Introduction to the Korriphila HSP 701

Hailing from Germany, the Korriphila HSP 701 stands as a testament to the ingenious design capabilities of Czech firearm designer Edgar Budischowsky. Diverging significantly from his earlier creations like the compact TP70 .22 and .25 caliber pistols, the HSP 701 emerges as a unique entity. It’s a full-sized centerfire pistol, meticulously crafted with a focus on self-defense applications, epitomizing superior craftsmanship. The innovative design of the HSP 701 was patented in 1979, marking a significant milestone in firearm design, with its production commencing in 1984.

In the prestigious workshops of Heidelberg, Germany, each Korriphila HSP 701 was individually handcrafted to perfection, adhering to custom orders. Budischowsky’s vision was clear and uncompromising: to forge the world’s most superior pistol in terms of both unwavering reliability and pinpoint accuracy. The guiding principles were unmistakable – unparalleled build quality and exceptional performance, with other factors like cost taking a backseat in this pursuit of excellence. Distinct from mainstream military or law enforcement firearms, the HSP 701 was a rarity, with production capped at fewer than 30 units annually, each tailored to the exacting requirements of its discerning clientele.

The backdrop of 1984 in Handgun Evolution

Let’s delve into the transformative era of 1984, a pivotal year in the evolution of handgun technology and techniques. It’s a time when law enforcement is transitioning from the traditional revolver to the more modern semi-automatic, with a noticeable shift from single to double-stack magazines. Additionally, the nascent stage of polymer-framed pistols is emerging.

Despite their earlier introductions – the Browning Hi Power in 1927 and the Smith & Wesson 39 in 1955 – the adoption of 9mm semi-automatics by U.S. police forces is only gaining momentum in this decade. By 1984, semi-automatics are starting to surpass revolvers in law enforcement use, a trend further underscored by the equipment choices in the imminent Miami FBI shootout of 1986.

At this juncture, the 1911A1 remains the standard issue for the U.S. military, with the Beretta M9’s adoption and rollout on the horizon. The Glock 17, a pioneering polymer handgun, was recently chosen by the Austrian military in 1982. Meanwhile, the apex of Smith & Wesson’s 3rd generation 9mm pistols, the 5906, is still five years away from its debut. In Germany, the Heckler & Koch P9S maintains its popularity, and the German police are equipped with exemplary single-stack 9mms: the Walther P5, the Sig Sauer P6, and the sophisticated H&K P7.

During this period, pistol techniques also underwent significant advancements. The founding of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) in 1976 and Col. Jeff Cooper’s establishment of Gunsite Academy the same year marked a profound influence on defensive shooting methodologies, prominently seen by 1984.

In the midst of these significant shifts in handgun design, the emergence of the Korriphila HSP 701, a single-stack .45ACP pistol dedicated to personal defense, was both timely and sensible. Its exceptional build quality, coupled with a crisp and short trigger pull devoid of external safeties, resonated with the market’s evolving preferences. The HSP 701’s design, featuring a low bore axis and a fixed barrel, enhanced its performance, providing superior recoil management and accuracy. These characteristics, along with its caliber and capacity, made it particularly appealing to American enthusiasts accustomed to the 1911 platform.

Detailed Description of the Korriphila HSP 701

The Korriphila HSP 701, a creation of Budischowsky’s ingenuity, is a fixed-barrel, roller-delayed blowback semi-automatic pistol offering a single-stack configuration. Its minimalistic external control design defines this pistol, featuring solely a slide release that functions as a de-cocker. Initially crafted for the .45ACP, the HSP 701 offered versatility with options for other calibers, such as 9mm Parabellum, .30 Luger, .38 Super, and .38 Special Wadcutter. There were also possibilities for more unique calibers like 10mm and 9mm Ultra, though these were less common. These pistols were manufactured in .45ACP, with a smaller number in 9mm and only a few in the other variants, if any.

Customers had the privilege of customizing their HSP 701 to their liking, including a choice between a 4-inch or 5-inch barrel. Further personalization was offered through the trigger mechanism, with options for the standard DA/SA configuration or, alternatively, a single-action or double-action-only setup. The personalization extended to controls and sighting systems, making each piece a tailored masterpiece. As for the finish, clients could choose from a classic blued look, a sleek silver finish, or the exclusive Damascus steel for the Odin’s Eye special model.

Market Orientation and Design Characteristics

Despite its German origins, the Korriphila HSP 701 was unmistakably crafted with the American firearms enthusiast in mind. This orientation is evident in its design centered around the .45ACP cartridge, a favorite in the U.S., and the calibration of its test targets for 25 yards, a deviation from the European standard of 25 meters. These design choices, unique for a European-manufactured pistol, signal a deliberate alignment with American preferences. The original 4” model of the HSP even resembled the classic Smith & Wesson 39 in size and shape, further underlining its appeal to the U.S. market. The manual of the HSP 701 highlighted its capability as a large caliber pistol, safe for carrying with a chambered round, catering to the American ethos of a bespoke, defensive sidearm. The pistol’s distinctive features caught the attention of renowned firearms expert Col. Jeff Cooper, who, after testing the HSP 701, was quoted in Gun Digest by Ken Warner as saying, “These pistols were each a pleasure. The pulls were clean and sharp, the feel fine, the sights just right. In a 35-ounce gun, of course, the recoil was light.” Cooper’s approval underscored the HSP 701’s alignment with American shooting standards and preferences.

Performance and Craftsmanship

In the early days of its production, the Korriphila HSP 701’s craftsmanship was put to the test by Walter Rickell, who evaluated the model number 0017 (owned by Irv Stone of BarSto) for the 1985 edition of ‘American Handgunner.’ Rickell’s assessment was glowing, praising it as a superbly designed and impeccably manufactured firearm, noted for its flawless machining and polish. Production estimates suggested that around 30 units of the HSP 701 were crafted each year. However, in 1990, the German firearms magazine ‘Visier’ reported that the total production might have reached approximately 400 units. Our records, including the serial blocks from 1983 to 1992, indicate that this figure may be slightly optimistic. The versions in our possession, showcased here, include a 4” barrel .45ACP in the traditional DA/SA configuration from 1984 and a 5” barrel model, also in DA/SA, from 1986.

From its inception, the Korriphila HSP 701 was designed specifically for the .45ACP caliber, avoiding the common practice of upscaling a 9mm frame. This resulted in a handgun with a more substantial frame, setting it apart from many European counterparts. Budischowsky’s dedication to caliber-specific design was further exemplified in his later creation, the PP10 Minigun pistol, which was built around the 10mm cartridge.

Detail and Quality

The Korriphila HSP 701 represents the zenith of parts and build quality, ranking among the finest pistols we have ever experienced. Each component is meticulously crafted from top-grade solid billet steel, achieving a level of quality and form that is rare and exceptional. The dedication to detail in the steelwork is extraordinary, a fact we’ve endeavored to showcase in our photographs.

What is particularly remarkable about the HSP 701 is its robust construction. Any unnecessary movement is absent; the slide-to-frame fit is so precise that it defies any play. Cycling the slide requires a deliberate effort, reinforcing the sense of solidity and precision engineering. The pistol exudes a sense of unity, feeling like a singular, seamless piece of steel when held. We consider it to be the pinnacle of German semi-automatic craftsmanship.

As a collector of both semi-custom and custom 1911s, I, Bac1023, am hard-pressed to find 1911 in my collection that matches this level of finesse. The disassembly process of the 4” HSP 701 further exemplifies this precision, with its takedown levers not only being spring-loaded but also locking into place with a definitive click. This mechanism mirrors the security and assurance of a bank vault, only releasing upon reassembly. The firearm’s internal components are a testament to masterful engineering, akin to the intricacy of a Swiss watch. The external detailing, such as the subtle cross-hatched lines on the front strap, back strap, and trigger guard, which might be mistaken for checkering at first glance, add to its elegance.

The roll marking on the pistol, clearly done by hand, stands out as one of the finest we have encountered. The bluing of the gun strikes a perfect balance between a matte and a high gloss finish, making it visually stunning. This level of craftsmanship is indicative of a master gunsmith working without the constraints of budget or external mandates. It is no wonder that Jeff Cooper praised the HSP 701 so highly upon its release. The Korriphila HSP 701 is, in essence, a remarkable embodiment of precision, sophistication, and class.

Technical Specifications and Performance

The Korriphila HSP 701 is more than just a high-end collector’s item; it is a pistol designed for serious defensive use. The Budischowsky system within the HSP 701 utilizes a roller-delayed blowback mechanism akin to the Heckler & Koch P9S. However, it distinguishes itself by employing a single roller at the base of the bolt, as opposed to the dual side-mounted rollers found in the H&K model.

The pistol boasts a fixed barrel with a relatively low bore axis, contributing to its exceptional ergonomics. The double-action (DA) trigger provides a smooth, short travel and reset, while the single-action (SA) trigger offers a crisp, precise response with minimal take-up and no perceivable creep. The slide is designed with a flattened and finely serrated top, complemented by oiled wood grips, adorned with a cross-hatched pattern echoing the metalwork.

Regarding safety features, the DA/SA variant is intended to be carried with the hammer down, featuring no additional controls other than the slide release, which also functions as a de-cocker. The safety mechanism includes a firing pin safety and a hammer block, activated through a trigger pull.

The design of the slide release/de-cocker is noteworthy. In the initial models, decocking was achieved by exerting additional pressure on the slide release beyond its normal range. In later versions, this process required manual manipulation of the hammer in conjunction with the slide release for decocking.

Regarding accuracy, while not designed for competitive shooting, the Korriphila’s fixed barrel and precise operating clearances render it remarkably accurate for a defensive firearm. Each pistol comes with test targets from a 25-yard Ransom rest, demonstrating its accuracy. One such target measured groups as tight as 30mm (1.18 inches) center-to-center, with another achieving 21mm (0.83 inches). A 1990 test by ‘Visier’ magazine assessed three HSP 701s, recording the best groupings at 25 meters: 22mm (0.87 inches) for a 5″ 9mm model, 31mm (1.22 inches) for a 4″ 9mm, and 44mm (1.73 inches) for a 5″ .45ACP.

Conclusion and Legacy

Reflecting on our journey with the Korriphila HSP 701, our admiration for this firearm is evident. As aficionados who have studied and collected high-end pistols globally, our experiences have shown us a vast array of remarkable firearms. Yet, the HSP 701 stands out with a distinctive allure that continues to captivate us.

In the words of Bac1023, “The Korriphila HSP 701 represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship, design, and refinement in the world of handguns, a level I’ve seldom encountered elsewhere.” When measured against the iconic Sig P210-6 from Switzerland, known for its exceptional quality, the Korriphila proudly holds its ground, asserting its place among the finest.

Our attempt to convey the essence of the HSP 701 through words and images barely scratches the surface of its excellence. The Korriphila is a masterpiece where the density, smoothness, and integrity of the steel are almost palpable, even through photographs. This firearm embodies the finest traditions of old-world gunsmithing.

The HSP 701 stands apart in its class as a bespoke defensive handgun. Compared to modern polymer handguns like the Glock 19, the HSP 701, with its heft and lower capacity, might seem like an outlier. It’s akin to comparing a Patek Philippe watch with a Casio G-Shock – each excellent in its own right but serving different purposes. The HSP 701 aligns more closely with the craftsmanship of custom 1911s, making it a less conventional choice for a defensive handgun, yet one that garners our trust for self-defense. In the words of the legendary Obi-Wan Kenobi, it is “an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

We recognize that the Korriphila HSP 701 might not resonate with every enthusiast, but our intention is to cast a spotlight on Budischowsky’s remarkable creation, a true gem in the history of firearms. We hope that the legacy of Edgar Budischowsky and his exceptional work in the Korriphila HSP 701 will be cherished and remembered.

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