Umarex Heckler & Koch USP .177 caliber training pistol
Your basic affordable understudy
By Dennis Adler
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.