Umarex H&K USP Part 3

Umarex H&K USP Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

The long awaited HK .177 caliber blowback action model

By Dennis Adler

Having established the DA and SA trigger pull to be within an ounce of the average trigger pull on the centerfire HK USP standard DA/SA models, it is time to run a velocity check and see if the power needed to work that very impressive slide diminishes the average speed at which a .177 caliber steel BB travels downrange. I’ll also be keeping a count of shots per CO2 cartridge. A gun that delivers performance on both ends of the scale has to give up something. Or does it?

The centerfire HK USP model is manufactured in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions with magazine capacities of 15, 13 and 12 rounds, respectively. The USP is a traditional hammer-fired design, as is the CO2 version, which perfectly duplicates the centerfire model trigger and hammer configurations. The white dot sights proved excellent for both outdoor and indoor testing.

FPS with steel

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First, let’s look at the HK USP magazine design. If it looks a little familiar, and you have an Umarex S&W M&P40, you’re right, almost the same design but shaped to fit the HK, same heavy follower spring and yes, the same tiny follower legendary for torturing fingernails. The difference is rather than a loading port barely larger than a BB, the HK has a loading channel exposed when the follower is pulled all the way down. And like the M&P magazine, you have to hold the follower down the entire time you are loading. This is the best reason I know of to invest another $85.98 for two more ($42.99 each) HK USP CO2 BB magazines. I figure even with the cost of the air pistol, around $100, an extra pair of magazines, and either the HKparts red laser or Mil-Std. 1913 rail adapter (roughly another $30) you’ve just broken the $200 line (actually $215.98 less applicable taxes and shipping) for one of the best new CO2 blowback action pistols of the year.

The Umarex HK USP uses an all-metal CO2 BB magazine that is the approximate size of the 9mm centerfire mags and it holds 16 rounds (BBs). The magazine has a threaded CO2 channel base cap and hex head seating tool. If that cap and the magazine look a little familiar it is same general build as the magazines used for the Umarex S&W M&P40 CO2 model…
…and with that comes all the same little “issues” of getting the base cap properly seated to thread back down over the CO2 cartridge (it never really gets easier), and the same problem with loading BBs since the follower does not lock down. Neither of these two things are deal breakers, you just need to know going in, magazines are not fast loading, buy extras.

For the first velocity test the ammo is .177 caliber Umarex Precision steel BBs. These generally perform well in every blowback action pistol. A second test will be shot with Hornady Black Diamond, and a third to see what the gun can deliver in maximum velocity with Air Venturi’s lightweight, frangible Dust Devils. This has sort of become the BB version of comparing lead to alloy pellets for velocity and accuracy. The Umarex steel BBs clocked an average velocity of 328 fps with a high of 333 fps, a low of 323 fps and a standard deviation of 3 fps for 10 shots. Factory rated velocity for the USP is 325 fps.

The loading port on the HK mag is better than the round port on the M&P40 mags but the HK has the same heavy follower spring and small follower tab. The arrow points to the squared loading port; you need to hold the follower down below this opening and BBs will drop in pretty easily. The heavy follower spring is one reason the slightly smaller and much lighter weight frangible Dust Devils jam up in the channel and cause feeding failures.

Hornady Black Diamond cleared the ProChrono screens at and average velocity of 336 fps, a high of 338 fps, a low of 331 fps, with a SD of 2 fps, and doing better overall than the Umarex. Pushing the composite Dust Devils down the HK’s smoothbore barrel delivered a impressive high of 360 fps, a low of 351 fps and an average velocity of 353 fps but unfortunately they jam in the magazine so at this point using Dust Devils with the HK is questionable until I have spare magazines for a comparison shoot with the lighter weight composite BBs. Overall, all three brands of BBs were accurate and I exhausred one 12 gr. CO2 cartridge in 70 shots. I only began to feel a difference in the gun’s performance with the last eight to 10 rounds, so the HK squeezes as much out of a CO2 cartridge as possible while maintaining higher than factory spec velocities and still delivering greater felt recoil than most blowback action CO2 pistols. So far, it is a win-win for the HK USP.

Aim high. It’s not just a slogan about achieving success; it’s how you shoot the Umarex HK USP. In a typical instruction book (top) manufacturers illustrate the traditional way to aim the pistol with the front sight aligned between the back sight notch (much easier with the white dots), and flush across the top, with the bottom of the target resting on top of the sights. Of the three illustrations in this booklet the traditional sighting method is checked. The USP booklet (bottom) shows the check mark on the illustration that indicates placing the sights dead center on the bullseye. And for the Umarex HK USP CO2 model this works, but I found you really need to aim even a little higher to center punch the bullseye. The windage, however, was pretty much on the money.

Shots downrange

The HK shoots low and even Umarex knows this by instructing shooters to aim at the middle of the target (essentially put the red bullseye on top of the sights) rather than a traditional 6 o’clock hold below the center. This works well enough and I have compensated for fixed sights this way countless times. At least Umarex and HK have an established POA for the gun. Most instruction books (see the illustration above) show a traditional sighting picture whether the gun shoots there or not. HK wanted the instruction book to reflect how this air pistol actually shoots. When I ran the chronograph tests I shot at 21 feet and my average groups were around 1 to 1.5 inches.

My POA using the method in the booklet put the first five rounds low on the target but closely grouped. I corrected POA to the top of the 9-ring and punched five dead center in the red. Best group measured 0.56 inches with Umarex Precision steel BBs.

All target tests were shot at 21 feet using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold with a best 10-shot group using Umarex steel BBs measuring 1.375 inches (shot in two 5-shot groups) with the best 5-shots at 0.56 inches in the large bullseye. The Hornady Black Diamond black anodized BBs punched 10 into 1.625 inches thanks to a very tight, overlapping pair of flyers (mastery of over compensation!) that blew out an otherwise very good 10-shot group that would have measured 1.25 inches. I still ended up with a very tight 5-shot cluster in the red measuring 0.65 inches.

With the Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs the HP was shooting a little wider and I started to hit lower. I adjusted my POA, over compensated and shot two overlapping at the top of the red. This opened up my best 10-shot group. My best 5-shots measured 0.65 inches; still not complaining. The USP blowback is a keeper.


The Umarex Heckler & Koch USP in this combat configuration with fixed sights is not a target pistol, but handles very much like the 9mm model it is based upon, with more tactile feel, shooting response, including a medium-loud report, than the vast majority of blowback action CO2 models. I like this air pistol for everything it brings to the table. It has no detracting features other than consistently shooting low, which the average person can quickly learn to compensate for. My one disappointment is that the dovetailed sights are not drift adjustable and cannot be replaced. In the overall scheme of training guns not that big of a deal, as other comparable CO2 models also have fixed sights. I like a gun with a hammer, a decocker, a DA/SA trigger, a large easy to use thumb safety, elongated (i.e. easier to activate) slide release, an easy to operate magazine release (all the better if it is ambidextrous), a large triggerguard, and white dot sights. The centerfire HK USP in 9mm (.40 S&W or .45 ACP), and the Umarex HK USP in .177 caliber checks all the boxes! Right now this is one of the top three new CO2 blowback models of the year, and running in a dead heat with the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911, CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow (and Shadow Blue) for .177 caliber models. How can you go wrong?

The Airgun Experience will be back on October 2nd with a look at HK USP options.  

16 thoughts on “Umarex H&K USP Part 3”

  1. Dennis,

    This is one very nice CO2 pistol! The sentence in your concluding paragraph that begins with “I like a gun with” says an awful lot about the qualities of both the firearm and CO2 blow-back HK USPs. That the air pistol version has so much in common with the firearm seems to make this as good a trainer for USP owners as the M&P40 is for owners for that firearm. (As for the ASG-made CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow, I have read reviews of the air pistol describing its zinc alloy as too soft.

    I can see why many consider a quality DA/SA pistol with decocker to be the safest and best option for those who wish to have a round in the chamber at all times. For those folks, the USP has to be a tempting choice.

    There are those who make a rational argument against DA/SA because of the necessary adjustment between the heavy initial DA trigger pull and the subsequent much lighter SA pulls. I recall your writing in detail about developing a good DA trigger technique, Can you describe techniques for training with DA/SA to overcome the difference? Surely such techniques are out there and have been proven or dis-proven since revolvers that can be shot either single action or double action have been around for well over a century.


    • MIchael:

      The USP has an interesting system. If you have a loaded chamber and de-cock the gun, and then put it on safe, you have a “semi-cocked and locked” pistol. The decocking system lowers the hammer to a half cock lock position. When you release the safety the trigger and hammer are already partially staged, the pull is only slightly greater than single action. I’ll demonstrate this in part 4 in October along with accessorizing the USP.

      • Dennis,

        I will look for that one installment for sure!

        Despite the lack of ambi safety (I am a lefty who is equally inept with a pistol with either hand but who prefers lefty), I like the cut of this USP’s jib. Every pistol and maker is imperfect in one way at least, but this HK seems, to me anyway, to be a half-step ahead of the most popular CZs and Sigs.


      • Dennis,

        I just received my HK USP blow-back and can’t wait until I have the chance to dice into the, uh, inviting clam-shell packaging. But I am excited indeed. Perhaps this evening or tomorrow.

        But I confess to being a bit confused now, having read Part 2 again. In it you state that the centerfire USP has a trigger pull of “5 pounds fired single action and a robust 12 pounds average double action.” Is the half-cocked trigger pull of the USP firearm 12 pounds?

        Also, SA-only pistols often have lighter trigger pulls than 5 pounds, no? 5-6 pounds is the trigger pull one expects from today’s semi-DAO striker-fired pistols such as M&P 2.0 and Glock Gen5. The latest generation of Steyr M-A1 has a lighter trigger pull than 5 pounds, probably about 4 pounds.


        • Michael:

          Can’t say much for the packaging but the gun inside is a gem. Another case for ordering a Plano gun case. Thank goodness they are affordable! Your hammer and trigger pull question is really a good one. I haven’t tested a centerfire USP in a couple of years so I don’t remember if I did a three-way trigger pull test for each detent. But the CO2 model has the three hammer detents, fully lowered for a full double action trigger pull, the de-cocked hammer position, and fully cocked SA position. The trigger is staged differently for all three. With the hammer fully lowered, which would not be from decocking the gun but removing the magazine, either after the slide has locked back or when clearing the gun, and then pulling the trigger. The hammer falls completely forward. If you were to reload and not chamber a round, the hammer would be down. The same would be achieved by manually lowering the hammer all the way on a loaded chamber and placing the gun on safe. Firing DA from the lowered hammer is the heaviest trigger pull, around 11 plus pounds. If you have a fully cocked gun and use the decocker, the hammer drops to the second position. The trigger pull is the same length of pull but trigger pull resistance is around 8 pounds, some three pounds lighter than a full DA pull. As a SA trigger, the 5-pound pull is about average for a DA/SA pistol. The CO2 model is the full boat.


          • Dennis,

            I thank you for the exceptionally detailed response above.

            I complain like everybody does about the clam-shell packaging, but I understand the business reasons for that. Besides, I end up putting the nice boxes on a shelf in plastic storage tubs, empty, to keep them nice, and the air pistols go into divided, padded drawers, so I guess it’s not really an issue, truthfully.

            I haven’t “gassed it up” yet, but I loaded the BBs. (Ugh, one strong spring — yep, if this is awesome, extra mags will be in/on order — I tend to load a bunch for a few pistols on one day and then simply put CO2 in them and shoot them on another day.)”

            Man, this feels like a substantial real firearm! It doesn’t seem terribly heavy, maybe two pounds with the mag and BBs(but no 12 gram CO2 cart yet) but it feels like a poly 1911 (if one can imagine one) but with very serious grips. These are the right grips for mitigating muzzle flip. I wish all air handguns had grips like this.

            Also, this absolutely looks like a firearm. I will be very careful taking this out in my large, but nevertheless suburban, backyard, which is mostly invisible from neighbors. It might be a “neighbors are on vacation” or “basement only” air pistol for me. (I’ve made a trap for steel BBs out of an MDF cube filled with old bath towels backed by rubber mulch for the basement.)

            Thanks again for the painstaking explanation above,


          • Dennis,

            A Post Script: I live just 15 miles from the town of Plano, IL, the home of Plano gun/tackle/tool boxes (along with anything else you can imagine made out of roadworthy, tough plastics). On the town’s behalf, I thank you for the plug! :^)


  2. I see two markets for this pistol . One for those wanting a copy of a firearm to plink with . As is the USP is fine. The second , is the serious firearm shooter looking for an airgun understudy pistol. This pistol like several others , falls short . The lack of adjustable sights to zero in different ammo is a major shortcoming . Those wishing to practice will usually purchase extra magazines, so a few dollars more for adjustable sights will not bother them. An ambi or reversible safety would have been nice. Lasers and optical sights can regulate point of impact, but not for those who want the iron sights. In general the replica airgun market needs to up the level of play. Getting there , but not there yet

    • HK decided to build right and left-handed USP models, rather than offer ambi or reversible thumb safety-decocking levers (though I can see where the frame has been built to accept right or left-hand lavers on centerfire models). Probably for the same reason they engineered the gun with a USP rail system. May have been part of the SOCOM Project requirements. As for the fixed sights, I couldn’t agree more. I remain surprised that the dovetailed sights on the HK USP CO2 model are not drift adjustable or removable. I will look further into this with Umarex and see if they are actually dovetailed in and glued in place or just a very impressive molded-in part.

      • Umarex should look at the big picture. Using dovetailed rear and replaceable frontvsights would allow buyers to opt for different sights in addition to making adjustments to the issues sights . Umarex could offer after market sights . A win ,win

  3. Ok, you wore me down . Mine arrived yesterday with spare mag . Very nice, a nicely done replica. Initially shot a little low but raising front sight slightly and aiming g at bottom of 9 ring plopped them right in at 25 feet from Weaver stance Definitely combat practice accurate. Nice blowback , very good trigger.

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