The HK45 is the next-generation evolution of the popular HK USP series of handguns. Like its predecessor, the HK45 uses a polymer frame. It has an oversized, easy to reach slide stop lever that is ambidextrous. The lever-style magazine release is also ambidextrous and can be operated by the thumb or forefinger. The frame-mounted safety/decocking lever can also be moved to the other side of the gun, depending on what hand the shooter favors. Like all HK firearms, the barrel on the HK45 is cold-hammer forged for greater accuracy and a long service life. The HK 45 barrel also has polygonal rifling (as opposed to the more conventional lands and grooves type rifling) and the front of the barrel is grooved to accommodate an O-ring to ensure positive, consistent lock-up between barrel and slide, increasing accuracy and reducing wear. The action on the HK45 can be adjusted so that it operates either as a traditional Single-Double Action (where the shooter carries with the hammer down on a loaded chamber, the first shot is double-action and subsequent shots are single-action) or as a Double-Action Only (where the trigger pull remains consistently double-action).
One of the most noticeable differences between the HK45 and the USP, however, is the grip. The HK45 features a newly designed, ergonomic grip with interchangeable backstraps. Its rounded shape, pronounced finger grooves and aggressive stippling ensure a positive, comfortable grip. The interchangeable backstraps help the shooter to find the grip that best fits his hand. For shooters with *ahem* smaller hands (like myself), this is a significant improvement over the USP, which I found to be a little on the “bulky” side. The frame of the HK45 also has a standard picatinny accessory rail instead of the proprietary HK rail that was found on the USP (and that required an adapter for accessories designed to fit picatinny rails).
WHAT I LIKED:
1. Overall quality and performance: as with all HK products, the HK45 is well-built. Fit and finish were top-notch, operation was flawless and it performed reliably and consistently. No surprises there.
2. Comfort: the HK45 is noticeably comfortable. Again, as a shooter with “smaller” hands, I find that many handguns tend to feel a little on the “bulky” side, and I often have to shift my grip to reach magazine releases and slide stops. The HK45 felt fairly slim in my hand and the oversized controls were easy to manipulate.
3. Recoil management: the HK45 is only available chambered in – you guessed it – .45 ACP. However, despite its relatively light weight (due primarily to the polymer frame), recoil on the HK45 was very manageable and compared quite favorably to a much heavier, stainless steel 1911.
WHAT I DID NOT CARE FOR:
1. Complexity: the HK45 offers the shooter a lot of choices. This can be both good and bad. While its adaptability makes the HK45 versatile, it is a little too complex for my tastes. I don’t want to have to worry about whether my HK45 is in Double-Action Only mode versus Single-Double Action mode. For anyone who buys an HK45 as a defensive firearm, I would suggest quickly finding the mode that suits you best, then setting and leaving it.
2. Price: as with all HK firearms, precision and quality come with a fairly hefty price tag. Spare magazines and parts are likewise relatively expensive, particularly when compared with magazines and parts for Glock pistols. Given the high cost of ammunition – particularly .45 (see below) – the money spent on the cost of the gun, along with spare magazines, could easily have gone toward more ammo for more training.
3. .45 ACP: As mentioned above, the HK45 is only available in .45 ACP. Performance-wise, this is not a problem for me; the .45 is a time-tested cartridge with a good amount of stopping power. However, compared to 9mm, .45 is considerably more expensive and at times, harder to find. While the added stopping power of a .45 is reassuring, I have made the personal choice to buy and train more with 9mm as it is more readily available and cheaper. Personally, I am ok with the trade off, although I know there are some who would not compromise (maybe HK is the right brand for them then?).
Overall, its hard to go wrong with HK as your choice of defensive sidearm. The HK45 is no exception. In particular, shooters with smaller hands who may find other handguns too bulky, will be hard-pressed to find a handgun with a grip more comfortable than the HK45. And really, if you’re primarily interested in surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, what better handgun than the one Eli used against a bunch of mutants and Gary Oldman?