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The H&K VP70z: Initial thoughts and observations

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Dragonfly, Apr 15, 2018 at 11:45 PM.

  1. Dragonfly

    Dragonfly Member

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    I first started handgun shooting in the early 1980s, and back then there was a wonderfully varied selection of semi-auto pistol designs. I could only afford a CZ75 at the time but I’ve recently been able to acquire some of the models that I could only read about back then. The classic Heckler & Koch line always appealed to me, and I’ve been able to pick up a P7 and P9S. The missing one from the classic 1970s trio was the VP70z. They are not common around here, and what I read online about the heavy trigger pull dissuaded me from picking one up. However, one popped up for sale online recently and I thought it was time to complete the set.

    Y4NQa8l.jpg

    The VP70z, from what I’ve read online, was designed to be used by relatively untrained German citizens in the event of a Cold War invasion (the “VP” stands for “Volkspistole”, or “People’s Pistol”). It’s a striker-fired blowback pistol with a double-action only trigger, no slide stop, and minimal external controls so for sure it would be easy to get someone unfamiliar with the pistol up and shooting quickly. It’s got a polymer frame—and, upon its launch in 1970, the first pistol ever to have one, and an unusually large for its time capacity of 18 rounds (well, pre-mag laws here).

    It is quite a large pistol, even though it only has a 4.6” barrel. Here is it compared with a Glock 22:
    fXJ0j3J.jpg

    I can see a bit of a family resemblance with the H&K P9S, which dates from the same era. Other than the superficial similarity in looks, though, they are very different pistols.
    MnkKI3O.jpg

    The polymer grip has a light pebbly texture and is comfortably-sized for its original capacity. The texture looks similar to that on the Gen 1 Glock 17, although I’ve never seen one of those).
    gKLekLg.jpg

    The trigger pulls straight back with no pivoting at all. Mine has an after-market Wolff trigger spring that reduces the very stiff factory trigger pull. There is a defined stop right before the break, so its fairly easy to “stage” the trigger pull. You can see the disassembly lever above the trigger.
    7mSJafZ.jpg
    It’s quite reminiscent of the trigger on my FN FS2000. The button behind the trigger is actually a cross-bolt safety, not a magazine release.

    The magazine release is a heel-clip type:
    oDaoZa2.jpg

    While the magazine is quite an interesting design—its width tapers at two different points:
    LtNWpaS.jpg

    and it’s dual-feed, too, like the Steyr GB:
    xpq7Y36.jpg

    The pistol disassembles like most other blowback pistols I’ve owned—pull down the disassembly lever, retract the slide and lift up at the rear of the slide’s travel. You can see the fixed barrel here.
    9upVWz0.jpg

    Here’s the sear area—it’s a much simpler design than the P7 or P9S.
    RMuOiCo.jpg

    There is a generous feed ramp and the chamber’s edges are chamfered.
    9RHFchQ.jpg

    The slide rails are only on the rear portion of the slide:
    v00Ac3V.jpg

    The slide walls are quite thin, especially for a blowback pistol—only about 2.5mm. This reduces the recoil effect of the reciprocating mass as well as the overall weight of the pistol.

    mXk31wZ.jpg

    You can see the striker in the picture above. It’s easily removed from the slide by rotating the slide end cap 90° and removing it. Here is the striker and firing pin spring removed from the pistol:
    EEyRihO.jpg

    and they just pull apart. The part on the right is the firing pin spring (that’s the Wolff spring) and the striker/firing pin is on the left. The spring on that assembly is to prevent accidental discharges if the pistol is dropped.
    ZCANMUb.jpg

    As I mentioned above, the slide is not as heavy as you’d expect for a blowback pistol, nor is the recoil spring as stout. There’s an unexpected reason for that. The rifling is very deep—so deep that propellant gasses actually blow past the bullet on its way out the barrel to keep chamber pressures low. This supposedly lowers muzzle velocity, though.
    WCyDpN3.jpg

    2MuW1PR.jpg

    The rear sight is a straightforward fixed blade.
    6nIeweS.jpg

    But the front sight is quite unique. It’s ramped, but the middle portion machined out and the top polished.
    ymG4wkL.jpg

    What that does is give an illusion of a blade front sight while having a sturdy snag-free sight. Here’s the sight picture:
    WeWCEJx.jpg

    So that’s it for the overview. The trigger pull is not as bad as I expected (likely due to the Wolff spring) and its comfortable in the hand. The odd sighting arrangement looks to work pretty well, too. I’ll add more once I’ve had it out to the range.
     

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    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018 at 10:53 PM
  2. VA27

    VA27 Member

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    Nice review! I've had one for a few years and find it to be highly underrated. Once you learn the trigger pull it's quite accurate and the sight system works better in varied light conditions than you would expect. I had a friend who carried one on duty as a plain clothes investigator in the 70's and he really caught a lot of flack for it from revolver and 1911 armed officers.
     
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  3. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    I should have bought one when I could have. (Passed on one at $400 ish) The magazines are amazingly well made. Huge for a 9mm, neat bit of history. Fixed barrel, 4 moving parts what's not to love?
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018 at 2:19 AM
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  4. kozak6

    kozak6 Member

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    Those are some excellent pictures.

    That front sight is quite novel. I haven't seen anything like that before.
     
  5. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Dragonfly

    First rate overview of a rarely seen H&K pistol. Excellent photos as well.

    I understand that there was a selective fire version with a plastic shoulder stock that attached at two points at the rear of the grip frame. I believe it also contained a fire control lever that allowed for single shots or a three round burst. Would love to have seen one of those in action!
     
  6. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Very cool review.
     
  7. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    You are correct. That is/was the HK VP70 (no "z"). The select lever is ON the stock. I never got to fire it, but I did get to see and handle one . HK USA has a room with one of every product they have ever made in it. Its called "the gray room". Guests and students attending training there ar given a tour, and are even allowed to touch the stuff!
     
  8. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I actually saw one of these pistols for sale yesterday at the gun show in Pensacola. Haven't seen one for a while.
     
  9. kBob

    kBob Member

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    Great review. Nice to know that Wolfe made a sprig set that improved things. Thanks for sharing al lthis nd doing the work to do so.

    Yes the selector was on the stock of the "military and police " models. IIRC it was marked "1" and "3" to allow single shots or three shot bursts at a very high rate of fire.

    Darn, now I need to look it up and have plenty to do today.

    -kBob
     
  10. usp9

    usp9 Member

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    Thanks, that was a very informative post about a seldom seen pistol. I learned a few things.
     
  11. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    The "gray room" sounds like it would be a very cool place to be invited into!
     
  12. muzzleblast...

    muzzleblast... Member

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    Excellent review. Thank you. I am looking forward to your range report.
     
  13. Dragonfly

    Dragonfly Member

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    Thanks for the kind comments, guys. I actually saw a semi-auto shoulder-stocked VP70 for sale in Canada a year or so ago. If my memory serves correctly it was one of 54 made—and had a price that reflected it too!
     
  14. kBob

    kBob Member

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    OK Ezell listed the cyclic rate on the Machine pistol version as 2200 rpm! That means a three shot burst is gone in well under a tenth of a second and that the magazine holds but six bursts. The stock Did allow semi auto or 3 shot burst only.....had it offered full auto the mag would have been empty in under one half a second.

    He also listed the muzzle velocity as the same as the P9's polygonal rifled barrel.

    Loaded weight with stock fixed and a loaded magazine was 3.5 pounds.

    The only person I met that claimed to have shot the Machine Pistol with stock claimed the burst was over so fast that one could keep all 3 shots on a kneeling man target or "Tombstone" at 25 meters. No idea if he was making it up or had actually shot one.

    Now you have to wonder, what with the Volk's Pistol name, if there are a few 100,000 of these things with the stocks in warehouses somewhere in Germany to this very day.

    Speaking of Volk's Pistols......a German buddy had a lower (frame) with fixed barrel that he used as a toy pistol in the early 1960's. They found it in the mud next to the Danube in Ulm. It appeared to be from the Gustav gas delayed blow back Volk's Pistol design.

    -kBob
     
  15. drk1

    drk1 Member

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  16. usp9

    usp9 Member

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    Gray room
    Gray-_Room-panorama.jpg
     
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  17. mokin

    mokin Member

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    Nice write up.

    I picked one up about 1990. It is a very interesting pistol. Thanks for not getting hung up on the detachable stock. I found the info about the deep rifling insightful. I've had bullets keyhole with enough regularity it doesn't surprise me anymore. Could there be a relationship? I liked the way you compared it to more recent HKs. I've seen that happen at the range when I'm shooting it and another HK owner asks me about it.
     
  18. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Wow! First word that comes to mind is "Awesome"!!! There are "gun rooms" and then there is this.

    Thanks for the look!
     
  19. RPZ

    RPZ Member

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    Fellow USAF NCO had one of these 38 years ago. Super pistol I think - except for the staple gun trigger. I would like to try one out with the Wolff spring replacement.
     
  20. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    You can see a stocked VP70 carbine on the left side "shelf", center. Neato!

    I've had a scale model VP70 squirt gun since I was a kid and a special place for them as the Colonial Marines standard issue in " Aliens."
     
  21. mokin

    mokin Member

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    Thanks for the nudge Dragonfly. I took my pistol out to the range after work today.

    IMG_20180418_154939903_HDR.jpg

    Here's 36 rounds at 10 yards. Not quite as fast as I could pull the trigger but almost. As I haven't shot this pistol in at least a year so I'll take it. I need to shoot it more often. It's a fun pistol.
     
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