Gun Review: H&K P7 Pistol

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(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)

By Nicole Lezama

Heckler & Koch’s P7 is the pistol that belongs in a spy’s hand when telling the villain in a calm yet threatening voice, “Release her! You don’t want to find out what happens if you don’t…” *cue music*. It holds itself in a very sleek and composed classy manner. Unlike the more common polymer handguns being produced now, the steel design doesn’t have the block-like or bulky style to it at all. Every component on and within the pistol are extremely flush—leaving out all tactical style.

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Overall Appearance

The built-in cocking lever may seem to be bulky in theory, but just by looking at the appearance of the P7 I think it contributes a unique style to gun. The lever looks as if it were meant to be there as part of the pistol from the get-go. The slightly textured grip is another component that contributes to the P7’s exterior minimalist and friendly design with the magazine release at the heel instead of the top—the top being where some people may find to be inconvenient.

With the P7, there’s no way you could accidentally release the magazine while shooting. I mean…unless for some reason you’re giving it a viper-like death grip and the bottom of your palm somehow provides enough force to push into the release. If that happens then I don’t know, I’d think we have bigger things to worry about.

The external slide release button for the P7 is non-existent because the cocking lever serves this purpose, continuing the clean exterior design. With a pressure of roughly 12-15 pounds squeezing the lever in, the slide will follow in its release. This feature also acts as the pistol’s safety if you will—without the lever squeeze, nothing happens. To manually pull the slide back and have it remain, there’s a small notch built into the trigger guard that can be pushed inward for the slide to stay back.

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Ease of Use and Ergonomics

Despite its steel design the P7 feels extremely light in my hands with a comfortable grip. That’s definitely saying something because I have small hands and I am of smaller stature; I was expecting it to feel heavier even though it’s listed at just under two pounds. Once the cocking lever has been depressed it only takes about two pounds to keep it there, following with a smooth and light trigger pull.

I found there’s quite a bit of slack (I feel more than what I’m used to with the PPQ) and it takes about a 4 ½ pound squeeze all the way through. The trigger has a serrated texture to it and is also wide, but not too wide, providing a comfortable feel. I can adjust easily and quickly with positive results if I notice too much or too little trigger finger.

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A downfall for the exterior features are the sights. Looking down range I find there’s not much that’s special about them; the P7 has standard rear and front sights with the 3 white dots.

Reliability

There are no malfunctions to report on my end after shooting roughly 150 rounds through it. Shooting more than 150 rounds through a pistol whose magazines only hold 8 rounds, in addition to the frame and trigger guard heating up to high hell is not worth the burn and red marks on my fingers. But 150 rounds through it without a single malfunction or hiccup gets an A for reliability in my book!

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Now, about the before mentioned heat issue… Yes this pistol is super sleek with the steel design and lightweight, but boy is the heat build up a let down! After putting just 50 rounds through, the entire trigger guard as well as the magazines get to an uncomfortable heat level. The heat emanating from the gun is an inferno, I can’t imagine going through a competition with this pistol if I couldn’t even handle 50-70 rounds at the range. However the upgraded P7M8 has a heat guard around the trigger area, so that might be something to consider.

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Applicability

The P7 would be a great conceal carry weapon. Its weight and size are perfect and it would serve its purpose in being easily withdrawn from the holster. You’d have no qualms or issues finagling with a safety switch or even a malfunction because of the cocking lever. As a competition and range pistol? Definitely not competition only because of the heating factor. If I had to choose, I’d say using it as a pistol at the range to practice is bearable if you take breaks because the accuracy is phenomenal and something I cannot ignore.

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Accuracy

I brought my Walther PPQ with me as comparison to this James Bond of a pistol. I am still upset about this because I shoot better with the P7 than I do with my favorite pistol!

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It’s ridiculous. As much of a nuisance the cocker lever can be for someone with smaller hands when changing magazines, it actually forces me to stick with the grip I initially establish when squeezing it back. I cannot adjust (a bad habit) between shots—if I do that with the P7, it de-cocks then I’d have to resqueeze 12-15 pounds all over again. Therefore, the built-in cocker actually works to a shooter’s advantage, maintaining a steady and constant grip as well as trigger pull. As you can see in the pictures below, I produced better grouping with the P7.

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Ease of Disassembly

At first I thought it was going to be a pain to disassemble because it’s technically an old gun but despite this it wasn’t bad at all. It took me a couple tries to get the slide pulled back but once I had a firm grip I had no issues pushing the button at the back of the slide. All it took was a slight lift and a forward slide, then voila. I had the pistol disassembled into three pieces and took the opportunity to clean it up as well. Reassembly was just as easy: pulling the slide all the way back and it automatically slid back into place—like Lego’s!

Favorite and Least Favorite Features

Despite having to squeeze roughly 12 pounds every time I want to cock the gun, the cocking lever is my favorite feature of the P7. It requires me to keep it depressed until the magazine is finished, resulting in phenomenally great accuracy.

My least favorite feature of the P7 would have to be the sights. In this review I’ve only mentioned it once and didn’t have much to say about it. The sights are functional but aren’t anything I can rave about.

Aftermarket Options and Availability

In 2012 the P7 was being sold used for $900, that alone I would consider expensive. The cheapest I have seen it selling now in 2016 is at about $1200 used on sites like Gunbroker. The selling price is one of the more common aspects that deters people from actually wanting to purchase it. That, and the fact that you really have to research and look hard for a P7 since they stopped producing them in 2008.

I’ve found the upgraded P7 (P7M8) selling for $2500 on Gunbroker. $2500! I’ll let that sink in… Aftermarket availability options for the P7 are extremely limited because they are expensive compared to the average 9mm pistol pricing. But I can still find holsters and magazines for the P7. H&K sells the 8 round magazines for $65 while Gunbroker sells them for close to $100 each—in this case, go with H&K’s direct site.

Specifications: H&K P7 (PSP)

Caliber: 9x19mm
Capacity: 8+1
Weight: 1.88lbs with empty magazine
Barrel: 4.13inch
Height: 5inch
Width: 1.14inch
Overall Length: 6.54inch
Sights: Steel, 3-dot white sights
Finish: Steel, Black
MSRP: Out of Production

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
The accuracy is phenomenal! The P7’s cocking lever forces a constant grip that doesn’t allow me to readjust easily, unless I want to squeeze 12-15 pounds all over again. This nifty and unique design contributes as an advantage to the great performance with consistent and tight grouping.

Ergonomics: * * * *
The all steel design surprisingly isn’t overbearing. Its got a nice balance to it at just under 2 pounds with a serrated trigger—allowing the trigger finger to be adjusted easily after a smooth
4 ½ lb pull if needed. I took a star off because of the standard 3-dot sights it comes with; although they weren’t horrible, I also couldn’t say they were super fantastic either.

Reliability: * * * * *
There were no malfunctions whatsoever when I put a straight 150 rounds through it at an indoor range. Yes, there is the before mentioned heat issue I noticed, but I’m not knocking a star off for that because that has nothing to do with the reliability of the gun. There were no jams, no accidental magazine releases, and no hiccups whatsoever when it simply came down to pointing and shooting.

Applicability: * * *
Unfortunately I did have to knock a couple stars off because the P7’s heat issue is what eliminates the range pistol and competition pistol applicability completely. Even so, I’d still give it an average of 3 stars because this would be a GREAT conceal carry pistol. It’s a great size even for those of smaller stature and it’s easily withdrawn from the holster without worrying about a safety feature (remember the cocking lever).

Trigger: * * * *
The functionality and physical attributes of the P7 trigger are great with the serrated design and butter-like pull—I can easily adjust if I notice I have too little or too much trigger finger. But 1 star is knocked off when it comes down to again, the heat issue—it spreads to the actual trigger. So after about 50-70 rounds, I’m forced to take a break. Sad face.

Overall: * * * *
Although most of the features such as accuracy and reliability have proven to be of five-star quality, the only purpose I could see the P7 serving is that of a concealed carry weapon. I can’t give it five stars due to the trigger guard becoming overheated after putting only 50 rounds through and its applicability only being for conceal carrying. BUT keep in mind, you cannot find any pistol on the market now that’s remotely similar to the P7 in style with its unique and flush design. H&K did a superior job keeping this pistol smooth and classy, providing the ultimate spy pistol.

comments

  1. avatar SteveInCO says:

    I really wouldn’t trust a gun for self defense until I’ve fired about 500 rounds through it (though most need not be hollowpoints). 150 is only a good first indication.

    Yes, I know you can only do so much for a review; this isn’t a criticism of you, it’s a reminder to your readers.

  2. avatar jwm says:

    I like the p7. It’s a quality gun that works well. But before I would buy a 900-2500 dollar gun used I would spend 550 for a new glock 19.

    If I ever use it in a dgu the cops are going to take it and I can part with the glock better than a classic H&K.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      My P7 has been at Midwest Gun Works for a few months getting a complete refinish and overhaul, and it’s going to be AWESOME! Article(s) on that coming sometime this month, I do believe. I’m going to be EDC’ing it, too.

      From what I can tell, if the DGU isn’t questionable it’s unlikely your gun will be held, as they seem to only do that if it may be used as evidence in prosecuting a crime against *you.* If it’s cut-and-dry, it seems highly unlikely it’ll be taken from you. That said, if you’re in the clear you’ll get it back although it may take a couple years. If you’re being prosecuted, it’s the least of your dang worries. If I have to defend my LIFE, I’m going to use the best firearm for me to do that with, cost of it be damned. Plus, if it’s some sort of absurd scenario in which I’m in the news and so is my gun — photos of it plastered everywhere — I darn well want it to be an HK P7 instead of a Kel-Tec or some other gun I’m carrying because it’s cheap enough that I don’t care if I lose it or not. Keep it classy 😛

      1. avatar Tile floor says:

        They aren’t going to give it back to you for awhile, especially if the person that is shot died. In my state, Any homicide (seemingly justified or not) goes before the grand jury and all evidence (which the gun is a part of) is examined, and they decide whether to prosecute or not. So at the very best you’re looking at at least a month without it.

        1. avatar FedUp says:

          At worst, if they persecute you, it might take a year or two to go to trial, and if found not guilty, they’ll blame you for winning and still not give your gun back until maybe a few weeks after you get a judge to order it returned.

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    I always liked the P7. It was pretty much the only H&K I that I liked.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      I had the double-stack M13 version for a while, back in the late ’80s if memory serves. I kinda liked it, but not enough to keep it from rotating through. Values like we’re seeing now, shoulda kept it. Oh well…

  4. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Hans Gruber approves

      1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        It is!

        BTW, I’ll just add in response to part of the review RE the P7’s sights…

        “…there’s not much that’s special about them; the P7 has standard rear and front sights with the 3 white dots…”

        Not much special? How about the fact that the P7 pioneered the 3 dot sights? This was the first gun that style of sights ever appeared on, as far as I can tell. That’s kinda special. Other than that “tiny” factoid, yeah, they’re standard 3-dot sights machined from quality steel. And by “standard,” I mean they were invented 40 years ago for this gun and immediately set THE standard for basically every pistol on earth — a standard that literally hasn’t changed to this day.

  5. avatar strych9 says:

    Question: Is the heat issue after 70 or so rounds so pronounced that a pair of gloves, like say Mechanix brand, wouldn’t help significantly? Or would that screw up the ergos to hell and back?

    I just ask because I wear such gloves when dealing with suppressors… those beasties get hotter than Satan’s ballsack.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Take a look at Jeremy’s review, above.

      Note the grooves in the chamber, the way it ejects dumps a *lot* of heat in the chamber – trigger area.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Yeah, but I don’t imagine it dumps more heat than running 25 rounds of .45 through a can in under a minute and that muffler is fine to handle with a pair of Mechanix gloves on.

        It’s not a perfect solution but it might prolong your trigger time before you let the gun cool. Unless of course the gun becomes very difficult to handle while wearing gloves.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          It’s fine with that style of glove. The trigger guard isn’t huge but it’s generous enough for that clearance. As long as you don’t go nuts with a high grip you should be fine with slide clearance as well even with a little extra height from the gloves — although this gun has perhaps the lowest bore axis possible. I never get slide bite, but I usually have black grease marks on the web of my hand from the slide rails. It’s perfectly, exactly, couldn’t-be-better at the lowest possible height.

          As for heat, it was designed to be the best gun fighting pistol ever. Meaning your typical bad guy sort of engagement, not some protracted war zone scenario (where you’d use a rifle). More like Wild West style. Getting uncomfortably hot after 50+ rounds of rapid-fire wasn’t a concern. Enjoying the gun on the range, I’ve put way more rounds than that through it without any issue and with bare hands. You just can’t dump rounds downrange rapidly. It helps if you only bring one magazine, forcing you to pace yourself 😛

      2. avatar Boneh says:

        Good grief, the reason the gun heats up is because it utilizes gas-delayed blowback. For this mechanism to operate hot gases need to be vented and compressed below the barrel from every shot, creating a pocket of major heat buildup.

        Just read the wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckler_%26_Koch_P7#Operating_mechanism

  6. avatar W says:

    First, it seems worth noting that the P7 was developed as a counterterrorism sidearm during the bad old days of leftist terrorism in the 70s. It seems appropriate that it combines a single action trigger, safeness of carry, and quickness to action. Second, note that this pistol is both striker fired and single action. That is, it is one more example that illustrates the point that striker fired is not strictly equivalent with “safe action” (a mistake commonly made on the internet). Several striker fired and single action pistols exist. This is one of them. Third, this pistol is much, much larger than a PPK.

  7. avatar Michael says:

    Thanks for the review of an interesting piece of eggs

  8. avatar AR says:

    Spy/SpecialOps worthy?

    I’ve never seen much less handled a P7, but I understand the squeeze lever makes a rather loud clack (both activate and deactivate?)

    Probably as loud as the “snick” the sound guys put into any movie where a Glock is taken off safe?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      If you’ve never used or handled one you owe it to yourself to find one and try it. It really is a fine pistol.

  9. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    I use to own a HK P7 the two problems it has are weight (for a single stack 9), and that squeeze cocker which sounds like activating a hammer drop safety when you release it. A fully loaded Glock 19 weighs less than an empty P7.

  10. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

    “Applicability” is my new favorite word.

  11. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    I understand that the NJ state police carried these in the late 80s and. through the 90s. I’m not sure why unless the guy in purchasing was an HK fanboy or money changed hands (I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!). Even the Smith 59 was a better choice with a much lower price and twice the magazine capacity. If I had to carry a single stack pistol in 1990 I would have gone with a 1911. The 9mm rounds available at that time were questionable and I think that a .45 would have been a better choice. Even a six shot Smith .357 loaded with hot 125 grain hollow points would have been a better choice. I escaped the People’s Republic of New Jersey back in 1980 and I’ve never looked back so I can’t even begin to understand their mind set.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      The is a 13 round variant (I had one) and a.40S&W variant as well. Pretty sure there are others, but those I remember.

    2. avatar robg says:

      These pistols complemented the Heinrich Himmler designed NJSP uniforms that include the Gestapo-style caps and tall boots. They were likely carried in flap holsters as well. These guns were not that popular in their “day”, mainly due to the “experts” of the time lamenting the loud click that emanated when depressing the grip safety. I, too, escaped the beautiful “Garden State” in 1975, and have never regretted it.

      1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        It makes a click upon releasing the squeeze cocker, but no noise when cocking it. It’s the striker dropping that makes the sound. There’s a “trick” to lowering it silently, but it’s just a total non-issue anyway. Like pinging clips out of a Garand. Issue in the realm of theory and mental masturbation only 😛

  12. avatar Kevin says:

    I am surprised no one has mentioned the most important feature. A feature that is mostly dismissed in striker fired pistols. With the p7 if you have a round that fails to fire, let’s say from a hard primer, you can just relax the squeeze cocker and squeeze it again and you get a second chance. The Walter p99 is also a double/single action striker pistol. You don’t have to rack the slide to cock either one of them.

  13. avatar Gregolas says:

    The P7 is simply elegant. It possesses romance similar to the Luger. It’s the only H&K that ever appealed to me, and an M8 version is on my bucket list.

  14. avatar Charlie says:

    I had both the M8 and M13 variants of the P7 in the shop and got to handle them quite a bit. The M8 was nice, but the M13 was too fat, and the squeeze cocker was their downfall. I purely hated the thing!

    Charlie

  15. avatar Wood says:

    The P7 is fantastic. Carries very well in a Sparks VMII, don’t have a Del Fatti. The white dots in those sights you don’t like are plastic inserts; send the slide to trijicon for tritium vials. Its a great gun to fire at the range in winter!

  16. avatar c4v3man says:

    I’ve used my p7m8 at idpa a few times, heat was never a problem. That being said, perhaps the club I shoot with is slow, since it takes 5+ hours to get through about 130 rounds. Just wish it held 10 rounds and I’d probably still use it for competition.

    A friend of mine had a great day at the range with his 20 year old example, and found the extractor was missing. Never missed a beat due to the fluted chamber. Hk replaced the extractor for free. Really a fantastic gun design to geek out on.

  17. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    The P7 was handgun that Jeff Cooper called a “krunchenticker.”

    They’re a somewhat fiddly gun to do a detailed strip on. You’ll need to either make or buy some tools – one of which will be a type of wrench to pull the firing pin. I think I made a punch from a piece of 1mm drill blank to push back a spring that holds the extractor in place.

    It’s not as bad as a M9/Model 92 Beretta at launching springs and pins, but the P7 has a couple of opportunities for the amateur to lose small parts, and there’s a bunch of them in there.

  18. avatar Johannes Paulsen says:

    “conceal carry weapon”

    Sigh.

    I carry my firearm in a concealed fashion, not a ‘conceal’ fashion.

    (Just a pet peeve. Otherwise, good review. Tks!)

  19. avatar Adrian Bart says:

    It’s a bummer that they don’t produce the P7 family anymore.

    The P7M8 (9 mm) is my favorite. The P7M13 (double stack) is a little too wide for me. The P7M10 is a 40, but it weighes a ton! They made a 380 that could be converted to a 22 (22 barrel needed).

    1. avatar Wood says:

      P7K3. Want!

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