I am a .40 Smith & Wesson fan. No, let me rephrase that. I am a .40 S&W fanatic. Unlike many, I appreciate the .40 S&W cartridge and guns chambered in it. Two of the guns I love are made by Heckler & Koch and SIG Sauer. I know what you’re going to say; both are better chambered in 9mm, with higher capacity, less recoil, blah, blah, blah.
But guess what, folks. I DON’T CARE. I like them in the original cartridge that they were designed for. Yes, all you .40 S&W haters can take this little fact all the way to the bank. The Teutonic Space Wizards of HK and the Alpine Yodeling Sorcerers at SIG both designed their guns to chamber the awesome power of the .40 S&W and that’s the way they were both first released, not that old and outdated 9x19mm round.
HK introduced the USP Compact back in 1996 and it immediately took off in popularity.
This gun took the shooting world as well as pop culture by storm. I remember when the USP Compact was the gun in almost any video game, television show, or movie. It was also a hit with law enforcement across the country.
While HK has tried to retire the original USP line with updated designs like the P2000. The gun just keeps on trucking and folks keep buying it. It’s just that popular.
SIG Sauer, not wanting to be left behind, designed and released the SIG Pro series in 1998.
But the SIG Pro was a flop when it was released. I remember when they came out, folks thought it was SIG Sauer pulling a S&W and cheaping out with polymer like when Big Blue released the Sigma series. Shooters looked at the SIG Pro line as a cheap knockoff of the classic and hugely popular P229 pistol.
SIG went back to the drawing board and updated the design with a new generation and really hit their stride when the French Police Nationale ordered over 250,000 pistols back in 2002. Since then, the gun has been a sleeper hit. I recall in the mid 2010s folks raving about the SP2022 and how great a deal it was.
Both came out back then I was all about GLOCK and Beretta for my automatic needs (they still are my favorites). But I happen to own some of the goods that both SIG and HK have released and I find the USP Compact and SP2022 to be excellent designs.
The USP Compact is an excellent pistol and while it has been updated with the P2000 line, the old school original is still just as capable today as it was then. Yeah, that accessory rail might be a tad outdated. But aside from that, there isn’t a single thing wrong with using this gun as a modern, capable DA/SA hammer fired polymer framed pistol. Especially with it chambered in .40 S&W since the gun was designed from the ground up for it.
The SP2022 is, in my opinion, SIG Sauer’s real final original design before the transition to the P320. It’s the ultimate iteration of the P22x line. It took everything that was successful with the P220, P226, and P229 and adapted it to a polymer frame.
From there it was further refined in the Sig Pro line until we got to the SP2022. Again, being designed from the ground up for .40 S&W, this gun has no issues with the cartridge. It is SIG’s best DA/SA gun out there.
While the HK and SIG are different designs, they’re both made with superb ergonomic and mechanical layouts. The control levers on the USP Compact and the SP2022 are easily useable for most shooters. Both share the same capacity of 12 rounds when chambered in .40 S&W and both can shoot .357 SIG with nothing more than a barrel swap.
The mags for both guns are well made. Since both are marketed as compacts, the guns are comfortable since the magazines for both have a small finger rest.
Both pistols being creatures of the 1990s, the idea of a removable serialized fire control group didn’t exist yet. These guns were built with the frame acting as the serialized receiver and HK embedded the slide rails into the polymer.
SIG instead has a large steel block that can be removed from the frame along with a removable trigger group. You can see how that led to the genesis of what would eventually be the fire control group of the P320.
Recoil wise, HK made the USP Compact a real soft-shooting gun due to the inclusion of a polymer recoil buffer on the captured recoil spring assembly.
SIG used a polymer guide rod and non-captured spring.
The grip texturing on both guns is aggressive but not overly abrasive. The SIG designed theirs with a removable grip panel to accomodate different hand sizes. The HK grip is “this is what you get and you’ll like it” size. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t comfortable for most shooters.
Both guns shoot well, produce very reasonable recoil, are easy and light to carry, simple to take apart, and are both excellent representatives of their era.
Prior to the insanity of the 2020 panic, you could get a SP2022 for under $400 new and a USP Compact under $450 used. That’s the only major difference between the two.
A new USP Compact carried an ungodly price tag, which I would never pay. The massive amounts of police trade-in guns chambered in .40 S&W meant that there were great deals to be had out there for USP Compacts. But alas…those deals are gone.
With both HK and SIG having dipped their toes into the striker fired market and that’s not going to change. SIG is is making huge inroads with the P320 and HK is doing well with their VP series. While HK’s legacy guns like the USP Compact are still selling, I can see them eventually canceling USP production at some point. Especially since they have the P2000 and P30 line out there, too.
SIG has already started to slowly deemphasize their DA/SA guns and the SP2022 is being treated like a redheaded stepchild. Don’t be surprised if they go away, too. They’ve already ceased production of the .40 S&W and .357 SIG chambered guns.
Eventually, both SIG and HK may go all-in and stop producing DA/SA guns entirely. I’m just grateful that I was able to snag both of these for a great price before the insanity took hold.
Hopefully, as the gun market slowly returns to something approaching “normal,” these guns will drop in price again and folks will be able to snag them on the cheap like I did.
Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America.