I really struggled with the decision of capturing my first impressions of the optics ready VP9 and the Trijicon RMR in a single blog post or splitting into two separate posts. I went with the former option for two very simple reasons. First, another first impressions review on the H&K VP9 felt redundant. Second, one can’t really establish first impressions of the RMR without mounting it to a gun in the first place.
The H&K VP9
While the VP9 was definitely not on my list of top guns to obtain in 2020 and purchasing another handgun was not part of my overall plan for 2020, the idea of optics on a pistol for self defense, home defense, and competition has been a very attractive idea for quite some time. That interest coupled with my high level of satisfaction with the VP9 and becoming aware that an optics ready version would be available in early 2020 made the decision to purchase one pretty hard to resist.
Just like my first VP9, the optics ready VP9 is range ready right out of the box. In the box, one gets:
- A nice plastic hard case,
- two 17-round magazines (new design from the 15-round predecessors),
- small, medium, and large grip side panels and back straps (with the medium ones installed by default),
- a magazine loader (or thumb saver),
- an owner’s manual,
- and the VP9.
There were a few differences between this VP9 and the first one. These differences include:
- Optics cut with a cover plate secured by two screws,
- 1 less magazine,
- and different sights.
The sights on this VP9 include a blacked out serrated rear sight and a large yellow dot front sight. These sights are the types of sights I prefer for recreational or competitive shooting in a well lit environment. However, they are not ideal for low light self defense or home defense situations.
A couple of things to note for those who obtain this gun with the intention of installing a red dot sight (RDS) on it. There are four adapter plates currently available for mounting a RDS. They are:
- #1 for the Meopta MeoSight III, EOTech MRDS, and Noblex Sight 3
- #2 for the Trijicon RMR and Holosun
- #3 for the C-More STS2
- #4 for the Leupold DeltaPoint
These plates are not included and cost $29 from H&K’s web store.
The other thing to note is that once a RDS is installed, the standard height OEM sights are completely useless as they are obstructed by the RDS. One may want to consider installing suppressor height sights for back up or co-witness purposes. I’m currently considering picking up a set from Heinie Specialty Products.
Update (5/7/2020): A reader pointed out that the dovetail cutouts for the sights on the optics-ready VP9 2020 are not the same size as the previously produced VP9s. I contacted Heinie who confirmed the current sights (linked above) will not fit the new VP9. However, they are currently testing prototypes and expect to begin production soon.
Update 2 (10/1/2020): While I haven’t looked very hard for suppressor height sights since the previous update, I learned that XS Sights now offers suppressor height sights specifically manufactured for the optics-ready VP9 2002. XS Sights has graciously offered to send me a set of these sights to test. Expect a full review of them in the near future.
Update 3 (2/15/2022): The XS Sights I received are fantastic. It took me a while to get around to writing a review of them, but that review is finally done and available here: XS Sights Minimalist Tritium Night Sights
The Trijicon RMR Type 2
The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is available in three different illumination models each of which comes with various color, dot size, and mounting options for a total of 97 choices (as of the publish date of this post). I went with the adjustable LED illumination option in black, with a 3.25 MOA dot, and no mount.
Out of the box, the RMR comes with everything needed to mount it to a pistol (unless it’s a Glock). Optionally, one may want (or need) to separately purchase a RMR mount sealing plate to guarantee a good seal to protect the RMR from the elements.
In the box, one gets:
- The box which is actually a pretty nice hard case that is way too large for the RMR, but also includes:
- two long mounting screws (which won’t work with the Glock MOS system),
- an allen wrench,
- a user manual,
- a sticker,
- some other marketing materials I didn’t pay attention to,
- and the RMR itself.
The VP9 and RMR Combo
Ok. Here is the deal. I’ve taken a pistol I have thoroughly enjoyed shooting and thrown a red dot on it. The combined result is simply outstanding. But it isn’t without a few things that could be better.
As I start diving into the pros and cons of this set up, please keep in mind that this was only the second time shooting a pistol outfitted with a red dot sight. My first experience shooting one was when I briefly handled the instructors STI Staccato P while attending a training course. That’s my point of reference. But truthfully, my prior experience regardless of the gun and optic is irrelevant compared to my lack of experience.
That said, I really like this set up. The VP9 is a VP9. It feels like a VP9. It runs like a VP9. Only difference is a couple of extra rounds with the new 17 round mags. Fully loaded it’s a VP9 with 13.3% more fuel in the tank.
The optic takes almost no time to get used. Put the dot on the target, squeeze the trigger, and hole is punched right near where the dot was. While the function is the same as the iron sights, there are some noticeable differences.
One of my favorite differences was how much easier it was to be accurate at longer distances (25 yards) that it was with iron sights. I think this was in part by the optic allowing you to focus on the target instead of focusing on the front sight, without a blurry target I found myself getting A-zone hits at 25 yards with significantly less effort.
On the flip side, one drawback to the RDS was that I found myself looking at a lens with no dot quite a few times when drawing and presenting the pistol to take a shot at an intermediate distance. This slowed my typical draw to shot times. I suspect some dry practice presentation drills will alleviate this. I also think that adding some suppressor height sights (mentioned earlier in this post) will aid in finding the dot when it’s not in the lens as it provides a point of reference that is not available with just the red dot. At the end of the day, I suspect folks who are new to pistols with red dot sights will run into this issue.
In the same spirit as the original first impressions review of the VP9, I have no problem recommending this gun to just about anyone looking for a duty-sized defensive pistol. While the stock sights are great for recreational or competitive shooting, they are inadequate for low light shooting scenarios. As such, this gun probably not the best choice for the gun owner who will use this as a defensive pistol and will keep it bone stock as either the addition of a RDS or a night sight upgrade are essential for that use, and I’d recommend going both (as I most likely will).