I have always been a fan of most things German. This includes their cars, engineering, beer, sound systems and of course their guns. When buying a gun it’s more like marriage than anything else, as it is a very long and tedious process to obtain a license in South Africa, assuming that you qualify in the first place. Thus, when buying a gun it is not like buying a Big Mac, it’s more like searching for a wife. Make the wrong choice and you may end up regretting it for a long time…
My first interaction as a boy was with the Luger, the absolute legendary side-arm of the Nazi soldiers in World War 2. This gun is very cool and has a proper following, but is not what I was looking for as a self-defence pistol. I started doing my homework before buying a handgun and came up with three criteria: I wanted a gun that is unique, accurate and trustworthy. I experimented with the Beretta Model 92, Wahlter PPK, Glock 17 and also the CZ 75. Each gun was brilliant in its own right. The Beretta is a classic – you may recall that James Bond was very reluctant to hand his Beretta in when forced to carry a Wahlter PPK – and my first BB gun was modelled on a Beretta. The CZ 75 is a workhorse and looks better as it gains war scars, for me it’s the “AK47” among the group. The Glock is the most popular gun in the world, with reason. Its polymer frame is very lightweight, it has a gazillion accessories and it has an internal hammer, something which I fancy. ALL OF THESE, however, ticked 2 out of 3 boxes, the problem being: they are all as common as a white VW Polo, everybody either has one of the above or knows someone who has one. Enter the H&K…
Heckler and Koch is much more famous for its USP range of pistols, great weapons in their own right. The H&K p7 m13 is less common, and in fact, they are no longer manufactured.
In 1972 the German Police put out a tender for weapons manufacturers to produce a new handgun that is best suited for use by its active field agents after they found the 7.62mm pistol in use at the time absolutely inadequate, especially after the 1972 Munich Olympics Masacre. The new firearm was to meet the following requirements: chamber the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge, weigh no more than 1,000 g (35 oz), the pistol’s dimensions would not exceed 180 x 130 x 34 mm, it should have a muzzle energy of no less than 500 Joules and a service life of at least 10,000 rounds. The p7 was born and was initially dubbed “the PSP” which is an acronym for Police Service Pistol (OR Polizei-Selbstlade-Pistole if you are a purist). Proper production of the P7 started in 1979 and was eagerly adopted by the German Federal Police’s counter-terrorism unit (GSG 9) and the German Army’s special forces formations.
The P7 features a unique gas-delayed blowback locking system which uses gas pressures from the ignited cartridge and feed them through a small port in the barrel (in front of the chamber -see image below) that counteracts the rearward motion of the slide when a shot has fired. So in plain English, this means that there is much less recoil or muzzle jump, and you end up firing the pistol very rapidly with ease. With its fluted chamber, the P7 will extract and eject an empty shell even if the extractor is missing.
The second awesome feature of this pistol is the built-in cocking lever, which acts as the safety (there is no safety pin or switch on the gun other than this mechanism), activated by gripping the pistol handle.
The unique HK cocking lever allows the P7 to be carried safely with a round in the chamber, yet it is ready to fire by the intentional squeezing of the fingers around the grip. Releasing the cocking lever decocks the P7 immediately and renders it completely safe. Before the pistol can be fired, this lever (which feels like part of the pistol grip) must be squeezed. The advantage of this mechanism is that a would-be attacker may not be aware of this feature, meaning that you will probably not be shot by your own gun if someone takes it from you. As long as the lever is depressed, the weapon fires like any other semi-automatic pistol. If the lever is released, the weapon is immediately de-cocked and rendered safe. This method of operation dispensed the need for a manual safety selector, as mentioned above, while providing safety for the user carrying the pistol with a chambered round, and increased the speed with which the pistol could be deployed and fired. The order of operation is also not important, as the gun will also fire if the trigger is squeezed first and then the cocking lever.
The firearm uses a fixed, polygonal barrel which differs from traditional rifle barrels. Proponents of polygonal barrels argue that these barrels offer a “tighter fit” to the bullets, ensuring maximum velocity is maintained from the gas in the barrel behind the bullet. I just think it looks really cool!
This pistol is really unique in the sense that it is “made in West Germany”, has a gas cylinder which counteracts recoil, uses a very cool – and effective – cocking safety mechanism and has polygonal rifle barrelling. The pistol was discontinued due to the high costs involved in manufacturing it, however, I was fortunate enough to buy mine on an auction where not many people knew what it was really worth. In fact, the pistol was once the most expensive in the world:
To sum it all up, I fell in love with the German engineering behind this beast, and I have loved shooting with her from day one! This “squeeze-cocker” is the pistol I have the most confidence in handling, the one least likely to discharge during carry or handling, the one most likely to fire when asked to. I would advise anyone interested in buying a pistol to do proper research, good things come to those who are patient enough to search for the perfect fit.
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