Umarex HK P30 review

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The HK P30 seems to be one of the least regarded Umarex pellet-firing replicas.  It’s the less interesting cousin to such fine guns as the Umarex Colt 1911, Beretta 92 or even the Walther CP-99.  Why is this?  Is the P30 is somehow worse than other Umarex guns?  Is there something intrinsically wrong with it, or does it just suffer in comparison to other more popular pistols?  This review is an attempt to answer some of these questions.

Real steel background

Heckler and Koch was founded in 1949 by Edmond Heckler, Alex Seidel and Theodore Koch, former wartime engineers with Mauser Werke.  H&K was registered in 1950 and established in Oberndorf am Neckar in what was then West Germany.  Initially the company produced sewing machines and parts for the machine tool industry, but since 1956 H&K has been producing firearms for customers including the US Department of Homeland Security, the British Army and police forces in Germany, Switzerland and Holland.  In 1991 the company encountered financial difficulties following cancellation of German government contracts for the G41 Assault Rifle and G11 Caseless Rifle System.  H&K was then bought over by the Royal Ordnance Factory, a subsidiary of British Aerospace.  In 2002 BAE Systems (as it had then become) sold the company to a group of private investors who formed a holding company (HK Beteiligungs GmbH) which currently controls H&K.  HK tend to produce expensive but very high quality handguns and this is reflected in the company tagline: “No compromise“.

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The HK factory

The HK P30 pistol is a fully ambidextrous, polymer framed, short recoil operated, locked breech pistol which is currently used by a number of European law enforcement agencies as their principal service sidearm.  It has a good reputation for reliability (in a recent test, a P30 fired over 91,000 rounds without any major component failures) and is a development of technology first seen on the HK USP Compact.

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HK P30S

Several variants are available including a DA/SA version, a DA only version incorporating the HK Law Enforcement Modification (LEM) trigger system, the P30S which features an external ambidextrous safety lever on both sides of the rear frame and the P30L with a longer barrel.  The grip on all versions is customizable through the use of alternate backstraps and side panels.  The slide and magazine release are fully ambidextrous (as is the external safety, where fitted).

The Umarex HK P30

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The Umarex HK P30 is a fully licensed replica.  It is constructed of metal and polymer composites in the appropriate places.  It follows the pattern of other Umarex pellet firing replicas in having an eight-shot rotary pellet holder which is hidden inside the front part of the slide, and accessed by operating the left side slide release which allows the front of the slide to move forward.  However, unlike other Umarex replicas, the P30 stores CO2 in a full-size, drop-out magazine and provides an additional feature in that it can shoot steel 4.5mm BBs as well as .177 pellets.

Spec;

Calibre: .177 (pellet), 4.5mm (BB)

Capacity: eight pellets in rotary holder/15 steel BBs in magazine

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 3.3″, rifled

Weight: 1.7 pounds

Length:7.1″

Sights: Rear sight adjustable for windage  only

Action: SA/DA

Packaging and presentation  4/5

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The HK P30 is provided in a nice quality black hard-case lined with eggshell foam.  It comes with a brief user manual, drop-out magazine, two rotary pellet holders, allen key for sight adjustment, a pellet tamping tool, spare magazine feed lip and a blanking piece to allow BB shooting.

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Visual accuracy  7/10

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HK P30 (left), Umarex HK P30 (right)

The overall profile and contours of the Umarex P30 closely match the real weapon, and the replica correctly includes HK P30 markings on the front left of the slide.  The hammer, trigger, decocker and magazine release are all accurate copies from the original.  However, when you look more closely, there are a couple of things that mar the visual accuracy.  The first is a pronounced and very visible gap between the fixed rear and moving front part of the slide.  This is much more noticeable than on other similar Umarex replicas such as the Colt 1911 and Walther CP88.  The second anomaly is the safety catch.  The P30S has ambidextrous safety levers on either side of the rear frame (most other variants don’t have a manual safety).  The safety catch lever is a distinctive feature of many HK pistols, and I don’t see why, if they wanted to provide a safety on this pistol, Umarex couldn’t have replicated this?

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Top – safety catch and slide release on HK P30S

Bottom – safety catch (arrowed), slide release and slide gap on Umarex HK P30

On the replica, for some reason the safety is a plastic bar which slides across the rear part of the slide.  When the pistol is safe, the bar lies flush with the left side of the slide.  When it’s ready to fire, the bar projects to the left and a red line is visible.  It’s a perfectly workable safety, but it looks nothing like the original.  A minor additional issue is that the slide release on the left of the replica also doesn’t match the profile of the original – it almost looks upside down compared to the original.  The non-functioning moulded release on the right is a better match for the shape of the original.

Viewed from a few paces away, this looks like a good visual replica of the original.  However, details spoil it.  The quirky safety catch is odd and looks nothing like the original and the gap between the rear and front parts of the slide is very evident.

Functional accuracy  4/15

Like the other Umarex pellet firing semi-auto replicas, this is a revolver masquerading as an automatic.  So, no surprise that functional accuracy is poor.  However, the decocker, magazine release, hammer and trigger do work as per the original.  And in contrast to other similar Umarex replicas, this does feature a full-size drop-out magazine.

The Umarex HK P30 can’t be field stripped. It is possible to detach the moving front part of the slide by removing the screw below the muzzle, but this won’t give access to much more than the slide return spring. Any further disassembly involves splitting the two halves of the cast body.  The real weapon features replaceable backstraps and grip side panels, but unfortunately this isn’t replicated here.

Shooting  18/40

The Umarex HK P30 shoots in both single and double action and alongside the hammer is a de-cocking lever.  With the safety catch applied, the trigger still operates the hammer in single and double action, but the gun will not fire.  Operating the slide release on the left allows the front part of the slide to move forward for loading the rotary pellet holder.  Unfortunately the slide release on the right is just moulded into the frame which means that, unlike the original, this replica isn’t fully ambidextrous.

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Slide open for loading and (inset) rotary pellet holder

The P30 uses the familiar metal, eight-shot rotary pellet holder which is also used on several other Umarex replica pistols.  Also included with this gun is a small plastic rod which can be used to tamp down pellets in the pellet holder – the first time I have seen this useful tool included with an Umarex replica.  Where the P30 differs from other Umarex products is the way in which the CO2 is loaded.  Instead of removing one of the grips to allow insertion of the CO2, the P30 has a drop-out magazine which is released by operating the ambidextrous catch at the base of the trigger guard.  The base of the magazine is rotated clockwise, CO2 is inserted and a thumb-screw is manually tightened until the cartridge is snugly seated.  Piercing is achieved by turning the base of the magazine anti-clockwise.  CO2 loads without any significant loss of gas and without leaks.

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The magazine can also hold up to 15 BBs.  To load BBs a sliding catch on the magazine must be moved to the left, which allows the follower to be depressed and BBs loaded.  Umarex have also included with this gun a spare BB feed lip for the magazine and the manual notes that this can be glued in place and used as a replacement if the original wears.  Does this indicate that Umarex that are expecting rapid wear here?

I shot RWS CO2 Target pellets with the P30.  Loading is done in the same way as for most Umarex pellet shooters – pellets are placed in the rotary pellet holder and then tamped down with the supplied plastic rod to avoid jamming.  Accuracy with pellets was fair.  I produced consistent groups of about 1½” – 2″ at 25 feet in single action.  The pistol tends to shoot a little high and the white dot (but not phosphorescent) sights are adjustable for windage, but not for elevation.

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Eight shot string, 25’, RWS CO2 Target pellets.  Outer ring diameter 6”.  Inner (black) ring diameter 1.1”.  Note that only seven shots have actually been fired due to de-cocking issue.

I had no misfires or misfeeds when using pellets, but I did come across a singular problem.  The double action trigger pull is quite heavy, so I did most of my shooting in single action, manually cocking the hammer before firing.  I do this on my other Umarex pellet guns (Colt 1911, Walther CP88 and Beretta 92FS) without any issues.  With this gun however, I found that approximately every three or four shots (though it was completely random), the hammer would de-cock just as I released it.  I’d then have to manually re-cock, which would index the rotary pellet holder to the next pellet, leaving one pellet un-shot.  This was so prevalent that after several hundred shots, I don’t think I managed a single eight shot string without leaving one or two pellets in the holder.

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Safety catch and de-cocker

Initially, I thought that I might be accidentally touching the de-cocking lever as I was drawing the hammer back.  The lever is very sensitive (the slightest touch activates it) and it’s located right next to the hammer.  However, even when I was very careful to ensure that I wasn’t touching the de-cocking lever, and even if I cocked slowly and deliberately, the hammer still de-cocked approximately every three or four shots.  I found this very irritating, and it spoiled my enjoyment of shooting pellets with this gun.  Now, this may have been a fault with this particular P30, but I have heard of one other person having the same problem.  I would strongly recommend cocking and dry firing any P30 you’re thinking of buying several times to check whether it has the same problem.

I also tried shooting steel BBs with this pistol.  I don’t normally shoot steel BBs through a rifled barrel (because steel BBs erode the rifling), but in the interests of a balanced review I ran half a dozen magazines of Umarex steel BBs through this gun.  Before you can shoot BBs, you must insert a plastic blanking piece in place of the rotary pellet holder.  I found it very hard to close the slide with the blanking piece in place, though I suppose this may get easier with time.

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BB blanking piece (arrowed) in position

Up to 15 BBs can be loaded in the magazine.  However, I found accuracy and power with steel BBs to be woeful!  I was getting groups of 5 – 6 inches at 25 feet with BBs being sprayed at random within that area.  I accept that steel BBs are always going to be inherently inaccurate (the external diameter of a steel BB is slightly smaller than the internal diameter of the barrel, so they tend to rattle along the barrel, giving an uncertain trajectory when they exit).  But surely even when doing a bit of fun plinking you want to hit roughly what you’re aiming at?

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Eight shots, 25’, Umarex steel BBs.  Outer ring diameter 6”.  Inner (black) ring diameter 1.1”.

With this gun you’d need a very large can indeed to reliably hit it with a steel BB at 25 feet.  However, I must point out that I have seen at least one other review of this gun where groupings of less than 2” with steel BBs at twenty feet were claimed.  I can only say that I couldn’t get anywhere close to that.  The de-cocking issue persisted when shooting BBs, but because the BBs are loaded from a vertical stack this didn’t leave unfired BBs in the magazine.

As an experiment I tried firing three magazines worth of Gamo 4.5 mm lead balls through the P30.  These gave much better power and accuracy than steel BBs with around 2½” at 25 feet.  I didn’t have any feed problems with the lead balls, but you should note that the manual for this gun specifies the use of steel BBs only.  So, if you do use lead balls, you may find that your warranty is invalidated.  You have been warned!

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Eight shots, 25’,  Gamo 4.5mm lead balls.  Outer ring diameter 6”.  Inner (black) ring diameter 1.1”.

I got around 60 – 70 full power shots to a CO2 cartridge, which is about average for a non-blowback gun.  Shooting BBs seemed to use more CO2 than pellets.

This is a disappointing shooter.  It’s reasonably accurate when using pellets, but the decocking issue is a problem.  Accuracy with steel BBs is so poor as to be pointless.

Quality and reliability  10/15

The overall feel of this pistol is very good.  It has good weight and the finish seems well applied and durable.  It feels of equivalent quality to the other Umarex replica pellet shooters.

The involuntary decocking was a major issue which spoiled the shooting experience.  This may have been a problem with the particular pistol I was using (though I have heard of at least one other instance of this)  but it’s something I’d want to check before buying a P30.  The gap between the front and rear parts of the slide is also very noticeable (more so in real life than can be seen in photos) and spoils the overall look of this replica.  Again, this may have been an issue with the particular pistol I was using, but looking at other pictures of P30s, it seems to be common to most.  This is especially disappointing when other Umarex replicas do such a good job of concealing this gap.

Overall Impression  11/15

This isn’t a pistol which gets taken out of my gun cabinet often.  Other than as a test for this review, I haven’t bothered to shoot with BBs at all and pellet shooting is marred by the decocking issue.  And for me at least, the HK P30 just doesn’t have the emotive appeal of (for example) the Colt 1911.

However, this is a very well made and well constructed pistol which, like most of the Umarex replicas, gives the impression that it will last for a very long time.  It’s nicely presented in a hard case and finish on my example has shown no signs of chipping or wearing.

Conclusion

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It’s difficult to recommend the Umarex HK P30 when there are so many other pistols out there which are cheaper, better replicas and better shooters of both pellets and BBs.  Accuracy when using pellets is no better than any of the other Umarex semi-auto replicas and was compromised for me by the decocking issue.  I found shooting steel BBs to be an utter waste of time and this feature seems like a pointless gimmick which will erode the barrel rifling over time and may eventually degrade accuracy with pellets.  Accuracy with BBs was worse than, for example, the much cheaper Umarex Walther CP99 Compact (which also has blowback).

Visual accuracy is spoiled by the odd and unrealistic safety catch and the noticeable gap between slide halves.  Other Umarex semi-auto replicas don’t suffer from either problem.

As noted, the decocking problem and the lack of accuracy with steel BBs may be issues specific to the reviewed pistol, but I’d want to check carefully before  buying an Umarex P30.  In my opinion, unless you particularly want an HK replica which fires pellets, this is probably best avoided.  No Compromise?  Not in this case!

Total score: 54/100

Related pages:

Umarex Walther CP88 review

Umarex Walther CP99 Compact review

What makes a great replica?

Links

Umarex web site

5 thoughts on “Umarex HK P30 review

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