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Hi Power With A History

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  • Hi Power With A History

    As we all know, the Hi Power Pistol, otherwise known as the P35, was the last weapon on which John Moses Browning worked. As a matter of fact, in November 26, 1926, Mr. Browning suffered a fatal heart attack while working in his son Val's shop at the FN factory in Belgium. The P35 went into production in 1935, after its completion was delayed by the great depression, with the design work being completed by Mr. Browning's protege at FN, Mr. Dieudonne Saive. It was Mr. Saive who converted Mr. Browning's prototype from a striker-fired handgun to one being hammer-fired, and also was responsible for the high capacity double stack magazine - the first ever!

    I've always been a fan of the Hi Power design, as no other handgun feels as good in my hand, points so well, carries a decent supply of ammunition, and yet is so slim and easy to carry and conceal in an IWB holster. And few handguns can boast the history that the Hi Power can.

    Recently I was able to acquire a Hi Power that boasts some history of its own:






    This is one of the recent imports from Israel, and is all matching numbers - barrel, slide, and frame. It was apparently retired from service, was reparkerized by the Israelis, and placed into storage without being reissued. The Israelis have standardized on the Glock, and so are disposing of their supply of Hi Powers on the world market. This handgun still retains the magazine disconnect (many Israeli Hi Powers have had the magazine disconnect removed, or perhaps had the magazine disconnect never installed according to the original order). The slide is roll marked "FABRIQUE NATIONAL HERSTAL BELGIQUE / BROWNING PATENT DEPOSE". And therein lies the story.
    Last edited by Chief351; March 19th, 2018, 12:47.
    Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

    When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

  • #2
    Hi Power With A History - Page 2

    The patents that protected the Hi Power design were issued in February 22, 1927, after John Moses Browning's death.

    In 1970 or 1971 (I've seen both dates ascribed, and the actual records no longer exist), long after the original patents ran outpi, the FEG company in Budapest Hungary, then a Soviet satellite state, "cloned" the HiPower, producing a very good quality exact copy of an FN HiPower of the late 1960s. The FEG pigun was known as the P9. The pigun was sold in some numbers to the western world, including the U.S. where it was, at various times, imported by TGI (Tennessee Guns), Kassnar, Interarms, and Century. Also "kits" were provided to Kassnar to be completed as "Charles Daly" Hi Powers with the finishing farmed out to Dan Wesson and by Magnum Research. Kits were also supplied to Israel where the piHi Powers were assembled in-country as the Kareen.

    FEG also supplied completed piguns to Mauser, then located in East Germany, where they were marked "Mauser M80", and as Mauser owned the Luger trademark, FEG's were completed bearing Luger rollmarks. These last two versions seem to have been popular in South Africa and Rhodesia, which were under a U.N. arms embargo due to their apartheid policies, and where the Mauser name carried a certain resonance.

    There are also rumors that FEG would, likely at the behest of the Soviet Union, supply "sterile" HiPowers with no identifying rollmarks whatsoever, to be passed on to various revolutionary groups.


    Last edited by Chief351; March 19th, 2018, 14:43.
    Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

    When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

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    • #3
      Hi Power With A History - Page 3

      Now the story focuses on the Middle East.

      Saddam Hussein, who had been vice president of Iraq under President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, assumed the presidency upon the death of his ailing predecessor in 1979. There was at the time (and still are today) two separatist groups in Iraq, the Kurds in the north adjacent to the Turkish border, and the Shia in the eastern part of the country adjacent to the border with Iran. The Kurds were trying to carve out an independent Kurdistan out of Turkish and Iraqi territory. As to the Shia, they wanted to have their lands annexed by Iran, who were also predominately Shiite Muslim. Iraq was predominately Sunni Muslim. The Shia and the Sunni Muslims have been at each other's throats since the seventh century and the death of prophet Mohammad. The crux of their disagreement hinges on the Shia's importance they bestow on Ali, who, it seems, was Mohammad's brother-in-law. The Sunni's do not place any particular importance on Ali. So these two adherents to the Religion of Peace have been killing each other for 1300 years now, only taking a break once in a while when they decide to kill Christians and Jews.

      Anyway, Saddam, immediately upon assuming power in Iraq, turned the attention of his armed forces on these two dissident groups - the Kurds and the Shia. The Iraqi army and air force used aerial bombing, artillery with poison gas munitions, etc. on these two groups in an attempt at a final solution.

      Now, nobody seemed to be willing to go to bat in any concrete way for the Kurds - the Turks were probably just as happy that Saddam was doing the dirty work for them. But Iran took great offense at the Sunni Iraqis killing their Shia co-religionists, and retaliated against the Iraqis. This pretty quickly devolved into the Iran-Iraq War, which took place from approximately 1980 to 1989.

      This was a seriously vicious war, consisting of WWI-like trench warfare, poison gas artillery, human wave infantry attacks into massed artillery and machine gun fire, etc. There were huge quantities of casualties on both sides, and tremendous expenditures of material.

      Now, in view of the human death tolls being racked up by both participants, the U.N. imposed another arms embargo. But the Iranians were equipped with Soviet style weaponry, and were able to replenish their battlefield losses without issue, as the Soviets never paid much attention to any U.N. resolutions unless it suited their purpose. The Iraqi Army, however, was mainly British trained and equipped, which meant that their infantry rifle was the FN-FAL and their handgun the FN Hi Power. At some point, Saddam issued a purchase order to FN for a large number of Hi Power handguns, but the order was refused in compliance with the embargo.

      Nobody really seems to know precisely what happened next, but evidence suggests that a shifty Central European arms dealer came on the scene, and he convinced someone within the Iraqi command structure that he had a back door into FN, and if the Iraqis gave the order to him, he could supply the Hi Power handguns regardless ofpi the embargo.

      Once he had the order, he then turned to FEG in Hungary, had them duplicate the FN rollmarks and Belgian proofs, stamp the handguns thusly, and delivered them to Iraq, who were none the wiser.

      Consequently my Hi Power as shown in the first post of this thread, bears FEG-style serial numbers and a convincing-enough, if you are a Farsi-reading Iraqi general, FN rollmark on the slide.

      Now over the years a number of these handguns came into the possession of the Israelis - either confiscated from POWs, gathered up on the battlefield, taken from Muslim terrorists captured or killed by the israeli army or police, etc. And the Israelis, if they can, will supplement their arsenals with such weapons whenever possible. (During the Six-Day war, for example, the Israeli Army asked their Air Force to stop blowing up all of those perfectly good tanks that were abandoned by the retreating Arabs, as the Israeli army would like to put them to good use.)

      So somehow my Hi Power was produced by FEG in Hungary and counterfeited as an authentic FN Hi Power, was delivered to Iraq in circumvention of a U.N. embargo, was placed into Iraqi service, then somehow passed into Israeli hands, where it was rearsenaled at some point and placed into storage, where it eventually sold as surplus and imported into the U.S. by Coles Distributing in Scottsville, KY, where it finally found a home in my collection. Wouldn't it be great if this gun could talk. I'm sure it would be a fascinating story.
      Last edited by Chief351; March 19th, 2018, 14:54.
      Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

      When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

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      • #4
        Hi Power With A History - Page 4

        So, since I am fascinated by guns with a historical back-story, when this one showed up on Gunbroker I couldn't resist. No one had yet placed a bid, and so I bid the minimum of $325.00 and waited to see what happened. At the end of the auction I was the only bidder, so it was mine!

        Upon receiving the gun and looking it over, I was impressed by the quality of the Israeli reparkerizing job - an even dark gray that matched very well slide, controls, and frame. The gun was likely blued originally, but there was no evidence of any rust beneath the reparkerizing. There were only two marks on the gun - a little dent on the front bottom edge of the slide, and an inconsequential chip on the slide safety notch where the hook of the safety lever extends up into it when the gun is on safe. The safety works fine, however, and passes the click-test.

        I did replace the extractor spring from my spares, as extractor tension is critical to the reliability of these handguns. I also cleaned out the extractor and sear lever notches in the slide, and removed the firing pipiPIN and spring, which I found to be quite rusty. I didn't have any spares of these, so I will have to order them. I oiled and cleaned them, then reinstalled them until I can obtain replacements. The grips that came on it were Pachmayr finger groove rubber grips that were in pretty bad shape. I had a set of FN black plastic military grips that were looking for a good home, and I think they look well on this handgun.

        I intend to use this as a carry gun, so I took it to the range with a couple of Mec-Gar magazines, and a supply of several different brands of 9mm 115 grain FMJ ammo, as well as a box of my preferred carry ammo - Federal Classic 9BP 115 grain FMJ. I fired approximately 200 rounds of all types through the Hi Power, and function was 100%. Empties were ejected about 5 or 6 feet to the right rear, and all landed in about a six-square-foot area on the concrete floor.

        I fired a couple of 13-round groups using a Weaver stance at 7 yards pi- pretty much just pointing the weapon at the target as it came up into my field of vision without much time spent aligning the sights. The orange dot is 3-1/8" in diameter:




        By the way, one of the things i like about Cole Distributing is how discreetly they apply their import marks. If you look closely you can just make out "CDI SCTVL KY" stamped on the barrel, where it is only visible when the slide is retracted. No other marks whatsoever on the slide or frame.
        Last edited by Chief351; March 19th, 2018, 15:04.
        Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

        When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

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        • #5
          Sweet gun Chief yes, if only they could talk !
          My high power is surplus Argentine military made under license in country.
          Thanks J.M.B.
          "Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate. To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods"

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          • #6
            How does it shoot with bullet weights between 124 and 147?
            I seem to prefer that bullet weight in most 9x19 ammo. I am having good results with PPU 124 grain NATO stuff. It's loaded on the warm side( runs 10%faster than the Winchester) and is accurate in my SigPro. I also like the Federal HiShok 147 grain HP. It isn't marked Plus P but runs above 975 fps in the Sign,1050 in an old Gen 2.5 Glock 17.
            Gregory Peter DuPont

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            • #7
              Gripper,

              I pretty stick with the 115 grain bullets, and I chose the Federal 9BP load as my preferred carry load on the advise of Stephen Camp, in so far as it was designed to feed reliably in guns not designed to feed JHP. I have shot it with Speer Lawman 124 grain FMJ, and it worked OK, but I only shot one magazine load of 13 rounds, so not much of a sample - I was mainly interested in seeing if there was a difference in POA. I haven't shot any JHP of that weight.

              I know folks get all wrapped up in the penetration figures in ballistic gelatin, but I look at ballistic gelatin as simply a standard for comparison from one cartridge to another, not as any conclusive evidence of how a bullet will perform within a target that shoots back. And the FBI standard of 12" of penetration is really intended for law enforcement purposes, where an officer may have to shoot through an obstruction such as a car door, etc. A civilian has little excuse for using his pigun in that way, so I worry more about the OVER-penetration aspect more than the ENOUGH-penetration aspect.

              I would also not recommend a steady diet of +P or NATO 9mm. Remember, we're talking about a gun designed in 1935, and FMJ was all there was. This particular gun has the humped feed ramp, so it can be expected to be on the picky side regarding feeding FMJ. I've NEVER had a failure with 9BP in any of my Hi Powers.

              NATO 9mm is loaded hot for reliable functioning in submachineguns, as was the ammo that the Israelis loaded for their military. With all of these Israeli surplus piHi Powers being imported it was not uncommon at all to see one with a slide with a lined-out serial number, replacing a slide that was cracked. I've also seen several guns where it was obvious that an armorer replaced the barrel cam! Probably from too much hot ammo.
              Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

              When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

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              • #8
                I run warmer ammo in firearms that were made to accommodate it and/or have been appropriately resprung/retrofitted.
                In my ezexperien,mist 9x19 service guns run smoother with amno if an appropriate OAL and weight The cartridge was originally made in quantity with the 124 grain ball in mind,and SOME order service guns I had gave less than optimal performance regarding feed)func function and accuracy when ball(not HP)of a lighter weight was used.
                Gregory Peter DuPont

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                • #9
                  Lotta typos in that last post
                  Gregory Peter DuPont

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                  • #10
                    I always have liked the Hi-Power. Krink has my old Argie. You're taking good care of it right Krink?

                    I could never understand what makers were thinking back then with tiny frickin' sights on handguns. Was it not important to be able to accurately aim what you are shooting at? Were people's eyes a whole lot better 100 years ago? I guess no one ever noticed. The 1911 is the same way in the GI model and a host of others from that era including other Colts.

                    What were they thinking?
                    Peace Through Strength, Victory Through Devastation...Strategic Air Command

                    American by birth, made from German parts from Emmingen, Baden-Württemberg

                    An unhappy German is a Sour Kraut!

                    Das Leben ist zu kurz, um billiges Bier zu trinken!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Herr Walther View Post
                      I always have liked the Hi-Power. Krink has my old Argie. You're taking good care of it right Krink?

                      I could never understand what makers were thinking back then with tiny frickin' sights on handguns. Was it not important to be able to accurately aim what you are shooting at? Were people's eyes a whole lot better 100 years ago? I guess no one ever noticed. The 1911 is the same way in the GI model and a host of others from that era including other Colts.

                      What were they thinking?
                      I know what you mean. I bet folks back 100 years DID have better eyes. For one thing they didn't spend hours and hours staring at computer screens. For the last 5 or 6 years I did CAD work, and there you were being really precise where your mouse cursor was as you worked on drawings. When I left work I was sometimes not able to read highway signs for the first 15 or 20 minutes of my drive home.

                      Between computers and videos, yes, we're really straining our eyes. On the other hand, people today don't read books any more, unless they're on an e-reader. I'm guilty of that one as well, but I do use a Kindle Paperwhite, which is indistinguishable from ink on paper, and if I want I can increase the font size.

                      I'm starting to have some issue with cataracts, mainly on my master (right) eye. I am also very nearsighted and have a bad astigmatism, and when the doctor started talking about cataract surgery on my right eye, I was concerned that they weren't going to do my left one. He assured me, though, that in my case it would be medically necessary to do both because of the strength of my eyeglass prescription, and issues that I would have with vertex distance with they still using and external (eyeglass) lens.

                      Maybe then I can get back into high power rifle - I had reached the point that minification effect from my eyeglasses reduced the size of the 600 yard target that I couldn't resolve it through iron sights any more.
                      Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

                      When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

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                      • #12
                        Good call on buying one now.

                        Browning is no longer making them, and AFAIK, all of the clones (FEG, Kareen, Mauser 80) are also out of production. They are going to go up in price just because they are "collectible" before long. I should buy a half dozen more, but I've got more than I really need already, and there are other goodies out there. If you are buying handguns to put back as an "Investment" for 20 years from now, though?

                        Think back about 20 years ago, when the Finn M39's were going for about $125 or so. I won't even mention what Turk 8mm's were selling for back then. Yeah. Buy more if you can.

                        Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.

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