P7_Left

Many of the products you purchase were designed by engineers, but heavily tempered by the demands of the finance and design departments. “Make us a product that does X, but we need the total cost to be under Y and it has to fit in this shell made by the art department.” But the Heckler & Koch P7 seems to have avoided those constraints. In my considered opinion,  it’s result of giving some talented engineers free rein to create the absolute best, safest, most technologically-advanced pistol ever. At least, the best possible pistol for a police officer or other “gunfighter.” The P7 has many notable design features, including many “firsts,” some of which have never been duplicated and some of which have become ubiquitous. Despite being out of production, this is why it’s still the best pistol ever made and why you need one. . .

The P7 is what 007 should have been carrying for the last few decades. Functionally it’s a great spy gun, but it’s also the pistol I would pick above any other to pair nicely with a tuxedo and a high-end timepiece. Add a set of Nill grips and fuhgeddaboudit. The P7 is elegant, classy, and civilized, but also highly efficient and effective. Every last detail and feature was designed to make it more effective in a gunfight.

P7_Right
CLICK ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE

H&K’s P7 may or may not be one of those things where the end result is “more than the sum of its parts,” but its parts alone are pretty darn impressive. In no particular order, here are the features I know of that set it apart from other pistols…or did in 1976 when it was designed. Disclaimer: I’m not a historian and I’m writing from memory as I lack the time to research anything at the moment, so please consider everything you see below as though it has an asterisk reading “as far as I know” following it.

Squeeze Cocker
Likely the most notable feature on the P7, and the one that earned it nicknames having to do with “staple gun,” the P7’s striker is only cocked when the textured steel cocking lever on the front of the grip is depressed — i.e. squeezed inwards.

P7_Cocking_Lever

The backstrap is also partially textured, which I note mainly because it’s not a standard texture you see every day on a steel gun:

P7_Backstrap

It takes somewhere in the range of 10 to 15 lbs (depends on how you measure) of force to squeeze the cocking lever into the grip — it’s basically a moving front strap — but only about 1.5 lbs of force to keep it depressed, which means once it’s squeezed you don’t notice it with a normal firing grip. This fully cocks the striker, so the trigger is a true single action with the sole duty of releasing the striker.

P7_Cocked
FULLY COCKED. NOTE PROTRUDING STRIKER.

Release the cocking lever and the striker immediately and safely decocks. Keep it squeezed and the action of the slide re-cocks the striker after each shot, so it operates just like any other single action pistol — to be crystal clear, you do not have to release and re-squeeze the cocking lever for each shot, although doing so can allow you to strike a stubborn primer subsequent times.

The normal procedure is to squeeze the lever as you take your full firing grip, and then pull the trigger to fire. However, it also works in reverse: pull the trigger then squeeze the cocking lever to fire. This makes it more foolproof in the stress of a gunfight.

Also aiding your chances in a protracted gunfight, the squeeze cocker doubles as a slide release. When the P7’s slide locks back on empty, you’ll naturally release the lever as you drop your spent magazine and insert a fresh one. Squeezing the cocking lever again sends the slide home with the pistol already cocked and ready to rock and roll. Alternatively, you can drop the slide by pulling back on it and letting it go.

There is no external slide release lever other than the cocking lever. However, there is an external slide stop should you want to lock it back manually; it’s the little tab circled in the photo below.

P7_Slide_Stop_Lever
PUSH INWARDS (TOWARDS THE GRIP PANEL) TO USE.

That lever is only on the left size, and is really the P7’s only firing control that isn’t fully ambidextrous. Many people — including P7 owners — don’t even realize it’s there, actually. Regardless, an otherwise completely ambi pistol was ahead of its time.

The squeeze cocker system, which was first seen on the P7 and is, as far as I know, still completely unique to the P7, provides an extraordinary level of safety. The P7 is at least as safe to carry with a round chambered as any pistol with a manual thumb safety — and it was quite hard to find a semi-auto pistol sans thumb safety at the time the P7 was designed — yet is arguably quicker and more intuitive to make ready to fire. Despite that intuitive nature, rumors abound that multiple law enforcement officers’ lives have been saved by this unique operating mechanism. Basically, the criminal won control of the officer’s firearm, but couldn’t figure out how to fire it.

Additionally, this system allows you to chamber a round without the pistol ever being capable of firing it. The operator can also clear various types of jams with increased safety. Pulling the trigger does absolutely nothing unless the squeeze cocker is also squeezed, and there’s no hammer or striker that can drop either by operator error or mechanical failure.

P7_Slide_Back

On the downside, this whole mechanism is complicated and expensive. It is not advisable for the end user to ever consider detail stripping a P7, as it’s like a dang Swiss watch inside. The cost of the machining, parts, assembly time, etc is not particularly appealing and is the number one reason the P7 wasn’t more popular while it was in production and why it is no longer manufactured today. It was always an extremely expensive pistol compared to the alternatives. I should mention that, despite the intricacy and quantity of parts involved, the P7 is highly reliable and durable and met the requirement of an at least 10,000-round service life.

P7_Stripped_Left
Slide stop componentry on the left side.

P7_Stripped_Right
Fire control componentry on the right side.

Gas Retardation System
H&K claims it’s gas retarded, but I think it’s pretty smart. Sorry to do this, but to prevent this post from being exceedingly long and to allow me to get back to new infant care (also falls into the “happy wife, happy life” school of thought), I’m going to direct you to my recent Walther CCP review and, specifically, to the 4th section entitled “How It Works.” Everything except for the last paragraph applies 100% to the P7 as well. In fact, the diagram there is of the P7. Once again, the P7 did it first, and with the exception of a few obscure pistols that were total market failures, this gas-piston-delayed blowback mechanism hadn’t appeared on any other firearm until the CCP, which was released just a couple weeks ago.

P1000306

Now, the P7 does look just slightly different inside and if you drop down to the end of the CCP review, you’ll find more side-by-side photos of the P7 field stripped next to the CCP for comparison.

CCP_P7_PISTONS
CCP TOP, P7 BOTTOM

110º Grip Angle
According to HK, if you point at something with your index finger your hand will form a 110 degree angle (I guess in relation to your forearm). Therefore, the angle of the P7’s grip is 110 degrees and shooting it is as intuitive and as natural as pointing at your target, which also assists in coordinating your eyesight with the rest of your body motion.

P7_Grip_Angle
It’s actually likely backstrap angle in relation to the bore, but this is what the HK advertising showed.

Magazine Features
Although the grip angle is 110 degrees, the magazine insertion angle isn’t. HK designed the magazine to insert at a much squarer angle — almost perpendicular with the slide.

P7_Mag_Angle

This has two primary benefits:

  • More easily aligns the top round in the magazine with the chamber. It’s pretty much pointing straight into it. Although the P7 dislikes ammo with a particularly long overall length (which means most 147 grain fodder), it should feed anything under the sun that’s closer to normal OAL spec, meaning basically any 124 grain or 115 grain ammo ever. Ashtray-sized hollow point? Sure thing.

P7_Feed

  • The magazine ends up farther rearwards than it would if it followed the grip’s angle, which means there’s room for a longer barrel given the same slide length.

We ‘Mericans don’t generally like “European-style” magazine releases, whether it’s paddles on the trigger guard (did HK invent that?) or a heel release on the butt of the grip, but the first version(s) of the HK P7 employed a heel release. I happen to think it’s pretty quick and easy to use in the P7’s case, plus it has the benefits of being equally accessible by either hand (ambidextrous) and allegedly being less likely to depress accidently when carrying the pistol in a holster or when shooting.

P7_Mag_Release

In keeping with the “gunfighter” theme, a heel release better facilitates tactical reloads. That is, retaining the empty magazine instead of dropping it to the ground. Depress the heel release with your support hand thumb and the magazine pops into your palm, allowing you to strip it out the rest of the way in a controlled fashion and, presumably, retain it. The protruding lip on the front of the magazine’s baseplate allows you to forcibly strip it out should there be some sort of jam.

There is no magazine disconnect safety. No “sitting duck effect,” as HK referred to that in its marketing material.

The P7M8, designed with the U.S. market in mind, added an ambidextrous thumb-activated magazine release in the standard (for us) location. The P7M13 received a wider frame to accept a staggered-round magazine, and mag capacity was upped from 8 to 13 rounds.

Barrel Features
The P7 has a pretty darn long barrel — 4.1″ — considering the pistol’s very compact size. In part, this was possible because the striker block is quite compact (note barrel lengths & striker block lengths in the comparo pics on the CCP review). Additionally, moving the grip forwards under the slide, which also created a beavertail without adding length to the rear, was possible without subtracting from barrel length due to the magazine inserting at a more vertical angle up and toward the extreme rear of the grip. Here’s one of the photos from the CCP review, showing the length of the striker blocks and also the relative location of the breech faces and ejection ports:

CCP_P7_UNDER_SLIDES
CCP TOP, P7 BOTTOM

Polygonal rifling has been around since the days of cannons on horse-drawn carts, but the P7 marked the first time that it was used on a pistol. GLOCK made it mainstream, but HK did it here first.

P1000304

The benefits of the P7’s fixed, cold hammer forged barrel with polygonal rifling are:

  • Accuracy. This is mostly due to the barrel being fixed, rather than relating to the rifling. A fixed barrel is inherently more accurate than a barrel that moves every time the firearm is fired. Some folks claim that polygonal rifling is more accurate, but I don’t think that’s true. However, it can become true since conventional rifling wears down but…
  • Polygonal rifling is extremely durable. Lacking protrusions, edges, and hot spots like conventional rifling and not requiring the rifling to actually cut or press into the bullet’s surface increases service life. If you go to a GLOCK certified armorer course, they’ll show you factory GLOCK barrels that have fired 100,000+ rounds that look brand new, whereas the rifling on a conventionally rifled pistol barrel would almost certainly be worn completely away well before then. Considering conventional rifling degrades and moving barrel locking mechanisms loosen up, the P7 is more likely to retain its same level of accuracy over a longer service life.
  • Polygonal rifled barrels have a higher tensile strength.
  • Polygonal rifling is typically easier to clean with less copper fouling and stuck or burned-on carbon fouling. However, non-jacketed ammunition should not be used. Doubly so for the P7 (and the new Walther CCP), as bare lead ammunition will occlude the gas port.
  • Polygonal rifling creates a better gas seal. Less combustion gasses escaping around the projectile mean higher velocities for a given barrel length. In the case of the P7, it also means a more effective gas retarded blowback system.
  • There’s no question a fixed barrel is ideal for adding a silencer. Although some folks claim the P7 action doesn’t like being suppressed, intuitively I think it seems like a good fit. HK did, in fact, make a factory P7 version — the P7M13SD — for German special forces with an extended and threaded barrel plus a suppressor. Regardless, the fixed barrel means no booster device necessary and no increased wear or other reliability issues with moving barrel locking mechanisms.

Positive Ejection
The P7 will reliably extract and eject fired cases even with a broken extractor or with no extractor. In fact, the only purpose of the extractor on the P7 is to make ejection consistent, which it does with aplomb. Thanks to the operating system basically evening out the slide’s recoil speed regardless of ammunition power level, the P7 ejects empty brass more consistently than basically any other pistol I’ve shot. If I’m shooting in one place, I expect to find the brass stacked in a neat little pile 10 feet away.

How does it do this, you say? Well, the chamber of the P7 is fluted. HK didn’t invent this (SVT-40, as far as I know), but until the P7 it had only been seen on rifles (I’m counting the MP5 as a rifle). Combustion gas and pressure is redirected between the chamber walls and the cartridge case, and the case is floated out of the chamber. Think air hockey.

P7_CHAMBER

In addition, you may notice in the photo above that the part of the chamber preceding the fluted area is of a larger diameter. The P7’s chamber is somewhat on the loose side. This helps the pistol accept a broader range of ammunition, whether slightly out of spec or dirty, etc. On the downside, the flutes and the “stepped” chamber aren’t kind to your brass, so the P7 probably doesn’t win points with reloaders:

P1000324 (1)

I almost forgot: the extractor also doubles as a loaded chamber indicator. At least, that’s what the HK marketing material and Operator’s Manual will tell you. I can’t say I have any clue what they’re referring to, as there is no discernible difference whatsoever in the position of the extractor on the few P7s I’ve seen whether there’s a round chambered or not.

3-Dot Sights
There’s nothing physically special about the 3-dot sights on the P7. They’re steel, dovetailed into the slide, and have crisp, white dots. What is special, however, is that the Heckler & Koch P7 was the first firearm to have the 3-dot sight layout that eventually became the most common pistol sight style in the world.

P7_Top

Low Bore Axis
A low bore axis — the vertical distance from the top of your hand to the centerline of the barrel — reduces muzzle flip and often felt recoil and increases overall control. Essentially, the closer the bore is to being in-line with your hand and arm, the less leverage the muzzle has to flip upwards and the more recoil feels and looks like a straight-back push. Less flip and rise means reduced sight movement, which means a reduction in the amount of time it takes the shooter to reacquire a sight picture.

Without completely changing the architecture and layout of your typical semi-automatic pistol (grip and frame on bottom, barrel and cycling slide on top), which could result in something like this, the P7 likely has the lowest bore axis anywhere.

P7_Bore_Axis

It’s literally as low as it can be without causing severe slide bite for the shooter. Every time I fire my P7 I have grease marks on the web of my hand, but I have never been cut or abraded. This combined with the very low profile of the slide means the centerline of the bore is as low as or, likely, lower than anything before or since (the Arsenal Strike One may match it). The slide is also quite light, which further reduces felt recoil and muzzle flip.

Striker Fired
Honestly, I’m not quite sure why this category is here. Striker-fired pistols have been around at least since the first decade of the last century. Still, it was the exception in a world of hammer-fired pistols until GLOCK, which a lot of people actually credit with the concept. On a related note, HK was the first to make a polymer-framed pistol (the VP70, which was also striker-fired), although many folks think that was GLOCK as well.

Anyway, in the photo in the “Low Bore Axis” section above, you see the back of the slide with the striker decocked. When you depress the squeeze cocker, the striker protrudes to let you know it’s ready to go.

P7_Striker_Cocked
FREEZE, OR THE CENTERPIECE GETS IT!

This is a popular feature nowadays that many shooters actually credit to the Springfield XD (which Springfield didn’t even design), when in reality I believe it hearkens back to the Roth Steyr model 1907.

Trigger Pull
In a way, the P7 gives the shooter the trigger pull quality benefits of a single action, hammer-fired pistol with the safety of always having said pistol in hammer-down mode. Instead of having to cock the hammer, though, you only have to take a full firing grip.

There’s a bit of slack in the trigger, and then about 4 to 5 millimeters of very smooth creep before a crisp break with little overtravel. The trigger resets when you’ve released it that same 4 to 5 mm, and it resets with a click that you can feel. Trigger pull weight is 4.5 to 5 lbs.

P7_Trigger

The trigger itself is flat and wide, with vertical serrations on its face. It’s a comfortable trigger.

Trigger Guard
Not very exciting, I admit, but the P7’s trigger guard is quite modern in appearance. It’s undercut, oversized, and has a flat (although not vertical) front with a bit of a hook on the bottom. The front is serrated like the trigger for those who like to wrap a finger over it. Although other pistols existed with one or a couple of these features when the P7 was designed (e.g. Beretta 92 was getting there), it was still far from the norm and all of these things together was a big leap forwards. Even if finger-on-the-front-of-the-guard shooting has since gone out of style.

Easy Takedown
My recent experience with the Walther CCP reminded me of how exceptionally simple the P7’s field stripping process is. Especially for a pistol designed four decades ago. Push what today we’d call the “carry melted” button on the left side of the frame near the back of the slide, retract the slide about 1/2 inch, then lift the rear of the slide up and move it forwards off of the frame. Done.

P7_Takedown_Button

Reassembly is the reverse, except there’s no need to press that button this time. Just pull the slide back onto the frame, lining up the gas piston with the gas cylinder, back over the rear by about a half inch again, and lower it down onto the frame. As easy as a GLOCK.

P7_Stripped_Top

Criticisms
It can’t all be unicorns and secret agents, right? There are a couple of criticisms already mentioned above — high price and high complication. Two others may not be as obvious:

  • The gas cylinder gets hot, and if you scroll back up to the first photo in the retarded section you’ll see that there’s maybe a millimeter of steel between it and the outside of the frame, which happens to be the top, inside of the trigger guard. If you shoot a few magazines through the P7 fairly quickly, the top of the trigger guard area and the sides of the frame where you’d likely exercise proper trigger discipline when not firing can get pretty toasty as well. Dump a few more mags through it and you might even burn yourself. The P7 was not designed for competition shooting. It was not designed for blowing through ammo as quickly as possible on the range. It’s a gunfighter’s gun. A police officer, special forces, secret service, Federal police types, spook gun. Practice should be deliberate. Not fun. More, I don’t know, German. Unless you demand the ability to blast through a handful of magazines as rapidly as possible without part of the pistol getting hot, this heat soak problem really isn’t one. But it’s the biggest criticism the P7 received. Subsequent versions, beginning with the P7M8, have a polymer heat shield in the top of the trigger guard.
  • The striker makes a “clack” noise when decocked. Releasing the squeeze cocker slowly does not slowly lower the striker. At some point as you let off the cocking lever, the striker is “fired.” Obviously it won’t fire a chambered cartridge, but it does slam into the striker stop (firing pin block) and make a loud click. It sounds basically like dry firing a hammer-fired pistol. Who cares? Exactly. Well, apparently if you’re a high-speed-low-drag Operator operating operationally — and, to be fair, that’s basically who this pistol was designed for — the noise can give away your position or give away your intentions, etc. If the bad guy is familiar with the P7, he knows you’ve just decocked it. If the bad guy isn’t familiar with the P7, he may believe you attempted to fire it and it malfunctioned or had no ammo. So while this criticism is technically true, it’s a bit of a stretch and it certainly doesn’t affect my enjoyment or occasional concealed carry of my P7.

The P7 has a gas chamber, even if HK was smart enough to call it a gas cylinder. Nothing German after 1945 should have a gas chamber.

Due to the high cost, out-of-production status, mechanical intricacy, and general “fanciness” of the HK P7, it can be perceived as a bit of a snob’s pistol. Heckler & Koch owner jokes taken to the next level. You know those “what’s in your pockets?” or “what’s your every day carry?” forum photo threads or dedicated photo blogs, where a lot of people just use it as an excuse to show off? To post carefully composed photos of expensive things taken with expensive cameras? I don’t have a lot of fancy crap, but if I did I’d pose it with a gussied-up (NP3+ coated with Nill grips) HK P7 and it would look sort of like this:

P7_Snob_EDC
“I EDC more than you make in a month, son.”

^^^ that photo is also an HK “history” quiz.

Conclusions
Most likely I forgot something awesome and noteworthy about the P7. Please let us know in the comments! Overall, I think it’s the best gunfighter’s pistol ever made. It’s deadly accurate, highly controllable, extremely reliable, quick to deploy and quick to aim, shoots softly and with minimal muzzle movement, and is one of the safest pistols ever to chamber and to carry chambered. It’s also classy and refined. Basically, it’s James Bond in pistol form.

P7_Advert
HECKLER & KOCH P7 ADVERT

EDIT: At Nick’s very solid suggestion, I’m adding just a bit more to this novel of an article so it can be included as an actual gun review…

On The Range

The P7 is nimbler than its weight would suggest and more accurate than its size should allow for. It’s an extremely soft shooter. Good ergos, good trigger, insanely low bore axis, good sights, fixed barrel, soft recoil, and reliable function all add up to the best pistol ever. Just don’t get it too hot.

Specifications: Heckler & Koch P7 (PSP)

Caliber: 9×19
Capacity: 8+1
Barrel Length: 4.1″
Overall Length: 6.5″
Height: 5.0″
Width: 1.1″
Weight w/ Empty Magazine: 30 oz
MSRP: out of production

Ratings (Out of Five Stars): 

Accuracy: * * * * *

Ergonomics: * * * * *

Reliability: * * * * *

Trend Setter: * * * * *

Trigger: * * * *
It’s a really excellent trigger and it’s significantly better than almost any modern striker-fired pistol (PPQ and VP9 are stiff competition). It’s a true single action trigger, though, so it could be better.

Customize This: * * *
Not a lot of options for grip panels. Nill is amazing for wood ones, but they don’t come cheap. There are aftermarket sights, but swapping them out is best left to a professional in this case. The holster market isn’t exactly flooded with decent P7 options.

Overall: * * * * *
It’s the best pistol ever. Of course it gets a 5-star rating.

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143 Responses to The Heckler & Koch P7 is the Best Pistol Ever

    • Great article Jeremy. I have one observation. The Cz 82/83 family uses a monogonol barrel and pretty sure that gun was designed before the P7. The Germans claim to have invented Pilsner beer too, but that’s not true either.

    • I am sooooo lucky I found one. I posted a request on Facebook last week and an old buddy of mine sold me his for $1000.00. He could’ve got more but he is a good guy and gave me a break. Thanks again Dave!

    • Boker Gnome.

      I’ve had a thing for what I call “5th pocket knives” — any knife that fits in a standard jeans 5th pocket — for a long time now. Have had a few fixed blade ones like the Gnome pictured and the Ka-Bar LDK as well as lots of folders like the Protech Runt and the Boker Wharcom (which is their Subcom with a Wharncliffe blade). etc etc

      • FYI, the squeeze-lever let-off “clack” can be notably reduced by pulling back on the slide slightly, releasing the cocker, then letting the slide run forward.
        Have one, wish I had more! Would REALLY like to have a P7M13.
        Numerous innovations, exceptional engineering.

    • It’s almost required to load the rounds backwards in any H&K beauty shot, ever since H&K did it accidentally in their catalog one SHOT Show.

        • Indeed, that is the “history quiz” and Sian wins for being the first with the correct answer! I was sort of hoping for a bunch of angry comments calling me an idiot before somebody came in and linked to the original ad 😉 . I made a minor effort to orient my gun, magazine, and extra bullets in a similar fashion. Didn’t have a day planner thingie so I put the pistol on top of my wallet (and stuck in the two remaining hundos from the recent — but before I-594 went into effect — FTF sale of a pre-lock S&W airweight to look a little extra douchey haha).

        • How about if they stack them in “one facing the front, the next one facing the rear” Sort of “classy” don’t you think?

      • HK did a big ol photo shoot to be on the cover of some bigshot gun mag that was being handed out at some bigshot shooting convention. It was an advert for either the USP or the MK23 (leaning towards MK). Except the photographer they hired didn’t know jack about guns. So he loaded the mags backwards and took the photos. Somehow all the guys at HK missed this, and the photos got sent off. So on top of one of the biggest gun mags, at one of the biggest gun conventions, was this masterpiece of an HK, with the mag loaded backwards. Now it’s just an long-running joke. Most glamor shots of HKs will have the backwards bullets, if you take the time to look.

        • The “reliability” portion of the catalog was referring to the ammo. You can reliably be assured that even after a day at the range, you can “reliably” use the same ammo in another gun!

    • It gets uncomfortable to place your index finger on if you shoot through about 4 magazines as quickly as you can. Mag dump a couple more full magazines and it’ll get hot enough to burn you if you hold your finger on the hot part. If you’re doing what you’re “supposed” to do, which is train with it as you would fight with it — draw from a holster and double tap, run staged drills and check your results, etc etc — instead of treat it like a range toy and just blast away at things, it’ll barely get warm.

      In the local IPSC-style shoots that I do on occasion, the stages usually require 16 to 20 shots each. That’s a total non-issue with the P7 even though you’re shooting through that as fast as possible. It’s barely warm to the touch at the end and if you wait a couple minutes before starting over (like, for instance, to reload the magazines) it’s back to room temp.

      If you have two magazines, it would be dang hard to shoot fast enough to get it uncomfortably hot if you’re loading the mags yourself. Maybe that’s the best way to describe how quickly it heats up. If you have three mags and you’re pushing yourself for shooting and loading speed, you’ll be able to steadily make it warmer and warmer and hotter.

      Anyway, this comment is becoming as long as the novel of the article above!, but the main point is that heat soak IS an issue in the first version of the P7 that doesn’t have a heat shield, but it’s only an issue if you’ve purchase the gun as a range toy. It’s not something that matters if it’s a self defense / home defense / concealed carry piece. Which is its design intention.

    • Yea after about 75 rounds it’s hotter than a two dollar pistol! No pun intended. I figure if I get in a gunfight I’m not likely to be blasting that many rounds nor will I have that many mag’s on me. Still the best pistol I’ve ever fired. Just take another gun if you wanna have a fun filled day at the range.

      • Exactly! It’s truly one of those guns that I never understood until I shot it for the first time (it was either 2004 or 2005). It is an amazingly accurate handgun, especially for the size! I still regret never picking one up when they were only in the $400-600 range. Now it is just too difficult for me to justify $1,100-$4,800. If I could go back 8-10 years, I would definitely buy one.

    • Maybe HK had a patent on it that only expired recently; after all, the Walther CCP was just released with essentially the same action

    • My guess is most companies don’t really view it as being worth it to depart from the now almost standard Browning tilt locking action, even HK eventually came around.

      What I really wish didn’t disappear was the squeeze cocking mechanism, it was a really innovative idea to give us an awesome trigger pull and yet a very safe firearm at the same time without the need for an extra manual safety.

      • I think Sian actually is talking specifically about the squeeze cocker. At least that was how I read the comment (rather than being about the gas system). The only thing I can think of is that it’s too complicated and expensive for the reasons I mentioned in the write-up. It’s just a ton of machining and it necessitates significant hand assembly, etc. It means stocking lots of spare parts. Maybe you could engineer a simpler version, though, and I’d LOVE to see it. I agree, 2wheels, it’s freaking awesome because it’s fast and it’s super safe and you can get the best of both worlds (super short, crisp trigger AND a uniquely safe gun).

      • Well, as mentioned in the article I think it’s due to extreme cost and complexity. It’s an amazing pistol, but it doesn’t really do anything a $469 GLOCK doesn’t do. It’s probably not worth HK’s time and effort to support (warranty, spare parts, stocking, manufacturing, distributing, etc) it when they’d probably have to charge so much per unit to squeeze out a reasonable profit just over manufacturing cost that they barely sell any units anyway. The market is demanding high-capacity, polymer-framed pistols and HK has been quite successful with that. The new VP9 meets the demands of those things plus striker-fired as well. And those pistols have extremely high profit margins in comparison. The P7 had probably become a very low-volume seller and it made no financial sense to keep it in the catalog. Even if it’s the best pistol ever 😉

      • Because the judgement of “best” isn’t shared by enough people who are willing to part with enough money to make the P7 a profitable product.

        Most people in the US gun market want “cheap” rather than “better.” That’s why the Rem700 beat out the Winchester Model 70, a clearly superior rifle. That’s why cheez-whiz pistols are outselling quality revolvers, and so on.

        HK guns were never going to be cheap. About the only way I could see a significant price reduction in the P7 line is to use MIM to make some of the lockwork.

        • “That’s why cheez-whiz pistols are outselling quality revolvers, and so on.”

          I’m guessing that by “cheez-whiz pistols” you mean polymer-framed pistols? If so, I’m willing to bet the cost difference between a quality revolver and a polymer frame pistol has very very little, if anything, to do with a shopper’s final decision one way or the other. I’m guessing that by far the dominating factors that play into that decision are weight, size, ammunition capacity, and reliability. Maybe caliber/cartridge preference. “You know I was this close to buying that Robar Custom .44 Mag, but that Glock was so much cheaper I went with it” said no-one ever.

  1. I agree with the review. My early-issue P7 is a pleasure to shoot…compact size, great trigger, clear sights and it hits exactly where it’s pointed. several years ago, at the SHOT Show, H&K displayed a couple of .45 ACP prototypes. I’d love to get my hands on one of those!

  2. Yeah, well, I sold all of my P7’s…one a NIB, unfired P7M8. I found that the heat during firing, weight, finicky desire for over cleanliness, low round capacity, cost of parts/mags and the astronomical overall pricing made the P7 undesirable for practical/daily use. As a range or safe queen? Sure, awesome. I miss tacti-tooling around with my P7’s, the way they looked, how the ergo’s felt in the hand, etc., but I didn’t hesitate selling them. I find my other choices in the safe to be more adequate overall. If I had a bigger safe, I probably would/should have kept them and watched them appreciate further. Oh well.

  3. I sure do want one now. I am somewhat intrigued by the 110 degrees claim. What is the degree when the cocking lever is squeezed as that would be the condition where its fired? The picture is of it unsqueezed.

    • The angle of the backstrap never changes, and that is what is actually measured at 110′, as the article points out.

      • That’s just my assumption. HK doesn’t actually specify exactly what they mean, at least as far as I’ve seen, but it only makes sense that one of the angles is the actual bore line and I have to assume the other is actually the backstrap. But you can see in the advertisement at the very bottom of the article how HK draws the visual in the marketing material. Additionally, when you fully depress the cocking lever it’s at nearly the same angle as the backstrap so either way (squeezed lever or backstrap) you’re going to get almost the same result.

        Now if I kind of make a fist but have my index finger pointing forwards and my thumb going straight up in the air (kind of kid fake gun style) and then turn my hand so I’m staring at my palm, I do see that my middle, ring, and pinky fingers form an angle down the knuckles that’s an awful lot like the P7 front strap angle, and the back of my palm that would be pressed along the back strap forms a slightly steeper angle that’s an awful lot like the P7 back strap angle. Conspiracy? 😉

  4. Best gun ever??? Psssss appearently you have never shot a Jennings 22 nickel plated!!!! Has to be nickel plated. 🙂

  5. Any gun that was designed primarily so people don’t accidently ND over its abilities in a gun fight is a no go.

    • That’s an interesting viewpoint. I understand it but it never occurred to me as I don’t think that was the design intention. To me it’s about having a single action gun that can be instantaneously cocked and ready but doesn’t require a safety. It’s faster, easier, and more foolproof to draw and cock the P7 than to draw and flip the safety off of a 1911 (which is often heralded as the best “gunfighter’s” gun ever). It’s to allow all of the benefits of a great, single action trigger without the downsides of a manual safety. And it succeeds.

      And yes, there’s less margin for operator or external factor error when carrying, chambering, clearing, etc. I realize GLOCK really shifted the paradigm when it released a pistol with no safety and a fairly short and light trigger considering. But, if you do actually want to talk about NDs, it’s no more common than with a GLOCK whether it’s pulling the trigger to field strip it or putting it in your holster with a fold of t-shirt slipping in there, etc. The squeeze cocker is awesome.

      • It might not be the designers intention, but it wasn’t developed in the modern gunfighting era and that is the end result. You mention the 1911 as a gunfighters gun. Well the best 1911 guys in the world CAG(Delta Force) the last years they ran the 1911(and they dumped them quick for Glocks once they started getting real world CQC experience), would tape or zip tie down the grip safety and would flick the safety off in the holster before they made entry. They had a couple incidents where guys could not use the gun due to the characteristics of the 1911 after being wounded. Pistols are not your primarily or secondary weapons. They are emergency weapons, so it’s a good idea to have a pistol that doesn’t say needs to be gripped this way or you need all the functions of your hand to properly use.

  6. Had a P7M8. HATED it! All of the wonderful awesome things are all true. It is a very sophisticated design.

    However those criticisms are no small matter. That “it gets hot” thing?” How about so hot your finger blisters from the second degree burns you just got? 3 mags, 24 rounds total and it was that hot.

    Also the 8 round mags were just too small. The P7M13 frame was so square and boxy it was very unpleasant to grip properly.

    Clever ideas, Awful gun to live with.

    • In the M8? WITH the freakin’ heat shield? I dunno, man… I don’t think I have asbestos fingers or anything, but I’ve played with my P7 (no heat shield) on the range and it isn’t burning me after that low of a round count.

      • That was my experience with the P7M8. Blisters on my fingers on more than one occasion. The heat ran from the piston area, down the front of the trigger guard, and onto the bottom of the trigger guard. Result was burnt fingers on my supporting hand. I really wanted to love the P7. I totally loved many of the great design features. I was OK with a price that could have purchased two mainstream pistols. In the end it was not an easy gun to love.

        Tried many alternatives. Ended up using a Browning High Power for a long time One of the things I really liked about the P7 was having the same trigger pull every time. I still do.

        A few years ago went to the Walther PPQ. Again same trigger pull every time. Also the PPQM1 has the paddle mag release. A feature I really like on the P7, and like even more on the PPQ(M1)

        But P7 as a “gun fighters gun?” Not to my mind.

  7. It’s certainly unique.

    However, it doesn’t seem to be tough enough for duty or 3-gun, and I wouldn’t to carry such a rare gun with such an unusual manual of arms. Maybe if I actually shot one I’d feel differently. Maybe not. Anyways, that makes it a lot less useful than a GLOCK 19, M&P, or XDM. And it costs a whole lot more.

    So it seems it’s the best pistol for a collector, as a safe queen, or BBQ. YMMV.

      • I bought a “B” grade P7 from a gun shop in Jeremy’s hometown about 7 years ago for $400. It was formerly a W. German police issued pistol but showed absolutely no wear and looked gorgeous. It’s my wife’s favorite and during our occasional “Shootin’ BBQs” at the house it’s one of the pistols with the most use. Everyone thinks it’s the weirdest looking pistol but once they start to shoot it, especially folks sensitive to recoil, they fall in love with it. It’s the softest shooting 9mm I own. So yes, it definitely is a BBQ gun…

        • Nice! I’ve always wanted one that says “Made In West Germany” on it. I do own a CZ 75 that says “Czechoslovakia”…

          By the time I decided I couldn’t live without owning a P7, it had just dropped off the CA approved handguns roster. The one in the photos here was the first gun I bought when I moved back to WA. Summer of 2012… $600. Not too shabby, but it isn’t a flawless example or anything. Of course, they just keep appreciating.

  8. IIRC, it was the duty pistol of the Utah State Patrol in the 80’s-90’s.
    Beautiful write up. Many fond memories of the M-13.

    • AFAIK it still is the duty pistol for the New Jersey State Police. Of course, nowadays that’s probably a big strike against it considering the state of gun rights in the State haha

      • NJ State Troopers switched from the P7M8 and P7M13 some time in the early 2000s. They tested S&W Model 99 pistols which had issues and eventually settled on SIG P228s.

        • Settled is right! 😉

          Makes sense. It would seem unlikely to continue fielding a pistol that was no longer supported by the manufacturer with spare parts and such.

        • Glock offered the NJState Police a brand new Model 19 & a brand new Model 21 in exchange for each used P7M8–speaks for itself. As for the overheating issue? NEVER a problem on my P7M8s, only an issue with the PSP–due to the absence of a heat shield in the top of the trigger guard.

  9. In 1993 I had some money to burn and was back an forth on purchasing the P7 or a Python. The P7 was just very cool and exotic. I opted for the beauty of a blued Python for less money. My only regret is I had to choose. Still love my Python, but wish I had that P7.

    • “Well it looks cool. I had a hi-point. It ain’t no hi-point…”

      In retrospect, this entire article could be replaced with that and it would probably suffice just fine 🙂

  10. My P7M8 is my EDC gun, and I swear by it. Truly a marvel of engineering. Just wish it wasn’t a damn boat anchor!

  11. Kahr’s T9 is very similar to the P7. Same capacity, weight and size. Differences are the P7’s squeeze cocker and the T9’s long trigger pull. For a combat pistol, the difference in accuracy between a fixed barrel and a movable one isn’t significant. A used T9 is half the price of a P7.

    • Photo of the two

      There’s no real shortage of pistols in this size and weight (or lighter) category. Frankly, if I wanted to carry something that isn’t the P7 but was the same general size, I’d carry something modern with twice the capacity but probably less weight. But the P7 is the P7, and it gets carried sometimes because it is what it is and I like specifically what it is.

  12. This pistol was vey expensive for its time period. Not very many were displayed for sale at the gun shops.

  13. “The P7 has a gas chamber, even if HK was smart enough to call it a gas cylinder. Nothing German after 1945 should have a gas chamber”

    No one else is going to comment on that? Comedy gold.

    • I think I wore out the joke (although slightly different) last week in the CCP review 😉 …plus it’s like 30 minutes of reading into this write-up so we probably lost a lot of folks before then haha

      • I’m glad comments are still open. Most readable and one of the most beautifully photographed reviews of a handgun I’ve seen on TTAG. A pleasure to spend the time on.

  14. One problem that I didn’t see mentioned in the article is that the P7’s are “butt-heavy” and work best with a holster specifically designed for the P7’s unusual weight balance. I stopped carrying my P7 in favor of my P239 in part because of that.

    • Yeah, designing a holster that accommodates the squeeze cocker can be tricky. Weight balance hasn’t been too much of an issue for me but I definitely know what you’re talking about. I’ve been using this holster for a while and it’s more than sufficient. I think a forwards cant helps balance the pistol out, whereas if it were perfectly vertical you’d feel the weight of the grip more. It’s not that it has a particularly heavy grip, just that the slide isn’t very long and it’s fairly light compared to lots of other pistols.

      • I highly recommend raven concealment for a good P7 hip holster.

        The Alessi bodyguard is probably the ideal shoulder holster for the butt-heavy P7.

        These are expensive lessons….

        • Regarding holsters, please make sure that whoever is providing your holster knows whether you have a PSP or an M8. The triggerguard sizes are a little different, so if you put a PSP into an M8 holster it will go in too far, and, I assume, if you put an M8 into a PSP holster it won’t go all the way in.

  15. paid $990 for one of these many years ago. magazines were $45. experiened the blistering on my fingers after firing a few magazines. also when I squeezed the cocker, I would just barely touch the trigger , and would have a ND. decided this was not a good CCW gun for me. traded it for a Sig 228.

  16. Jeremy, looks like not much love here. Maybe you need to check in at PCT’s Cult of the P7. Love mine (PSP). Won’t sell it, do carry it. Want more. Great to shoot in winter! If you want to shoot it a bunch, just take something else to the range to give the P7 some cool down time. Or dunk it in a bucket of water.

    FYI, you can decock very quietly, if not completely silently. Just trip the dingus at the root of the trigger guard with your index finger, and then release the cocking lever.

    • “FYI, you can decock very quietly…”

      Haha now that I didn’t know about! That’s extremely awkward to do and my finger is barely small enough to fit in there and trip this dingus of yours, but it does work.

    • You can also pull the slide about 10mm to the rear, release the cocking lever and let the slide back down softly.

      BTW, you can use the squeeze-cocker to re-strike a round in the chamber. Just ease off on the squeeze bar, re-squeeze and trip the trigger again. Truly a unique feature in a semi-auto.

    • I remember it in Die Hard for sure. Also in Killer Elite (http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Killer_Elite_(2011)#Heckler_.26_Koch_P7) and IIRC it actually had dialogue around it. Something about it being a spy gun or a gun for a snobby spy or something haha. Also, I remember seeing it in a TV series called The Glades that the wife and I were watching on Netflix (pretty good quirky detective solves murders genre. Lighter and funnier than most. It’s a good one). He goes to a suspect’s house and pulls a P7 out of a coffee tin or something. I saw it and said to the wife something along the lines of, “wow, nice pistol choice! You don’t see that in a street thug’s collection every day” and then the main character in the show said almost the exact same thing word-for-word haha

      • Also, Christopher Walken uses a P7 M13 in “True Romance.” Anyone who has not seen this movie because they think it is a stupid rom-com has made a blunder. This is one of the best shoot-em-ups movies ever. Christopher Walken makes any other villain look like a nun and his dialogue with Dennis Hopper is one of the most memorable ever filmed.

        • I think gary Oldman’s character was pretty awesome in that movie, he just didn’t last long enough to get the really great lines.

  17. My buddy had one – it’s definitely a cool gun and quite the demonstration of the skill that HK’s gnomes, hidden deep in the Schwarzwald, possess. He tried shooting it in IPSC competition and didn’t fare very well with it – as noted in the review, it really isn’t a speed shooting/mag dumping kind of pistol. The heat issue, of course, and mag changes are fairly glacial compared to a more conventional gun.

    One thing that wasn’t mention above regards reloading for the P7. As mentioned, it does leave some flutes etched into the brass – but those aren’t really an issue. The real issue is that the brass is all suborbitally launched. I’ve never seen a 9mm that can fling brass as far as the P7 – probably a good 20 feet, even without a tailwind.

  18. I have owned at least one P7 since the mid-1980s, and carried both during my time as an LEO and since retirement. Heavily into the whole P7 cult. It is no longer really supported by HK, and parts are getting hard to come by. And there are some parts that do break – the drop safety/spring, the firing pin bushing (a very expensive and hard to come by part), to name a few. Currently have a Grade A, with lots of parts, magazines, Nill grips, and holsters.
    Reminds me of an older BMW motorcycle. Loved for what it is, hated for the cost of service. Everyone should own one once.
    And it is hard to holster. The short slide and butt, along with the greater clearance needed at the trigger guard/front strap area means the holster maker needs to really understand it, and not just copy their design for a P7.

  19. I get it that this article is about the HK P7M8, but no mention of the HK P7M13’s problems firing the COR-BON 115 grain +P ammunition?… Makes me worried about shooting my Double Tap or Buffalo Bore +P+ carry ammunition out of this weapon system.

    • The problem with the P7 M13 and the Corbon ammo, as I understand it, was due to the softness of Corbon’s brass, though I suppose it could be the combination of soft brass and high pressure.

  20. P7 was an attempt at beginning age of “Wondernine”s, to obtain a safe, precise and consistent trigger pull from first to last shot in a pistol aganst to the rivals having triggers needing changing hold after first shot. Designer Helmut Weldle who was an old Mauser Staff, joined some brilliant features of the past like, trigger lockwork of Mauser 1914, gas retard operation even extending back to 1908 Ole Krag pistol, polygonal rifling of no one knows the beginning, stepped chamber of Luger, and fluted chamber of a Russian inventor whose name can not be remembered for the time being. The trigger/striker lockwork which completely borrowed from Mauser 1914, was not complicated, but it seemed so. Weldle’s change was transferring the sear from solid frame to a pivoted lever and adding another lever to actuate that carrier. Most brilliant feature of design was, carrying the striker/ sear connection from usual vertical to the lateral plane. This saved a huge volume at back where slide dust cover located and granted the lowest barrel axis made in whole pistol design history. Holding the handgun in cocked mode needed little force as compared to initial squezze up, but could not continued for long time. Its actuation with a weak or wounded hand was also near impossible. Those bad human engineering features and generated heat over the trigger finger made this admirably efforted design neither a service nor a range pistol within a short period of time and after introduction of Glock of same type trigger concept, the pistol disappeared from the use. P7 is a collector piece for the time being.

    Striker safety was added afterwards and decocking does not slam the striker against to that piece. It gets slammed only when the pistol is dry fired. This is not a good feature, but its construction obliges that way. It also retained its location by force of its spring and during powerfull recoils it can be went off through inertia and turns the whole gun just into a paper weight. Uncocking occurs against to the sear and through it, to the steel frame. Striker carrier protruding from back of the slide which is a investment cast piece, is also subject to breakage through inertia by cause of mounting shape and location. Gas tube needs periodical cleaning, or the gun stops.

    Best pistol ever designed for…Robotic hands.

    • Spoken like someone who has read a lot about the P7 but has little actual experience with it. The part that made me chuckle was that keeping the cocking mechanism depressed is easier that the first squeeze but still can’t be done for long or with the weak side hand. Actually, there’s no need to grip the P7 any harder than you would any other pistol after it is cocked. Perhaps I just have robot hands.

  21. I’ve always loved this gun (never actually handled it 🙁 ) and I really loved this article!
    Thanks!!!

  22. Great review.

    I personally love the P7 design and also consider it one of the finest pistols ever inventer.

    I have owned all the commercially available models and still have a 9mm heel release model and often carry it. Just got a Milt Sparks VMII for it.

    The frame heat issue is, in my opinion, much over blown. However, I did manage to get an M13 hot enough firing three mags (about a box of 9mm) as fast as I could. Never have I gotten an 8 rounds model that hot. But I mention it is over blown as I never carry more then a mag in the gun and one ext
    The P7 is the fastest shooting pistol EVER and accurate. We used to throw golf balls on the berm and bounce them around on the way down the hill. Very natural pointing and fast hitting pistol system

    Again, great review

  23. I have as high a regard for this gun as Jeremy does. I haven’t touched one in years though and am completely mental about it. Something akin to PTSD, I suppose. My last one was stolen – by the police. I can’t talk about it even 15 years later. Now when I see one, I get facial ticks and feel like spouting things like “No! No, it’s not six! I said seven.”
    The gun saved me from myself once. I think I double charged a round (something that I had previously assumed that I could never do (like a wheel up landing)) and it just bucked savagely and really barked – no damage I could detect. Scared the pee out of me. I am double extra ultra careful reloading now, and still sometimes wince when I squeeze a trigger.

  24. This is a great article. The author is well informed and seemed to enjoy writing this article.

    Although I must disagree with your statement that this is the best pistol ever.

  25. I have collected a number of P7 pistols over the years and have a few things to note:

    You mention 147gr not chambering easily, but P7 users should avoid 147gr ammo entirely. It causes excessive wear and the pistol was designed for 124gr NATO ammo (124gr +P ammunition usually meets this spec, IIRC). 115gr will work fine, however.

    The extractor was included to facilitate ejection via racking the slide, not for consistent ejection when firing.

    Lastly, the heel release has two different versions, and you will likely come across 3 variants of the P7 magazine release (this is NOT counting the P7M8, which is entirely different).

    1. Original ‘tooth-style’ heel release and original frame w/original grips.
    2. New ‘flush-style’ heel release and original frame w/updated grips.
    3. New ‘flush-style’ heel release and scalloped frame w/updated grips.

    The ‘best’ ones to have are #1 or #3. Your pictures show a #3 model. The #1 model was eventually retrofitted with the ‘flush-style’ release as the original release would release the magazine if dropped on the heel. These retrofitted #2 models were incredibly ugly as the release stuck out from the frame in a very unsightly way. It was effective and fixed the problem, but the frame just didn’t match the contour of the new grip and release. I personally converted a #2 gun back into a #1, but it took about 1 year to find the magazine release and 2 years to find the correct grip panels (I had to buy a second gun and swap parts in this case).

    A search for “hkp7compare3” on Google images will produce a cached example, though the direct image link is dead. Note that variant 2 and 3 are reversed in the image when compared with my explanation.

    • Also, I will agree that this pistol has the best collection of features on any single pistol. I carried the gun until about 3 years ago for two reasons…

      1. I bought a H&K 45C Tactical and with a standard 45C magazine, I find it to be easier for daily carry.
      2. I had my carry P7 refinished in hard/brushed chrome, and the gun is now basically too beautiful too shoot (my father’s words, but they sum it up well).

    • I agree that “The extractor was included to facilitate ejection via racking the slide, not for consistent ejection when firing.” makes perfect sense, but the HK material itself specifically says “…only aids in making the ejection process smooth and uniform.” It’s right there in the ad, and I believe something similar or identical is mentioned in the owner’s manual. But, yes, you’re totally 100% right that a pistol without an extractor would be really stupid and getting a round out of the chamber manually would suck.

      • For every rule, there’s an exception: my Beretta 21a has no extractor and runs flawlessly. Of course a tip-up barrel for clearing helps.

    • Carried WIN 147 for a long time (+20 years) but shot maybe 200 of it through the P7M8. You recommend WIN 124 +P?

  26. P7 is by far by favorite pistol. It has characteristics that make it very accurate in the hands of experts and novices alike.

    A few notes:

    1. The P7 PSP does not have a loaded chamber indicator, only in the M series guns (P7M8/M13/M10) the extractor doubles as an LCI and sticks out slightly when loaded.

    2. HK advertising meant the 110 degree angle was in the back of the grips and was pointing to the general area of the grips. It did not mean the font of the squeeze cocker.

    3. Both the PPQ and the VP9 are fully pre-cocked striker designs (unlike the partially pre-cocked Glock) so all three guns you mentioned are “true single action trigger”.

  27. A stellar review by Jeremy S. Some trivia facts about the P7s:

    1). The polygon bore barrels are the highest quality in the firearms industry. One would really need to work hard at it to ever wear one to the extent it would ever need replacement. The barrels were pressed in by the factory in Orberndorf and even though replacement barrel can be purchased, it will bear a serial number not matching your gun and worse, the frame shroud that secures the barrel can be damaged if barrel replacement is attempted by a novice or a person without proper tools. Bottom line: gun must be sent in for any barrel work. And note also: Jeremy S is correct, fixed (pinned to frame) barrels are conducive to suppression devices but, in the case of the P7’s gas system, these do NOT suppress well in terms of decibel attenuation to make it worth it. Most other parts are very durable and resilient as well. Though it would be prudent to keep a spare bushing, fp spring and collar, you’d likely never need them.

    2). Yes, the P7M8’s striker can be retracted silently. Don’t know what a “dingus” in the trigger guard is (lol!) but it does work and is not at all difficult to do in the remote situation where silent decocking is called for.

    3). Not mentioned in this thread was a benefit that is under appreciated about the P7: That is a criminal who may somehow grab a P7/M8 away from it’s owner in a tussle will likely not be able to use it against the owner, not being familiar with the unique squeeze cocking mechanism. In fact, this design feature has been reported to have saved the lives of New Jersey trooper who were assigned the P7s.

    In sum: I agree Jeremy S, this is the best pistol ever made. It “can be drawn, cocked and fired accurately quicker than any other pistol.”

  28. Thank you for this comprehensive article about my favorite handguns. I first came across this series of pistols about three years ago. I am no expert and can use all the information I can find. My handgun experience had been limited to 38 caliber revolvers until 2011 when I obtained a Florida carry permit and started seeking the best carry pistol for my use. After trying a couple of .380s which I could not get proficient with, I purchased three good quality 9MM pistols made by Ruger, Kahr, and Kimber but none were as accurate as my Colt .38 revolver and I just could not get comfortable with the idea of carrying any of them with a chambered round.

    I read about the P7 on line and bought a used PSP on gunbroker.com for about $1200 which I quickly found to be accurate and foolproof from a safety standpoint. I then bought a second PSP which I had refinished with cerracote and began reading all I could find on the design. Shortly thereafter I came across a P7 M8 at a gun show which was represented as having been given a hard chrome finish and detailing by a gunsmith named Cogan which I bought for $2000. I liked this unit better than the PSP for the magazine release and heat shield as well as its very smooth action. It is a very handsome piece with Nill grips and the ejector does act as a decent chambered round indicator as well. These guns are expensive and good ones in short supply and I have come to regard them as collectables as much as utilitarian items.

    I have since purchased a second NIB P7 M8 from the last 500 unit run in a presentation box which I have yet to fire as well as a Tripp hard chromed P7 M13 which is a near duplicate of the purported Cogan unit. The prices of these last two have been the highest yet but I sense the value of these pieces will hold up well.

    These are by far my favorite handguns although they are a bit heavy for concealed carry. I have never had any functional issues with any of them and my only negative comments are that they do get dirtier than other pistols due to the gas aided ejection function which is so robust that they fling brass out much farther than most guns which can be an issue at some indoor ranges.

    Thanks again for the great article. These little guns have given me a great deal of enjoyment and I recommend them highly.

  29. Hi, I hope this is not an inappropriate post, but I’m looking to let interested P7 know that I have a HK PM78 25th Anniversary Jubilee (commemorative, never fired) that I am looking to sell. It’s one of only 500 made, and you can find it on Gunbroker if you search “HK P7M8 Jubilee 25th Number 304 of 500”. It’s a great gun, I just have no need for it and it certainly belongs in someone’s hands who can appreciate it more.
    Thanks!
    Steve
    Boone, NC

  30. I love mine. I can dump a mag onto a playing card 2/10ths splits at 25 feet. This gun makes me look good, I cant shoot anything short of a .22 with an optic that fast and accurate.

  31. Great gun. It’s one of our very few special “must haves” (including a Wilson, SW41 and maybe a good revolver). My wife loves having it around simply because it is likely the safest weapon you can own.

  32. I had the opportunity to fire one of these recently…a P7M8. The “burn” folks speak of never occurred. Even with others shooting it and a couple deliberate mag dumps it was warm but not hot. Everything about it is a bit funky. It took a couple magazines to get used to it, settle down, and shoot good groups. When it comes down to it that’s everything to me. It fits squarely in the “super cool but too funky for me” category.

    I have a few revolvers and a couple autos currently…a mid sized CZ and full size 1911. They make shooting easy and that’s what I like. My favorite H&K’s are the USP series. They fit like a glove and shoot like match pistols in my hands. They are bulky and blocky and I’d have no purpose in owning one…so I don’t.

  33. Regarding early striker-fired pistols, the Browning Model 1910 “Triple Safe” comes to mind. No hammer; manual safety, grip safety and magazine safety.

  34. I’m late to this party, but just wanted to say thanks for the great write-up on the P7 series. And yes, the P7 is the greatest pistol ever! No apologies for that. I absolutely love mine and do carry it occasionally. Point of aim is excellent and the SA trigger pull is outstanding and the same every pull. Accuracy is dead on. If the gun getting too hot for you is a major issue, you may just be a little soft. Regarding extraction, my experience is that it consistently throws brass about 25-30 feet into a neat little pile. Who was it that said they’d never seen a P7 malfunction? Oh yea, Massad Ayoob.

    Why don’t they make them anymore? Too expensive to produce just like the Colt Snakes, not because of a design flaw or shortcoming. And like the Snakes, they just keep going up in value.

    Sure, I still go to the church of JMB, but the cult of the P7 is quite glorious, brothers.

  35. Excellent article and spot on regarding the best pistol ever engineered and made. I am 25 year FBI and NRA firearms instructor. This is my everyday concealed carry pistol for all the reasons stated in your well written article. Expensive but you get what you pay for. Best “point and shoot” weapon available.

  36. As I understand it, originally, this P7 was never produced for the commercial market. It was designed and sold specifically for the German policemen. What’s found on the market today are most typically the guns that have been sold off. There’s some connection between this fact and the colorized slides but I’m not sure of the actual progression. I found mine about 2011 and paid $700. From all that I’ve read, I’m going to keep it close.

    • The Germans held pistol trials and approved 3 designs, all single-stack 9mms, as suitable for LE use: the Walther P5, the SIG P6 (commercial P225), and the H&K P7.

      The “plum” slides are a function of the aging of whatever bluing process was used. I have seen it on both untouched guns and on those which were refinished after the police acceptance stamp was ground off so they could be sold as surplus.

  37. I have one of each, plus the giant boat anchor P7M10. All of them are great fun to shoot, accurate, and mechanically reliable. The ex-German police PSP is my preferred carry pistol, housed in a Don Hume H 715 M holster. I prefer the HK to any of my other small pistols because it can be carried in my waistband with a round in the chamber without risking accidentally shooting my own private parts, with no reliance on a manual safety. I would never carry a fully loaded Glock in the same position.

  38. I owned (and traded off) a couple of PSP’s, then bought an M8. It’s a very special pistol, that I still carry from time-to-time in a Milt Sparks IWB holster. I find it very comfortable…and comforting. I would be hard pressed to think of a pistol that reaches this combined level of safety, accuracy, and reliability. It really does point just where your index finger naturally points, and due to lack of recoil, follow-up shots are dead on.

  39. Steve L. adding my thoughts to the MANY. Inot 1980 at the ripe old age of 22 I was shopping for a good semi auto pistol. To my regret, my first pistol was a SW 5906 3rd Gen. High capacity, no accuracy! It was later discovered the run I bought into had bad bushings. My Grandpa’s issue .45 from WWll was many times more accurate! I next looked at a Browning HI Power. A boxy handle didn’t fit my larger hands. My local dealer produced a Sig P210! A beautiful gun! His co-owner yelled at him to show me his newest acquisition, he produced 2 brand new HK P7 M8’s in consecutive serial numbered pistols! After a few days of seasawing I purchased both for $1400. One left in the box, the other, 1000 round weekend makes a true believer in God and German engineering! Many years later and 2 P7 M14’s added to the list, that Sig P210 is in the safe too and several others with them, but that 1 P7 is now my constant concealed carry partner! There is no other pistol on earth I would trust my life and those I love to! Accurate, reliable and truly an extension of myself! THANK YOU HK! I wish you would bring back the best pistol ever made!

  40. Man I should read what I type before posting “Inot” is supposed to be “In” and that pair of P7 “M14’s” are both “M13’s”

  41. Bought my p7m8 in 2000, a 1992 surplus model. Not 1 malfunction ever. Heat is no issue as I work it as a carry gun at the range. Last yeat I bought a Kimber super carry pro HD, but the P7 is EDC for me. I love the .45, but not as reliable. I mainly bought the .45 because my dad loves them, so he has something to shoot when I take him out. I have been thinking of a Glock 43 or Shield, but every time I go to the store, I leave without buying because they are not the p7. Had it for 15 years, and have not looked back.
    Also, for those wondering about the “unusual manual of arms”, it is an inert lump until you pick it up. There is no manual of arms. Grab it and pull the trigger. In a stress situation, It doesn’t matter if you grip then trigger, the reverse, or both at the same time. The amount of force to hold the cocking lever is no more force than is needed to maintian a proper shooting grip. Truly the simplest most instinctive shooter around…..including revolvers… because SA trigger.
    In case you haven’t noticed, I like my p7.

  42. It’s easily the most hideously ugly thing ever created by humans, and I’m including the concept of genocide in that assertion.

    • That would make it a straight blowback action and the recoil spring strength and slide mass would have to go up quite a lot to compensate. Otherwise, if you just removed the piston so the gas delay system no longer functioned, the slide would batter the frame something horrible.

  43. I have a P7 I bought new while stationed in Germany in the early 80s. It came direct from the factory to the “rod and gun club” with a German-language manual and heel release.
    “PSP” means, BTW, “police self-loading pistol”.
    I have loved this gun since the day I got it. It was actually my first pistol. A buddy had ought one and let me shoot it, which pretty much sold the gun and made his persuading me to buy my own quite easy.
    A couple notes:
    1. The gun does not like aluminum-cased ammo. Period. It will jam and jam again. Apparently, the softer aluminum (softer than brass, anyway) flows into the flutes of the chamber or something and just stays stuck.
    2. It gets absolutely filthy in the gas tube and, with promo ammo, after about 50 rounds you’re likely to need to strip it and run the brush in the gas tube to get the crud out.
    3. It seems a lot louder than, say, a 1911.
    4. It really flings the brass.
    5. With the layout making it small, it’s actually possible to “palm” it.
    6. The guys at my gun club always ask what it is b/c they’ve never seen anything like it.

  44. I have a P7 and have run comparisons with a shot timer drawing and firing 2 shots at 10 yards with my P7, a 1911, and g19 which I also shoot frequently. The p7 is quicker and more accurate. The timer and targets don’t lie. The P7 is what I carry.

  45. I just found this article and I couldn’t agree more. I carried the P7-M13 on duty for about a year when we switched to the Glock 21. Although it took a little while to acclimate myself to the P-7’s system, I still think it is the BEST gunfighter’s gun. Point shooting with it is extremely accurate. Reloads are just as fast. It is the gun I currently carry concealed, and if given the choice, I prefer it to any other pistol.

    One upside I think was missed was the design of the magazine. On the M-13, the magazine is tapered on the top, making the top of the magazine smaller than the magazine well. This makes it a lot easier to reload under stress.

    One modern downside is that it is difficult to mount a light on the M-13. Most modern pistols meant for duty use have light rails to mount a light. For modern duty use, a mounted light is desirable.

    The main points of the article are spot on. The P-7 is meant for a gunfight, and is the ultimate gunfighter’s gun. For duty use, nothing is faster or more accurate.

    • Yeah, didn’t really dive into the M13 or other variants. However, basically every double-stack pistol on the market uses a tapered magazine that transitions from double-stack (or staggered) width down to single-round-in-the-middle width. A magazine well opening that’s approximately twice as wide as the top of the magazine is a benefit to all of them.

  46. My wife bought me a brand new P7M8 in 1990, for a newlywed present. (she is a keeper)
    I have had ever since, awesome, never carried, too scared of loosing it somehow.
    I really think I would rather have had the p7 with the heel mag release, cleaner design.

    Most accurate semi-auto 9mm I’ve ever fired, does get hot though.

    Mine is marked imported in Miami, Fl. fyi, never seen another marked that way.
    Purchase price was 675.00!!!! Brand new.

      • Well, he said his wife bought it in 1990. I reckon with a decent time machine you could find one at that price, too 😛

  47. I was able to shoot the P7 during the US military’s testing of the 9mm guns to replace the 1911. It was my favorite gun to fire during the testing. I would love to add one to my collection, but the prices have gone through the roof. The negative Nellies who don’t like it should at least realize it was unique and ahead of its time. I’m not a Glock lover because they are ugly, but I admire their pure reliability.

  48. Does anyone know where I could pick up a lighter spring for the squeeze cocker on the P-7? I have sustained a injury to my hand and the strong pull of the cocking lever is making it hard to cock it and hold it still on the target.

    • It isn’t quite that simple, as the squeeze cocker cocks the striker. It’s actually compressing the striker spring. Making that lighter could result in light primer strikes. The spring actually connected to the cocking lever alone is nothing in comparison. That’s the ~1 lb of force it takes to keep the lever depressed, while the ~12 lbs needed to cock it come from the striker spring.

    • I’m not being a smart ass when I say this. You need to start practicing with you other hand or switch guns. I too sustained a hand/wrist injury not too long ago. That’s whT I did. It’s very simple if you are willing to put in the time.

  49. I agree. I think the P7 is the best pistol ever. I’ve been collecting a few over the years. I love the classic P7 with bottom mag release for concealed carry. The side release on the M8 and M13 can cause an accidental mag release since the buttons are so easy to push. Though I do love my M13 for range use.

    I’ve had the chance to watch a number of very inexperienced shooters with one of my P7s. They always shoot on target instantly. It’s so pointable and intuitive.

    Another great thing about the P7 is that it is about as child-proof as a handgun can get with a chambered round. If by chance a small child grabbed one, there’s very little chance of them having the hand strength to squeeze it.

    I also think the squeezing mechanism reduces the chance of “limp-wristing”. Amazing gun. Yeah it would be nice if it were a bit lighter but that’s my only complaint.

  50. I dearly loved my P7M8. It was the most accurate center fire handgun I have ever owned.

    The reason that I parted with it was that after the 2nd magazine it was simply too hot to handle. Even with the polymer finger guard and 2 or 3 bandaids protecting my trigger finger, it burned.

    It was a good idea, and a good execution of that good idea. But despite its strengths, I couldn’t live with a pistol through which I could not fire a box of ammo without getting burned.

    • WOW yours ran extra hot. Mine gets unbearable after about 40-50 rds. I figure if I get in a gun fight I should be okay with two or three mags.

  51. About 10yrs or so ago Was able to,shoot the P7 at a local range/shop with a try-before-you-buy. For me it was superb 9mm shooter, pointed naturally as though it was an effortless extension of my arm and hand. I couldnt miss. Couldnt afford it though back then at $800 and now i,am sorry i didn’t as i do,agree it was the best shooting auto pistol i ever used incl the 1911, Beretta 92, and glock.

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