Graygun’s HK artistry

Bruce Gray’s Artistry in HK’s
By Darryl Bolke

Most of “my circle” of friends in the firearms world knows that I am an unrepentant fan of HK firearms. I have been a dedicated user of Heckler & Koch service pistols for over 25 years. While I love 1911 pistols and big bore revolvers with all my heart, I am most often found carrying an HK pistol of one variety or another. In the world of HK the names of the premier HK gunsmith’s is a short list………with one name-Bruce Gray. Others can work on them, but only one that I know of has been synonymous with high-end gunsmithing on them (especially with the P7 series) is Bruce Gray. I remember coveting a long slide P7M13 back in the late 80’s when they graced the HK catalogs. It has taken a lot of years, but finally in December I secured not one, but two Gray Guns, Inc. HK pistols.

The guns I got are two of my favorite pistols. One is a HK P7M8 and the other is a HK45C. These guns are generations away from each other and totally different. One is a all forged steel pistol that was one of the most innovative and unique pistols ever made and was very cutting edge in the 80’s, while the other is an up to date polymer framed wonder that is currently in use with one of America’s premier special operations units. This is what makes the Gray Guns work unique in that two radically different guns with radically different actions can be tuned to perfection at the same place.
First up is the P7M8. This came to me via a friend who every time we find ourselves in a home repair crisis we sell the other one a P7. We have had several guns go back and forth so we keep them in the family. This gun is my favorite variety of P7M8, an IE date code Chantilly, VA. Import. It was sent to Bruce for a total rebuild and refinishing. It is now a stellar carry gun. First and most obvious is a Novak rear sight has been expertly machined into the slide along with a custom made narrow serrated front sight. An action job has been done and an internal trigger stop built. The internals are coated in Nickel Polytetrafluoroethylene and the external parts and magazines in Superblack. While appearances are subjective, this thing is simply very black and very sexy (note for the record-nothing with a polymer frame can be defined as sexy as they have no soul)
The HK45C is a light LEM variant. It has a duty/carry action job and a short reset trigger. HK’s newer polymer framed service pistols have never been known for their “great triggers”. Even the “Match” triggers are work compared to the short take up and short reset triggers found in many other modern service pistols, and of course the easy to use 1911 trigger. A longer take up in the trigger is something I actually consider a positive for a “people management” gun, but a long take up combined with a long reset along with being fairly heavy makes accurate shooting at speed a good deal of work. I have come to like the lighter LEM triggers as my favorite “street” trigger for a L/E gun, but there is no need for a longer reset. The most noticeable thing about the GGI trigger work in my HK45C is a greatly improved trigger without losing the benefits of the LEM’s long, but light initial take up. The internal parts are also all plated in Nickel Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This is important because unlike many other “trigger jobs” that are being done, the Gray Guns trigger work has a well established reputation for staying the way the are set up and not having later reliability issues or problems as the altered parts begin to wear with use. I swapped a 10-8 rear sight for the factory Meprolight rear, and the rest of the pistol is factory.
My initial trip to the range was a real joy. I need to spend some quality time with the P7 to really get used to running one again. I could shoot it well, but one test proved to me that there is a ton of potential in this gun. While working a B8 bull stapled to a typical silhouette resulted in easy and rapid hits to the bull and head, the real eye opener came at the end of the day. Working at 7 yards on an 8-inch plate from the ready I was getting easy .43 to .44 hits. This may be slow for many, but considering I hadn’t been shooting in almost two months and a long time since I worked a P7, I was pleased beyond words. This is where the P7 is a great gun. I have always found them to be easy to get hits with at speed if I don’t really think about it. The HK P7’s are very intuitive pistols to run. I also had a good time with the HK45C. The trigger made stacking rounds on top of each other fairly easy. I shot it good, but my bubble was burst when I handed it off to my business partner Wayne Dobbs. Most people who know Wayne know that he is a very gifted shooter. I should know better than to hand him my new “neat gun” with three loaded magazines. Wayne simply stood about 8 yards away and dumped 25 rounds into the X-ring of a B8 target at a fairly rapid pace. Not 25 10’s, but 25 X’s…I took it away and asked him to kindly wipe the gigantic grin off his face. Simply put, the Gray Guns trigger will help a good shooter be more consistent, and allow a great shooter to do the Lord’s work.
I have never sent a gun to Gray Guns in the past due to the expense of their work and the wait time. This is going to change as I have a pair of P30’s that will be making the trip next. I have found that the money and wait are well worth the quality of the delivered product. I will still continue to hope that one day I can pony up and get one of Bruce’s long slide P7’s.

This entry was posted in Modern Service Pistols, Weapon Modifications by Darryl Bolke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Darryl Bolke

Darryl Bolke is a retired SoCal police officer who spent 17 years assigned to SWAT as a firearms instructor and primary instructor on all firearm systems. Darryl also authored and created a program for L/E edged weapons use and issue knives for all officers, and assisted in the design of several knives. Darryl has worked several years on various private sector investigation and protection details, is a Pro Staffer for L/E with Aimpoint, and is the co-owner of Hardwired Tactical Shooting (HiTS).

9 thoughts on “Graygun’s HK artistry

  1. I look forward to this guys’ reviews on the work on his P30s. I have a v3 model that is the best feeling pistol ever! Except for the trigger….a heavy stacking DA pull, long reset, and mildly better SA lighter pull. My glock friends laugh at me because their polished lightened triggers are easy to do at home. I wouldnt dare mess with my home defense pistol on my own but the 3 to 400 dollar price tag on the mother of all trigger jobs is hard to swallow.

  2. Bruce Gray is an outstanding craftsman as a pistolsmith, a solid instructor in the use of the pistol and a complete gentleman. His work is highly recommended for HK and Sig platforms and the refinement of the LEM trigger on the HK45 was very nice. Great job on the guns, Bruce, and another solid piece of writing from Darryl.

  3. My buddy had his P30 LEM done by Bruce Gray, and confirmed the quality of his workmanship. However he also tells me that he can detect no difference on timed drills between his Gray modified P30 and his friend’s otherwise stock P30. I will be interested in what you find in your testing.

    While I find custom work appealing, a major appeal of the HK to me, is you can add sights and march on.

    • I would agree on the benefit to guns like the P30 is that you can just replace the rear sight with a 10-8 unit (I like it combined with a Dawson Front). With that said, where I seem to find a difference in the Gray Guns work is that I am more consistent. Not really faster, just less likely to have one “get away”.
      In the case of the P7, the combination of the custom sights, and over travel stop really seemed to make a difference in consistency as well. I really need to spend a little more dedicated time with the P7. They are kind of a unique animal, and it is hard going out with a P30, HK45C, the P7M8, and an Mp-7 and doing really good work with the P7. I am looking forward to just spending a solid training day working with the P7M8.

  4. Two decades ago, I spent a number of years carrying a P7.

    As much as I enjoy shooting different platforms, I found the manual of arms of the P7 to be sufficiently unique, for me the P7 is an all or nothing proposition.

    • I parted with my Euro P7 back in the ’90’s for that same reasoning and I saw evidence of the merits of that argument. I wish I’d had the discipline to train through that and held onto it!

  5. I have never been without a P7 of some variety (and at times disturbingly fat on a ton of them) since 1988. I have done my best work shooting them when I was really dedicated to carrying them either exclusively or when they were being carried and shot more than any of my other guns. It is my number one recommended pistol for those looking to have a solid day to day carry gun who only own a few guns and are not voracious shooters.
    At this point in my life I could wrap myself around exclusive P7 carry, and if I did..the above gun would be the one. One other area where I have always loved the P7 was for single hand support side work. I carried one on my left side working prostitutes and vice in a car, and the times when I have suffered right hand injuries and was forced to run a left side one handed gun, the P7 was it.
    They aren’t always for everyone, but I think every “real” gun person should have one just because they are such a unique system that appeals to those of who have academic interest in firearms along with the practical training side of things.

  6. I was assigned to SEB from ’83-85 and carried the P7, P7M8 and the M13. When I left, I traded my M13 for the P7M8 which I love… a great combat piece. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to find a laser sight for the P7M8.. Crimson Trace doesn’t have one, although they have a list of patrons who want it. They do have a rail mount laser system; however, the P7M8 has no rails. Do you know of a gunsmith who can machine rails on the P7? I have only seen one.

  7. I’ve seen P7’s with small pieces of rail welded to the bottom of the P7 dust cover combined with a small rail mounted laser. While it has no appeal to me, it can be done. One of the things I love about the P7 is how “clean” they are as far as having very few things hanging off of them. While not ideal and the reason why the are no longer popular as a “tactical” pistol, it is an attribute that is a positive for a deep concealment defensive pistol.
    If you want a rail on the P7, I wold be very careful as to who I had do the work.
    Many of the old SEB crew are legendary with their very effective use of the P7 system, and it is good to see you sticking with them. I don’t carry mine as often as I have in the past, but I still love the things. I have a M8 at Robar right now getting a facelift along with a .45 P9S Target. Look for some upcoming reviews on these guns.

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