Changing Calibers was Easier 40 Years Ago

With the current price of 32 ACP, I decided it was time to change my Heckler & Koch back to 22 rimfire.  I got it when I taught at Trinidad State, and liked the idea of being able to use the HK-4 in 22 (spare magazines were cheap in 32, but have always been a bit spendy in 22).  The picture below shows the reason for the 4 in the name – if you got all the bells and whistles, you had 4 different barrels and magazines. 

My HK-4 doesn’t have 4 barrels – just two.  The box shows its first user’s name – a West German customs agent named Lamke.  He took good care of it, but it didn’t include all the tools for the conversion – it was, after all, government property, and sold on a competitive bid. 

I developed my own set of tools for this task – a bent ballpoint spring to move the firing pin from rimfire to centerfire, and a straight pin I curved to hold the extractor out of the way.  These are tools that worked well when I could still see without reading glasses and had good neural sensitivity in my fingers.  The neural sensitivity has been gone for a dozen years, and I have really good distance vision.  I found out that I can’t distinguish the ballpoint spring from the firing pin, and I discovered that I was bleeding from multiple stabs from my customized straight pin.

So the task that was a couple minutes with much younger eyes and fingers wound up taking me 35 minutes.  It works just as well as ever.  The frame is marked with the manufacturing date – September 1971.  It was one of 12,000 that went to work for West German police, as a P11.  The whole story on the HK-4 is available at

It doesn’t make the “use enough gun” guidelines for most – but I don’t usually carry a pistol for bear encounters.  More often, I run across something like a coyote or cougar, and occasionally they don’t understand that my Pomeranian sidekicks threaten them because they know they have human backup.  After 40 years, the HK-4 is still comfortable, and definitely adequate for the small tasks where I may need it.  And it’s back in a caliber where I can buy more cartridges.

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