Heckler & Koch VP70

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Heckler & Koch VP70
VP70Z variant
Type Machine pistol
Place of origin West Germany
Service history
Used by See Users
Production history
Designed 1970
Manufacturer Heckler & Koch
Produced 1970–1989
Variants VP70M, VP70Z
Weight 820 grams (28.9 oz) empty
Length 204 millimetres (8.0 in)
Barrel length 116 millimetres (4.6 in)
Height 142 millimetres (5.6 in)

Cartridge 9×19mm Parabellum
9×21mm IMI (VP70Z only)
Action Blowback
Rate of fire 2200 rounds/min (3-round burst mode)
Effective firing range 50 m
Feed system 18-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[1][2][3] (literally "People's Pistol"), and the designation 70 was for the first year of production: 1970.


VP70 with stock

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. (Although the Remington Nylon 66 rifle introduced in 1959 was the first polymer-framed firearm in production.) At 820 g (28.9 oz) unloaded, the weapon is lighter than most metal framed pistols of the time.
  • As on the Mauser C96 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 2200 rounds per minute cyclic rate of fire.
  • The VP70 uses a spring-loaded striker like a Glock, instead of a conventional firing pin.
  • 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.

Contrary to a common misconception, the VP70 does indeed have a manual safety. It is the circular button located immediately behind the trigger and is a common crossblock safety.


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. While the "Z" version originally has no provision to mount the stock, it can be fitted after minor alterations to the handgrip.

Four hundred VP70Z 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. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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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