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Why You Should Own The Impressive Browning Hi Power

browning hi power

image credit commons.wikimedia.org

When it comes to a combat or self-defense handgun, we shooters usually fall into a few different camps. These camps are divided by fierce and passionate people who believe their handgun is the best choice. A lot of times these people aren’t wrong that their pistol is the best—for them anyway. Some people love Glocks, or some love 1911s or Sigs. Some guys would never carry an automatic and stick to the dependable wheel gun. I’m not picking at these guys; their choice is their choice.

A handgun that doesn’t get enough attention in my opinion is the Browning Hi Power. I can see why— I’m guilty of this myself. Of course I always knew about the Hi Power; I knew it was a Browning design, so I instantly equated it to quality. That’s about as much as I knew about it. Kind of like a cousin from a distant aunt: I know he’s there but that’s about it. Everyone recognizes the name, but few love and appreciate it.

Oddly the Hi Power is probably better known in countries around the world than America. This could be the fact the Hi Power wasn’t widely adopted by police forces and never saw any service with the US military. In fact, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team is the only well-known policing force I could find that issued them.  Around the world though, it saw expansive use, in fact it was adopted in dozens of countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Israeli’s elite Yamam counter terrorism unit.

As you can see, it wasn’t just third-world nations that adopted this wonderful design, but rather modern militaries and some of our closest allies. The Browning Hi Power is a single-action handgun chambered in the venerable 9×19 Luger. The pistol burst onto the scene with its 13-round magazine, and this was in 1935: the standard capacity was around 7-to-8 rounds back then.

Nowadays I’ll admit 13 rounds of 9mm is kind of weak compared to the Glock 17 and the other wonder nines that seem to squeeze more and more rounds in their magazines. There is a quality aftermarket magazine made by Mec Gar that holds 15 rounds that does not extend past the pistol grip, along with 20 and 30 round magazines if that’s your flavor of Kool-Aid. There are South African 17-round magazines, but I have no experience with these and I’ve heard the reliability is hit or miss.

In my opinion a 15-round magazine is enough to help the Hi Power strive against the modern pistols. Now, as I said before, the pistol was chambered in the good old 9mm, but as the years went on, someone decided it needed to be chambered in 40 S&W, and it worked.  The 40 has quite the cult following, and again, it’s all personal preference, whether you want a bigger bullet or more bullets is all up to you. Oh you want it in 45? They have that too—it’s called a 1911.

Keep Your Handgun Locked and Loaded, Ready For Instant Use – Without Fear Of An Accident!

This whole topic came up to me because I fired my first Hi Power this Memorial Day. The Hi Power was a Browning and belonged to a friend who just purchased it that Friday. My first impression picking the weapon up was its heft. I’m not spoiled by the polymer pistols just yet, but the 9mm full-sized I’m used to is the military-issue M9. The Hi Power weighs noticeably more, almost as much as a 1911.

Like I said, I’m not spoiled on lightweight weapons, but a heavy pistol can be uncomfortable for some to conceal on a day to day basis, so this can be a negative aspect in the world of air weight J frames. My second impression was the overall comfort of the weapon in my hand: it just felt right. My gorilla hands rarely fit any stock grips perfectly, but something about the Hi Power suited me so well. The same was true for my friend, who is much smaller than me. He also loves how the trigger seems to be for his smaller hands. John Browning was a master of ergonomics in that this pistol feels like it was built for everyone.

The Browning slide is also much thinner than the usual Glocks and Sigs. This makes the weapon easier to conceal and actually more comfortable when pulled close to the body in a bellyband or IWB holster. The weapon, besides its weight, is pretty easy to conceal. If you carry a Sig or 191,1 the Hi Power will feel right at home.

Actually firing the Hi Power was a joy. The trigger was firm, but the trigger pull was crisp and consistent. It never felt spongy or stagey or anything like that. Honestly, I would describe it as a refined service pistol trigger. The sights were a typical low-profile three dot. The sights are simple and easy to use—nothing over the top—but perfect for a defensive pistol. My friend mentioned and I confirmed through Browning that there is a model with adjustable target sights.

The heft of the pistol made controlling the standard Winchester white box a breeze, even in rapid fire. The single action trigger, combined with controllability of the pistol make it easy to fire double taps or hammer pairs depending on your term preference. Apparently the old Hi Powers never functioned very well with hollow points, we strapped in some JHPs and the Hi Power ate them up. Apparently the older Hi Power and the unlicensed copies weren’t throated for wide mouth hollow points. These days it’s standard for the weapon to eat anything you feed it.

Accuracy with the weapon was superb. I should have brought something to measure the groups, but firing off hand, I impressed myself. My groups were all excellent, which I credit the pistol for. We didn’t just fire at a fixed line. We practiced drawing and firing, firing in the non-dominant hand, reloads, Mozambique drills, el presidente drills, firing from multiple positions like standing, kneeling, around “barriers” and forward and rear prone. The pistol performed well, and the ergonomics really shined during this drills.

The safety is very similar to the 1911. The model I fired featured a large, ambidextrous thumb safety above the grip. The safety was very easy to engage in both safe and fire mode. The safety was very easy to reach for with both small and large hands.

Shopping around online, I was surprised to see the amount of quality holsters out there. Browning has their own holsters, and De Santis makes beautiful holster as always. I was disappointed to find out that Blackhawk does not produce a holster in their popular SERPA line for the Hi Power. I personally love the SERPA and would love to see one that fit the Hi Power.

Magazines are pretty widely available as well and typically priced. I suggest going with either Browning mags or Mec gar. If Wilson Combat put out mags for the Hi Power, I’d be all over them. There are some very cheap surplus mags out there that may be hit or miss, as a lot of surplus stuff usually is.

I’ve officially fallen in love with the Hi Power. The Hi Power is such a refined pistol, and it’s knocked the 30-06 Winchester Model 70 off the top of my wish list. The Hi Power may not have its fan club shouting how wonderful it is or someone arguing the Hi Power is the only way to go, but I think it deserves a second look. I would suggest to anyone that sees a Hi Power just hold it and tell me you don’t like your first impression.

The price varies by whatever country is putting them out, as well as the quality. Portuguese versions can be picked up for around six hundred in very good condition. Newer Brownings are about double that. The weapon is expensive, and that’s bound to turn some people off when a Glock can be had for six hundred. I can fully understand that reasoning, but something about the pistol is drawing me to it.

I can’t wait to have my hands on a piece of Browning’s history. I love the pistol, and I believe it will find a great place in my gun safe and stay there for a very, very long time.

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20 comments

  1. Please promote gun safety and replace the photo holding the Browing, with one where your finger is NOT on the trigger.

    • IF YOU WANT TO KNIT PICK THE PHOTO, BE ADVISED THIS PISTOL IS SINGLE ACTION AND THE HAMMER IS DOWN. IT WILL NOT FIRE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE STATE IT IS IN.

      • Two things always amaze me:
        1. Even with 30 years service and experience with a weapon, every single firearms instructor who just got their papers last week; Knows what I am doing wrong…
        2. The worst mistakes with weapons are committed by people who should have known better,,,,,,,,,,,
        The Col

    • ObamaSucksMuslimCock

      Oh my God…did your pacifier fall out…of your ass?

  2. THE BROWNING HIGH POWERS STILL TO THIS DAY RETAINS THE FIT AND FINISH THAT THEY HAD IN THE 1930’S. THEY WERE SECOND TO NONE.
    I CARRIED ONE FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS, NEVER HAD A FAILURE ATTRIBUTED TO THE PISTOL OR THE BROWNING MAGS.
    THE MAGAZINE IN ITS TIME WAS AQUANTUM LEAP FORWARD WITH ITS DOUBLE STACK DESIGN.
    SINCE ITS INCEPTION, ALL OTHER DOUBLE STACKERS FOLLOW THE BASIC CONFIGURATION ALMOST TO A “T”.
    ALMOST ACROSS THE ENTIRE SPECTRUM OF STEEL DOUBLE STACKERS, I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BY JUST ADDING THE CORRECT MAG CATCH SLOT FIT SMITHS INTO SIGS, SIGS INTO BROWNINGS, ETC.
    THEY DID HAVE TO BE LONG ENOUGH TO FIT THE MAG WELL.
    THERE ARE SOME CLONES OUT THERE, BUT THEY LACK THE QUALITY, IMHO.
    I WOULD SAVE EXTRA BUCKS FOR THE ORIGINAL.
    THE ONE WEAK LINK IS THE ADJUSTABLE SIGHT FROM AROUND 1965-70 THEY ARE A ROUND SHEET METAL STAMPING AND HAVE A TENDACY TO BREAK EASILY.
    ANOTHER GOOD BUY IS THE INGLIS PRODUCED MODEL WITH A TANGET SIGHT.
    THEY ARE A BIT ROUGH BEING OF WW2 PRODUCTION, BUT EVERY BIT AS DURABLE AND A LOT CHEAPER IN MOST CASES.

  3. Have to disagree a little,,,,, the FEG, the Argentine, the Israeli IMI, and even the Indian mfg all work very good for me. Magazines are the problem,,, either buy real browning mags,,,, or get new springs from wolff springs (10 for 50 bucks) and use some 400 grit sandpaper to smooth the follower and walls,, mine work good. In the early 60’s-70’s the problem was with cheap steel,,, now the cheaper “Spanish” pistols don’t have that problem,,,, I paid 400 for my Indian version and the FEG. The Hipower fits my small, (womans size) hands very well, double stacks like the M9 are harder for me to control,, but the Hipwr is sweet, I bought one for all the women in my life for Christmas,,, they are getting very good. What a 9mm that is the match for you M1911, this is it,,, in almost any variation.
    Cant go wrong with this gun…
    The Col

    • AS I SAID, THERE ARE CLONES, MOST ARE GOOD, SOME BETTER, BUT THEY ARE NOT OF THE SAME QUALITY IN FIT AND FINISH. THE BROWNINGS KEEP THEIR RESALE VALUE ALSO.
      IN THE 55 YEARS I HAVE BEEN A GUNSMITH I HAVE HAD VIRTUALLY NONE IN FOR REPAIRS OTHER THAN OPERATOR CAUSED.
      REPAIRS ON THE CLONES ARE A DIFFERENT STORY.
      THE ARTICLE IS ON THE BROWNING SO I WILL LEAVE IT THERE.

      • Expect to pay around 900 for a browning, expect 400 for a clone,,, my only point is: get it to the market wherever you can, and don’t be afraid of a clone, most will accept browning parts if they break, but since they are made on the same patterns I doubt they will. I have one actual Browning, the rest do just fine too. Someday, somewhere, you will stumble on an actual Hi power,,, but they are kind of hard to find now..
        The Col

      • Hi Ragnar… I have a Browning Hipower with a serial number T290940. What is its date of manufacture? And, I believe that the old hipowers sold back then did not come with a box, just a zippered pouch and manual. Am I correct? Please let me know. Thanks.

  4. I used a Browning Hipower in Vietnam Nan as my personal weapon. I bought it in Saigon on the black market. Mine had the fold up sights and an attachable wire stock. I was not allowed to bring it home with me. I loved the pistols. Wouldn’t mine another.

    Mark

  5. I used a P-35 as well. The newer toys are good, but I will still with my Browning Hi-Power. Carried cocked and locked, just drop the slide safety when needed. carried this way for 20 yrs

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  8. I own a gen 2 hi-power I bought new in the early 90’s for $400 in South Florida. Over the years, I’ve shot it a bit. Maybe 700 rounds total. It is exactly what you would expect in a hi-power as it relates to simplicity and reliability but, like all Hi-Powers it does have a few quirks.

    1) Hammer Spring. Need to be almost Thor in strength to cock it. Pulling the slide is similar. I’m being a bit facetious but, you get the point. Slim slide, moderate serrations, pull….HARD….

    2) Trigger. Not smooth. A bit gritty. Not terrible but, it needs work

    3) Hammer. Too long. Factory hammer likes to tap the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. A combat hammer or bobbed hammer is an improvement.

    Other than that, it’s rock solid even if it is single action. It came with ambit slide release and two mags. Accuracy is much better than most out of the box and virtually better than all polymer guns I’ve fired at distance (20 yards+). Even if the ejection port is small and oval, it’s never stove piped or jammed.

    I’ve had only one issue with it. For whatever reason, the stainless barrel has discolored in some areas….splotchy and patchy….never had that on any pistol before. Not a real problem as it shoots fine but, always wondered why it discolored like that. I’ve just not taken the time to use Flitz or something else to clean it up. I’m sure it’s possible but, just never bothered.

    if you want a NO nonsense 13+1 slim 9mm or 40 (GET the rubber grip with finger grips) that will go bang each and every time, here’s you gun. Best improvement would be that trigger. If that were improved it would get 4.5 stars…..as it is, give it a full 4 stars and that’s being conservative to be fair.

    It works. Period.

  9. Some people complain about the hard hammer spring of the Browning, the reason is because the BHP was designed for war ammunition like the NATO ammunition has harder primers over standard cartridges, most of the new pistols fail striking NATO ammunition the BHP swallow whatever you load in the magazine. Other people said the BHP cant handle +P ammunition, my answer is Glock either, Glock factory dont recommend the use of +P in Glock pistols or NATO ammunition witch the BHP is intended to use has 10% more pressure than standard 9mm Luger cartridges.

  10. I agree with you 100% , Alec . Because , I myself own one and really love it ! Am no gun expert , but I think the reason to why it may be hard and sturdy like some individuals complains instead of being easy or flimsy , is probably because it has better chance of more reliability in taking any type of feeding ammos , even the cheaper ones without fte or ftf ( failure to eject or failure to fire ) . Another factor to why I love my hi-power 9mm , is because it’s fits well to my hand especially when I have a disability . And because of my hands that are abit challenged due to my disability , my hi-power makes it easier for me to disassemble and assemble when cleaning since it’s very simple to do unlike the 1911 , especially when not requiring tools for it . Maybe for those who already have the 1911 , may not really need it , but those who are new to it , may need it . Either way , the hi-power does not require at all for those who are veterans or new at it . Also , the hi-power 9mm very reliable with accuracy . It’s not a stopping power like the 1911 .45 , which we all know that , but it is as effective as the .45 , though and shoots higher velocity than the .45 . And lastly , most 9mm carries more ammos in the magazine more than the .45 , so that’s abit more to favor on ..

  11. I have a hi power Browning pistol and the serial number on it is 8662 and nobody can tell me about this gun everybody I have talked to they say they have never seen a serial number that low and it’s on everything so please somebody let me know thanks.

    • BHP civilian market sales have chronological serial numbers. Contract lots use different serials, so your # is likely connected to some contract production – foreign military, or gov agency most likely.

  12. Great article. My 32 year old Mk2 has never jammed or misfired once with factory 13 rd mags, Mec-Gar 15 and 20s or after market 10 rounders. The Hi Power is 2 oz lighter at 32 oz compared to the M9s unloaded weight of 34oz and a full 1/2 lb lighter than the 5″ 1911s unloaded weight of 40 oz.

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