Designed to be a compact defensive handgun, Heckler & Koch's new .45C fits the requirements of a concealed carry handgun or police service pistol. With an overall length of 7.2'', height of 5.59'' and a width of 1.42'', this gun is truly compact but large enough to ride in a uniformed duty holster. Like the company's USP pistol, the HK .45C can be purchased with any one of 10 trigger systems. The one I reviewed came with the Law Enforcement Modification (LEM) trigger that offers a short length, hammer fired, double-action-only mechanism that's easy to train with and shoot.
The LEM is my preferred action because it's easy to use. Other triggers offer decocks and safety levers for both right and left hand shooters, but I fail to see the attraction. The HK .45C comes standard with an enlarged and contoured ambidextrous magazine release, as well as slide-lock levers on both sides of the gun, so the LEM makes this a true ambidextrous pistol.
To offer the power of the .45 cartridge in a compact and controllable package, HK integrated an effective recoil reduction system into the pistol's design. This system can potentially cut as much as 30 percent of the gun's recoil, an important feature for rapid follow-up shots.
Both the .45C and its big brother, the HK .45, are rated for +P ammo and offer a service life of at least 20,000 rounds. Both pistols also have polygonal rifling in the barrel and a rubber O ring at the muzzle for increased slide-to-barrel lock, which improves accuracy, velocity and service life.
A crucial feature on any service handgun is high-visibility sights. The HK .45C LEM is equipped with a set of swept back, three-dot sights, which are filled with Luminova. Luminova is a chemical compound that glows in the dark once it's introduced to a light source for a few seconds. The initial glow is four times as bright as tritium, which makes them very easy to see in all light levels. Many view these sights as a cheap way to offer a gun without the more expensive tritium sights, but this isn't true. HK's guns are sold all around the world, and in many countries, tritium sights are illegal, so HK offers the Luminova sights as standard.
Slide & Grip
The grip has multiple backstraps built into a thin grip frame, which has fine stippling on both the front and back straps. This rough texture does a great job of holding your hand, especially in rain or when your hands are sweaty or (heaven forbid) bloody. The frame is manufactured from a high-strength polymer originally created by HK engineers for the VP70Z and the P9S pistols. While designing their pistol for the Mark 23 SOCOM pistol project, they labored to make the formula even stronger and now offer the strongest polymer frame in the industry.
The frame has a picatinny rail incorporated into the dust cover to receive white lights and laser sights, a feature popular among those who face threats in reduced or inconsistent light environments. Anyone who has ever operated a handgun while holding a flashlight in their support hand quickly realizes they are shooting with one hand. A gun-mounted light frees the shooter to wrap both hands around the pistol grip, reload or clear malfunctions, which enhances both accuracy and efficiency.
The .45C's slide is certainly sleeker and more concealable than the blocky USP Compact slide. Rear and forward cocking serrations are cut into the slide so a shooter can get a solid grip anytime they grip the slide. Some people claim the forward serrations are unnecessary and the forward "press-check" is unsafe. If you pay attention to what you're doing whenever you have a gun in your hand, unfortunate situations can be avoided. Safe firearms handling is a function of the brain and nothing else.
Testing & Evaluation
I started my evaluation by testing the gun's accuracy with various ammo styles. This is a defensive firearm, so I chose ammo I knew would be a good choice based on testing and street results. I also measured the velocity of each load from the short, compact barrel, because I thought this would be interesting to readers. (See HK .45 Accuracy on p. 10.)
Note: Accuracy was tested by resting the HK .45C on a Hornady Delta Rest and shooting five rounds at 25 yards. The group was measured from the center of the two widest hits. Muzzle velocity was measured by shooting five rounds across the screens of a Shooting Chrony chronograph placed eight feet from the muzzle. I've listed an average of the five rounds.
I had no malfunctions at all with the test gun. It fed everything I put through it and was a real pleasure to shoot. I see the HK .45C as a great compromise between a plainclothes and uniform duty gun for an agency that wants to issue a pistol for both operations. It's a well made pistol that's both durable and easy to maintain.
HK .45 ACCURACY
Ammo Bullet Weight/Style Accuracy Velocity
Extreme Shok 185-gr. hollow point (HP) 3.25 inches 1,029 fps
Speer 230-gr. Gold Dot HP 2.50 inches 801 fps
Hornady 230-gr. TAP CQ 2.50 inches 827 fps
Winchester 230-gr. Bonded HP 3.25 inches 853 fps
Corbon 230-gr. +P HP 2.75 inches 937 fps
Federal 230-gr. +P EFMJ 2.25 inches 940 fps
HK .45 COMPACT
- Fits the requirements of a concealed or police service pistol;
- Comes equipped with bright Luminova sight; and
- Durable and easy to maintain.
- The push-down lever magazine release is not as ergonomic as the traditional push-in button.
Heckler & Koch
7661 Commerce Lane
Trussville, AL 35173