When we are looking for handguns we all have different rules that we follow, some are self imposed (budget) and others are based in research and experience. Is it easy to fall into a trap and become a fan of a brand without knowing what makes that brand truly competitive or a leader in the industry? It sure is. That being said if you can appreciate a handgun for what it is (not trying to suggest relationship advice) and train with it routinely, you begin to form an appreciation. With that I give you the Heckler & Koch (HK) P30.
The P30 is a polymer/steel Double Action/Single Action (DA/SA) handgun offered in both 9x19mm Luger and .40 S&W. Designed to exceed military standards, the P30 is a popular choice among law enforcement and security professionals with tens of thousands delivered globally.
To be honest, the P30 is the most impressively balanced, comfortable and inviting handgun I have ever shot. The weight and balance ratio is simply perfected in this handgun. Sparing nothing the P30 has an adequate sight radius that allows for impressive accuracy. This is a handgun that is large enough to avoid the compact category, yet a profile that is minimized enabling for concealed carry - a difficult balance to achieve. One cannot overlook the quality and reliability of HK. The P30 has been tested out to 91,000 rounds of ammunition with no major malfunctions. If the 91,000 number doesn’t compute, let me dive into this and tell you more…
The P30 was developed based on two HK bloodlines, the P2000 and the HK45. Internally the P30 is very much a P2000, this is where HK stepped away from the USP and began a next-generation handgun. The P2000 in itself is an outstanding carry handgun and continues to be fielded as a service handgun around the world today. Externally speaking, the P30 adopted the aggressive yet sleek HK45 design from top to bottom. The HK45 modernized the HK lineup with a refined slide design and a frame that features a catchy spider-web design stipple pattern grip combined with subtle finger grooves. The P30 takes the same slide and frame, scaled down for 9x19mm Luger and .40 S&W size, and delivers without consequence.
The grip is where the ergonomics of this handgun excel beyond belief, but you have to experience it first hand (pun intended). This is the kind of grip that practically invites your hand around the handgun, your fingers rest comfortably in the grooves and slipping is eliminated with a stippling that does the job with class. The grip excels by offering the shooter a customizable fit to their hand by providing three size (small, Medium, Large) side panels (lateral plates) and backstrap inserts, all of which can be adjusted by simply removing a small roll pin. With panels and backstraps like this, it allows for 27 different grip combinations.
The P30 has ambidextrous features that make it ideal for all shooters. The slide release is a typical HK feature, with the slide release lever acting as the alignment part to complete take-down of the slide. The magazine release remains the typical HK designed paddle style, however the paddle profile has increased on the P30 from the P2000 and USP. As with most other HK models, the P30 is available in several different variants which allow for differing safety lever and hammer configurations. The P30 is offered in a uniquely HK developed option known as Law Enforcement Modified (LEM) in Double Action Only (DAO). These LEM-DAO variants drop the spurred hammer in favor of an inset bobbed hammer with a set trigger pull weight. Additionally, the P30 is offered in a variants in DA/SA that either have the decocker button and safety levers or none altogether.
To complete the list of impressive ergonomic features, the HK features a MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rail that allows the shooter to mount flashlights and lasers if desired.
The trigger well is slightly oversized to accommodate the shooters gloves (if desired) and keeps with typical HK fashion of a squared trigger guard. Front serrations are located on the front of the trigger guard, thus providing the shooters index finger a degree of grip when not engaging the trigger.
The P30 trigger is exactly what one should expect from a duty/carry handgun from HK. You can and should expect a long and heavy DA pull, but the SA pull is much more reasonable. Let’s be reasonable, considering the duty/carry purpose of a P30, you should not expect a light trigger as this is not considered a competition handgun out of the box. The P30 trigger has a .55 inch travel in DA and .25 inch in SA. While the long DA pull and less-than-evident reset are slight drawbacks, you have to admire the consistency of the trigger. Something tells me that HK develops these long DA pulls intentionally, as to meet some compliance standards or to appeal to those contracts for duty handguns.
Engineering and Design
The P30 is a prime example of the refinement that HK employs with their handguns. As an industry mainstay, one can appreciate the generational differences and enhancements made from HK handguns. The P30 design was developed based on user input, internals tested for reliability. The nitro-carburized steel slide is expertly machined with both front and rear serrations, features clean, modern lines and crisp engraving. As with all other HK handguns, the P30 slide is treated with the HK’s proprietary Hostile Environment (HE) finish. HE is a protective surface treatment which is an extremely hard nitro-carburized, black oxide finish that resists wear and corrosion like nothing else on the market, specifically salt water.
The corrosion proof fiber reinforced polymer frame (Polyamide) of the P30 has and steel inset reinforcements in critical areas as well as the rails which are minimized to reduce drag, but allowing for a tight fit that allows the slide and frame to operate flawlessly with minimal wear. HK is known for tolerances, anyone who handles a P30 will immediately notice the non-existent play between the slide and frame, you may even confuse it for a metal frame. Impressive!
Like all HK barrels, the P30 uses a hexagonal (6-groove) right-hand polygonal barrel. HK cuts no corners with their barrel production, they deliver perhaps the very best barrels on the market, made from top quality cold hammer forged steel and treated with proprietary processes. The polygonal barrels deliver increased accuracy due to less drag on the projectile which in turn provides for added velocity without compromising ballistics. Moreover the lack of lands-and-grooves keep all the propellant gases behind the projectile, also increasing velocity. One of the added benefits to the polygonal barrel design is reduced wear, thus creating a longer service life.
Regardless of your opinion HK handguns, the barrel technology is absolutely cutting-edge. The quality of steel is indicative of the abuse or torture that can be endured. These barrels can withstand a complete blockage, literally. This means a complete blockage of sand, dirt, mud or other, (even a squib) can be lodged in the barrel with a second round fired without blowing the handgun apart, but rather creating a bulge in the barrel if not clearing it altogether. Impressive!
Cartridge: 9x19mm Luger, .40 S&W
Action: Short recoil operated , Browning-type tilting barrel, locked breech
Safety: Ambidextrous safety levers, hammer safety, and firing pin safety
Trigger Pull: DA 11.5lb / SA 4.5lb
The P30 is an easy handgun to shoot, lending itself to its own ergonomics. Like any HK it is known for reliability. When shooting the P30 I typically use 115gr-124gr full metal jacket ammunition for target shooting, however I prefer Hornady’s Critical Duty ammunition for carry and home defense. The long pull in DA is something that can be overcome with training, and I say that because like any handgun, your fit to the handgun is as important as the handguns fit to you, thus the need to train with that handgun to a level of proficiency that you require. Some will complain that it is not a good trigger, that it’s too heavy and long of a pull, etc. I will simply say that you train to fight, if you desire to have a competition handgun meant for matches on hand for carry and home defense, that’s your prerogative. Recoil is another area that the P30 really jumps ahead of its competition. In recent years HK has added a second phase to their recoil reduction system, now using a simple nylon bushing that slides over the recoil spring that essentially dampens felt recoil by 30%. You’d have to shoot the P30 to feel this effect, but it truly makes a difference and makes follow-up shots faster and adds to the controllability of the handgun overall.
On the range I like to shoot at 7 meters, 10 meters, 15 meters, and 25 meters, all standing position with two-handed hold on the handgun. The sights on the P30 make shooting at 1-15 meters fairly easy, however at 25 meters the sight is simply too wide and makes aiming difficult. While it can be frustrating, I remind myself that there are two facts at play, one being that the sights can be swapped out for narrower match-grade fiber-optic sights, and second, the handgun is likely tuned to be more accurate than I can shoot it - a moment of honesty. That being said, with the right sights and complete control of the trigger in SA mode, the P30 can easily reach out to 50 meters and effectively neutralize targets, but that is not a typical engagement distance for a medium-sized 9x19mm Luger handgun.
In terms of concealment, I have carried my P30 routinely for the last few years, and I’m rather fond of the no-snag design of the handgun. I prefer to carry inside my waistband (IWB). As a larger guy I can adequately conceal the handgun with no issues, as I’m able to do with other HK handguns such as the HK45 and VP9.
The HK P30 does what is expected, it delivers quality, reliability, ergonomics, all with minimal felt recoil. As a duty/carry handgun it’s probably not going to provide for match quality results at 50 meters, nor should it be expected to. If you’re looking for a practical handgun for carry, duty sidearm, nightstand, go-bag for male or female, the P30 is worth consideration. As with the HK45 the ergonomics will be hard to pass up, just remember it is as much a HK handgun as the P2000 and USP before it.
All things considered, the P30 is an outstanding handgun that has won me over in all the right areas that include; quality, reliability, balance, ergonomics, and felt recoil. You won’t escape an elevated price point, one that wavers at the $1,000 mark. Considering the points made in this review and HK’s lifetime warranty, it all makes absolute sense, funds permitting.