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Heckler and Koch P7: Why All the Fuss?

7901 Views 42 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  BarryinIN
Here's hoping some H&K P7 owners will chime in to explain the goodness of this handgun design. It's always enjoyed a great reputation. I know nothing about it except that it's a "squeeze-cocker". I've never shot one, haven't even picked one up as far as I can recall. Anyone care expound on the attributes of the P7?
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Mas Ayoob was/is a big proponent of the P7 genre. The weapon is reliable in the extreme, accurate, and handles well. Having shot several I can say they get some getting used to...
I could never get past the loud "click" when you activate the grip safety or the price. Besides, I'm not a fan of H&K firearms.
This falls in the category of "if it floats your boat" go for it.
A very good friend of mine pitched his Glock 19 for a P7 and hasn't looked back. I DO like the positive nature of the P7's safety system...

They've always been out of my price range it seems, but have enjoyed the small amount of trigger time I've had with a couple of them. The grip size and angle just seem perfect in my hands, at least the single column version.
Howdy sir,

I have never owned one of these, but have had the chance to shoot a couple, back in the days when some folks carried these as authorized personally owned handguns. I shot several 9mms and one 40 (not sure if that would be the same or different model number) on range days.

They appeared to be reliable pistols to me, as I do not recall seeing any malfunction while running our qual and tactical courses. I also felt I shot them fairl well for the most part to, at least in slower, normal firing tempos.

I like to get a feel for how I can handle a pistol by firing several mags in rapid fire, to see how it feels in my hand and groups on target. The one negative I found while doing this was the pistol tended to get very hot (not warm, but hot) after about the second mag. The heat made it very hard for me to fire the third mag accurately as the heat affected my normal grip.

When I mentioned that to the owners they agreed that during our tactical courses when shooting at lot of rounds rapidly they had the same problem. I also remember reading in a police magazine at least a decade or more ago, one tactical team tested several different brands and models of pistols and selected this one as their carry weapon. Every member of the team bought one so they would all be using the same mags, etc.

The first time they were deploying inside a stairwell to kick a door late at night, they realized that "click" sounded very loud while trying to maintain their stealth mode. Based primarily on that one problem, the team elected to sell theirs and obtain a different pistol. I remembered that and always quietly passed it on to any of my co-workers who carried this style H&K pistol.

I do think H&K makes excellent handguns, and their MP-5 is a personal favorite of mine for a sub-gun. But candidly, among LEOs they have a reputation for being extremely slow when doing any needed factory repair on LEO weapons. I am not attempting to trash this pistol or the company in the least. I am simply providing what information I have on the pistol you asked about.

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The one negative I found while doing this was the pistol tended to get very hot (not warm, but hot) after about the second mag.
I've never fired the H&K P7M8 pistol. Have always held a passion for there unique look and hearing praise from others concerning reliability. I do remember back in the early 90's a gun club member acquaintance said the same about the pistol heating up too quickly for his liking.
I've never owned one or shot one, but have fiddled with them in gun shops and at gun shows.

They are somewhat of a "cult" handgun and, aside from being an expensive handgun to begin with (H&K = High Kost), I believe that the cult demand keeps the price of used ones higher than would be otherwise. For years I've seen nice ones at the large gun shows here priced over $1K, but within the last year I've seen a couple of 99% ones priced at $875 and $900. (This isn't due to any price drop locally, but just price differences at different venues and the "run of the odds".) I considered the cheaper one, but couldn't justify the purchase.

The problems stated above are well known. I know the earliest P7's got really hot with shooting but it seems to me they did a redesign (a heat shield inside the dust cover?) to at least diminish the problem fairly early on.

Squeezing the cocking device does produce a loud click and this has been a detractive attribute of the handgun among LEO's.

The handgun is prone to accidental discharges (or, negligent discharges, if you prefer) due to the natural tendency to also contract the trigger finger when you contract the remaining 3 fingers to actuate the cocking lever. Of course, this is largely a training issue as you should always keep the trigger finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot, but the design of the handgun makes it more prone to AD's/ND's than other autos, nonetheless.

It's been stated that if you go to a P7 as your service or personal defense handgun that you should shoot and practice with it almost to the exclusion of all other autos, because the "manual of arms" is so different than an ordinary autopistol. Shooting "normal" autos very much may cause you to "clutch" with or fumble the P7 under the stress of a gunfight when "the balloon goes up." I dunno, but it sounds reasonable.
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I like 'em. I'm no fan of HK, but look the other way when it comes to this gun.

Mine is a P7M8, the newer variation with the heat shield and a mag catch similar to what they later used on the USPs.

I carry mine when I don't feel like I can conceal a 1911 or HiPower very well....or just because I like it.

I had settled on the 1911 and HiPower.
I didn't need anything else.
I was done.
The fact that I made room for the P7 means that I found something I liked.

I think it's one of the easiest to shoot guns there is.
The trigger is great. One of the things that makes it an easy transition between the 1911/HiPower and the P7 for me is that the triggers are all about the same.
The recoil and muzzle flip (especially the muzzle flip) are nothing.
It's operation seems natural. I can let it sit for months while I carry something else, then spend a few minutes of dry-fire work with the P7, and be ready.

Like every other gun out there, it has good points and bad.
Once I got mine, I decided most, but not all, of the negatives I heard were based on a grain of truth, but had been blown way out of proportion.
For example:

They get hot. Yeah, but...
I guess the older PSP models were worse, but for me, the P7M8 takes about 50 rounds to notice, and I have to stop and efill magazines by then anyway. Even then, I have to actually touch the gas cylinder area, which I can't a reason to do.
I don't feel heat on my trigger finger when shooting, but I suppose that someone with larger fingers could.
I carry mine IWB, and it's not like I can't reholster without burning my butt or anything.
I compare the P7 heat issue to a revolver barrel- They get hot after some shooting, but it takes a while, and it's not an area that you normally touch anyway.
It's sure not going to be a problem in a shootout.

The supposed negative I hear about most involves the so-called "unique manual of arms". People are always advising that "If you carry a P7, then carry ONLY a P7". The thinking is that if you need to use your P7, and have been using something else, you may forget to squeeze-cock it.
I used to think this made a lot of sense. But after using one, I don't buy it at all. I don't see how one can get a firing grip without squeezing the squeeze-cock lever. I don't know how other people are holding their pistols, but I just don't see it. If I should "forget" to cock it, the squishing of the front strap as I start to take the shot will surely remind me.

The squeeze-cocker makes noise. Yes, but you don't squeeze it until you shoot. It cocks the gun and takes the safety off in one (natural) motion. It just doesn't get done until you shoot it. Shooting the thing makes noise too.
When you squeeze it, you not only just cocked the gun and took it off safe, but you are also sitting on a four-pound trigger. You don't go around squeezing and releasing it. You squeeze as you align the sights and/or touch the trigger face, then press the trigger and shoot.

People say they are complicated. I thought so too, but was surprised when I actually checked it out. I forget the exact count, but it has only a few more parts than a 1911- which is about as uncomplicated as they come. It has about the same number of parts as most DA autos.
But I see where people get it. If you take the grips off, you see about 50 parts. Of course, it looks complicated. The thing is- you are looking at almost all of the parts in the gun. There are a few more in the slide, but that's about it.

They say it's heavy. I think it's a small gun, so people expect it to be lighter than it is. It's in the same class as the Sig P239 and S&W 3913 (8+1 9mms) but weighs 2 ounces more than one, and 1.25 oz more than the other (I don't recall which). But the HK has a steel frame, while the others are aluminum. Nothing against alum frames, but for a couple of ounces of weight savings at most, I'll take steel.

They are expensive. No question. I got mine used for $800. That's about what a Colt or Kimber 1911 runs, so it isn't all that bad.
Mags sure aren't cheap, though.

There are a couple of things that I don't like, and the things I don't like, I REALLY don't like:

I hate the slide stop.
It's small, and awkward to operate. If I ever have to lock the slide open to clear a malfunction like a double feed (hasn't happened yet, but you never know), I'm gonna be struggling.
To it's credit, when I've set them up to practice, I was able to clear it by jerking the magazine out of the gun. The "extra" round comes free and tumbles down and out the magwell.
Besides, I never carry just one gun anyway.

I also think the bluing is weak. For such an expensive gun, you'd think they could finsh it. It wears way too fast.
I hear HK started using their HE finish on late guns, like they use on the USPs. If so, that's a wonderful thing. It's just 20 years too late.

Overall, I think the good outweighs the bad.
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Great reading, BarryinIN. thanks for posting. Now I want one more than ever and CDNN has some great buys as I understand it.
Reading through this so far, I haven't seen this mentioned:

The HK has a fixed barrel and uses the gas system to retard blowback.

The fixed barrel in conjunction with the low bore axis contribute to accuracy.

At least that is what I've read.

Thanks. Hey, just trying to save someone from doing what I did:
I wanted one since I first read about them around 1981, but at $600 then, that wasn't gonna happen. As time went on, and they got closer to being within my reach, I kept hearing those stories.
I wouldnt say they kept me from buying one sooner, since I still couldn't afford one...but then again, I might have tried harder to scrape together the money and get one sooner.

Once I did get one, I found most of the negatives were blown out of proportion. That's not saying they don't exist, just that I don't think most of them matter much, if at all.

If you want a surplus P7, you'd better hurry. I guess I had not been paying attention, and just found out about the surplus ones last week.
When I went to my usual dealer yesterday, I found out that he had already got six or eight in and sold them all. When I walked in, he was on the phone with his distributor ordering two more- all they had.
He's hanging on to one for me when they come.

To add to what I said about their heating deal-
The only time I see it possibly being a problem is in a class where you go through a lot of rounds in a short time, with short breaks that may not allow it to cool. THEN, I could see it being a problem.
The only time I've used mine in a class is in the backup gun portion (I've carried it on the weak side as a BUG before) because I could see the heat thing being an issue. I'd also like to have more than the four mags that I now have before taking it to a class.
But if I can add a PSP for relatively cheap, I can take both and alternate guns.

By the way, if buying a surplus P7 or PSP, and choosing between more than one- Try not to let the condition of the finish weigh too heavily on your selection. Try to ignore the finish and evaluate them mechanically. Their bluing holds up so poorly that just because one is finish-worn, it doesn't mean it's no good.
It also means that the one with the best finish will look like the others after a short time of holster carry.
From what I understand HK graded them based upon number of rounds fired. I think that was wise, but it has thrown off some people. They get a so-called Grade A gun, and it's blue-worn, meanwhile their buddy gets a cheaper Grade B with better finish, and they cry foul.
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Reading through this so far, I haven't seen this mentioned:

The HK has a fixed barrel and uses the gas system to retard blowback.

The fixed barrel in conjunction with the low bore axis contribute to accuracy.

At least that is what I've read.

I'll agree with that.
I don't think I've ever shor t mine from a rest, but it hits where the sights point.
I have in my log book two groups fired standing/unsupported, at 15 yards using CorBon 115 JHP +P. Both were five-shot groups, shot about five weeks apart.
The first was 1-7/8", and the second was 1-3/8". The first group had four in 15/16".
That's as good as I can possibly do with anything.

I don't know if it's the low bore axis, or the gas-retarded action, both, or something else, but it's one of the easiest guns to shoot fast and accurately. The only thing I've shot that comes close are .22 target pistols and IPSC Open Class guns (and I'm not sure about the IPSC guns being much better, if any).
It sure has the least recoil of any 9mm I've shot.
The slide cycles so fast that it's like it never moved, and that slide doesn't weigh much. That probably helps, by not having a heavy slide slamming around.

On the other hand- A lot of other people have shot my P7 (they do draw a crowd) and I've heard a couple of people say the exact opposite of what I just typed above. They were surprised at "how much it recoiled for a nine". It was only a couple of people, but I certainly feel it's worth mentioning.
I don't know if it had something to do with some difference in our holds or what it was. I also have no way of knowing what else they may have shot in the past to compare it to.

But they thought it recoiled too hard for what it was, so I can't argue with how it felt to them. It just goes to show that what works great for some, doesn't work for others.
I want to report all sides. After all, I wouldn't want it to look like I'm biased in favor of P7s or anything!
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Howdy folks,

This is a very interesting read. For the record I just wanted to qualify my "it gets really hot" comment. I was not aware they had added a heat shield of some type now. All of the pistols I fired had been personally owned for several years, so I am sure they were all the non-heat shield versions. My shooting grip puts the left thumb physically on the left side of the slide and pushing against it slightly. When I took this grap after two mags fired rapidly, the heat was close to burning the side of my thumb when starting to fire the 3rd mag. But this was being done in very rapid fire, without allowing any cool down time also.

I readily admit that is not your usual grip on a pistol, but it was one I was taught in a gun school, and it has always worked well for me since then. It is also just part of my normal, standard grip now when shooting anything. So factor in my "it gets hot" comments to understand both I meant older, non mod pistols with a lot of rounds being fired rapidly, and I have an odd grip.

The folks I worked with that carried them loved theirs. But they had the same complaint, spare mags were very expensive and hard to locate. But a very interesting read, so thanks folks.

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Twoguns - I think they added the heat shielding when they revised it to the P7 from the PSP which had a butt release for the mag. The first one I ever shot was a PSP and would get hot as a $2 pistol. And, in my experience, you either love 'em or not. I have a friend in the Marshal's Service and he can make them malfunction faster than any man I ever saw due to the construction of his hand. However, in my experience, they are reliable and accurate. The gun is a bit light in the muzzle for me but I have seen good work done with them in competition. When I was a FLETC, I noted the US Park Police had them standard. Only costs a little more to go first class - you should have seen the duty rig! Beautimus.
From the sound of it, your grip is similar to what I used to use. I was forced to change after getting my first HiPower. My weak-side thumb kept pulling down the front of the HiPower's slide stop, which rocked it up, locking it open mid-magazine. I didn't really want to change, but I liked the gun enough to do it.

I do see where that grip would make for a toasted thumb on the P7.
Howdy folks,

Mr. BarryIn, yes sir, I am sad to say when my medical issues arose I realized one way of the other, at least I would be able to go back to carrying in my preferred manner shortly - cocked and locked. Out came my HPs and off to the range. I have the exact same problem with my left thumb - I activate the slide stop during every mag now at least once. Sighing, I hate it too. But the only weapon to date I have that issue with that I own now is the HP.

So I have to call them my fun guns now. I don't have the problems with my 1911s, my Sigs, or my CZ pistols. Since the CZ 75B and SP-01 remind me so much of my beloved HPs, I reckon once I am satified they have passed my personal x rounds with no malfucnctions standard, they will fill in for my HPs now. I do like that I can manually lower the hammer when around folks whose blood pressure would go up at seeing a weapon cocked and locked, but carry that way most of the time. Just nice the CZ gives me that option.

I don't fault your decision at all to modify your grip. I gave that very serious thoughts, but have discovered my grip is just too much muscle memory for me now. Even when I start off with a different one the problem still creeps back into the mix. So my HP is an often fired, but "fun gun" for me now.

I did not have that problem with the P7s I shot. Three were 9mm, and one a 40 (same model number or different, sorry I don't really follow these pistols now, since my folks can no longer carry them). They all ran well and I shot good groups with them even in rapid fire. But man oh man, talk about fried thumb for sure, lol. The only thing that has hurt me worse was someone letting their just fired on burst fire Steyr AUG barrel make contact while I was trying to clear a jam for them. When I jerked my forearm down away from their barrel some of my skin was hanging off the metal. We had a serious safety chat at that point, trust me (rolling my eyes).

I did seem to feel it could benefit from a bit larger slide release lever, but this course also trained me to release the slide with my left thumb after doing a reload and acquiring my firing grip again. So it was not nearly the issue it might have been for me if trying to use my right thumb to hit the lever too.

Mr. Oberstlt, interesting about the US Park Police. I bet they were some fine looking rigs too sir. If you were ever at FLETC for a firearms or certain criminal classes, it is very possible we have been in the same classroom taking notes together. I also got tdy-ed there a time or two to help out as "firearms staff". But never for as long as I would have like. The gentleman who taught my basic FITP course there was in charge of our firearms folks on staff there. We got along from the start. He even borrowed me a few afternoons very quietly, handing me the "red instructor shirt" while attending the course, to help out in some of their remedial firearms classes held late afternoon and early evenings. That was the last step before they had to send folks home with a sorry, you have to be able to shoot in the job you want. Small world at times sir for sure.

Still a very interesting thread on this pistol. Did not mean to get it a bit off topic, sorry. But I try not to ignore anyone speaking to me either. So hope no one minds.

I did always feel they were a good pistol. I am not sure I have ever found the perfect one, but some like the HP come mightly close to me. I toyed with getting a P7 after shooting these on the range, but I guess I was happy enough with the P226s I carried, and liked the higher capacity mags.

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I remembered a couple more things for anyone who picks up one of the surplus ones floating around now. I don't know what manual or tools they come with, so thought it best to mention these things:

First, don't use cast bullets in them. I suppose one could get by with shooting a few if they just had to, but I wouldn't do it. The gas port in the barrel will surely get plugged with melted lube and crud. If that gets blocked, you lose the gas-retarding system, and now have a straight blow-back pistol with a light slide and recoil spring.
Sounds scary to me.

Clean the gas cylinder. They came with a scraper and/or brush for this, but they tend to get lost over time. Carbon builds up the the gas cylinder, slowing the slide movement. A couple of quick twists of the scraper cleans it right out. I don't know how long one can go without cleaning it, since I clean mine after each time shooting (it takes a couple of seconds). The most I've gone is a couple hundred rounds. I wouldn't try to get through a 1,000 rd class without cleaning it.
There is a guy making and selling new scrapers, but I hear that a .270 bore brush will work.
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I'm very glad to read the contents of this thread. I knew next to nothing about the P7. This gives me a notion about the pistol. The only thing better would be to try one out on the range.
Nice gun.

Navajo Tribal Police likem 'em too.

The P7M13 failed the M9 trials FWIW.

Takes some getting used too. Several NJ troopers shot themselves w them their first yrs in use.
They might take some getting use to but some folks could shoot themselves with any handgun. Those who managed to shoot themselves with their P7's had a finger where it wasn't suppose to be which is bad form anyway.
Hi everyone, I just wrote an article on the P7 that Mr. Camp placed in the "Other Handguns" portion of his site.

My experience with the P7 goes back about 20 years. Originally bought a brand new M8 for $425 in 1986 and foolishly traded it off about ten years later for double that plus.

Since I normally carry a 1911, a few comments:

First, I don't find the squeeze cocker a problem, if you are grasping the butt of your pistol tightly enough to ensure good function and recoil control, I cannot see how this is much different from any other handgun, honestly.

Second, yes, it does mean you have to adjust to a different manual of arms. I do wish my earlier PSP had the ambi mag release levers, in particular, but that is a feature that HK uses in the USP without complaint about being "different," yes? I'll agree about the "hidden" slide lock, though I cannot imagine a scenario one respondent wrote when he talked about a double feed malfunction clearance drill. Between the tapered 9 case and the near straight shot into the chamber, coupled with a weapon that doesn't even need an extractor to function, I just can't see this.

Third, the low bore center axis and very quick reset trigger, along with the light slide means that the recoil recovery and follow up shots are fast. Probably faster than any other standard pistol in my experience.

Heat shields in the M8, M10, and M13 models is simply a plastic piece in the upper inside portion of the lengthened trigger guard of those pistols, and only protects one's index finger while it is in the guard.

While cocking the pistol is accompanied by a somewhat loud "click," to decock it nearly silently one can depress a small metal piece just behind the root of the trigger guard, upward while releasing the squeeze cocker. Those that have one of these pistols, try that. It works.

Hope that clarifies things a bit. Yes, it's a bit odd, but that doesn't make it any the less efficient a bullet launcher. One would only wish for a .45!!
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