Heckler & Koch VP70

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Heckler & Koch VP70
VP70Z variant
TypePistol / Machine pistol
Place of originWest Germany
Service history
Used bySee Users
Production history
ManufacturerHeckler & Koch
VariantsVP70M, VP70Z
Mass820 grams (28.9 oz) empty
Length204 millimetres (8.0 in)
Barrel length116 millimetres (4.6 in)
Width32 millimetres (1.3 in)[1]
Height142 millimetres (5.6 in)

Cartridge9×19mm Parabellum
9×21mm IMI (VP70Z only)
Rate of fire2200 rounds/min (three-round-burst mode)
Effective firing range50 m
Feed system18-round box magazine

The VP70 is a 9×19mm, 18-round, double action only, semi-automatic/three-round burst capable polymer frame pistol manufactured by German arms firm Heckler & Koch GmbH. VP stands for Volkspistole[2][3][4] (literally "People's Pistol"), and the designation 70 was for the first year of production, 1970.


The VP70 combined a number of design features that were innovative, or at least very unusual for its time:

  • It was the first polymer-framed handgun, predating the Glock 17 by 12 years. At 820 g (28.9 oz) unloaded, the weapon is lighter than most metal framed pistols of the time.
  • It has a double-stack, double-feed magazine; double-feed magazines are uncommon for pistols even today. These magazines hold 18 rounds, a rather high capacity for its original production time.
  • As on the Mauser C96 and the Lahti L35, the stock was designed to be used as a holster when not mounted. On the military version of the VP70 this combination includes a unique feature: when mounted, a selective-fire switch, located on the stock, allows switching the weapon to a three-round-burst mode, with a 2,200 rounds per minute cyclic rate of fire.
  • The VP70 uses a spring-loaded striker like a Glock, instead of a conventional hammer.
  • It is double-action only, so the trigger pull is relatively heavy.
  • In lieu of a blade front sight, the VP70 uses a polished ramp with a central notch in the middle to provide the illusion of a dark front post.
  • The barrel has very deeply cut rifling; this was done to purposely vent gas past the bullet, placing less gas pressure on the slide, a critical part of the VP70's direct blowback function. This also results in slightly reduced bullet velocity when compared to other pistols with similar, or even slightly shorter barrel length.[5][6]


VP70 with stock

The handgun comes in two varieties. The "M" (Militär, military) variant is selective-fire (semi-auto/three-round bursts), the "Z" (Zivil, civilian) variant is a semi-automatic-only version. The VP70Z has no provision to attach the stock, and also lacks the internal mechanical parts required for the burst-fire function even if the stock was attached. The VP70Z also has a crossbolt safety right behind the trigger; on the VP70M this is replaced with a non-functional plug, relying only on the heavy double-action trigger for safety.

Four hundred VP70Zs were made in 9×21mm IMI; these samples were made primarily for the civilian market of Italy, where the use of the 9×19mm Parabellum is permitted only to military and law enforcement agencies. All of the VP70Z pistols sold to Italy had the provision to mount the stock, but still lacked the three-round-burst firing capability.



  1. ^ Heckler & Koch VP 70Z Specifications (at Remtek) at the Wayback Machine (archived 1 January 2013)
  2. ^ Kersten, Manfred; Schmid, Walter (1999). HK- Die Offizielle Geschichte der Oberndorfer Firma Heckler & Koch [The Official History of the Oberndorf Firm Heckler & Koch] (in German). Weispfennig. ISBN 978-3000050916.
  3. ^ David Higginbotham. "The HK VP70 The First Polymer Framed Pistol". Guns.com. Retrieved 2013-11-10. HK says the VP [...] means Volks Pistole or People’s Pistol [...] This is where another (erroneous) name for the pistol comes from. Vollautomatische Pistole.
  4. ^ Jack Lewis (2007). The Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons (7th ed.). Iola, Wis.: Gun Digest Books. p. 250. ISBN 978-1-4402-2652-6. Around 1970, Heckler & Koch developed the selective-fire VP70 (VolksPistole: People's Pistol) with the reported hope that it would be chosen to arm village militias in Vietnam.
  5. ^ "HK VP70 bullet velocity test". Archived from the original on 2021-12-12.
  6. ^ "The H&K VP70 Machine Pistol - Firearms News".
  7. ^ a b c Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35th edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.

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