The P30SK is Heckler & Koch’s newest P30 series pistol. The P30 series now includes the full-sized P30L, the compact P30 and the subcompact P30SK. Because of its features and ergonomics, the P30 series has become one of HK’s most successful pistol lines in the U.S., and these features are adopted by the P30SK but in a smaller package.
For those who appreciate the development history of the P30 series, the design was heavily influenced by Ken Hackathorn and Larry Vickers, who consulted with HK in the early 2000s. Their goal was to deliver a winning polymer-framed pistol for the Joint Combat Pistol program, which was the U.S. Army’s test to replace the Beretta M9. Though the JCP competition never occurred, the P30 and HK45 pistols were to be HK’s ultimate submissions.
The P30SK operates using the modified Browning linkless, locked-breech design, which is known for its simplicity of manufacture, reliability and durability. At 6.42 inches in length, 4.57 inches in height and weighing 23.99 ounces, the P30SK, with its 10-round magazine, is considerably smaller than the full-sized, 15-round HK P30L at 7.71 inches in length, 5.43 inches in height and 27.52 ounces in weight.
Just as significantly, the P30SK has a lower MSRP of $719 compared to $999 for the P30L. The difference in price is not driven by fewer features in the subcompact, however. The P30SK shares the more costly hammer-fired action (rather than a slightly less expensive striker-fired mechanism) and the internal key locking system of its larger siblings. The only real differences are its smaller size and the elimination of a plastic buffer on the P30SK’s recoil spring assembly.
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Like the other P30 series pistols, the P30SK is available in several trigger configurations. My test sample used a traditional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger and a hammer decocker. Another model, the P30SKS, has an additional safety lever on both sides of the frame in addition to the decocker, which may appeal to those who wish to carry the pistol in a holster “cocked and locked” and don’t mind adding about 0.25 inches of width per lever.
Like all HK pistols, the P30SK has a drop-safe design which allows it to be safely carried with a loaded chamber. The drop safe mechanism locks the firing pin away from the primer unless the trigger is depressed.
The P30SK field-strips easily without a separate takedown lever. Simply retract the slide so that the square takedown notch on the slide corresponds to the squared end of the slide-release lever, then press the lever leftward, which disengages the barrel from the frame and allows the slide to move forward off the frame. The P30SK uses a newly designed dual recoil spring system held captive on a steel guide rod. The 3.27-inch barrel is cold hammer forged with polygonal rifling that lasts longer than traditional land-and-groove rifling but is suitable only for jacketed bullets.
All P30 series pistols use a very well-engineered slide that is milled from a single, forged piece of high-carbon steel; it has a profile that tapers from bottom to top. This taper makes the pistol far more comfortable to carry inside the waistband than blocky, square-profile slides where the slide may be in contact with your body. Its taper towards the top also guides the operator’s focus toward the sights. Front serrations on the front of the slide make press-checking the chamber easy, and the slide has a durable, corrosion-resistant finish. One of my personal carry pieces is a P30L that has zero rust and almost all of its finish after years of use.
Perhaps the best features of the P30 pistols are their ambidextrous controls, superb ergonomics and configurable grips. The decocker sits on the left rear of the slide and is ambidextrous, as are the bilaterally mounted slide and magazine-release levers. The slide-release levers are large because they are designed to be used to chamber the first round from the magazine, and they are long enough to easily activate by the thumb of the firing hand. This is a huge advantage compared to pistols that use small levers that are difficult to engage.
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Yes, racking the slide to chamber a round from a condition of slide lock works, but it’s hardly as fast as the HK method and you usually use two hands. Those small, difficult-to-activate levers on competitive models are also a hindrance when clearing a double feed, which requires locking the slide open, sometimes with only one hand.
The P30SK uses bilateral magazine-release levers that sit on the bottom rear of the triggerguard. This system may seem odd to shooters used to push-button releases, but it is fast to use and ambidextrous. These levers are intended to be accessed with the trigger finger without changing the grip—not the thumb, which would require a grip change for most people to reach them. I teach two methods of activation: the “slide” and the “quick tap.” With the first method, slide your trigger finger rearward along the outside of the triggerguard to reach the mag release. With the quick tap, simply tap the lever directly with the tip of your finger, being very mindful to avoid the trigger. The Heckler & Koch P30SK accepts magazines from the full-sized and compact P30 variants.
One reason I carry a P30L is because it has one of the most comfortable factory handgun grips I’ve ever used. This level of comfort is shared by the P30SK, which also has shallow, wide finger grooves that accommodate different-sized fingers, however its short, subcompact height only allows a “two-finger” grip. The wide finger-groove design of the P30 series works far better than shallow, deep grooves that fit fewer people’s hands.
The P30SK’s widely configurable grip can be adjusted to change the pistol’s trigger reach by using any of three different size backstraps and the palm swell. Changing the backstrap is easy—just drift out a single 0.125-inch roll pin. Interchangeable backstraps on polymer-framed pistols is a common feature, but the P30 series are the only pistols made that also offer interchangeable side panels of different thicknesses to get a better palm swell. That matters for shooters who really value a comfortable, well-fit grip and who want to keep it optimal when changing from shooting with bare hands in summer to using gloves in winter.
Operating this pistol while wearing winter weight gloves is safer than other designs with smaller triggerguards. The extra-large triggerguard on the P30SK allows a gloved finger adequate access without putting the finger in contact with the trigger. Gloved fingers can cause accidental discharges if squeezed into small triggerguards because the shooter thinks his finger is not contacting the trigger, when in fact he is actually depressing it with the added girth of an insulated winter glove.
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The P30SK uses light green luminous night sights in the three-dot design. These are not radioactive, so they will glow in darkness only if exposed to light. These sights are durable and made of steel, not plastic, and are mounted in dovetails and can be adjusted for windage. An important feature that evidences careful engineering is mounting the sights at the very front and rear of the slide to maximize sight radius and improve aim. The rear sight is also tapered towards the top to quickly guide the shooter’s attention to the front sight, where it belongs.
The P30SK was accurate and totally reliable with multiple types of ammunition. Accuracy testing was done at 7 yards while shooting SA from a rested position, though this is merely one measure of the mechanical accuracy of the gun and certain ammunition.
Practical tests are more informative with defensive pistols because these measure the interaction of man and machine in their intended real-life roles. That involves drawing the P30SK and firing DA (and then SA) off-hand and reloading, which is a far better indicator of a pistol’s design and performance “when the shooting starts.”
Combat shooting is all about a pistol’s sights, trigger, fit and reliable function. I performed drills to get that all-important first DA shot where I wanted it using the new Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB holster. This holster is comfortable and has an adjustable cant and height to make it better fit your body and style of clothing. The Cloak Tuck also adjusts for retention, and the sturdy, molded holster shell kept its shape and hold over several weeks of carry.
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The P30SK shot exactly to the point of aim at 7 yards. The luminous sights are rapidly acquired even in daylight and give a very clean sight picture. They were certainly better than some night sights that have a white-outlined circle surrounding the tritium inserts, which, although very functional in darkness, are distracting from acquiring a “hard front sight focus” in other light conditions. One improvement I’d like is a small step on the forward surface of the rear sight to allow one-handed clearance drills by catching the sight on your holster to rack the slide in an emergency.
I found the trigger pull smooth in either DA or SA with no overtravel and a short reset, which makes rapid fire easier since your finger moves a shorter distance to reset the sear to engage the hammer. The trigger shoe is fairly wide, which makes the DA pull feel lighter than it measures. The P30SK has respective DA and SA trigger-pull weights of 11.5 and 4.5 pounds, respectively. The DA trigger travel is 0.55 inches while the SA travel 0.27 inches.
Combat-accurate shots are achievable when shooting with a two-handed grip and using the proper trigger technique. For practice, dry-fire the DA shot and see where the front sight settles after the hammer falls, or use a laser and observe its projected dot on a wall. As a drill, I like to draw and fire a single DA shot, then decock and reholster. For critical first-shot accuracy when there’s time, I teach students to thumb cock the hammer for the benefits of the P30SK’s crisp, light trigger break.
The P30SK may be a small pistol, but it has good ergonomics and a comfortable fit, which made perceived recoil light and manageable even when using the Black Hills +P load. With a two-handed hold, I feel comfortable engaging threats with the P30SK at distances greater than other comparably sized 9mms. If you carry the P30SK, carry full-sized spare magazines instead of the flush-fit standard size. The extra rounds could be decisive in a deadly gunfight, and firing a subcompact pistol with an extended magazine gives you better control from using a full-hand grip.
For more information, visit http://www.hk-usa.com or call 706-568-1906.
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