The HK45 (for those who have been living on the moon for the past few years) needs little introduction, but if you must, allow me to introduce it. The Heckler & Koch HK45 is a standard frame 45 ACP handgun born from the culmination of several platforms and circumstances. The HK is derived from the ever-popular HK USP 45 and HK Mark 23, as well as the 1911 (cancelled HK project), as well as a bid for supplying U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
The HK45 is robust, yet simple. The design features a polymer frame, steel slide, and the beloved HK handgun grip. HK approached the HK45 with much of what the Mark 23 offers, yet smaller like the USP 45. I should note that the Mark 23 is one of the largest 45 ACP handguns on the market, an absolute beast. In terms of weight, the HK45 is on par with other polymer/steel platforms on the market, and slightly less hefty than the steel counterparts like the Sig Sauer P220 or Colt 1911.
HK offers the HK45 in several variants and colors. The HK45 Tactical and HK45 Compact Tactical have threaded barrels to accommodate a silencer, and the tactical variant has a shorter barrel/slide and grips for ease of concealment. The standard HK45 offers the best of both worlds if the shooter wants to maintain barrel length and magazine capacity. HK offers varying combination of colors to include; black, flat dark earth (tan), and green (olive drab).
When I purchased my first handgun, I was intent on getting something in a 45 ACP. I did all the research, and looked at four platforms in particular before making my decision. Based on my budget and my non-preference for the 1911, I found myself looking at the HK USP, HK45, FN FNX 45, Springfield XD, and Sig Sauer P220. The USP is an outstanding handgun for all the right reasons, however I was more attracted to the grip on the HK45 and the slotted 1913 accessory rail under the barrel, nothing more, but it was enough.
So what sold me on the HK45? To be honest, it was not the name “HK”, it was the grip, and it was the overall impression I got when handling it, reviewing the details, and doing some old fashioned research. It’s been said that the HK45 was tested, apart from HK itself by a guy who wanted to see if it would live up to expectations. He ran 50,000 rounds through it, with either minimal cleaning, or routine cleanings. There were no malfunctions, and at 50,000 it was still ready for more. That tells me that HK did some serious research and development; they employed great gunsmiths and machinists, and knew exactly what they were doing when they produced this – on top of a lifetime warranty.
A few interesting features that the HK has that I admire include; a flat recoil spring, recoil buffer, paddle magazine release, and 1913 rail on the underside of the frame. The sights are superior from the factory, I have not considered upgrading them because of how well they illuminate, and the profile (doesn’t snag).
On the range, the HK45 is a true 45 ACP. It punches dime sized holes in the target, but I must admit the recoil is minimal compared to other platforms I’ve fired in 45 ACP, that actually surprises me given the lacking weight with the polymer frame. I run all my handguns through a regular 3-25 meter routine, and the HK45 is solid throughout. There is smoothness about the HK45, it avoids the typical ‘thud’ of a 45 ACP, packages the felt recoil into a solid well balanced movement, which is by all means, minimal. When I first purchased the HK45, I unknowingly picked up a box of Hornady 45 ACP +P TAP FPD which as it turns out is the ONLY cartridge that the HK45 absolutely hates and will jam when firing. It has to do with the nickel cases, nothing more…perhaps HK’s tolerances didn’t take this into account, or they didn’t care (invoking German superiority?).
While the 1911 is an admirable specimen, one that undoubtedly revolutionized the modern handgun, it has limitations. I give credit where credit is due, and the HK45 is a sleek, well tuned, and quality handgun. Is it worth the $1100-1200 MSRP? That depends on the buyer. I would say it comes down to reliability, the non-issue of parts replacement, and a life that will likely outlive the shooter – it’s an investment and peace of mind. For those looking for something that is not a 1911, but you want a 45 ACP, the HK45 offers European quality (German) and in doing so, the derived positive aspects of the 1911 without the century-old ergonomics and design flaws. The HK45 is highly recommended.