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HK P9S: The Most Accurate 9mm Pistol In the World?

The HK P9S was adopted by elite units around the globe, from West Germany’s GSG 9, Japan’s Special Armed Police, and the Navy SEALs.


What is the world’s most accurate 9mm handgun? Some experts say it is the SIG P210. Others insist on the Walther P88.

I’ve fired both of these pistols, and quite frankly, neither one of them gave me any better practical accuracy than my beloved Beretta 92FS/M9, Glock 17, CZ-75, or Heckler & Koch P7. 

And speaking of HK, they made another 9mm pistol that could stake a claim to the title. Given the fact that HK makes the most accurate semiauto rifle in the world, the PSG1, it stands to reason they could produce a serious contender in the 9mm autopistol market. Say hello to the HK P9S. 

HK P9S History and Specifications

The HK P9S made its debut in 1970. The HK P9 that preceded it was single-action-only. The P9S was a double-action autoloader, but with the extra advantage of allowing single-action-style, cocked-and-locked carry, a feature that would later be displayed in wonder nines such as the CZ-75 , CZ P07 Duty, and Taurus PT-92. Unlike those double-stack wonder nines, however, the P9S had a relatively modest magazine capacity of 9+1 rounds (which is still a significant firepower advantage over a revolver, of course). 

The P9S had some fairly unique features for its time, as Travis Pike explains in a September 2022 article for Pew Pew Tactical titled “What Happened to the HK P9 & P9S?

“Many people know HK for the MP5 [submachine gun] and the famed roller-delayed blowback operation. They used that same roller-delayed operation on their rifles, notably the G3…HK decided to take that mechanism, shrink it, and cram it into a pistol…Roller-delayed blowback seemed to be the theme HK was chasing at the time. The P9S features that system, along with a polygonal rifled fixed barrel and a polymer buffer where the guide rod would usually sit…The P9S used a hammer concealed inside the slide, so manually cocking the hammer is impossible, right? HK found a way around this by equipping the gun with a decocker that also functions as a cocker — oh, it was also the slide release.”

Specifications for the P9S included a barrel length of 4 inches, an overall length of 7.5 inches, a height of 5.4 inches, and an empty weight of 31 ounces. 

The HK P9S was eventually adopted by elite units around the globe, from West Germany’s GSG 9, Japan’s Special Armed Police, and the Navy SEALs. Yet the pistol would be discontinued in 1995. What went wrong? Mr. Pike explains:

“By 1978 the P9S was showing its weaknesses. The single stack magazine was nothing to brag about, and heel magazine releases were so World War II. Duty pistols were changing…HK also had the P7 series, which proved to be popular and capable pistols, quickly outshining the P9S and P9. The P7 was popular enough for HK to produce the P7M13, which introduced a double-stack magazine and brought the company more in line with the standards of the time.”

Expert Shooting Impressions

Alas, the P9S was sadly discontinued years before any of my local ranges could get ahold of one. I have no way to personally compare it to the Walther P88 and SIG 210. So, until I find one for a reasonable price on the used gun market, I’ll have to take the word of gun experts who precede me in age and experience. One of the biggest P9S fans in the gun writer community is renowned self-defense guru and former New Hampshire police captain Massad F. Ayoob. I recall reading Mas’s statement in a summer 1990 issue of either AMERICAN HANDGUNNER or AH’s sister publication GUNS Magazine that he considered the P9S to be the most accurate 9mm pistol ever. 

I don’t have that particular issue handy (hence the absence of a hyperlink), but I do have a couple of Capt. Ayoob’s books handy for citation. I’ll start with a passage from his 1987 book The Semiautomatic Pistol in Police Service and Self-Defense:

“This writer has average male hands, and finds the reach on the HK P9S far too long in double action carry. I carry all four of my P9S pistols in their optional cocked and locked (single action) position, and set two of my three national records with a P9S in that mode. Edith Almeida set the record of consecutive High Female awards at the Bianchi Cup International Pistol Championships with a P9S carried cocked and locked. The tall and graceful Almeida’s height, weight, and hand-size correspond to the average adult US male’s.”

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. 

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Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).