Heckler & Koch HK45c
The HK I wanted to love…
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The HK45c is essentially an updated USP45 Compact. This is something that piqued my interests since it came equipped with a standard 1913 rail. The only downside with the HK45c was that it was slightly larger in every dimension compared to the USP45 Compact. On that same note though it came with a standard 1913 rail and was $200 less… so how could I complain?
When you open the box your Heckler & Koch HK45c comes in, you will find yourself a branded lock, the gun itself, two magazines, one changeable back-strap option, and your standard paperwork. You also get additional O-Rings for the barrel in case you were to lose one along with two Heckler & Koch stickers
As you know from my USP Compact review, HK’s website might be a little bit off. For the sake of accurate data though we’ll go with the measurements and general specs they have published.
Frame Material: Polymer
Barrel Length: 3.94″
Overall Length: 7.24 inches
Height: 5.51 inches
Width: 1.54 inches
Weight: 28.48 ounces
The pistol’s barrel has HK’s famous polygonal rifling, phosphorescent faux night sights, and a steel guide rod with a captured recoil spring and buffer. Before the one thing that stood out on Heckler & Koch pistols was the recoil buffer that rides on the guide rod and recoil spring, but with the HK45c they added another item that’s unique. An O-Ring near the muzzle of the barrel, supposedly this improves the accuracy of the pistol, and tightens the lock-up between the barrel and the slide.
Before we move on, I really want to discuss the phosphorescent sights on this pistol… they obviously aren’t true night sights, but, these things are bright. After just a few seconds in sunlight, sitting in your window, or having a flashlight on them these things glow. On the left you will see what the sights look like charged (in over cast weather). On the right you will see how bright they are in absolute darkness. If this were to just be a range pistol, I would probably keep these sights on until the paint chipped off with how easy they are to pick-up.
Charge Time: 5 Seconds with smartphone flashlight
The Heckler & Koch HK45c is a big gun for a compact, but it’s also chambered for a bigger caliber so I can’t say you should expect any less. When I first ordered the HK45c, I did have the expectation of running it as one of my carry guns for the summer months. So far that hasn’t happened. One of the big reasons for that is because I haven’t bought any additional magazines to accompany the firearm. I also ran across something that I wasn’t…exactly thrilled with.
Internally, the Heckler & Koch HK45C shares some commonality with the USP line of pistols. As far as I can tell, the sear cage utilizes all of the same parts. I can confirm that it takes the same magazine release as the USP line of pistols, detent plates, and mags. It also has the same sight cut outs as the VP9/P30 so finding a different sight option shouldn’t be all that difficult. All in all, if you’re a Heckler & Koch fan this is something you will appreciate.
As far as shoot-ability goes, the HK45c is a soft shooter despite being a polymer framed compact pistol that is chambered for .45ACP. I figured that with it being a polymer framed compact, that it would have substantially more muzzle rise at the very least, but I didn’t run across that, and as such getting follow-up shots off is pretty easy. The stock phosphorescent sights are very easy to pick-up and they glow without very much exposure to sunlight. The run time on them I’ve found to be two hours, only dimming after about 45 minutes. The run time on them isn’t bad, but it still isn’t a substitute to night sights… but they do make for some easier shooting during the day. As far as the trigger goes though, the double action doesn’t seem to be as nice as it is on the USP line of pistols, but the single action is at least on the same level.
For ergonomics I have to say that this is a chunky gun in the hand and doesn’t feel as good as a USP Compact. The texturing on the front strap and rear strap is abrasive on the skin (if the gun is holstered). The texturing is also very lackluster in the grippy-ness department. The enlarged paddle release is a pleasant upgrade, however, the safety being larger than on the USP Compact is a bit of a drawback. With larger hands you might find your thumb hitting it inadvertently but it shouldn’t cause the safety to engage; of course this is a non-issue with the LEM models.
The slide release is easy to hit for both left and right handed people which is an improvement over the USP (right handed only). The only thing preventing this pistol from being completely ambidextrous is the safety/decocker. As with all HK’s though, you can get variants with the decocker/safety on the opposite side. One of the additions the HK45c has over the USP Compact is front slide serrations. They are nicely done if you are a fan of press checking your firearms.
If you’re new to TacCat, side view is a section that I exclusively put on my website. Here I give a summary of what people thought about the firearm. The people that I have play with these guns range from novice shooters to intermediate/experts in terms of capability. They also have a variety of hand sizes ranging from small to XL, so hopefully this should help you gauge if the firearm will fit you.
The newest shooter I had that shot it has relatively small hands. They ended up enjoying it more than most of the 9mms that I have had them shoot. The 1911 guys I know that got to shoot it were surprised at how soft it recoiled compared to their favorite full-sized all steel gun.
The only complaint I have had is from people with larger hands like myself, which is the safety/decocker lever smacking the thumb during recoil. They did not get the chance to see if they could grow accustomed to it however. Overall, this pistol does suit smaller framed people and larger framed people alike. Where concealed carry is concerned though, smaller framed people will run into some issues.
Ready for what kills the Heckler & Koch HK45c in my book and probably yours? Its that 1913 rail. I’m extremely surprised that this is even a point in my review considering Larry Vickers helped design this pistol. The HK45c is very close to the CZ SP-01 Tactical in size…but the rail was so poorly placed.
It cannot accept a Streamlight TLR-1 or a Surefire X300 without modification (two of the most popular WMLs). It also doesn’t work with the Olight PL-Mini (designed around the Glock 19) or the Streamlight TLR-7. As you can tell…your options are fairly limited as to what accessories you can attach to the rail. If mounting a light isn’t a requirement for you, then this won’t irk you as much. That said if you’re going to put a rail on a near full-sized pistol… why not design it to actually work with over half of the major light options on the market? Heckler & Koch, if you’re reading this, push that rail forward, and get rid of the dead space right by the muzzle.
The Heckler & Koch HK45c was a pistol that I loved when I got it, but over time I have began to regret the purchase to some extent, and as such it might not be staying with me much longer…if the market allows. From the not-so-great grip texturing to the light incompatibility, I just didn’t care for the HK45c.
On the bright side it had the $15 part upgraded that I want on the USP; the extended mag release. If you aren’t a fan of WMLs and it feels good in your hand though, I can’t say you would be wrong to buy it. If you’ve been on the fence with the Heckler & Koch HK45c I hope this short-term review helped. Remember everyone, do your research before you buy. Not doing your research will typically lead to some regrets down the road. As always, thanks for reading, and keep things practical out there.