The Heckler and Koch 45 Compact is a medium-frame semi-automatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP. It’s a smaller variant of the HK45. HK recommend the HK45C for self defense, military and law enforcement use.
|Sights:||Fixed 3-dot night sights<br />Fixed 3-dot sights|
|Features:||Ambidextrous magazine and slide release; safety acts as decocker; interchangeable back strap; front slide serrations; and Picatinny rail|
|Trigger:||Double-action only<br />Double-action/single-action|
|Slide Material:||Steel/matte black|
|Frame Material:||Polymber/tan<br />Polymer/black|
The HK45 Compact is a head turner. I rarely use the word “sleek” in good conscious, but that’s what it is. And it must be difficult turning a pistol meant for utility into something attractive, but that’s what Heckler and Koch does. They make the Cadillacs of polymer-framed pistols.
And it was nice of HK to send Guns.com the HK45C to test.
In the beginning there was HK, and HK knew the US military…
The HK45C came about because its big brother, the HK45, was developed as a possible candidate for the US Military Joint Combat Pistol program in 2006, which aimed to replace the M9, but was ultimately shot down. In the end no one actually won because nothing was selected to replace it. HK continued with their business plan and began selling it on the commercial market and winning contracts for various law enforcement and military agencies. And just like with all their pistols, HK made a smaller variant, the HK45C, for those who want it, and it was, coincidentally, picked up by US Naval Special Warfare Command in late 2010, so SEALS and shit. (For a list of other Special Operational Forces’ gear, click here). Funny how in life things seem to go full circle.
Haven’t I seen that before?
At first glance, the HK45C looks identical the HK USP Compact, in fact, I was a little disappointed when I saw the 45C because I thought the only difference between the two was an interchangeable back strap.
Yet there are differences – subtle differences, but differences none-the-less. The aesthetic differences include front slide serrations, different texture on the grip, ambidextrous slide release, and a Picatinny rail. For practical purposes these features are great, but, except for the grip texture, they don’t really affect how the pistol functions.
The features that do…
It comes standard with three-dot sights, but the particular model that was tested had night sights. It didn’t make much of a difference because all the shooting tests done for the review were performed outside during the day or in an indoor range with sufficient lighting. The only time the night sights were noticeable was when our video shoot was ending near sundown.
Although it was easy to see the sights, the sight radius seems short for a .45 just 5.58”, so a slight jerk of the trigger plus the recoil on a smaller gun could easily throw off a round’s trajectory. It’s not a complaint, it’s a note. I bring it up because, for a little while, I thought the sights were off just a tad because it was going down and to the left. Not just with me, but with Aaron Samsel and Chris Callahan. But after reviewing the targets and our videos, I favor shooter error over equipment failure. (Advice: blame yourself before the gun). The gun itself has a cold hammer forged barrel, which is known for being accurate as well as being durable, and it has an overall sturdy design.
The HK45C has two of my favorite features on a compact: a double-action/single-action trigger and a long grip.
Like the USP Compact, the HK45C is hammer fired and its safety lever doubles as a de-cocker. All that has to happen is the safety needs to be swiped down and it’ll set the trigger for double, but just for that first pull. The double-action pull isn’t bad. Tension can be felt the entire way back.
Some may like the length of the grip for a compact, others may not. That’s just the way of the world, but I think everyone can agree, for most hands, the HK45C’s grip has enough length for a firm and stable hold.
Small Gun, Big Recoil?
According the HK’s website, the HK45C’s “unique internal mechanical recoil reduction system reduces the recoil forces imparted to the weapon and shooter by as much as 30 percent, improving shooter control during rapid firing and increasing component service life.”
Perhaps it’s because I’m not an engineer, but I’m not exactly sure what the “unique internal mechanical recoil reduction system” is. However, the recoil was rather mild. I had theorized that its weight and thick polymer frame tamed the recoil rather than some internal mechanism. It weighs more than 1.5 pounds unloaded.
And yes we did rapid fire.
Afterward my hands didn’t feel sore and the jump wasn’t that bad.
On a side note, since I had it for a few weeks I did bring it on a recreational shoot were a gent assumed the recoil was rather harsh because of the bulk of the round and sound of the blast, but when he fired it he was pleasantly surprised. He said it has less recoil than his full size Beretta 96.
I shot the HK45C on three separate occasions and I shot a lot, I mean a lot of rounds through it. Mostly having fun destroying paper targets or pop bottles, but we managed to do some actual testing too.
We tested it out at 15 feet, 25 feet and 50 feet under the blistering Illinois sun at a hunting club in a remote area. In the winter it’s typically stocked with pheasants, but in the summer it’s full of wild cranes, hawks, coyotes and the occasional field mouse. Here’s what we were able to find out:
The HK45 Compact has an MSRP of $1147 and it really is worth it. Honestly, if you’re in the market for a compact .45 than yes, I would recommend it. You only need one and you’ll probably never need a new one. It’ll always be a nice gun.
Yet, I still favor the USP Compact in 9mm because it is a bit more manageable in turn accurate for me. But, hey, nothing a little practice couldn’t fix.