(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)
By Paul K.
Heckler & Koch P2000. Is it “In a world of compromises, some don’t”, or “Because you suck, and we hate you”? If you were born in the mid 80’s, you might understand the brainwashing that has been bestowed upon me about HK firearms. Between Tom Clancy, Metal Gear Solid, and the US SOCOM pistol trials, there has been a never ending craving to own what has been heralded as the best, most durable, most accurate, most awesomest combat pistol ever created. It’s true, Thor’s Hammer can be yours for only $1,800 in the form of the Heckler &Koch MK23 . . .
Well, it turns out that “perfect” combat pistol bestowed upon us by the gods is only a slight step down from a Desert Eagle in size. Combined with the fact that it does not include the iconic suppressor and “state of the art” light and laser module from the factory (at least not without a DoD contract), I soon found myself looking at the offspring of the coveted MK23.
Enter the USP series. The USP series blah blah blah…… Google the history of the USP if you care. We’re here to talk about the P2000. The selling price of the P2000, to this day, is over $800. I picked this one up for $550 used. By used, it looked like the original owner fired one mag through it, realized he’d been duped by the HK mythos, and promptly sold it back to the dealer at half the price he bought it for. I had the clerk pull out a new model to compare to the used one side-by-side, and we almost got them mixed up.
It is important to mention that this is the fourth HK pistol I have purchased. The other three have since been sold off, so you can start to see where this is headed.
Knowing what I was getting into, I figured I would pick up this DA/SA version for pretty cheap (for an HK) and then install the LEM trigger in it when I got it home. For those who have never tried a light LEM in an HK, you really should give it a whirl before you trash on the concept. It is basically a four pound double action trigger pull with an extremely short reset. This allows you to have a long four pound pull on the first shot, and keep the trigger back in the single action area for fast follow up shots. It’s best of both worlds, between double action length of pull safety, and having a light four pound pull for accuracy.
Stay with me now, I promise I’ll get back to the review. Once home, I jumped right online to order up some parts. Well it turns out every other USP pistol with a DA/SA trigger can be switched to the LEM trigger, except the P2000, P2000sk and P30. Those have to come from the factory with the LEM kit installed. To install an LEM trigger on a DA/SA P2000 voids the warranty.
To say I was miffed would be an understatement. Especially since I had all of the knowledge in the world in my pocket while fondling it at the gun store. If you have ever fired a stock HK pistol in the DA/SA configuration, you know the trigger blows. I’m sorry, but for an $800 pistol there is no justification whatsoever for these pistols having such a horrible trigger out of the box. The DA pull was roughly 64 lbs., and it was like dragging a cinder block over concrete. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but it is still not good for that many fat stacks. Yo.
So I did some more Google fu, and it turns out you can do a little parts swapping trigger work on HK pistols. The following goodies filled my cart on HKPartsNet.com:
Light Hammer Spring – $9
Nickel Plated Flat Sear Spring – $12
Extended Mag Release – $24
Firing Pin Block Spring – $8
Light Trigger Return Spring – $9
Magazine flat floor plate – $9
Trijicon HD night sights (amazon.com) – $140
Total – $211
So I took a $550 used HK, and dumped $211 worth of upgrades into it, still making it below the cost of a new P2000. Not bad if I say so myself. Now let’s continue this saga with the modifications installed.
As previously mentioned, the factory trigger blows harder than Miss Lewinsky in the oval office (#belowthebelt). It took about 20 minutes to install all of the springs, except for the G__ D____ trigger return spring. I ground off several years worth of enamel from my teeth while installing that spring.
The end result was a trigger that felt like rolling a bowling ball over glass. The DA pull is extremely smooth, but man is it heavy. It also stacks like a Waffle House right before the break. So the DA pull is still not great, but better. The SA pull is as it should be: short, light, and smooth with a decently short reset. When compared to my SIG P226 though, the SIG takes the cake every which way you slice it.
The P2000 was one of the first pistols to offer replaceable backstraps. It comes with f0ur different sizes S, M, L, and XL. For me, I use the L backstrap. What is interesting to note is both the L and XL backstraps have a rubber molding over the plastic framework of the insert. The rubber is similar to a Hogue grip. This makes the pistol feel a lot more secure in the hand than with the plastic backstraps. It is also better than a Hogue wrap because it does not put rubber on the side plates of the grip, which just drags against you shirt or “cover garment” (that’s operator speak for Hawaiian shirt).
The controls are all positioned well, except the mag release. No, I’m not gonna start crying about having a thumb style mag release. I actually prefer the paddle style as it is just as fast to use your trigger finger to release the magazine as it is your thumb. What I am complaining about (…because you suck…), is how ridiculously small, and painful, the factory magazine release is on the P2000.
Because it is so short, it is positioned in such as way that the corner of the plastic mag release digs directly into the tip of your finger when using the index finger. It’s similar to someone taping thumb tacks to your keyboard keys. After installing the extended mag release, this problem goes away completely. Strange why HK would install this extended mag release on the HK45 and HK45c and P30, but on none of the other pistols they still manufacture ( …because we hate you…). Yes, I know the VP9 has an even more extended slide release, and I’m pretty sure that will also fit on the rest of the HK lineup. For $24, it will be worth a try when it’s stock.
Fit and finish
Know this: whenever you see HK, fit and finish = excellent. Except of course for the mag release. Ok fine, the fit and finish = very good, but not perfect. There really are not any areas that need to be addressed in terms of build quality. The only small thing I could find was on the large backstrap. There is a little space between the top of the rubber on the backstrap and the frame. Other than that, it’s great.
If you know anything about HK, you know that the magazines are expensive and only available from HK. They do not allow any third parties to manufacture their magazines. Some might think this is because the folks at HK are soulless money grubbers. While this might be the case, I believe it has more to do with quality control and reliability of the design.
If you keep your magazines loaded to full capacity for long periods of time, the springs can wear, causing feeding issues in the gun. HK eliminates this problem by limiting the number of rounds in the magazine so the magazine spring is not worn out if stored fully loaded. What a novel idea…placing reliability before all else (…no compromise…).
This is also why the P2000 is larger than a GLOCK 19, but carries two fewer rounds. Am I saying HK mags are better than GLOCK mags? Of course I am, it’s a requirement as an HK owner to hate on GLOCKs. It is also not uncommon to read about 1911s having feeding issues because of some cheap magazine. So stop whining that you can only purchase very high quality magazines for your HK pistol.
Another feature of the P2000 magazine is the rubber padded base plate that comes standard. This allows you to drop the mag on a concrete floor without having it explode. Note: the flush mount base plates are plastic without any rubber coating.
If you are still reading this, you’re not a real operator. Real operators would have stopped after the first sentence, but you are still here which means your fingers are probably covered with too much Cheeto dust to click the back button. It’s OK, I’ve got powdered sugar on my fingers.
So now that we’ve established our non-operator level we can say that for you and I, HKs, GLOCKs, SIGs, and any other quality firearm is going to be damn near 100% reliable. We’re not fighting in the desert, or assaulting Russian subs in the arctic sea in a scuba suit. So the HK P2000 is going to work at the range and when carried on our hips where the harshest environment it will see is greasy bacon sweat from our love handles. This pistol has never failed to function and eats all types of ammo. If you really want to see how much abuse your HK can take, just Youtube it and watch some other schmuck abuse an $800 gun.
Regular three-dot sights are standard. I switched them out for Trijicon HD night sites, which have both tritium inserts and glow-in-the-dark orange paint on the front sight. They work great, and I highly recommend them.
Take the time to play with the different backstraps, as they do make a difference when firing the pistol. The large strap is just right for me, and the rubber does a great job of keeping the pistol from moving around. The skateboard tape-like stippling of the front strap is just right. The only place I don’t like rough textures on the grip is on the side panels. It gets old fast having sandpaper rub at my love handles while I walk around my house in my tactical sweat pants.
Yeah, yeah, the bore axis of the HK USP series pistols is higher than that of striker fired pistols. Does it make the gun wildly uncontrollable when firing quickly at a target 15 yards away? No, it does not. I’ve fired the P2000 right beside my friend’s G26. Yes, there was a tiny bit more muzzle flip with the HK. No, it did not affect accuracy or speed of accurately rapid-firing at the target. I could see how a competition shooter would need every fraction of a second they can get, and would choose a GLOCK, M&P, CZ, or 1911. But remember, the P2000 is not a competition gun. Besides, I have learned to smoke my competition by holding down the shift key for added stability while firing.
I think the thing to remember with self defense and combat handguns is that they are tools. Like any good craftsman, you should be competent with a variety of tools made by different manufacturers. You may find that you like a particular tool manufacturer better than others, but that does not mean that it’s the best. It also doesn’t give you an excuse to not be able to work with the others. If you like Gaston’s grip angle and low bore axis, then great. If you agree that John Moses Browning was a prophet and the 1911 grip angle is a gift from God, then go with just about any other pistol manufacturer besides GLOCK (troll alert). Either way, you should be competent with both.
I’ve already made it clear by now that I am no operator, so I will refrain from further humiliation by not showing any groups at seven yards. Let’s just say, the P2000 can shoot out the center circle, but I cannot. This is a defensive pistol not a target pistol. It’s not like I’m going to be making headshots at 25 yards from a helicopter anytime soon.
Pride of Ownership
Does owning a firearm manufactured by Heckler & Koch turn you into Solid Snake? No, it does not. I’ve been a hardcore GLOCK-hater for about 10 years, the entire time having never fired one. I looked for every reason why an HK would be better to own than a GLOCK. Four HK pistols later, I don’t think I can truly make the case for HK over GLOCK anymore.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no plans on departing with this P2000 in which I’ve invested so much. I truly do like and enjoy the pistol and I know it will continue to work no matter how badly I might abuse it. But if you were on the fence between an HK and any other popular high quality pistol, I would not say the HK offers much more for the price.
If you do decide to go with an HK, go for a used one. The used price makes it a competitive contender to other combat and self defense pistols. Plus you can sell it again down the road for close to, if not more than, what you purchased it for. I’ve made money on two of the three HKs I’ve sold in the past.
While the P2000 is a far cry from the much-desired MK23, it is still an excellent pistol. Just swap out the mag release, nearly all of the springs, and the sights and….well hell, you’ve practically rebuilt the pistol at that point. Once you return from the dentist for your cracked molar, you will have a decent shooter that offers decent capacity, decent concealment, and excellent reliability.
As a new purchase, I cannot recommend spending over $800 for a pistol with such a bad trigger. If you want DA/SA, and you want a new pistol, go with a SIG. Even a new SIG trigger is better than a used HK trigger that has been broken in. In the end, the real reason to own the HK P2000 is just because you want an HK. For me, I needed a gun in a decent carry size, and the P2000 was the best HK had to offer at the time. Now, when the VP9 Compact comes out, that might be a different story….
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * * *
If you like HK and you appreciate fine milling such as tapered slides, rounded and contoured edges, and burr-free polymer, then the P2000 will impress.
Ergonomics Carry * * * *
It falls right into the sweet spot for maximum carry size. I carry it OWB in a leather holster during the winter with little worry of printing. No sharp edges, safeties, or rough textures to worry about chafing your sides.
Ergonomics Firing * * * * *
Choose the right backstrap and you’re good to go all day at the range.
Reliability * * * * *
“No compromises” means my pride will not allow me to give it less than five stars in reliability. Subjective much? In all seriousness, it is a perfectly reliable pistol. If you want to shove Twinkies in the dust cover to prove this point then go to town.
Customize This * * * *
Plenty of holster, plenty of sights, plenty of parts, one kind of mag. No you can’t put punisher back plates on it, but really? If you want to trash it up, just get can of Rust-o-leum and spray paint it gold.
Trigger (out of the box) * *
Cinder block over concrete.
Trigger (after mods) * * * 1/2
Bowling ball over glass, but still stacks like a Waffle House.
Overall * * * *
For me and my tastes, it’s great. For fence-sitters, definitely not worth the price tag. If you know what you’re getting into and you buy used, you will surely be a happy customer.