H&K USP Review

The Heckler & Koch USP was released in 1993 and designed for the US market to target both law enforcement and civilian shooters.  However, the H&K USP became famous due to its use by US Special Forces (model MK23) and popularized in video games. The USP model is chambered in 9mm, 357 SIG, .40 S&W, & .45 ACP and is available in full size and compact models. The entry level variant of the USP can be purchased for $800 with prices for the USP MK23 being up to $2,000


The USP carries over the characteristics the previous H&K pistol offered and uses the John Browning cam-locked action first seen in the Browning Hi-Power. H&K was the first firearm manufacturer to use polymer as the frame of the pistol (H&K VP70). The USP Tactical models are shipped with a threaded barrel, match trigger, and higher sights to work in concert with a suppressor.


USP Custom Sport
USP Compact
USP Tactical
USP Compact Tactical
USP Expert
USP Match
USP Elite


  • Battle tested by the German military and US Special Forces.
  • Resale value high, due to scarcity.
  • Threaded Match Grade barrel requires no modifications.
  • Extremely accurate out of the box.
  • Excellent trigger.
  • Lower recoil felt by shooter.


  • Newer Polymer competitors are cheaper.
  • Design is starting to show its age.
  • Bulkier than the competition.
  • Lives on the H&K name for high price.


Variants 1 and 2 (double action/single action, decocking and safety lever)
Variants 1 (lever on left) and 2 (lever on right) allow the user to carry the pistol in a single-action mode (cocked and locked) with the manual safety engaged. This same pistol, without modification, can be carried in double-action mode, with or without the manual safety engaged, and with the benefit of a decocking lever.
Variants 3 and 4 (double action/single action, decocking lever, but no safety)
Variants 3 (lever on left) and 4 (lever on right) provide the user with a frame-mounted decocking lever that does not have the "safe" position. This combination only allows the hammer to be lowered from SA position to DA position. It does not provide the "safe" position to prevent the pistol from firing when the trigger is pulled.
Variants 5 and 6 (double action only, with safety lever)
For the double action only user, variants 5 (lever on left), 6 (lever on right), and of the USP operate as double action only pistols with a bobbed hammer always returning to the DA position (forward) after each shot is fired. To fire each shot, the trigger must be pulled through the smooth DA trigger pull. Variants 5 and 6 have a manual safety lever.
Variants 7 and 8 (double action only, no control lever)
No control lever is provided on variant 7. Variant 8 is similar to variant 7.
Variants 9 and 10 (double action/single action, safety lever, but no decocking)
Variants 9 (lever on left) and 10 (lever on right) allow the shooter to carry the pistol in a single-action mode (cocked and locked) with the manual safety engaged. This same pistol, without modification, can be carried in double-action mode (hammer down), with or without the manual safety engaged. The double action mode offers a second strike/double action capability in case of a misfire. The control lever has no decocking function on variants 9 and 10 so one would have to carefully lower the hammer manually.
LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) Trigger
Developed especially for the U.S. government, the Law Enforcement Modification (or LEM for short), is a USP DAO (Double-Action Only) model with a unique trigger mechanism. This mechanism improves the double action trigger performance and reduces the weight of the DAO trigger pull to 7.5-8.5 pounds, utilizes a stronger hammer spring, and shortens the trigger reset. Aside from the LEM mechanism, it is identical to the USP Variant 7 (DAO) model.

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