Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and all of the different kinds of guns, ammo types, and history it has to offer us. Last week we talked a bit about the fairly rare Italian-made SM64 Takedown rifle. While the rifle itself is interesting, there are far better modern options currently on the market including one from Fletcher Rifle Works that we’ve been testing over the last couple of weeks. This week we’re taking another look at a rimfire gun I came across on Gunbroker, the H&K P7K3. Today we’ll take a look at this auction as well as what we already know about the P7K3, the facts surrounding this rare little plinker might surprise you even if you’re already a fan of the H&K P7 pistol!
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The Rimfire Report: The H&K P7K3 – The Time H&K Made A 22LR P7
The H&K P7 is already a pretty rare find here in the US and will typically fetch a price of between $2,500 and $3,000 for a standard 9mm model. The P7K3, on the other hand, is much rarer to find in the United States, and even now in Europe since the K3 is no longer produced by H&K and private party actions typically start at around $4,500-$6,000. The “K3” destination likely was a nod to the fact that the pistol was meant as a conversion-capable pistol, and could be swapped between .22LR, .380 ACP, and .32 ACP. Because of the choice of smaller, lighter recoiling calibers for the K3, the typical gas-delayed blowback system used on the standard P7 is replaced with a straight blowback action with a hydraulic recoil buffer in place of the gas cylinder. Coincidentally, users say this also solved the P7’s inherent overheating problem caused by the gas cylinder during high volumes of fire.
The P7K3’s use of hydraulic buffers posed some issues. While centerfire cartridges (.32/.380) required the hydraulic buffer for proper operation, the .22LR did not. This simplicity and cost-effectiveness made the .22LR a popular choice among users and thus the market for .22LR conversion barrels is quite high. H&K did offer a limited number of .32 conversion kits (including a .32 barrel and two magazines), but these kits were extremely rare due to the prevailing demand for .22 conversion kits. The auction I mentioned in the introduction states that there are only three in existence but I simply don’t have enough information about the production numbers to confirm this.
For collectors, finding a .22 conversion kit can be challenging, but it’s not an impossible feat. On the other hand, locating a .32 barrel is exceptionally rare, often requiring the discovery of a rare .32 conversion kit, a spare parts barrel, or sourcing one from a European P7K3. Factory .32 P7K3 models are also considered extremely rare, as not many were imported.
In the realm of collecting, enthusiasts often seek firearms with matching date codes across all components, a detail that can significantly influence the value of these unique pieces. For instance, a P7K3 pistol with an IH date code, when paired with an IH date code .22 conversion kit, is typically more valuable than an IH pistol with an IK date code .22 conversion kit. However, there can be exceptions to this rule, such as when a magazine predates the pistol’s manufacturing date, marked with an IG date code. Once again the acutioned one is quite a rarity because it seems to have all of its parts matched up perfectly from the date of production including its matching test target.
A Unicorn that Doesn’t Perform?
Although the P7K3 is extremely rare and typically fetches about twice as much as a standard 9mm P7 pistol on the web, it has its quirks worth knowing about. One thing to keep in mind is the hydraulic recoil buffer which tends to wear over time causing potential operational hiccups. When this buffer wears out, the gun might struggle to work properly. Unfortunately, Heckler & Koch doesn’t make replacement parts for the buffer, but there’s a bright side – you can find commercial buffers available from M8 Industries to keep your P7K3 in working condition but they’re going to cost you about $260 each to replace.
Now, here’s the cool part about the .22 LR version of the P7K3 – the buffer issue doesn’t affect it when you have the .22 LR slide and barrel installed. The .22 LR’s design is clever, featuring an opening at the front that lets the buffer stay disengaged while firing. This smart design sidesteps the wear-and-tear problem associated with the hydraulic buffer. It’s a nod to the innovative thinking that went into crafting this firearm and a feature that further extends the cost-savings of shooting 22LR over the centerfire ammunition. H&K also throws in some special tools just for the 22LR variant. For the .22LR barrel, they offer a nifty scraper tool, a must-have for keeping the floating chamber clean given how filthy 22LR ammunition can be.
The H&K P7K3 stands as a pretty interesting piece of H&K’s history, and every collector knows that history often comes with its own set of quirks. The P7K3 demonstrates the company’s desire in the 80s to produce a lighter recoiling pistol for self-defense – much like we see today with similar full-sized 9mm guns getting fresh new 380ACP or 22LR clones. The rarity of these pistols in the United States adds to their allure, making well-maintained P7K3s highly sought after and valued in the collector’s market. Whether or not you want to pay upwards of $8,000 or more on an extremely rare but high-class plinker is up to you, but I think this is one of those pistols that might be Hans Gruber approved.
If you’ve had any hands-on experience with the H&K P7K3, especially the 22LR version of it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this unique and quite rare pistol! As always thanks for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report, and we’ll see you all again next week!
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