by a U.S. Border Patrol agent. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/how-did-this-border-patrol-agents-gun-snap-in-half/

    • avatarJoseph says:

      Just a heads up. Word is the fall from his atv in conjunction with his steel baton being on his duty belt and behind the pistol caused the torsion enough to break the grip. For this reason I’ve moved my baton to weak side since I typically ride bikes and used to keep the baton strong hand. Any sort of polymer will probably break when a 200+ lb guy falls on it and its pushed against a steel rod. Awesome pistol that shoots ridiculously well. Easily 4 or 5 thousand rounds through with no problems whatsoever.

  10. avatarKen says:

    I’m trying to decide between a P2000.40sw and a USP .40 sw C, since I love Euro pistols, especially German–sorry. I admit I am a gun elitist. I only own or would ever buy Sig’s and Glocks, or H&K’s. I like the P2000′s small size and sleek frame, but it seems to be not quite as rugged as the USP, and not a $850 gun–probably should be ~$600. P2000 was designed for LE use (not military) obviously. The USP seems more rugged and refined typical H&K quality. Since both guns are equally priced I think I’m leaning toward USP. Just my opinion.

  11. how do you take the fireing pin out of hk p2000

  12. avatarseeking truth says:

    I waited and waited for my new P229 Stainless Elite to arrive and finally it did. I took a look at 2 of them. On one, the 2 part wooden grips did not line up on the bottom, not even close, I’m talking a half inch in length longer on one side! WTF?

    SIGs and NOT German made anymore except for the Stainless Frame which is still very nice steel and do not rust. The US stainless slides, however, are crap. The slide started to rust and pit within a couple months. Unbelievable. Anyway, I prefer 100% German made products, and the Sig IS NOT 100% German anymore. It’s trash. Farewell to Sig, that company is going down the drain along with many other USA made handguns that I know of. Cheap construction with NO ATTENTION TO DETAIL. This crap makes me real mad, real mad for the price they ask for these lemons. On the P229 SE I kept, when I field stripped it at home, which I should have done at the store, I found out the slide release lever was all shredded up and NOT smooth and nice looking. It looked like they dropped it into a machine and still decided it was ok to put it into a $1300 retail firearm.

    Sig sucks, bigtime.

    Never had any experience with HK, but I am almost positive it’s going to beat out a SIG anyday.

    After having a number of problems with Kahr K9 Elite, another $1000 piece, I finally found one, after rejecting 4 of them sent to me where the slide would ACTUALLY RETURN FULLY TO BATTERY in between rounds. Some of you may know what I’m talking about but, Kahr is another company going down the drain and I am super stoked that I got one of the last made QUALITY K9 Elites that I’ve NEVER had a single problem with and shoots so nice, so accurate it’s a joke. I wanted to purchase 2 of these bad boys, but after purchasing 4 and having only 1 good one which the slide would fully return to battery without catching up on something inside the gun, I’m stuck with only 1.

    Now, I am still looking for 2 semi-compact 9′s of identical type to carry in dual holsters that I can rely on. I DO NOT WANT A SAFETY. I like striker fired pistols but there aren’t that many I know of other than the P99 which I own 2 of them and 1 PPQ which are all great except for the fact that I DO NOT LIKE split triggers. I do not like the AS system on the sa/da P99 and the length of pull on the P990 I have is so long that sometimes I wonder if it will ever go “click.”

    I’m a bit stuck right now. There is a fairly new striker fired and very inexpensive handgun out there right now of interest, but I would like feedback before buying. It’s the new SW SVE9, the second version to their failed Sigma. It has no stupid safety lever to get in the way, nice soft DAO trigger pull and is around $290 new. I could by 2 of them for he price of some lower quality pieces, but I need these for carry so I don’t want to buy 2 pieces of crap to stick in the holsters. Any help or recommendations would be nice. Thanks!

    P.S. Ever since production has gone from 100% handmade to only about 10% handmade things have literally gone to shit in EVERY department. I hope and wait for the day that handmade tools, firearms and whatever else that has gone to crap to return to the market at any price. I would pay $2000 for a 100% reliable handmade pistol that won’t crap out on me before I even take one shot.

  13. Pingback: Hk p30, glock 19, sig p226???

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