P30 Thursday: Week Forty-Two

26-Mar-10 – 19:43 by ToddG

91,322 rounds
13 stoppages, 0 malfunctions, 5 parts breakages

test ended at: 91,622 rounds

At 91,300 rounds, the P30 was running strong. Even after a chunk went missing from the frame, the gun had turned in well over five thousand rounds of accurate and reliable service. I carried it every day.

By 91,322 however, the pistol had suffered three stovepipe stoppages. In the course of those twenty-two rounds, the P30 — hot, broken, and abused — finally skipped a beat. Something clearly wasn’t right. So on Monday, the pistol got packed up and sent to HK’s Sam Bass for a detailed inspection. Sam has been the go-to guy for every technical issue and question during this project, and if anyone was going to get to the bottom of this, it was him.

The conclusion was pretty straightforward. When that sliver of material came off the frame, the guide rod had more room to shift around in recoil. This, in turn, allowed the barrel to shift around more when the gun was unlocked. Without the barrel in its designed orientation as the slide cycled, the extractor and ejector couldn’t be guaranteed to make proper contact with the casing and a stovepipe would result.

The problem was further exacerbated by the heat built up in the barrel, guide rod, and frame during the rapid fire shooting I was doing. Amazingly, the gun still functions properly when it’s cool!

Nonetheless, it would not be responsible to continue using the P30 test gun for everyday carry. For the time being — until the next 50,000 round endurance test begins — I’m carrying my spare P30. And the weekly updates are also coming to an end.

From 1-May-09 to 19-Mar-10 — 322 days — the pistol fired 91,322 rounds.

Of those 322, it spent 130 days at the range, averaging over 700 rounds per trip.

It spent 512 hours at the range, averaging almost 180 rounds per hour. By the way, 512 hours is more than three weeks at twenty four hours per day, seven days a week.

That rnd/hr number is a bit skewed, though, because it includes many hours on the range teaching. When you look at just my personal practice routines, the gun was regularly firing 350-550 rounds per hour.

During the entire test, the pistol experienced a total of thirteen stoppages. Those who have followed the test from the beginning will remember that the first seven were the result of an out-of-spec mainspring that was replaced before the 10,000 round mark. The last three, as reported above, were in quick succession due to the gun reaching the end of its service life. Between the time when the mainspring was replaced and the gun’s final death throes, there were only three stoppages… that’s less than one stoppage per 27,000 rounds fired.

So what finally brought the gun to a stop? Heat. As Sam explained it, the part of the frame that was damaged is in contact with the recoil spring assembly. Every time the gun is fired, heat gets transferred through the barrel lug to the recoil assembly. Under any normal condition, that is not a problem.

But while many folks have criticized the term “torture test” to describe the pistol-training.com endurance tests, torture is exactly what these guns are subjected to. In 91,322 rounds, the gun was only cleaned fifteen times — once going over 12,000 rounds between cleanings. It was rarely lubed more often than once every 4-5,000 rounds. Multiple days per week it was subjected to consecutive hours of high volume rapid fire practice that often made the gun too hot to touch.

All of that adds up to a lot of heat lying against the frame for hours at a time. Eventually, that small piece broke off. Even after that, it took more than 5,000 rounds for the damage to impair function of the pistol.

For ten months, the HK P30 has been an everyday companion on my belt. It’s traveled to more than a dozen states and been shot by probably close to 100 different people. The P30 has helped me set so many personal records on various shooting drills that I could not even begin to count, including a 4.08 on the F.A.S.T. just two weeks ago.

So what are we doing with the P30 from here on out? That decision was finally reached today… which is why this week’s Thursday report is actually coming out on Friday.

As I said, the P30 still runs fine until it’s been heated up by hundreds of rounds of rapid fire. So the gun is still going to be shot on a regular basis, just not allowed to get as too-hot-to-touch. We’ll see how well it still functions under more normal circumstances. We’ll post an update once a month (P30 30th, anyone?) so folks can continue to track progress.

If all goes according to plan, we’ll hit 100,000 rounds before the end of the year… even with the next Endurance Test going on at the same time. (as to what the next test gun is going to be,we’ll have a little contest next week to see who can guess)

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Previous P30 Endurance Test posts at pistol-training.com:

  1. 35 Responses to “P30 Thursday: Week Forty-Two”

  2. Maybe a Glock 19, next up?

    By scpo on Mar 26, 2010

  3. Glad to see that you are going to keep it going to 100,000 rounds. HK made a work of art when they made the P30. If one can make it to over 90,000 rounds with the kind of abuse you put it through it makes me think my P30 I take to the range only once every 3-4 weeks will last long enough for my grandchildren to still shoot it :-).

    By BMcDonald on Mar 26, 2010

  4. I am just glad that I will finally get to shoot this pistol, tomorrow. BTW, it was a pleasure to finally meet you!

    By Gtmtnbiker98 on Mar 26, 2010

  5. Gtmtnbiker98 — The gun is in Columbus, GA right now. Sorry, dude!

    By ToddG on Mar 26, 2010

  6. You know what gun I want you to test next. Good job on the P30 test.

    By Great Bison on Mar 26, 2010

  7. Looking forward to seeing this gun hit 100,000 rounds, if it doesn’t suffer a catastrophic failure before then. Which I would actually guess is probable, given the breakage already evident, probably some nice stress fractures hiding out just below the surface already.
    as for you next test gun I’m going to stick with what I said before, a Gen 4 Glock, 19, or maybe 17. You worked at Sig and Beretta, you’ve done in a Smith and now an HK, so Glock makes sense. Unless you go totally off base and pick something like the CZ Shadow (which would be cool). Of course one of the new Sigs might be your choice, but no, I’m going to stick with Glock.

    By Rob E on Mar 27, 2010

  8. Todd,
    Tried numerous times to have my dealer
    order me a P30 9mm lem. He had no luck.
    I even spoke to Jeff ,commercial sales
    manager.He said to tell my dealer to
    contact him directly to order.He never
    returned my dealers phone call!
    What’s up with them?

    By joe on Mar 27, 2010

  9. I’m going to guess that it will be a 4 Gen Glock, but not a 9mm like I first thought since Glock had problems with their .40 cals before they were redesigned. So I’m going to toss my hat in the ring and say it will be a Gen 4 Glock 22 unless you have a prototype Gen 4 Glock 23.

    By Shenaniguns on Mar 27, 2010

  10. Sorry to see the HK couldn’t do 100k. Next, I would like to see you test a Glock 23 or 17 with NO CLEANING at all.

    By Stephen on Mar 27, 2010

  11. Next gun= gen 4 Glock, .40 cal

    By dojpros on Mar 27, 2010

  12. What’s the holster/mag pouch combo in the picture?

    By Jason on Mar 27, 2010

  13. My guess is that the next pistol will be…bigger.

    By SLG on Mar 27, 2010

  14. I think either the new Sig’s with the new grips or one of the Gen 4 clocks. I just hope it isn’t an XDm…

    By BMcDonald on Mar 27, 2010

  15. I’m curious aswell, what is the holster/ mag pouch combo? As for the next gun how about something smaller; one of the many sub compacts out there.

    By Lance on Mar 28, 2010

  16. Nice run. I’m looking forward to keeping up with your next test. Whatever that may be . . .

    By DougP on Mar 28, 2010

  17. Stephen — I don’t doubt for a minute that the P30 could have done 100K under normal conditions…but the conditions that gun went through were not normal. As an example, during a very brief period of time on the reactive steel range at Blackwater I personally put a bunch of rounds downrange with it…so many that it was getting uncomfortable to hold because of the heat. That was a regular condition for the P30 and what seems to have ultimately caused the part failure.

    It’s not just the round count. It’s that the pistol got to that round count under conditions that were horrifically abusive, the equivalent of taking a car and running it to redline every day for extended periods of time. The machine was pushed to the limits of what any handgun should be capable of day after day with little maintenance. I’m frankly shocked to see it survived this long.

    By JW777 on Mar 29, 2010

  18. Todd-Well, I guess I can legitimately say “I told you so” regarding the inadvisability of continuing to use the test P30 as your carry gun apres frame material shedding…(Not that you haven’t successfully busted me before).

    And thanks for the time and dedication for running the test (and the previous M&P one); they were much appreciated, and very illuminating.

    My guesses for your upcoming test piece:

    1. Glock Gen4 G19

    2. S&W M&P in .357 SIG

    3. Glock Gen4 G22

    Best, Jon

    By Jon Stein on Mar 29, 2010

  19. Having come into this ongoing story somewhere around the 60K mark I’d like to request a clarification. I understand what “Stoppages” and “Parts Breakages” are, but I don’t understand how a “Malfunction” would differ. Would you explain this?

    By Antibubba on Mar 29, 2010

  20. Totally awesome, I’m pretty happy about how the p30 fared in the test. Name any pistol and it would be fun to read about you destroying it Todd but I would really like to see someone shoot the hell out of the new Beretta 92A1, I kind of wonder how it would last with the new recoil buffer.

    People complain about the m9 so often, it would be nice to see a documented “torture” test.

    By Andrew on Mar 29, 2010

  21. Jason — The holster and magazine are parts of a prototype AIWB set made by Garrity Gunleather.

    Jon — Now let’s not jump to conclusions. So far, the pistol has proved to be perfectly capable of going through my “combat load” of 31 rounds without a problem. So while the gun isn’t suitable for high round count training anymore, at least for the moment it appears that it could be pressed into service if needed. That’s the whole point of continuing to shoot it…

    Antibubba — A stoppage means the gun failed to go through its normal cycle of operation but could be put back into action within 30 seconds using no tools, no parts replacement, no disassembly. A malfunction is a stoppage that requires more than 30 seconds to clear, requires tools to clear, and/or requires disassembly to clear but does not need any parts replacement. A breakage is, well, a broken part.

    By ToddG on Mar 29, 2010

  22. JW777 – Perhaps the HK could be given a more gentle treatment next time. I’m sure that would help it make 100k.

    But now let’s see the Glock.

    By Stephen on Mar 30, 2010

  23. I’m still trying to figure out the massage device in the picture??????????

    By Rob E on Mar 31, 2010

  24. Rob, the “device” is actually a “Mr Happy”

    no, I’m not kidding… I think they changed the name/marketing of them 5-6 years ago when they figured out the connotation was, uh, a bit lewd…

    By Dark Helmet on Apr 8, 2010

  25. I have a new H&K P-30 9mm (900 rounds through it so far) during the last cleaning I noticed a bur and what appears to be noticable wear on the poly frame slide pads. In your picture they look perfect. Is something wrong with mine?

    By Chuck Mehney on May 8, 2010

  26. The extra polymer flashing on the frame rails is normal. The steel which protrudes from the polymer is what really matters.

    By Mike B on May 8, 2010

  27. I didnt know where to post this but I’ll try here. I have a P30 with the DA/SA trigger and I’m not pleased at all with my time from shot one (hammer down) to shot 2. Shots 2 to 3 are great. I have found an HK LEM trigger kit and was wondering if anyone has any experience with this? It seems like a solid fix for my issue but I want to know the pro’s and cons.

    By Blake on Jun 18, 2010

  28. There’s no way that I will put that many shots through ANY firearm I own, so it appears that any P30 put into my hands would not even come within a thousand miles of “wearing out”. One of the issues mentioned by some P30 owners is the right side slide release. No one has complained about its function, but some have said that, after some shooting, it sags and rattles (photo shown of the sag). Is this anything that’s happened to the P30 enduring your “torture test”? Have you ever heard of this happening? Do you know of any fixes for it? I’m coming late to this party so have not read all of your posts in this test. Thanks

    By Average Joe on Jul 12, 2010

  29. I’ve got a new P30 in .40 S&W with exactly 200 rounds through it. I used it to qualify for my CCW, and I had never fired it before. It feels a lot like my P99, grip wise and point wise. It is extremely accurate (I was shooting at 35ft targets for practice)

    As far as the right slide release ‘sag’, this is how it came from the factory. It doesn’t rattle or anything. It has no effect whatsoever on the functioning of the pistol.. there just isn’t a notch for it like on the left slide.

    When I first read about the issue, I was worried. But when I actually got the thing and used it, the sag complaints I’d read about seemed ridiculous.

    As far as a holster, I have a CCC Looper on order.

    By BM on Jul 26, 2010

  30. I’d like to see a walther p99 or sig pro. A glock gen 4 would make more sense though.

    By Ryan on Sep 10, 2010

  31. By the way, I think I’ll buy one of these. That amounts to about a cars with of ammo costs, the small premium for an HK seems trivial in light of this.

    By Ryan on Sep 10, 2010

  32. Where are the p30 30th reports at? Hopefully now that the hk45 test is finished you can go back to shooting the p30 as it would be interesting to see how long it can last in it’s current condition without becoming overheated.

    By fredrick on Dec 24, 2010

  33. frederick — It was determined that the P30, after over 91k rounds (and more than 5k rounds since the frame broke) was finally no longer reliable enough to continue testing.

    By ToddG on Dec 24, 2010

  34. Todd,

    I couldnt find another area to post a question. After reading your post regarding the P30 and its sights. I have purchased one and expect it next week. I tend to run with the Hackathorn sights from ameriglo on my glock 17 and sig 228. I noticed you the heinie and am looking at the tactical eight qwik etc, etc. what are your thoughts on such a set up?

    Thanks and S/F


    By Nikuraba29 on Feb 18, 2011

  35. Nikuraba29 — Those are the exact same sights I ran for two years (on the P30 and then HK45) except I didn’t use a suppressor so I didn’t get the “tactical” version (which is just a much taller sight picture).

    By ToddG on Feb 19, 2011

  36. nice…I have a p30-L-S DA/SA in 9mm that I am working in. ONly thing I would like to change are the sights. I am trying to get a set of LPA low profile adjustable fibre optic sights. I changed out the hammer spring to a 10 lb, but only fired 100rds of mixed plated and Federal hydrashok 147gr. No issues. the FPB was polished up and the spring reduced. Other than that…I run the Large side panels, and small rear panel. The SA reset is not great, but should work itself in.

    By MO Hepworth on Jul 16, 2011

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