Larry Vickers on HK Grayguns Action Work

larry-vickersRecently, Larry Vickers – owner of Vickers Tactical and retired US Army combat veteran – had this to say concerning the work done on his personal HK VP9 by Rick Holm here at Grayguns.

The trigger work from Grayguns Inc. on HK and SIG handguns is the industry standard and is the benchmark for all others to measure against. The Grayguns trigger on my personal HK VP9 is the best I have ever felt on a striker fired handgun of any kind. Highly recommended.

The referral led to an interview…

Vickers: How did you get your start working on HK triggers?
Holm: I was hired by Grayguns around 5 years ago, working on SIG Sauer pistols and tasked with perfecting processes for the PTFE Nickel Teflon refinishing our company had been experimenting with. At that time, Grayguns had only recently been offering a formal action package for HK pistols, and saw very few coming through the shop. There was a great young man working part time named Matt who was in charge of HK action work, under the direction of Shop Foreman Roy Nelson. When Matt left for college shortly after I started, I was handed that modest work queue among my other responsibilities.

This was an extremely fun time for me as I was able to fully dive into and examine the current methods of action work for the HK’s, experiment with new ideas, innovate, and make it my own. My family hardly saw me for quite a long period, and I remember late nights and early mornings blending together frequently. Not every idea I had panned out, but my obsession with improving these triggers was also helping me to become intimately familiar with them and has served me well while developing action work and aftermarket parts for other pistols. It was also during this time that I started working on HK P7’s, and I was very fortunate to have guidance in all my work from Grayguns owner Bruce Gray, and Roy.

The result was a series of action enhancement packages that made huge improvements to the quality and consistency of the triggers on all models and variants of hammer fired HK’s (while maintaining or improving upon factory safety values), and very quickly the numbers showing up for work increased dramatically. I am proud to say that the same passion, dedication, and quality went in to the action work I developed for the HK VP9.

Vickers: Do you also do SIG triggers as well?
Holm: Yes, I started on P-Series SIG’s and still frequently work on them as well as other models- including the fantastic new modular P320. My first few years at Grayguns had me working on everything from SIG, HK, 1911’s, to Glock, and even the occasional Beretta 92/96.

Vickers: I’ve seen many Grayguns triggers in my classes and I’m impressed at the uniformity – what was the learning curve to perfect the GGI techniques?
Holm: Thanks Larry. I believe it is a combination of developing solid modifications and processes, being thorough and paying attention to detail, and having pride in ones work. I would say there is a pretty steep curve to developing this type of work, and even steeper for holding oneself to a standard of quality and accepting nothing less. These are qualities I appreciate in American businesses, and things we strive for everyday. As I mentioned earlier, as it relates to HK I had a fair amount of time involved in conceptualizing, trial and error, collaborating with co-workers, and perfecting prototype parts and modifications to get it where it is today. Much of the work and ethos Grayguns uses today has its roots in concepts originally developed by Bruce a long time ago. He is really a mad genius with this stuff!

Vickers: Of all the HK’s you work on what’s your favorite?
Holm: That’s a hard question! I have come to have a deep appreciation for the quality and design of HK pistols, not just in their current line up but the classics such as the P9, MK 23, and P7’s. If I had to choose a favorite though, it would be the new VP9. Outstanding ergos and pointability; wickedly simple, rugged design and function; incredible accuracy; high quality material and fitment; the only two things I would ask for is deleting the trigger guard trough and maybe offering a 5 inch long slide variant!

Vickers: Have you seen a lot of VP9’s come across your bench?
Holm: Absolutely, and we are seeing those numbers rising consistently. We are currently involved in production of high quality bar stock drop-in upgrade parts for various models of SIG pistols, and will soon be offering HK drop-in parts as well. I can’t get into details yet, but I believe that people will be really excited with what we have coming. Some of these parts will be for the VP9, and I expect that this will prompt even more HK VP9 owners to send in their pistols for our work and parts. It is looking like we will have some initial HK parts on the market before the end of the year.

Vickers: The trigger you did on my VP9 is superb and breaks at 4 to 4.5 pounds ( an enhanced duty trigger ) – what does the typical VP9 trigger weigh when your done with it?
Holm: Thanks! That is a great question. I will be working with our website and marketing manager Steve McGough at Spider Creations to update our HK VP9 action work section at www.grayguns.com soon to include a breakdown of available trigger weights. We have the ability to set the VP9 trigger to different weight ranges to suit application or preference: 3-3.5lbs for Competition, 4-4.5lbs for Duty/Carry, and 5-5.5 for factory equivalent.

Grayguns believes that for safety reasons 4lbs is the lightest trigger weight applicable to duty or carry, and will not provide competition weight triggers for customers that will be using their pistol for defensive applications.

Vickers: Grayguns is extremely busy – what is a typical wait time for a customer to get some Grayguns trigger work?
Holm: Right now our lead time on HK action work is split into two work queues. The VP9 is running about 6-8 weeks, and all hammer fired HK work is at 10-12 weeks. Similarly, the SIG work queue is divided by P320 work with a lead time of 8-10 weeks, and all other model SIG’s at 12-14 weeks. Those estimates could possibly be extended however with the addition of other services. We have some things in the works now that should help to reduce those lead times, however I expect those efficiencies and shorter lead times might bring more volume and counteract that a bit.

So far as I know, we are the only custom gunsmithing company that does the type of comprehensive action work on HK and SIG pistols that requires us to look at each pistol as a completely custom project. We don’t have production lines that involve simply polishing a few critical surfaces and calling it good, whether it is or not. We are working on nearly all surfaces of all internal fire control components, and we continually assess how that work is effecting the quality of the feel, the efficiency of motion, and the maintenance of all factory safety values throughout the process.

Because each pistol has its own slightly different tolerances, it may take more time on one pistol than another of the same model to make it perfect which effects lead times downstream. This and other factors means that there can be variability to our lead times, and we really appreciate our customers patience if we miss an estimated delivery date. But, you can rest assured that the pistol won’t leave until it’s perfect, and is further backed by a 100% warranty covering any work we do for the entire time a customer owns that pistol. It is this pride in our work I believe that has helped Grayguns in its success and made us a leader in our niche in the firearms industry.

We really appreciate this opportunity to give a little deeper insight to what we are doing at Grayguns. A huge thanks to Larry Vickers and Vickers Tactical, and to all of our great customers that make our businesses possible.

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Steve McGough