Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

H&K USP Compact

Posted by Gunner on January 12, 2008

H&K USP Compact 40 caliber

   This is an H&K USP compact with the #1 trigger/safety group. The gun came with three mags. Two mags had the extended floor plate with one having a flat floor plate for CCW use. For those not familiar with the #1 trigger/safety group it allows you several options for carry. The safety is located on the frame much like a 1911 and allows for condition one or cocked and locked carry like the 1911. Another option is for the standard double action first shot. The safety lever also allows you to go from cocked and locked to pushing the safety all the way down to act as a decocker. The safety can be placed on the left or right side for southpaw shooters. The magazine release is ambidextrous. Unlike most pistols that have a button to press in to release the magazine the H&K mag release is placed low at the rear of the trigger guard. To release the magazine you simply push down on the lever button on the left as you normally would or you can use your trigger or index finger to release the magazine from the right side. I actually prefer to use my index finger to release the magazine from the right side since this allows me to drop a magazine without shifting my grip. This is a definite plus and much faster than the traditional method. This is especially true since you can release the magazine and reach for another magazine without shifting your grip and having to use both hands as many shooters do. The magazine capacity in 40 cal is 12 rounds. The weight is 24 ounces empty which is of course considerably lighter than a compact 1911. This version has a stainless slide while a blue slide is also available. The pistol is designed with a modified Browning lock system with the recoil buffer. I do like the two tone look:-)
   One thing that separates this gun from the full size version besides having a shorter barrel ( 3.5 inches) is the grip is smaller in circumference than the full size gun. For me it is more comfortable to shoot and carry. The width is also just a little thinner. It’s still a wide gun much like a Glock in width but is by no means uncomfortable to carry IWB. One thing that helps is the slide is angled at the top so the look is not as blocky as a Glock. Most polymer guns are truthfully not very aesthetically pleasing but I find this H&K to be a very eye pleasing gun.  This H&K also is a good natural pointer from the draw. I’ve found the Glock and a couple of other polymer frame guns to have an extreme  grip angle which doesn’t lend itself to pointing very well.
   Disassembly is simple and is pretty normal. You retract the slide about one half inch and push the slide release out from right to left. After removing the slide release the slide is simply pulled forward off the rails. As with most polymer guns this one has four points of contact with the slide which are steel inserts placed into the polymer frame. That’s all there is to it. Reassemble in reverse. The frame also has accommodation for a light mounted on the front light rail. A compact version such as the Insight Technology M3 or M6 light with or without a laser. These lights put out 125 lumens of a bright well focused beam. This is a very handy accessory for a home protection gun.
   As far as 40 cal ammo is concerned I use a couple of different types. One is the Cor Bon Powr’Ball. This is a 135 grn bullet at 1395 fps and 526 fp of energy. This is one smokin round! This Cor Bon load is the one that uses a polymer plug to fill the hollowpoint. This serves two purposes. The first is for more reliable feeding while the second is that when the bullet strikes a target the plug is driven back which ensures the bullet expands rapidly while giving you 12 to 14 inches of penetration which is optimal for self defense use. The other load I have used is the Winchester Ranger “T” LEO only load that is the updated Black Talon round which of course is no longer evil black since the original black coated bullet upset so many liberals. This is a 165 grn load at a little over 1100 fps and 476 fp of energy. This round expands very well and shows the usual petal type leaf edges after expansion. A very effective load that is a very popular round with law enforcement.

   Shooting the H&K is a lot of fun. The recoil is less than other polymer frame guns I’ve shot in 40 cal. H&K uses a hard plastic ring that goes around the recoil spring and freely moves back and forth under recoil thereby reducing felt recoil. It sounds simple and somewhat unlikely but it works! I went to our police department range and set a standard IPSC target up. I brought several rounds to test. The usual Winchester white box practice ammo as well as the Remington ammo which uses a flat nosed fully jacketed round. The Winchester uses a 180 grn bullet and the Remington a 165 grn bullet. I also brought along some of the Cor Bon and Winchester duty ammo mentioned above. Just out of curiosity I also brought some original Black Talons. Rare bullets and very expensive to get so I only fired a few of these. 

Recoil Spring and Nylon Buffer

   I normally fire from ten yards when testing a gun and this was what I did this time. I also fire one mag to get a feel for sight alignment and get used to the trigger pull then step up the speed for a more realistic test simulating an armed confrontation. I loaded up with the Remington ammo first. I slow fired from ten yards using the traditional double action for the first round. The first round went dead center of the Birchwood Casey 5 inch bullseye stick on target I placed on this IPSC target. I was somewhat surprised since it’s been some time since I have fired anything but a 1911. It wasn’t a fluke though since the rest of the mag placed the rounds right on top of the first one. Of course I had to decock between rounds to fire double action. The next magazine I fired was double action first round and single action for the remainder. The way I fire the single action rounds is to release the trigger just enough to reset the mechanism. Results were great with all rounds starting to make one hole for the rounds I had fired so far. I put another sticky target up to cover the first one to continue testing. This time I decided to start with cocked and locked carry. Since I’m so used to firing a gun this way with the 1911 I found it to be very comfortable. I stepped up the speed this time and fired the first magazine firing one round then putting the safety back on and drawing from the holster for each round. This worked very well and proved accurate and a comfortable as well as a very familiar method of shooting. After this I placed the safety on and went for firing a full magazine as fast as possible. All rounds stayed very close together on this 5 inch target with no rounds outside the 5 inch circle. I switched to the Winchester ammo and repeated my first firing sequence with basically the same results. The recoil was slightly less noticeable with this lighter bullet.
   I loaded all three mags with the Remington ammo. At ten yards I wanted to go through all three mags as fast as possible using the first round from each mag fired double action. Again all 36 rounds stayed within the 5 inch target although with 36 rounds it certainly chewed the target up:-) I replaced the target and loaded the mags to capacity. From ten yards I set this sequence up to fire from cocked and locked carry. This was more familiar and comfortable for me and produced slightly tighter groups through all three mags.

   From the above picture with the pistol in the cocked and locked configuration the trigger has about the same distance to travel as a 1911. I moved back to the twenty yard line for some accuracy testing. I loaded one mag with the Winchester Ranger ammo, the next mag with original Black Talons and the third mag with the Cor Bon loads. Slow firing each mag produced some very tight groups averaging right at 2 inches for all loads. The Winchester rounds produced the tightest groups at 13/4 inches from a rest position. These are high quality loads so I expected them to be very close in results during the accuracy testing. I wanted to see how accurate the gun would be shooting from the twenty yard line standing without a rest. Of course the groups opened up to about 3 inches but from a compact gun such as this I consider the results to be very good. I’ve always found H&K guns to be very accurate whether it is a pistol or rifle. They are quiet simply some of the best made modern guns available. During all the testing I had no malfunctions of any type and honestly I would have been shocked if there had been. I fired a total of 200 rounds combined of all types of ammo available for this session.
   To sum things up I really like this pistol. I’ll find a Milt Sparks or HBE holster IWB carry and use it for my CCW weapon. You’ll usually not find me carrying anything but a 1911 but in this case being able to carry cocked and locked I feel very well protected with this H&K! Being able to carry 37 rounds in three mags is also a plus. I have a little trouble with my right hip so weight is a consideration for me at times. As I mentioned it is much lighter than my carry 1911’s so all day carry is very easy to live with. With the increasing popularity of 1911’s the polymer guns like this one have become more affordable. This pistol used a year ago was priced right at $675. I got this one last week for $525. So, these days I can buy two of this type of gun for the price of one Kimber 1911. Something to think about certainly.
  As always please feel free to contact me with your comments or questions. I hope you find this review informative and helpful!


One gripe I’ve always had with any gun of this type is the hard trigger pull when your fire the first round double action. After doing some research I took a look at the Wolff Gunspring homepage.

I found that Wolff makes a reduced power trigger/mainspring for all H&K USP pistols including of course the USP compact like mine. I wanted to try these springs and see if this would make the double action and single action trigger pull smoother and lighter. I ordered the 12 pound and 10 pound springs to replace the factory 14 pound spring. When they arrived I decided to go straight to the 10 pound spring. I knew that I still had to have enough spring force to ignite the primers on all ammo. It took all of 4 minutes to change out the spring with the Wolff 10 pound spring. I went to the range with several brands of ammo including some old CCI/Speer ammo which is notorious for having hard primers. After firing over 150 of assorted ammo I found that the spring force was plenty to ignite the primers on all brands of ammo.
I was very pleased in that the double action trigger pull dropped by approx. 1/3 and made the single action pull lighter as well. My groups shrank by a considerable amount with this spring change. This is a very inexpensive way to make the trigger pull smoother and lighter on your H&K without spending a good amount of money on a trigger job. The springs cost less than $5.00 each. Others on the H&K Pro forum have tried or are trying this change and have had the same results as I have. As always when you make a change to your gun head to the range to ensure your gun works well and is compatible with this change. If you have another model of H&K check with Wolff or H&K to ensure this spring change will fit your gun. Good luck and happy shooting!

Update–Holsters for the H&K— 2/13/08

These are pictures of a Mitch Rosen IWB holster with a Fist IWB mag pouch. This is an excellent holster for CCW. The cant of the holster is 15 degrees of butt forward which keeps the butt of the gun close to your body so the butt of the gun doesn’t print (show) through the clothing you may be wearing. It also presents the gun in such a way as to make for a fast draw.
Mitch Rosen Holsters

Mitch Rosen USP Holster

Mitch Rosen IWB

Single Tab Snap Attachment

A fine holster for a retail of $85.00. Fist IWB mag pouch $23.00

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H&K USP Compact in action with US Customs Service

21 Responses to “H&K USP Compact”

  1. Shlongy said


  2. Gunner said




  3. HULK said

    Does replacing the hammer spring add any wear and tear to other parts of the gun?

    I heard that a stronger recoil is needed to compensate for the lighter hammer spring and that if one is obtained, the slide is subject ti additional wear and tear. Is this true?

    Also what are the legal ramifications of modifying the gun with a lighter hammer spring or replacement barrel if you (a civilian) are involved in a shooting?

  4. Gunner said


    In short no I’ve noticed no excess wear from the 10 pound spring as apposed to the factory strength spring.Since the spring only operates and effects the trigger pull it has no bearing on the recoil impulse. The recoil spring remains the same so there is absolutely no extra wear. It’s safe for the user and should have no bearing on any legal issues should heaven forbid you ever had to use the pistol for defense.
    A replacement barrel is also a non issue as far as an legal considerations are concerned.
    Where you get into possible legal problems is when you take say a 1911 and reduce the trigger pull to an unsafe 2 or 3 pounds which is for target shooting only if even that. This gives the impression that your trying for a hair trigger. The difference is to use the ten pound spring to make your shooting more accurate but still maintain a safe trigger pull in double action. Especially as a civilian you are held to a much less high standard than an officer who is supposed to know better.
    To sum it up there should be no concern for increased parts wear or legal issues by that change or a barrel replacement. Neither one of these changes makes a significant change to the basic function of the gun.

    I hope this helps and I’ll also send this to you as a regular email so you can ask additional questions if you should have any.

    Happy and safe shooting!

  5. Todd said

    Where did you get that holster? I have an H&K USP Compact 9mm and cannot find a decent in the pant holster anywhere.


  6. Gunner said


    You can get either of these holsters at Gunners Alley. Great people to deal with.


  7. Lmoiseve said


    I really found your review very useful. Thank you for that.

    Much like the last comment I have a holster question. I have a TLR-1 light on my compact. I cant seem to find a holster for that configuration. This would not be for concealment. Do you have any recommendations?

    BTW, I also have the two-tone, and really like that look. Word on the range is that they are no longer importing the two-tone version to the US. Do you know anything factual about that?


  8. Gunner said

    Hello Lee,

    Yes there are several that have that holster combo for your H&K. Here is a link to Blade-Tech. This is only one holster and they have several.
    They make about the best Kydex holsters and certainly have the most choices in holsters. These are sturdy and last forever and can be had as an IWB or belt holster with interchangeable carry methods available.
    To answer the two tone question they have stopped making the two tone model. I believe it was about 2 or 3 years ago they stopped. Heaven knows why they look great! That makes the two tone a lot higher in price if you can find one so if you ever sell yours, which I doubt, you will ask more for it by about $100!
    These guys are the best for plating a pistol

    Take care,

    PS: I’m glad the review helped:-)

  9. Jason said

    Love the write up on a gun that not many people know or talk about, the compact that is. Im on the fence about this gun, because the perceived width that people talk about. Its not much wider (on paper a few mm’s) than a glock 19, but people say that the ergos of the USP make it harder to conceal IWB. I d love to get the USP, but id like to hear your thoughts on how this gun has compared to your other conceals now that youve had it for some time. thanks!

  10. Bill Bohannon said

    This is the best review of a handgun I have ever read.

    Very well written and informative!

    I have several H&K Compacts and one thing most people do not realize you can charge and clear a round in the chamber with the safety on!

    Many accidents happen during this procedure and it is a feature of value!

    Best Regard, Bill Bohannon

  11. Gunner said


    Thank you very much. That means a lot to me and I’m glad you enjoyed it.
    The H&K is certainly a fine pistol and as you said has some excellent features not found on other guns of this type. I especially like being able to rack the slide with the safety on.

    All the best,

  12. B said

    Outstanding review! Just one thing holding me back from purchasing this firearm. Where in the heck do you pick these up for $525. I am lucky to find any under $800 here in Arizona.


  13. Gunner said

    Thanks! I’m glad you liked the review!!!!

    Well sir to be honest I got lucky when I found mine. That and at the time guns hadn’t gone price crazy like they are now. In this part of Missouri H&K pistols haven’t been super popular believe it or not so prices have been reasonable.
    I would check Gunbroker and Gunsamerica onl;ine and see what you can find. Sometimes a bargain can be had.

    I hope you find one!

  14. Scott said

    looking for a light for my H&K 40 comact that does not require the adapter?

  15. Gunner said


    As far as I know this is the only light that allows mounting without an adapter. This is a good piece of kit. I use the larger light on my Springfield Armory Operator and it has yet to fail me and is easy on batteries.

    Hope this helps,

  16. John Johansen said

    I have a H&K USP 40 cal. that does not have a safety on it. I can see where a safety can be added to it. Does anyone have any idea how I may get a safety and add it to this firearm.
    Thank you,

  17. Gunner said

    John is yours a double action only type? Most of those did come with a thumb safety so did you buy it used by chance.
    I can help you get this squared away with a bit more information.


  18. Gunner said

    John check this link and you’ll see that some models have the cutout on the frame for a safety but the pistol will not accept a safety since it can’t be cocked and fired single action.

  19. David said

    Realizing this is an old read, I saw in the February 1997 edition of the American Rifleman where they indicate leaving the sear out and you have a DA only USP. do that in a 1911 and you’re in serious trouble.

    Question about the trigger. Is the reset long in SA mode? The S&W 4506 also has a decocker and fire/safe mode like the HK but firng SA there’s little take up and reset. I’m looking at both the USP and HK45 Compacts as a purchase but haven’t been able to handle one locally to find out.

  20. Gunner said

    Well sir no way I would leave the sear out. What I did was change the hammer spring and went down by two pounds using a Wolf spring. It made the trigger easier to manipulate and still maintained reliability. The trigger reset in SA is short and has a good predictable break. A very good trigger really.
    I really like the compact since the others you mentioned are geared more toward duty carry and are rather large.


  21. Any chance we can get the Included Plugins for this Theme. faily useless with Theme

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