I remember when I first saw the Heckler & Koch P30. It was the best-looking polymer gun I’d ever laid eyes on. I became obsessed with it, but in typical HK “sign on the dotted line and hand us your soul” fashion, the price was too high—until the tactical gods blessed me with a friend who sold me his for $600. Fast forward to 2015: HK releases the P30SK, the subcompact version of the P30. And well, as far as subcompacts go? Houston, we have a problem.
The P30SK comes at a time when people are scratching like dope fiends for an ultra-concealable subcompact handgun that shoots and handles like a full-size. It’s the classic refrain: I want it fast, I want it good, but I also want it cheap. Except gun owners take it up a notch: We want our guns extremely concealable, high-quality, high-capacity, ultra-reliable, easy to shoot and of course “affordable.” Yes, I’m using air quotes right now. We want our guns extremely concealable, high-quality, high-capacity, ultra-reliable, easy to shoot and of course “affordable.” Yes, I’m using air quotes right now.
Granted, it’s probably ridiculous to assume you can have all these things in one package, but I have little sympathy for gun manufacturers. As long as I’m shelling out money that should be going to my future kid’s trust fund, I (and every other consumer) will continue demanding unrealistic specifications and expecting manufacturers to go broke trying to meet them.
But then there are guns like the P30SK—guns that look at the consumers’ list of desirables and say, “I can do that, that and that. But this, this and this? Not happening.” As I shot the gun, I began understanding the method to the madness. For instance, the P30SK is bigger than it needs to be. Comparable guns are noticeably leaner and shorter, but neither of those guns comes close to the ergonomics of the P30.
People love to hate the paddle-style magazine releases, but more and more I find myself loving them. The paddles are incredibly smooth, not to mention ambidextrous. Once pushed, the magazine comes flying out, and loading a new mag is an easy process—especially considering it’s a smaller gun, which typically makes loading magazines at speed a bit of a chore. The gun just sits in your hand like it was made for you. The bottom of the trigger guard could stand to be raised just a bit, but it’s hardly something you notice unless you’ve experienced a modified trigger guard on a Glock.
Speed Shooting/Transition Between Targets
The P30SK isn’t the fastest gun I’ve shot, but it does a decent job considering its build properties. I think the biggest culprits limiting this gun’s speed are the slide and the bore access. The slide on the P30SK is incredibly solid, which from a quality standpoint is great, but from a speed standpoint the extra weight does it no justice. That’s not to mention the characteristically high bore access you get with HK guns, with the exception being the HK VP9, of course.
While we’re talking about how the gun’s slide tracks, I might as well talk about the recoil. Here, the gun’s dense build quality helps the P30SK. Sure, it can be a little flippy. Granted, I’m never going to win any awards for managing recoil. But you don’t notice the slight flippiness—which is not a word—until you watch the gun being shot in slow motion. When you’re actually shooting it, it’s a pleasure. You can feel the gun soaking up as much of the recoil as possible. Is it the lightest recoiling gun I’ve shot? Not by a wide margin—but considering its size, the recoil is noticeably manageable.
The full-size P30 is a gun I love, even though its shortcomings have driven me insane. To me, it’s a polymer hammer-fired gun in a league of its own. It’s one of the most comfortable polymer guns I have ever shot, it’s accurate and it’s easy to shoot, which is incredible considering its less-than-optimal trigger. The crazy thing is that I feel the HK P30SK recoils lighter than the full-size P30, ever so slightly. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the P30 over the subcompact any day, but I can’t help but notice how close this gun shoots to the larger P30. You can’t fake quality—it permeates every aspect of a gun and leaves you with a feeling you understand, without being able to explain it.
The trigger on the P30SK is, well, the trigger on the P30 in many ways. In single action it takes you about three minutes to get to the wall of the trigger, the take-up is so long. It almost feels like I have the LEM variant of the gun. The trigger reset is technically a reset, it just takes forever to do it. Now, keep in mind that I’m being very hard on this aspect of the gun because I feel at this price point it should be better. However, I’ve experienced much worse triggers. The double action is incredibly heavy and very smooth—just a nice swift pull with no hesitations, stacking or stuttering. It’s also long as hell. However, I like the double action trigger pull because to me it’s the perfect balance between safety and decent shootability.
I can spend all day picking apart the trigger, but when I run the gun and shoot it for shooting’s sake, I honestly don’t care. The P30SK is simply a quality gun to shoot. I wish it were a little bit leaner or had more rounds for concealed carry. I’d rather have 12 or 13 rounds in a slightly bigger gun like the M&P9c. But the grips on the gun make drawing from concealment a breeze. It’s a little unnerving: You think because of the short grip and the way it sits in the holster that you won’t get a good purchase on the gun. But those Batman-style grips almost pull your fingers into the grooves and force you to get a good, firm hold.
I want this gun to replace my Glock 26 so badly, but I can’t deny that the size and weight don’t do it any favors. I still think the gun is incredible for a subcompact. You’re not going to shoot a $400 gun and then shoot the P30SK and say you don’t feel the difference. You can’t fake quality—it permeates every aspect of a gun and leaves you with a feeling you understand, without being able to explain it.
Is it possible that I’m feeling the “this gun is expensive, so it must be high quality” placebo effect? Absolutely. But in the case of the P30SK, I highly doubt it.