The HK P30 Series

Tactical Iron For The Gunman Of Distinction

By Will Dabbs MD
Photos: Sarah Dabbs

Rolex, Ritz Carlton, Rolls Royce and Dom Perignon. In the realm of watches, hotels, automobiles and adult beverages, these names are synonymous with quality, refinement, class and sophistication. Timex, Motel 6, Yugo and Mad Dog will also tell time, keep you dry, transport you around town and drown your troubles. However, where the first list might spontaneously conjure a torrent of refined superlatives, this latter enumeration, well, not so much. In the field of tactical firearms, the moniker typically traveling in the same rarefied circles as Rolex, Ritz, Rolls, and Dom is Heckler and Koch.

While the reputation for quality we have come to expect out of Oberndorf, Germany is well established, that reputation comes at a cost. For the gun nerd on a budget it can be tough to swing a whole lot of NIB HK iron. However, if you are willing to stretch the gun budget a wee bit farther the HK P30 is the very image of the modern refined combat handgun.


The HK P30L is high-end iron for the discriminating gunman.
Exquisitely well executed, the P30L offers a bewildering array
of grip combinations, legendary reliability, and a trigger that
is simply superb.


The HK P30L comes with three interchangeable backstraps and six
side panels. By experimentally sampling the various permutations
these devices facilitate, the pistol can be optimized for any
adult human hand.

Impeccable Pedigree and Vital Statistics

The P30 chassis has been around for a while. Originally developed as an evo-lutionary development of the USP (Universal Self-Loading Pistol), the P30 pio-neered such features as interchangeable backstraps and side panels. As such, the P30 can be configured to fit just about any human hand perfectly. The full size 9mm P30 sports a 15-round magazine, two different barrel lengths, and three disparate trigger configurations. The same options are available in a .40-caliber version with a 12-round magazine as well.

The P30L has a 4″ polygonally rifled barrel. The standard P30 comes equipped with a 3.86″ tube and commensurately shorter slide. Sights are non-nuclear luminescent and the dust cover is cut for standard Picatinny accesso-ries. The magazine release is a thumb-operated bilateral lever. The safety and slide release levers are mirrored identically on both sides of the gun.


The bilateral controls are not the afterthought they might be on
a lesser pistol. The thumb-activated safety is mirrored perfectly
on both sides of the gun and allows safe carry in Condition 1
with the hammer back in an appropriate holster if desired.



The slide release is a bilateral appendage that is easy
to manipulate without being cumbersome.

Zen and the Art of the Trigger

The V1 and V2 Law Enforcement Modification (LEM) triggers are long and predictable double-action-only rigs designed originally for Law Enforcement cus-tomers. Europeans refer to this configuration as the Combat Defense Action (CDA) system. This design melds the consistent first-to-last round trigger pull of a striker-fired handgun with the multi-strike capability of a double action pis-tol.

The V1 reviewed here on the Sub Kompact is described as a Light Double Action Only and it was a delightfully fresh experience for me. Imagine single ac-tion light combined with double-action-long you’ll be close. There is a very smooth and fairly long takeup followed by a nice crisp break. Unlike a great many atrociously heavy DAO triggers found on compact handguns, the entire process is comfortable and conducive to proper accuracy. There is no external safety but the long predictable takeup means you have to be intentional to fire the weapon. The HK LEM variant is lightweight throughout while remaining safe, pleasant and shooter-friendly.

The V3 trigger is a more conventional single action/double action design available with and without an external safety. With the external safety in place the gun can be safely carried cocked and locked with the hammer back in a proper holster if desired. The V3 version also sports a clever little decocker tab that sticks out of the back of the slide in just the right spot for manipulation by the thumb of a right-handed operator.


The trigger on the HK P30 is available in three major configurations.
V1 and V2 are HK’s proprietary Law Enforcement Modification designs
that are variations on the classic double-action-only arrangement.
The V3 is a conventional double-action/single-action setup.

The standard sights on the HK P30L are non-nuclear luminescent and steel.
The tapered design both front and back makes them robust and snag-free.


Surefire makes tactical lights bright enough to induce sunburn. Their X400 combines a 500-lumen white illuminator with a 5 mw green laser all in a light-weight package. Winchester’s Train and Defend line of defensive handgun am-munition addresses a classic gun store quandary. Defend rounds launch serious expanding social bullets while the corresponding Train version pushes an other-wise identical FMJ bullet at a markedly lower cost.


A top-tier handgun like the HK P30L deserves a proper tactical light.
The Surefire X400 combines a 500-lumen white light with a high-intensity
green la-ser and is tough enough for military use.

Street Work

The P30L is about half an inch longer than the standard P30 yet it still car-ries underneath a light jacket or a shirttail as well as any other full-sized hand-gun might. All the edges are nicely melted and the steel sights are fully snag-free. It was on the range, however, where I was reminded that you do indeed get what you pay for.

The long-slide P30L rides perfectly in the hand once the various side panels and back straps have been optimized. The trigger is smooth and predictable and the V3 version with a manual safety facilitates a variety of carry configurations to suit the most discriminating gunman. Running the gun alongside less expen-sive options is an interesting exercise.

The recoil spring assembly incorporates a unique sliding counterweight and polymer buffer system that almost magically tames the recoil stroke. The pistol pushes more than snaps and it’s in this nuance the refinement of the design is best manifest. Reliability was, as expected, flawless, and bouncing a soft drink can at twenty-five meters was almost monotonous.


The various revolutionary engineering components pioneered by the
HK P30L were carried forward into their new striker-fired VP9 as well.
The family lineage is obvious at a glance to any initiated observer.


Apparently they keep the magical HK pixie dust in that buffered silver
counterweight thing. This clever device softens recoil and spreads out
the im-pulse over a longer period, making the firing sequence more of a
shove than a snap.

Waxing Introspective

The HK P30 really is a magnificent handgun. The exquisite engineering and pervasive attention paid to ergonomics, internal mechanics and functional de-tails are obvious to any initiated observer. The plethora of backstraps and side grips allow for unprecedented customization and the rubberized hammer tip fa-cilitates easy purchase when wet or rushed. The controls work with comparable efficiency on either side of the gun. Any $150 beater 9mm gangster special from the local pawnshop will throw 9mm bullets downrange. However, the HK P30L does it with so much more style.

There was a time in my life when diapers and rent ate up all of my gun mon-ey. Nowadays, I can be patient and eventually scrape up enough to spring for the good stuff. The HK P30 is that good stuff.

Perfectly engineered by the same guys who arm Delta, the SAS and the fin-est counter-terror soldiers in the Free World, the HK P30 is what other combat handguns aspire to be. Perfectly matched to my anatomy, extraordinarily capa-ble in the right hands, and monotonously reliable, the P30 is high-end iron for the Discriminating Gunman.


The HK P30SK (right) falls in between full-sized service pistols like
this P30L (left) and slim pocket guns like the Glock 43. As such, it’s
bulkier than some yet remains as easy to run as a larger gun.

Concealed Carry for Serious Gunmen

The HK P30SK

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
—1 Corinthians 19:11

My first concealed carry weapon was an FIE Titan in .25 ACP. In retrospect those little quarter-inch bullets might have been a tactical improvement over foul language and obscene gestures but not by much. These days I pack a grownup gun.


The Heckler and Koch P30SK is a miniaturized version of their superb P30 service pistol. SK stands for Sub Kompact in the German vernacular. The dust cover includes a stubby bit of rail and the abbreviated double column magazine carries ten rounds. Like its larger siblings, three interchangeable backstraps combined with six different grip panels mean that the gun can be custom fit to any human hand.

It shot great. Why don’t we just leave it at that? This is an HK pistol. The little gun groups well with all manner of decent ammo, recoil management is su-perb, and the controls are such that the gun runs comparably well in either hand. The fifth finger of the firing hand naturally curls underneath the grip for a nice stable platform. The day a NIB HK firearm does not run admirably will be a sure harbinger of the apocalypse.

This is a mid-sized carry gun. Duty weapons are longer and taller. Deep cov-er pistols are skinnier and easier to pack but less comfortable on the range. This chubby little gun really lent itself to rapid fire. I found that I shot the gun just about as well in a hurry as I did when I really slowed down and took my time. I attribute this phenomenon to HK’s unique LEM trigger system but it imbues the shooter with an interesting faith in the piece.

For a tool that I carry to defend my family I don’t cut corners. I always pack an esteemed handgun from a respected manufacturer and fill it with the most expensive defensive ammunition money can buy. In the world of combat fire-arms Heckler and Koch carries an incomparable gravitas.

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