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You don’t have to be a Navy SEAL to know that the H&K MK23 is one bad ass pistol. But it helps. It also helps when it comes to owning one. Navy SEALs pay for theirs in blood, sweat and tears. Uncle Sam gets a deal. Civilians need to shell-out some $2,300 or thereabouts for the privilege. Truth be told, I’m no more likely to buy a H&K MK23 than Kerry McGregor is to go swimming in an old gunny sack. So, the H&K USP Tactical then, a more affordable offshoot of the MK23 development program . . .

The USP (Universal Self-Loading Pistol) line grew out of H&K’s 1991 entry into the Special Operations Offensive Handgun Weapons System (OHWS) tender. The process delivered unto the Special Operations command the DA/SA MK23, a gun engineered well beyond the standards of contemporaneous duty guns. Two years later, in 1993, Heckler & Koch began production on the USP line.

All major metal components on the USP are corrosion-resistant. Outside metal surfaces are protected by H&K’s proprietary “hostile environment” nitride finish. Internal metal parts are coated with a Dow Corning anti-corrosion chemical to reduce friction and wear.

The gunmaker tested the MK23’s recoil system with over 30k rounds of +P ammunition followed by 6k high pressure proof rounds. After disassembling the gun the Germans found no damage or excessive wear to any of the components.

And then they did some more tests . . .

The ballistic boffins froze the USP to −42 °C (−43.5 °F), fired it and then frozen it again. They heated it to 67 °C (152.6 °F) and fired it. They cycled between these extremes several times. They subjected USP to standard NATO mud and rain abuse. They immersed it in water and sprayed it with sea water. They dropped it from six feet, hammer first, onto a steel-backed concrete slab.

H&K employees deliberately lodged a bullet in the barrel and then sent another one down the pipe. The second bullet cleared the obstruction producing only a minor bulge in the barrel. They loaded a full magazine and then fired the gun again with the bulging barrel. The resulting group measured less than 4 inches of deviation at 25 meters – a standard that some new guns would be lucky to hold.

In short, Heckler & Koch testers made damn sure the only way this baby was going to go off was with your finger on the trigger and the gun fully in battery. And that it would work matter what.

The USP comes in a variety of sizes and calibers, with 9mm, .40 and .45 all represented.  The USP Tactical version features a threaded barrel and a very high front sight so it can be used with a suppressor.

Takedown of the USP Tactical is slightly more complicated than your standard Glock/XDM/M&P gun, but easier than a 1911. You pull the slide back a bit and then pop out the slide catch lever. You also need to remove the barrel thread protector to remove the barrel from the slide for cleaning.


The USP Tactical is not a gun for small-handed owners. While the USP Tactical is a slimmed down version of the MK23, it still requires a medium to large paw to wield effectively. [ED: In Germany, interchangeable backstraps change you.] Thankfully, the USP’s grips are surprisingly well designed, offering plenty of palm purchase and ergonomic comfort. The photo below shows a comparison between the double-stack USP (left) and my SIG P220 single stack.

Typical of German target sights, the USP Tactical’s are a blade and slot design. The sights themselves are all black — no contrast dots, no tritium, no nothing. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. The front sight is particularly tall, protruding eight mm from the top of the slide (a typical front sight is generally in the 3.5-4 mm range).

It’s a suppressor friendly set-up. The USP’s high front sight compensates for the extra 8.75” of barrel length for a can (say, something along the lines of an AAC Ti-Rant suppressor). You can successfully engage close-in targets without the suppressor blocking your sight picture.

Trigger pull on the USP Tactical is 11.5 lbs. in double-action (DA) and 4.5 lbs. in single-action (SA) mode. It’s the same pull as the MK23 in DA, a tad lighter is SA. In single action mode, there’s a bit of take up—maybe a ¼ of an inch or so—before the hammer releases. As you’d expect from a match grade trigger the action feels as smooth as a Porsche Turbo’s steering wheel—and just as controllable.

Reset in Single Action mode is very similar to SIG’s Short Reset Trigger. The USP Tactical’s adjustable trigger allows you to set the over-travel to your liking. That sounds a bit more sophisticated than it is; the adjustment simply extends a little knob from the back of the trigger shoe to control how far the go pedal travels before hitting the back of the trigger guard.


Not much to say here that the target below can’t say for me. That’s a ten round grouping at 20 feet.


The USP boasts a mechanical recoil reduction system incorporated into the recoil spring assembly. It’s designed to reduce wear and tear on the gun and . . . reduce recoil. By a claimed 30 percent.

For real world comparison purposes, I broke out my P220 Super Match, a phenomenally accurate gun that costs about the same as the USP Tactical. As you can see from the P220 target below, the USP blew the Super Match away (at least in my hands)


I have owned the HK USP Tactical for over a year. I’ve fired about a thousand rounds of various types of ammo without any problems. During the test firing, The USP tore through a full mag of my regular range ammo without issues. And then I shot Hornady .45 Auto +P 230 grain XTP.

On the second trigger pull, nothing happened. The slide hadn’t gone completely into battery, hanging back about ¼ of an inch or so. Tap, rack, bang. The spent brass ejected, but again, nothing on the next trigger pull. I whacked the back of the gun and the slide slid back into battery. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The USP had no difficulty cycling the regular Hornady hollow point ammo. Since the problem only seems to be with +P ammo–which puts a lot more force on the recoil spring—I’m thinking my problem may be a recoil spring that’s on its way out.

UPDATE 9/27/2012

I spoke with H&K Tech support, and guess what – there is a known incompatibility that H&Ks have with some of Hornady’s ammo. Hornady has admitted that some of their cases are over sized and this has been causing problems.  The problem was supposedly resolved in June 2012, but my ammo pre-dates that month which is why I have the problem.  I will try some more Hornady in the future, but if this problem was only corrected in June of this year, I am going to wait a bit longer to make sure the new stuff is in the pipeline.

Being the distrustful sort of person that I am, I managed to procure a couple of alternative ammo options.  In my bag was Remington’s Golden Saber 185 grain +P and Federal’s Tactical HST 230 grain +P ammo.  The USP performed flawlessly with both types of ammo.  With this in mind, I’m inclined to take H&K’s word that the problem was Hornady’s not the USP.

Aftermarket Options

The German USP Tactical uses a 12-round double stack magazine. Since it’s an H&K, you’ll pay nasally for extra mags; about $50 a pop. Ten-round mags are also available for those unfortunate enough to live in (or travel to) restricted capacity states.

Unfortunately, H&K fits the USP with a proprietary rail designed to fit H&K accessories and H&K accessories only. There are several reasonably priced conversion rails that clip onto the H&K rail. You can then mount standard Picatinny accessories onto the USP Tactical. The work-around adds weight.

Holsters are another problem. Very few manufacturers make anything that can accommodate that high front sight blade on the USP Tactical. You can replace the handgun’s front sight with a shorter blade, but that compromises the sight’s performance when using a suppressor.

Comp-Tac sells a holster that accommodates the USP Tactical’s sight—which won’t fit the gun if you mount an aftermarket rail adapter. But if you add an adapter to mount some sort of light or laser aiming device you’re looking at a custom holster anyway.

Speaking of suppressors, H&K went with a left hand thread on the barrel. Most standard suppressor don’t fit (including those made for the MK23 which features the more standard right hand thread pattern). A number of suppressor manufacturers offer suppressors that fit the H&K, including the well-regarded AAC Ti-Rant.


At north of a grand, the USP Tactical is hardly a bargain pistol. Nor is it a handmade gem. It is, however, an ultra-rugged gun with more than merely adequate accuracy designed for the rigorous demands of the American special operations community. God knows why you’d need that much durability in a handgun. There are less expensive guns that are just as reliable (cough Glock cough). But if I had to choose one gun for a serious SHTF scenario, this is the gun I want by my side. If only for inspiration.


Length                          8.64 in
Height                         5.9 in
Width                          1.26 in
Weight w/mag          2.05 lbs.
Capacity                     10 or 12
Trigger                        DA/SA
MSRP                          $1,301 (street price about $1,100)

Ratings (out of five stars)
Overall rating is not a sum of the individual ratings

Style * * * *
This gun has style in spades. Sure, it’s plain black on black and the sights are boring (aside from the adjustable rear sight feature), but just knowing this gun’s heritage and who its older brother is makes it a real conversation piece.

Ergonomics  * * * *
For such a large gun, it’s feels fairly compact. The 1.26” width is only .16” wider than my compact SIG P938 pistol and the USP fires big boy .45 bullets. It’s a heavy gun, but then again, if you are planning to send +P rounds downrange, you are going to appreciate all of that weight. That weight also helps to maintain the gun’s overall balance if you choose to add a suppressor.

Reliability * * * * *
Aside from the previously described Hornady ammo problem, the USP ate everything that I threw at it and came back for more.  Assuming that Hornady fixes their ammo issues, this gun should be able to handle whatever round you want to send down the pipe.

Customize This  * *
Holsters are tough to find. You have to purchase an aftermarket adapter to mount Picatinny accessories.

I go through guns the way Imelda Marcos went through shoes. But the only way you’re getting this gun away from me is to pry it from my cold dead hands. And if you choose to try, with this thing by my side, chances are those cold dead hands will be yours.

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  1. It’s been said (and I agree) that Glocks are the Toyota Camrys of the pistol world.

    So is this a BMW 3 Series?

    • No reason for this, but I think of the German/Austrians like this:
      HK =Merc
      Glock=VW if VW were more reliable than mid 90s Toyotas

      • Of course, Toyotas are more reliable than pretty much any German car made, but especially VWs and Audis. Last I looked Beemers were actually more reliable than Mercs.

        • Sorry anon but you really don’t know anything about German cars. Try clicking on this link to have a look at the list of “voluntary” safety recalls Toyota made The safety recall concerning the accelerator pedal sticking was particularly worrying. Audi makes arguably the best cars in the world at the moment (cars that only millionaires can afford don’t count!). And Mercedes aren’t poorly engineered cars – they’re just notorious for very bad customer service support when problems crop up.

    • Id say the Glock is just about any Toyota and this H&K USP is more like Lexus. Yes Toyota had a safety recall. but at least you know the damn thing will get you to point a to point b and will last forever. And I say Lexus because all it really is, is just a nice ass Toyota with a different badge and a lot bigger price tag.

      • Lexus = Toyota’s Luxury Line. They are the same company. How people do not know this is beyond me.

  2. Had that out of battery happen to me with my SIG C3. Had one box of hornady that would do it and another that did not. I cleaned it (I had shot a couple boxes of dirty stuff through it that day) and it worked fine with any of my ammo. The bore is just tight enough and the hornady just big enough that when dirty, it would not chamber.

    Just a thought.

  3. With respect and IMHO, in order to be up to TTAG quality, you need to be crystal clear about what information you’re finding out for yourself (by testing, measuring, etc) and what information your digging up on the web or off the manufacturers spec sheet. The reason we (I think I speak for a lot of people, but maybe I’m wrong) love TTAG is because we *don’t* trust information that can be dug up on the web.

    Here’s an example: “The USP Tactical gives the shooter most of the performance of the MK23 in a smaller package.”

    Wait, wait. I thought you said you couldn’t afford the MK23. Have you shot one, or are you repeating what you’ve been told? If the latter, who told you? Tell us more, so we judge the value of that information. If HK’s marketing dept. told you that, obviously we should take it with a grain of salt.

    If you don’t tell us where you’re getting that information, then we’ll take *YOU* with a grain of salt, which is not what you want.

  4. “During the test firing, everything was going smoothly until I tried shooting some of my Hornady .45 Auto +P 230 grain XTP. I loaded it up and fired the first round. No problem. When I pulled the trigger the second time…nothing. Looking closely at the gun, I realized that after ejecting the the prior round, the slide hadn’t gone completely into battery. It was hanging back about ¼ of an inch or so.

    I did a tap-rack, ejecting a perfectly good round and fired again. Gun went bang, spent brass ejected, but again, nothing on the next trigger pull. Same problem as before. This time, I simply whacked the back of the gun and the slide slid back into battery.”

    Same with mine years ago. Got rid of it quick. Way Overpriced IMHO

  5. Certainly this is an excellent gun, but why pay that much unless you’re loaded? The $ is better spent on quality rifles. Get a glock or an XD.

    • Because I don’t like Glock Safe Action or whatever the hell Springfield call the same mechanism in the XD. I like DA/SA pistols. I’ve shot both a Glock and this USP. For me, the USP shoots way better. Your mileage may vary. Go try a USP, then come back and tell me if you still think the same way.

      • I am a little late to the party, but I agree Jim. There is a reason the Glock is half the price of the HK. I helped a friend who was in financial trouble and was pawning all his stuff. He bought his USP Tactical new, and I got it a few years old. I got a good deal, but still paid more than a new Glock. It did not take long to realize this was the finest firing pistol I have ever used. The felt recoil seems no more than my heavier 9mm Ruger, the accuracy is amazing, and it has been extremely reliable. I use it as my personal carry weapon and intentionally do not clean the lint out before going to the range. It works every time. Of course, I have never used +p ammo, but hey.

        Great article, thanks.

    • “Certainly this is an excellent gun, but why pay that much unless you’re loaded?”

      1. Because you cannot carry a Glock “cocked and locked”.
      2. Because a Glock does not have an external hammer.
      3. Because a Glock does not have a decocking lever.
      4. Because a Glock does not have the recoil reduction system.
      5. Because a Glock does not have a traditional safety.
      6. Because a Glock is not as accurate.
      7. Because the Glock has an inferior magazine release.
      8. Because if the lives that I love ever depend on my weapon, I want the best.

      • Why can’t you carry a glock “cocked and locked”? They’re designed to be carried with one in the pipe.

        Why is an external hammer relevant in deciding on a defense piece? It’s the action that’s relevant. Because you prefer da/sa over striker fired, that makes glock a bad gun?

        Of course a glock doesn’t have a manual decocker. There’s no friggin external hammer. You said that already. The 1911 doesn’t have a manual decocker. Is that not a suitable weapon system for battle?

        Would a manual safety really make the glock a more efficient pistol? it’s internal safety mechanism is designed to handle the shock of dropping the loaded pistol without it discharging a round. You can literally play soccer with the damned thing.

        Inferior magazine release… yes I’ve noticed that glock magazines don’t always drop clear of the well when the release is pushed. That is an issue.

        I’m far from being a glock fan boy. But you just rattled off a list of nonsense. Certainly glock can be painted more favorably than that. You can bury the damned thing in mud and it’ll still shoot accurately. That’s gotta count for something.

      • this makes no sense, glocks are carried with one in the pipe and don’t go bang until you pull the trigger, your cocked and locked is just like a 1911, technologies over one hundred years old . and when TSHTF hope you remember to take off the safety

        • The difference is trigger weight. A Glock has about a 5.5lb trigger weight all the time. That can be a good thing for consistency, but when you draw the H&K, muscle memory should set in as you release the safety, by the time you’ve acquired your target, you can pull that trigger, which is about 4.75 lbs in SA.

          That little bit lighter pull aids accuracy, especially in the case of rapid fire. And of course, you could mod it to a match trigger and take that down to 4lbs.

  6. Excellent article.

    That established, I have to inquire exactly what the point of this gun is.

    “But here’s the thing: the USP Tactical simply plays in a different league than Glocks or other similarly priced guns. No one’s debating the fact that Glocks are good guns, but they are just not designed to the same tolerances or for the same purpose as something like the USP Tactical.”

    This section begs the question:just what league DOES the USP tactical play in? For civilian carry, the trip from the office cubicle to the car is hardly a hostile environment.
    Bad guys don’t mug you from 25 yards away, and a carjacking is hard to pull off from 30 feet away.As such pinpoint accuracy at those distances serves no point beyond range time bragging rights for civil defense purposes.

    However,the cost and nature of the weapon works against CCW , as in the event a weapon is fired it will certainly be confiscated by police for evidence purposes. Depending on the political leanings of said department that confiscation may be a permanent event, 4th amendment be damned.

    Id rather surrender a Glock or a $450 Caracal 9F to the police department scrap heap than a $1500 HK pistol.

    • Well i own one, I carry it and our police are very comfortable about such things.. Its generaly the State’s Attorney that is the hanger on. You just need to show that you need the pistol, if you have a righteous shoot you are good and your shoot makes your case as to why you need the thing. hqave them shhot the thing and take samples of the case and bullets for evidence, they know where the gun will be. You can even offer them a sample of your ammo.

      Long shots are not the rule by accurate shots may mean the difference of hitting your intended target and an off shot that endangers another. Two in a would be at close intervals also indicates that you are proficient and not a danger the to General Public. Weapons can only be “confiscated” if they are contraband, other wise they are held for evidence.

      Procedural point here but one you need to bone up on, and I mean all of you. Don’t let them disarm you for more than is necessary. The term is “reasonable”. Besides the court has the last say. I have had a prosecuitor spitting he was so mad and the judge went merrily along with me. I think he enjoyed it. Don’t be a butt head and know what you are saying…. by the way I tried my own case, attorneys just show up for the money, mostly. While I am not an attorney I do have a legal degree and was fortunate to have clerked for a federal judge. Stand your ground but be respectful and know what you are saying before you open your mouth.

      Due Process my man. Of course I live in the Last Fronteer and we don’t even need a CCW to carry or even open.

      God Defends the Right

  7. I’ve read the “You suck and we hate you” rant and the rebuttals and whatnot. I’m relatively new to firearms, so I’m generally not sure what to think about HK. However, the proprietary rail system and barrel threading just seen like a complete dick move to their customers. I can think of no reason for a proprietary rail system other than screwing customers on overpriced accessories. Hell, the Weaver vs. Picatinny thing bothers me enough as it is. The barrel threading is just needlessly irritating. Unless there’s something I’m missing, it really gives HK a black mark in my book. Seems like a great gun, but the threading and especially the rails really put a damper on any interest in HKs I might have, idle or otherwise.

      • At least with the iPhone/iPod’s connecter, it is proprietary for a reason, it has USB, Firewire, Audio, S-video, and a TTL serial port. The HK rail or barrel threading isnt there for any reason other than because HK hates you and thinks you suck.

      • “The barrel threading is just needlessly irritating. Unless there’s something I’m missing, it really gives HK a black mark in my book.”

        There are 8 other HK pistols to choose from without a threaded barrel.

        • The barrel threading was icing on the cake of irritating. The main course of irritation was the proprietary rail on what is already an expensive piece of hardware.

    • You hit the nail on the head. I bought a USP compact when I was too new to know any better. Have since traded it in for a Glock 19 and never looked back.

      Also, the triggers on USPs are terrible. Do this next time you handle one, hold the hammer down with your thumb and try to pull the trigger. And be amazed at the amount of flex in the trigger of your 1000 dollar pistol.

      • Bear in mind that H&K does not use the same trigger across the entire USP line. There is a $318 difference between the basic USP and the USP Tactical in .45. Not all of that price difference is due to the threaded barrel.

    • The threading on the pistol is a common euro style metric thread. A number of manufacturers use LH threading because it supposedly reduces the tendency of things to unscrew themselves while shooting. Notice even the new factory Glock threaded barrels are LH pitch? It’s a simple matter to buy the piston with the correct pitch when you buy a suppressor. All major suppressor makers support all the common pitches (and metric LH is very common).

      There is no excuse for the light rail. It’s stupid and proprietary. A real IR LAM unit would be pretty awesome to have though.

  8. My wife’s CW45 won’t cycle Hornady 45 Auto +P 200 grain TAP FPD either. Malfunctions exactly as you describe. I thought it was a cheap pistol thing.

    • I have a thousand dollar sig1911 that won’t handle mag tech .45 hp +p as well. Same exact malt. Not just a cheap gun thing.

  9. IMHO the HK USP TACTICAL is not a defensive carry pistol. This pistol is one civilian version of the SOCOM MK23 OHWS program. The HK MARK 23 is another. The key word is OFFENSIVE. Both are for those who have the money and want something non-standard to have fun on the range or want something aggressive for TEOTWAWKI.

    Maybe it is far down the practicality matrix but it is very high on the whole lot of fun matrix.

    • Could not have said it better myself. There are reasons for having a gun besides defensive carry. Plus the USP Tactical makes an excellent home defense gun and with the suppressor, won’t even wake the kiddies if you have to ventilate a bad guy

  10. It’s worth noting that you can pick up a Mk23 in the ~$1,500 range used in excellent condition without much difficulty. The $3-400 premium over the (new) USP is definitely worth it, at least it was for me.

    • The Mark 23 is the ultimate SHTF handgun. When they ceased production I purchased the last four my distributor could get his hands on. I use one for range days…the others are stocked away. The USP is not a Mark 23. It’s a fine gun, no doubt…but there’s only one Offensive Handgun; Mark 23. Now let me just figure out how to conceal it.

      • Yup. Same here. Tons of fun at the range, useless for every day use or concealed. The pistol was designed to be strapped to your thigh, and if the S ever HTF to the degree necessary, mine certainly will be.

      • I agree. its practically indestructible, precision accurate, extremely reliable, and capable of firing the most powerful offerings of 45 ACP +P and +P+ with no issues (and even the sledgehammer known as the 45 Super).

        99% of folks will never use their Mark 23’s for the purpose they were intended, though, for a SHTF gun, they would be awesome.

      • I will pick up a used one down the road. Until then I use a FNP-45 Tactical, C-More Systems mini red dot, Surefire X300 with a YHM suppressor. Much fun.

  11. Mixing images of the USP Tactical and USP Compact Tactical is a bit confusing.
    They are two entirely different handguns. The full size has the taller, adjustable target sights, a trigger that is crisper and adjustable for overtravel, as well as just the difference in size. Both have the rubber o-ring barrel, which was not mentioned but has a measurable impact on accuracy. The Compact Tactical as pictured at the top of the review has normal USP-C sights and trigger, and differs primarily from the regular Compact in the threaded, o-ring barrel.

    The threading is a little odd – both USPs being the LH version of the mk23’s RH. Unlike in the rifle world, however, where 1/2-28 or 5/8-24 is reasonably universal, there is not that level of standardization with pistol cans.
    Sig .45s use .578 x 28 TPI, 1911s can be .685×40 or .575×40, others are 9/16×24 or 5/8×24. So, being different is not as egregious as it may sound.

    If I had my choice, I’d probably want .578×28 nowadays, as that covers most of the euro/american modern handguns, but at the time the USP-T was released, there weren’t the number of handguns with factory threaded barrels that we have now.

    I had no trouble getting a suppressor with the proper pitch (thanks Gemtech).

    The USP-T is a tough, well built handgun. I’ve gone through a number of multi-K round weekend training events without a hiccup. While not an ideal concealed carry size for most people, it does carry well outside the waistband. As mentioned in the review, Comp-Tac is a good source – the gladiator works well. I have had leather holsters made with room for the sight and thread protector with good results also. Works very nicely with a Safariland 6004, but that’s not an every day carry option for most of us. Unlike the mk23, if you can carry a glock 21 in reasonable comfort, the full size USP is no problem. The compact, on the other hand, I am so used to at this stage, I barely notice it.

    • Exactly. What was so offensive about it. It’s price, it’s looks or possibly it’s attitude. Is “offensive pistol” like “assualt weapon”?

      • The Military considers a pistol a secondary weapon. Use the pistol until the rifle is ready to fire. The MK23 was designed as a offensive or primary weapon system. The system included the pistol, suppressor and laser aiming device. The system is a primary weapon used for specific tasks. Killing a person or animal as quietly as possible from a moderate distance in an enviroment that a suppressed rifle is not practical. It has no attitude. It is what it is designed to be. As Mr. Fancy mentioned below, a damn heavy beast.

  12. The mark 23 is a badass pistol only in the eyes of people who have never had to pick that beast up. At 3.5 lbs, it had better be reliable. HK is perhaps the most overrated company in the industry, with universally overweight pistols, sloppy triggers, and ergonomics that make a 2×4 look comfy. Oh, but they appear on call of duty posters…

    • “Overrated”? If HK is as bad as your obviously expert mind seems to claim it is why is it the choice weapons of U.S Navy SEALS, British SAS, S.W.A.T., GSG-9? Maybe 3.5 pounds of pistol is unnecessarily heavy for a pistol in todays world, but its possible our special forces are willing to put up with the discomfort in order to have a weapon that they know will keep them alive. Or maybe you just need to hit the gym. Don’t downgrade the entire legacy of the company and all it creates because you don’t like one pistol.

  13. Calling Joe Grine! Joe has one (suppressed) and he loves it. I’ve always considered it a finely made pistol that I don’t seem to shoot very well. To each his own, I guess.

  14. Whoa, wait, another USP article about how socom/devgru/whatever use the Mk.23? That’s a no, and for the same obvious reason everyone else knows-it’s too damn huge. There was a discussion somewhere about this, and basically it’s been all but completely shelved in favor of the .45 CT and the P228.

    Also, HK stopped making them in 2010. Still LOTS of NIB examples out there of course.

  15. Love my MK23, just had it out to the range on Sunday. The weight is not noticeable to me and it is accurate and a sh!t load of fun to shoot.

  16. I think I am the first to notice, but the HK USP broke down almost EXACTLY like a ruger P series. recoil spring/guide rod attaches to frame via slide catch pin, engages the barrel with the same ramp geometry, no wonder its such a good design… I bet they have to pay some royalties on that, its so close that it would land them in court if they did not.

  17. Pretty impressive shooting. I don’t think it was the gun. You should write an article on your technique.

    • Good point. I have a HK USP-T and I can’t shoot it worth a crap. I end up anticipating the recoil and shooting low and to the right about a 1/4 of the time.

  18. Funny how HK uses DOW CORNING products while several Vice Presidents at DOW CORNING are actively trying to shut down the shooting range in Midland MI., DOW CORNING’s home town. Never mind that the range has been there longer than Dow Corning has been a corporation.

    • I live in Midland too, I assume you’re talking about the midland sportsman’s club. What VP’s are trying to get the club shut down? Is there anything I could do to help?

  19. bonjour à tous
    je viens d’acheter un HK USP Tactical
    Que du bonheur ….!!!!
    Effectivement, c’est bien une Mercedes !!!!
    J’ai longtemps hésité avec un Glock, mais l’esthétique de ce 45 a eu raison de moi ….
    Bien m’en a pris 8888

    • Cher Jacintho,

      J’admire votre courage de vous adresser en francais a tous ce monde d’americains, qui prononcent { champe elaiyzes } le nom de la celebre avenue.
      J’admire aussi chez vs, le sens de l’esthetique. Ce n’est jamais une bonne arme, celle qui n’est pas une belle arme.
      Sans vouloir offenser quiconque, je me demande comment bcp de monde en viennent a penser que Glock, est un bon pistolet, ( toute consideration de poids mise a part.).
      Best regards .

  20. Good article. I have 2 USP Tacticals (long story). I love em, and carry 1 every day (open). I have 10K+ rounds combined through them and only 1 stoppage. Not the weapons fault, it stovepiped while I was laying on my right side with the ejection port pretty much on the ground. If/when SHTF I KNOW these will be there and will function with zero difficulties.

  21. Have a USP Tac: “someone” comparing it to a Mercury means “someone” does not actually own one.
    Have Walther and Glocks & shot Sigs: None are more accurate then the USP. Glock & Walther are much less so, throwing arrant rounds anytime and anyplace. Sigs are prone to hot/cold placement….once hot they are in one grouping, cold a different grouping. Not so with the USP.
    The rifling of the USP is quite unique and the reason it is so accurate. No grooves, only lands, (hills) that are sharp not rounded. But it produces a very unique ballistic profile so criminals beware. Highly recommended for the shooter wanting to hit target first time. However, that shooter better have full-size hands. If you can palm a basketball you’re a winner. Occasionally palm a basketball: ok to go. NOT palm a basketball: forget this pistol.

    • I can hold a basket ball with two hands, and I can shoot accurately with an H&K .45 USP Tactical with silencer. I treat the gun like a woman. Not scared of it, it doesn’t “jump” out of my hand, I redirect it after each shot quite adeptly.

      I think people who talk about hand sizes with hand guns HAVE BIG HANDS. I have small hands and haven’t found a gun yet, Beretta, SigSauer, Walter, Smith & Wesson .500… it doesn’t matter… it’s how you aproach handling the firearm and how you react to everything the gun does.

  22. After finally picking up a Mark 23, along w/ all the goodies, I am very impressed; I
    like HK’s; but this one makes the other HK pistols look like poorly finished Glocks! The finish and repeatabilty, accuracy and overall GUNGHO is there in the Mark 23.
    I went in the gunstore the other day, to (maybe) buy a new(er) USP 9; but the finish on MY “used” HK was in better shape and appearance than the “new” pistol.
    I bought a threaded barrel for my old USP 9 instead. Tap Tap.

  23. FYI, Safariland’s 6280 fits the tactical’s sights with no issues. They even make a model that fits with the HK proprietary tac light/insight M2 attached.

    Blackhawk also makes a kydex model that fits the tactical, but its construction is inferior to the Safariland. Feels cheap, and no lining on the interior of the holster either, which tends to excessively wear the gun’s finish.

  24. Hey, I’m just curious but what are the major differences between the USP 45 CT and the HK45 CT?

    Are the metals treated the same way as far as corrosion goes?

    I have smaller hands, is there a big difference in the grip between the two?

    I really enjoyed this write up and am planning on buying either the USP45 CT or the HK45 CT soon but have nowhere to compare them myself in person so I’m relying on online sources before I order one.

  25. I have the H&K usp 45 not the tactical one. This is one amazing gun and a fine shooter both my children ages 12 and 14 had no problem with shooting at a indoor range at about 15 to 25 feet. It’s a fine gun and very easy to put on targets I would like to put night sights on it but other then that great gun. I do feel more confident shooting my colt 1911 series 70 but I think its a weight and balance thing. More time shooting and I feel I will overcome that. I recommend it to anyone looking for a full-frame 45

  26. The mark 23 was built to be an offensive pistol. They have since been shelved and the h&k 45c tactical has replaced it. The over all length of the mark 23 with a surpressor is similar in length to the mp 7 and the older mp5. The thought was that if you have a sub gun with higher capacity and isn’t much longer than the mark 23, The mp 5 with integrated surpressor I mean; then why use a pistol. By most people’s standard the mark 23 is a big pistol add a surpressor and its a huge weapon. With all that said, I’d still love to own one. As for the sig guys out there, they are great guns. The 226 was almost the standard side arm of the us military but beretta beat sig out by less than eight dollars per gun. The usp is a direct descendent of the mark 23 pistol with the recoil buffer system. I have been a 1911 guy all of my life, with a smith revolver hear and there, the h&k usp, 45’s, and mark 23’s are the finest combat pistol ever devised. They are rugged, accurate, well thought out with the help of a lot of (I hate to use this term) tier one guys and they generally are the end users of them. The regular naval special warfare guys still get 226’s, the special forces and the rangers still get beretta 92’s; those are great guns.

  27. What happens when the O-ring wears out? Or does it? I remember when those first came out thinking that was a bad idea but time would tell…

  28. I have a Stainless USP .45 full size, and a regular finished USP .45 full size. Bought them together in 1995. In ~5500 combined rounds I have yet to have a malfunction. Very accurate pistols. Very well made. The SS is my bedside weapon, the standard USP is for winter CWP (summer CWP is a Glock 26). I expect all three to outlast me 🙂

  29. I have both the Glock 21 and the HK45 USP. I love the look and feel of my HK45, but the Glock is more accurate and easier to breakdown. If the world went to hell in a hand basket and I could only take one pistol. it’ my Glock 21. I know, I know, that HK45 is a sweet baby.

  30. I own a HK.45, I love it. I sail around the world and this is my go to weapon. I have half packed rounds to accommodate my Gemtech silencer but never needed them. I leave it loaded on board with a suppressor to speed up the .45 rounds
    Fully loaded magazine after magazine .45s didn’t break the sound barrier, remained accurate and never inside outed the can. I have held off AKs with this gem. I have an AK on board with tracer rounds but never needed it because the TAC .45 is so both accurate and smooth.

  31. I own a Beretta Special Duty 45 and a USP 45 and of the 2 I prefer the build quality and craftsmanship of the HK, I also can control the HK better in rapid fire target drills, but maybe thats due to its LEM trigger . There is also that Mystique of HK being used by the special forces community and I also like that they are made in Germany with strict quality control, Overall the USP 45 with the LEM trigger is my favorite 45 caliber handgun in the world !!!

  32. Gotta love the nordic car analogies.
    An M5 beemer is hard to beat, for the 1st 60k miles.
    An SMG can stack up, but is heavier and clumsier. Who cares.
    Bottom line_____
    Buy a USP and have on of the most durable, accurate, reliable pistols made.

  33. My 45 tactical is ungodly accurate as stated above. A big favorite with everyone when my friends and I go to the range.Never a FTF. Worth every dime of the 800 I paid-used as new with the cool soft case- CCDN has extra mags pretty much all the time. Now for the Mk 23 when the old lady aint looking

  34. Not sure if anyone commented on this, but here it goes. In regards to the left handed threads, they’re actually not doing it to be dicks. As your bullet leaves the barrel, it is rotating clockwise ( right hand spin). This force is exerted on anything past the muzzle. Threading the barrel the opposite way insures that the suppressor does not turn loose. It will, in effect, keep it on tight. It’s not uncommon. As a machinist, I work with a lot of tools that have reverse threading. The proprietary rail though, that’s them being dicks!

  35. Read all the comments on the USP but nothing about the ammo. Question: Can “lead”
    projectiles (bullets) be shot thru the USP? They are not recommended to be used with the

  36. I have a USP 9 with an oversized mag release (very easy to install). I love it except for the proprietary rail and the flexible trigger (planning to upgrade to a match one see if that cures it). I made the mistake of trying to feed it the steel-cased TulAmmo my neighbor brought over. I got a FTE after shooting just 3 rounds and it took a lot of force to clear the jam. The case was stuck in the chamber. I wound up pushing the rear sight against a metal chair to move the slide back. The gun ran fine afterward. Never had a problem with other ammo.

  37. In answer to Bill Gass’s question, I have shot SWC lead reloads without a jam in my USP .45 when every other one would fail to fully feed into my GLOCK 30. The USP .45 has eaten everything I tried through it.

  38. Ex US Navy…I shoot Bullseye pistol comp regularly, which is done @ 25 and 50 yds. One handed, the real way to shoot a pistol. I picked up a USP Tactical earlier this year and it shoots as good as my race guns at these distances and eats reloads and factory ammo, no problem. I like this gun and like another poster said…keeping my eyes open for Mk23 when the better half isn’t looking.

    The point about the distances…if you and the gun can hold 2″ or less at 25 yds and you get in situation where you are closer and operating…well, most likely you will just end up with one big hole downrange after squeezing off five…so this gun is a winner in my book.

  39. All you need is a good High Point in .45 the rest eye candy. I know I have the HK
    Mk23 ,the whole set up ,blocks I ment glocks ,p7m8s ,m13s PSPs Ed Browns Dan Wesson vbob ,pythons set in bright stainless that I sold three of, at the end of the day when the High Point runs out of ammo you can throw it at him or give him a good pistol whipping . I could and will sell everything except the mk 23 that is the most accurate pistol I ever shot and ever owned.

  40. Having never owned an HK USP, but relying on your article… For roughly the same price, I certainly would choose an FNX (same caliber). Yes, the grip is larger, but it too offers multiple back straps. Add to that, 15 round magazines, dead ass reliability, bullet-proof finish, DA/SA with an exposed hammer, AND no proprietary BS regarding barrel thread, rail, etc.The choice is really quite simple.

    • FNX-45 Tac is rugged, supremely reliable (no FTF/FTE with ANYTHING after I learned to hold on tight), pleasant to shoot, handles well even if you don’t have big hands, non-proprietary threading and rail, milled for RMR (awesome sight once dialed in). Field-strips in a flash, cleaning is a dream. Has the “quality” exactly where it’s needed in a military sidearm. Hardly crappy…

      H&K are nice weapons. I’ve handled them all but am beyond happy with the FN FNX-45 T. To each his own…no need to disparage one or the other of two fine weapons from two great manufacturers.

  41. Recently bought a Tactical HK .45 Variant 1 Compact w/ 3dot nightsight trudot , black slide w/ a TAN bottom’ hahaha! “Rare made pistol HK doesn’t make em like that no more”, The Hecklor Koch Assistant pointed out ‘don’t get rid of it.. Bought it From a gun-collector for a grand!!!! WISH I CAN POST A PICTURE!

    Smooth and Accurate hit center targets at 20yrd. Everything on point no issues what so ever! Hey GO BIGG OR DON’T COME AT ALL Right! By reading the early comments Thanks for the tip about Hornady ammunition don’t want this machine misuse in anyway or form.

    *Reliable Pistol – (( HK .45Tac )) checked off my list.

    Next A
    *Reliable Rifle – (( MK47 Mutant 7.62 )) 2015 BestRifles

  42. Hk made the cutt for a military side arm. America waved the hk because it was too expensive to replace the standard military side arms with HK’S.. America rather lose their soldiers defending it than to spend it where it’s needed #BETTERPISTOLS.. but can spend 1.2 billion in tomahawks to destroy country sites for switching their currency of money.. #SadAmerica What do you really know? Bring me truth.

  43. Still trying to buy one of these. “Gonna’ make a 45 Super fo’ my own”. Cannot think of a better platform to start with. 6,000 PROOF!!! LOADS??? Bullet lodged in the barrel, cleared by another round being fired behind the obstruction – continued to operate normally?? NOOOOOOOOOOO outfit makes a 45 EVEN CLOSE!!! All this said by a class A#1 S&W/Springfield fan.

  44. So, I own 50+ modern firearms, almost every toy you can imagine. I’ve never said “holy shit” out loud as when I got my new USP 45 Tactical, and all the accessories (opted for USP Tactical 45, over the Mark23 due to Mark23 being “too big”, and having same magazine capacity and 0.8″ shorter, I saw no benefit). German “BI” year (2018) USP 45 Tactical is absurdly accurate, and built like a tank.

    Personally when it comes to accuracy/reliability, it can only compete with my Glock 17s which are more natural for me (I’ve spent decade using them though), Sig P226 is 3rd place – and I would consider it a compromise of the two. Won’t bother comparing USP to the rest of the pistols on earth. If you have the money, go buy one.

    Bottom line – I liked the car analogy. I’d phrase it like this … H&K is Porsche, Glock is BMW, Sig is Audi. If you know cars and guns, that’s all you need to know.

  45. Tactical Tailor makes a nylon OWB that will fit the USP with or without a light/laser and it will even fit the pistol with a suppressor attached. I would, however, love to see someone try IWB carry with the monster the USP is.

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