FNS-40 Contest Entry: Gun Review – Browning Hi-Power

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It’s John Moses Browning’s last design. A classic. And suprisingly, a firearm TTAG has not reviewed yet. It’s about time, I thought. The Browning Hi Power was actually designed during the Roaring 20′s as a contender to replace a large number of service pistols the French military had used in WWI, all of them chambered in 7.65mm (.32 ACP), and none with a magazine larger than nine rounds. Browning began work on the design not long after Armistice Day and filed for a patent in 1923. Like his then-recent FN M1922 and the original M1910 (the pistol used to kill Archduke Ferdinand to spark WWI) the Hi-Power prototype was striker fired, but featured a revolutionary double-stack magazine invented by Diedonne Saive, one of Fabrique Nationale Herstal’s lead Belgian designers . . .

Alas, Browning passed away in 1926 before his patent was even accepted in the US. The French, downsizing like every European army in the 1920′s, lost interest in the new Hi-Power prototype and bought a few FN 1922′s for their navy. They would later adopt the Mle 1935 in 7.65mm Longue.

But Diedonne Saive continued to tinker with the Hi-Power design while also working on the “Baby” Browning 6.35mm (.25 ACP) pocket pistol, another hugely successful design which is still made today. In 1928, Colt’s exclusive rights to the M1911 pistol expired, allowing Saive to mine Browning’s earlier design for ideas.

He ended up adding the single-action exposed hammer setup to the Hi-Power, although strangely, not the 1911′s trigger. By the early 1930′s, Saive’s rework was nearly in its final form. He settled on a magazine of 13 rounds and crucially did not use the barrel bushing of the 1911. The so-called Browning linkless cam system was perfected, a system that has been used on the vast majority of modern pistols including the CZ-75 and GLOCK. A plunger-style magazine safety, different from the M1922′s, was included in the hopes of still filling the French contract.

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With the Depression easing for a time and Facism beginning to menace Europe, the Hi-Power was rolled out in 1935. It was immediately adopted by Belgium (for officers and tank crewmen), Lithuania, Latvia, and Nationalist China, but only about 35,000 were made before the outbreak of war. Despite the Belgians having more men under arms than all English-speaking countries combined in 1939, Belgium and FN Herstal were overrun by the Nazis in 1940.

The Nazis would commandeer FN and force production of Hi-Powers with basic combat sights, mostly for use by the Waffen SS. Fortunately, Diedonne Saive escaped to Canada where he oversaw production (by John Inglis Co.) of tangent-sighted Hi-Powers for Chiang Kai-shek and later a model exclusively for Canadian and British troops with better sights than the non-tangent Hi-Powers. Speaking of, we really need to start our comparisons.

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Comparison of slide/sight combinations: Original combat sights, internal extractor from 1961 (“pre-T series” – top); Tangent sighted, with later external extractor (“C Series”); 1980′s Mk. II with parkerized finish; current production Mk. III with matte black finish, both sights dovetailed (bottom).

The “original” Hi-Power was made from 1935 until the early 1980′s with Browning occasionly selling guns with “original” features until 1990 or so. The P35 had either a tangent (rifle-type, think Mauser or AK) or combat sights. The tangent is adjustable out to 500 meters (presumably for volley fire) and the combat includes a simple dovetailed real sight and a “half moon” front sight, a pinned half circle essentially.

Early P35′s had internal extractors like the M1911, but in 1963 or so a more durable external version was made standard. Most original and all Mk.II Hi-Powers have forged steel frames…not ideal for +P ammo, but certainly serviceable. The Mk.II would introduce slightly improved combat sights, an ambi-safety, plastic grips and a matte finish. However, the Mk.II’s front sight would still not be dovetailed.

This changed with the introduction of the Mk.III in 1989, and by 1994 all Hi-Powers were being made with cast steel frames (better for +P and tougher in general). At the same time, the .40 S&W version was introduced featuring a extra-durable slide and ten-round magazines as standard for that chambering.

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In 1954, the British military adopted the Hi-Power as it’s first standard semi-automatic pistol and that opened the floodgates for 50+ armies to adopt the pistol. Hi-Powers are common in the Middle East (my Mk. II is ex-Israeli) in South America (my 1961 Hi-Power is a ex-Buenos Aires Police pistol, a common CAI import in the 90′s) and Europe (my Mk.III is a former Austrian police sidearm).

While the British have recently began to adopt the GLOCK 17, Australia still uses the Mk.III, and Canada still uses plenty of WW2 production Inglis guns that were put into long-term storage and gradually brought into service. They are THAT good. India makes its own version of the Inglis for use by its military and FM in Argentina does the same with the standard Hi-Power. Hi-Powers were also built by FEG of Hungary for export and are a good entry level Hi-Power available for $200-$350.

While there are plenty of ideas around about how to truly bring the Hi-Power into the 21st century, the Hi-Power design has not been updated since 1994. FN unfortunately is showing no plans to do so and Browning USA is simply billed as a hunting arms importer that also sells cute deer stickers. Personally, this shooter thinks it could be done rather simply.

Ratings (out of 5 stars):

Accuracy: * * * *
Great with any model…one star deducted for magazine safety limitations. Remove it and generally you’re good with an Original or Mk. II. You may need to get a new trigger spring to improve reset with the Mk. III. Still, even with the mag safety, trigger pull is better than any stock pistol with it’s main safety contained in the trigger.

Ergonomics: * * * *
Another strong suit; many argue that only the CZ-75′s angle of grip can touch the Hi-Power’s. Easy to manage ambi-safety and essentially the 1911′s slide stop. Extremely simple to field strip. Minus one star for hammerbite issues.

Reliability: * * * *
On a surplus gun, at least replace the recoil and firing pin springs to insure reliability. NIB, they’re great.

Customize This: * * * * *
Tons of grip options, after-market magazines (MecGar is the best), custom parts (Cylinder & Slide does impressive work), sights (I have Meprolights on my Mk.III). I would dock the Original and Mk.II to four stars for limited sight options.

Fun Factor: * * * * *
Used by both sides in WWII, and by 50+ armies post-war. No handgun ever made can touch that. Gimme some tears, James Yeager.

Overall: * * * * *
Historical yet still relevant, classy yet practical, the Hi-Power is a must own.

 

…Dedicated to the late Stephen A. Camp, Hi-Power and pistol expert.

79 Responses to FNS-40 Contest Entry: Gun Review – Browning Hi-Power

  1. avatarKorvis says:

    Ah BHP…how I love thee. It’s such an elegant piece of engineering. It kills me that we don’t have the same legion of manufacturers producing clones of the original design like we do with the 1911. Maybe some day…

    • avatarmaiko says:

      What’s worse, is that FN/Browning doesn’t appear to be producing any these days. They have not discontinued it to my knowledge, they are just no where to be found. The Israeli surplus FNs on GB are decent guns in a pinch, but not the same as a shiny blue Browning.

      • avatarKorvis says:

        You’re right. There seem to be a handful of of the black-finished Mark IIIs available on GB at any given time, but I haven’t seen any new blued models in a long time. If I find one at this point, I’m probably going to just buy the thing, funds willing. Can’t have too many.

        • avatarMichael says:

          I believe thy still make them, but not sure hey are imported anymore. The last MSRP was over $1000.
          I still use mine, both FN High Power and FEG version, but I think the Glock is now a better pistol for carrying.
          The MecGar magazines are great, especially the 20 rounders.
          The High Power was also used by the FBI HRT, SAS a few tears ago. And Prince Harry carried one during his first deployment to Afghanistan, stuffed down he front of his vest

  2. avatar0351 says:

    A lovely piece. Good review, I’d certainly like to give it a try, though I’ve avoided external hammer pistols. I don’t like the idea of it catching on something, but since I’ve never really carried one with an external, is it really ever an issue?

    • avatarLC Judas says:

      Not really. Watch your draw stroke. When you come out of a hip holster your butt and top of back strap tend to come out first. Those things being true, you’ve either cleared leather or snagged on said back strap or beavertail if you’ve snagged at all.

      My experience with it anyway.

    • avatartdiinva says:

      I have never heard of the external hammer snagging on anything. If this were an issue then the world’s militaries would have gone to a striker eons ago. The technology has been around for a long time. I think the first successful striker fired pistol dates from 1902.

    • avatarwhit says:

      Thank you for the kind words, I wrote this piece. I wanted to get into some custom alternations you can make to a Hi-Power, but I wanted to keep this short and simple. Cylinder and Slide makes no-bite hammers for the Hi-Power, that cure hammerbite and reduce the overall size of the hammer for carrying……http://www.cylinder-slide.com/

      • avatarwhit says:

        (My Mk.III above has a C&S no bite on it)

      • avatarPatrick B. says:

        Well done, sir.

      • avatarJoe Grine says:

        Good Job, Whit. As a owner of a 1970′s era Hi-Power (my first pistol), I have been meaning to do a TTAG review for quite some time, but it hasn’t made it to the top of the list. Thanks for adding the historical information. I recently had an opportunity to review the Lionheart LH-9, and it reminds me of a hi-Power in many respects. Truthfully, I like the Lionheart better, despite my long affinity for the Browning.

        • avatarwhit says:

          Joe, your LH9 review actually somewhat inspired this one. In it, you brushed the surface of the Hi Power’s specs and story…but there was of course no Hi Power review. I actually will be in the market for a double action in the future and I’m considering the LH9, 92fs, and CZ-75 B…kind of favoring the latter now.

  3. avatarLC Judas says:

    Given I’ve been eyeballing one of these since i started shooting this review puts into perspective several of the different ones I’ve seen. I’ll have to get one now.

    Your history lesson is very nice; FN being the big manufacturer of them I did not know. That and I used to credit the Hi Power with the first staggered pistol mag. Thank you.

    • avatarwhit says:

      The Hi-Power was not the first pistol with a double stack (the Savage 1907′s 10 rounder comes to mind…not sure if that’s THE first one or not) but Saive’s double stack mag is much more like everything that would come later than anything prior.

      • avatarLC Judas says:

        I actually had heard of some earlier stuff but I was indeed referring to the earliest related forerunner to the modern staggered and double column magazines popular today. I concur at your wording it better.

  4. avatarEmfourty Gasmask says:

    An updated High Power would more or less end up along the lines of a CZ-75 SP-01/P-01. It would be neat but the pistols wouldn’t be very different, really.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      IIRC, some guy in South Africa made a polymer Hi-Power frame that worked fine. If FN wanted to they could mass produce them at a much lower price point than the all steel versions they occasionally churn out now but I think they’re solely focusing on their FNX series guns, which is a shame.

      A BHP with a polymer frame and no magazine disconnect would be quite interesting.

    • avatarKorvis says:

      …except for the fact that all of those CZs are DA/SA, not SAO. The CZ 75 has a silhouette that is somewhat similar to the Hi Power, but other than that, it is a completely different weapon. I think the updates that Hi Power fans would like to see would be similar to those that separate, say, a new Colt Marine Pistol from a milspec M1911 or M1911A1. New frame and component materials and geometries. Different springs. Deleting the damn magazine safety. That sort of thing.

      • avatarMichael B. says:

        +1

      • avatarSchizuki says:

        CZ makes an SAO version of the CZ-75.

      • avatarEmfourty Gasmask says:

        As somebody has pointed out the CZ does have an SAO version, but as it is the CZ is definitely a bit of an evolution over the BHP due to the simple fact that it is more newer overall. What I ment, overall, was the fact that the BHP would logically end up somewhere along the lines of the SP-01, with rails, night sights, etc.

        I do own both a BHP and an SP-01. As it is, the SP-01 is lightyears ahead of the BHP by far in terms of everything, but of course my SP-01 was made in 2011 while my BHP was made somewhere in the 80s. Quite a substantial time difference, really.

  5. avatarCentralIL says:

    Carry a Hi-Power in condition one and nobody will bat an eye. Tape down the silly grip safety on your 1911 and see what kind of reaction you get. A bit of a contradiction, no?

    A wonderful pistol. I wish it didn’t have the magazine cutoff though.

  6. avatarready,fire,aim says:

    that’s the 1st gun i ever bought 30 + years ago…which i still have to this day still my best hand gun…

  7. avatarRightYouAreKen says:

    You mentioned:
    “Most original and all Mk.II Hi-Powers have forged steel frames…not ideal for +P ammo, but certainly serviceable.”

    That surprised me. I figured a forged steel frame would be the most robust. What would be better than a forged frame for +P ammo?

    • avatarJason says:

      I have heard that it’s not that the forging process is inferior but that the design didn’t have enough metal in certain parts of the frame. To re-design the forging would have been cost prohibitive.

      The problem was addressed in the cast version where it’s easy to modify the design.

      I have also heard that given exactly the same alloy the forging would be stronger. But, things are never equal, you could cast in a stronger alloy than would be practical in a forging.

      Jason

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      If you visit the link to Stephen Camp’s site at the bottom of the post he goes into this issue.

      IIRC (don’t take just my word for it), but it depends on the quality of the steel used in the forging and the heat treatment. They found it cheaper to produce tougher cast frames than tougher new forged frames so they switched to cast frames only.

      • avatarRightYouAreKen says:

        Thanks for the info guys. My (little) knowledge of forgings vs cast parts comes mainly from motorsports, where forged wheels are nearly always preferred over cast wheels. Also, the lower end STI pistols (Spartan, Trojan etc) are cast, whereas the more expensive ones (Lawman and up) are forged. So both cases lead me to believe forged was always preferred over cast. Makes sense that design also plays a huge part.

  8. avatarMichael B. says:

    I love my Hi-Power MKIII. With the magazine disconnect removed, it is the pistol I shoot best with.

    The only thing that I imagine some people having problems with is the fact you have to let the trigger go completely forward, like a revolver, before squeezing it again if you take the mag disconnect safety. I haven’t fiddled with a new trigger return spring so I don’t know if it’d be much different with one installed or not.

    I still see it as a perfectly serviceable handgun that can compete with the polymer nines. After all, Mec-Gar (who manufactures the magazines for FN) has come out with reliable 15 round magazines for it.

    I should note that my MK III has never choked on anything. It’s fed and extracted several hundred 9mm rounds of all types without issue. Both it and my Glock 19 have never had a single hiccup. The only thing that’s ever stopped it from running is a lack of ammo and one wayyyy out of spec WWB round whose OAL was too long for both it and my Glock to chamber.

    Is it the perfect handgun? No. But it’s pretty damn close to perfect for me. Feels good, is accurate as hell, boringly reliable, and still very relevant.

    By the way, I find it kind of funny that the British are replacing it with the Glock. I watched a video of some British sergeant talking to a completely ignorant Brit reporter about the change. Apparently they weren’t allowed to carry the BHP with a round in the chamber because of negligent discharges. Yet they’re allowed to carry a Glock with a round in the chamber because of the “safe action trigger”!

    The British military has masterfully hoodwinked the ignorant Brit politicians and populace. I have to give them serious props for that and returning some sanity to their armed forces.

    Can anyone tell me how the US Army mandates Berettas are carried? Are our troops allowed to carry them with a round in the chamber even though they’re DA/SA with that annoying lever safety?

    Because the Brits now tote around Glocks cocked and ready to rock.

    • avatarjwm says:

      Simple turn of a phrase gets you what you want. like “through deck cruiser.”

      • avatarMichael B. says:

        +1

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20978842

        The Glock has three built-in safety catches, and the pistol can be kept fully loaded with a round in the chamber – even when it is in the holster.

        I love it.

        And this is wonderful too:

        Military commanders say that the old Browning pistols saved troops’ lives in the past, and that the new Glock standard issue pistol will do so in the future.

        I can’t believe the BBC wrote that.

        • avatarwhit says:

          Me too, I have a suspicion though that unit cost might have something to do with it though. New Hi-Powers are in the $900-1000 range. While a military would pay a lower cost, it couldn’t be by much.

    • avatardefensor fortisimo says:

      Depends on a couple of things including branch and roes. Most of the time, the standard is round in the chamber, safety on, hammer down. But for my branch and career field, the standard is chambered round, safety off, and hammer down when on duty, if you’re off and just rolling around the air field, then you’re safe and unchambered.. Needless to say, when we work with the army it can lead to some kerfuffles.

      Then you get special cases. On a recent deployment to one of the gulf states, we weren’t allowed to carry a mag in at all, m4s included because the locals got butthurt

  9. avatarAPBTFan says:

    I have an adjustable sight Hi-Power Practical I bought new in the mid 90′s (it came with plugged mags so it had to have been after 1994). It is by far the most accurate and pleasant shooting handgun I’ve ever owned. If memory serves I paid around five bills which amusingly enough seemed like a fortune to me at the time. Shoulda bought two.

    Every gunnie owes it to themselves to at least spend some range time with one.

    • avatarinsertjjs says:

      Love the Practical. got mine for 550 2 years ago in 99% condition. But mine was a 92 production so I have the 13rd mags. Love that beautiful two tone finish that it has.

  10. avatarSchizuki says:

    So Saive not only designed the Right Arm of the Free World (the FN-FAL), but the Sidearm of the Free World as well.

    That’s why I rank him #2 after JMB in Greatest Gun Designers in History.

  11. avatarMichael B. says:

    Oh, and can any of TTAG’s lovely reporters find out what the British military intends on doing with their Brownings?

    I sincerely doubt they’ll sell them on the international civilian market because of their anti-gun politics, but I hope they’d at least give them to the Canadian or Australian armies since they still use them.

    • avatarKorvis says:

      Don’t ask the question unless you are prepared to be mortified and appalled by the answer. This is the United “Lock-Back Folding Knives are EEEVILLL!!!” Kingdom we’re talking about. Also, Canada did this a while back: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2011/10/20111008-105229.html

      • avatarMichael B. says:

        Well, that was a depressing read.

      • avatarAnon in CT says:

        That’s really sad, but so was the condition of the HPs we were issued, and that was 15 years ago. We’d joke that they still had sand from the beaches of Normandy in them. Bluntly, most of the probably needed an armory-level rebuild to be serviceable and safe. Still, they could at least have offered some of them to museums and messes after disabling.

      • avatarwhit says:

        Actually, the Inglis HP has still not been replaced, as the Canadian government made manufacturing by Colt Canada a must. “Potential suppliers objected to its requirement to supplying proprietary details to Colt Canada. No suppliers regarded this small order as worth surrending industrial secrets.”
        http://www.casr.ca/doc-pa-gsp-pistol.htm

    • avatarJaredFromTampa says:

      I’m thinking that they are going to melt them down and make plows.

      • avatarKevin A says:

        To be fair, I doubt most of the guns are in a condition to be valuable shooters.

        • avatarMichael says:

          I agree, they do tend to keep things well past there sell by date,
          I would love t have one anyway, but don’t hold your breath.

    • avatarjwm says:

      The brits have this thing they do to guns. It’s called “deactivesation.” Heart breaking to find an old webley thus advertised.

    • avatarJason Lynch says:

      Do we hate our allies that much? The Brownings were wearing out a while ago: enough that for the last few years, we’ve been issuing the SIG-Sauer P226 for Iraq and then Afghanistan (an “Urgent Operational Requirement” buy) because the Brownings were (a) worn out, (b) not ideal for the role of “quick response to a green-on-blue” compared to something more modern. The least wrecked examples may go for sale, the worst will be deactivated or scrapped, some will likely get gifted to needy nations (like the way many of our clapped-out L1A1s went to Sierra Leone after Op PALLISER)

      Like the 1911 (or the AK), technology has moved on past it, but it’s still a lethal piece of engineering that works very well.

      • avatarMichael B. says:

        I’m assuming you’re a UK TTAG reader? Wonderful to know you guys are out there!

        • avatarJason Lynch says:

          Yep, reading and enjoying from the UK. Fond memories of the HP, too. (Shot it with the Army and then with my shooting club, would have gone for one as a second or third weapon if I’d had the cash. Owned a S&W 4506 which wasn’t bad at all, traded it for a Glock 21 which for me was excellent, then the ban came down…how sad, too bad, dry your eyes Princess)

  12. avatarKarl says:

    The #1 problem I’ve seen with people shooting HiPowers is the external hammer digging a hole in their hand, if they use a high grip (which is a good idea). I’ve seen several HiPowers modified to use the round-hole “Commander type” hammer to address that problem.

    • avatarmaiko says:

      Actually, the FN/Browning rowel hammers are worse offenders. Cylinder and Slide produces a version of chamfered/no-bite ring hammers that supposedly fix this problem. Has never been a problem for me or anyone I let shoot my hi powers.

      • avatarwhit says:

        Maiko is 100% correct on this, my Original Hi Power (top) bites far worse with the old-school ring hammer than Hi-Powers I have owned with the spur (like the above MkIII before I added a C&S no bite).

        • avatarMichael says:

          I don’t have a problem with the hammer biting my hand, but I do have a problem with it digging into my side when carrying cocked and locked.
          Remove the magazine safety, it improves the trigger.
          There were some 18 round South African/South American (depends who you bought them from) for sale a few years ago, the rounds rattled a bit but they worked fine.

  13. avatarTaro Tsujimoto says:

    I loves me my Hi-Power. It’s in old-world high polish blue with honest-to-Christ walnut grips and makes me weep at the beauty of it. But my CZ-75 is what happened when a Hi-Power and a SIG P210 had sex.

  14. avatarTom says:

    I have a late 40s- early 50s BHP with a alleged interesting history. It is a joy to shoot, even my teenage son loves shooting it even though he is into more modern firearms.

  15. avatargemalo says:

    I have always loved the lines of a BHP; it was flat-out elegant. Finally got my hands on a 1972 mfg. date at a local gun shop. Picked up two more 13-rd. mags at a gun show and have been loving it ever since. This gun almost out-shoots my M-41 .22. Super accurate, comfortable to hold, and always draws good comments when i go to the range. Thanks for the review and history lesson.

  16. avatarTommy Knocker says:

    I believe two particular uses of the Hi-Power in TV and film made the general American public aware of the handgun.

    The earliest that I remember is from the TV show “I Spy” with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby (1965-1968). Culp’s character always had a Hi-Power floating around and boy did it look sexy to a young kid. It made the PPK carried by the contemporary James Bond/Sean Connery look puny and very European anemic.

    The other use of the Browning was in the movie “Serpico” (1973). The story is based on the real life story of NYPD cop Frank Serpico who got caught up in the corruption of the department of the time. He finally co-operated with “outside agencies” and became a hunted man by his own cops. The best line of the movie is when he buys the Hi-Power and is asked by the gun store salesman if he “is going to take on an army?”. To a public very familiar with the revolvers carried by cops of the time, the Hi-Power was like something out of Science Fiction. “What the hell kind of pistol is that?” was heard quite a lot where the movie played.

    • avatarJan says:

      I’ll add 2 newer movies that a Hi-Power can be seen: in the Red Dawn remake, the kids find one in the camper next to the cabin; and in Stallone’s Bullet to the Head, his character uses a very shiny suppressed Hi-Power.

  17. avatarJoseph says:

    I carried a Browning Hipower both on and off duty from the late 1970′s to mid 1990. It is one of the few pistols than can easily fill both roles.Through many thousands of qualification/training rounds it never missed a beat. I also used it twice to defend my life, much to the dismay of an armed robber and a dude who decided to point his .45 at me one night on a disturbance call.

    A fine piece of art and a great pistol, made of wood and steel…ahhh yes!

    • avatarjwm says:

      I call BS on that story, Joseph. Everybody knows the .45 is a death ray. Just pointing it at a target makes the target discombobulate.( I don’t know how to do that little yellow smiley face or there’d be one here)

  18. avatarJay in Florida says:

    My favorite gun.
    Ive owned mine since 1995 and wish to be buried with it.
    Also at the time my 1st big ticket pistol,
    It is to me the Ultimate design with a 1911 a few inches behind it.
    Now if only it was a 45acp instead of a 40 S&W.
    It would be with me 24/7.
    If someone asked me what perfection was.
    Id have to say a Browning Hi-Power.

  19. avatarPatrick B. says:

    It’s about damn time the Hi-Power got some TTAG press! No matter what I take to the range, my HP comes along for some exercise.

  20. avatarCameron B says:

    I want one, a classic review of a timeless gun like this has made my night.

  21. avatarjoe says:

    I have the MKIIIS in 9mm;the Capitan,a limited run that looks like an original but is cast steel MKIII in 9mm;and a 30 Luger version-try finding one of those around.The 30 Luger isn’t practical for SD but is fun on the range-I carry the MKIIIS now and have so for many years-never jammed once-easy to disassemble and reassemble and it’s amazing that a 14 round capacity can be so comfortable for small/medium hands.it’s a natural pointer also.

  22. avatarAharon says:

    Dan, great article. Thanks.

    “Despite the Belgians having more men under arms than all English-speaking countries combined in 1939″
    — I am very surprised to read that statistic. I am having trouble imagining that the combined numbers of British, American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand forces were less in number than Belgium. If one includes all the native speaking auxiliary troops (ex: India) under the control of the UK’s Empire then the combined number goes even higher.

    The Browning is a classic and did inspire the CZ which is the make I’m going to own someday,

    • avatarwhit says:

      Hey man (I’m actually the writer), I should have cited “Fairness and Freedom” by David Hackett Fischer for that, which is where I got that info. After WWI, the US Army was downsized to 128,000 men. In 1939, New Zealand only had 510 regular army troops. And so on. The Belgians had mobilized nearly 200,000.

  23. avatarJames A. "Jim" Farmer says:

    I recall a Klamath County Deputy Sheriff in Klamath Falls, Oregon back in the 1970′s. Being a
    World War II U.S. Army vet, and likewise a part time gunsmith, he knew his weapons. In addition
    to carrying a 4″ Smith and Wesson (K-Frame) Model 19 .357 Combat Magnum revolver in his
    duty holster, he also had a P-35 9mm Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol inside a
    shoulder holster concealed beneath his jacket. The 9mm Browning Hi-Power obviously was
    for backup. The deputy sheriff, who often transported prisoners, mentioned the Browning
    was highly accurate.

  24. avatarKendahl says:

    What about BHP triggers? I have read some critical comments about them. About thirty years ago, I looked at a used, stainless BHP. The trigger pull was at least as hard as a double action revolver. I went with a Colt Gold Cup instead.

    Compared to the 1911, the BHP’s safety isn’t as easy to flick off in an emergency.

  25. avatarDoug Garrou says:

    Really, really terrific article, I learned a lot — many thanks.

    I own two HPs, a mixmaster Inglis with a commercial postward slide (external extractor) and a modern fixed-sight MkIII (Belgian made, Portugal assembled). It’s my favorite handgun by far. I think it’s really, really underrated. I shoot them a lot, including in a number of classes at Practical Firearms Training in WV. I don’t think the HP gives up a thing in terms of accuracy or reliability to the modern polymer 9s.

    A few additional points about the HP, pro and con:

    - From the factory, the modern HP has a terrible trigger that basically HAS to be worked on. It’s amazing Browning sells a gun this good, for this much money, with such a terrible trigger.

    - The magazine safety is a PITA and removing it improves the trigger pull, so that modification is a win-win. IDPA has no problem with this mod. Ditching the magazine safety also makes it safer to “clear” a pistol in the modern fashion, because you don’t have to re-insert a magazine!

    - I’ve shot thousands and thousands of rounds through mine and they just go and go. The older military ones have a “bump” in the feed ramp that dislikes some modern hollowpoints, so you’ll want to test that out.

    - The HP seems particularly well-suited to people with small hands (like me). Perceived recoil is fairly low, as is muzzle flip. A lot of women seem to like it.

    - It’s surprisingly concealable for a full-size auto, mostly because of its tapering barrel and slimness.

    - Novak does good custom work – they did my trigger job, magazine safety removal, and gave me an extended safety lever. The extended safety is nice because the comment above is accurate, the factory safety on a modern HP can be difficult to disengage (it’s fairly “tight”).

    - Although the purists will clutch their pearls at the thought, it’s possible to put a Picatinny rail (for mounting a light, etc.) on a Hi Power. Command Arms makes the gadget, and it works. I even managed to find an off-the-shelf holster that would fit a lighted Hi Power with a Command Arms gadget. It’s a Fobus T1911BH. A lot of holsters designed for the 1911 will fit a Hi Power, but you have to check.

    - I’d give the ergonomics a five. If it fits your hand, it’s the most naturally pointing handgun you’ll ever use.

  26. avatarVSN says:

    Bringing back the BDM would be neat.

  27. avatarCaesar says:

    Great article. Learned a lot more than I knew before!
    Have had a 9mmBHP since the early 70′s, second handgun I ever bought(1st was Ruger Security Six 357). BHP is still one of my favorites to shoot, handle, or just look at. Absolutely an all around “right” gun.
    Just used it this summer to teach handgun basics to my son in law, son, and grandson.
    Thank again

  28. avatarCaesar says:

    Great article. Learned a lot more than I knew before!
    Have had a 9mmBHP since the early 70′s, second handgun I ever bought(1st was Ruger Security Six 357). BHP is still one of my favorites to shoot, handle, or just look at. Absolutely an all around “right” gun.
    Just used it this summer to teach handgun basics to my son in law, son, and grandson.
    Thanks again

  29. avatarBen says:

    I held a Hi-Power for the first time this summer and absolutely fell in love. It was a 1950′s FN gun, made for Argentina, but before Argentina (FM) began making the gun themselves. The gun felt like it was crafted for my hands, and all plans to buy a CZ went out the window.

    Unfortunately, the $600 required to take the gun home was not forthcoming; so here I sit, reading about my dear love lost…

    I agree with you about updating the gun. I wish a few decent custom guys would quit making the 1,000,000th 1911 and mod an HP. I love 1911′s, but I am ready to see this awesoem design get the respect it deserves too!

  30. avatarANTHONY says:

    Wow, can’t believe how many others count this as their first pistol. I’ve had mine over thirty years and haven’t looked back since.

  31. avatarDavid says:

    Still have my BHP purchased in mid 70′s.
    Went for the new s&w 59, double stacked mag. Fit bulky in my smallish hand. Asked the salesman what was that “other” gun. He said BHP, placed it in my hand and have had it since.
    Dropped mag safety, combat hammer, trigger adjustment, no travel, breaks like glass.
    Thousands of rounds through it, no hiccups.
    The best and always will be.

  32. avatarRON VEGA says:

    Hi THERE IS NO FINER GUN I EVER FIERD…………………………………………

  33. avatarRON VEGA says:

    GREATES…………………………………………………………………………………….

  34. avatarBenjamin Shepherd says:

    They are great pistols. I have had a .40 since ’95, it is my favorite semi auto pistol. Also my first. I have thousands of rounds through it. Very accurate, super pistol. Just today I purchased a used MKIII, 9mm, blued, walnut grips, fixed sights, case, two magazines and all paperwork for $719.99 plus tax. Beautiful high polish. Sold as a used pistol, not a mark on it. Barely fired. Serial number dates it to 2012, as does the included fired case, collected in Nov. 2012. I may be calling Craig Spegel for some grips, this one is so pretty it deserves the best.

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