HK P2000 review: The Better USP Compact

The HK P2000 is a polymer framed semi auto pistol available in both 9mm and .40 S&W. Designed for  law enforcement and concealed carry market, the P2000 comes equipped with a number of advanced design features that make it stand out from the competition. Our HK P2000 review will cover the most important ones, while also examining this popular handgun more closely.

Unlike many polymer framed pistols on the market today, the HK P2000 is a hammer fired gun, and comes in quite a few configurations, mostly revolving around the seemingly endless trigger options HK offers on these guns, but we’ll look at those in a minute.

First, let’s start going down the list of HK P2000 models…

The HK P2000 Review

HK P2000

This standard base model from which all P2000 variants are based. All P2000 variants have certain things in common, including three interchangeable backstraps, six interchangeable side grip panels, cold hammer forged polygon rifled bore (more about that later), machined steel slide, and standard Picatinny accessory rail.

From there, the various P2000’s diverge in different ways, but let's get on with our basic HK P2000 review.

The P2000 is a pretty standard service pistol, or even concealed carry gun, but some might find it a tad bulky. Along with the aforementioned standard features, there is also a crazy array of different trigger and hammer configurations that  carry over to other P2000 models.

P2000 Trigger Variants

There are an almost unhealthy number of trigger variants for all P2000 models that almost border on German obsessiveness, and sometimes differ only in the trigger pull.

The Law Enforcement Modification or LEM trigger is so unique, we’ll be looking at it much more closely. It is a unique trigger designed for fast follow-up shots. HK lists this as the V0 trigger.

There are two other variants of the LEM triggers. The V1 trigger has no exposed hammer, or decocker button. The V2 trigger is just a heavier pull than the V1.

The V3 trigger is a traditional double/single action trigger with a decocking lever and exposed hammer.

Proof that German engineering has gone too far, the V4 trigger is just a trigger weight variant of the V1 and V2 triggers.

For shooters wanting a double action only trigger, the V5 trigger is what you are looking for.

While it is nice for HK to offer so many nearly identical triggers, differing only in pull weight, it is questionable if such minor variants are required. But then again, they never were keen on aftermarket support for their guns, so I guess it makes sense to catalog a million minor variants. Plus they sell these things to European police agencies, and who knows what kind of weird requirements they have.

Bottom line, for most shooters or cops, nobody will be looking at anything but a basic V0, V1 V3 or V5 triggers. Everything else is just redundant, but we’ll talk more about triggers in a minute.

The rest of the P2000 is pretty standard. It holds 13 9mm rounds or 10 .40 rounds in a factory mag, and 10 round 9mm mags are available for states with restrictive capacity limits. The P2000 has a 3.7 inch barrel, is 6.8” long, and a comfy 5 inches tall, making it a pretty decent duty pistol, and suitable for many concealed carry or home defense tasks. But there is a more compact version available...

The HK P2000SK Review

HK P2000SK

Of course we have an HK P2000SK review! This neat little compact version of the P2000 is designed for concealed carry, or where a smaller and more compact service pistol is desired, while still retaining all the features you expect in the full size version.

At just barely over 4.5” tall, the P2000SK is is your new little friend for concealed carry. Shipping with a factory 10 round mag, it also accepts the standard capacity magazines of the full size P2000. The 3.26” barrel is about half an inch shorter than the standard P2000, so you don’t lose much velocity or power out of the shorter barrel, but still gain an easily tucked away gun.

Beyond that, the P2000SK has all the standard features and options available on any other P2000 model, which we’ve already gone over.

Because it is a more compact pistol, you’ll find it is as much at home under your shirt or jacket as it is in a bedside table, or hidden away in your vehicle for lawful concealed carry. And of course it is ideal for law enforcement and security personnel who require a more concealable service weapon.

The HK P2000 V3 Review

HK P2000 V3

An HK P2000 V3 review is going to be a bit boring. Why? Because it’s a standard P2000 with a minor modification, and we’ve already looked at the P2000. But just what is the V3 modification and why might you want it?

The P2000 V3 has a single action/double action (SA/DA) trigger, with a decocking lever mounted on the side of the gun. There is an external, spurred hammer which can be manually cocked for a single action shot, or fired in double action mode by simply releasing the safety and pulling the trigger.

The decocker allows safely dropping the hammer without firing a round, and is useful when you have only fired a few shots, or cocked the  hammer and no longer want it cocked.

Traditionally, guns with exposed hammers are decocked by gently lowering the trigger by placing a thumb on it to control the drop, and then pulling the trigger. While with practice this is a smooth and relatively safe method, it does come with some risks, and is better left in the world of revolvers and 1911 style single action semi auto pistols.

The P2000 V3 eliminates any safety risk when you choose to lower the hammer and return to double action mode by offering a simple and easy to use decocking lever which prevents the hammer from striking the firing pin. This is probably one of the most useful configurations of the various P2000 models, and extremely practical from an ease of use and safety standpoint.

HK’s LEM Trigger

Now on to the famous, and much loved LEM trigger. Our various HK P2000 reviews have looked at the three main model variants, and the V3 version of the standard P2000. So now it’s time to take a look at the LEM trigger and why you might want to have it on your P2000.

LEM stands for Law Enforcement Modification, and was designed for a United States government agency.

One might describe the LEM trigger as a compromise between a standard double action only (DAO) trigger and the advantages of a striker fired trigger. You see, on most DAO triggers, there is a long trigger pull that gets progressively stiffer and harder, as the hammer mainspring compresses. This builds up, until the trigger reaches the end of its travel, and engages the sear, dropping the hammer.

On a striker fired gun, the trigger simply is there to engage the sear, which drops the striker. This means the pull weight is consistent throughout the trigger pull, which makes it easier, and more accurate to shoot. Striker fired guns often offer a better trigger pull than most DAO guns.

However, some agencies and shooters prefer a DAO trigger for various perceptions of safety – particularly since many striker fired guns are built without traditional external safeties, and rely on a variety of passive and internal safety mechanisms.

Enter the LEM trigger. How do  you get the consistent smooth pull of a striker fired gun, with a DAO pistol? Well, it took a bit of German engineering magic, but the good folks at HK “pulled” it off. The bottom line is if you want striker fired performance on your P2000, you’ll want to get the LEM trigger. The good  news is that conversion kits are available, so you can always change your existing P2000 over to the LEM trigger in a few minutes with simple tools.

9mm vs .40 S&W

If you want to start an internet argument, asking people which caliber they like more – 9mm or .40 is a surefire way to get one going. In fact, it might spark more heated debate than politics! Well… maybe not, but pretty darn close.


The 9mm cartridge has been around for over a century, and over time has grown in power with the advent of overpressure +p and +p+ loads. Combined with modern, high performance hollowpoint bullets, the 9mm has become a rather potent round.

The .40 S&W was born out of the FBI’s desire for a more powerful handgun. Derived from the 10mm Auto, it is a compromise round that on paper is more powerful than 9mm, but easier to shoot than the heavy hitting 10mm. And here is where the debate comes in…

Which is the better round? Some studies show that when using quality self defense or hollowpoint ammo, there is no real difference between the two rounds. This makes fans of the 9mm happy. On the other hand, there is something to be said for the larger and heavier .40 round. After all, physics still is a thing, and a bigger, heavier bullet will usually make a bigger, nastier hole.

But the 9mm can hold more ammo in a given space than the .40, so if you want the most rounds possible in your gun, 9mm wins out every time. However if you are limited by magazine capacity laws, then this becomes a moot point.

Ultimately, assuming high quality ammo, there is probably no real difference between the two rounds. But if magazine capacity matters, 9mm wins out. Otherwise, pick the round that is easiest for you to shoot and call it good.

Which HK P2000 is best for you?

Well, that’s somewhat subjective, unless you happen to need a concealed carry sized P2000, at which point, the P2000 SK is going to be your best bet.

Otherwise, you really only have one other choice, and that is the standard P2000, with one of many different trigger configurations. And of course you can choose between 9mm and .40 caliber.

And really, that’s about it for choices on the P2000. You can go with the standard size model, and equip it with a number of hammer and trigger configurations (we like the V3 version by the way, it offers a traditional SA/DA configuration, with external hammer that is quite frankly timeless) or you can get the compact SK version for concealed carry.

Frankly, the lack of different models is just fine. A duty sized pistol and a concealed carry sized gun are enough, and when you start making a zillion variants to the theme it just gets weird, and HK does that enough already with the different trigger and hammer configurations.

Our final thoughts

The HK P2000 is a straightforward, no nonsense handgun suitable for law enforcement, security, concealed carry, and home protection. In fact, it really is an all purpose gun that meets the needs of any legal gun owner. It is built to a high degree of precision and tolerance using some of the best materials available for the job, and offers an unparalleled level of customization to achieve optimal ergonomics for the individual shooter.

With two basic models available in two popular law enforcement and self defense calibers, plus several trigger options, there is a P2000 available for pretty much anyone. The addition of a factory standard accessory rail makes it even easier to fit a light or laser to your P2000, which enhances its utility for security or personal protection use.

In other words, the HK P2000 is German design and engineering done right for the 21st century. If you look closely, you can see a hundred years of traditional handgun design, but the P2000 is clearly a pistol for the modern day built with modern materials for modern gun owners.

1 thought on “HK P2000 review: The Better USP Compact”

  1. I carried a P2000, LEM, .40S&W, the last 8 years with a federal agency. I was extremely pleased with the weapon and the manual of arms.
    The \”paddle\” magazine release criticized by some gives additional protection against accidental releases when wearing winter gloves. Once used to it (motor muscle memory), I really came to appreciate the feature.
    Now retired, I still carry this H&K (personal purchase). It is comfortable to carry IWB or OWB, very reliable and accurate.


Leave a Comment