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Photo Credit: David Thorson, TracerX Photography

HK VP9 Love at First Shot

You've got to know her to love her. The Heckler & Koch VP9 may be slightly lacking in looks for some, but she makes up for it with an exciting personality.

When I first saw the Heckler & Koch (HK) VP9 - I was not impressed. In my opinion, the HK VP9 was a step backward in design. I though the HK P30 was nearly perfect, but I hated the squared off back end of the slide and how the grip seemed to be overly forward on the gun. If I could compare this gun to a car: Heckler & Koch had the ability to make a 2015 Corvette but decided to build a 1992 Ford Taurus.

But then I got a chance to shoot it. Oh my goodness did my opinion change. It was like they had taken the Corvette engine, suspension, and seats and put it into a 1990’s generic beater. All else about it was near perfect. What my P30 was not, this addressed - it was the ultimate sleeper gun.

The trigger pull was pretty much flawless out of the box for a combat pistol. The reset was positive and just about right where it needed to be, but could use some work. Besides the VP9's looks; the balance, natural point of aim, and ergonomics were hands down in the top 5 guns I’ve ever managed to fondle. I knew someday this would be a gun I would own.

A couple months later I got a call from my friend who works at a local gun shop. They had the VP9 LE model in stock and waiting for me. After I bought it, I headed straight to the range with my new toy like a giddy little school girl.

A few hundred rounds later and not a single hiccup. However, there was room for improvement with the trigger that I felt needed to be addressed. The trigger reset was *about* right, but needed improvement.

As with all of my guns that I feel could use help in this department, I headed over to my favorite gunsmith - Fred at C.a.R. Firearms. He shortened the reset exactly where it needed to be and smoothed out the action so it broke crisper than stock. However, he didn’t change the pull weight since this wasn’t going to be a competition pistol.

I *now* had the perfect carry gun.

At the range, the VP9 shot ragged holes all day long. In fact, it was boring to shoot because it was so predictably accurate.

Then, as it happens when I get bored, the mod bug set in and I wanted to make the gun even better. But I knew my options were limited since the VP9 was so new on the market. No one has had a chance to work on them yet.

I was browsing my instagram feed one day and saw a beautifully modified VP9. This one was done by a collaboration between J&L Machining Works in Chubbuck, Idaho and Hammer Gun Worx in Exeter, California.

I contacted them on their facebook pages and their response was immediate: "Send it in!"

The next day, I sent my VP9 slide to Larry of J&L Machining for top serrations and porting. I also sent the frame to Wayne of Hammer Gun Worx for stippling.

Less than a month later, I had a chance to see the progress they both were making. The work completed by J&L Machining and Hammer Gun Worx was precisely what I wanted.

Now it was time for the cerakote. I tasked Hammer Gun Worx with this also. I am very picky and wanted a very custom color, grey with a hint of blue, but not baby blue. Wayne was up to the challenge and got it exactly right. Even the photos I shot really don’t do the cerakoting justice.

Once the VP9 back got back in my hands, I had to note the incredible quality of craftsmanship. J&L Machining’s work on the slide was incredible and precise. Hammer Gun Worx’s stippling was grippy and the cerakoting was perfect.

Photo Credit: David Thorson, TracerX Photography

Photo Credit: David Thorson, TracerX Photography

I took it back to the range to see what if any difference lightening the slide made. It made a great gun even better. The muzzle rise was reduced noticeably and follow up shots were indeed quicker than before.

Photo Credit: David Thorson, TracerX Photography

Photo Credit: David Thorson, TracerX Photography

The VP9 is one of those guns you grow to love at the first shot, but not at the first glance.

Photo Credit: David Thorson, TracerX Photography

About J&L Machine Works

J&L Machining Works, LLC is a family owned and operated business run by Larry and Jen Hardenbrook out of Chubbuck, Idaho. Larry runs the machinery and Jen takes care of the front end work. Larry has a degree in Machining Technology from Idaho State University. He has been machining for 14 years on everything from medical to aerospace and nuclear equipment. Larry loves hot rods and has hand-built many parts for his race car. He also loves guns so he started milling gun slides. Word about the quality of his craftsmanship quickly spread which caused that part of his business to explode. Larry is now living the dream of owning and operating his own machine shop.

Currently they offer slide serration work, porting, and building custom engraved Glock slide cover plates out of solid aluminum. The cover plates are actually engraved into the metal instead of laser etching the top surface. Glocks are their favorite because they are a good base for customizing the slide. Of course, the HK VP9 is a close 2nd.

Larry and Jen are currently expanding J&L Machining Works to become a top-notch shop for custom gun work. Visit J&L Machine Works online at www.jlmachiningworks.com. You can also find them on Facebook.

About Wayne Hammer

Wayne Hammer, owner of Hammer Gun Worx, does all the custom work for a gun shop called Exeter Gunslingers in Exeter, California. Wayne has been stippling and cerakoting guns full-time for about a year. The incredible demand for his work is proof of the passion he has and also shows that he is doing something right. Wayne also does grip chops, trigger guard undercuts, magazine release beveling, grip reductions, stippling, and very minor milling. He works on a variety of guns, but primarily Glocks and HK’s.

Get in touch with Wayne via the www.exetergunslingers.com website, or find Hammer Gun Worx on Facebook and on Instagram. Wayne's services are also available through C.a.R. Firearms.

* The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Guns & Tactics Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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