May 2013

Midsize Nine Carryables: H&K Competes Against Sig Sauer

A step up from pocket 9mms, the slightly larger Sig Sauer P239 SAS and H&Ks USP Compact were easy to shoot and offered big-gun handling and controls, some of which we didnt like.

In our ongoing look at many of the smaller 9mm handguns out there, we occasionally come across some that are a bit easier to handle than the micro-nines weve looked at during the past year or so. They are generally easier to shoot, though far harder to conceal, and have their place in the scheme of things. In this report we look at the Sig Sauer P239 SAS ($1125) and the H&K USP Compact ($992), two midsize pistols with external hammers but with different approaches to the problem of building a good self-defense handgun.

For example, the Sig always goes to DA mode when you put on its safety, which is not a safety but a hammer dropper. The H&K had one of those too, but in this case its actually a thumb safety which enables cocked-and-locked carry. But if you want to drop the H&Ks hammer, just press down harder on the lever and it drops the hammer in a safe, if sudden, manner. Essentially, the Sig didnt have an external safety, only the hammer-drop lever, or decocker.

We tested with WPA 115-grain FMJ, Winchester BEB 115-grain FMJ, and with Independent 115-grain FMJ. We have found it difficult to buy any JHP ammunition, or that of heavier weights locally, thanks to the ongoing national ammo shortage.

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