Developed in the 1980s in response to a need for new West German police sidearms, the H&K P7 is one of the most mechanically unusual pistols to have been commercially successful in recent decades. It incorporates a number of features which are rather polarizing; brilliantly innovative to some, and pointlessly unproductive in the eyes of others.
The biggest innovation H&K made in the P7 was the squeeze-cocking system. The front strap of the pistol must be depressed (with a substantial amount of force) in order to fire. This action acts to cock the striker back to its full travel, and when the front strap is release, the striker is dropped completely forward. As a result, there is no chance of a discharge, and could potentially happen on a traditional striker-fired gun which keeps the striker partially cocked at all times. The P7’s system also allows it to have a better trigger press by not using the trigger to retract the striker.
For the action, H&K chose a gas-delayed blowback system. This system has been used in a few other places (Heritage Stealth, Norinco M77B, etc), but it not at all common. Basically gas pressure acts on a piston under the barrel to hold the slide closed until the bullet has left the barrel. This system allows the gun to have a fixed barrel, contributing to very good inherent accuracy.
The downsides to the P7 are its tendency to rapidly heat up (because of that gas piston), its unfamiliar manual of arms, and its low magazine capacity. Whether it’s a wonderful sleeper of a pistol design or just some German nonsense it up to you…
Note: In future videos, I will cover some of the other non-standard branches of the P7 family, including the P7M7, P7M10, P7A13, and P7K3.