Vektor SP1 pistol
REPRESENTATIVES of Vektor, USA recently visited NRA headquarters to deliver samples of the company’s products being importing from the Republic of South Africa.
While shooters may not know the Vektor name, its lineage is notable and recent offerings promise to make Vektor more familiar in years to come. The company’s history began 50 years ago when Lyttleton Lngineermg Works was formed as an integral part of Armscor. South Africa’s umbrella military sales organization, to develop artillery, armor and small arms. Lyttleton divided procurement and manufacturing divisions of Armscor and the resulting private shareholder company, Denel, became South Africa’s new industrial giant. Lyttleton, now called LIW, became a division of Denel, and in September 1997, Vektor, one of three original LIW units, also became a division of Denel. Today, Vektor manufacturers everything from handguns to 155 mm cannon barrels for sale to military forces, civilians and police worldwide.
First of Vektor’s guns shown to us was the Z88, a faithful, licensed copy of the 9x 19 mm Beretta Model 92F pistol. Next, was Vektor’s new line of SP series pistols. The SP series design appears based on an improved version of the original short-recoil, double-action
Beretta Model 92 pistol with a framemounted safety lever.
We received a full-size, stainless SP I and a compact, blued SP I for testing. Both are chambered for the popular 9x 19 mm cartridge. A .40 S&W version, called the SP 2 is also available. The full-size is more of a sport, or duty, pistol while the compact is intended for discreet carry. Well-blended edges on both guns make carry practical with either.
Most of the differences between the Vektor SP I and the Beretta 92 are external. Observers will immediately notice the racy, modern styling of the Vektor pistol, particularly the slide that is machined from solid bar stock. Unlike the Beretta that is open at the top of the slide, the SP 1 is closed and trapezoidal in cross section much like an H&K USP. The additional metal adds little to overall weight and does not make the gun top heavy.
Grooves cut into the sighting plane on the slide reduce glare between the front and rear sights. The rear sight is a conventional, steel, square-notch unit dovetailed into the slide and is driftadjustable for windage. We were surprised to find that the front sight is black plastic. It is secured in a slot milled into the front of the slide by a steel roll pin. Very pronounced steps are molded into the front face of the sight to reduce glare. A very small Tritium element in the middle step affords enhanced visibility in low-light situations.
Lock up is styled after the pivoting block found in the Beretta. The block is located under the forward half of the chamber and has side lugs that engage slots cut into the frame. The barrel is hammer-forged with four-groove, right-hand, polygonal rifling having a 1:9.8″ rate of twist.
Control levers are in the same location and serve the same function as found on the Beretta 92, except that the disassembly latch works without a separate latch release button. Another change is the ambidextrous, frame-mounted safety lever. The magazine release button is slightly larger and can be reversed. Since there is no disassembly latch release, a C-clip is incorporated into the disassembly latch to help retain it in the alloy frame.
Slide removal first involves locking the slide back on an unloaded gun, then removing the magazine and rotating the disassembly latch forward. Keeping the slide under control, carefully depress the slide release lever and allow the slide assembly to move forward and off the frame.
The frame is machined from aluminum alloy stock. The dust cover has an octagonal contour that extends back to the unusually shaped and generously proportioned trigger guard. While the front of the guard is recurved, it lacks finger purchase grooves, should that style of grip be employed.
There are, however, generous grooves running the length of the front strap to help provide a better grip. While the Beretta Model 92 has two-piece stock panels, the Vektor SP 1 has a black, wrap-around, polymer grip secured with a screw where the lanyard loop would be on the Beretta. Checkering is molded in each side of the grip and the back is serrated. The shape will remind many of the CZ-75, a pistol known for excellent ergonomics. Another nice effect is that the magazine well is flared to accommodate inserting the double-column magazine. Aftermarket, high-capacity, Beretta Model 92 magazines are said to be compatible with the Vektor SP 1 pistol. This proved to be the case with several different brands of magazines we tried.
We test fired the compact Vektor SP 1 with the results shown in the accompanying table. Function firing was with approximately 300 rounds of ammunition varying from 90-gr. +P to 147-gr. subsonic. There were no malfunctions of any kind.
A target showing how well the gun fired from a test fixture is included with each Vektor pistol. Our sample lived up to the supplied target group, but fell a little short of the accuracy of the Beretta Model 92 we tested in 1977 (August, p. 53). Recoil was mild, even with +P loads, thanks to the user-friendly grip design. We found the controls easy to use and practical in location and function. The double-action trigger pull was smooth and typical of this type of pistol. Single-action pull was a little on the heavy side, but crisp. Fit and finish of our Vektor samples were exceptional. Holsters and accessories are also offered by Vektor.
While the suggested retail price is below that of similar pistols from Beretta and Taurus, the Vektor name is virtually unknown in the United States, which could hold them back here until a reputation is established. Vektor faced the same dilemma in Europe a few years ago, but today is one of the main players in that handgun market.
The Vektor SP 1 is a mechanically faithful copy of Beretta’s proven 92 with contemporary styling of a trapezoidal slide and a more ergonomically designed grip. With this combination, Vektor would seem to have a winner right out of the gate. As long as pricing remains competitive and availability constant, Vektor could quickly become a household name among shooters. IRP
Copyright National Rifle Association of America Feb 1999
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