HK45 Endurance Test: Week One

13-Apr-10 – 17:37 by ToddG

1,385 rounds
0 stoppages
0 malfunctions
parts breakages

As we reported last week, the 2010 Endurance Test pistol is a Heckler & Koch HK45. Updates will be made on Tuesdays (give or take a day). The HK45 is the first non-9mm we have tested, and coming right on the heels of the P30 test it should be very informative.

The pistol is a genuine made-in-the-USA HK45. But to be honest, there is essentially no difference in the US- and German-built guns beyond the identification and proof marks. H&K GmbH has taken extreme steps to guarantee that fact, and most of the gun’s critical components are still manufactured in Germany to be mated with the New Hampshire-made frame and assembled for proofing, test firing, and delivery to the customer.

For the first outing, I took the gun exactly as it came from the factory straight to the range. I added some Militec-1 oil to the rails and barrel and started shooting.


  • 100% reliability right out of the box.
  • The grip is very comfortable. It’s no P30 — nothing on the market comes close to the P30 — but even for my smaller than average hands it is easy to get a solid grip on the pistol.
  • Recoil is much less than expected, even compared to other polymer framed .45 pistols. Shooting 500 or so rounds in two hours, two days in a row, didn’t cause any discomfort. Still, I doubt you’ll see any 2,000-rounds-in-a-day reports from this test.
  • While some people have reported trigger finger discomfort shooting the HK45 (due to the trough in the trigger guard or the protruding magazine release levers), I didn’t have any problems at all. I purposely use the tip of my finger to press the trigger when shooting, though, so those who put more finger through the trigger guard may be more likely to run into the problem. Luckily, David Bowie of Bowie Tactical Concepts does what he calls a “Vickers Package” on the HK45 which solves that problem for those who do run into it.
  • HK-USA set my gun up with the lightest possible LEM trigger, which didn’t have the kind of tactile response I like during initial takeup and was a little too sluggish to reset for my tastes. It was a simple job to replace the trigger spring with a P2000 LEM spring, though, and now the trigger feels almost exactly like my P30… with with a noticeably shorter reset.


  • The magazine floorplates are humongous, and unnecessarily so. When the pistol discharges, it actually causes the gun to torque against my grip. Luckily, a little time with God’s Own Gunsmithing Kit (aka, a dremel) fixed everything. Once I receive the rest of my spare mags from Heckler & Koch, I intend to experiment some more to see exactly how much material I can remove from the floorplates. The extended front lip also impacts concealability, which is already hampered by the very wide magazines. Every little bit will help when reducing the outline of these mags.
  • The stock sights, which are the exact same horribly horrible sights from the P30, are horribly horrible. Shooting a good 5-shot group at 25yd was beyond my skills because my eyeballs went on strike halfway through the attempt each time. Thankfully, I had a spare set of Heinie QWIK Straight 8 sights lying around from the P30 test and had them installed by Robb at Virginia Arms (aka gotm4 from

So, how does it shoot?

Initial accuracy results using Winchester 230gr Ranger SXT brought in an average of 2.22″ at 25yd, based on five 5-shot groups fired from a supported position. That was with the Satanic sights. This next week we’ll do another test using the Heinies, but I expect the results to be much improved. As you can see from this photo, just a quick offhand unsupported group at 25yd turned in 1.80″ results once the Heinie sights (aka, “sights designed by shooters”) went on the gun.

How about the F.A.S.T.? That was the first thing I did after the accuracy test. I was using a leather P30 AIWB holster that I basically forced to fit the HK45 (the only difference is the muzzle length) and some craptastic mag pouches that I bought at the gunshop and still managed to turn in OK times:

  • 5.45 clean: 1.76, .47 / 2.20 / .37, .33, .32
  • 5.26 clean: 1.69, .57 / 2.30 / .24, .24, .22
  • 4.81 clean: 1.55, .55 / 1.99 / .26, .23, .23

My reloads with this gun aren’t where they should be, and I need to spend time this week working out why once I’ve got decent mag pouches. Two issues I see already: I fumble more reloads with the HK45, and it takes me longer to reacquire a solid grip on the gun before pressing out to the next shot. Those are just familiarity problems and will (hopefully) work themselves out in short order.

The other glaring deficiency is the time to first shot and the followup on the 3×5. I dedicated an entire day to working on nothing but my press-outs, draws, and splits on small targets and I’m consistently back to being able to make the two 3×5 hits under 2 seconds. Of course, now that I put that in writing my numbers will jump back to 2.25 next time I’m at the range…

While the HK45 has a noticeably shorter reset than the P30 (I measured it at 0.140″ of movement from rest to reset, compared to 0.235″ for the P30), the practical value of that shorter reset is lost on me at the moment as I re-learn proper recoil management with a .45 pistol. So while I was able to pull 0.16 splits just firing blindly, my aimed splits are in the .23 to .27 range… slower than with my P30 at this point. It’s purely a technique issue at this point. The gun comes back down on target fast, I just need to get better at tracking the sight through a wider arc and moving my finger less to work the trigger.

The pistol also made its public debut this past weekend during the C.U.S.S. class in Pennsylania. Though as you can see from the photo (courtesy of Byron G.), not even brilliant Teutonic engineering combined with first rate US manufacturing was enough to keep me from hitting the hostage and owing push-ups when we got to the 25yd strong hand only stage. Quite a few students ran through a drill or two with the HK45 and comments were all positive. Over the coming months you can expect to see more in-depth reviews from students who run the pistol for a full day during courses.

In the coming week I should be getting a Shaggy from Custom Carry Concepts as well as some CCC mag pouches, at which point I’ll switch over to carrying the HK45 every day. As I mentioned above, it’s not really much bigger than the P30. Width is identical… the two guns would fit in the same holster if the bottom is open. The grip is a little wider and longer, but with a Shaggy and a good belt I don’t expect it to be any problem concealing the gun under the same polos and other clothes I wore during the P30 and M&P9 tests.

Thanks to Wayne Weber, Angela Harrell, and Sam Bass from HK-USAMelissa Garrett from ATK CCI/Speer Federal; and Dale Metta at Atlantic Guns (Silver Spring, MD) for making all the necessary pieces fall into place for the test to get off the ground!

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Previous HK45 Endurance Test posts at

  1. 21 Responses to “HK45 Endurance Test: Week One”

  2. Heh. I see what you did there in the first pic. 😉

    By Tim on Apr 13, 2010

  3. Todd,
    What was your carry gun of choice
    before the m&p and the p30?

    By Joe on Apr 13, 2010

  4. Has H&K made any comments on incorporating your feedback about the P30 and HK45 into a refresh of the model? I’d be interested in knowing if they improve them.

    By Edwin on Apr 13, 2010

  5. Joe — Before the M&P9 I was working at SIG and carrying a 9mm P229R with the misnamed “Short Reset Trigger” system. It’s still my favorite SIG pistol.

    Edwin — You’d have to ask HK that. 8)

    By ToddG on Apr 13, 2010

  6. Todd, are you doing anything different in regards to “re-learning proper recoil management with a .45 pistol” or it is “back to fundamentals + grip the hell out of it with support hand” type of thing?

    By YK on Apr 13, 2010

  7. so when the mag bases fail due to your having removed a ton of material from them, is that going to count as breaking? 😉

    By Rob E on Apr 14, 2010

  8. YK — Really, it’s just a matter of exerting more force on the gun via grip. With the 9mm, it’s easy to achieve without working so hard.

    Rob E — No, absolutely not. If something I do to the gun leads to a failure, that’s on me, not the gun. But since I’m not removing material from the structural area, it’s not a concern.

    By ToddG on Apr 14, 2010

  9. Sounds like a great start to a great relationship.

    I too saw the “discrepency” the instant I saw that photo. Makes me smile when I remembered the original. Wish I had a copy. :)

    By Tom on Apr 14, 2010

  10. I find it interesting that guns come with crap sights these days. I mean, this is a $800 plus gun that has ‘satanic’ sights. Really? I can see having a gun with sights you don’t like and fitting $200 worth of aftermarket sights because you wanted glow in the dark, or a different sight picture, but sights that change your groups by half an inch? That’s just unacceptable in a premium pistol.

    By Brice on Apr 14, 2010

  11. I have a P30, I HATE the sights as well. I’ve had the gun for a year and need a change….Any aftermarket sights out there that you could recommend?

    By Blake on Apr 14, 2010

  12. Blake – Really the only choice that will give you a different site picture than the standard sights are the Heinie straight-eights. The Mep’s and Trijicons basically have the same exact sight picture as stock. I just got the Heinies put on my P30 and i like them a lot. I’m hoping warren will put out a set for the P30/HK45 as I would like to give those a try.

    By BMcDonald on Apr 14, 2010

  13. Brice — The error is that you’re assuming the folks who choose the sights know about shooting. It’s not different than with other companies. Hell, Glock puts plastic sights on its guns which have been falling off for 20 years. Aftermarket sight companies exist specifically because most stock sights are somewhere between mediocre and poor.

    Blake — BMcDonald is right, the Heinie sights are the only game in town if you want a refined sight picture on a P30 or HK45. Having said that, at the range this evening I realized that the new set of Heinies I put on my HK45 have the exact same off-cetner dot/notch problem that the original P30 test gun Heinies had. The mind boggles. I’m seriously considering a set of Trijicon night sights and then sending them to a ‘smith to widen the rear notch and narrow the front post.

    By ToddG on Apr 14, 2010

  14. Wow, I usually shoot cheap guns that aftermarket sights aren’t even available….. Maybe I’m getting the better part of the deal.

    By Brice on Apr 15, 2010

  15. Todd-I believe that DocGKR experienced some similar issues with his HK45 magazine baseplates (too bulky/protrusive), and also experienced some cracking as I recall. His solution was to have 10-8 Performance gin up some thinner baseplates for replacement, although I haven’t seen them up yet on the 10-8 Performance site. You might want to give Gary or Hilton Yam a call.

    Best, Jon Stein

    By Jon Stein on Apr 16, 2010

  16. So the primary benefit of the Heinie sights is the narrow front sight and wide rear notch? Do you have any thoughts on the dot over dot straight eight style vs three-dot? Like one better or it doesn’t really matter?

    By jumpthestack on Apr 16, 2010

  17. I am glad I am not the only one whose Hk45 doesn’t pinch.

    By Greg Bell on Apr 17, 2010

  18. So what do you REALLY think about the sights? hehe

    By DougP on Apr 18, 2010

  19. Interesting comment about the sights. I don’t care for the factory version either.

    By MarshallDodge on Apr 18, 2010

  20. Todd, I really like HK and look forward to following this thread. Even though I carried a USP for most of the last 12 years, I went with an M&P45 instead of the HK45 because getting recoil springs, magazines; were crazy expensive and/or hard to find with the USP. It’s not the upfront cost that scared me away but the ability to maintain and stay on top of it.

    By Matt on Apr 24, 2010

  21. Why is the top round in the separate magazine in backwards? Anyone else notice that?

    By Dan on Dec 25, 2010

  22. Dan,

    Why is the top round in the separate magazine in backwards? Anyone else notice that?

    A couple of commenters have obliquely referred to it.

    HK’s PR agency let out some brochures a few years back with that error. It’s an inside joke. 😉

    By Tam on Dec 25, 2010

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