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1,642 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Something overcame me yesterday, and I traded for an HK P9S 9mm.
I'm guessing it is a recent surplus German Police gun, but what the heck. It looks fine, is like brand new internally, and the price was right. Unlike many German police surplus guns I've seen, it just has one small marking ("S" in a circle, with two lines through it).

I doubt I'll ever carry it, but I always enjoy learning the quirks of the odd ones. I've been busy finding info online, and printed stuff until the printer quit (something about needing to use ink).

Anybody have a P9S?

4,399 Posts
Hi there BarryinIN,

No, I sure don't own a HK P9S but have seen them advertised in my SOG flyer! They seem to be priced "right" for such a quality handgun.

I certainly wouldn't mind owning one should one come my way. H&K's alway's seem to have an "elite" following of folks that know a great deal about their choice in firearms.

I would be interested to hear how it shoots if you have the opportunity.


1,642 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, I just came in about an hour ago from shooting it in the woods behind the house. I put about 230 rounds through it, just shoooting for groups.
I'll write a more detailed report later, but basically- I was underwhelmed.

After reading what great shooters they were for the past 20 years, perhaps I expected too much. It did OK, but not outstanding.
I'm sure I was the reason groups weren't what I expected. Anytime groups triple in size from start to finish, it's surely the shooter. Naturally this was with a variety of ammunition, but the first group was 1-5/8" and the later ones 4-1/2" (standing, unsupported, at 15 yards, shooting about as fast as I got a sight picture).
It has an odd trigger pull, so my concentration on that probably gradually slipped.

Oddly, I thought the recoil was a little stiff for what it was. Nothing terrible, but not what I expected. I can't be blamed for that.

Function was better than I had been told to expect. They were designed in the 60's, when most everyone used FMJ in 9mms, so it has a pretty unforgiving throat/feedramp. I had one feedway choke with Win Ranger 127 +P+ out of all 230 rounds, and 15-20 ammo types. Not bad considering.

But overall, I see no advantage over my HK P7M8, or HiPowers. At least not yet.

It's gonna take some practice to get used to the trigger, which will probably change things.

1,642 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK, here we go. The full report on HK P9S 9mm serial number 170 7XX.

This is one wierd gun.
It looks wierd, it works wierd , and it shoots wierd. Not that wierd is bad, but it is wierd.

It was an innovative gun when it came out. It uses folded steel construction for the slide, like German-made Sigs would later. The trigger guard and frontstrap are polymer. It had a decocker before they were commonplace.

The roller-locking system isn't entirely new, even in handguns, as the CZ52 used it. But the P9S is different. The system works like this:
The barrel, which remains fixed firmly in the frame, has two tangs extending back from the sides of the chamber end, making it look fork-like. The slide has a breechblock pinned in place, with a section in front where it meets up to the barrel that telescopes fore and aft. This section contains a roller on each side which lock into grooves in the barrel extension. When that part moves in and out, the rollers are cammed in and out. with the slide closed, the block is rearward, and the rollers are out and engaged in the barrel extension.

When the gun is fired and the slide moves back, the block pulls away from it and lets the roller retract, unlocking the slide from the barrel.

It works, provides a fixed barrel for accuracy (and ease of suppressor mounting, as the US Navy did) and operates pretty smooth. I'm rather surprised that HK was able to use such a locking system and keep the slide relatively slim. The slide has a slight taper, going from about .980 inch behind the chamber to .970 at the muzzle end. For comparison, the 1911's slim slide runs about .905 or so, according to an example handy at my side.

The trigger system is at least as unique as the locking system. It is a selective SA/DA gun. This means it can be use either as a typical DA auto, or as a SA (cocked and locked). There is sort of a third option I'll get to in a moment.
The slide-mounted thumb safety can be applied in either the DA or SA mode, hammer cocked or not. In SA mode, the safety can be accessed with the thumb, but not as easy as on a 1911 or HiPower. It is, however, more accessable than most other DA auto safety levers (for me).
It does not drop the hammer (which is completely shrouded by the slide).
The gun can supposedly be dry fired with the thumb safety on, but I would worry about battering.

There is a multi-function lever aft of the trigger guard. And I mean MULTI function. It acts as a thumb cocking lever (that other option to DA or SA I mentioned earlier), a decocker, slide stop, and slide release.
If the hammer is down and you want the gun cocked for SA fire, you can't access the hammer due to the slide covering it. Instead, you move this lever down with your thumb (RH shooter) to cock the gun. It's stiff, but can be done, although I had to shift my grip. I actually found it easier to do left handed, by using my trigger finger.
It's very similar to a Sauer 38H pocket pistol from nearly 70 years ago, showing there's usually nothing new under the sun.

Decocking this gun has been described as an action which "makes trainers sit up in their beds screaming at night", because you pull the trigger as part of the process. First, engage thumb safety. This isn't required for the decocker to work, but makes everyone feel better. Next, push the lever down and HOLD IT DOWN. Point in safe direction, take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and....Pull the trigger.
Let lever return upward.

The slide lock and release function of that lever is like on other pistols, but when releasing the slide, there is a fair amount of free travel downward before it releases.

The sights are pretty good. The front is dovetailed in place and ramped at about 75 degrees, is .110" wide, with an approx .080 white stripe on it. The rear is blocky, with a fairly wide .138" notch, and a "shadow box" cut in front. Red stripes, about .065" wide run vertically up each side of the notch. The rear is not dovetailed in, but appears to be locked in place solidly. maybe it has screws running from the inside of the slide up into it. Just don't whack on it to adjust windage.

The gun has a cocking indicator in the form of a metal tab extending through a hole in the slide rear. The position of the trigger can tell you the same thing. Therefore, I'd prefer to not have the indicator and therefore eliminate the hole in an otherwise sealed off area. My carry guns always seem to attract lint and dirt in the hammer recess, and if this were closed off, like it almost is here, that issue could be eliminated.

It also has a loaded chamber indicator in the form of an extension on the extractor which protrudes upward when it has a cartridge rim in it's grasp. Again, I'd prefer to check the chamber with my eyes and finger than depend on a sprung piece of metal. But it doesn't hurt anything that I can see.

As It weighs 30 ounces empty, and 37 ounces with one mag loaded with 10 rounds (9 round magazine) of 115 grain ammo. For comparison, a 1911 is about 38oz empty/45oz loaded; HiPower 31oz/38oz; HK P7M8 27oz/34oz.

Now, about that trigger. In reading about the P9S and talking to a friend who has had a few, I always hear two things- What great triggers they have, and what small groups they shoot.

I don't know if they mean DA or SA trigger, or what part of it is great. The DA trigger on mine is so high I cannot measure it. I would guess around 15 pounds. But, it has a consistent pull weight throughout the travel. From first movement to release, it's absolutely the same. That's a rather rare find, and should help make up for some of the weight.
The reach to the trigger is a long one- 3-3/4" from backstrap to trigger face center when fully forward.
For comparison, a Beretta 92FS, Sig P220, and P226 are all a little under 3".

The SA trigger pull has good and bad things.
The trigger releases at just under 4 lbs, at 3lbs-14oz. After taking up the slack, there is zero creep. That's the good news. It's all the stuff going on before and after that that's the bad news.
When cocked for SA fire, the trigger face center is 3" from the backstrap. It travels 5/16" to the release point, and another 5/16" or more after releasing.
I've heard about overtravel being a handicap to good shootng, but I never really knew how much until I shot this gun. Good work can be done with it, but it takes concentration.

Now for the shooting.
I shot what 9mm ammunition types I had handy. Everything got shot in my usual procedure, which is:
-Number of shots in the groups depend on what the magazine holds. I can see if there are any feeding troubles particular to anywhere in the magazine fill level. This being a 9+1 gun, I shot nine- or ten-round groups. There are a couple of eight-shot groups listed, but that's because I had 16 rounds of that ammo left!
-I shot two groups of most types of ammo. One got one group, another three.
-I shot it at 15 yards.
-No rest. I shot standing, unsupported, and as fast as I got a sight picture.
-I'll list the groups in order shot.

You can see that groups gradually gew as I shot. I blame this on the trigger and myself. I was concentrating hard on it's overtravel early on, but that faded as I went on. If I shot the ammo in a different order, results may have been different.
Therefore, this may be a useless test, but it's all I have right now!

I found the recoil to stronger than I expected. It's nothing terrible, just more than I thought there would be.
But recoil is a subjective thing. I think the HK P7M8 recoils soft, while others think it's the hardest kicking 9mm they've shot.

-Handload: Winchester 231/115 Ranier JHP: 10 rds in 2-1/8"; 10 in 2".
-Cor-Bon 115 JHP +P: 9 in 2-1/4" (8 in 1-1/4"); 9 in 3-5/8" (8 in 2-1/8").
-Winchester Ranger T 127 +P+: 9 in 1-5/8"; 9 in 2-1/2"
-Win USA 115 JHP: 9 in 3-3/8"; 9 in 5-3/8" (8 in 2-7/8"); 9 in 2-3/4"
-S&B 115 FMJ: 9 in 3" (6 in 1-1/2"); 9 in 4-1/2" (8 in 3-1/8")
-Fiochhi 115 FMJ: 10 in 3-1/2" (9in 2-1/2"); 10 in 4"
-Federal 124 EFMJ +P: 10 in 2-1/2" (9 in 1-3/4"); 9 in 4-1/2"
-Federal 9BPLE 115 JHP +P+: 9 in 3-1/4"; 10 in 3"(6 in 1-1/8")
-Win USA 115 FMJ: 8 in 3-1/8" (5 in 5/8"); 8 in 3" (6 in 2-1/8")
-Win USA 147 JHP: 9 in 4"(8 in 2-7/8"); 8 in 3-1/4" (7 in 2")
-UMC 115 FMJ: 9 in 4-1/4"; 9 in 4-1/4"(8 in 3-1/2")

I had read enough about how accurate they were that I expected better, but it was OK, and my trigger control was apparently slipping. It will take practice to learn it.
My lack of trigger control caused groups to not only grow as I went along, but they also drifted more to the left.

Right now, I wouldn't trade off my other guns in the same caliber/size class, but it does warrant more experimenting.

Edited to correct spelling errors.

1,642 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, guys.
There never was a lot of info in print about these, and the newest article I found was at least ten years old. Most of what I've seen about it in my old stuff is in "roundups", where they give a paragraph or two at most to each gun, and like them all.
AIM Surplus had some of these recently for something like $600-650, and I thought some people here may have been loking at them.
With those things in mind, I thought I'd write a more detailed report.

About those AIM Surplus guns:
From what I've seen and heard, they look pretty good. They came from a German police agency, and unlike some other ex-German poliuce guns, they have only one small marking on them. They have an "S" in a circle right behind the serial number on the LH side of the slide. Two horizontal lines through that mark have been added. It is about the same size and script as the serial number and other markings, so blends in well.

The overall condition was very good outside, and like new inside. There is a little surface finish wear on the outside of the slide. It looks to be "storage wear" rather than holster wear. Inside, it looks unfired. No marks on the breechface or feedramp, no blue wear on the slide rails.
They come with two magazines and a German-only manual, in the original box.

I mentioned it in my first post, but not in the long one:
I had one malfunction. It was a round of Winchester Ranger 127 +P+ that stopped on the feedramp. If the gun was truly unfired (outside of the factory) before it came to me, that would have been approximately the 25th round through the gun. A tap rack "fixed" it.
These were designed when just about the only 9mm ammo was FMJ, and it has a feedramp designed for same. I'm actually surprised it did as well as it did. Some of the ammo used, like the Cor-Bon Sierra JHP and those Ranier JHP handloads aren't the easiest to feed in some guns.

1,642 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've been doing some checking, and it sounds more and more apparent that the trigger on my gun is an exception in some ways. I wanted to be fair and report that.
Figures I keep hearing for DA pull weight run from 9 to 10 lbs.

But I'm not hearing much contrary about the SA trigger's overtravel or reset length, however.

That 9-10 lb DA sounds pretty good (as DA goes). I may have investigate a little deeper into mine.

115 Posts
Excellent report. :)

I've had the P9S in 9mm and 45ACP for at least twenty years.
Right now the 9mm is in my junk parts box becaust HK won't sell me a couple broken parts, but that's another story.

When I first bought the guns the trigger overtravel bothered me A LOT. It obviously caused poor shooting.

What I did is use some 3/32 alumunum and make trigger stops that I super glued to the back of the trigger guard.
One was plain and allowed SA and DA trigger pull.
The second has a set screw that allows the trigger to be stopped just as the gun fires SA or screwed in for SA and DA..

The gun was accurate before but after installing the trigger stops the groups became exceptional.


1,642 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I understand what you mean about HK and parts. I had quit them over that very same thing until I found a P7 a couple of years ago that caused me to make an exception.
Thanks for the trigger stop idea. I had thought about it, but wondered if I made it short enough to allow DA, would it not do enough good.
It sounds like it would. Maybe I'll proceed that way.

Until now, I thought some people made too big a fuss over overtravel. Now I see how bad it can be.

1,642 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you, sir.

I should probably let this die, but I shot it yesterday and was surprised by a thing or two.

The short version is: I shot pairs from the holster, rather than shooting for group like before, and am more impressed with it now.

And the long version:

I took it along to shoot up some old 9mm handloads. I decided to shoot from the holster, and maybe do a drill or two, because I think that gives me a better idea of how a new gun handles. I have an IWB holster for a Beretta 92FC (Compact) that fits it pretty well, and used that.

I thought I'd do something simple- draw and fire pairs on an IDPA target at pretty close range (five to seven yards). I had my timer and used it, just because I wanted it to provide a random "go" signal.

I was going to shoot it both ways- DA and SA- and shoot from concealment like I usually do. I wear an untucked shirt over the IWB-holstered gun, and clear the shirt with both hands to make sure I get it out of the way if one hand "misses". It's not the fastest draw, but it works.

In addition to being a new-to-me gun, neither the fairly awkward safety lever or the heavy DA trigger pull made me expect much. I expected to be fumbling with the safety lever more than anything. In fact, I wasn't really planning on paying any attention to the times.
But plans change.

I made ready and hit the timer's Random Start button.
"Hey, that went pretty well" I thought, so I read the timer. It showed 2.05 seconds to the first shot, 2.39 total, for a split of .34 seconds.

I should mention that I'm terribly slow.
The numbers I'll give may seem unimpressive to others, but I am slow, and will always be slow. You have to keep it all in perspective.
Believe me, I'm not posting these numbers to brag about my speed (HA!), but rather, to compare it to a gun I'm used to shooting. When shooting my usual 1911 from concealment, it takes around two seconds for me to get my first shot off and get my hits. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. I'm doing pretty well when I get into the 1.80's for the first shot.
My splits (time between shots) with the 1911 run in the mid .3s.
So, 2.03 for the first shot, and a .34 split for the first ever "hot" draw using the P9S surprised me.

I went on and fired the rest of that magazine (first shot/ second shot split):
2.44/.37 fumbled the safety
All "minus 0" hits on the target.

I tried a magazine shooting DA for the first shot:
I yanked a couple low and out of the center ring on my DA shots, and overall, shot a much larger group. No speed advantage, and a loss of accuracy. A regular DA shooter would surely do a lot better there.

I shot a couple more magazines SA only, and got my average down to 2.01 for the first shot, and .28 splits. The fastest time for the first shot was 1.79, which is as fast as I get with the 1911 I shoot regularly. I never did fumble the thumb safety after that one time early on.

That brief experience taught me a thing or two.
-Mostly, that there's hope for this thing yet.
-The thumb safety isn't as awkward as I thought it would be.
-The sights pick up nicely from shot to shot, and the colored vertical stripes they wear didn't distract me at speed like they did in slow fire group shooting.
-Although I thought the recoil was stout for a 9mm before, it's pretty controllable and snaps right back on target.
-I'm way out of practice shooting DA.
-Always try a gun out in the manner it is to be used before passing judgement.

In my mind, it's still not the equal of other 9mms I like- the HiPower and HK P7, but it does have potential.
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