Retrospect Series Part 4 – H&K P30
Heckler & Koch’s take on Walther’s rotary pellet semi-autos
By Dennis Adler
The Umarex Heckler & Koch P30 is a little more expensive than some CO2 pellet-firing models but there is always a premium on air pistols manufactured in Germany rather than in Taiwan or Japan. That is reflected in the quality of the build which is the same as earlier German-made CO2 models like the Walther CP 88 and CP 99.
The strong advantage to the HK P30, over any of the previous models, is the dual firing system (rotary pellet and combined CO2 BB magazine) which make the HK P30 a potentially better training gun than its predecessors, even the Walther CP 99 series which were originally used as training guns for German police. The HK CO2 model is likewise intended for training, as a great majority of Heckler & Koch centerfire models are built for law enforcement and military use, including the P30.
Handling and operation
The double action trigger pull on the HK P30 airgun is a hefty 11 pounds, 10.5 ounces average. Single action, the trigger pull drops to a refined 5 pounds, 2.5 ounces average, which is right in the sweet spot for handguns like the Glock 17. I only mention the Glock because first, there is a CO2 model and secondly, the HK P30 is also based on a centerfire model with a polymer frame. But here is the thing to remember about the CO2 model, Heckler & Koch wanted this to be a viable training gun and compared to the 9mm P30, the CO2 model scores very close to actual. The centerfire 9mm model averages 5 pounds, 8 ounces fired single action and an equally hefty 11 pounds, 4 ounces double action; so the airgun’s trigger is very close to the centerfire model’s with only 0.375 inches of travel fired single action, a crisp break and minimal over travel. The latter is less relevant with the air pistol unless you manually cock the hammer for each single action shot, although with a two-handed hold it is easy to do with the support hand thumb. Either way, this airgun feels very much like its centerfire counterpart, as intended.
An important part of any handgun training exercise is practicing carrying, drawing, and re-holstering. Since the HK P30 airgun fits the same holsters as the 9mm models, this is a an easy first step to both learning the gun’s handling and carrying a cartridge-firing model, if that is your ultimate goal. The HK is a comparable size to the Glock 17 and other semi-autos classified as “duty-size” handguns. That’s larger than most civilians choose to carry, but if you can get comfortable with a gun this size, stepping down to a compact becomes that much easier. Muscle memory skills learned by practicing with the HK P30 are applicable to carrying any similarly-sized semi-auto.
The CO2 model is scaled after the P30 with a medium size backstrap panel that fits most hand sizes. While a big handgun, the P30 is well balanced with the back of the frame resting firmly over the web of the shooting hand, and fingers solidly engaging the front strap grooves. The curved, serrated front edge of the triggerguard provides a solid resting place for the support hand’s index finger if you employ this type of hold.
What the CO2 model lacks is the white dot sights of the centerfire models, though the air pistol does have a dovetailed, windage adjustable rear sight held by a seating screw like the Walther CP 88. Given the size of the sights which present a nice flat surface, I decided to do the same thing I did with the CP 88 and use punched out gummed label white dots to create the basic sight design found on the 9mm model. The punched out gum backed paper sights are not perfect but they provide a decent three dot alignment for target acquisition and no permanent changes have been made to the sights.
I am only going to do velocity checks today. Accuracy tests will be in Part 3. I selected Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutter pellets to start and the copper coated Smart Shot lead BBs for the initial comparison. Factory rated velocity for steel BBs is 385 fps, and 360 fps for pellets. The result with Meisterkugeln was an average of 342 fps for eight shots. This test gun did not do particularly well with Smart Shot because they kept getting driven down into the magazine, which has a light follower spring. When the Smart Shot get driven down into the channel when the gun fires, one BB pushes out of the loading port and jams the magazine feed. You end up with a misfire. It is easy to fix, remove the magazine and push the offending BB back in allowing the follower to push the remaining BBs upward. It is an inconvenience and it happened three times in 10 shots, so I switched to steel BBs, which Umarex says will not harm the rifling. At least they work. Just for the record, average velocity with the lead Smart Shot was 335 fps, the steel BBs averaged 381 fps.
When I wrap up on Saturday, I will test H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters and Gamo lead BBs for velocity comparisons and then shoot a final accuracy series with the best shooting pellet and BB.