The HK I wanted to love…
If you haven’t been able to guess the HK45c is an updated version of the USP 45 Compact; this piqued my interests due to my love affair with the Heckler & Koch USP Compact in 9mm. The HK45c comes with some nifty updates, such as the extended magazine release and a 1913 accessory rail, but the texture on the side panels isn’t as good as the USP’s. On the bright side, it’s $2-300 less than a USP 45 Compact.
If you’re wondering about the header image, it’s a joke in the Heckler & Koch community. Back in 2004 Heckler & Koch had a catalogue at their SHOT Show booth where the magazine on the cover was loaded backwards. If you’re wanting to learn more about that, you can find more information here at The Firearm Blog.
This review was originally posted on my old website on July 18, 2018. Because of that this review will not have the same layout as other firearm reviews that you will find on JustPews.
When you open the box your Heckler & Koch HK45c comes in, you will find yourself a branded lock, the gun itself, two magazines, one changeable back-strap option, and your standard paperwork. You also get additional O-Rings for the barrel in case you were to lose one as well as two Heckler & Koch stickers
Frame Material: Polymer
Flush Capacity: 8
Barrel Length: 3.94″
Overall Length: 7.24 inches
Height: 5.51 inches
Width: 1.54 inches
Weight: 28.48 ounces
The HK45c’s barrel has Heckler & Koch’s famous polygonal rifling, faux phosphorescent night sights, and a captured recoil assembly with a steel guide rod (yes, it uses the same recoil assembly as the USP45 Compact). Prior to the HK45 Compact the unique thing about HK’s was the recoil buffer riding on the recoil assembly with the HK45c that added on a rubber O-Ring to the front end of the barrel. Heckler & Koch’s claim is that it tightens lock-up between the barrel & slide while improving accuracy. Unfortunately I didn’t test to verify whether or not their claim was true.
Before we move on let’s discuss the phosphorescent sights on this pistol. A lot of people look at these thinking they are getting useable night sights; this isn’t the case (hence me calling them “faux night sights” above). These sights are standard 3-dot sights with some sort of phosphorescent paint versus regular white paint.
These do shine pretty bright after a very short charge time, however, they shouldn’t be used in place of night sights if those are your preference. In the picture you’ll see just how bright these can get though; the first being on an overcast summer day, the second obviously being in a pitch black room.
If you’re looking at this as purely a range pistol there’s nothing to worry about here, but if you’re wanting to use it defensively I’d definitely change these sights out for something better.
For a compact, the HK45c is pretty large; I’d like to say it’s because of the caliber but I can’t. The USP 45 Compact is smaller dimensionally (with the same flush fit capacity) and the Glock 30S is smaller; with a superior capacity. When I ordered the HK45 Compact I had the expectation of running it as a carry gun in the summer; but I haven’t bought any additional magazines for it…or even a holster. But there was also a big issue I ran across with this gun; more on that later.
Internally you’ll see (above) that it shares a lot of commonality with the USP line of pistols. It’s using the same recoil assembly, the same hammer (from appearances), the same detent plates, the same magazines, magazine releases, and more. It also share the same sight cutouts as the P30 & VP9. All around if you’re already hoarding pistols from Heckler & Koch you’ll appreciate the commonality.
As far as shoot-ability goes, the HK45c is both pleasant and wicked at the same time. The muzzle rise isn’t as substantial as one would think when considering it’s size and caliber, however, the recoil slams the grip of the gun into the palm of your hand. As far as the trigger goes, I opted for the standard V1 model which is a traditional DA/SA trigger with a manual safety & decocker. The double action trigger definitely isn’t as easy of a pull as the USP’s, but the single action pull, along with the reset, are basically the same.
Ergonomically there’s areas where you will feel improvements compared to the USP Compact and areas where you’ll go, “What the hell were they thinking?!”
The texturing is undoubtedly one of the, “What the hell were they thinking?!” areas. The side texturing is slick as can be and offers zero traction while shooting, whereas the front and back strap offer fantastic traction; honestly this texturing would pair wonderfully with the side panels of the USP.
For ergonomics I have to say that this is a chunky gun in the hand and doesn’t feel as good as a USP Compact. The texturing on the front strap and rear strap is abrasive on the skin (if the gun is holstered). The texturing is also very lackluster in the grippy-ness department. The enlarged paddle release is a pleasant upgrade, however, the safety being larger than on the USP Compact is a bit of a drawback. With larger hands you might find your thumb hitting it inadvertently but it shouldn’t cause the safety to engage; of course this is a non-issue with the LEM models.
Where the HK45c improves upon the USP Compact is the fact that it’s fully ambidextrous…well, almost. The slide release is now ambidextrous and it’s pretty easy to actuate even though it has a smaller surface area than the USP’s. The magazine release, as much of an improvement it is, pinches my middle finger when I try to drop my magazine; which means I have to alter my grip to change the magazine.
Heckler & Koch did keep the safety/decocker lever from the USP series; because of this it’s either right handed or left handed, and unfortunately isn’t set-up for both at the same time.
The final improvement is the addition of front serrations for easier press checks. They could go down the length of the slide to provide traction to a larger surface area, but they’re just as grippy as the rear ones; which feel the same as the slide serrations on the USP.
Ready for what kills the Heckler & Koch HK45c in my book and probably yours? Its that 1913 rail. I’m extremely surprised that this is even a point in my review considering Larry Vickers and Ken Hackathorn helped design this pistol (or at least the full size variant). The 1913 rail on this pistol cannot accept the Streamlight TLR-1 or the Surefire x300 without modifications being made to the lights.
It also won’t accept the Olight PL-Mini or the Streamlight TLR-7; which fits damn near every pistol on the market including the Walther CCP which is substantially smaller.
The reason it can’t accommodate these lights is because the rail was pushed too far back. If Heckler & Koch would move the rail into the dead space in front of the rail/below the muzzle the HK45c would definitely fit the TLR-7 and more than likely the TLR-1.
Looking at pictures of the Heckler & Koch HK45c, I fell in love; it’s an aesthetically pleasing pistol. When I picked it up from my local shop I definitely had a honeymoon phase that got abruptly ended when I finally got to shoot it and again when I tried attaching any of the aforementioned lights to it.
The slick side panels, the failure to accommodate common weapon lights, and the potential accuracy changes from losing a rubber O-Ring killed my affliction for this pistol. On the bright side though, it had the $15 upgrade I felt was necessary for the USP; the extended magazine release that ended up pinching my finger.
So, if you aren’t a fan of weapon mounted lights, and you like how it feels in your hand; by all means, buy it. If you like having the ability to mount a weapon light and the ability to shoot with sweaty hands; don’t.
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