Heckler & Koch's USP was first produced in 1993, and in some respects, it's an outdated gun. The USP doesn't have interchangeable backstraps, built-in optics mounts, or any of the other features associated with modern polymer pistols. Maybe that's why the USP is buried at the bottom of HK's website
like a crazy old uncle.
Still, the USP is a proven, time-tested pistol design that runs like a top even with the worst ammo you can find. I borrowed one from Shovelstroke Ed for this review, and he gleefully gave me boxes of steel-cased Wolf and aluminum-cased Blazer .40 S&W for testing. "Go ahead," he said. "Run whatever you want through it; it'll eat it up." He was right.
The most common USP variant has a decocker/safety lever that allows the pistol to be carried cocked-and-locked, or with the safety off and hammer down (to decock, you push the lever down). Either way works fine, and it's a choice not allowed by most DA/SA guns.
Notwithstanding the gun's versatility, there are some things I don't like about the design. The USP's paddle magazine release is ambidextrous, but very small - I much prefer the Walther PPQ's release, which is easier to hit at speed and no less secure. The grips, while nicely textured, are too big and squared off to be comfortable. Remember, this gun in .40 holds thirteen rounds, same as a GLOCK 23.
Shooting the USP is pretty enjoyable. The slide and recoil assembly conspire to give the gun hollow, pop-gun type recoil - it feels like you are playing "Time Crisis II"
I managed decent, but not spectacular accuracy out of the USP, especially considering that Shovelstroke Ed had the trigger and sights of this gun worked on by a gunsmith in Colorado. All groups were shot from 25 yards, standing and offhand. As you can see, the USP handled Wolf FMJ, Blazer FMJ, Speer Gold Dots, and Winchester white box with no problem.
The USP is one of those guns that's so famous it's hard to review. The big downside of the gun is its size and weight compared to numerous other options from every other manufacturer (Beretta, FN, GLOCK, S&W, etc., etc.), and its 1990s-era ergonomics. If you can handle all that (no pun intended), this is still a very good choice for target practice or home defense.