Classic Handguns: The Browning Hi Power

The Browning Hi Power pistol has been in continuous production for more than eighty years. During that time it has been used by military and law enforcement agencies in more than eighty countries and by both sides in World War Two, various Arab- Israeli wars, the Falklands War and the First Gulf War. No-one is certain precisely how many have been produced (especially if you include clones and copies) but there must certainly be an awful lot of Hi Powers out there. By any measure, this is a classic handgun.

What’s in a name?

Before we start talking about the Hi Power, I do want to quickly clarify what it’s actually called. Some people seem certain that it’s “Hi Power” while others are equally vehement that it’s “High Power”. In fact, both are correct. When this pistol was first offered by FN in 1935, it was sold as the “High Power”. When it was first imported into the US in 1954, it carried “Browning Arms Company” markings and was sold as the “Hi Power” to avoid confusion with the “High-Power” hunting rifle also sold in the US at that time. Since then, this pistol has been generally known as the “Hi Power” and that’s how I’ll refer to it here.  Though it has  also known by a bewildering array of other names: versions of the Hi Power have been identified as the P35, HP-35, FN Model 1935, GP35, Pistole 640(b), BAP (Browning Automatic Pistol) and L9A1 depending on which country they were being used by.

Development

John Moses Browning with another of his creations: the M1917 machine gun

Prolific US gun designer John Moses Browning began work on the design of what would become the Hi Power in the early 1920s. This work was undertaken in response to a French military requirement for a new service pistol, the Grand Rendement (“High Yield”) or Grande Puissance (“High Power”) pistol. This referred not to the shooting power of the pistol but to its magazine capacity – the French requirement specified a pistol with a magazine capacity of at least ten rounds of 9mm ammunition, a higher capacity than that offered by any contemporary semi-automatic pistol. Browning’s intention was to design a full-size military sidearm that would replicate the rugged reliability of the Colt 1911 whilst addressing that pistol’s most serious shortcoming – a magazine capacity of just seven rounds. Browning died in 1926 before completing the design, but a US patent for the new pistol was applied for in 1923 and registered in 1927. The rights to the design were passed to the state-owned Belgian firearms manufacturer FN Herstal who used their Chief Designer, Dieudonné Saive, to refine and complete Browning’s initial work.

Dieudonné Saive with another of his creations: the FN-FAL Battle Rifle

The first prototype of the new pistol featured a locked-breech recoil system and a double column, sixteen round magazine. Saive continued to work on the design in the early 1930s, paying particular attention to making the grip as slim as possible. By 1931 the revised design incorporated a thirteen round, double-stacked magazine and a trigger mechanism which ran up into the slide area in order to avoid increasing the width of the grip. Ironically, the pistol was not adopted by the French Army whose requirement had first inspired the new design but, in 1935, when it was finally completed, the pistol was adopted as the principal sidearm of the Belgian Army as the FN Model 1935 Pistol.

An early Hi Power with tangent rear sight

The first production model of the Hi Power had a 4.65” barrel, weighed 35 ounces, was 7.75 inches in overall length and had a magazine capacity of 13, 9mm rounds. A small manual thumb safety was provided on the left side of the frame and a lightweight ring hammer was fitted. The pistol was single-action only and there was no grip safety as seen on the 1911, but there was a magazine disconnect safety – the pistol could not be fired if the magazine was removed. Grips were checkered wood and the rear of the frame was slotted to accept a detachable wooden shoulder stock. The front sight was a standard blade but the rear was an adjustable tangent type with graduations to allow shooting to a range of 500 meters (the very first models had graduations to 1000metres!). Many of these early Hi Powers were produced with a distinctive and attractive glossy black corrosion-resistant finish which involved applying black enamel paint over a phosphate base finish.

Early Hi Power tangent sight graduated to 500 metres. Which seems more than a little optimistic. I don’t know about you, but I can barely see a target at 500 metres, let alone hit attempt one with a handgun.

For a pistol which has proved so popular over the years, the original version of the Hi Power had a number of serious flaws. First, the trigger action: due partly to the magazine disconnect safety, the trigger was nasty. It was heavy, the release point was indistinct and there were pronounced stages to the pull. The magazine disconnect safety also meant that on many Hi Power pistols the magazine would not drop free cleanly when the release was pressed. Reliability wasn’t great either. Until 1962, the Hi Power was produced with a tiny internal cartridge extractor which was prone to breakage. In fact, when subjected to the pressures of military grade ammunition, both the slide and frame of early Hi Powers were prone to cracking. The thirteen round magazine was one of the main selling points for the Hi Power, but users quickly came to realise that fully loading the magazine could lead to jamming and that it was actually better to load just twelve rounds.

Hi Power with shoulder stock

Add to this a hammer that was so light that it had difficulty in firing some military cartridge types, a short tang which could lead to hammer bite, a small, imprecise and difficult to operate manual safety and fixed sights which were small and difficult to read and you may be wondering why this design has lasted so long? There are probably two main answers to this. The first is obvious: magazine capacity. Compare the thirteen rounds available in a Hi Power magazine to other World War Two era service pistols. You got just six rounds in the British Webley Revolver, seven in the US Colt 1911A1 and eight in the Russian Tokarev TT-33, the German P-08 (Luger), its replacement the Walther P-38 and the Japanese Nambu. That gave the Hi Power a distinct firepower advantage over most comparable service pistols in the 1930s and 1940s and it wasn’t until the 1970s/80s that other semi-automatic pistols began to catch up in terms of magazine capacity.

The other reason that the original Hi Power proved so popular is a little more difficult to define: Feel. The word “ergonomics” wasn’t being commonly used when John Moses Browning was designing handguns, but he and Dieudonné Saive certainly understood what it meant. Pick up a Hi Power (or a decent replica) and I think you’ll see what I mean. It feels perfectly balanced and the grip will comfortably fit almost anyone with average-sized hands. Because of this, the Hi Power is generally recognised as one of the easiest to control semi-automatic 9mm pistols. It’s also one of the only true single action 9mm semi- automatic pistols available and field stripping and re-assembly are as simple as they are on the 1911.

Hi Power Mark III

Despite its shortcomings, production of the original Hi Power continued up the early 1980s. However, there were numerous minor changes during that time – the ridiculous tangent rear sight and the slot in the frame to take a shoulder stock were dropped as standard fitment immediately after World War Two (though Hi Powers with tangent rear sights were still available up to the 1980s). From 1962 the fragile internal extractor was replaced with a more robust external unit and from around 1965 the ring hammer was replaced by a heavier, conventional spur hammer. In the early 80s the Mark II version appeared which had polymer grips, a larger, ambidextrous manual safety and easier to read three-dot sights. In 1988 the Mark III was released which also had a distinctive glossy black, epoxy finish and a firing pin safety.

If you want a little more bling, what about a Hi Power Renaissance, hand-engraved in the FN Factory

There have been a number of variations on the basic Hi Power design over the years including the HP-DA which shoots in double as well as single action, versions chambered for .30” Luger and .40” S&W rounds and a lightweight version with an aluminum alloy frame. However, only the standard steel framed Mark III in 9mm is still being manufactured and it continues to sell more than eighty years after this pistol was first introduced.

Production

Initial production of the Hi Power was done at the FN factory in Herstal from 1935 and around 35,000 were produced by the time World War Two began in September 1939. In 1940, Belgium was over-run by German forces and more than 300,000 Hi Powers were manufactured while the Herstal plant was under German control.

An Inglis Hi Power with fixed sights – note the “hump-backed” slide

In 1940 licensed production of the Hi Power also began in Canada at the John Inglis and Company plant in Toronto. Inglis produced two versions of the Hi Power: one with the tangent rear sight and shoulder stock mounting (mainly for a contract to supply Nationalist Chinese forces) and one with more conventional rear sights and without the shoulder stock slot. The latter version of the Inglis Hi Power incorporated a distinctive (and ugly) hump-backed slide, the only version of the Hi Power to have this feature. More than 150,000 Hi Powers were produced by Inglis in 1944 and 1945.

Assembly of Hi Powers at the Inglis plant

After the end of World War Two, production continued at the FN works in Herstal in addition to licensed production in Argentina and unlicensed copies were produced in a number of other countries including Hungary, Israel and Indonesia. No- one is quite certain how many have been manufactured over the years – most estimates suggest the FN factory alone produced over 1.5 million Hi Powers with unknown numbers of copies and clones being produced elsewhere.

An FEG Model PJK-9HP, a Hungarian copy of the original Hi Power

The Hi Power is still being manufactured and sold by Browning in the US. Two versions are currently available: the Mark III with black epoxy finish and plastic grips and the Standard with a polished, blued finish and walnut grips. The Standard is available with either fixed sights or that 500m tangent sight.

Use

Waffen-SS Panzergrenadiers in 1944. The soldier second from the right is holding a Pistole 640(b)

The first use of the Hi Power as a military sidearm was by the Belgian Army in 1935. German airborne and Waffen-SS forces also used Hi Powers manufactured while the Herstal plant was under German control as the Pistole 640(b) during World War Two (though it was also known in German service as the P35). British airborne forces used Inglis Hi Powers in 1944/1945 as did special forces units such as the British SAS and the American OSS.

Even Russian forces used the Hi Power during World War Two. Here a group of partisans are being trained in the use of the Hi Power.

In 1954 the Hi Power was adopted as the standard sidearm of the British Army (as the L9A1) and by the army of the Republic of Ireland (as the BAP). Many more countries began to adopt the Hi Power during the 50s until it became virtually the standard sidearm of European NATO forces. By the sixties it was easier to highlight armies which didn’t use the Hi Power – more than eighty (some sources say ninety) countries officially adopted this pistol during this time.

A soldier of the Parachute Regiment holding an L9A1 around 1960

It wasn’t until the 80s and 90s that use of the Hi Power began to decline as newer semi-automatic pistol designs finally began to adopt high capacity, double column magazines as standard. Even then, the Hi Power remained in use in some parts of the world, as it still does.

Hi Power replicas

WE 6mm Inglis Hi Power

Given how popular the cartridge firing version is, it’s surprising that there aren’t more replicas of the Hi Power. WE make a 6mm, gas powered, blowback replica of an Inglis Hi Power, complete with hump-backed slide, 500 yard tangent sight, imitation wood grips and a frame slotted to take a shoulder stock. This does seem to be a surprising subject for a replica – Inglis Hi Powers with tangent sights and shoulder stock slots were produced in limited numbers and mainly for China. If you’re going to the time and trouble to produce a Hi Power replica, why not go for one of the far more common later FN versions? The WE Hi Power is a functionally and visually faithful replica, but it has been around for some time now and it isn’t as accurate a shooter or as reliable as more modern WE replicas. I owned a WE Hi Power many year ago and it didn’t shoot particularly well and was prone to both leaking and jamming.

Tanaka 6mm Hi Power Mark III. Looks superb and is a great functional replica but not such a good shooter.

I also owned a beautiful Tanaka 6mm, gas powered, blowback replica of a Mark III Hi Power which was visually and functionally spot-on, but was constructed mainly of plastic and shot with little power and indifferent accuracy (the same as most of the Tanaka replicas I have owned in fact). Given Tanaka’s somewhat haphazard approach to production, you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s also very difficult to find one of their Hi Power replicas. Tanaka also produce a blowback replica of an original Hi Power complete with tangent sights and imitation wood grips, but I have never actually seen one of these so I can’t say if it’s any better as a shooter.

Umarex Hi Power Mark III. A powerful and accurate 4.5mm steel BB shooter but it’s mainly plastic, the slide is fixed and that CO2 loading tab is pretty ugly

If you fancy a 4.5mm Hi Power the most popular option is the CO2 powered Umarex Hi Power Mark III. This has pros and cons. It’s a licensed replica which includes Browning Arms Company markings, it’s a decent visual replica and the ambidextrous manual safety works as per the original. It’s also fairly powerful (over 400fps is claimed) and very accurate for a BB shooter. However, construction is mainly plastic so it’s rather light, the slide does not move and the slide release is moulded in place and has no function. The look of this replica is also spoiled somewhat by the large plastic CO2 loading tab in the base of the grip.

Chrome version of the EKOL ES66

If you’re lucky (or unlucky) you may be able to find an EKOL ES66. This is (or was – I don’t know if these are still made) a Turkish manufactured, CO2 powered replica which shoots 4.5mm steel BBs and looks a little like the Hi Power, though it’s not a precise replica and like the Umarex version it has a visible CO2 loading tab in the base of the magazine. The ES66 is available in chrome and black finish, is of mainly metal construction and has good weight and balance. The slide moves (though only with the magazine removed) but this isn’t a blowback replica and the slide release catch is non-functional. Another notable feature of the ES66 is that it doesn’t have a manual safety – what looks like an ambidextrous safety is actually just a de-cocker. And as a shooter, it isn’t very nice at all. Claimed power is around 350fps but accuracy is truly awful – groups of 10”and over at 6m are not unknown.

Conclusion

Once again, we have a popular and influential handgun which is very poorly represented in terms of replicas. All of the Hi Power replicas mentioned above have issues and we lack any good, recent blowback replicas of the later versions of this pistol. Given how many replicas there are of various iterations of the 1911 and Beretta 92, it seems very surprising that there aren’t more Hi Power replicas around.

Another view of my Tanaka Mark III – a blowback Hi Power replica as good as this that also shot well would do very nicely, thank you.

So, come on someone (KWC, I’m looking at you!), what about giving us a decent, reliable, accurate, blowback replica of this popular and long-lived handgun. I know I’d want one!

Related pages

WE 6mm Browning Hi Power

The semi-automatic handgun designs of John Moses Browning – Part 3: 1910 – 1926

WE Browning “Hi-Power” Model 1935

My review of the WE TT-33 ended by stating, “This pistol has made quite an impression on me …. and has definitely rekindled my interest in 6mm gas-blowback airsoft guns.” — and it had, so much so that a couple of days later I decided upon another of their range of classic pistols… the Browning M1935 or, as it is more commonly known, the Browning High Power…

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Those words were written a couple of months ago, but as soon as I had “put pen to paper” (or rather “fingers to keyboard”!) things went wrong! On collecting my new GBB pistol, I knew something was awry in that the slide did not feel quite right and had a tendency to “jam” if pulled back manually without the magazine in place.

Being rather keen to get home and start the review – along with the fact that I didn’t wish to put my good friend and local airsoft shop owner, K.Don, to any trouble – I convinced myself this would be remedied with a little lubrication and use and so instead of requesting a replacement I took it home. The upshot is that I was unable to get the slide working properly and that, coupled with perhaps some “overzealous” racking and releasing of the slide, I managed to exacerbate the problem causing one of the smaller parts of the hammer assembly to break.

Disappointment reigned, but having tried K.Don’s display gun in the shop I was convinced I had just been unlucky, that this was still a good pistol and one I would like to have in my collection. Last week was the first chance I had had to again pay a visit to his shop. Being the excellent chap that he is he insisted we swap pistols and that he would look into repairing/ replacing the hammer assembly at a later date.

I am a firm believer in the saying “every cloud has a silver lining” and there is an upside to this in that I am now able to comment on a “used” pistol which is at least a couple of years old, albeit with a new magazine. In the process of writing this review I have put over three hundred rounds through it on top of goodness knows how many in the past… and so far, so good!

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Real Steel Background

John Moses Browning designed his legendary “High Power” 9mm semi-automatic in 1925, a year before his death, but it wasn’t until ten years later following some refinements by his understudy, Dieudonne Saive (who later went on to design the FN FAL rifle), that it finally went into service with the Belgian Army as the Model 35 (also known as the Browning HP 35 or GP 35, “GP” standing for “Grande Puissance”).

The pistol was manufactured by Fabrique Nationale (FN) of Belgium and went on to become one of the most widely used pistols of the 20th Century with over one million being produced. A notable exception was the United States Army, but then they already had another of Browning’s famous designs… the 1911A1.

A point worthy of note is that whilst the operation of the Model 1935 is based on Browning’s famous “short recoil” design where the barrel and slide move backwards until the barrel drops away from the slide, it is achieved by means of a downward sloping slot under the barrel interfacing with a stud in the frame as opposed to the swinging link used in the venerable 1911.

03a slide and barrel-bottom03b slide and barrel locking diagram-top

Diagram courtesy of worldguns.ru

British Commonwealth countries were quick to realise the value of this pistol. With the onset of World War 2 and the subsequent German occupation of Belgium,  production was moved to John Inglis and Company in Toronto where two variants were produced.

One had a “tangent leaf” rear sight which could be fitted with (and stored in) a detachable shoulder stock whilst the other (more familiar version) came with fixed sights. These were identified as the “Browning FN HP No1 Mk1” and “No2 Mk1” respectively, the former being intended for domestic use and the Nationalist Chinese (some remarkable photographs of a rare Browning No1, made under contract for the Chinese, may be found at the Carolina Shooters Club – a link is given at the end of this review).

04 no1 mk1 right hand side

Inglis Browning FN No1 Mk1* (courtesy of carolinashootersclub.com).

04a no1 mk1 field slide close-up

Close-up of the left-hand side of the slide. The asterix represented minor modifications not deemed to warrant an increase in the designation mark.

Post-war, the 9mm FN Browning was adopted throughout NATO and it is only very recently that the British Army has decided to replace this iconic sidearm with the Glock 17 (Generation 4).

The term “High Power” (or “Hi-Power” as it is often written) refers to the (then revolutionary) high capacity of the magazine with 13 rounds of 9mm Luger (or 10 rounds of .40 calibre S&W) stored in a double stack magazine. With a muzzle velocity of around 335 m/s its effective range was approximately 50m. However, the adjustable rear sight  was graduated at 50m intervals for distances of up to 500m.

The WE-Tech (WE) “Hi-Power” Browning (Model 1935)

Spec;

Calibre: 6mm

Capacity: 20 round, double stack drop-out magazine

Propellant: Green Gas (propane)/ HFC-22

Barrel length: 110mm (measured)

Overall length: 200mm (measured)

Weight: 810g (listed)

Sights: Adjustable rear for elevation only; fixed front post

Action: Single-action

Hop-up: Not on mine!

Packaging and Presentation 2 / 5

05 WE Browning M1935-Take3 001

Whilst the box is more than adequate for safe transportation, it is a little lacking in imagination… especially for such a classic gun! That said, it is made of robust cardboard with polystyrene cut-outs to hold the gun and magazine. The manual is also rather basic, although it does describe the main parts to the pistol, its basic operation and how to conduct a field-strip (although two salient points are missing which are described later on). A very useful exploded diagram is included, but the parts listing is only given in Chinese (fair enough, I suppose, as it’s made in Taiwan… but English would be handy as well!).

Visual Accuracy 8 / 10

This replica is similar to the Canadian (Inglis) made “Browning FN HP No1 Mk1” with adjustable rear sights and a slot in the rear of the grip intended for the attachment of a combined wooden stock/ holster.

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Browning FN HP No1 Mk1, fitted with a detachable stock, made by the Inglis Company for the Chinese Nationalist Army (courtesy of adamsguns.com).

The graduations on the rear sight are identical to those of the original and the pistol has an unserrated “ring” hammer in keeping with a High Power of this period.

07 WE Browning M1935-Take3 052 - Copy

(NB. A “Capitan” version of the Browning Mk III, visually similar to the No1 Mk1, was reintroduced in 1993).

The only reason I haven’t given full marks is that no markings are included and I’m a sucker for the odd proof stamp or date somewhere on the gun (after all, lots of different models and variations have been produced). That said, it could well be that WE don’t wish to place any markings and are erring on the side of caution; similarly, it could be argued that no markings are better than the wrong ones… so there we are!

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Rare pre-war Belgian FN High Power made for the Estonian Home Guard (courtesy of icollector.com)

Apart from that, I’d say that visual accuracy is spot on! There are no seam lines and the plastic grip panels could easily be mistaken for real wood (although I still intend on purchasing some wooden ones for a reasonable sum; something I like to do for my more collectible replicas).

09 WE Browning M1935-Take3 072 - Copy

If you’re feeling particularly pedantic, then on field-stripping the gun you may notice that the outer barrel and slide do not quite feature the same “barrel-locking” detail as the original. Also, the grooves on either side of the base of the magazine are not quite right – as seen in the photo – but in all fairness the position of one of the locking pins prevents these grooves from extending to the bottom.

10 no1 mk1 field stripped

Field-stripped Inglis Browning FN No1 Mk1* (courtesy of carolinashootersclub.com). NB. the spring guide is shown upside down.

The finish on the WE model is very shiny and I prefer the slightly more “matt” colour of their TT-33. However, it is certainly very durable. In fact, when I asked K.Don for the exchange, he indicated some minor blemishes on the surface, but following a little polish with a cotton cloth (the one I use for all my guns, it having a slight impregnation of Ballistol) only one remains and that is barely noticeable unless you really search for it (in front of the ejection port on the right hand side of the frame).

A lanyard ring was sometimes attached, but none is given on this replica.

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Comparison with the WE TT-33

Functional Accuracy 13 / 15

Again, difficult to find fault. It is single-action only – as was the original – meaning the hammer needs to be cocked prior to being fired. Once cocked, it may then be locked in place by the thumb safety located on the left-hand side of the frame (described by the late Jeff Cooper as “Condition One”). The thumb safety mechanism is sound and works as it should.

12 WE Browning M1935-Take3 078 - Copy

WE Browning “Hi-Power” at “Condition 1”. Note the “ring” hammer and thumb safety set “on”.

Unlike similar pistols, the Browning High Power also features a “magazine-disconnect” safety and this has been replicated here. Ie. the pistol cannot be fired, nor the hammer lowered, unless a magazine is in place. Generally considered to be a bad idea, it was initiated as part of the original design specifications provided by the French Army in 1935 (source: Wikipedia).

In fact, the hammer does not drop completely if slowly released with the magazine in place; it only comes fully to rest once the magazine is removed. At first, I thought this might be a potential source of damage to the firing pin, but as this “pin” is in fact a high tensile spring then I’m not unduly worried.

13 WE Browning M1935-Take3 007 - Copy

To release the hammer without a magazine inserted (or with the slide removed), you need to depress the bottom of the metal plate surrounding the firing “pin” (spring).

Field stripping is quite straightforward and as far as I am aware identical to that of the cartridge firing pistol on which it is based. However, as previously mentioned, a couple of steps in the field-stripping procedure have been omitted from the manual.

The slide is first moved back untill it may be locked in position by raising the thumb safety into the notch just forward of the serrations on the slide. The slide stop is then raised in its cut-out so that it may be properly removed.

There is an indent on the right-hand side of the frame in order to facilitate the extraction of the stop (as there was on the original Model 1935). The thumb safety may then be lowered and the slide removed (carefully as the recoil spring is still under tension!).

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Apart from the slight difference in the shape of the outer barrel and the lack of one “locking lug” the internals are well replicated to those of the cartridge firing original. There is no recoil spring plug in a Browning Hi-Power; the outer and inner barrels are simply moved down and out of the slide once the spring and guide rod have been removed (care must be taken so that the inner barrel does not fall out of the outer as they are not joined together).

There is even a groove offset in the “hop-up chamber” (on the replica) identical to that of the original. This is to ensure the recoil spring guide isn’t put in upside down (comparison courtesy of alpharubicon.com).

15 spring guide comparison

Shooting  25 / 40

I purchased this gun with the intention of using it more as a collector’s piece than for shooting. However, I was pleasantly surprised, especially as mine does not have a grub screw in place to adjust hop-up (point “B” in the photo in the following section). In fact, I am not altogether sure adjustment is possible. However, the breech is fitted with a piece of circular rubber and this holds a loaded 6mm ball firmly in place.

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Gas is loaded by inverting the magazine and filling from a gas cannister via the valve in the base of the magazine. Up to twenty 6mm rounds may be loaded by holding the follower down and loading them from the top (the follower protrudes nicely and is easy to keep in place with your thumb). The magazine sits firmly inside the grip and the release button is under the right amount of tension.

Racking and releasing the slide has a satisfactory “ring” to it and the recoil spring is just strong enough for this kind of gun. Whilst not being particularly loud or feeling particularly powerful, muzzle velocity is not too shabby for a gas-operated blow-back pistol with a metal slide and I obtained velocities in the region of 86 +/- 3m/s using “Bombe” brand gas (HFC-22?) and 87 +/- 2m/s using “Puff Dino” brand “Green Gas” from Taiwan, in the shade at approx. 30°C (for some reason, the first shot is often slightly slower by approximately 5m/s and these were not included in the data sets).

Measurements were initially taken using both TK (white) and FireFly (black) 0.25g ammunition and I was achieving groups of about three inches at six yards using a free-standing, double-handed stance. At longer ranges, you can expect deliberately aimed shots to connect with an 8” target at 12m, about 90% at 15m and with balls flying straight and true towards a man-sized target approximately 20-25m away.

Switching to heavier 0.36g ammunition (FireFly, green) increased the muzzle energy with 77 +/- 1m/s being recorded over ten rounds using green gas. Similarly, 0.30g and 0.40g balls resulted in 83 m/s  and 75 m/s respectively, each over ten rounds at approx. 30°C. These values tend to be reasonably consistent throughout the duration of a charged magazine. Groupings also tightened by about half an inch.

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The bulls-eye targets were shot at the end of the session using .36g ammunition and “green gas”.

Depending on your shooting speed and weight of ammunition, at least 25 good shots should be had from a single three second charge of gas; if shooting quickly then some cooling-down of the magazine will be noticed. I have experienced neither a “double-feed” nor a jam, except when the piston return spring became unhooked.

There’s approximately a quarter of an inch of initial “first stage” to the trigger and some may describe it as being a little “spongy”, but the let off point is still reasonably easy to predict. As previously explained, the rear sights are adjustable in elevation but not for windage and the “dovetail” front post is triangular in shape (similar to, but smaller than, that found on the “Navy” Luger P08). The sight picture has the apex of the front post sitting about one and a half inches below the centre of the target using 0.25g balls and pretty much at the intended point of impact with heavier ammunition.

The slide locks back when the last round is fired and may be released by either pressing down on the slide-stop or by further retracting and releasing the slide. There is no sign of wear to the cut-out in the slide where it connects with the slide stop.

Quality and Reliability 12 / 15

I feel it would be unfair to score this section based on my initial experience, especially as the gun I now have has, if anything, exceeded my expectations and is already over two years old.

It has a fair “heft” to it, especially with the magazine in place. Whilst being made of metal alloy, this alloy is quite substantial and certainly looks and feels as if it could withstand a few knocks. All parts of the gun fit together well, both in the slide and frame, giving an impression of quality and reliability… including the hammer assembly which reinforces my view that I was extremely unlucky with the first gun I bought.

The magazine is interesting in that it has a metal lip and like the gun feels solid and durable. Mine has so far been leak-free, holding its charge of gas for up to weeks at a time.

The field-stripped parts appear to be of good quality with a brass inner and (aluminium?) outer barrel. A screw at the front of the spring guide serves to keep a spring-loaded bearing ball in place which in turn prevents the slide-stop from coming out. I have found that this screw can work itself loose and have applied a drop of low-strength “thread lock” to mine (“A” in the photo below).

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“A” indicates the screw requiring a little low-strength thread-lock; “B” the missing adjustment screw and “C” the lack of one locking lug.

I’ve twice had to re-connect the piston return spring to its pin located on top of the piston. Thankfully, this is a simple operation! It is accessed under the rear sight and all that needs to be done is to remove the slide, raise the rear sight and hook the end of the spring  back over the pin using a watchmaker’s screwdriver or needle (as shown in the photo). I would like to point out that this spring has not become unhooked again (I more than likely did not place it securely over the pin the first time it came off).

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Overall Impression 13 / 15

Having now had the chance to properly inspect and handle the Browning Hi-Power (Model 1935) from Wei-Tech, I’m of the opinion that my initial troubles were an exception, not the rule.

However, it would be extremely helpful if WE was to make available – as fellow Taiwanese firm KJWorks has done – a procedure whereby spare parts may be sourced, at a reasonable price, directly from the parent company (it would also be useful if the parts listing was given in English as well as Chinese).

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To summarise, I am now extremely satisfied with this gun and am pleased to have what I hope will continue to be a reliable, fully functioning replica of the famous WW2 era 9mm FN Browning “High Power” to shoot occasionally and put on display. IMHO, it represents a highly collectible pistol which faithfully replicates the cartridge firing original in both operation and appearance.

I would also like to take this opportunity to echo the comments of others in that a few minor design changes would result in a “Browning FN HP No2 Mk1”… and I would like to have that one in black.

Total Score 73 / 100

Guest review by Adrian-BP

Buy:

You can buy this replica at Pyramid Air here.

Links:

http://www.carolinashootersclub.com/threads/175361-VERY-Rare!-WW2-Inglis-Canadian-FN-Browning-Hi-Power-No-1-Mk-I*-Chinese-Con

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