Umarex Heckler & Koch VP9 Part 3
A balancing act on air
By Dennis Adler
There are no obvious compromises in the new Umarex HK VP9 when you look at it from the left side. All the key features and factory markings have been faithfully reproduced and the gun comes within fractions of an inch and a few ounces of matching the centerfire version. As a modern, polymer framed semi-auto, it is well presented as a blowback action CO2 model.
Building new guns is always a balancing act between design, production cost, and marketing, which was pointed out in detail by Walther designer, engineer and author Dr. Peter Dallhammer in his 2018 book The Textbook of Pistol Technology and Design. In it he writes, “From a manufacturer’s point of view…consumers are more cost-conscious than ever and competition among the market is fierce. It isn’t enough to try to differentiate a product based on performance alone, so manufacturers utilize special promotions, persuasion and sale price.” Dr. Dallhammer underscores in terms of cartridge-firing handguns the same balance I have been writing about in Airgun Experience with comparable CO2 models. The same forces are at work whether it is a new H&K 9mm pistol or a CO2 model. He also notes in his chapter on Production Technologies that the use of polymer parts “is widespread in gun manufacturing. Plastic parts are ideal for both integral designs and functional integration, and are beneficial in the construction of pistols.” It is easy to apply this to CO2 models based on centerfire guns that have polymer frames and parts. Guns like the Umarex HK VP9 and Glock 17, for example, are easier, faster, and more authentic to manufacture because the centerfire guns they copy have the same polymer frames. This makes it possible to sell blowback action CO2 models like the VP9 for only around $80 (discounted by retailers) because the primary components can be more affordably manufactured compared to metal frames. And of course, this applies to centerfire guns in comparison to those with steel frames.