The Browning High Power – The Original and Classic Pistol

By Robert Campbell

The Browning High Power was made by Fabrique Nationale in Belgium, and was designed by John Moses Browning like like the Colt 1911. But unlike the 1911, the High Power has always stayed under the Browning name and it is still manufactured today by Miroku in Japan.  It can be carried with the simple manual safety engaged, hammer back in single action (holstered of course). There have been several copies of the Browning FN high power over the years, but the original High Power is made today for Browning in Belgium.  Examples of the original Belgian made High Powers are thought to be the original classic guns, and are sought by both collectors and shooters today.

   The tangent sight marks this as a military contract High Power. It is among the more desirable models from a collector standpoint.

The tangent sight marks this as a military contract High Power. It is among the more desirable models from a collector standpoint.

The High Power design is thought of as a well-balanced handgun and one of the finest service pistols of all time. It has been in continuous production since 1934 and though it has waned in popularity today, it is still carried by several police forces across the globe, and even here in America the pistol still has its devotees, and is valued for its history, performance and collector interest.  With the German Luger, the High Power is one of the original guns that fire the readily obtainable 9mm cartridge. The High Power has been issued to the armed services of more than fifty nations, including Canada, where it still serves as a battle pistol. A generation ago, the High Power was issued to elite units in the United States, including the New Jersey State Police Fugitive Squad and the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. It is among the most recognizable handguns worldwide; if you scan the news, you may see a High Power in the hands of Indian police or waved by a woman during a street battle in Iraq.



The High Power was developed by John Moses Browning, a great inventor and among the greatest gun salesmen of all time, who filed for the first patent 1923. It was initially designed to meet the French military’s demand for a compact service pistol weighing no more than 2.2 pounds with a capacity of at least 10 rounds that could be produced economically. It had to be robust, easily assembled and disassembled, and have a positive safety, an external hammer, and a magazine disconnect device. It also had to be capable of killing a person at 50 meters, which required 9mm or larger. Browning died before the pistol was finalized, and work was continued by Dieudonne Saive, a respected inventor in his own right who incorporated some features of the 1911 after that patent expired in 1928.

The French did not adopt the High Power, but the pistol was an immense commercial success regardless and has the distinction of serving on both sides of practically every conflict since 1939. After World War I, the Allies had great respect for 9mm pistols because they offered a good level of power for their compact size. Early variants were also shipped to China and South America, among other nations. During World War II, the Germans took over the Fabrique Nationale plant and turned out the High Power for the Wermacht. John Inglis, a respected maker of armaments including ship’s boilers, took up production of the High Power for the allies.


 This Inglis High Power is a great shooter and a formidable battle weapon.

This Inglis High Power is a great shooter and a formidable battle weapon.

A look at the specifications of the High Power shows that it is ideally proportioned for the cartridge it chambers. There is enough weight to absorb the recoil of the 9mm cartridge but the pistol is light enough for daily carry. The grip fits most hands well. The trigger press is straight to the rear and the pistol is flat enough for concealed carry.

High Power dimensions –
Barrel length      4 5/8
Sight Radius       6  ½
Overall length     7 ¾ inch
Weight                  34 ounces

The pistol is all steel and well made of good material. The Browning design has gone through several generations, but each is recognizable as a High Power and the changes have been minor, usually limited to differences in the sights and the manual safety. The early versions feature a slide lock safety that is smaller than many competing types, but with practice the safety isn’t as difficult to manipulate as some would have us believe. The original safety is positive in operation and unlikely to be inadvertently moved to the off safe position. However, in a dedicated defensive handgun, the Cylinder and Slide Shop Inc. extended safety is an aid in speed and positive function. The slide stop and magazine release are easily reached and manipulated. Most High Power pistols feature a magazine disconnect that prevents the pistol from firing if the magazine is not in place.

The High Power is smaller and lighter than the 1911 .45, and handles quickly. With the greatest respect for the 1911 and its speed into action, if there is a handgun faster to an accurate first shot than the 1911, it is the Browning High Power. However, while the intrinsic accuracy of the High Power is often very good, the practical accuracy is limited by sometimes heavy trigger actions. Over the years, the RCBS trigger pull gauge has measured High Power triggers in a range that varies between five and eleven pounds. The tangent action isn’t easily improved, although gunsmiths such as Wayne Novak and Don Williams are able to produce a safe and usable action. It is a shame that the heavy trigger action limits accuracy potential in many variants, but then the piece was made for short range combat. Practiced marksmen will make good hits in spite of the trigger action as long as the trigger is consistent.

Most holster companies have a Browning High Power holster in their catalog.

Most holster companies have a Browning High Power holster in their catalog.

Another advantage of the High Power is speed of loading. To replenish the ammunition supply, just quickly insert the tapered magazine into a generous magazine well. There is no need for a magazine chute with this pistol.

The High Power features a heavy hammer spring. This makes thumb cocking more difficult, but there is a reason for the heavy spring. 9mm Luger ammunition has been produced in many countries and quality is sometimes indifferent. The High Power had to function with every load and to handle variations in case length as well as hard primers. The hammer gives the primer a solid hit, and the pistol has excellent reliability. The extractor design changed about 1962 from internal to external.

Complaints about the longevity of the pistol and claims that some have soft steel may have little basis in reality. It seems unlikely that Fabrique Nationale would produce such fine shotguns and rifles and then use Basque steel in the High Power. Claims of cracked slides without photographic proof are common. I am certain High Powers have cracked slides, but so have the 1911, the Beretta, the P 38, the SIG and the Glock. I have examined well-used High Powers that rattled when shook. The barrel lugs were worn and the frame showed high wear spots, but the pistols functioned. My personal Action Works-modified High Power went well over 10,000 rounds, including performing as the test bed for +P+ 9mm ammunition, with no problems except a little loss of accuracy at the 10,000 round mark. Shooters need to understand that springs and magazines are a renewable resource and must be replaced. Guns sometimes wear out and need to be replaced or retired.

The High Power field strips easily. Simply lock the slide to the rear using the slide lock safety, press out the slide stop, and release the safety and the slide runs off of the frame. The barrel, recoil spring and spring guide are easily removed.

The High Power field strips easily. Simply lock the slide to the rear using the slide lock safety, press out the slide stop, and release the safety and the slide runs off of the frame. The barrel, recoil spring and spring guide are easily removed.

License-built pistols were produced in Argentina and clones and copies produced worldwide. The FM Argentine guns originally copied the High Power, while later versions deleted the step in the slide, producing a pistol with a different profile, probably to diminish machine work. The design may be stronger, but it would take a truck-load of ammunition to prove this out. The Hungarian FEG is a quality variant, with good finish and performance comparable to the original. Among the most interesting variants is the John Inglis-produced High Power. The pistol was sent to our Allies, including China, and was heavily used by the British. They liked the High Power, and while they used whatever was available during the war after World War II, the High Power became standard issue. The Inglis High Power is pleasant to fire and is among my favorite recreational shooters.

For a serious collector, it is important to note that Fabrique Nationale used the same blocks with different contracts, and thus it is possible that High Powers exist worldwide with the identical serial numbers. That has a serious collector searching for identifying proof marks. The Inglis Number 1 and Number 2, Mark * 1 differ. Marks indicate differences such as the ejector or extractor, while the numbers are more important. The Number 1 is the Chinese pistol with tangent rear sights and a slot for a shoulder stock. The Number 2 is the conventional sight version. Serial numbers were applied after finishing, and if the pistol were refinished the numbers no long appear ‘in the white’. Most are in well used condition. They were not as well finished as the Fabrique Nationale versions when new.

   At some time in the past the front sight of this Inglis High Power was adjusted for windage. The sights were spot on for the author.

At some time in the past the front sight of this Inglis High Power was adjusted for windage. The sights were spot on for the author.

Parts interchangeability for the High Power seems excellent. Other than the change to a different extractor style, the only change to the pistol has been in different generations of sights. The original military sights are no better or worse than many of the day. The later MK II sights are much better combat sights, and so are those of the Browning Practical. The adjustable sights come in several variations, as did the tangent-style sights. The late-model Browning features variations on adjustable sights, including one type that seems to fit into the military dovetail.  The adjustable-sighted commercial guns are fine sporting guns occasionally found in the used section at the shop with a sight leaf missing. These sights leafs are sometimes difficult to obtain. Magazines interchange in all models.

I have found that the High Power feeds modern JHP ammunition. When hollow points became common in the 1960s and 1970s, many featured a wide-mouth hollow nose not designed for feed reliability. As a result, these loads did not feed in military pistols without barrel polish or throating. Throating, once universally recommend in the popular press, isn’t the best course and is often improperly done. Modern loads such as the Hornady XTP and the Remington Golden Saber perform well and feed reliably. The average accuracy of the High Power is pretty consistent. Most examples may be counted upon for a five-shot group of two and one half to three inches at 25 yards with good ammunition and from a solid benchrest.


2“Made in Belgium” and “Fabrique Nationale” speak to some of us.

2 “Made in Belgium” and “Fabrique Nationale” speak to some of us.


A family member found this well worn High Power at GunsAmerica and it fit his budget. It feeds, fires and functions and will serve well as a personal defense handgun.

A family member found this well worn High Power at GunsAmerica and it fit his budget. It feeds, fires and functions and will serve well as a personal defense handgun.

{ 87 comments… add one }
  • Martin Kendrick November 3, 2018, 11:31 pm

    I have an older 9mm HP. I have found no information on dating this pistol. it is a 5 digit # with an italicized letter following. It looks like this 28573 with a lower case “L” again the “L” is italicized. it has the all the German production stamps and is a 140Wa. I suspect it is a 1940. Any ideas?

  • Don March 11, 2017, 7:03 pm

    I recently purchased several surplus FEG Hi Powers pistols. All are in very good to excellent condition and the fit and finish is outstanding. Triggers are better than that found on many hi powers. However, there is a feeding problem. I experience “stove pipe” or other feeding problems at the rate of one for each 25 rounds fired. I’ve been told that the FEG functions well only with FEG factory magazines. Is this correct?

  • jason October 6, 2016, 2:15 am

    I had a .40 Hi Power that had a cracked slide. It was cracked in the breech face, near the extractor slot. It was a hairline crack.
    Upon closer inspection, I could see a long crack inside the firing pin hole also.
    This crack was confirmed by Browning and by a machinist friend of mine.
    However, I don’t have the slide.
    I found a replacement slide, junked the cracked one, and never looked back.

  • Gerald F. Guerra January 14, 2016, 11:24 am

    Hi,I own a Browning 9mm hp SS Louis XV engrave in his original oak box with the Browning logo stamped in the wooden box, never fired, have the original Invoice when bough it, even I have the original Police check back ground, it is like factory delivered, bought it in 1986 at a large Gun Dealer in Miami Florida who was burn down several years ago any one with acknowledge about pricing can tell me how much this 9mm price may be,please.
    Thank you

  • Michael January 3, 2016, 10:24 pm

    i was wondering if anyone can help me … im trying to decide between 2 HP ; 1st one is an older version , before 54 with serial number 39xxx and the second one is a newer model, made in the 50’s , still old with serial # 70xxx. the 1st one is an average condition the second one is like new condition. is there any difference between how the 2 guns are manufactured ? they both made in belgium by FN.

  • Ray Bath September 27, 2015, 6:07 pm

    I have a hi power my father brought back from Germany in about 1951. It has Fabrique nationald’arms de cuerre herstal belgique serial no.38935 . It is 9 mm can you tell me anythng about where it was actually manufactured and when. I had a man at a gun show tell me it was made in Belgium by the Germans and it was made by slave labor. Can you confirm this. Thanks

    • Ray Bath September 27, 2015, 6:22 pm

      I have a 9 mm High Power that my father brought back from Germany in about 1951. It has Fabrique Nationale De Cuerre Herstal Belgique stamped on it. The serial no is. 38935 and has the German eagle stamped on in several places. I was told it was made in Belgium by the Germans and it was made by slave labor. Can you give me anymore information on this pistol? Thanks Rsay

    • Rory Deubel May 17, 2017, 1:30 pm

      When the Germans occupied Belgium during WW2 they did seize the FN factory and all Hi-Powers produced during that time were for the Nazi Army (before that they were making them for allied forces). The ones produced for the Germans had the Nazi markings stamped into the side of the receiver.

  • Ray Bath September 27, 2015, 6:06 pm

    I have a hi power my father brought back from Germany in about 1951. It has Fabrique nationald’arms de cuerre herstal belgique serial no.38935 . It is 9 mm can you tell me anythng about where it was actually manufactured and when. I had a man at a gun show tell me it was made in Belgium by the Germans and it was made by slave labor. Can you confirm this. Thanks

    • Stan January 8, 2016, 11:23 pm

      Did you ever get an answer to question? I also have a hi power with a low serial number 38199 ,I would like to know how old it is

  • Pete Hepp August 26, 2015, 11:18 am

    Like to find more about my hp #103446 recovered in Viet Nam, manfactured in fn Belgique

  • jay martin August 14, 2015, 10:57 pm

    have a old style hp browning ser.#51340 , i,m in need of a inner extractor , have tried a ton of places with no luck on locating one , any help would be so very help full , if you have one would sell please e- mail or call me thanks Jay martin 734-787-0416

    • Todd Eads January 28, 2016, 9:45 pm

      I just recently bought an internal extracter for my HP from Jack First Inc. 605-343-9544

  • jay August 14, 2015, 10:50 pm

    hello all not sure im right on doing this but what the heck, im in need a a inner extractor for my hp browning old style , if some one has one and whats to part with it i,d be great full (i,m not sure what it even looks like a picture would even be great) or give a call 734-787-0416 again thanks Jay

  • David Ager May 21, 2015, 9:37 pm

    I bought my first BHP in the Sporting Goods Department of the Post Exchange on Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA in 1968. Another soldier had ordered it but was sent to Vietnam before it came in..I paid only the remaining balance due of $88.00..I paid $22.00 down on layaway and $22.00/month for 3 sales tax on the base..I later traded it for a Remington Rand 1911A1 in the 1970’s..In the 1980’s I bought a Hungarian BHP copy, and later a .41AE conversion barrel and mags…the .41AE cartridge was about equal to the .40S&W, and worked fine for me.the only problem that I have with the BHP design is painful hammer bite..I tried different styles of hammers, but they all draw blood from the web of my hand..Why FN never enlarged the tang of the BHP to prevent the hammer bite is a mystery to me..great pistol but just needs an updatin to the tang..

  • Newboy March 30, 2015, 12:17 pm

    I have always Loved Hi Powers can anyone help me date an older one #55520 can’t seem to find any numbers this low
    it is in Excellent shape

    • David Ager May 21, 2015, 9:41 pm

      EARLY 1950’s..from 1945 to 1954 FN made 72,250 Hi-Powers..annual production figures were not kept until 1955..

  • Dan January 11, 2015, 11:09 am

    I have a Hi-Power marked “Silesia” on the top front of the right side of the trigger guard. I cannot find anyone with information of a Silesian contract. Any help out there?

  • Dan December 23, 2014, 1:11 pm

    I have a Browning HP marked Silesia on the top rear of the trigger guard. Can anyone tell me when this was mfg.?

  • Mike December 16, 2014, 12:39 am

    I have an Argentine BHP. Bought it new in the late 1980s. It has had thousand of rounds fed through it and has been flawless all these years.

    This BHP is my “Go – To” gun.



  • Brett September 6, 2014, 10:58 pm

    I have had Hi Powers all my life and can’t complain about them at all, I just bought a post T series pistol at a show with a Colombian crest on the slide forward of the ejection port. Does any one have any info on it? I have looked thru all my Hi Power books and can’t find any info on it. Army, police or some guy in his garage trying to B.S people, I don’t know. Any info would help, thanks.

  • JMB July 22, 2014, 10:31 am

    + 1 for Israel, I don’t know what the USS Liberty affair was, but I am familiar with the SS St. Louis, during WWII. BDA was a SIG patent for Browning.
    I own 2 BHPs preT and 1978. The ’78 has the mag safety removed but still has a stiff trigger. The ’78 also is green and the serial number info lists it as Military. I don’t know which military, but that’s something I’d like to know.

    • Gary D Peterson November 12, 2018, 12:28 am

      I have a bhp with a 61 AE on mag well any ideals

  • Joe Waters April 16, 2014, 11:01 pm

    I own an argintine fm hi-power and was wondering where I could find more magazines for it

    • Brett September 6, 2014, 11:02 pm

      Anywhere! That’s what’s great about these pistols, parts are world wide.

  • Rick Fuller March 6, 2014, 9:48 pm

    I have a Belgium made high power that was surrendered to my father by a German officer near the end of WW2.It is nickel plated hand tooled with pearl handles . No where on it can I find any serial no. Can anyone tell me anything about it. thanks

    • Gary D Peterson November 12, 2018, 12:31 am

      Mine also has no serial numbers just a 61AE on mag well

  • Rick Fuller March 6, 2014, 9:47 pm

    I have a Belgium made high power that was surrendered to my father by a German officer near the end of WW2.It is nickel plated hand tooled with pearl handles . No where on it can I find any serial no. Can anyone tell me anything about it. thanks

  • rbrittne January 28, 2014, 8:59 am

    Seeing the Hi power article I had to read it…and administrator….I was a reader of gun magazine articles 20 , 30, and 40 years ago….back then they had such a thing as proofreading, and gun writers actually knew their subject….I can say neither about writers of today….This hi power article was just plain sloop and inaccurate! But what Im really writing about today is this conversation between Tim and Simcha. How lomg is this “poor me” im the victim rampage going to go on? Today every time a black, jew, or other minority sees an opportunity they jump on the bandwagon and cry RACIST! I read Tims post several time trying to get any kind of a racist hint from it, but there was nothing. Then I read Simchas post again and it is very disgusting and an insult to jews. Is he going to jump on the money train and file a law suit next? What the hell is wrong with what Tim said? Did Simcha feel guilty or something??? because we have given Israel BILLIONS in aid over the years. I think Simcha needs to reprimanded by the JPFO for embarrassing jews everywhere for a comment like this. Pathetic!

  • Robert McCollum January 3, 2014, 2:11 pm

    I have a Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol that I inherited from my father. Its serial # is 41566, so according to the info I’ve been able to gather, it was made pre-1954 and was not imported to the US.

    It’s been stored in a leather case for several years and appears to be in excellent condition and it has two bullet clips.

    Any experts or enthusiasts out there who can approximate its value and its manufacture date?

    Thank you.

  • Laurence November 29, 2013, 1:35 pm

    Over the last 35 years I have owned, shot and sold many Browning HP Pistols made all around the world.
    The original was a Single Action only. There was a batch that we sold through the retail gun store I worked at in 2000-2006 that was a single/Double action that was MFG in Israel or a european country.

    It’s been a few years,I can’t remember a model ether but they do exist and they were not the Browning BDA pistol. These looked identical from the outside to the original P-35.

    The browning Centori shotgun is made in Japan along with Howa Rifles and many more companies produce complete firearms in Japan for the export market and their own police and military in Japan.

  • 1911Jim November 14, 2013, 9:08 am

    Seems the author may have cross copied the article with the one on the Walther P38 “War Dog” sidebarred in the P35 piece.

  • Troy November 12, 2013, 11:54 pm

    Everyone stop insulting each other, please. Both the BDA and the BDM did exist. The BDA was the early import designation of the Sig P220, late 70’s and very early 80’s, (Euro heel style mag release) before being imported under their own name. Check old Gun Digests, etc., and you’ll see. The BDM stood for “Browning Double Mode”. It was a 9mm DA pistol, similar in contour to the HP (don’t re-invent the wheel). It had a screw selector in the slide which when turned by a small screwdriver or the tip molded into the mag floorplate, made it a DAO model. It was extant in the early and mid 90’s, when DAO was popular. The shop I worked in from 93-95 sold some, including a few to the adjacent PD, which tested them. Sort of a footnote to the Browning product line, in my view. I think they were discontinued in 95 or 96, likely due to slow sales. Hope this helps

  • Jeff November 12, 2013, 11:01 pm

    Lance: The gentleman I bought this gun was in his 80’s. He was actually a WW2 and a Korean War vet. Great guy. I looked at the two pics I have of the gun, and although they’re both good pics of both sides of the gun, they don’t show the serial # or caliber. So I’ll need to dig it out of the safe, to take closer pics of it to show the .45 Auto marking on it. How and where do I post the pics for you to see them? This is the first time I’ve ever had anybody show any interest in helping me find out more info about the gun, so thank you.

  • Clark Drown November 12, 2013, 2:45 pm

    I purchased a 1966 T Series BHP in 1983 in LA, and it was just stolen in Brookings Harbor, OR, in Nov. 2012.
    The Serial Number is T251609. It has been entered into NCIC an NLETS by the Curry Sheriff’s Dept., who botched then investigation horribly. There was/is a suspect but unless he is caught with it (doubtful) I doubt I will ever see it again, unless it is recovered and somehow backtracked to him.
    Beautiful original blue, 5 extra mags, not a scratch on the gun or the walnut stocks, the BHP was my favorite off duty gun and my best shooter.
    I loved that gun and hope it turns up again someday. And I hope the little prick that stole it gets what’s coming to him. Haven’t given up yet, but recovery doesn’t look promising, unless he ends up with the Browning turned up after a search or something. Not too likely.
    But again, the Serial Number is T251609 if anyone comes across it.


    • David November 13, 2013, 8:24 pm

      Do not despair! I had a pistol stolen from my car in mid 2010, in central Missouri. Kansas City PD recovered the gun during a traffic stop and returned it to me in 2013. You never know, it may turn up yet!

      • Jack Gates November 14, 2013, 2:35 pm

        Cool! Glad to see our local yokels at KCPD earned their pay for once. LOL

  • ralph kramden November 12, 2013, 2:16 pm

    hi, I have an israeli hi power, manufactured in belgium in 1986. parkerized finish, star of david hallmark, matching numbers. the trigger pull was abysmal, ie. measured past 17 + lbs. (maxed out the trigger pull gauge). probably due to the fact trigger assembly articulates off the front of the stock, parkerized magazine, lots of friction there. had the magazine disconnector removed, and trigger architecture smoothed out. now 5 lb pull. added extended safety and some contrasting bone colored, thin paneled micarta grips, otherwise stock .oh, and a gold bead in recess of front sight. mecgar 15 round mag also. functions flawlessly, very accurate, easy point and shoot. maybe someday i will have it refinished, but for now, my everyday carry in a crossbreed iwb holster. bonus was picked it up for $400 and change.

  • Vearl Brown November 12, 2013, 1:54 pm

    You need to get some facts stright. I was a gunsmith for BrowninG for 38 years and the Hi-Power was one of the “guns” that I worked on so I feel that I also know a little bit about them having serviced many many hundreds of the piece. First this pistol is single action ONLY. The BDA .380 is double action but NOT the Hi-Power.
    Second–Made WHERE ?? NOT JAPAN–It’s against their constitution to make handguns in that country. I can tell you about how they get around a few parts being made there but the “GUNS” them self come out of Europe.
    I’m often asked if they are ” Good Guns ” and my standard answer is NO. Fact is that they are FANTASTIC guns. If you think that you appreciate them by taking one ( maybe two ) out to the range and shooting them—well I have been inside many hundreds of them and done more with them than most of you can even think about and have fired thousands and thousands of rounds through them and YES i say it again they ARE fantastic—just ask me !!

    • Ed Wright November 28, 2013, 8:59 pm

      Thank you for the expert insight!

  • Davidio Flavio November 12, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Oh, I have two, an Inglis manufactured proper chinese export model, with a repro stock, and an argentine made former military pistol, a somewhat recent import.

    Frankly, I have never shot the Inglis, its in good condition, and frankly bought as a collectable.

    The Argentinian one is on par with any belgium made pistol, in terms of function, its a bit rough with some finish wear, but makes a very nice, working mans high power, for shooting.

    I do believe the HP may be the most comfortable, best pointing handgun I have ever held.

    I am still kicking my dad for trading away a Nazi marked WW2, Belgian made model, it was considered common back in the day, but I hate to see what its worth today.

  • Xavier November 12, 2013, 1:06 pm

    I’ve got 3 of these, all newer models, 2 9mm and 1 40S&W. Love them all. I’ve removed the mag disconnect safety on all of them and the triggers improved slightly. I’ll probably eventually get all of them to somebody for trigger jobs. Other than that, they are my favorite handguns, right ahead of my 1911’s. By the way, Mec Gar makes 15 round mags for the 9mm version putting them right up there capacity wise with most other brands of full size 9mm’s. Best of both worlds, capacity and a steel framed gun. I have no concerns whatsoever about cracked slides or wearing anything out because I will likely never fire enough rounds through them to hurt them at all. I love the way they feel (other than the trigger) and carry one on my morning walks up a nearby canyon. Otherwise one is always handy in my house, office and truck.

  • Robocop November 12, 2013, 12:28 pm

    I had a 1990 Hi-Power that I sold, and I regularly kick my own butt [mentally] for letting it go.

    I still have another Hi-Power in nickel. At first I didn’t like the nickel plating, but I’ve grown to really like it because I love the gun. It shoots flawlwssly, it is very accurate [ ≤ 2.5″ @ 25 yds], and the nickel plating offers better protection than bluing. I also like the long 4.675″ barrel, which takes advantage of the ammo available for it. The Beretta mod. 92 has a longer barrel, but it is clunky by comparison. The Browning is elegant. [I also have a Browning double action in .380 — a Browning “BDA”. Maybe that’s where the DA confusion comes from.]

    The single action is also desirable. Mine has a round spur hammer [aftermarket? Don’t know] that is very easy to cock, and is not as likely to catch on clothing. And rubber wrap-around grips, which are extremely comfortable.

    All in all, it is my favorite 9mm — and I have several, including a couple Glocks and a Beretta. If I had to pick only one gun to keep, it would be the Hi-Power, without a doubt.

  • bph9 November 12, 2013, 10:59 am

    Dieudonne Saive was the real inventor of the High Power not John Browning. If you look at Browning’s prototype you will see it was actually a striker fired pistol and it appears in the pictures to be much larger than the High Power invented by Dieudonne Saive. About the only thing copied from Browning was the elimination of the swinging 1911 style barrel link and the addition of a staggered magazine system. Also if it had not been for the nit-wits that sat on the French armaments committee the High Power today would have been a 16 shot pistol. It was due to the French complaints that the gun held too many shots that it was reduced to a 13 round gun. Can you believe that the French committee was that stupid?

    The High Power like all pistols has been cheapened over the years. Its barrel went from a one piece to a two piece silver soldered barrel. The rifling appears to be more shallow in comparison to the WWII guns. The internal 1911 type extractor was changed to an external extractor with a cheap roll pin holding it in place. In 1989 they added a passive firing pin safety that weakened the slide considerably which has resulted in a lot of cracked slides just under the firing pin plate. There are plenty of graphic pictures posted to prove this. In 1994 they went to the cheap cast steel frame and cheap cast internal parts. The cast frame was thicker making the gun feel much different in the hand than the original slimmer forged steel frame. The cheap cast frame was used because if they had not used a casting it would have cut down on profits to use the forged steel frame with the new ill-fated 40 S&W cartridge. The cast frame could be made both harder and cheaper than the forged frame slide but contrary to popular myth the cast frame was not better when compared to a forged frame slide of equal thickness and heat treatment. The barrel hood extension was later in time also done away with. One gun writer had the audacity to claim it was of no use and not even the people at FN could explain why it was ever used. Common sense will tell you it was used to index the barrel precisely from shot to shot and enhanced accuracy. The presently made guns without it often do not shoot as well.

    The only derogatory thing I can say about the original WWII guns and some of the post war pre-T Series guns is that the disassembly notch was not hardened like the slide hold open notch was. This notch often quickly wore out and became rounded off by flipping it down to release the slide instead of using the slide hold open to do this operation (this was the result of pure laziness of the operator of the pistol). Later commercial models had the take down notch hardened like the slide hold open notch as well it should be.

    Having said all this depressing things about later made High Powers they still are beautifully made pistols, which are light years more prestigious to own than the current crowd of cheaply made junk plasticky pistols which make even a brass monkey puke at the mere sight of one.

    In conclusion I would like to say that WWII vets I interviewed down through the years preferred the High Power hands down to the 1911 .45 acp. None, I repeat none I interviewed ever said it was not deadly in comparison to the .45acp. In 1945 the U.S. military ran a comparison test between the two weapons and much to their surprise found that the .45 acp actually bounced off a WWII helmet at a scant 35 yards while the High Power penetrated the helmet out to an astonishing 125 yards. Mike Venturnio recently did the same thing and had the .45acp not penetrate a helmet at only 25 yards. I might add the High Power was thought highly of by both the Chinese and by the Japanese in WWII. The Japanese stole every High Power they could get their hands on during the war.

    • Jose February 27, 2016, 5:11 pm

      WOW ! That’s very interesting about the .45 bouncing off or not penetrating through the helmets , whereas the browning .9mm was the opposite , but it makes sense since the .9mm has a higher velocity which will penetrate more and deeper , too . That really makes me feel good to know that since I own one and really love it . I also have a .45 p12 , it shoots great , but unfortunately when it comes to cleaning , that’s where it becomes really hard to put it back together . But , my browning is so much easier , yet with simplicity too especially when I don’t need a tool nor a flathead screwdriver just like with the .45 for the recoil spring that’s connected to the bushing when my hands are somewhat physically challenged . As far as holding the gun , my browning is so much easier and more comfortable to hold with one hand alot more than my .45 .

  • GrenadierVolt November 12, 2013, 10:38 am

    I have carried a GP35 made in Herstal, as we called it back in the 60s in operations. Then I chanced upon yet another HiPower as some call it with the WaffenAmt markings and the tangent sight. I still own the holster for it with the Totenkopf and the rank “star” on it. I then bought in the US a satin finish gun which unfortunately was stolen. I now own an Argentinian they call FM (which incidentally I would trade for a 1911 in same condition, such as a Rock Island) as I also own an Inglis with tangent sight with the original stock/holster configuration. At one time, a company I believe called Bar-Sto was making a barrel in 30 luger aka 7,65×21 cartridge and I would be delighted to locate one of those barrels for my Inglis. I favor the 30 over the 9mm as the ballistics including stopping power are very close but I find the 30 more accurate and more reliable, despite the high price of the ammo. I compared such cartridges both in the GP 35 and two Interarms lugers that I own.

  • Jerry November 12, 2013, 9:56 am

    I purchased a Belgium made P35 in 1967 and it went to “Nam with me and saw considerable “angry trigger time”! Wasn’t within regs; but as I was a SP XO and it fit nicely in a GI 1911 holster, no one ever mentioned it! Removing mag disconnect definitely helped trigger. Carried it for years in 70’s as a reserve SWAT officer and as CCW. Transitioned to Sig P226 in mid 80’s but HP holds place of honor in safe in original zipper case and manual. Can’t believe those tiny fixed sights were usable, given current eyesight. I might be mistaken: but Browning BDM was precursor to Sig P226?

  • Jim Jones November 12, 2013, 7:46 am

    I was a little late to the game, so when it came to the “double action/single action” mistake by the author I found no purpose for jumping on the pile and restating what has been covered quite adequately. I own one that was built in Belgium and love it, however, the one thing that I don’t like is the magazine safety. Those few seconds that you are changing mags and are armed with what amounts to a paperweight could life threatening in a combat situation. I would like to know if there are any out there who know of an easy, non-damaging way to modify the Hi-Power. I want to be able to fire it with the magazine out, but in the event I ever sell it, or give it to one of my children, I would prefer to be able to undo the modification, so as not to compromise it’s collect-ability.

    • Lance November 12, 2013, 11:23 am

      You could either install yourself or have a gunsmith install a Cylinder & Slide Combat Trigger. It has no mag safety and has a wider face, which in turn gives it a much improved trigger. If you replace the trigger, also replace the trigger return spring with two coils instead of three coils. The two coil is extra power and works better with the Combat Trigger. I would suggest Wolff as a source for that spring.

      • Mike November 23, 2015, 9:22 am

        I have three .40HP’s and installed the Cylinder & Slide combat trigger and the SFSS on all. Removing the mag safety and the wider trigger gave them about a 4 pound pull. Adding the SFSS was also a big plus. Those .40 HP’s are my choice for everyday carry.

    • Chip November 26, 2013, 6:27 pm

      Google “hipower magazine safety removal” and there’s a video on how to remove the parts. I’ve done it to both of my 9mm’s, but left it intact on the 40S&W. On one of the 9’s it was a bit sticky to remove, but came out with minimal force. You could always save the parts that were removed, although I don’t trust mag safeties or any other safeties, for that matter, so I tossed the parts right in the trash.

  • Roger November 12, 2013, 6:34 am

    I have a hi-power sn# 50xxx, how do i find the mfg date? Is there a listing? The story is that it was issued to an Air America operative in RVN but I have no way of knowing.

  • Tim Shaw November 12, 2013, 3:51 am

    Israel? Perhaps a US tax paid purchased side arm? I wouldn’t be bitchin if I were you.

    • Bob 474 November 12, 2013, 7:16 am

      huh? why the venom at the Israelis? Is this an Al Queda supporter?

    • Simcha M. November 13, 2013, 9:32 am

      Dear Administrator,
      Given that GunsAmerica is owned by an orthodox Jew, I’m a little ticked that you did not approve my reply to the anti-semite “Tim Shaw”. TRUE, it didn’t have anything to do with the Browning Hi-Power; but evil needs to be confronted wherever it shows its ugly face.
      Todah rabah,

      • Administrator November 13, 2013, 2:49 pm

        Sometimes they get lost in the shuffle lol. Don’t be surprised when the “conspiracy theories” get outed by Snowden as factual and it all gets blamed on the Jews.

  • Lance November 12, 2013, 12:33 am

    I have an 87 year old friend who claims that he has seen a Hi-Power in .45 cal, but I can’t find a darn thing on it. Jeff, yours is the only other mention I’ve ever seen of it. Could you post some pictures. The Hi-Power dimensions will not accommodate the .45 cal bullet. So if they made a .45 ACP Hi-Power, it would have to be on a scaled up frame and slide. Please, please provide some pictures.

  • arnold November 12, 2013, 12:30 am

    I bought my first BHP around 1970, used, and immediately loved it. I have retired 2 over the years and own 3 more in 9mm and one in .40 cal. I have tried many times to develop such an affection for other autos, the closest one to win me is Sig, but when I need a gun I feel totally comfortable with for defense, I always pick up the BHP. I have been a criminal prosecutor most of my career and it has brought me confidence and once carried me through a tight spot. It is a great gun and Browning’s best work in my book. Novaks makes a “home defense” tuning, is trigger work, reliability and new sights for about $500. Well worth it.

  • Jeff November 11, 2013, 11:50 pm

    Thank you for the link. Unfortunately it starts at 1954 with the 9mm models starting with serial # 70,000. My gun just has the #’s “457” only on three different places on the gun. And is chambered for .45 Auto. I have pics of the gun, and can take closer pics if needed, if anybody has any ideas or info on the caliber of the gun.

  • Jeff November 11, 2013, 11:36 pm

    I bought a Belgium made BHP from a gentleman who had served in Europe in WW2. where he supposedly brought the gun back from. He gave it to me with the leather “period” flap over holster, which also held one extra clip (didn’t get an extra clip). He said he had it checked out, and it was supposedly built in 1936 at the FN plant in Belgium. It has the serial # of “457” on three different places on the gun. The odd part is that it says it is chambered for a .45 Auto. Which I am told is a much lower pressure than today’s .45’s. I’m just curious to see if anybody has ever seen a BHP chambered for this cartridge. I’d love to find out more about the gun. Having no ammo for it, I have never fired it, but it still appears fully functional. Any input/help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Karl November 11, 2013, 11:10 pm

    You need to check about the Hi-Power being made by Miroku in Japan. I think that pistols can not be made in Japan.

    • Administrator November 11, 2013, 11:25 pm

      Yea it isn’t and it has been corrected. Double action Hi-Powers from Japan aren’t that popular.

      • Tom Consolo November 12, 2013, 2:23 am

        I carried a modern model Hi Capacity Hi Power for many years as an off duty gun. Loved it, but swayed away when Tactical School Classed it as a minor or Medium Caliber and I had to carry a .40 or larger to compete in class. Still love it and so does my wife.

  • Rocky November 11, 2013, 9:50 pm

    I’ve owned quite a few Hi Powers since the 1960s, and examined many many more. For years I have heard mention that Hi Power pistols are made in Japan. Some Browning rifle and shotgun models, yes, but I have yet to personally see even one Hi Power pistol with any markings to indicate that it was made in Japan. I did business with noted Hi Power expert and collector Bill Drollinger for years. Bill printed extensive lists of Hi Powers he had for sale. I never saw mention of even one that was made in Japan, other than non-gun, non-shooting replicas. Can someone post a picture, or direct me to a source please, where I can learn more about the elusive Japanese Hi Power pistols???

  • Jesse Johnson November 11, 2013, 9:14 pm

    Yes, glad someone else noticed – the Browning is single action – not a double action.

  • Simcha M. November 11, 2013, 8:13 pm

    He mentions the Inglis, FEG and Argentinian copies but neglects the Bulgarian Arcus and the Israeli Kareen, which may or may not be Bulgarian/Hungarian depending on which website you read.

    The Israeli police and army used the “FN” as it is simply called up until a decade ago, give or take. I carried it in my job as government security in Israel after my discharge and hated it because of hammer bite and atrocious trigger pull. Even if I knew about removing the magazine safety I’m sure they wouldn’t let us screw with our guns.

    • Tim Shaw November 12, 2013, 3:49 am

      Israel? Perhaps a US tax paid purchased side arm? I wouldn’t be bitchin if I were you.

      • Simcha M. November 12, 2013, 10:19 am

        Nobody is bitching here, Tim. Just mentioning an omission. You sound like you don’t care for us Jews, do you Tim??

        How do I know this?? You can’t resist telling the world how us greedy Israelis suck up US tax dollars and bleed the American people dry. Straight out of The Protocols of Elders of Zion.

        Let me educate you and all the other Neanderthal anti-semites out there. Without Israel/Jews, there would be no America/Christianity. Our two countries, cultures and religions share the same values and one cannot survive without the other.

        When America gives military aid to a foreign country, it never comes in the form of cash in a briefcase or an electronic transfer of funds from one bank to another. It comes in the form of credit that they must spend on an American-made product. Ergo, the money stays right here in America and keeps an American working.

        I won’t even go into how Israeli scientists, technicians and war experience improves those American products, either.

        I’m surprised you didn’t mention the USS Liberty incident or the Pollard Affair. As far as I’m concerned, an ignorant anti-semitic conservative is no better than a Jewish liberal, you disgust me equally. Get educated and free yourself of this irrational hatred of yours; it is on par with the Muslim’s hatred of the West and our values.

        By the way, what is your military experience, might I ask??? I’m guessing you are an armchair commando, right Timmy?

        • Davidio Flavio November 12, 2013, 1:05 pm

          Simcha, you don’t need to assume that he is anti Israel, some of us are very supportive of Israel, but, also realize our country is broke, and that we should no longer be in the business of supporting other countries around the world, when we can’t afford to take care of the people here.

          I do think that aid should be pulled from the openly anti US countries, such as Egypt, and Pakistan, but, the US dollars are said to help prop them up, and keep them from becoming even more US hateful, though personally, I think the money would be better saved for delivering nukes to them later, at the end of warhead, when the anti US sentiment is great enough to justify using them.

          Again, personally, I would stop ALL aid, to ALL foreign countries, because as stated, our countries own finances are screwed and if we don’t get them straightened out, the wars will be here next.

          And finally, you really came off as biting the hand that fed you, you know that right?

          As long as Israel takes US welfare, some are going to look down at you for being stuck to the teat, and I would bet that most Israelis would like to be free from US coercion in terms of being beholden for our dollars.

        • Kenneth May 11, 2014, 4:58 pm

          I was looking at this page for information about the Hi-Power, and saw Simcha’s overreactive and presumptive reply to Tim. It’s been months, but the site is still open for comments so here are my thoughts.

          What if someone wasn’t anti-Jew, but they also didn’t agree with everything about the political state of Israel, at least enough so that didn’t feel it was a priority for their tax dollars? Or for that matter what if they didn’t prefer any arrangement where religion and government aren’t separate? Your combining of Israel/Jews and America/Christianity makes it seem like you prefer states be based on a particular religious doctrine, or at least it certainly doesn’t bother you if they are.

          As far as “American values,” I would include religious freedom somewhere on the list (as well as freedom of speech to criticize to comment on foreign policy). I can’t say I know enough about Israeli values to say the same about how it is over there, but the impression I get is that there is a bias toward a particular religion. Just because you are for religious freedom doesn’t mean you’re against a religion or the people who follow it. Preference toward or discrimination against people of a certain religion is more of a Nazi value than an American one, is it not?

          I don’t think someone preferring to not have their tax money sent to support another country absolutely and automatically means they are against people of a certain religion. Also, it doesn’t mean they are automatically for some other religion. In responses like Simcha’s, I see lots of assumptions and reacting from emotion rather than thinking critically and objectively.

          I get that you are sensitive to what you call anti-semitism and you want to confront it where ever you think you find it, but I think you’re assuming a lot by your response to Tim’s post. I suppose that’s great; prejudice is a bad thing. It may very well be that Tim is an anti-semite (or anti-Jew, more accurately), but I don’t see enough of that strictly from his post that you should be as sure about it as you are in your response that accuses him of having irrational hatred. It’s very much like pulling the “race card” right off the bat before any mention of race has been even hinted at.

          Then it appears you want to bait him into some sort of personal argument by calling him “Timmy” and bringing up military experience which is even less relevant to the discussion of the Browning Hi-Power than the Israel tangent. It seems like if you are on the winning side of an argument, you don’t have to resort to ad hominem attacks.

          You can argue that financial support of Israel is in the best interests of the United States, and leave it at that without assuming the other person is motivated by religious intolerance or prejudice, or by assuming every Jew is for Israel or all the policies of Israel, which is not the case. Pulling the “anti-semite card” each time someone questions American foreign policy toward Israel is another thing worthy of disgust as far as I’m concerned.

        • Dr. Stephen J. Krune III April 21, 2016, 11:24 pm

          Predictable hair-trigger Jewish sensitivity with demands never to criticize Jews, Israel, or neocon wars ever ever ever ever…lol keep it up, you’re the best advertisement for the merits of anti-Semitism there is, far more concise than the Protocols

        • Anonymous September 23, 2016, 7:04 am

          Kvetch louder kike.

          Newsflash, we don’t need Israel, and we don’t need you, so make aaliyah and shut the fuck up before we make it 110.

          Tick-tock over dodger.

  • Bill Hansen November 11, 2013, 8:10 pm

    I too was puzzled by Campbell’s assertion that the BHP was double/single action- I had to get mine out of the safe and take a look. A casual observer just looking at the BHP might assume it’s a D/S action by the appearance of the trigger which looks very much like a DA trigger, but like you say, it ain’t and never was as far as I know.

    • Administrator November 11, 2013, 8:18 pm

      LOL the intro wasn’t written by Mr. Campbell and the writer brain farted on another gun. It will be fixed. Thanks.

  • Lance November 11, 2013, 8:01 pm

    I have shot Hi-powers for years and they are without a doubt a single action. The trigger is a long pivoting style, but is single action and like the 1911 is designed to be carried cocked and locked. There was a system a few years ago that allowed them to be carried with the hammer down and as soon as you started to squeeze the trigger, the hammer sprung back to cocked.

    There was also a change in frames from forged to cast. Supposedly the cast frames are stronger and were brought about to handle the force of the .40 cal Hi-power. Collectors seem to like the cast frames. They also like the Belgian built and assembled guns. The Portuguese assembled guns are less desirable. FN also made a very few alloy framed Hi-Powers for the Austrian Customs, but these tend to be very rare.

    Argentina (FM) also made a detective slide, I believe it is a 3.75 inch barrel. The full size is close to 4.75 inches.

  • Egbert Throckmorton November 11, 2013, 3:17 pm

    I’ve owned Hi Power pistols since 1977, and am currently wearing one as I type this.
    I do not know of a single Hi Power that is “…double action the first shot” as Mr. Campbell has erroneously claimed in this article.(see paragraph one above)
    ALL Browning Hi-Power pistols are single action, unless modified by a gunsmith. One can carry the BHP “cocked and locked” safely like any quality 1911.

    • Jonathan November 12, 2013, 1:08 am

      Actually the article’s not too far off. The P35 Hi Power was designed as a single-action autoloader and was first offered in 9mm. One poster asked about a model in .45 ACP. There were some made for the US government but they were never adopted. In 1983 the Browning DA/FN HP-DA/BDA9/BDAD was introduced, a Hi Power double-action offered in 9mm and in .40 S&W. It was of questionable success, and was discontinued in 1987. Production resumed in 1990. I don’t think it is in production at this time. The guy with the . 45 ACP model should probably insure it heavily. I have a feeling it may be worth a LOT of money. All of this info is available from reliable sources on the www. I personally handled a .40 DA model a few years ago and wish I’d had the $$ to buy it.

      • Administrator November 12, 2013, 7:10 am

        The double action confusion was because there is a double action. It is a similar looking but different gun made by Browning, called the BDM if I remember. Also not made in Japan though lol.

        • Brian Brohead November 12, 2013, 1:38 pm


          • Administrator November 12, 2013, 1:45 pm

            OMG pick up any gun magazine from 20 years ago. They have egregious errors, and they weren’t fixed immediately. G&A even reprints the old articles in those “Book of the…” you see in supermarkets. BDM stands for the Browning Double Mode (or Dual Mode), and it’s mean that the pistol can be had in either traditional Double Action mode or in Double Action Only Mode. The BDA was only DA.

    • Floyd Zoglman November 20, 2013, 10:38 pm

      Do you have a relative Marine that lost his life in Nam? He was a friend of mine.

    • rk campbell December 3, 2014, 12:05 pm

      Thanks for the read.

      If you have read my previous work, dating to the 1980s, you will realize this feature is an embarrassment. Of course I know the High Power isnt a double action first shot handgun. I also know that the pistol isnt made by Miroku. This is the result of the God-awful worst uninformed and reckless editing I have ever seen in my editorial career.


      R K Campbell

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