P30 Evaluation by JW777

4-Mar-10 – 00:51 by John_Wayne777

When I originally signed up for Todd’s SOM class he was magnanimous enough to offer the P30 test gun (and the ammo for it) to me for use in the class. Since I’m the kind of guy who is always ready to help a friend… and the kind of guy who thinks the words “free ammo” are the most beautiful in the English language… I finally gave into the arm twisting and agreed to use the P30 test gun. I’d actually had the opportunity to shoot the P30 test gun in past range sessions, but the opportunity to use it for an entire day in a class of challenging drills was new.

H&K has a tradition of building really good handguns and the P30 seems, to me anyway, to be one of the best they’ve ever built from a shooting and daily use perspective. (I’m sure the diehard P7 series fans are lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks upon reading that statement.) It’s reasonably compact, fairly light, easily concealable, comfortable to use, safe, durable, reliable, and far more accurate than 99% of those who would potentially pick it up. What’s not to love?

So what did I think? I liked it. Quite a bit, in fact. I’ve spent the last couple of years shooting striker fired polymer guns, primarily the Smith & Wesson M&P, so the P30 with the LEM trigger took a bit of adjustment. On more than one occasion in previous range sessions I short-stroked the reset which left me a bit puzzled as to what in the deuce was going on. If you short stroke the reset the hammer will move as you pull the trigger, but it doesn’t actually fall… which can be confusing. “Umm…. dude… I think I broke your gun.” After looking like a dork a time or two, I learned my lesson and thankfully during this range session I only managed to short stroke the reset once, and I was smart enough to keep the news to myself.

The LEM trigger on the P30 test gun is nice. To understand the significance of that admission you must first know that I actually told someone once that the person who thought up the DAO action should have been horse whipped in the town square. That I can pick up what is basically a DAO pistol today and not find myself overwhelmed with the urge to kick a puppy is a testament to the engineering that has gone into creating fire control systems like the LEM. The length of the trigger pull gives the user enough tactile sensation to realize that the loud noise will be coming soon without being onerously heavy and unmanageable. I’m sure that part of the trigger’s nice feel is due to the unique configuration on the test gun and the obscene number of rounds that have been through the pistol, but even stock LEM triggers aren’t bad.

While I’m not the same caliber of shooter that Todd is, based on my time behind the trigger with the P30 test gun and Todd’s results with the pistol over the test period I think it’s safe to say that the LEM system as configured on the test gun is no obstacle to excellent performance with the weapon.

When you think about it, the P30 is a real shooter’s handgun. The grip is designed to allow for adjustability that is unmatched by any other semi-automatic pistol on the market. A skilled shooter can really tweak the grip to come up with exactly the profile that suits their shooting best. Whether you’re working to build speed or you’re trying to make sure that you don’t hit any of the weapon’s controls with your gorilla mits at inappropriate times, the ability to configure the grip down to having different grip sizes on 3 of the 4 main contact points on the gun can be extremely helpful.

During the Feb. 27th class I was surprised at how well I seemed to run the gun. The controls were used almost effortlessly. I’ve seen a fair bit of consternation expressed about the magazine release H&K uses on the P30, but I’ve really never found it to be all that challenging. I have to admit that in the past I carried a USP and a Walther P99 which both used a similar system. Perhaps that stored muscle memory biases me somewhat, but at least in my experience the levers actually work well and are easy to use. Combine all of that on a weapon that only needs to visit the armorer every 25,000 rounds and that seems to tolerate borderline abusively infrequent cleaning and lubrication without complaint, and you’ve got a pretty good package, in my opinion.

I carried a USP for a couple of years many moons ago, eventually parting with it primarily because I could never get it to fit me the way I wanted. After spending some time with the P30 I’ve found that all the things I liked about the USP are still there… but all the things that annoyed me about the USP are gone. If I had purchased the P30 way back when I’d still be carrying it today… and it would have saved me a bloody fortune in handgun purchases.

Well… maybe I would have still bought a bunch of guns (Addiction is such an ugly word) but I’d still be carrying the P30.


  1. 18 Responses to “P30 Evaluation by JW777”

  2. ‘Unique configuration’? What’s the difference between this one and one from the shelf?

    By jellydonut on Mar 4, 2010

  3. I believe it’s configured with the Light LEM springs (aka P200 kit).

    By gtmtnbiker98 on Mar 4, 2010

  4. Meant to type “aka P2000 kit.”

    By gtmtnbiker98 on Mar 4, 2010

  5. Awesome review – thanks for that. I have to start scrounging for a P30 with LEM.

    By Modello Pirato on Mar 4, 2010

  6. I’ve looking for a new pistol and the P30 is on my list of handguns to try out.

    By Jesse on Mar 4, 2010

  7. My P30 has been set up as a V4, which has a trigger pull weight in between the standard V2 and the “Light LEM” V1. It’s also using the standard hammer spring instead of the extra-power LEM hammer spring and a “match” sear spring.

    By ToddG on Mar 4, 2010

  8. Haha about P7’s. I’m on my last p7, an M13 that I carry everywhere. But it’s old enough to drink now. I am, though, hoping to replace it this summer with the new P30S. Great review, and thanks.

    Long live the P7! Now, where the heck did I put that pitchfork?

    By Noops on Mar 4, 2010

  9. the words “free ammo” are the most beautiful in the English language


    By Brian E on Mar 4, 2010

  10. Is it worth the price difference with the M&P?

    By Alex on Mar 4, 2010

  11. I got a chance to put a few rounds through Todd’s P30 at the Get SOM class and was very impressed. I really didn’t notice any difference in the reset compared to my P30 V3. I like the idea of a hammer-fired DA pistol capable of quick follow-ups and no decocker to worry about.

    I can’t believe HK hasn’t imported more LEM P30s…it must be the most sought after HK pistol right now.

    By Mike on Mar 4, 2010

  12. Todd,
    Was your P30 lem set up the way you have it now or was it modified after you got it from H&K ?

    By Joe on Mar 5, 2010

  13. Joe — The test gun arrived as a V2. I changed the firing pin block spring right away to make it a V4. When HK determined the hammer spring was out of spec, they replaced it with a standard (non-LEM) spring. Then after the trigger spring broke, I began replacing it with a P2000 LEM spring instead of the P30 spring, because the P2000 spring gives a stronger reset.

    I also installed the Heinie Straight Eight QWIK night sights on the gun.

    By ToddG on Mar 6, 2010

  14. Interesting commentary from JW 777. Let me be the the eleventy billionth person to say where the heck are the LEM P30’s HK?

    By Darwin on Mar 6, 2010

  15. I think the LEM is philosophically a great trigger, especially for police work; however HK’s implementation by importing the V2 only hurts accuracy and speed. You cant buy Todd’s version off the shelf. In addition the vast majority of the P30 being offered are DA/SA. The DA is awful on the P30 and in HK in general; the SA is mushy. On both types the travel and the reset is a bit long to be optimal (hence “short stroking”) but is manageable. The modification of the “stronger reset” Todd mentions above helps I imagine make that reset pretty manageable and avoid “short strokes”–but alas is not found off the shelf. Also, the let off point is not that well defined–perhaps this is because the V0 and V1 on the HK website have a “defined let-off point” but the V2-V6 do not? Has anyone shot a factory V0 or V1 and can compare the let off point?

    The P30 mag release could be much better (and in general I like the teutonic placement on the trigger guard). I think the HK45C’s release is the best evolution from the P2000 to the P30/HK45. Its better for CQB. Pretty easy for a foe to mag dump you and turn that P30/HK45 into a one shooter; its nearly impossible in the P2000 with a firm grip due to the design. The HK45 Compact looks to give you enough more real estate to voluntarily drop easily but still more likely retain the mag in CQB. I’ve even seen the p30 mag inadvertantly dropped or knocked out of seating in the course of normal operations due to the release being knocked/bumped.

    The rattling left handed/right side slide release lever could be improved. I have had a slide lock back with rounds in the gun (1 time–weak ammo may have played a part) and have had numerous slide lock back failures due to the very handy and ergonomically long slide releases which I apparently “ride.” Todd G had “ride” problems that he mentioned earlier in the testing until he readjusted his grip.

    The stock sights are nice for non-night sights but then again they are non night sights.

    I find the gun in some shooters hands exhibits a very slight but perceptable extra “bobble/dip” that I dont see in the stock Glock 19 in the same shooters hands. Maybe this is a manifestation of the “high bore axis” or the recoil buffer in the HK. This can be seen in slow motion video between shots. This means the Glock 19 comes back on target faster between shots, esp in rapid fire.

    The P30 has many wonderful qualities but I find that all those qualities dont necessarily translate into the most accurate and fast hits on target for myself or other shooters. (If it did it would rule the IDPA SSP class.) However if I had to do a course this week that put 5000 rounds downrange over 5 days I would take the wonderful grip, soft shooting, and ergonomic controls of the P30 over every other gun out there–at the end of the week my hands, wrists, and fingers would feel fine and have no blisters. That certainly cant be said of most other handguns out there. In addition I find the LEM with the external hammer one of the most sensible and fool proof from a safety standpoint.

    By P30man on Mar 6, 2010

  16. P30man — To address some of your points, from my perspective:

    V2 LEM Agreed, the V4 is much better. My understanding based on my last conversation with HK-USA about this (SHOT Show) is that all future deliveries of LEMs for the commercial market will be V4. LE market will probably still see the V2 as standard, but will have V4 as an option.

    Mag release I’ve neither experienced nor witnessed a problem with inadvertent mag drops with the P30 by anyone other than someone completely new to the gun. I’ve seen similar folks drop mags from Glocks, M&Ps, SIGs, Berettas, etc. So to me, that’s a non-issue.

    And at least with my grip, there is no way anyone but me can touch my mag release levers. Even if that were a possibility, it would fall under the “Beretta slide strip” category for me: something that might be possible in theory, but would be utterly stupid to practice for or employ in an actual fight. Who sits around and practices different disarming techniques for different brand handguns? There are basic, simple, fundamental, universaltechniques that are much smarter.

    Slide release lever The rattling right side lever doesn’t bug me, but I can understand that some people get cranky about it. There are enough quick and simple fixes, though, that it wouldn’t sway me from choosing a P30. Having said that, yes, I’d put it on the extended version of my “things to change” list.

    Sights I think the stock sights suck fetid dingo kidneys. The factory night sights aren’t great, either. The Heinies are extremely shootable.

    Speed As I’ve said before, if you want to compare raw Bill Drill splits, the P30 isn’t going to be as fast… especially in the hands of someone who is used to a Glock or 1911 trigger. But give that person a more realistic shooting problem and suddenly just about everyone drops back to 0.20-0.25 splits, including the top IPSC GMs.

    I can pull 0.16s with my P30 when I’m really rocking, but when I shoot the F.A.S.T. I’m consistently around 0.20 on the splits to the wide open 8″ target. With my M&P9 (lower bore axis, much shorter reset) I usually averaged around 0.19… Faster yes. Meaningful no.

    By ToddG on Mar 6, 2010

  17. The mag dump was demonstrated at the Sig Academy by one of the instructors in a retension demonstration on a Sig of course. After that I noticed that the P2000 mag release was designed so that when one is gripping the thing you cant lose the mag. It is the handgun I have ever seen which it clearly designed 100% this way. (I assume some clever engineer who grew up with the mag release on the bottom of the mag well decided that in CQB the button on the grip was a liability.) The drawback to this is that you have to release and/or shift you grip to actuate the release (get the index finder out of the way). Now when I saw the P30/HK45 I thought it would be easier to release the mag especially without shifting the grip and especially with gloves on–as sensible germans decided that would be important for outdoor operations when they will likely have winter gloves on many months of the year. But I think the release may be a bit too exposed for comfort and could be dumped inadvertantly. When I saw the HK45C release I thought it was the best compromise. I havent had the opportunity to train with a HK45 Compact so I cant comment if its that much better. But on tabletop inspection I wondered why they went for the larger design. I havent dumped the mag myself. But upon pulling the slide after reload under stress I’ve seen the mag release actuated by what I assume was involuntary reflexes along the trigger guard; under real stress all but the most hardened or trained may do little stupid things. The job of engineers is to make the device more idiot proof–the LEM trigger works along these lines.

    By P30man on Mar 7, 2010

  18. “I’ve even seen the p30 mag inadvertantly dropped or knocked out of seating in the course of normal operations due to the release being knocked/bumped.”

    Actually I slightly misinterpreted what I saw at a distance and I guess with the noise on the range I didnt quite hear some things said correctly. I talked to the person who had the dropping mag (3 separate times on the same IDPA-style match) and they said that after slide lock they reloaded a fully loaded mag, moved the slide forward (neither of us remembers if the slide was overhanded or if the lever was used–probaby the slide release lever), and a shot was taken. After the first shot was taken (with a right-handed, 2 thumbs forward grip) the mag just fell out. Of course everyone was thinking how did that happen–if this was a button on the grip gun it would be pretty obvious. Nothing looked out the ordinary all three times when it happened; it was kind of like standing in line at the grocery store and suddenly your pants drop to the ground–pretty embarrasing. You start looking for answers.

    The speculation after the third time was that it might be the same “bad” mag since only 3 or 4 were in use at once, and so the potentially “bad” one on the ground was marked and put aside. They don’t think think the mag was really gunked up. But it may have had some dirt on it. It hasn’t happened again since that day. I know the gun and mags were clean going into the match and that it was not super overlubed. Maybe there was dirt in the magwell but not likely. The best explanation was that something could cause the magazine retention tab to not fully seat and get jarred loose after that first shot. Could also be a piece of grit blocking the mag release lever from going back to fully undepressed position.

    This was unusual and I think the gun design is basically squared away.

    “I’ve seen similar folks drop mags from Glocks, M&Ps, SIGs, Berettas, etc.” Yea thats true but I wonder if you have ever seen one inadvertant drop on a P2000. The point I was making is that it is highly unlikely with the P2000 design–and possibly the HK45C design–and therefore its a best design from that standpoint. I dont think that the P30/HK45 design is any worse than the button on grip design for a average handgun, but we are “No compromise” after all–or should I say “best compromise” ;-).

    (And before anyone suggests the “European” grip-end release like on the original P7 it should be noted that that design caused alot of unseating in day to day use, esp in duty holsters in cars or knocking into door knobs. The HK style mag release redesign on the P7 certainly elimated the bump and unseat problem from behind/below. BTW, were there any mag releases of the “HK” style before the P7?)

    By P30man on Mar 7, 2010

  19. On the foe intentionally mag dumping you or traing to mag dump you issue. Your right that is would generally be silly technique to hope to master. The context would be an inadvertant dump during a struggle/scuffle. The foe doesnt have to be formally trained. This was brought up by instructors at the Sig Academy in the context of a recent real life experience in Maine–presumably of a button on the grip style; they didnt get defensive about that/their design. (They are generally just professionals there and not brand myopic.)

    By P30man on Mar 7, 2010

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