What happens when you take a perfectionist manufacturer like Germany’s Heckler & Koch, take their full-size USP (Universal Self-Loading Pistol, Universelle Selbstladepistole in German) in 9x19mm and add competition level specifications? You get the USP9 “Expert”.
At a glance the USP9 Expert looks much like the standardly configured USP9 full-size with a slightly longer slide and barrel, but there are plenty more aspects to consider. The USP9 Expert has to be worthy of competition level requirements, primarily in terms of accuracy. Heckler & Koch developed the USP Expert line and introduced the 9x19mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP variants in 1998 as an out-of-the-box option for International Practical Shooting Competition (IPSC) shooters. This accuracy-minded USP model is derived from Heckler & Koch’s Mark 23, USP Tactical, and USP Match models and delivers an outstanding package of accuracy and balance.
USP9 Expert Features
The USP9 Expert features an extended slide that offers additional length and weight to the front end of the handgun. This added weight assists in keeping the muzzle down, thus reducing (in part) muzzle flip. The added length of the slide accommodates the added length of the USP9 Expert’s barrel.
The optional beveled and extended magazine well, designated “Jet Funnel” (magazintricter in German) is a steel piece that attaches to the bottom of the grip in conjunction with the standard magazine well via a single hexagonal screw. The Jet Funnel is used in conjunction with specific magazines that feature heavier steel floor plates, in the case of the USP9 Expert, these have an 18 round capacity. Those who choose not to use the Jet Funnel can still use the typical 15 round polymer USP9 magazines. The Jet Funnel has four primary roles in the USP9 Expert, added bottom weight, quicker reloading, expedited/ensured drop of magazines, and increased magazine capacity.
The USP9 Expert utilizes the match grade Double Action / Single Action (DA/SA) trigger which is touted as being Heckler & Koch’s finest trigger offering across their entire fleet of handguns. The match trigger adds crispness to the break and smoothness to the take-up in addition to lowering the overall trigger pull weight. In the end the match trigger provides the shooter with a trigger that allows for quick precision shooting.
Competition shooting requires accuracy, in handguns one of the contributing factors for accuracy is barrel length. The USP9 Expert uses and exclusive barrel that increases from the standard USP9 barrel of 4.25” to 5.20”. The added length adds extra spin from the Right-hand 1:250mm hexagonal polygonal barrel. Considering Heckler & Koch’s barrel technology and design, the added .95” of the USP9 Expert equates to outstanding accuracy over an already accurate handgun in the standard USP9. A high-temperature elastomer o-ring bushing is partially inset toward the muzzle end of the barrel, this simple piece ensures tight fit where the barrel meets the slide. An additional benefit of the o-ring is to trap gases inside the slide which regulates slide movement and efficiency of the action. The life cycle of the o-ring is prescribed for 20,000 cycles if oiled properly after each cleaning. Lastly, a unique feature of the USP9 Expert (shared with the USP9 Elite) is a polished and evenly tapered barrel hood. The polished hood results in smoothness when the barrel locks up and disengages. Typical USP9 handguns feature a barrel hood that maintains Heckler & Koch’s Hostile Environment (HE) finish and a slightly stepped down taper.
Competition Recoil Spring
The USP9 Expert uses a reduced weight recoil spring (red) that lightens the amount of recoil required to fully cycle the slide rearward. This allows shooters to use low powered ammunition and still maintain efficiency. Like all USP9 full-size handguns, the USP9 Expert uses Heckler & Koch’s intuitive recoil reduction system which features two captured springs, the main recoil spring and an additional peak recoil dampening spring, collective the system reduces felt recoil (subjective) by 30%. Moreover the recoil reduction system also dampens peak recoil by many times over competitors handguns.
In order to maximize the competitiveness of the USP9 Expert, Heckler & Koch outfits the handgun with increased profile, fully adjustable target sights. These sights use micrometer settings to adjust windage and elevation, allowing the shooter to tune these sights perfectly. The rear sight breaks from traditional USP9 design and is recessed (milled) into the slide deeper. In addition to the target sights, the USP9 Expert has a significant sight radius which significantly plays into accuracy. Unfortunately, the sights are not marked using a three-dot system so they can be difficult to use in some scenarios. Those looking for night sights will have to upgrade.
The USP9 Expert features dual control levers, one on each side of the handgun. These control levers act as the manual safety and decocker. Additionally, the USP9 Expert takes advantage of the larger extended slide release from the USP9 SD/Tactical.
Model: USP9 Expert
Manufacturer: Heckler & Koch
Chambering: 9x19mm (Parabellum)
Operation: Short recoil operated
Action Type: Modified Browning type (linkless locking system)
Our initial range test of the USP9 Expert was done using standard 100 rounds of Winchester 115 grain FMJ ammunition. During this test we shot the USP9 Expert at the 5, 7, 10, and 25 meter mark. Performance at the closer markings was substantially impressive for a handgun, perhaps on-par only with the Mark 23 in terms of cold shot accuracy from a handgun that was only cleaned and lubed straight from the box. We achieved sub-2 inch groups at 25 meters shooting a several 5 shot groups. There is little doubt that this can be tightened up to a sub 1.5 inch group using premium ammunition and more time behind the trigger. The USP9 Expert suffered no failures to feed or eject and ran flawlessly as expected.
While thoroughly designed to be a competition handgun, the USP9 Expert is hardly relegated to the role. For those who have an appreciation for larger full-framed handguns or those looking for a handgun with an extended slide and barrel, the USP9 Expert is a masterfully designed handgun that would be an ideal choice and a must for those who collect Heckler & Koch handguns. Speaking of design, the USP9 Expert is possibly one of the most eye pleasing handguns ever to come from the Heckler & Koch design team in Oberndorf, Germany. The USP9 Expert has outstanding balance and feel, even if it weighs in heavier than many others. Heckler & Koch took a multifaceted approach to accuracy, using the barrel, slide, sights, recoil system and trigger all in a near-perfectly balanced handgun, thanks to front end weight and the Jet Funnel. Actually shooting the USP9 Expert is an experience in itself. The ability to effortlessly put rounds on target in sub-2” groups at distances exceeding 25 meters is impressive. This is one of those handguns that is so incredibly accurate and efficient that it will likely exceed our ability to shoot it.
The USP9 Expert is currently available from numerous firearms dealers. The production date codes on both of our USP9 Experts is ‘BD’ which equates to 2013, acquired new in 2016. We expect these to be discontinued for U.S. sale once supplies run out, which was the case for the USP9 Elite and Elite and Expert models in .40 S&W and .45 ACP. For those interested in the USP9 Expert, we recommend moving fast to buy yours. Current pricing is at $1200.00 with the Jet Funnel option.