Testing Three Super 9mms!
by Joe W Gorman
The Browning Hi Power
The Browning Hi Power Standard is a supermodel: Svelte, graceful and gorgeous in polished blue. This pistol has no equal in elegance.
Pick it up. Feel its heft and balance. Point it. Work its controls. If you grew up on the 1911 you're right at home. All the controls are where they should be. There is no other pistol in the world that points as naturally as the BHP, even more so than the 1911. For all its class and delicate refinement, it's also served in more real world combat than the other two pistols combined. Since it entered service in 1935, it rose to become the most common service side arm in the world. Its beauty is matched by an equal amount of utilitarianism. Elite military and law enforcement units chose it for its prowess and reliability. It's seen action in every war from WWII to Iraq/Afghanistan.
Over the course of testing I fired over 500-rounds of every flavor and shape of hollow point in my inventory and a whole lot of FMJ ball, and never experienced a single malfunction. That said, I did not shoot ANY +P ammo in my test gun as Bill Laughridge, founder of Cylinder and Slide, who just happens to be the most knowledgeable Hi Power mechanic in the World, has said, even the MKIII version, as strong as it is, is simply not designed for +P pressures. The owner's manual says don't shoot +P too. My advice to owners concurs: Don't shoot ANY +P stuff in a BHP.
As I said, early on, right out of the box, the deep blue finish looks stunning. The fixed sights on the model I tested were easy to hold on target and very visible with solid vertical white bars. The checkered walnut stock panels offered a nice contrast to the lovely blue steel. The stock trigger, however, was a major disappointment. Not only was it gritty, it broke somewhere beyond the limits of my RCBS trigger weight scale. I'd guess 9-pounds. No doubt contributing to the heavy trigger, was the magazine disconnect that prevents the trigger from functioning without a magazine inserted. No big surprise, the heavy, gritty, trigger contributed to ho-hum accuracy results. I know this gun is capable of much greater accuracy than what my results would indicate. I had one 25 years ago that Bill tweaked and shot 2"-groups at 25-yards any day of the week)
Out of the box, it's plenty accurate for a combat gun. All of the ammunition I tested was very accurate, but the BHP showed a distinct fondness for the Winchester 115-grain stuff printing 5-shot groups measuring under 3-inches at 25-yards when resting my hands on sandbags.
The effort required to charge the BHP was the highest of the group! Heck, I'm very used to the force required to charge a Colt Government and the force require to charge the BHP seemed to be double that. While my son and I could charge it my wife and youngest daughter could not. Browning specs the mainspring at 32 pounds!
Field stripping the BHP should be instinctive for 1911 guys. There is a notch on the slide that the safety engages to facilitate field stripping and the recoil spring doesn't fly out, which makes the take down process even easier than a 1911.
While the Browning mags are listed as 13-round mags, they are more reliable when loaded with only 12. Ok. So naturally it follows, I load them up with 12 which means 36 rounds total when I carry two spare mags. I'm okay with that!
I rate the BHP highly for its looks, reliability, naturalness of pointing, balance, concealability (slim slide and frame), ergonomics and emotional connection. It's finished in a delicate and beautiful blue, which means you'll want to wipe it down and lightly oil it after carrying it. In my opinion, after a trip to Cylinder and Slide for a little work, you would have the best 9mm carry gun. You would for sure have the prettiest! - Continued -