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The VP70 is a 9×19mm, 18-round, double action only, semi-automatic/three-round burst capable polymer frame pistol manufactured by German arms firm Heckler & Koch GmbH. VP stands for Volkspistole (literally "People's Pistol"), and the designation 70 was for the first year of production: 1970.
The VP70 combined a number of design features that were innovative, or at least very unusual for its time:
It was the first polymer-framed handgun, predating the Glock 17 by 12 years. (Although the Remington Nylon 66 rifle introduced in 1959 was the first polymer-framed firearm in production.) At 820 g (28.9 oz) unloaded, the weapon is lighter than most metal framed pistols of the time.
As on the Mauser C96 the stock was designed to be used as a holster when not mounted. On the military version of the VP70 this combination includes a unique feature: When mounted, a selective fire switch, located on the stock, allows switching the weapon to a three-round burst mode, with a 2,200 rounds per minute cyclic rate of fire.
The VP70 uses a spring-loaded striker like a Glock, instead of a conventional firing pin.
It is double action only so the trigger pull is relatively heavy.
In lieu of a blade front sight, the VP70 uses a polished ramp with a central notch in the middle to provide the illusion of a dark front post.
Unlike the military VP70M, the civilian VP70Z does have a safety. It is the circular button located immediately behind the trigger and is a common crossblock safety. On the military frame, this is replaced with a non-functional plug.