H&K P9S Video

When we think about roller-delayed blowback firearms, we generally think of H&K rifles – but H&K also made a miniature version of the system for the P9 pistol in the late 1960s. The P9 was made as a single-stack design in both 9mm and .45ACP, along with a target version (with adjustable sights) and a suppressor-ready version which is what we have in today’s video). The original short run of production was the basic P9, with a single-action-only trigger, which was quickly replaced by the P9S with a double-action trigger. The P9 was a pretty good gun overall, and I really don’t have any complaints about it after shooting (although the cocking/decocking lever is not necessarily intuitive).

Anyway, the P9 is the only roller-delayed blowback pistol ever put into mass production – so let’s take a closer look:


  1. Quote: ” the P9 is the only roller-delayed blowback pistol ever put into mass production”, unquote.

    Err, what then about the Czech vz.52 pistol, Ian? Was it not mass-enough produced as opposed to “the only mass-produced” P9?

  2. I always found the roller locked vs. delayed blowback discussion moot. The delayed blowback design still keeps the barrel locked to the locking block while pressurized. Only the slide, which is not part of the locking mechanism, moves instantaneously. Any locked system that’s not gas operated has something moving relative to the locked parts on recoil, doesn’t make a difference if the locking part is integral to the slide or not.

    • Yeah, it doesn’t make much difference in practical use. Still, I find the difference between the two systems mechanically interesting – the delayed blowback is more elegant but requires more careful design. The locked method is a bit more brute-force, but more tolerant of variances in ammo.

  3. Sorry to object, Ian, but the “S” in P9S does not stand for “suppressed”. The difference between P9 and P9S is that the former only has a single action trigger (and a cocking/decocking lever), and latter has a double action trigger – the “S” stands for “Spannabzug” (=double-action-trigger).
    But all suppressed pistols were P9S’s (AFAIK), since the production of single-action P9 started to trickle as soon as the P9S was presented in January of 1970. Production of P9 endet in the mid seventies, totaling 510 pistols, P9S was produced until 1995, totaling about 52-53000 pistols (have to check at home for exact year). And are still built in Greece as EP9S.

      • So, did some reading:
        – production of P9 lastest from 08/29/1969 until 01/03/1978, totaling 486 9mm and approx. 20 in .30″ Luger
        – production of P9S latest vom january 1970 until 1995, totaling 41135* pistols in 9 mm, 608 in .30″ Luger an approx. 8225* in .45 ACP” (as of march #93); my figure of 52-53000 in total came form counting the Saudi Arabian am Malaysian models twice (my bad…)
        – there was a dedicated silecenr model, named P9S SD (=”Schalldämpfer”, silencer), developed in request of the swiss importer. Barrel length: 6″. Further silenced P9S, supposedly in .45″ ACP are said to have been fileded by the Navy SEALS in the seventies.
        – there were some prototypes in .38 Auto, 9mm Ultra, fpr Plastik Trining ammunition, and even in .22″ with an offset bore, as well as shortened variants to meet the criteria of the german trials for a new police pistol in the seventies to replace the venerable Walther PP and PPK, some versions with diffent decockers (WITHOUT the need to pull the trigger), automated safeties, and a few full auto versions (the first P9 protoype started out as selective-fire).

  4. There is another “Roller Delayed Blowback” pistol made in Germany branded
    “Korriphila” and it uses only one roller and is one of the most advanced
    pistol made in that working principle.

    Besides, delayed blowback actioned firearms do not retain breechblock as locked
    with barrel during powder gas creation, but let it to go backwards slowly as very
    slow at beginning and rather quickened later by shape of delay elements and their
    counter recesses. This is the cause of providing extraction grooves in the chamber.
    Because, empty case begins to go rearward when the pressure being very high in the
    chamber to give a case seperation if it were not present the grooves.

  5. My best friend bought one when we were in college.

    It was a very accurate pistol, and pleasant to shoot, but he got a lot of failures to feed with it. As I recall, it preferred hotter loads.

    He got frustrated with it when we were in the Army and went after the feed surfaces in the frame with a file.

    He eventually sold it and got a Walther P99 with which he’s been very satisfied.

  6. This was (AFAIK) the very first commercially produced polymer framed pistol…it was ORIGINALLY a select fire weapon, with a shoulder stock required for the select fire feature to be used – the selector was on the stock….the main complaint about the P9 was the trigger – a leftover from the Select Fire pistols made for the military and law enforcemen0…I saw one of these for sale at the Gander Mountain store in West Palm Beach in December of last year – shortly after that school shooting in CT – in fact I believe it was on the very same day – there were still ARs on the racks and ammo was available. The price was IIRC around $550, which I thought was low for what is now a semi-collectible…two of the other reasons for its poor sales were the fact that polymer pistols were at LEAST another 14 – 15 years in the future and Americans didn’t trust polymer firearms nor was the 9mm caliber popular in the US – the wonder nines were another 10 plus years in the future. At the time, again IIRC, the only US production 9mm available was the S&W Model 39 – I bought one of those in the Army around 1972…If I’d had the money in December I prolly wouldda bought that P9 – i was the first one I’d seen in YEARS!!!

    CB in FL

    • Chris, you’re thinking of the H&K VP-70 – that’s the one that was originally a machine pistol. I have access to a semiauto-only one (VP-70Z), and will be doing a video on it sooner of later. It has a really stupendously bad trigger…it literally feels like a staple gun.

  7. Watching this I was reminded of my CZ-52. Then he compares it to the CZ-52. Neat!! I can certainly see the lockup of the CZ, but, does the roller system really slow down the recoil on the H/K?? Doesn’t really seem like it would.

    • The resistance is there since rollers have to be transferred inside at direction of firing pin slant. Also there is the spring and inertia of barrel which adds to resistance. But, I lean to agree with you that it is not very big – not lot of redundancy. Generally, I find merits of these ‘clever’ features to be marginal; just about.

    • For the H&K’s rollers to be able to move inwards, they have to shove in against the angled projection which you can see around the firing pin.

      The rollers acting on that angled surface shoves the slide back several times faster than the bolt head is moving back

      From the point of view of the head of the cartridge case, it’s like trying to push the pedals of a bicycle when its in top gear, you have to push hard and the pedals move slowly, but the back wheel goes round fast

      In the pistol, the case head pushes back hard on the bolt head which only moves slowly, but the slide moves away faster

      The case head begins to move as soon as the bullet begins to move, but that slow movement of the bolt head is enough to keep the thick web of the case head from coming out of the chamber until the bullet has left the barrel and the pressure has dropped.

      The various lever delayed blowbacks like the FAMAS and the San Cristobal Carbine, which Ian has covered, use the same principal only using a lever instead of rollers to get the gearing up effect.

  8. This P9S looks like a well designed and made gun. I do not recall seeing it before and as such this may be my first opportunity. Also, the presentation and comparison with Vz.52 operation is done really well!

    If I was to compare or take preference, I’d might re-consider Vz.52 IF it was made for 9mm Luger. However the HK product has a unique charm to it and begs for attention. Pity the slow-video portion was bit gritty and not easy to observe.

    • Apart from initially being developed for 9 mm Parabellum: there are aftermarket drop-in barrels in 9 mm Parabellum for the Vz. 52. AFAIR even ČZ fitted some refurbished surplus guns with 9 mm barrels a few times. The barrel is the only thing that needs to be changed, slide and extractor stay the same; I’m not sure if recoil-spring and magazine have to be exchanged or if it is just an advice for better functioning.

      • I had a bud at work for whom I got a CZ 52 – he wanted a gun for dispatching hogs he shot, but wanted a different caliber than the 7.62×25 – he bought (actually traded me a Mitituyo caliper)an aftermarket 9mm bbl, but had feeding problems – which I had cautioned him about BEFORE he made the decision to buy the barrel. I wound up buying it back along with the extra barrel and sold it to a fellow member of our C&R group…who still has it and is happy with it in its ORIGINAL caliber of 7.62 Tok.

        CB in FL…my bud was also trying to feed Federal Hydra-Shoks in a pistol made for not only a different caliber, but also round nose military style FMJ bullets.

        • That’s a really interesting and informative experience — thanks for sharing it. If nothing else, it emphasizes the need to be very circumspect when considering any kind of caliber modification to an existing firearm. Most such changes will require corresponding changes in the mechanical components of the gun in order to maintain functional balance and stability, not just a simple drop-in parts exchange. Having said that, there are still a handful ( but ONLY A HANDFUL ) of guns that are genuinely capable of reliable functioning with nothing more than a mere basic parts swap, such as substituting a new barrel and chamber plus magazine.

      • Thanks Michael of reminding me. Since I do own specimen of Vz.52 I was considering it; firing 7.62 Tok is not generally considered fun. The problem here is availability of 9mm barrel. They were sold out and nobody currently makes them.

        • I consider firing 7.62 Tok fun… who doesn’t like a nice big fireball? 🙂

          It’s probably just me though, my most common quote on the range is “Needs more recoil!”.

  9. Both the HK P9S and CZ 52 are very accurate pistols. Not all P9S were threaded for suppressors. The fixed barrel gives the P9S an accuracy like a Walther PP or a Makarov.. It is clearly an old design but it was very popular in the 1970s-mid 80s. There was a .45 cal designed for the American Market. It failed due to cost. Not to mention HK has curious policies dealing with end consumer complaints. The CZ 52 was in its day one of the best military designs. Both are very accurate and very reliable. The CZ 52 has the edge in flatter shooting and ballistics. The P9S except for Greece is largely forgotten. It requires some training for the cocking/decocking lever (like the WW2 .32 cal SIG). The CZ 52 can fire when the decocking lever is actuated. This is due to age of the weapons. In Africa and SW Asia the CZ52 is second only to the Tokarev; the HK P9S is only in Greece. Hope this helps

    • Speaking of Greece, I wonder if our friend Dimitris has possibly had some experience with the HK P9S. Perhaps he could enlighten us a little further regarding this?

  10. Great vid Ian. I always wondered about the difference between roller locked and roller delayed blowback. I leave a better informed person. Again.

  11. Ian,

    If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, (Mesa) I’ll let you try my P9s Target .45. I might even let you use the 8″ Hunter barrel.

    I realize what opinions are worth, but this is by far the most accurate semiauto pistol that I’ve owned in 40+ years of handgunning.

    I can also help you with the cocker/decocker clumsiness. (teasing, just teasing)

      • It’s an H&K factory part that was produced as an accessory. The swap from standard to “Hunter” configuration takes no longer than a field strip. (~10secs?)

        Also, it is best used on a target (or sport) model with adjustable sights, as there is a fairly significant change in point of impact compared to the standard barrel. It’s been awhile since I’ve used it, but I think it was about 3″ at 25yards.

        • AZRon,

          I have a 45 ACP Combat Fix sight P9S and want to transfer the head bolt assembly from the slide on to a Target slide with adjustable sights that I have. The instructions on the manual show how but I can’t figure it out. I have a 8″ hunter barrel that I want to use with the target slide, once the bolt head assembly is installed on to it.
          Can anybody help by video instructions?

          • I’m not sure why you’d need to change the bolt unless your Target model is missing its bolt.

            I don’t know of any videos, but I routinely remove my P9s bolts for cleaning. It’s very easy (once you’ve succeeded the first time) I can’t think of anything that would be helpful except go back to the manual, start at step #1, and be patient.

            By the way, you can use the Hunter barrel on a Combat model. If I remember correctly, it caused ~2″ vertical dispersion at 25yds.

          • Hi AZRon

            The reason why I wanted to remove the entire bolt head assembly/safety latch of my Combat P9S with fixed rear sights and install it on to a P9S Target slide is to take advantage of the adjustable rear sights that the Target slide has.
            Thanks for your prompt reply and attempt to assist.


          • Yes, I understand that you want to use the Target slide.

            Does your Target slide NOT have a bolt? I’m missing something here.

          • The target slide is only the slide with adjustable sights, without any head bolt assembly or safety latch parts attached.
            I just contacted Robar asking if they can make the exchange installation on my P9S for me.


  12. Ian –

    Great post/video as always. While I sympathize with your comments about the odd cocking/decocking lever on the P9, it’s functionally the same manual of arms as any single action pistol. You hold the hammer with your thumb and pull the trigger. The P9 just uses a lever to do the same thing. If anything it’s safer since the firing pin is blocked. OTOH, I can see that there isn’t a positive indication that it actually decocked. Modern decockers are positive and unambiguous.

  13. Interesting video. I’ve always thought the pocket MG42 (VZ 52) was mechanically interesting and perhaps superior to tilting barrel pistols. The p9S is also interesting but H&K’s are a rip off these days. Does it have a fluted chamber like many of their other roller delayed smallarms.

    • Speaking of forgotten H & K firearms – I’m changing the subject here, because I cannot, for the life of me remember the model designation of two H& K Rifles that I first saw in 1986 while working at as gun store in Pompano Beach, FL…the rifles were chambered in 7.62 NATO and in 5.56 NATO…wood stocked, they looked like G43s from a distance – they had sporterized counterparts ( nice wood & blued metal)- IIRC they both had blind magazines – none of the folks I talk to regularly seem to know what I’m talking about – was hopin’ someone here would tell me I’m NOT crazy..

      CB in FL – sorry for the change of subject but this is drivin’ me crazy

  14. hello everybody,
    my name is peter and I am from germany.I have the HK P9S Pistol in 9mm and right now I am desperately looking for somebody who can sell me that metal piece which contains the polymer buffer because mine is broken! HK in germany does no longer produce parts for this pistol so if anybody can help me please e-mail me under flatsix@gmx.de
    THANK YOU !!!!

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