The Hi-Power in 2023 – Best Clones, Replicas, and Advancements

Authors Handguns Travis Pike

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The Hi-Power used to be best described as a cult classic in the United States. The Hi-Power never achieved the popularity of the M1911 in the USA but had a steady following of enthusiasts who appreciated the world’s first Wonder Nine. Across the ocean and the world, Browning’s final design was praised and used extensively, notably by numerous NATO forces and European countries. 

The thirteen-round magazine was an absolute game-changer in its era. This was a time when eight rounds in a handgun was a lot. Thirteen changed the game and, without a doubt, inspired the gun industry to make double-stack, single-feed magazines the norm in modern handguns. The Hi-Power has a rich history and fought in dozens of major conflicts throughout the world. 

Recently the Hi-Power has seen quite a revival. Maybe the industry’s hard time coming up with something new spurned it. Tough to say, but now we are awash in Hi-Powers, and I’m excited, to say the least. Let’s dig into your Hi-Power options in 2023. 

The Springfield SA-35

Springfield was the first to launch their revival of the Hi-Power series of handguns. The SA-35 is their bring back and rendition of the gun. Springfield’s Hi-Power goes a long way to fix the deficiencies of the original Hi-Power while not moving too far away from the classic design. For example, they got rid of the magazine safety, which was famously a ridiculed and useless feature. 

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The SA-35 also had 17 round flush fit magazines. A little modern design went a long way to improve capacity. The beavertail of the gun is refitted and reformed, and you won’t get that nasty hammer bite. Additionally, the magazines drop free! That’s a nice change from the old Hi-Power. There is also a larger-than-normal set of sights on the gun to provide a quick and effective sighting system. 

At the same time, it was a fairly basic Hi-Power. No rail, no optics, no polymer frame, nothing crazy. All metal guns, wood grips, and a nice fine finish. The SA-35 series of Hi-powers does the design justice. It’s a ton of fun to shoot, and it’s crazy how far ahead Browning and Saive were when they designed the weapon. It’s also priced at well below a thousand bucks making it an affordable option for the enterprising, wanna-be Hi-Power owner. 

FN High Power

You’re not reading that wrong. FN owned the Hi-Power design, and at the same time, they stopped producing it a few years ago, and it was desired and missed. In 2022 they brought a weapon back and called it the High Power. The name change was purposeful, and it’s worth separating the Hi-Power and High Power due to some significant design differences. 

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FN took the Hi-Power back to the tooling. There they removed the magazine disconnect, designed a drop-free magazine design, and ensured the magazine held 17 rounds instead of 13. They redesigned the hammer and the rear of the gun to prevent hammer and slide bite while encouraging a nice high grip on the gun. The High Power’s small ejection port is gone, and FN opened up for consistent ejection. They utilized modern sights that dovetailed into the slide. 

The High Power comes with ambidextrous controls, including a larger, easier-to-access safety. Takedown is much easier, and it’s been simplified to work more like an FN 509 than a Hi-Power. What FN ultimately did was take the Hi-Power and truly modernize it inside and out. There isn’t a tactical model with optics and rail yet, but at FN’s SHOT Show booth, it was highly implied to be on the way. 

The Girsan Clones 

Girsan, a Turkish firm, is producing a ton of Hi-Power clones. A crazy amount. As affordable Turkish firearms, the Girsan models aren’t super fancy but rather nice for the price. They make bare-bones models like the standard MC35. These are direct Hi-Power clones with all the parts and pieces you expect from the classic design. This includes all its quirks. 

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There is also a PI model, which is similar to the compact variants that came out of Argentina a few decades ago. I really want to get my hands on one of these MC35 PI models. There are also various OPS models that implement a number of modern touches and features. 

This includes an accessory rail as well as an optic cut. More than that, they have a big beavertail and a drop-free magazine. There is also an OPS model of the PI edition as well. On top of all these models sits some odd special editions. For example, a gold-plated model allows you to get your hands on a Hi-Power worthy of a middle eastern strongman. 

The Hi-Power Nighthawk Option 

While Springfield Armory, FN, and Girsan all released Hi-Powers recently, Nighthawk took to making ultra-custom variants in 2015. These get the same treatment that Nighthawk gives their various 1911s and turns a standard Hi-Power into a semi-custom firearm. They rework it inside and out to provide the best Hi-Power you can get. 

READ MORE: Going Out in Style: The Last 50 Hi-Powers by Nighthawk and Turnbull

1 - The Hi-Power in 2023 - Best Clones, Replicas, and Advancements

This includes adding a beavertail allowing for a high grip without hammer bite. They lighten the trigger and smooth out that old trigger linkage to provide a crisp four-pound trigger pull. The trigger shoe is reworked, straightened out, and impressive all around. The frame and slide are hand textured for a better purchase when using the gun. 

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The Nighthawk Hi-Powers feature a Heinie rear sight and a gold bead front sight. The barrel is crowned for increased accuracy, and the hammer and sear are competition models. At its core, it’s a Hi-Power, but it’s the best Hi-Power you can get. 

The FEGs

FEG, or Fegyver- és Gépgyár, is a Hungarian firm that produces firearms and HVACs. Seriously, that is what they do, and they are the biggest East European HVAC manufacturers. We aren’t making a list of AC units, though. Instead, let’s talk about the FEG Hi-Ppowers. FEG began producing Hi-Powers decades ago and importing them into the United States. Admittedly they are no longer imported. However, they are quite common. 

1 - The Hi-Power in 2023 - Best Clones, Replicas, and Advancements

If you want a rock-solid, budget-friendly Hi-Power, hit up Guns America, and you’ll come across one fairly quickly. They aren’t necessarily remarkable. The FEGs are Hi-Power clones that are rock solid and made very well. They are reliable, with an often ugly finish but functional design. The FEGs have their own charms, and they are as close as affordability gets to an original Hi-power. 

If you look hard enough, you can find one of the rarer variants that features a ventilated rib for reasons that escape me. The FEGs are a great way to get into the Hi-Power market and to purchase a shooter-grade gun for a great price. 

Getting Hi-Power 

If the firearms industry has trouble coming up with something new, then at the very least, they can give something old and make it better. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if they did that more often. I like old guns, but old guns are often expensive, and it’s tough to shoot an old gun without worrying about breaking it. New versions of old guns are cheaper and let you shoot them an absolute ton without worry. 

What do you think about the new generations of Hi-Powers? Let us know below! 

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  • BR549 November 15, 2023, 8:59 am

    When I was in the service, back in the early ’70s, I purchased a Hi-Power II for $125. I had always been fascinated with “metal stuff”, ball bearings, etc, but was never bitten by the bug so much as that hot day in August when I saw this thing of beauty flirting with me through the display cabinet glass in the back of the store. It was love at first sight and I had it for 23 years, up until my wife had started asking me to get rid of the handgun because of the two boys in the house. I made no difference that I stored the piece with with the firing pin removed and the ammo in a different room; all liberal women seem to get a case of vaginitis when it comes to guns and your sex life will go into the toilet as long as they continue to buy into all that socialist crap about guns having a mind of their own, etc.

    Well, in an effort to help save the marriage, I sold that baby in 1995, feeling as if I had just lost a child. What I didn’t yet know was that my, now, ex-wife had been planning to get divorced but didn’t want to take responsibility for her decision. Long story short, guys, don’t do what I had done. In retrospect, had I taken my head out of my butt at the time, I would have kept the Browning and ditched the wife.

    And there ends my Hi-Power II tale of woe.

  • Lance October 24, 2023, 9:23 pm

    The SA-35 uses a 15 round magazine. Argentina designed this magazine years ago. Mec-gar has made them for years. The SA-35 also uses forged frame and slide, which FN hasn’t done for ages.
    The Argentine models with the shortened slide were known as detective models and some of the slides/ barrel were imported and slipped right on a regular frame.
    Girsan is making an alloy frame on some pistols. This is interesting because FN made a very limited run of alloy framed models for Austria’s border guards.
    And lastly Charles Daly made a run of Hi-Powers that were initially built by Dan Wesson. Later Magnum Research took over assembly. The rumor is the parts were made by FEG.

  • John Lewis October 23, 2023, 9:31 am

    Typographical error. “Spurned” means rejected. “Spurred” means encouraged.

    • John October 23, 2023, 10:42 am

      Nice read. I believe spell check gave you a typo. Spurned means “rejected” while spurred means the opposite.

  • Wil October 23, 2023, 8:05 am

    For those folks who want parts interchangeability with the original, you could have mentioned that the Springfield SA-35 misses the mark her in several areas…..whereas the Girsan is totally ( at least very-mostly), so. I think the FEG’s are close copies too.

  • Leigh October 23, 2023, 7:49 am

    Some actual prices woul hav been nice.

    • Leigh October 23, 2023, 7:50 am

      Early morning..keyboard not awake yet…would have been…is what it should have been.

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