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Heckler & Koch USP .40 Compact

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By Steve Remy

 The H&K USP .40 Compact is a highly reliable gun that I would have no problem entrusting my protection to.  I fired nearly 2,000 rounds down the barrel of this pistol with zero malfunctions of any sort.  The ammo ranged from brass to steel case, and ball to hollow point.  This particular model being reviewed is considered to be a “variant 1” meaning it has a de-cocking lever that doubles as a safety. This H&K can be carried in double action (DA) with the safety on/off, or be carried in single action (SA, cocked and locked) with the safety on/off.  The pistol is fired in either DA/SA mode or SA only.  These features alone allow a multitude of user carry configurations that will meet most people’s personal carry preference.

The HK grips well and feels extremely comfortable when firing.  For added comfort and as a personal preference, I chose to add a slip-on finger groove grip.  The ambidextrous magazine release is a bar across the front strap where the trigger guard and the front strap meet.  It is easy to access without rotating your hand to a mag release button as many left handed shooters must do with non-ambidextrous mag releases.

The gun is easy to disassemble by pushing out the slide release lever and moving the slide forward off of the frame.  The recoil spring is self contained meaning the spring is held in place on the spring guide by a small c-clip.  This only becomes a problem when the c-clip mysteriously disappears during a trip to the range and the spring flies off the guide rod when you begin your cleaning process.  As you can tell, this happened to me about 1,500 rounds through the gun.  Here is where it gets somewhat grim.  HK’s customer service was pretty dismal when I called them about the problem and asked for a replacement c-clip.  My first call was to HK’s main customer service line where I was connected with someone who determined this particular part was out of stock and was unsure of when it would be available.  Being out of stock is understandable in some situations, so I called my area HK law enforcement rep to see if he had any available for purchase.  I spoke with him and he indicated he had a few and could spare a couple to send me free of charge.  After taking my name and shipping address, I didn’t receive anything or hear from him for a couple of weeks.  All subsequent phone calls and messages went unreturned.  In my book this was unacceptable.  Luckily the gun still functions flawlessly without the c-clip, but reassembly after cleaning is now a frustrating and somewhat comical experience.  It takes three hands but unfortunately I only have two, so I am constantly annoyed by their lack of responsiveness.

The HK shoots as accurate as any other well-made compact pistol on the market, especially in the sub 10 yard fighting range where must gun fights happen.  The controls are smooth and easily activated but the trigger could use some work considering this gun will cost most people nearly $900-$1,000 after taxes and FFL fees.  The trigger was jumpy out of the box and never seemed to smooth out during the 2,000 rounds fired.  For the price of the gun I would expect the trigger to be butter smooth, especially knowing the quality engineering that went into producing this gun.

Overall the USP compact is very reliable and backed by a company known for producing high quality firearms.  However, with the price point being nearly $1,000, one must consider the ability to purchase at least two other handguns with similar reliability and functionality for the same amount of money.  There is somewhat of a novelty in owning an HK and many people have purchased one for themselves as a commemorative-type gift.  Being somewhat of a pragmatist if I had $1,000 devoted to purchase another handgun, I might opt in the future to purchase multiple handguns instead of one HK; afterall, isn’t two always better than one?

Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: A smaller framed pistol capable of reliable use and engineered for a 20,000 round service life.

Target Market: Concealed carry license holders, home defense, plain clothes law enforcement.


Key Features

  • Polymer frame
  • Polygonal bore profile
  • Captive recoil spring
  • Bobbed hammer
  • Accessory rail
  • Ambidextrous magazine release

Does it come in black?  Yes

What others are saying?:

Price point:

I need it now! Availability:  Readily available at most firearms retailers both online and in stores.  Available at for a good price and quick shipping.

Our Rating:

+ Lightweight polymer frame that is easily concealable.
+ Proven reliable H&K engineering.
+ Great fit and finish.
+ Balances and grips nicely.
+ Easy to disassemble and clean; self-contained recoil spring aids in this.

- Slightly jumpy trigger pull.
- Customer service and product/replacement part support is severely lacking.
- Cost is within the higher range of pricing.

Score: 8.0

Steve’s Links:

Gun Guy Radio

Firearms Radio Network


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