Umarex Heckler & Koch VP9 Part 1

Umarex Heckler & Koch VP9 Part 1

Bond’s other gun…

By Dennis Adler

When this still shot from Spectre first appeared everyone was convinced that 007 was trading in his PPK for a brand new H&K VP9. But that’s not quite the way it went; Bond picked up the VP9 fairly early in the film and used it on and off throughout the remainder of the movie. Daniel Craig had used H&K rifles in most of his previous outings as Bond, but this was a first for an H&K pistol.

James Bond and Heckler & Koch; there’s two names that don’t roll easily off the tongue, but H&K has had a supportive role in a number of the James Bond films over the years, but never quite so blatantly as in the latest adventures of 007 with Daniel Craig, starting with Casino Royale where 007 introduced himself to Specter’s Mr. White at the end of the film holding the HK UMP-9 he has just used to shoot him in the leg. Bond had the HK again in the opening of Quantum of Solace, which literally picks up moments after the end sequence in Casino Royale.

But the Heckler & Koch James Bond connection actually started back in 1997 with Pierce Brosnan using an H&K MP5 in Tomorrow Never Dies. Brosnan’s Bond had also begun carrying the new Walther P99 in Die Another Day (2002), which Craig continued to use to great effect in Casino Royale. Craig’s 007 switched back to the PPK in Quantum of Solace, but Craig’s 007 had no qualms about picking up any gun that came into hand (much as Pierce Brosnan had done in Die Another Day using an S&W .38 revolver and a Browning Hi-Power among others). During Quantum of Solace Craig switched between a Beretta 92SB, A Sig Sauer P226 and a Sig P210 as circumstances dictated, as well as his Walther. In Skyfall Craig ends up with yet another H&K rifle in his hands, this time, an HK416. So H&K and Daniel Craig’s James Bond were well acquainted.

The 9mm VP9 had been introduced late in 2014, just in time to be cast as the sidearm used by Spectre’s gunmen in the film, but once Bond got his hands on the new HK, the 9mm pistol stayed with him for the remainder of the movie. That was 2015. It took Umarex and HK until 2018 to get a VP9 CO2 model to market. The blowback action pistol (right) is practically a clone of the 9mm with an amazing amount of detail for an air pistol selling for under $80.

While Heckler & Koch arms have had this recurring role for decades, in the last Bond film, Spectre, there is a clear combination of two guns in Bond’s hands throughout the story, the Walther PPK and an HK VP9 he picks up early in the film from a Specter thug who got in his way. Actually it is three guns in Spectre if you count the Glock 17 carbine conversion 007 uses in the opening rooftop scenes in Mexico. However, Bond carries the VP9 throughout most of the film, using it at various times right up to the ending scenes. It was a stunning debut for the new H&K pistol (introduced in mid 2014 so it was a new gun when Spectre came out in 2015), even though in the end Bond still had his .32 ACP Walther PPK.

The H&K VP legacy  

The VP9 got a lot of screen time in Bond’s hands giving instant product recognition that Heckler & Koch did not waste, nor did Umarex, teaming up to add a blowback action CO2 version late in 2018, based on the original VP9 design with the paddle magazine release. (The newer VP9-B has the more Americanized button style magazine release).

Among key features of the 9mm VP9 is the trigger design, ambidextrous magazine release, and charging supports (extensions) mounted on each side of the rear of the slide.

As things sometimes happen, the VP9 CO2 model came out very close to the more significant HK USP blowback, which totally overshadowed the VP9. Without casting a further shadow on the VP9, the gun is built using a similar firing system to the Glock 17 CO2 model with the short, short blowback action and fixed barrel. It is also sold at a lower price than the USP so you know there are going to be some differences. There is, nevertheless, an important history behind the Heckler & Koch VP series that dates back to the very first polymer-framed handgun built, the VP70 which H&K introduced in 1970; more than a decade before the Glock 17 became famous for its polymer frame design.

The Umarex HK VP9 is a striking duplicate in all of the essential features seen from the left side of the gun.

The initials VP stand for “Volkspistole” (people’s pistol) a term carried over from the late wartime and early post-WWII era by H&K’s designers. For the 1940s this corresponds to the Volkswagen (people’s car) as the VP was intended to be a practical, affordable handgun. The original VP model was continued until 1984 at which time the VP designation was retired. In mid-2014 it was resurrected for the polymer framed, striker-fired VP9 and latest VP series. Modern handguns that are in essence H&K models designed to be in direct competition with the Walther PPQ line, which makes the VP9’s role in Spectre as a Bond weapon all the more poignant.

One of the features that make the VP9 unique, at least for an H&K, is that it is a striker-fired pistol, the first modern one from Heckler & Koch. I say “modern” because HK first built striker-fired pistols in the 1970s with the VP70, and beginning in 1980 when the PSP/P7 was developed. The subsequent P7 series was produced until 2005 when the last version of the P7 design in production, the P7 M8, was discontinued. Thus a decade passed before another striker-fired pistol was offered by Heckler & Koch, and it is a world beater.

The 9mm VP9 vs. the CO2 model

Since Umarex and H&K had already produced a 100 percent accurate blowback action model with the USP, the VP9 had to be at a different price point, and in order to make that happen the extreme number of features incorporated into the centerfire guns had to be minimized. And that’s when parts get molded into the gun that look like their centerfire counterparts, but do not function. But, before I get into the parts that don’t do anything on the VP9, let’s take a look at the parts that do.

With matching dimensions the CO2 model presents itself as a high value CO2 pistol at a price that comes in around $20 less than its historically older sibling the HK USP which is built on a different platform as a CO2 pistol than the VP9 which is similar in its operation to the Umarex Glock 17. The flipside of this pistol, however, reveals some of the budget cuts but doesn’t necessarily undercut the look and handling of the gun.

From the left side this CO2 model is visually striking, with the same details and factory markings as the centerfire pistol, at a glance one would be hard pressed to tell it apart until you start looking at fine details in the frame. But you have to look. For this, Umarex gets all the accolades deserved on one side of a gun. The second match up is the ambidextrous magazine release design which, like the USP, is a paddle release that spans the width of the back of the triggerguard. This is the original VP9 configuration seen in Spectre. Another at a glance feature is the trigger, which appears to have the same articulated blade safety as the centerfire models, a Glock-based design used by just about everyone today. The metal slide has the same contours, front and rear serrations and the VP9’s unique patented charging supports (extensions) mounted on each side of the rear of the slide to provide better gripping leverage for racking the slide rearward. The grip shape and texturing is also true to the centerfire model, so this air pistol looks like a VP9.

In Part 2 we will look at other details and flip the gun over to the other side.

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