What I’m Carrying Now: Custom Browning Hi-Power and a Butterfly Knife

What I'm Carrying Now Browning Hi-Power

JWT for TTAG

[This post is part of our series, What I’m Carrying Now. If you’d like to submit a photo and description of the gun, holster and gear you’re carrying in the new world in which we live, send it to us at [email protected] with WICN in the subject field.]

These weird days, I’m carrying the same things I carry every other day. My primary firearm is a Browning Hi-Power Mk I, with some modern improvements. This is the same pistol I reviewed for TTAG back in August of 2018.

I shot the Hi-Power well during that review, especially single-handed, and was very much impressed with the old warhorse of a sidearm. It was well proven, both the model in general and this gun specifically. This Hi-Power had a lot of potential when I bought it, but needed a little work to make it a quality daily carry weapon.

Consequently, not long after that review posted, I sent the pistol to be worked over by the extremely capable hands of Alex Hamilton at Ten-Ring Precision in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Hamilton removed the factory magazine disconnect and completed a trigger job, setting the trigger weight to a crisp and clean 4 lbs.

I typically like it closer to 2.5-3 lbs, as on my 1911s, but going much under 4 lbs on the Hi-Power can’t be done safely on a carry gun, or so I am told.

What I'm Carrying Now Browning Hi-Power

Hi-Power front strap (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The front strap of the H-Power is too thin to checker, so I asked Mr. Hamilton to stipple the front and rear instead. The result is as functional as it is beautiful.

He removed the hump in the feed ramp of the factory barrel so that it will reliably feed hollow point ammunition and installed an 18 1/2 lb. recoil spring.

What I'm Carrying Now Browning Hi-Power

Hi-Power with silencer (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

He also ensured the fit of a threaded barrel that I use when I want to run a silencer on the gun.

The high polish on the Hi-Power that Ten-Ring put on has held up surprisingly well to daily use and regular shooting. Of course, there’s a little wear around the muzzle and the whole gun will eventually need to be refinished again. That will be some time from now.

What I'm Carrying Now Browning Hi-Power

Heine Slant 8 rear sight (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Mr. Hamilton also installed a more thumb-friendly extended safety, as well as fit Heine Slant 8 Tritium night sights to the slide. These are the same sights I’ve installed on all of my daily carry guns, and I’ve not found anything that better allows me to align both sights in darkness and still allows for precise shooting in the light.

The fancy Cocobolo hand checkered grips from Craig Spegel are new additions, although I ordered them quite a while ago. Mr. Spegel was polite to speak with, (no internet orders, it’s all done by phone,) and the total price, including shipping, was only $85.

That was over a year ago and I had completely forgotten I ordered them when Mr. Spegel called and told me they were ready. They’re worth the wait. I ordered another set in Madagascar ebony as well.

What I'm Carrying Now Browning Hi-Power

Spegel grips (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

This Hi-Power is almost as old as I am, and is even more capable now than when it first rolled off the line. I’m not terribly picky with what defensive rounds go through it, but I stick with 124 grain and 124 +P HP varieties. I carry Mec-Gar 15-round magazines, one in the gun and a spare.

By switching from a 1911 to a Hi-Power, I also switched from primarily IBW carry to OWB. I use a Mitch Rosen 5JR with a 5M single magazine carrier. I used to wear a suit every day, and now I generally wear jeans with a button down shirt and a suit jacket.

When I go in shorts or need a little more concealment, I run the Hi-Power in an El Paso Saddlery Summer Cruiser IWB rig.

The Benchmade butterfly knife was a surprise addition to the EDC lineup. I got it as a Christmas present in 2018, and had it in my pocket on a late season hunt. The broad belly of the bowie blade shape did well gutting and skinning, and when I was done I realized I could just spray the entire knife clean with a hose. It’s been in my pocket since and has gutted at least a dozen deer and a more than a few pigs. It has held up very well.

My vehicle is also as it was before the crisis. It seats five, so it arms 5. I abhor rudeness and I’d hate to have a passenger feel like they they got left out. Folks comment that I am ready for the apocalypse, but really I’m just ready to hunt whenever and whatever. The particular kit changes with the seasons.

comments

  1. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

    Very, very nice JW.

  2. avatar Squiggy81 says:

    That’s definitely a piece I’d be proud to have in my collection. Tricked out 1911s are nice, but it’s nice to see a different single action auto loader that’s been customized. The bluing on it is something that could compete against an old S&W.

  3. avatar BR says:

    I love the Hi-Power, it is a wonderful pistol to carry. Unfortunately, it is an expensive and maintenance intensive pistol to train with compared to modern pistols. But they are works of art.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      What is the intensive maintenance necessary for this pistol? I probably have a little less than 20,000 rounds through a gun that was more than four decades old when I got it, so I’m interested to know what catastrophes must be ahead.

      1. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

        Compared to a plastic striker-fired gun, Jon?

        Seriously?

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Yes. Seriously. What is the intensive maintenance required?

      2. avatar RGP says:

        I think the “intensive maintenance” bullshit is from the Glock salesman’s sales pitch.

        1. avatar Ron says:

          Agreed. Or from people who think striker fired guns are some kind of new invention. The plastic vunder nine crowd are more annoying and less informed then the 1911 crowd ever was.

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    What a beauty. I love working on BHP’s. I got to do trigger jobs on a consecutive numbered pair owned by a friend.
    Those grips are right up there with Mr. Spegel’s work. He used to shoot at tri-county gun club way back when. Super talented guy.

    That gat is pure class.

  5. avatar Buff cousin Elroy says:

    Damn fine piece you got there, i really like it.

  6. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

    Never should have sold mine. Softest-shooting semi-auto I have ever owned then, and since.

    Like ‘buttah’…

    1. avatar Ben says:

      Totally regret selling mine too. Smoothest shooting 9mm ever.

      Such a fine piece and he sounds like a world class gent as well.

  7. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    jwt, one hell of a rig. My Hi-Power went through Wayne Novack’s shop so it has his sights. Otherwise, I prefer Hienie Straight 8s. Most of my Glocks and 1911s wear them. Thumbs up on the stippling. Trigger disconnect? Yep. Full checkered ebony grips. Don’t remember who made them. Could have been Spiegel. Wouldn’t have been the first set I bought from him. Wait, it may have been Houge. Complements on the leather. I too have Rosen and El Paso Saddlery. Though, my Hi-Power is carried in Kramer. Sorry.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      jwt, forgot. You need a light and don’t care for the knife. Just me. Again sorry.

  8. avatar Warwolf says:

    Beautiful weapon! I commend you for carrying it as an everyday carry. That’s the kind of pistol I’d wear to BBQs! Lol Too pretty for wear and tear of everyday life. That’s what glocks are for!

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      That’s what refinishing is for.

    2. avatar RGP says:

      In the county where I live, a sheriff’s deputy carried a 9mm Hi Power for something like 30 years and it seemed to have less wear than modern plastique guns. It was engraved and gold plated (I’m pretty certain it was actual gold plating because that’s the color it was).

      I had one of the factory chrome plated target model Hi Powers in .40 S&W for a few years and carried it almost daily and it had less wear on it than any other handgun I’ve used for the same length of time.

      Plastic and polymer is not a brand new world changing invention. Remember back in 1873 when the Colt SAA came on the market with rubber grips because molding is cheaper than carving. Glocks and XDM’s etc are no different. It’s an easier and cheaper way of making a product. The fact that a person will purchase that product which is advertised as “perfect” and then spend several hundred dollars extra on a new connector, new recoil spring, new guide rod, new sights, new barrel…. this all adds up to slow learner.

      1. avatar Kenneth in Virginia says:

        Hard chrome and probably nickel will wear better than blued finish, although a blued gun will do just fine if you take care of it, even if the bluing wears off, which it will invariably do if you carry it holstered. Nevertheless, nickel-plated guns were popular for their anti-rust feature. Personally, I think the various modern finishes are an unappreciated advance in gun technology and which was probably pioneered by Glock. Otherwise, Glock was not so innovative as is generally thought. Even the little safety lever in the face of the trigger had appeared decades earlier. Opinions vary but the idea seems pretty popular among gunmakers now. The paint on cars is better now, too. I think CZ may actually paint some of their pistols, come to think of it.

  9. avatar enuf says:

    That is one beautiful pistol.

  10. avatar conrad says:

    Who made the knife?

    1. avatar Coyote ugly says:

      General Electric

  11. avatar conrad says:

    That’s a good report on the Benchmade.

  12. avatar Specialist38 says:

    While I’m not a fan of the Hi-Power for carry, that is a splendid-looking pistol.

    IMO…it would look even better with a ring hammer. 😬

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      yes, ring hammers.
      mine have come with me (hungorarong, belgy), long barrel kinda pokes out a bit. i’m happier with the compact czech.
      my only el paso is for a mkll gov’t. but now that i see they make the c- force that may change. not a big fan of rough side out, but function.

  13. avatar Minuteman says:

    That’s your concealed carry weapon? Mighty fine weapon. Mighty expensive also. How long do you plan on carrying it? Hope you never have to use it in self defense. A lot of things make me say hmmm.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Yes.
      Until I find something I shoot better that carries well, or die.

      1. avatar BeoBear says:

        That’s almost a perfect Starship Troopers reference. You still get full points.

  14. avatar tdiinva says:

    I debated whether I should post my carry but now I don’t have to. I am back to carrying my less than vintage Hi Power Standard Mk III. I got away from it when it went out production but came back to it this year.

    1. avatar possum says:

      post pictures of the wife instead, that’d work son

  15. avatar Sld says:

    It’s a browning hi-power, nuff said

  16. avatar Hannibal says:

    Nice gun. I wouldn’t carry that knife except for party tricks. Less effective for pretty much everything else than a conventional spring-assist folder and god help you if you get into a self-defense scenario where the prosecutor tries to make a Zimmerman out of you.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Less effective at what? It’s a big pocket knife that cuts well and cleans easy. I used it today to help clean a 340 lb wild boar, scrape a bee stinger out, and open the mail.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Less effective than any fixed blade knife for hunting and more complicated and difficult to deploy than a folder. You can be a mall ninja all you want but don’t pretend it’s anything else.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Well , that’s an inane comment.

          A well made click-click is pretty much the same as a fixed blade when open.

          A not so well made one is better than a lot of fixed blades.

          I carried one for a couple of years working on a crew boat.
          Frost cutlery. 20 dollar knife in 1979.

          Easy to carry in a back pocket …..quick to open (stylish or basic flips)….. and nothing hanging off your belt that can snag and drag you into the water.

          If you cut yourself opening one…..you’re doing it wrong.

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Ease of cleaning is a huge advantage. Use a knife for more than fantasy playtime and opening mail and you’d understand.

    2. avatar Ron says:

      In such a scenario nothing you do will “save you”. This mythical over zealous prosecutor that’s always present here on TTAG, is going to come after you not only for what knife you use, but just the mere fact you carry a gun, or what ammo you use, or if you had “one in the chamber”, or what hair style and tattoos you have. What car you drive. Who you voted for even. If you’re going to live in fear of a mythical overzealous prosecutor then don’t bother owning any guns at all.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        You have presented an absurd false dichotomy. Prosecutors fall along a spectrum. Some won’t care if you whip out a .50 cal desert eagle with “DIE MUGGER SCUM” engraved on it and filled with extra powerful handloads and shoot someone seven times in the head if they were assaulting you. Others will try and charge you even if there was someone smashing your head in the pavement and you shot them once with a compact 9mm using factory ammo that you carried on a permit. Most fall somewhere in between. And it’s not just the prosecutor you’re trying to convince; it’s the judge or, more importantly, the jury. 12 men and women who may react very differently to some butterfly knife than a simple folder that most people carry. And even if you ARE found not guilty, you are much more likely to be sued or become infamous if your case is ‘distinctive’- see the news reports for the officer who had “you’re (f’ed)” on his AR dust cover.

        Given all that, one should be thoughtful in their decisions of what to carry should they find themselves in a defense situation and weigh the pros and cons. Using good defensive ammunition even though some prosecutor may try and call you the ‘dum dum killer’? Worth it, to me. Carrying some ammo with ridiculous marketing “RIP!” and zombies all over the box? Probably not, unless it presents some distinct advantage. Carrying a knife that looks like the kind sold in rural truck stops alongside a pair of nunchucks? I don’t see the functional appeal. But that’s your choice.

  17. avatar SurfGW says:

    Beautiful weapon and there are few weapons that are that easy to shoot accurately as BHPs.
    Did you remove the magazine safety to be able to dryfire for practice?

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      No. I removed the magazine safety because they are fundamentally unsafe and don’t belong on any self defense or duty firearm.
      On this particular firearm, the magazine safety also significantly degrades the quality of the trigger.

      1. avatar Michael Stovall says:

        The nomenclature is magazine disconnect, I removed mine. Something that can render a firearm less accurate and controllable, or inoperative in the middle of a reloading sequence can not logically be referred to as a safety, lawyers be damned.

  18. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    Great mags for that. When I carried my clone those were the only mags that went with me.

  19. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    One can never go wrong with the Hi-Power,especially that one,Beautiful.

  20. avatar SoCalJack says:

    The picture can be in an ad:
    “A great Browning Hi-Power just became greater”

  21. avatar strych9 says:

    Very nice.

    A bit surprised by the squared butterfly until it was explained, but they’re a good style of knife and with a bit of practice quite easy to open one handed. Nice to know they clean up that easy, I’d have had some concerns about the joints.

  22. avatar possum says:

    Aahah oh shit, A butterfly nightfth , DAMN Straight. I’d like to get another one. Busted the blade showing off and hit the sidewalk. I like knives, a butterfly is one of my favorites. ,,, Dang it my youngest son just text me a nightfth he just got, an Old Timer skinning knife with real bone scales, lucky dog

  23. avatar possum says:

    ^ the “Dang it,” if I’ve gotta a gunm my younger son has to get one better. Same same on gnifes I had him beat with an old Buck, dang it, No wait ,I’ve git an old Cub Scout gnife that was only used once in a dfu (hah hah add joke).He”d trade the Old Timer for the Buck, he gets it anyways , it was his mom’s. I’d like to have an old timer butterfly gnife

    1. avatar George WashingtonGl in KY says:

      Gd son….. what you been drinking??? Moonshine????

  24. avatar possum says:

    >..> Browning HiPower. , John Moses Browning seen what them foreigners did to his pistol and had a heart attack. Buy a HiPoint

  25. avatar Kenneth in Virginia says:

    The second gun I bought was a Hi-power. The first new gun I bought was a Hi-power and even at less than $100, I had trouble coming up with the money. I haven’t seen one for sale for ages. If I did, I might buy it. Two comments, though.

    I wouldn’t buy any gun that I thought needed more work to make it “a quality gun,” though. I agree that the magazine disconnect makes for a relative poor trigger for fine target shooting but I don’t see what that has to do with safety.

    The butterfly knife just makes me think of something you had to have in the 80s to go with your Bren Ten.

    1. avatar George WashingtonGl says:

      Something wrong with 10mm???….. yeah, I didn’t think so…..

      1. avatar Kenneth in Virginia says:

        Nothing against the 10mm, just outside of my experience, although there are some interesting revolvers for it. But I’m old-fashioned and my .38 Super is good enough for me. I can’t have everything, after all.

        Anyone here pin down the grip safety on their Colt Government Model?

      2. avatar Coyote ugly says:

        Yeah it’s not 11mm

  26. avatar Sld says:

    Jon, the Browning is classic. If the butterfly works well for you, that’s all that matters.

    The reasons I went carry one are personal preference and all can be overcome in a fashion with a lot of practice. I need/want a knife that can be opened with the left hand, locks and is immediately useable without more than one smooth thumb manipulation, safely. This precludes butterfly knives and liner locks.

    The second was the two mechanical pivots, they are in my mind a weak area which could fail. However. One could easily argue it has less to fail than other designs, a wash there, just personal preference.

    Most do not have pocket clips, but I see benxhmade addressed this. But it would have to be reversible for lefty use.

    Enjoy it, it obviously works for you.

    1. avatar Sld says:

      I forgot that it must be able to be unlocked and stowed with one hand. Either hand

  27. avatar Don Nelson says:

    Interesting setup. Two beautiful things I’d never carry. The knife because I want to keep all my fingers. The P35 is more complicated.

    I’ve owned and shot a couple, including one with the mag safety removed. They weren’t nearly as well-massaged as yours, but were handsome handguns. I guess for me there were always better options, specifically 1911s and S&W revolvers. But some very knowledgeable warriors swore by them, going as far as backing up their issue .45s with a Browning holstered on the trousers belt under the 782 gear. Once, when embarked toward Nicaragua in ‘77, we were getting settled into our stateroom, every officer pulled out his personal backup for a show-and-tell, and maybe six of the infantry company grade guys showed HiPowers. That said a lot about the pistol. A long time ago…

    1. avatar Vlad is back says:

      Ok Vlad

    2. avatar Kenneth in Virginia says:

      Oh, but we forget the fads and fashions of years gone by. This thread about the Browning Hi-power (named after a French 155-mm gun) reminds me of some of them.

      Things like trigger shoes, target hammers, always shooting a DA revolver single-action, shooting only a DAO revolver, cut-down guns, trigger jobs, special coatings (finishes), cocked and locked, single-action revolvers (nothing faster!), Jordan grips, stag grips, etc., etc., etc. All good for something, I suppose, and we had to have them when we were going off to fight in Rhodesia or Katanga or even Nicaragua. One must keep up appearances.

      Of course, few of us had the money to do everything we wanted, and when we finally did, the moment had passed. One can no longer buy a brand-new plain Jane Hi-Power, although old ones that are like new can be had, if you look hard enough, and hopefully will find before you run across something else you’ve always wanted, like a plain Jane Colt Lightweight Commander. Remember, no matter how many extended this or extended that you ‘bolt on’ to your pride and joy, the bullet does all the work.

      I’ve owned a lot of guns in my lifetime but the list of guns I still want is a lot longer.

      1. avatar Don Nelson says:

        Ah, nostalgia. Ain’t it great?

      2. avatar Don Nelson says:

        …and Nicaragua was ‘82. Nostalgia…

      3. avatar Kenneth in Virginia says:

        No offence to anyone out there named Jane.

  28. avatar Supermatic says:

    My first purchased firearm was a Browning HP from the Bamberg Germany gun club in 1970. As a TSCO I carried it – loaded – on maneuvers for 3 years instead of the issued 1911. Beautiful and accurate gun but I traded it for a S&W 39-2 in 1975.

  29. avatar Bob h says:

    Nice set up! I’m eyeballing Ten-Ring for My upcoming GP100 carry pistol project. They seem to do really good work

  30. avatar enuf says:

    Some decades back I had an uncle who was a detective for a big city police department. Always recall the first time I saw a Browning Hi-Power, I was over their house to get with the cousins and and go out for some shooting. Uncle happened to come home and his pistol was in a small of the pack holster, briefly saw it as he removed it, cleared it and put it away. He NEVER talked about his work, not a word.

    Always knew the uncle and cousins had guns, the gun case in the living room had a numbee of bolt action hunting guns and pump action birdie whackers. But that was the only time I’d spotted a defensive cop gun. Must be forty years ago now, still recall in detail the look of that big, game changing pistol. Damned impressive!

  31. avatar CentralVirginian says:

    Beautiful hi power and leather, unconventional hunting knife but high quality and as stated probably cleans up easier than most other knives.

  32. avatar BCE56 says:

    My Hi Power Practical was purchased in 1991. It is equipped with white bar sights dovetailed into the black coated slide. Stainless barrel feeds hollowpoints. The frame is hard chromed and has a ring hammer and ambi safeties. Factory and aftermarket mags drop free. The mag disconnect does affect the trigger pull but not enough to worry about.
    This pistol is one of my favorites- accurate and reliable.
    Plenty of BHP info here:
    https://hipowersandhandguns.com/

  33. avatar Ralph says:

    Why would anyone want to stab a butterfly?

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      save ammo.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      They carry the coronavirus.

  34. avatar Bemused Berserker says:

    Very nice. One of the few WICN posts I’m envious of. Beautiful work done on the Hi Power.

  35. avatar Bad Benny says:

    JWT, great article. Very nice to read about a phenomenal weapon. BHP was my first semi auto carry on duty in LE when we transitioned out of a wheel gun. Still have it to this day, Belgium made, shoots like a dream. No extra work done to it. Eventually quit carrying it because of the small and hard to actuate safety back then. Fits great in hand, accurate, awesome weapon

  36. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    My Pop carried a Hipower until he purchased his Pachmayers to keep us safe, it kept the union thugs away.

  37. avatar Charlemagne says:

    It’s a beautiful gun. And despite the age of the design it doesn’t sound like you are giving much if anything to carry this gun as compared to a more “modern” gun. I was interested to hear that the Tisas/Regent BR9 (the Turkish clone) of this gun is so good and can be had in the $500-550 price range. Another good thing is that various pieces for this gun are readily available and will likely be available for years to come (something that may not be the case with a number of newer designs that go out of production after just a few years).

  38. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Oooo… that is purty.

  39. avatar James Ray says:

    Love it. Both are good weapons. I also carry my butterfly most everywhere I go. Easy to flip out, easy to close. Had it for years. Your familiarity with the Hi-power works very well with you. Good carry duo.

  40. avatar Jeff Sanders says:

    I have a Hi Power customized by Robar. They did a great job, and I didn’t have to wait 9 months to get it back. Barstow barrel, stippled front strap, skinny little rib milled off and top of the slide stippled. Novak sights, Roguard slide and NP3 frame. All in all, a great looking weapon and a pleasure to shoot. Many comments from friends and at range. Oh, and trigger is just a hair over 4 lbs.

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