Friday, October 26, 2012

Browning/FN Hi-Power: A Love Story

Many years ago, when I was just a gun nut in training, I learned to shoot handguns with a 1970s Browning Hi-Power. I've wanted one ever since. And like a bad chick-flick, a series of seemingly unrelated events brought me together with my long-lost love.

A week ago I stopped in at a newer gun store in Ankeny, Iowa, called Rhine Group Firearms. I was referred by a friend, and I stopped in because they had Magpul MBUS sights for less than the big boys did online, and they're 25 minutes from my humble abode. In a wooden case near the AR-15 accessories, a familiar shape caught my eye. "A Hi-Power" I thought, "I haven't seen one of those in ages.". Then I saw the price tag. It was used. For sale on consignment. $400. The finish was a little rough, but as I read the slide, it did not say "Browning". Instead, it read "Fabrique Nationale Herstal Belgique". My hipster sense tingled, and I almost unrolled my cleaning mat and faced Morgan, UT to pray to the great John M. Browing (PBUH). But I did not possess the intestinal fortitude to face my wife and say I spent another $400 on guns this month (bringing the total well over $1000....I don't need to retire...).

Mine is older, has no ambi-safety, and looks nothing like this.

But the days passed, and the Hi-Power haunted me. I looked at Israeli surplus online, mostly without prevail. What I did find was in very rough shape and at almost the same $400. I grew a spine, and asked permission to go buy the Hi-Power. And so I did. Yesterday, after work, I brought home a piece of history--the father of the modern Wundernine. 

The Hi-Power has somehow fallen out of favour lately. I guess it probably has something to do with its current $900 price tag if you buy a new one. And no matter which Hi-Power you buy, you'll need to remove the magazine safety (I'll get back to this). You'll probably want to polish the trigger mechanism a bit also. Or pay a gunsmith lots of money to do it for you. So, like the 1911, a competition-worthy Hi-Power is a $1200-$1500 proposition. So if you get one, you better love it.

So that mag safety. It isn't just annoying like in my M&P9C. Nope, in the Hi-Power, JMB (PBUH) designed this feature so that you would have to learn how to completely disassemble the gun. The mag safety makes the trigger very gritty and with lots of creep. But worse, it prevents empty magazines from exiting the mag well. I mean you hit the mag release, and the empty magazine drops about 1/4" and stops. So you can do a two-handed reload like an AK47, or you can remove the safety entirely in about 5 minutes, which is what He intended us to do.

I hope to get some test-firing done this weekend and will post some targets (unless I shoot like shit). If you get a chance, you should shoot one too. And if you find one cheap, buy it immediately. 

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