Umarex H&K USP Part 2

Umarex H&K USP Part 2 Part 1

The long awaited HK .177 caliber blowback action model

By Dennis Adler

Putting the HK USP in its proper timeframe, it was developed in the early 1990s for a U.S. military program, the SOCOM Project, and was designed around specific military requirements. The guns were used for years by various U.S. Special Operations teams. The civilian versions, like the 9mm model shown, were very similar to the SOCOM models but without all of the various SOCOM accessories available to the public. (HK photo)

Sometimes when you copy a military style pistol, it comes with a little SOCOM baggage. Back when the HK USP was developed, long before the last round of U.S. military programs to replace the Beretta M9 and the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System Program (MHS, which resulted in the Sig Sauer P320-based M17 becoming the new standard issue military sidearm), Heckler & Koch developed the USP for specific SOCOM mission use. This included a dustcover rail system intended to accommodate special military accessories (and later for special competition accessories). Not a Mil-Standard 1913 Picatinny rail design, the USP either required dedicated lights and lasers (and other military equipage not available to the civilian market), or a simple adapter from HK to Picatinny/Weaver rail compliance.

An early model shows the mounting of a dedicated UTL spotlight designed to be inserted into the purpose-designed grooves on the receiver in front of the triggerguard. A mini laser was also designed to fit the USP military models. (HK photo)

First, let’s look back at what Heckler & Koch had in mind for the SOCOM project in the 1990s. The guns were designed for dedicated accessories, which are still made for the current USP centerfire models by companies like Streamlight and Viridian. Yes, they cost much more than the CO2 model, but there are also a few lower-priced items (adaptors and one red laser) that will work with the CO2 model and not break the bank. Two are available online from HKparts.net. They have a rail mount light laser adaptor ($27) and a red laser ($30). I’m ordering these parts now so next month we will do a follow up piece on accessorizing the USP.

When HK put the USP into production it was also planned as a competition pistol with adjustable sights and a Match Weight compensator that fit onto the accessory rail. I would think the next logical step for Umarex and H&K would be to produce this USP model designed for competition shooting. The guns have extended magazine base pads and a trigger over travel stop. (HK photo)

HK also developed a Mil-Standard 1913 rail adaptor to allow mounting readily available tactical lights and laser sights to the competition models like the HK Expert. Similar rail mounts are available from HKparts.net. (HK photo)

Handling and operation

The cartridge firing HK USP model is manufactured in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The centerfire 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.

The CO2 model delivers nice recoil for an air pistol and gives you a little extra realism. No match for a 9mm but pretty good for a blowback action pistol.

Interestingly the centerfire pistols use injection molded magazines while the air pistol has a heavy duty all-metal design, and this is accounts for most of the weight differential. The actual USP magazines weigh a modest 1.87 ounces (empty) while the CO2 model adds 12.5 ounces making the overall pistol weight of the USP 34.2 ounces (empty) compared to the centerfire model’s average carry weight of 29 ounces (in 9mm).

Copying the centerfire model in fine detail, the Umarex HK version has the same aggressive stippling on the grip panels, heavy front and backstrap checkering, and finger groove base to assist with removing the magazine. It is a sturdy pistol to hold yet it fits most average to large hands with an oversized triggerguard for use with tactical gloves.

The heaviest part of the centerfire pistol is the slide and while the CO2 model has the same milled contours, it is an alloy slide compared to the centerfire model’s forged steel slide. The sight designs are identical, a squared rear notch with white dots and white dot front. Both appear to be actual dovetailed pieces on the Umarex USP but they are either epoxied in place or the best molded-in sights so far. Either way, they do not adjust for windage.

Authentic feel is as important as authentic looks, and the Umarex HK USP has a heavy recoil spring that makes racking the slide feel more like an actual centerfire pistol than a CO2 model. Of all the CO2 models I have, and have tested, the USP comes closest to a centerfire pistol for this function.

The USP is a pistol one can pick up and understand fully in a matter of moments. There is nothing discrete or clever here. The manual safety/decocker is as straightforward as any gun on the market. Press it all the way down with the hammer cocked and it safety de-cocks the gun. Place the lever on safe and you are ready to holster and carry with a loaded chamber.

The CO2 BB magazine has a 16-round capacity so you have the equivalent of a 9mm with 1 round chambered and 15 rounds in the magazine; again ideal uniformity for a training gun. The trigger pull on the centerfire guns averages around 5 pounds fired single action and a robust 12 pounds average double action, about the same as many double action revolvers.

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. I found using the trigger finger on the right side (as shown) easier than using the thumb on the left to drop the empty magazine which I made a point of catching rather than letting it drop to the ground.

The CO2 model stacks up pretty close with an average SA trigger press of 5 pounds, 1.5 ounces and a DA pull of 11 pounds 8.0 ounces. Like 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP models, the DA pull is a long 0.68 inches but it is smooth and the hammer comes back quickly as you pull through. There is zero over travel, and of course, after the first round the gun fires single action unless it is de-cocked. SA take up is 0.25 inches and reset is 0.25 inches.

Next week we’ll wrap up the Umarex HK USP with a full range test, average velocity, and hopefully the HK accessories will arrive in time as well.

4 thoughts on “Umarex H&K USP Part 2

  1. Dennis,

    I understand the rail now, thanks. The adapter available looks pretty simple, and it also is reasonably low-profile. And speaking of profile, the USP looks like it means business. It has a no-nonsense, rugged, industrial look to it. Very nice.

    This is one CO2 pistol that really has me excited, and it’s been a while since that has happened. (Revolvers are another story — I love all wheel guns.)

    Michael


  2. Dennis,

    When I was searching for accessories for the HK USP Blowback, I had looked at the main HK website, hk-usa.com, and never managed to find the link to HKparts.net. The LaserLyte HK USP rail adapter I bought from Amazon was delivered yesterday. As you can see in the picture, it comes in two pieces that are bolted together when it is mounted on the pistol. Afterward I mounted a Swiss Arms Micro Laser on the rail.


    • That one looks like it does the job quite well. The one I ordered from HKparts.net does not appear to be a two-piece design so I am not certain how it mounts on the rail. I’m more interested in the red laser and how well it fits the CO2 model. That will be the topic of the first article in October. Your setup looks like it is ready to go to work.


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