Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com
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For more than 80 years Fabrique Nationale Herstal made the Browning High Power, one of the world’s greatest modern sidearms. Then they stopped. It turns out the old warhorse just needed a breather, and maybe a minute to grow.

When the new FH High Power was reborn, it wasn’t the same beast at all.  The new FN High Power is bigger and better than ever.

Maybe. It depends.

Image courtesy JWT for www.thetruthaboutguns.com.

The original Browning Hi Power was, and remains, in the words of the rebel traitor Ben Kenobi, “an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.” Its sleek lines are a timeless design, immortalized through imitation on countless other firearms. Considering its double stack design, it’s not particularly heavy and concealing one IWB has never been a challenge.

The new FN High Power (yes, that spelling is correct) has the same general geometry, but pretty much everything is different. While the general lines are there, nothing blends and flows together quite like the original and the sharp lines and flat edges of the new pistol look far more at home with the other duty guns of our age.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Because that’s exactly what the new FN High Power is, a modern High Power duty gun.

The whole gun is bigger. At 40 oz., the new FN High Power is almost half a pound heavier than my EDC Hi Power Mark I, but just 1/2″ longer and taller. The slide is slightly thicker, and the frame itself is simply more massive throughout.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutgusn.com.

The grip itself has a different shape, being thinner than the original, but longer front to back. Both the new and old High Powers have the same overall circumference, but the new High Power’s grip ends up being more rectangular in cross section, meaning less twist in the hand during long shot strings.

Image courtesy JWT for www.thetruthaboutguns.com.

The original High Powers used wood or polymer grips depending on the generation. The new High Power is a definite upgrade.

This new High Power ships with two sets of interchangeable G10 scales. This allows you to customize the color of the grip, and I would assume, as the aftermarket develops, get thicker or custom-shaped grips as well. If you don’t like the G10, you can purchase walnut scales instead. Right from the factory, you’ve got a wide array of choices.

A huge improvement over the originals is that the new High Powers don’t include the magazine “safety” disconnect. Right from the factory it fires with just a round in the chamber and no magazine loaded into the gun.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

If you carry a Hi Power every day, you’ve probably gone through the relatively simple process of removing the original magazine “safety” (it isn’t one) disconnect to improve the trigger. Some folks then pay for a good trigger job on the Hi Power from one of the ever diminishing number of qualified smiths that do this work.

The new FN High Power comes from the factory with a trigger every bit as good as what you’ll get from a well-used original with the magazine disconnect removed.

That means that, like the originals, the trigger is good, but not great. There’s some take-up, like the slack followed by a wee bit of squish, and a break. The new High Power single action trigger breaks at an average of 4 lbs, 6.3 oz as averaged over five pulls on my Lyman digital trigger scale. There was a total of .02oz difference between those pulls. That’s impressive consistency from a factory pistol.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The new High Power has an ambidextrous slide lock/release and safety, and the magazine release is reversible, features not found on the originals that help bring the gun into the modern age.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

What’s also not found on the old Hi Powers, even post-smithing, is a checkered grip, front and back. Stippling is possible on the old Hi Powers, and makes for a visually appealing customization that improves the grip surface, but deep checkering isn’t recommended as the front strap metal is too thin. Not so with the new High Powers, which feature deep checkering all the way around the grip.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

One of the most common complaints about the original Hi Powers was slide bite for people with thick hands. The fix was to weld on a beaver-tail grip, a challenging and often an expensive modification.

The new High Power’s beavertail extends just a bit more beyond the back of the frame, and isn’t integral to the frame in the same manner as the originals. Although nothing is available now, it makes sense that longer or otherwise differently-shaped beavertails could be offered in the future.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Even better, unlike the original Mark Is, the new FN High Power comes without the troublesome hump in the feed ramp, meaning that these new guns feed hollow point defensive ammunition without issue. That’s a big plus.

I put 500 rounds through this gun on my own, and then brought it out for show and tell and let a few new shooters have a go with it. From 95 grain frangibles, to 115gr IMI Die Cut rounds and various FMJs, to 124gr Speer HPs and assorted 147gr FMJs, the new High Power never missed a beat.

Put that all together and I hate to say this, but the new High Power is a better shooting gun than the original. You read that right.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Right from the factory, the new High Power really shines on the range and in a way that the Hi Power of old never could. This gun holds steady for long shot strings, and with its 17-round magazines (two are supplied). It makes for longer shot strings than the original.

Because of its weight and improved grip surfaces, the High Power stays right in place, allowing for experienced shooters to hammer targets quickly and with precision. New shooters and those who are particularly recoil sensitive will find it a fantastic learning platform that will continue to perform as they progress.

A portion of the shooting for this review was done on one of Texas’ recent 108 degree, 80% humidity days. I don’t care what you’re shooting, that’s pure misery. The benefit to doing that is you quickly find out how well any particular grip works. The new High Power’s checkered grip, along with its added mass, made recoil management a much simpler matter, especially when my hands were dripping with sweat.

Side-by-side in the heat, there was just no comparison. My beloved Mark 1, with its cocobolo checkered grips and stippled front and back strap was no match for the new High Power for ease of handling in the hard heat.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The new FN High Power is just as accurate as the originals. Unless it was somehow shot out or otherwise damaged, there’s rarely anything to be gained from an aftermarket barrel on the old Hi Powers. The factory barrels were good right from the source. The new High Power is the same.

Winchester White Box 115gr FMJ ammunition put up 1.8″ five-round groups averaged over four shot strings. Wilson Combat’s 147gr HAP shot right at 2″. The Speer Lawman 124+P shot 1.5″. All groups were shot untimed at 25 yards, off bags.

I’d like to see a suppressor-ready barrel offered, but no such tube is available from FN at this time.

The modern version is just as accurate, more reliable, and more customizable than the originals, but the new High Power just doesn’t look quite as good.

Don’t get me wrong, the new FN High Power is a very good looking gun, and if you don’t like the way this one looks, there are several other versions of it right from the factory. But none of them share quite the same look as the originals. Unfortunately, some of the same things that make the new High Power a superior shooter also take away from some of the aesthetics of the original. Everything comes with costs and benefits.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

For instance, the originals carried the narrowed flat front end farther back into the body of the pistol, giving the gun a sleeker, faster look. The new High Power’s more blunt front puts more mass near the muzzle, reducing muzzle rise. In a sense, the new gun sacrifices looking faster for actually being faster.

Also note, the ambi controls are not only present, but all of them are just bigger on the new guns. They aren’t in the way — far from it — and there’s no doubt they are easier to reach and manipulate all the way around than they were on the old guns. But of course, since there are more of them, they stand out more. It’s more of the same throughout the pistol; the old gun is a better looking gun, but the new gun is just a better gun.

You can’t help but wonder why, when the original Hi Power was such an incredible sidearm, that FN didn’t choose to simply do then what they’ve done now.

The simple answer is, why would they? Those pistols exist already. You can get a new pistol that more closely resembles a Mark II from several manufacturers, and at decent prices.  Even better, there’s quite a few of them on the used market and you can have one perfected to your specifications for about the price of one of the new guns.

Instead, FN chose to take a risk and make a new High Power, and they’ve made a better one.

Specifications: FN High Power – FDE

CALIBER: 9mm
OPERATION: Single-action, Hammer Fired
MAG CAPACITY: 10 or 17 Rd
WEIGHT: 40 oz.
BARREL LENGTH: 4.7″
OVERALL LENGTH: 8″
TWIST RATE: 1:10″ RH
HEIGHT: 5.62
WIDTH: 1.35
TRIGGER PULL: ≈5-lb.
SIGHT RADIUS: 6.37
MSRP: $1,269

Ratings (out of five stars): 

Style and Appearance * * * *
The old lines are are still there…mostly. FN always does a quality finish, and there are several options for those finishes with these new High Power models.

Customization * *
You can swap the grips on any model, but until FN or the aftermarket catches up, that’s about it.

Reliability * * * * *
Perfect. Plain and simple.

Accuracy/Precision * * * *
The sight set up is pretty great for the range, with the serrations eliminating glare and the front post just thin enough to keep right below small targets. Two-inch groups or less with lots of different ammo.

Overall * * * * 
These aren’t the same guns as the originals, and good for FN for not just making the same thing yet again just because it was easy. Of course, it says “High Power” and “FNH” on it, so there’s not really much risk of these guns not selling. As it is, especially if you’re trying to shoot quickly or in long strings, the FN High Power will outshoot the original warhorse any day. One star off for not hitting the 1″ accuracy mark and not offering a suppressor-ready barrel and an optic mount to really bring this gun into the modern era.

 

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55 COMMENTS

    • Lord knows I love blue steel and hardwood but, I kinda dig the FDE. I think JWT has the right answer – one of each.

    • FDE/Cerakote/Gunkote/Duracoat are more durable finishes than blue. Blue these days seems reserved for custom or higher end guns, like Beretta’s 92 Fusion ($8k-9k USD).

  1. I like a Hi-Power. At least one has been in my firearms battery for many years. This one is interesting, but it would take a little adjustment on my part. BTW, I hope friends faired well during the fires.

    • Thanks, sadly, one of the oldest farms in the Hill Country is now gone. At our place, we got pretty smokey, but nothing lit. Fire was caused by someone welding on a gate. I don’t think people have any idea how easy it is to start a fire right now. The whole Hill Country just wants to catch.

  2. I’d’ve preferred they got rid of the afterthought-looking “steps”, but I guess that would offend the purists even more.

  3. Hi Power. Luger. Commercial Colt 1911. There really is no getting over the classic looks of those old timers.

    But the guns being made today simply work. And they do it without any special.

  4. “…there’s rarely anything to be gained from an aftermarket barrel on the old High Powers.”
    i have a hungaroring clone and a belgie. if a replacement barrel could be located with a low, smoothed feed ramp i would take that as a gain. i know ‘smiths can reshape them to some degree.
    as for these freshies, i’ll be looking out for an alloy framed compact.

  5. If it had nights sights and was black I could see the MSRP. I used a FN chrome lined chamber and bore barrel on my last carbine build, their products are very good.

  6. I will some day have to buy a C&R original, a gun that has been on my list for a long time. This new one will never make it to California without a magazine disconnect or that “high capacity” magazine unless the Roster (or some of its elements) falls. (I can see the magazine capacity rule go away, but I think that the required “safety” features–mag disconnect, LCI, external manual safety–are going to be hard to overturn. The reliability and drop testing requirements are definitely here to stay, but no one really cares about those. The other issue is of course the silliness with the microstamping law.

    • I hope someday the crap you guys deal with in California gets overturned. Even though to us in flyover country it seems like it’s full of leftist and Marxists, there are millions of conservatives and stuck living there behind enemy lines. A ban overturned after the next Republican president is elected would be a very nice shot in the arm for the firearm industry trying to keep up with all that pent up demand instead of dealing with Trump Slump.

    • I think I saw something about a lawsuit being filed against the handgun roster. Here’s hoping…

      Just about none of California’s gun laws, bans and restrictions appear to be sustainable based on Bruin. But they will need to be picked apart one at a time, most likely.

  7. With just a quick glance, it looks very similar to my beretta m9a3 in FDE. My preference though is to be fudd-like with appearance on any “historically significant” old weapons.

    This pistol just doesn’t look good enough to make me want to spend the money to own it.

  8. So no new features aside from a couple of ambi controls. You can’t mount a red dot. It’s heavier, more expensive than when FN discontinued the classic HP. The delete of the “magazine safety” is good, but there were HPs made without it. The barrels of the MKIIIs, and some of the MKIIs, would feed hollow points. MecGar used to make magazines that contained more than the stock 13 rounds. The classic HP pointed well, the recoil is really pretty minimal, so the additional weight of the slide is kind of a negative. And FN didn’t even make the trigger better, which was really always the biggest hit against the HP. Oh, and somehow they made it ugly.

  9. Hmmm, my take on what JWT wrote is that it is just like an original Hi-Power except that almost everything in this “version” is different. I’m guessing that there is virtually zero cross-compatibility with parts. In essence, this is a new style, modern, combat firearm whose only similarity to the FN Hi-Power of yore is the name.

    I was an early adopter of the SA-35 and after a few teething problems (and a trip back to SA) it has been flawless…and it still has the classic looks that I wanted with “modern” upgrades such as no mag disconnector and higher capacity “standard” magazine…a good companion to my elderly Mark 1.

    Looking forward to the opportunity to try one of these out at the range.

    Note: local Gun Show scheduled for 9, 10, 11 September. If any of you are visiting the area please drop by.

    • “I’m guessing that there is virtually zero cross-compatibility with parts. In essence, this is a new style, modern, combat firearm whose only similarity to the FN Hi-Power of yore is the name.”
      Summed the review up nicely.

  10. I have zero doubt that it’s a good gun and is more reliable & functionable than the originals.
    I’m no boomer, but I really like my Mk III & new Turkish clone (so far.) However, since I’m not gonna CC a HP and the new one is ugly and expensive, I’ll stick with the original design as shooter and my Kahr PM9 for carry.

  11. Thanks for the review.

    If I had never seen an original HP, I might be more attracted to this.

    Th3 Sprinfield SA35 is a beautiful pistol, but so far vaporware in my neck of the woods.

    Maybe if they offer a non-ambidextrous version with a PVD or nDLC finish, i would get more excited. But at 1200, probably. not.

    Mainly, it just makes me sad like modern Smith and Wesson revolvers.

    I handled a Sig 210 carry the other day. Got my pulse elevated….. it is a nice pistol. But the safety lever blocks my thumb from the slide stop. So no go there….but it is really solid and slick. Maybe they’ll prune the safety back and I will cough up 1300 for that.

  12. The New High Power bears no relation to the original. Its heavier, blockier, and does not have the sleek lines or ergonomics of the original High Power. Quite a few Gun writers have already condemned it and have already predicted it will not last more than a year on the gun market. As Firearms news stated “It looks like something thrown together at the last minute for the shot show”. I think a High School mechanics class could have done better.

    For a more honest critique on this new turd of a gun from FN click on the link from Firearms News which also highly criticized it as nothing more than a high priced rip off of the High Power name because it is not a High Power in any sense of the word.

    https://www.firearmsnews.com/editorial/fn-high-power-9mm-pistol/459989

    Die in the wool old time High Power users will not be fooled and will not touch it with a 10 foot pole.

    Browning/FN has failed to replace the High Power with quite a few previous newly designed
    models, (some of which were even double/single action) down through the years and this one being only a single action will suffer the same fate so if you collect Browning failed designs grab one quick as they will soon be tossed onto the scrape pile of history. For me it cannot come too quickly because its a total insult to we original High Power owners who appreciated Dieudonné Saive original design. Notice I did not call it a Browning design because John Browning had little to do with its design except for the double column magazine. Browning’s proto type was a huge ungainly striker fired pistol, not a hammer fired one.

    The original FN design should have been called the Dieudonné Saive High Power NOT the Browning High Power. As a matter of fact it was originally called by FN the ‘Grande Puissance’ (Grand Power), a much more honest name for it.

    I currently have 6 High Powers and all save one was pre 1989 which was the cut off date before they were bastardized with the passive firing pin safety which weakened the slide big time and the later 1974 model that had a cast iron frame and cheap cast internal parts which also resulted in its grip circumference becoming larger which destroyed the economics of the gun. That is another long story as to why they did this as well as eliminating the barrel hood extension.

  13. Any thoughts on why FNH never re-worked the P-35 trigger into the one in the 1911? Seems the 1911 trigger configuration made the 1911 a standout from the rest. FNH had to know, for years and years, that the trigger in the P-35 was sub-par.

    • quote————–that the trigger in the P-35 was sub-par.———-quote

      I do not mean this reply to be insulting but lets face facts, obviously you never owned any of the original High Powers made before 1989. If you removed the magazine safety they had outstanding trigger pulls. Some of my High Powers that were made in 1967, 1968, 1969 have 3 lb and crisp trigger pulls, you do not get that on a 1911 unless its heavily re-worked. Even the original 1920’s commercial Colt 1911’s usually had heavier trigger pulls and some were anything but crisp.

      The only real criticism I have of the High Power was that they should have shortened up the reset on the trigger pull. I did this myself on my 1968 model so if I could do it surely FN could have done it. Now I admit the longer reset is no big deal unless you try and machine gun the trigger and empty the gun as fast as you can pull the trigger as failing to let the trigger come all the way forward will prevent the gun from firing.

      And I admit the steep feed ramp was indicative of many military guns made back in the day but remember they were designed to shoot fmj rounds not expanding bullets. This is not to say the High Power cannot handle expanding ammo. I polished the feed ramp of my 1968 gun years ago and throated it and had no problems with a lot of my handloads that I used with expanding bullets. In the 70’s FN started putting a better throating job on all of its High Powers so they would handle expanding bullets.

      Correction on the above post, it should not have read 1974 but 1994 when FN switched over to a cast steel High Power.

      Even today for use as a military pistol its hard to beat the High Power when it even comes up against modern made pistols. I would not hesitate to carry one in war and would actually prefer to do so. If you are ever at Wright Patterson Air Force Museum they have a chrome plated High Power that a U.S. Air Force Man used to shoot his way out of North Vietnam after being shot down by a Sam Missile. It shows that a lot of U.S. Military Men bought and carried the High Power instead of the 1911 because of the High Powers massive firepower over the 1911.

      Now for a confession I do not carry a High Power as a civilian because its easier to conceal a smaller pistol and more comfortable to carry one of the cheap junk plasticky pistols because they are so much lighter in weight. And of course they cost less too so when the Storm Trooper Cops take it off of you just to throw their weight around you could not care less because the gun companies pump out plasticky pistols every day by the thousands. They are like a drug on the market.

  14. SO what’s being said here is just what I’ve been saying in these columns for since ever. The ORIGINAL BROWNING 9mm HI-POWER is a much hand gun as anybody actually needs for most any situation and especially any situation that could reasonably be placed under the label of SELF-DEFENCE. That’s exactly why most of the Worlds Military and most of the World’s Police Forces used them or near copies. Well made, reliable, powerful and as ACCURATE as one could reasonably expect from a ‘combat’ and quick-reaction handgun. Even the Germans swopped out their dreadful LUGERS for them during WW2. AA bit long inmn the tooth now of course and I’d c suppose mthat really really good examples and becoming harder to find. On the other hand the increasing rarity of fine examples will no doubt eventually be reflected in the price -if that’s not happening already

  15. Guess I’ll have to spring for another safe queen. I have a couple of the MKI’s and MKII’s of the old Hi-Powers. Sometimes carry 1 when I want to change out from the 1911. Although I sometimes carry the Walther P-38 I’ve had just as long as the Browning.
    To be honest, unless someone comes up with something really new, or extremely remarkable, I likely won’t be buying another 9mm any time soon. I have to feed those I already have and ammo is still over priced.

  16. Looks like a neat pistol, but not one I would run out and buy as I already have an original FN Hi Power from a few years ago. It was one of the Israeli police pistol imports. It needed new springs and shoots great. I could see snagging one if it had an optics mount and threaded barrel. That would differentiate itself enough that I would consider it.

  17. I have an original and most days it is me choice for concealed carry. It is a good balance of capacity and size. Also, it is an excellent shooting handgun. No issues with functioning. However, I do wish it had improved sights. As it is an original, I have never considered having a gunsmith install modern sights on it.

    I was happy to see several companies resurrect the Hi-Power. One of the newer models is definitely in the running for my next acquisition.

  18. The question is: why? “Hey, we can use this patent, but make another tacti-goofy firearm.” But why? Why on earth would we ever buy a gun that has many features modern users want, but on an old platform with outdated function and weight? What made the original Hi-Power so great was the sum totality of its original qualities, not just the general function. Why do these gun companies keep turning everything into a corny copy of everything else? The gun industry can keep this up for a time, but you can be sure, the reckoning is coming. When this stuff tanks, it will be one of the biggest tanks in the history of the firearms trade, and it ain’t far off. Watch and see.

  19. errmmm…….NO RAIL FOR A LIGHT/LASER……NO CUT SLIDE FOR A RED DOT???? Are they seriously expecting people to buy this? Why are they going backwards when every manufacturer of 9mm knows the future is red dot????

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