Dear P30: I’m not sure we were meant to be together

When you first showed up in my life, way back in February 2014, I knew that we’d be spending a lot of time together. After renting/borrowing various guns, I’d already decided to take you to Rogers as my new 9mm pistol, and that I’d be feeding you thousands of rounds of gun food during the work-up process.




Things were great at first. Precision-style fire at the range was a bit challenging until I found the right combination of grip panels, hand position, and spring setup so we would work well together, but after that we got along swimmingly. I fed you the finest Freedom Munitions ammo (by the thousand) until I could run you with confidence. I had you custom-fitted for two different JM Custom Kydex holsters, an AIWB extra-tuck holster for concealment and an OWB holster for when you were wearing your shiny new Streamlight TLR-2.

Then we went to Rogers together, and the honeymoon was over. The Rogers program will expose flaws in one’s shooting ability (and equipment) like nothing else I’ve ever seen, particularly with the huge focus on single-hand shooting. My decade-plus of experience with your giant square-framed Viking uncles from the USP side of the family eventually clued me in to something important:

It’s really, really hard to consistently draw a rounded-grip gun (cough*HK spiderman grip*cough) from a concealment-oriented AIWB holster with anything resembling consistency of grip position. Worse, that lovely TGS/v4 LEM trigger setup that I’d come to so appreciate when shooting at a deliberate pace turned out to be a serious liability at Rogers, and to a lesser but significant extent, USPSA style shooting. A grip that varies randomly by several degrees in each direction on the draw is NOT good for maintaining a proper and consistent relationship between fingertip and trigger, to put it mildly.

Maybe the problem lies with me, but I don’t think so. I coined the term “HK Discount” at Rogers (“Good for an automatic 15% off your test scores!”) and pretty much everyone I discussed it with agreed with me that it was a real problem — HK LEM guns are so, um, challenging during the SHO/WHO tests that they drag down the total score by roughly 15%. The clincher, though, was when I spent a grand total of 20 minutes warming up with a completely different gun which was entirely new to me (an M&P 9fs with Apex kit, from the Rogers armory) and immediately shot a passing score on my final attempt at the Rogers Test. And that happened even though I had a user-induced malfunction which cost me the opportunity to shoot an entire 8-plate sequence.

So… where do we go from here? Do I keep you around as an excellent concealed-carry/hard-use gun even knowing that, one day, you may induce me to miss a critical SHO or WHO shot? Or is it time for us to part ways, and for me to sell you to fund the purchase of a different AIWB-safe gun to run in USPSA Limited 10?

Metal-framed SIGs, CZs, and even thumb-safety-equipped M&Ps are looking enticing right about now, as I know from experience that I can pick up common models from any of those lines and immediately shoot them well.  The question is this: do I give you a little more time while I work on other parts of my USPSA skill-set, or do I switch horses ASAP before I run up your round count any more?

UPDATE (4 May 2014)

While the P30 version of the LEM (less-crisp action, longer reset) undoubtedly has its challenges, this particular P30 has earned the dubious honor of being the only HK gun I’ve ever owned or shot that required significant sight adjustments to shoot straight.  It turns out that a very significant contributor to my struggles with this gun was the fact that it shoots 2″ left at 10 yards when the sights are perfectly aligned with the rib along the top of the slide.  CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE


6 thoughts on “Dear P30: I’m not sure we were meant to be together

  1. You switch. Once you’re unsure about a handgun, you’ll never quite trust it 100% again. And that’s a recipe for disaster with what you’re working towards. Of course you know my experience with firearms. So take that as you will 😉


    • Yeah, I’m leaning towards a switch for those very reasons. In discussion elsewhere it’s been mentioned that it’s taken experienced shooters north of 10k rounds to get really good with the P30. Worth noting that this is more than your average “range-and-home-defense” pistol owner will shoot in any given 10-year period.


  2. Life is too short to waste on a platform that doesn’t agree with you. I had this same problem with glocks. I spent way too much time on a platform that I could not shoot as well as other platforms.

    How much better will you be with (hypothetically) an M&P instead of fussing with the P30?


    • At Rogers Shooting School, with dedicated, focused effort over the course of 5 attempts at The Test in 4 days, the best score I managed with my HK P30 was a 63.

      With a bit more familiarity with the M&P I could easily have been shooting an 80+, simply by eliminating the reload I screwed up and hitting a few more plates I hesitated on because of hangover from P30 misses. Call it a 33% improvement in hit rates on fast-reaction, disappearing 8-inch targets. And I don’t even particularly LIKE the M&P, which is the part I find most amusing about this A/B test.


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