Umarex Heckler & Koch VP9 Part 2
By Dennis Adler
It’s not that unusual for the bad guy’s gun to become the good guy’s gun in a movie, but certain guns have more infamous histories (mostly tied to their use during wars) that have led to them being typecast as a villain’s gun, or in more literary terms, the antagonist’s weapon. With German guns, the Broomhandle Mauser is often found in that role, along with Lugers, and Walther P.38s; however, there are occasions where a gun long associated with bad guys is suddenly recast by placing it into the hands of the story’s hero. A P.38 briefly ended up in Bond’s shoulder holster in Goldfinger but only in a few scenes, and in nearly all the Bond films 007 has ended up shooting guns other than the PPK.
My favorite example of this juxtaposition of guns between antagonists and protagonists in a story comes to mind with the aforementioned Broomhandle Mauser. It’s a notorious gun in cinema, even in Bond movies like From Russia with Love, where Spectre assassin Red Grant (Robert Shaw) used a Broomhandle Mauser. But if you ever saw an old 1965 spy movie called The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World the Mauser was seen in a much different light. The British film introduced the U.S. to a swashbuckling, Bond-like secret agent named Charles Vine, played by British actor Tom Adams. Known in the U.K. for multiple TV series roles and supporting parts in films like The Great Escape, playing Charles Vine was a role Adams seemed to inhabit, much like Michael Caine did in the Ipcress File as British agent Harry Palmer.
Anyone who saw The Second Best Secret Agent remembers that Vine didn’t pack a PPK like 007, he preferred a vintage C96 Mauser Broomhandle (not that the PPK was a modern gun either). Second to the gun was Vine’s unique behind the back holster rig, which got its introduction when he reached around, turned his side to an attacker and shot him with the Mauser still in the holster. Up to that point no one would have considered a Broomhandle a proper concealed carry gun!
I’m obviously going to some lengths to set this up, but it is interesting to cast the VP9 as both the bad guy’s gun in Spectre as well as Bond’s gun. This is different than other random handguns picked up, shot, and tossed aside in past Bond films, in this instance when 007 grabs the H&K VP9 from a Spectre agent it becomes Bond’s gun throughout the rest of the film. That’s never happened in previous films and no matter how you look at it, after Spectre the VP9 will always be associated with James Bond.
The VP9 is state of the art for the 21st century, whereas the C96 was antiquated for the 20th century, even back in 1965, but that was a different world than the one we live in today. In the last few years Umarex has given us vintage CO2 firearms like the Broomhandle Mauser, Walther P.38, a PPK/S, as well as P99 variations, and now a new gun that is modern in all the best ways as an affordable blowback action pistol based on a comparatively new centerfire handgun.
At first glance there is something very familiar about the VP9’s looks, and that’s because it resembles the Walther PPQ. Where the CO2 VP9 differs from Walther’s polymer-framed PPQ (P99 Q) air pistol is mostly in small details; the basic look of both guns is similar, though the PPQ model is a pellet pistol with a rotary magazine. The gun that is actually closest to the VP9 internally is the Umarex Glock 17 which shares similar operating systems right down to the magazine designs which, though almost identical, are not interchangeable.
On the outside the Umarex Glock 17 shares almost nothing with the HK VP9 other than having a blade safety trigger design. While the centerfire models these two are based upon are striker-fired guns, the CO2 pistols use a small internal hammer to duplicate the striker-fired operation. Both have closed systems and neither gun can be field stripped. The takedown lever on the VP9, like the G17, is a non-functional piece. The Glock keeps its lines and features as close to the centerfire model as possible, and that’s one of its strengths, whereas the VP9 brings some additional non-functional baggage with its molded-in right side extended slide release. This is the most disappointing feature on the gun. That and Umarex and H&K took the low road for the mandatory manual safety by placing it on the right side of the frame. I’ll give you that it is far easier to operate, set and release with the trigger finger (if you are right handed) than it is to fiddle with the hidden manual safety on the underside of the Glock’s dustcover, but it screams air pistol. In fact, the safety is my biggest issue with this HK CO2 model, and since the VP9 has nearly the same firing system as the Glock, the safety could have been discretely hidden in the same way. Not a deal breaker, it just takes away from the authenticity of the gun overall.
What Umarex did follow from the Glock 17 to VP9 is hiding all the distracting verbiage under the triggerguard to give this air pistol a clean appearance on both sides. And the VP9 has all of the correct factory markings from the centerfire model. It even bears HK 9mm x 19 on the side of the barrel lug that is exposed in the slide ejection port, and 9mm x 19 on the left side of the slide, going the Glock one better on authentic details, since the G17 has no caliber stamping on the slide.
The VP9 gets another plus for keeping the early-style ambidextrous magazine release, which, if you are comfortable with paddle-style releases, is an advantage for quickly dropping an empty magazine whether you are right or left-handed. Honestly, the VP9 has all the working features one can expect for a blowback action air pistol selling for under $80.
Saturday the VP9 gets evaluated for trigger pull, sighting, velocity, and accuracy. The question to be answered is “will it match the Umarex Glock 17?”