HK VP70...The "First" Glock...
Ok, what do you think of when somebody says "High capacity, plastic wonder 9 with questionable sights and a crappy trigger"? Did you say "Glock"? If so you might be correct but they weren't the first to produce such a handgun.
HK came out with this one around 1970. This one was just given to me by my wife for our 10th year anniversary after she noticed it was conspicuously absent from my collection. She actually pulled a few of my HK reference books and went through them looking for guns I didn't yet have and then consulted with my friends about which ones would be best for my collection and the best places to find them. I think I married pretty well.
It was christened the Volks Pistole model 70 (people's pistol - kinda like that car for hippies) though some sources (not HK) claim it stands for Vollautomatische Pistole or "Fully automatic pistol." And this is based upon the fact that there are two VP70 models (the M which is a military select fire version and the Z (Zivil, civilian) version.
Despite being a "pistol for the masses" this one never really caught on, especially in America. And despite being the "first" polymer, high capacity (18+1) on the market it still left a lot to be desired. In addition to having some typical Euro features Americans hate such as the heel mag release and no slide lock (which even most Euro handguns have even if their SMGs do not) it has an abysmal DAO trigger pull similar to many revolver weights. I'm sure HK believed they were making a simple gun at the time.
30 years ago those who regularly carried DA revolvers didn't see too much wrong with the trigger but those who carried 1911s, P38s and Hi Powers generally considered them "god awful." In addition to the trigger (which I think most agree is the main reason the handgun never caught on) it had ridiculously absurd or fantastically advanced sights depending upon who you asked.
It was basically two polished ramps which created a "shadow" front sight and while interesting I don't think it is something I'd want to toy with in any kind of nighttime defensive shooting scenario. This is one of the few times when I think I'd actually prefer a standard plastic Glock front sight.
And on top of that the whole thing looked and felt kinda like a Hi Point with a big, clunky slide on a small frame. It is about as disproportionally out of balance as a P7M13 only in reverse. If only they could have somehow combined those two pistols they might have really had something.
Criticisms aside, it didn't shoot poorly, especially if the shooter was used to a long pull DA trigger. And it did look interesting in a way, almost futuristic (and it did make it's way into many films such as Aliens as a result). But I don't know a single person who made one their carry gun or a HD weapon. The HKP9S and the later P7 were far more popular.
Now certainly the military "M" version was far more useful in a limited James Bond capacity as a "handgun" SMG which becomes select fire by attaching the stock (which doubles as a holster like old Lugers and P35s). Certainly we made sillier things during the Cold War. And it is probably that pseudo military application which resulted in any of the civilian sales which were made at all.
Other than that the VP70s was far more successful as a concept firearm rather than a production model. In a lot of ways it was sort of like the old Borchardt C-93 where it laid the groundwork for the following successful firearms which borrowed and refined many ideas. Lord only knows what the Glock might have looked like if Gaston had to come up with all those concepts himself for the first time.
Last edited by SteyrAUG; 06-11-11 at 13:49.
It's hard to be a ACLU hating, philosophically Libertarian, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, scientifically grounded, agnostic, porn admiring gun owner who believes in self determination.
Chuck, we miss ya man.