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I still remember coming of age as a shooter when the polymer revolution happened. I went from shooting K-Frame S&W Revolvers and Beretta Wonder-Nines to those crazy Austrian Polymer Pistols that everyone thought wouldn’t catch on. It really was an interesting time as the polymer gun did, in fact, catch on.

But GLOCK wasn’t the first with a polymer frame and it wasn’t the last.

First up was HK’s Tactical Staple Gun, the VP70Z. I did a whole article on its history already, so I won’t go into extreme detail. But HK beat GLOCK to the punch by a decade with the first commercially available polymer framed striker fired pistol.

It was a complete failure on the market. The gun had some great ideas on paper and an overall good design, but it needed to be refined and the biggest and most glaring issue with the VP70Z was the trigger. HK kept it in production until the late 1980s and by then there were far better choices out on the market.

Guns like the GLOCK Model 17!

Yup, GLOCK might have been beaten by HK. But GLOCK got it right. The gun actually functioned and felt like a gun, not like a 1960s Buck Rogers branded toy blaster. The trigger was far better than anything HK offered at the time and it was affordable.

It was GLOCK that got the polymer frame striker fired gun noticed. GLOCK, through their aggressive advertising and even more aggressive sales tactics with American law Enforcement, secured their market place for twenty years.

The collapse of new pistol development by the enactment of the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 sure also helped GLOCK keep that market hold since any new competitor had to rely solely on police and military contracts.

But that didn’t stop an upstart from Croatia from dipping their toes in the US market in 1999.

Yes, it was that long ago that what we now know as the Springfield Armory XD originally hit the market. Made by IM Metal (who would later change their name to HS Produkt) and originally sold as the HS2000. This pistol was touted as the “GLOCK killer.” Others tried in the 1990s like S&W with their Sigma, FN with their Forty-Nine, and CZ with their CZ-110, just to name a few.

They all were commercial flops and didn’t secure government contracts. The Sigma was the only one that lingered on since Big Blue was just being crushed in the police market. They were losing market share left and right to GLOCK, HK, SIG, and Beretta.

Anyway, when the HS2000 was introduced to the US in late 1999 it sold well as a sleeper hit. It had one thing going for it that the other guns, except GLOCK, didn’t: it could use pre-ban magazines. The stash of pre-ban 17rd and 15rd mags (available at inflated prices) were a big factor that kept GLOCK popular throughout the AWB, and the HS2000 benefitted from a similar advantage.

In the HS2000’s case, one could purchase the plentiful Beretta 92 magazine, cut a new magazine catch into it, and you had 15rd mags for your post-ban produced pistol.

So enough with the stroll down memory lane, lets get to the guns!

When field stripping, the HK is the odd one of this bunch. The GLOCK and HS2000 are similar in takedown, because they’re similar in mechanical function whereas the VP70Z is a clear outlier.

The GLOCK and HS2000 shoot from a locked breeched design while the HK is direct blowback.

On ergonomics and grip shape design, you can see the evolution into what would eventually become the industry standard.

The magazines for all three guns are well built and reliable. The HK holds 18rds, the GLOCK holds 17rds, and the HS200 holds 15rds with its original magazine. When Springfield Armory got the marketing rights, HS Produkt increased it to 16rds.

The sights are different, too. The HK has a fixed front sight while the HS2000 has a drift adjustable front sight. The GLOCK has the standard plastic sights that everyone would ditch for a set of night sights.

So with those sights, how are they in terms of accuracy? I did a five shot string with each gun at 25 yards doing a two handed combat hold. I think the targets speak for themselves.

Even with the odd front sight and horrible trigger (which I slightly upgraded with a replacement striker spring from Wolff Spring) the HK was capable of minute of bad guy.

The HS2000 is factory; I haven’t done a single thing to the gun other than shoot it and clean it. You can see that it shot the tightest group.

The GLOCK shot like a GLOCK. Nothing to write about. This gun is bone stock and it is what you’d expect from a GLOCK. Combat accurate for bad guy distances.

So about this GLOCK, it is a new production P80; it isn’t a legit retro original. But it fits the niche for me. I started shooting with a real Gen 1 GLOCK back in the day, but as the newer generations would come out I’d sell my guns and upgrade.

But I’ve had an itch for a Gen 1 or Gen 2 GLOCK, and with the 2020 panic buying the prices on the original used GLOCKs skyrocketed. Luckily for me, one of my usual haunts, Red Hills Arms in Tallahassee, FL had the Lipsey’s exclusive GLOCK P80 in stock. They always have cool stuff, like the Gryojet Rocket Pistol I reviewed.

I figured a brand new Gen 1 pattern GLOCK for under $500 ain’t a bad deal, especially since legit Gen 1 GLOCKs are orbiting close to $1,000 these days. I’m using my original pre-ban mags in it and even still have the original Gen 1 spare parts that I had saved.

Like I said, I remember when GLOCK was really the only player with a polymer frame striker fired design. I recall going to Trail Glades Range in Miami, FL and whipping out a Gen 2 GLOCK 17 and pre-ban 17rd mags while other shooters had S&W Model 686s or automatics like 1911s and Ruger P90s.

The idea of having a gun that light in weight with that many rounds on tap was earth shattering. Folks would always ask to shoot the GLOCK and I’d always say yes, of course.

Guns like the HK were oddities. Even with the larger (then average of the time) capacity, the gun was overlooked and it languished on store shelves. Even when HK was blowing them out for cheap. The trigger was always the biggest complaint.

But when the HS2000 hit the scene, it really was the first gun to chip away at GLOCK’s stranglehold on the market. Here you had an affordable pistol that was well made and came with a decent trigger, too. Mags weren’t that much of an issue due to the fact you could easily modify pre-ban Beretta 92 mags for it, which was a big selling point. The darn thing was also under $350 new.

Today, the market has evolved to being predominantly nothing but polymer frame striker fired guns. SIG, HK, FN, Beretta, S&W, Ruger, CZ, Walther, Steyr and many more all make ’em in one flavor or another.

But there really was a time when guns like these were the odd ones.

The modern iterations have red dot sights, fancy triggers, suppressor height iron sights, swappable frames, and grip panels.

The three guns shown here are starting to get to where they might be viewed as outdated, even the GLOCK P80. It is a remake of the Gen 1 guns. But you know what, I still carry all three guns for self-defense. Yes, even the tactical staple gun from HK. They’re all capable and like I said, even the HK is minute of bad guy accurate with all of its faults. It’ll do its job if I do mine.

So don’t worry about playing catch up with the neighbors and about what’s the latest tacticool whizbang. If you have something like what I wrote about today, it is still capable and useful.

Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America.


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  1. I really love my revolvers. I only currently have one semi auto pistol. A bog standard, complete with factory sights, G19. Thanks to freedom week I even have standard cap mags for it.

    To mangle some one’s phrase, ‘the G19 has everything you need in a fighting handgun and nothing you don’t need.’

  2. The Wolff spring takes the VP-70’s trigger from “ungodly awful” to just plain “awful”, in that it’s about half as heavy but the travel is still just as long and creepy. I use that Strikeman setup to practice getting used to the trigger pull, because I figure if you can shoot proficiently with that, you can handle ANY other trigger out there.

  3. I’ve said it once I’ll say it again, that HK says hi-point to me. It’s really a shame that we can’t get the nifty 3 round burst stocks for them.

    I’d do either of the 2 other guns as well, Glocks aren’t my favorite but certainly not unusable and I have an XD in .45 which is a good shooter. I totally dig the 92 mags as well (didn’t know that) which means theoretically you could make some happy sticks for it too.

    • Also, I enjoy these blurbs from Louis. He has a taste for the waning days of the revolver and the emergence of wonder 9s and the likes. It’s a fun time in the history of US firearms.

    • After Gun Jesus’s review and shooting video of the VP-70’s burst….I’ll pass, even as a range toy, even if I COULD get it.

  4. I remember that HK. I kinda liked the squeeze cockers they had back in the day but in today’s market I wouldn’t even give it a second glimpse. Glock got it right but it’s time for everyone to move forward and stop making “upgraded” models that are just Glocks.
    And why are we even still using powder? Move forward

    • “And why are we even still using powder? Move forward”

      Caseless ammo still uses a chemical propellant, it’s just molded and fused to the projectile.

      Do you have any better ideas?

      • “Wasn’t the .gov experimenting with liquid propellant?”

        In a carry sidearm?

        • Naval Artillery, I can believe.

          Naval engineers have have the science of plumbing and piping on a ship down *cold*…

        • If I recall the technology, it was something like ‘fuel injection for cannons.’ The idea was to have no case, but instead a combustion chamber into which was squirted a measured amount of liquid propellant that was electrically ignited–not all that much different from caseless bagged propellant, but with a much smaller chamber and no residue to speak of, and probably safer to have a thick-walled tank of liquid propellant than several tons of bagged powder or rod propellant lying about.

        • That’s just what I need, a gun that leaks corrosive rocket propellant onto my pants!

    • A buddy picked a Police trade in a few years ago. Biggest issue, there’s absolutely no support from HK for the P8’s. Parts are few and far between, and when you do find someone with some parts, expect to pay 4 to 5 times MSRP.

      HK’s lack of support for their older models, is a reason I don’t own one. Piss poor customer service too.

  5. A buddy of mine has the HK. He brought it out to the range one day about 30 years back and offered me to fire it.

    I passed. It just struck me as being a weird gun. Alien-looking beastie. Looking at it then gave me the same reaction today of reading the ridiculous attempts at ‘insults’ my psychotic troll pathetically hurls at me and others here in TTAG. 😉

    I did take him up on the offer to fire the Glock 19 he also brought. It interested me, at the time…

    • So I’m thinking ‘cool, 16 comments already’. Then I see that 6 of the comments were made by Geoff. If I wanted to read the unhinged rantings of a mentally disturbed coward, I would have printed out a transcript from one of former President Trump’s recent money grabs, errr, freedom rallies.

      • “Then I see that 6 of the comments were made by Geoff.”

        7, moron. Then again, it’s no surprise you can’t count.

        The answer is simple – If you don’t like what I say, don’t read it. There are a few folks here I don’t read, you can do the same… 😉

  6. The original full size Sigma was a PD issued handgun with a 1911 grip.
    It was pretty much the exact same size as the Glock 17.
    Glock thought it had too much in common with its G17.
    Glock stole the .40S&W cartridge so S&W stole the Glock.
    The lawsuit was settled by the legal fees being paid by S&W.
    Glock did not get a percentage of Sigma profits but had to change some internals.
    The trigger wasn’t great but was better then the SDVEs.
    If you look you can find these unfired as foreign police trade ins.
    The trigger is heavy like a DA revolver so LEOs were used to it.
    They were in the 9 to 10lb range.
    I bought one new in 1994 with two 17 round magazines for $300.
    I went to Trak Auto and there was a gun shop in the same mini-mall.
    I got brake pads and a gun. The old days were a hoot.
    It was in the summer of 1994 before the AWB but anything made before that date was exempt.
    I still have it in my safe and the only problem has been two broken extractors.
    S&W has fixed it twice on their dime. That’s standing behind your warranty.
    I have shot it twice in the last ten years. It’s part of history.
    I’m pretty confident I can pop a loaded mag in and it will go boom 17 times.
    This is a foreign PD trade in:
    For $399 you can own a part of retro polymer history.
    This gun is likely unfired if you get a Grade A one.

    • Nobody stole .40 S&W. S&W submitted it to SAAMI, and they accepted it. Since S&W didn’t give it a copyrightable name, like Grendel or Beowulf, anybody could use it.

  7. Bob, Yes it appears so but I have seen the Sigmas from iammo that are rated Grade A that are unfired.
    I just thought it was relevant to Luis’s article, I think he forgot that the Sigma was a serious competitor to to the Glock. I really don’t deal with Gun Broker.

    Amymouse, This what I have read about the Glock-Sigma lawsuit but this is 27 years ago and I doubt Glock or S&W is going to tell the real story. I heard similar things from when S&W had warranty stations.
    One fixed up the trigger on my Sigma after I complained that not only was the extractor broken but the trigger was a bit gritty and heavy. (It was smooth but it was heavy)

    “It is a tit for tat kinda deal. S&W came up with 40 S&W caliber spent time developing Glock beat S&W to market with 40S&W calibered pistol was highly discracing for S&W. S&W came back with copying the Glock. Glock made the mistake of putting S&W behind the 40.”

    “Wasn’t the first time that S&W had been beaten to the market in a caliber that they introduced…
    Ruger beat S&W to the market with a .44 Magnum.”

    There used to be the entire settlement posted on the internet but it’s long gone now. This was settled a couple of decades ago. Like I wrote I went to Trak Auto for brake pads. Trak Auto has been out of business for 20 years. I put the brake pads in my trunk and checked out the new gunshop that was next to TA in the mini mall. The owner gave me the sell and haggled himself down. I really had no intention of buying a plastic gun, my buddy had a Gen 1 or 2 G17 in the early ’90s and I absolutely hated it. It just felt unnatural in my hand. The Sigma had the 18 degree grip angle and I was a 1911 guy. The Glock with it’s 22 degree grip angle just threw off my shooting. His Glock melted when his Fiero burnt to the tires, they had a tendency to do that.

    Before his Feiro just started on fire when he was sleeping, I would regularly kick his ass with the Sigma against his Glock. The Sigma was my first plastic gun, I was really a 1911 guy and then I got a Beretta 84FS. It was artsy for a .380 and was my carry piece.

    Basically what it came down to was the LGS wanted $350 + transfer + tax and a $2 NICS check. The owner literally haggled himself down to $300 OTD. He also threw in some WWB but back then that was what, about $5 a box?

    To be young and dumb again……

  8. Having worked in the industry from the early-mid 90’s through the early 00’s, I had all of the handguns mentioned here in our display cases. The best way to describe the HK VP70Z (for those old enough to remember) is that it looked like, felt like, and had a trigger pull just like the plastic disc-firing Star Trek Phaser toy guns from my childhood. Seriously- it was just like an adult version of that “Disc Phaser” plastic toy pistol. Bizarre.

    We sold mountains of black tupperware boxes of Glocks- and, just like now, people either loved them or hated them. I wanted to love them, but after years of handling every Glock model hundreds of times daily- their unnatural grip angle kept me from ever adding one to my personal defense rotation. For me, and for many others, S&W’s Sigma was my “Glock”- and after several decades of flawless performance (in 9mm and .40) I still have a .40 Sigma beside my bed for things that go bump in the night.

    The Intrac HS2000 was a hard sell. A plastic “Soviet Bloc” handgun frequently misassociated with “Intratec” (of TEC-9/22 fame) was pretty well shunned until Springfield put their name on it (and it’s still a hot potato topic).

    Thanks for the short stroll down memory lane.

  9. The VP70Z’s trigger sucked. Measured in Foot/lbs not Inch/lbs. A friend has one, to this day, no one I know can keep that POS on target.

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