The Heckler & Koch USP (Universelle Selbstladepistole, Universal self-loading pistol in German) is a German pistol. This pistol was developed by Heckler & Koch to replace the P7 pistols. The USP is the current sidearm of the German Bundswehr, where it is known as the P8.
Originally designed in 1989 by Helmut Weldle, the USP was designed with US law enforcement agencies and commercial markets in mind. The USP was later used in conjunction with other Heckler & Koch prototypes which were tested in the US Offensive Handgun Weapon System program. It was formally introduced into the market in 1993, originally chambered in .40 S&W, with a 9×19mm Parabellum version following shortly after, and a version in .45 ACP introduced in 1995.
The USP, in stark contrast to other Heckler & Koch pistol designs, like the P7 and P9S, it uses a standard Browning Hi-Power-esque short recoil action in a polymer frame. The weapon's lock up system has a big rectangular lug located over the barrel's chamber which will engage the ejection port cutout in the slide. When fired, pressure is generated by the ignited powder in the cartridge; this pushes the casing at the back against the breech face of the slide, and flings it out of the weapon. This flings the barrel and slide backwards, which remain locked together; a small lug on the underside of the barrel will come into contact with a hooked locking block which lowers the end of the barrel and prevents the barrel from moving further rearwards. The slide stop axis pin holds the recoil spring assembly in place, with the locking surface of the front locking lug tapered with a forward slope; for more efficiency in high-dust environments or something of the like, the taper in the locking lug produces a camming action which assists in positive lockup of the weapon in the presence of lots of dust and debris.
The USP also has a unique recoil reduction system, incorporated into the recoil spring system, and consists of a very heavy captive coil spring coiled around the guide rod, used to primarily buffer the slide and barrel and reduce the recoil wear on other pistol components. Major components used to manufacture the USP are made of corrosion-resistant material. It consists of 54 parts, and is broken down into 7 major components for field-stripping.
Click "Expand" to see all variants.
Standard, full-sized pistol.
- Variants 1 and 2
Has a decocking and safety lever. Can fire in both double- and single-action.
- Variants 3 and 4
Same as Variants 1 and 2, but lacks the safety lever.
- Variants 5 and 6
Has a safety lever. Fires in double-action only.
- Variant 7
Double-action variant with no control lever.
- Variant 8
Prototype variant that was never produced. Scarce information is available, but one source states that is is just a Variant 7 with night sights.
- Variants 9 and 10
Same as Variants 1 and 2, but lacks the decocking lever.
- Law Enforcement Modification variant with Combat Defense Action trigger
A USP double-action only model with a unique trigger which reduces the weight of the trigger pull.
- USP Custom Sport
Identical to the normal USP, except with a match-grade barrel.
- USP Compact
Scaled down version of the full-sized USP. Available in all the same cartridges as its full-sized brother.
- USP Tactical
Full-size USP with a fully-adjustable rear sight, an extended barrel with threading for a suppressor, a higher-profile front sight to allow for a better sight picture when a suppressor is attached and a match-grade trigger among other modifications.
- USP Compact Tactical
Developed for US Special Forces use, the USP Compact Tactical is basically the same as the USP Tactical, except in a smaller package.
- USP Expert
Full-sized USP with all the features of the USP Tactical bar the threaded barrel. Introduced in 1998.
- USP Match
Discontinued variant that is practically identical to the USP Expert, with the exception of the threaded barrel replaced with a barrel weight to provide recoil counterbalance to aid target tracking. This variant was discontinued in 1999.
- USP Elite
An amalgamation of the Tactical, Expert and Match models with a 6.02 inches (15.3 centimetres) barrel and an extended slide.