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Author Topic: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.  (Read 4023 times)

Offline bkoenig

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The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« on: October 10, 2013, 09:17:06 PM »
Pretty much everyone is familiar with John Browning's most famous design, the Model 1911 autoloading pistol.  I would argue that his last design, while not quite as famous, was even more influential. 

After developing the 1911, Browning set to work designing a new service pistol for the French military.  Since Colt owned the 1911 patent he had to develop an entirely new design.  While working for Fabrique Nationale in Belgium he came up with the idea for what would eventually be known as the Browning Hi Power.  Browning died before he completed work on the design, and it was finished in 1934 by Dieudonn√© Saive at FN. 

The pistol was designated the Grande Puissance, literally "High Power" in French.  The name referred to the extremely high capacity of the magazine - 13 rounds.  Having this kind of capacity was almost unprecedented in a handgun, and the general design set the stage for virtually every handgun up to the modern day.  Anyone who has stripped a modern recoil operated pistol will immediately recognize the design.  It is single action only, with an external thumb safety just like the 1911, but it lacks the grip safety of its older brother.  This pistol started the modern high capacity 9mm trend that is still going today.

Through the years, FN has made numerous upgrades and changes, and the pistol has been built under license by other manufacturers all over the world.  From a collector's standpoint, FN Herstal made Hi Powers are the most desirable.  During WWII FN production was appropriated by the Germans, and a WWII German Hi Power in good condition will command very high prices.

Despite not being quite as famous in America as the 1911, the Hi Power has been the military sidearm of many countries around the world, with Canada and the U.K. being the most notable.  In 2013 the British finally started replacing the Hi Power with Glocks. 

Even today, the Hi Power remains a very good choice for anyone looking for an accurate, reliable 9mm.  Although it's a full size gun, it is very narrow and would conceal easily with a good cover garment.  Although handguns today are trending toward polymer framed, striker fired weapons with capacities approaching 20 rounds, I would feel very comfortable carrying one.

pics to come....
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 09:40:35 PM by bkoenig »

Offline bkoenig

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2013, 09:24:21 PM »
My example (ok, it's actually my wife's) is a postwar, mid 50's production gun.  Dating postwar guns is a little dicey up until the mid 60's or so as FN's record keeping was lax.  The inside of the grips has "1955" written in pencil, so I'm going with that.

This particular gun has an internal extractor similar to the 1911 as well as the "thumb print" half moon cut at the front of the slide.  Around 1962 FN switched to external extractors, which are easier to manufacture.  It also has very small, somewhat hard to see fixed sights similar to a WWII GI 1911.  Later production models had larger sights, often adjustable ones.




The controls will be familiar to pretty much any modern handgun enthusiast.  The thumb safety is rather small.  This is another thing that was enhanced in later models.  This gun has a ring hammer, while most later ones have a spur hammer.  One complaint many people have is hammer bite, especially with the spur hammer.  The minimal beavertail along with a spur hammer can draw blood if you have big hands.


« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 09:36:23 PM by bkoenig »

Offline bkoenig

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2013, 09:32:43 PM »
The slide stop works just like any other modern handgun, when the magazine is empty it locks back.  Notice the pin in the trigger - this is for the magazine disconnect.  Hi Powers come with a mechanism that prevents them from firing if a magazine is not inserted.  This safety makes for a gritty, creepy, horrible trigger pull.  Fortunately, it takes about 5 minutes to drive out the trigger pin, remove the trigger, drive out the pin for the disconnect, remove it, and then reinstall everything without the disconnect.  The result is the crispest trigger pull I've ever experienced in a mass produced handgun.  It's still heavy due to the fact that the factory mainspring is extremely stiff, but with new springs it would be VERY nice.



To field strip you pull the slide back and move the safety lever up into the middle notch in the slide.  This locks the slide in takedown position:



Then you just push the slide stop up a little and pull it out, and the whole slide assembly slides forward and off.




Unlike some more modern designs, the guide rod for the recoil spring does have to be fitted to the barrel in a specific way during reassembly.  If you assemble it wrong it will really jam things up.






Offline bkoenig

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 09:35:10 PM »
If you're a 1911 guy you would probably like this gun.  The grip is a little wider but the controls and overall feel are similar.  Yes, it's a little outdated, but it's still a very serviceable design, and the older ones like I have a are a prime example of old world craftsmanship that you just don't see very often these days.  It's an elegant gun that I think would fill a nice spot in any collector's safe.

Offline gsd

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2013, 09:39:11 PM »
I do appreciate the metal things in life...i will have to check this little fella out one of these days.
It is highly likely the above post may offend you. I'm fine with that.

Offline abbafandr

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2013, 05:31:35 AM »
Browning designed some excellent weapons.  My brother in law is Browning nut, I kinda see why :)  His Hi Power is fun to shoot.  Definitely a classic.

Offline SemperFiGuy

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2013, 05:27:37 PM »
My issue w/BH-P has to do w/Tactical Reload.

That is.....If you need to use the BH-P in a crisis during the middle of the reloading process, specifically.   You couldn't.

However, I understand that the reason for the no-fire-unless-magazine-in-place setup was to keep LEOs from coming in off duty, entering dayroom, removing the mag, then (wrongly)  thinking the HG was cleared.

And getting a GREAT BIG KA-BOOM when they went Hammer-Down.

BH-P won't allow such.   Police Chiefs loved it, so I'm told.


sfg
Tom H would probably say, "Just stick the mag back in, then hit the BG over the head with the BH-P.   Problem solved."
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 08:42:47 AM by SemperFiGuy »
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Offline bkoenig

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2013, 06:02:13 PM »
I agree the magazine disconnect is a really dumb idea.  But it's very easy to remove.

The BHP definitely wouldn't be my first choice for a defensive weapon, but I wouldn't feel undergunned if I carried one, either. 

Quote
Tom H would probably say, "Just stick the mag back in, then hit the BG over the head with the BH-P.   Problem solved."

That's the beauty of an all steel handgun  ;D

Offline Husker_Fan

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2013, 10:36:29 AM »
I carry a clone fairly regularly. It's a Charles Daly which is all FEG parts finished and fit by Magnum Research. It is a wonderful gun and has the best Hi-Power grips I've every felt, an extended safety, and express sights. It's a nice set up for a carry gun. I use Mec-Gar 15 round mags (Mec-Gar is the FN/Browning OEM). The magazine disconnect (I don't call it a safety) has been removed so mags drop free and the trigger is greatly improved.

I use a Galco N3 made for a 1911 and it works wonderfully. I also have an Avenger style holster from Midwest Leatherworks and a double mag pouch for range time. My particular example runs flawlessly so I have no qualms carrying it. It fits my hands better than any other gun I have ever held.


Offline bkoenig

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2013, 06:01:19 PM »
Nice carry setup.

I'm trying to convince my wife she needs another HP.  Maybe get one of the Israeli surplus imports and send it off to Heirloom Precision to work their magic...

http://www.hp1911.com/index.php/srthp


Offline Husker_Fan

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2013, 08:55:21 PM »
Heirloom does amazing work. I need to get a "real" FN-Browning hi-power. Cylinder & Slide does some neat things too and I'd love to put a type II hammer on a Mark III.

The 1911 holsters generally work well, and the N3 really conceals nicely.

Offline greg58

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2014, 09:05:43 PM »
I understand this gun influenced the S&W 59 series of 9mm handguns, and supposedly the magazines are interchangable. My 5906 is rock solid and 100% reliable, now I know why.

Greg58
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Offline newfalguy101

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2014, 09:14:39 PM »
My issue w/BH-P has to do w/Tactical Reload.

That is.....If you need to use the BH-P in a crisis during the middle of the reloading process, specifically.   You couldn't.

However, I understand that the reason for the no-fire-unless-magazine-in-place setup was to keep LEOs from coming in off duty, entering dayroom, removing the mag, then (wrongly)  thinking the HG was cleared.

And getting a GREAT BIG KA-BOOM when they went Hammer-Down.

BH-P won't allow such.   Police Chiefs loved it, so I'm told.


sfg
Tom H would probably say, "Just stick the mag back in, then hit the BG over the head with the BH-P.   Problem solved."

If I recall correctly, it was actually a condition of the contract the gun was built for, LOOOOOOONG before this gun ever found came to the US

Offline newfalguy101

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Re: The Browning Hi Power - the first wondernine.
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2014, 09:19:10 PM »
While I, sadly, do not own a "real" Browning HP, I do own a pair of licensed copies, one is a gun built by the John Inglis Company out of Canada during WW2, the other a bit more recent, coming from Argentina in the 90's ( I think?? ).

Both are great shooters and once that mag dissconnect has been removed the triggers are tremendously improved!!   ( easy in, easy out, no muss, no fuss, NO permanent changes to the gun )