The VP86, under the designation M86, is one of two standard-issue sidearms used by the US military. A derivative of the VP70, the M86 was designed by Heckler and Koch and serves alongside the Mk24, another H&K handgun used by the USCM.
|Weapon Designation:||Pistol, 9mm, Semiautomatic, VP86|
|Place of Origin:||Germany|
|Manufacturer:||Heckler & Koch GmbH|
|Weight:||1.75 lb (0.794 kg)|
|Length:||8 in (204 mm)|
|Barrel Length:||4.6 in (116 mm)|
|Rate of Fire:||Semiautomatic|
|Muzzle Velocity:||1,550 ft/s (472 m/s) with M990D fluted round|
|Muzzle Energy:||480 ft/lbs (651 Joules) with M990D fluted round|
|Effective Range:||50 m (55 yd)|
|Feed System:||18-round detachable box magazine|
|Sights:||Iron sights, integral laser sight|
In 2085, the US military announced a competition for a new handgun to replace its M58 service pistol. While most companies like Sig Sauer and FN Herstal rushed to design new handguns, Heckler and Koch made the highly unconventional decision to look back to a very old design, the Volkspistole 70, or VP70. Although the VP70 was known for a number of problems, it was also extremely reliable and simple, using relatively few moving parts and being easy to field strip. Designers at H&K updated the gun and entered it into the competition. After two rounds of tests in early 2086, only the H&K and the FN Herstal designs remained. A further set of tests led to the H&K design narrowly winning; it was accepted by the military as the M86, although it is commonly referred to as the VP86 by its users. Although nominally the US military’s standard-issue handgun, it is in fact outnumbered by the lighter, more compact M4 pistol.
There are only a few differences between the VP70 and the M86. The most significant is the use of a much lighter striker spring, which helps to decrease the pistol’s unusually heavy trigger pull. The M86 also features a push-button safety like the civilian VP70Z, but on the M86 the safety can be reversed for left-handed users. The unconventional sight system of the VP70, which replaced a traditional front blade sight with a polished ramp with a notch in the center to create the illusion of a dark center post, has been retained, but is augmented by a three-dot set-up, with two luminescent dots painted on the rear sight and one in the notch of the front sight ramp. A small laser sight has been added inside the front of the trigger guard, which is already large enough for the sight to fit inside with only a minimal increase in width, as well as sticking out the front very slightly. While the original VP70 had a deeply rifled barrel to vent gas and lower the pressure of the 9mm cartridge to compensate for the weaker straight blowback system, the M86 features a slightly heavier recoil spring and the use of the latest polymers and metal alloys increase the strength of the frame and slide to the point where not only is the deeper rifling unnecessary, but the M86 can be used with even more powerful variants of the 9mm cartridge.
The ease of field stripping the gun is another major point in its favor; like the VP70, disassembly of the M86 is accomplished by pulling down the lock switch above the trigger and pulling the slide back and up. If the striker assembly must be removed, the plug can be unlocked from the slide by using the curved front of one of the pistol’s magazines. Although the heel-mounted magazine release is unconventional for US operators, it was retained due to there being no better alternative position available, as well as the fact that it is ambidextrous by nature. Like the VP70, the M86 features no slide lock for additional simplicity.