Umarex Heckler & Koch USP .177 caliber training pistol

Umarex Heckler & Koch USP .177 caliber training pistol

Your basic affordable understudy

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By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Heckler & Koch USP is a copy of the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP models equipped with the DAO trigger system. The entry-level .177 caliber model is a non-blowback action design that provides just enough working features to make it an ideal training gun for the HK USP.

There are certain features that a pistol designed for law enforcement or military use must have and these basic principles have not changed since John M. Browning and Colt’s fulfilled the design requirements for the Government Model of 1911 more than a century ago. What has changed is the means by which those requirements can be met. But the basic requirements of a 21st century sidearm are really not that different today than they were in 1911; dependability under all conditions, comfortable carry weight and ease of operation. The other requirement that many contemporary firearms either eschew or regard as passé is basic familiarity with common operating features; some modern handguns can be extremely complex. It is the latter that Heckler & Koch addresses in its modern but straightforward handgun designs. The USP is a sidearm that one can pick up and understand fully in a matter of moments. There is nothing discrete or clever here.

A near inch by inch duplicate, the Umarex CO2 model (top) has the same basic operating features as the cartridge-firing model (bottom).

About the Umarex .177 caliber version

Umarex has kept the design of this specific HK model as simple (and thus affordable) as possible while retaining key features valuable for learning the USP’s handling and basic operation. And “basic” is the operative word with this air pistol. While the actual polymer framed USP models have ambidextrous slide releases and thumb safeties the air pistol is a non-blowback design, and thus does not need functioning slide releases. There is only one on this pistol and it is molded into the left side of the frame for cosmetic purposes.

Though the 9mm and other USP models are ambidextrous, the airgun only has a left side functioning manual safety, but it is 100 percent accurate to the cartridge model’s safety in size, feel and operation.

What does work is the ambidextrous magazine release at the back of the HK’s oversized triggerguard. This wide paddle-type release easily drops a self contained CO2 BB magazine with a capacity of 22 rounds. It also has its own speed loading device and I have to tell you, the USP’s magazine is worth the price of admission on its own, but more about that later.

The airgun copies the USP triggerguard design which has a raised forward rest for the trigger finger. This was first seen on the Walther P99 and the CO2 powered CP99 versions. It came to be known as the “ski jump” and was eliminated on later versions of the P99. Also note the totally accurate ambidextrous magazine release at the rear of the triggerguard, another early Walther P99 trait. H&K still seems to find it quite suitable for the USP design. Last, as visually realistic as the slide release appears to be, it is actually molded-in and non-functional since the USP airgun is not a blowback action pistol.

The cartridge firing HK USP model is manufactured in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions with magazine capacities of 15, 13 and 12 rounds, respectively, and either a DA/SA or enhanced DAO trigger system. The USP model is a traditional hammer-fired design, as is the CO2 version, which perfectly duplicates the 9mm’s trigger and hammer configuration. Being a non-blowback action, the airgun uses the USP’s DAO-type trigger which delivers a long, heavy pull. The 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP models weigh an average of 28 ounces (without magazine), and have an overall length of 7.68 inches, width of 1.26 inches and barrel length of 4.25 inches. Like the HK P30, it is small enough for concealed carry use but still large enough to be a military or law enforcement sidearm.

The USP CO2 model’s overall length is 7.5 inches, carry weight 28.8 ounces (with magazine), and has a slightly longer barrel length of 4.7 inches. The air pistol scales up 0.18 inches shorter and 0.8 ounces heavier, well within the ballpark for fundamental training and handling instruction.

The hammer is very much a working part of the pistol’s DAO design and functions with each pull of the trigger to fire the pistol. Also note the excellent fixed white dot sights. These too are molded in, and not actually dovetailed.

Among the key operating features shared by the cartridge models and the .177 caliber USP is the ambidextrous magazine release, which is copied in exacting detail with serrated extensions projecting from either side. While small, they are easily activated. Interestingly, I found using the trigger finger on the right side easier than using the thumb on the left to drop the empty magazine. The left side manual thumb safety is also very easy to operate and duplicates the size and shape of the safety on the cartridge models. From that point on, the airgun becomes a very static training pistol until you pull the trigger.

Loading and firing the USP

The magazine design is different than most CO2 BB combinations in that it is plastic instead of metal, and it loads differently, and that is its best feature. One of the issues with most CO2 BB magazines is difficulty loading BBs through the small port that is cut into the channel just above where the follower locks down (if the follower locks down!) The USP loads through the same opening it fires from and comes with a speed loading tool that automatically holds the follower down and allows BBs to be easily poured into the channel.

The USP magazine comes with a speed loading device (shown attached) that holds down the follower and allows easy dispensing of BBs directly into the firing port. Here the author uses an Umarex speed loader to make the job even faster.
The wide opening in the speed loading device fits over the top of the magazine and feeds BBs directly into the firing port. 

Once filled, the loader is removed and the follower is released. (If it stays locked down, there is a release spring on the bottom of the magazine that needs to be pushed to the left). If you use an Umarex Speed Loader to insert BBs, you can drop in 15 shots in a matter of seconds. The magazine will hold 22 rounds, but I generally load 15, especially for shooting tests.

With the wide loading port and BB firing port being one and the same, what keeps the BBs from falling out? There is a magnetic ring in the top of the magazine that secures and aligns the top BB for firing. Every CO2 BB magazine should have a design like this; reloading would a lot easier.

Since it is a non-blowback action design you have nothing to do but release the safety, aim down the white dot sights, and pull the trigger. As a DAO design the trigger pull has to cycle the hammer with each pull, like a double action revolver, so the trigger pull is heavy, and breaks the shot at just a little over 12.5 pounds. Travel is a solid 0.875 inches with continual stacking as the trigger pull cocks and releases the hammer, and it takes a full release to reset. If you want to learn trigger control with a DAO, this is a good place to start.

Once loaded with up to 22 steel BBs just slap the magazine into the grip frame and you’re good to go. Since it is not a blowback action airgun the HK USP delivers almost twice as many shots on a CO2 cartridge and has an average velocity of 372 fps. It is factory rated at 400 fps.

Shooting steel downrange

Loaded with Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs, the average velocity from the HK USP was 372 fps (and a high of 390 fps), which is just shy of the factory estimated 400 fps, but it was a cool day with temperatures in the low 60s.

With a 12.5 pound plus trigger pull the HK USP DAO trigger is a lot of work, but once you get the feel for its long, hard pull, you can keep this gun on target shot after shot.

With a Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C target set up at 21 feet, the Umarex sent three 5-shot groups downrange with an average spread of 0.75 inches in the 10 and X rings for two groups and 1.5 inches for a third group shot to the right in the 8 and 9 rings at 2 o’clock.

Fired from 21 feet using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold, the author averaged sub 1-inch groups (five shots per group) with a best 5-rounds measuring 0.74 inches with four nearly overlapping in an arc at 10 o’clock in the 10 ring and the fifth cutting the edge of the red bullseye. The second best group was 0.75 inches at 4 o’clock in the 10 ring with two overlapping and one shot cutting the lower edge of the red bullseye.

For less than $50 the Umarex HK USP has just enough features and accuracy to qualify as an entry level training gun, and very much the modern day BB equivalent of the original Umarex Walther CP99. Not bad company!

A Word About Safety

Airguns like this Heckler & Koch USP have the look, feel and basic operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. All arguns, in general, look like guns, but those based on real cartridge-firing models even more so. It is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

19 thoughts on “Umarex Heckler & Koch USP .177 caliber training pistol”

  1. Does what it needs to, and if a more expensive blowback version with fully functioning controls were added , would see more use as a training pistol. Never liked da only ,lawyer proof pistols. Not terribly accurate if you have to fire one handed . If someone can’t learn to safely handle a sa, or striker fired auto, they probably shouldn’t be carrying a pistol. Never bought into da only revolvers, when they were issued to police departments either. If you are stuck with a da pistol as a duty pistol, this airgun makes sense as a practice pistol.

  2. Very good accurate shooting with that heavy trigger pull Dennis. For a person with limited finances this pistol makes good sense, I bet it will function longer “more total shots” then many of the more expensive metal framed blow back pistols, which seems to me , with the harsh blow back are engineered to self destruct.. Did you figure out the total shot count before losing accuracy ? There again, if shot count is important fo more frugal shooters that would be a plus. I am tempted to buy this thing with it’s white dot sights and to explore a magazine that is easy to load.
    Thank you

    • Thanks Harvey. A two-handed hold and solid Weaver stance always helps! I’m an old revolver guy, so heavy DA triggers are not uncommon to me. It’s sloppy SA trigger that mess me up! Sorry, I didn’t count total shots but it was significantly more than with a blowback action semi-auto. For less than $50 you should be “tempted,” this is a lot of air pistol for the money, a good, quality-built Umarex, and for basic skills and 21 foot target practice it’s a great choice. It does in so many ways remind of the first Umarex Walther CP99 pellet models from 17 years ago, which became training guns for German police carrying the Walther P99 model. The HK actually has more features than the CP99 with its drop free CO2 BB magazine and manual safety, and is less than half the price, albeit a BB rather than pellet gun. If you can live without the blowback action and full-function controls, the HK USP is hard to beat.

  3. I too like the three dot sight it seems like it would be very intuitive. I’ve been painting my front sights with white nail polish hope that’s not a mortal sin.

  4. Ok so I was shooting my 2240 last night, just did a trigger job the other week. Got my pellet trap done on mon works very well btw. And at 10 yards I’m only getting 2.5 in groups I’m practicing what I remembered about the weaver stance shoulders forward square stance , not working. After refreshing my memory what I was forgetting was the push pull. And the photo with the trigger pull caption is a text book example. So I’m excited to try this tonight. Also I ordered a chrony and my western holster today.

    • Sounds like you’re on the way to a roundup. Which holster did you get for your Umarex Peacemaker? The Crosman 2240 has a pretty nice trigger and it sounds like you’ve improved yours, so the accuracy all comes down to the sights and a steady hold. At 10 meters you should be sub 1-inch or at least 1-inch at POA with the 2240, so just work on your hold and trigger control. On your Weaver stance your offhand shoulder and foot should be angled toward the target, not a squared stance. My Weaver stance is actually a modified version that works best for me since my strong side arm is not totally straight, but slightly bent at the elbow. That’s because I’m right handed and left eye dominant. You should see me with a shotgun!

      • Your stance reminds me of , well me . Left hand shooter, right eye dominant.For handgun shooting , except bullseye , from a duelist stance is not a disdavantage . Years ago there was a guy named Paris Theodore , who taught a technique using the modified S&W 39 chopped down and known as the ASP. The technique was known as the quell technique. The shooter closed their strong side eye if necessary , and out of a modified Weaver stance tucked their head into their strong side shoulder and lined up the sights with their weak side eye. This resulted in your pistol being lined up for a medulla brain stem hit . A quick kill or a quell.

        • Actually one of the reasons I wear sunglasses for some of the actual shooting photos, as opposed to staged shots for photography only, is that I have to close my right eye to get a good sight picture. I also tuck the right side of my head into my right shoulder, so, very much like Theodore’s Quell Technique. I don’t publish that shooting stance in photos very often (I have in Combat Handguns in the past) because it looks a bit odd. There is also one bad side effect, not to be taken literally, but my head is not in the right place. Some semi-autos kick their brass almost straight back, which would be over my right shoulder, unfortunately my head is often in the way. I have been nicked more than a few times by shell cases hitting my forehead or the bridge of my nose. I always wear shooting glasses that are “bullet-case proof” because I get hit at least one out of every 10 semi-autos I test. The worst ever was a Desert Eagle .50AE. That left a mark!

  5. I feel your pain. The worst case in the face came from a little Walther Tph . One burning hot case went down my shirt and burned my chest. The next hit me in the forehead, bounced down and inside my shooting glasses, richocheted off the inside of the glass and hit me about an inch below my right eye burning my face . Gave the little stinker to my gunsmith and he altered the ejector to throw them higher up and to the right past my shoulder.

  6. I got the Western Justice LH holster from Pyramyd Air. I didn’t get the belt because I’m not sure about the cartridge loops being right for my Umarex Colt single action pellet pistol cartridges .

  7. Good to know, I’m gonna get the Umarex Remington 1875 revolver and a right hand holster,so that will be a good time to get the belt. Patiently waiting on the UPS man right now. Also I saw a revolver I was unaware of the other day. A Remington Beal cap and ball, that’s one beautiful gun.

  8. Ok, the Western Justice holster arrived. Like a kid on Christmas morning I instantly ripped open the plastic packaging, finding inside a tastefully decorated, well made real leather holster. The holster fit my Umarex Colt revolver like they were old friends. The stitching is evenly spaced and double stitched where necessary. I chose the mahogany finish and I’m glad I did, the color is very even, and matches my idea what a working cowboy would wear. I’m not sure what the leather lacing is for, so maybe some instruction would be nice for the uninitiated. But I’m very happy so far, and would highly recommend the Western Justice holster.

    • The leather lacing is a hammer thong. The loop goes over your hammer to make sure the gun stays put when on horseback (doesn’t get bounced out of the holster). One of the big drawbacks was getting into a scrap and forgetting that your gun was still latched down! Not everyone used a hammer thong, but it was a practical feature. You can adjust it by pulling the loop or tails to fit the proper distance and tightness over the hammer. If you don’t use it, just tuck it behind the holster pouch.

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