the most successful military handgun of all time is the Browning
High Power, also known as the P 35, HP 35, or Grande Pruissance.
Battlefield success is one thing, and the Browning has
saved the lives of many allied troops.
But in terms of sheer numbers the Browning stands alone.
The pistol was adopted by over one hundred nations in its
hey day and remains on the front lines in many third world
nations as well as in the hands of dedicated operators world
wide. The High
Power has been a success story all of the way.
pistols main point of manufacture has been Belgium. Of late, the
familiar slide marking Made In Belgium, Assembled in Portugal
has reflected the changing dynamic of old world craftsmanship.
The John Inglis company of Canada produced a
version made from FN Browning blue prints, with certain
strengthening of key parts according to historians. The pistol
has been copied in Eastern Europe, doubtless without license,
and also in Israel. Some of the pistols are cheaply made in
order to sell at a considerably lower price than the Belgian
product, others, such as the Israeli Kareen, claim to be
a very few license built copies of the Browning is the FM
Browning from Argentina.
Argentina produced the Colt 1911 A1 under license
for many years as the Modelo
1927, and the FM High Power is another product of
this point we should address a difference of opinion among
handgunners concerning the 1911 .45 and the High Power 9mm.
Many point to the High Power as an improvement over the
1911 pistol. Browning
eliminated the swinging link, using
angled camming surfaces. He
simplified the design considerably with the elimination of the
barrel bushing, relying upon a friction fit between the barrel
and slide. Browning
eliminated the grip safety, which some of us feel was and is a
good safety feature. The US Calvary demanded the 1911 grip safety in case the
pistol were dropped from a horse - it would prevent the gun from
firing. I like this
didn’t design the High Power to compete with the 1911, the
Army and Marines were pleased with the 1911 and were not going
to purchase another pistol. They were in the midst of a
transition to the 1911A1 about the time Browning developed the
High Power. But the European market was a different matter.
A .45 caliber service gun would have been unthinkable in Europe, Norwegian experience notwithstanding. While both are
excellent handguns, they were designed and built to sell at the
request of individual governments.
This takes nothing away from John Moses Browning,
rather it adds to his genius.
Whether you needed a pocket pistol, an alley fighter, or
a lever action rifle, he was the man for the job.
He did remarkably well in all fields with none of the hit
and miss attributed to some designers of the era.
(Remember the ‘other 1911'– the Winchester
1911 semi auto shotgun that came to be known as the "suicide
I prefer the 1911 pistol on the basis of caliber and other
traits that endear it to armed professionals, I am willing to
admit that the High Power may be faster to a first shot hit in
trained hands than even the 1911.
The High Power is a bit shorter and lighter and with the
modern safety design, the pistol can be manipulated as quickly
as any pistol. A
good hand with the High Power has very good hit potential.
Whether the cartridge will do the job or not must be
addressed, however. But
with a low bore axis and straight to the rear single action
trigger compression the High Power remains the top 9mm in the
world for serious use.
the most popular and widely distributed copies of the High Power
is the license-built FM clone from Argentina.
Prior to World War Two, the capitol police placed an
order for Browning High Power pistols. The High Power was a type of substitute standard in the
military for many years, serving alongside the home built Modelo
1927 Colt clones and the home designed Ballester Molina.
Argentina liked the High Power but wished to develop a
manufacturing capability of their own, a wise move.
In 1969 Fabrica
Militar de Armas Portatiles Domingo Matheu obtained a
license to build the High Power.
These early guns were identical to then-current FN
Belgian production, complete with the stepped slide of the
Browning pistol. Early
versions sported a lanyard ring.
When the MK II Browning was produced by FN, the FM types
were left behind. They
retained the original small slide lock safety and embryonic
military style sights. The
new MK II Browning featured high visibility sights, a remarkably
well designed speed safety, and a new polish in the feedway that
make the feeding of modern jacketed hollowpoint ammunition a
surety. The FM guns
were well made and reliable, but lagged behind in improvements.
Still, with a retail price often half that of the FN gun, they
were a relative bargain. When
the pistols were imported to America in number, they were of the
second generation, a design that did away with the steps in the
slide to simplify production.
This may make for a stronger slide, but it would take
more shooting than most of us care to undertake to prove the
point. I respected
these guns enough
to modify two. I
fitted a Cylinder and Slide Shop extended safety to one,
as well as certain internal modifications including WC Wolff premium
springs. The other
pistol received a Bear Coat self lubricating Teflon based
finish and Ashley Express sights.
Each would prove completely reliable.
Contrary to popular belief, the High Power is easier, not
more difficult than the 1911, to work with and modify. Each of
the FM guns was given a trigger job that produced a good smooth
four pound trigger with the magazine safety intact. That is all we can ask for in a carry gun.
production FM pistols incorporate the modern improvements,
including high visibility sights and ambidextrous safety.
There is a rib that runs along the slide that is
different from the FN slide.
It is distinctive and while some can take it or leave it,
it does offer a non glare sighting plane. The pistols I have
tested that have been produced in the past year or so exhibit a
good trigger compression, typically breaking cleanly at four to
four and one half pounds. This is the best trigger action yet
seen on a High Power pistol straight from the factory. The pistols also feature a good smooth feed ramp that feeds
practically any hollow point bullet. These pistols have the
addition of a positive firing pin lock, practically a standard
for international sales. The finish is a businesslike black
phosphate, although a type of nickel finish is occasionally
seen. The grips are black plastic nearly identical to the modern
MK II Browning types.
the big news is the successful development of a Detective
version of the High Power. This has been tried with varying degrees of success in the
past. It is very
difficult to design and execute a short slide version of any
full length service handgun.
The dynamics of slide velocity and the necessity of
stronger recoil springs to tame the increased slide velocity of
the shorter lighter slide can present a daunting proposition to
any designer. FM found that the captive recoil spring of the
full length pistol did not work well with short slide pistols.
The FM Detective features a full length guide rod
that protrudes from the slide during recoil, much in 1911
fashion. This seems
to have cured any problem with short slide function, as my
pistol is completely reliable with a myriad of factory loads as
well as handloads. Recoil
is not excessive, partly a product of the heavier springs needed
to curb slide velocity in such a short handgun.
When the need to feed from a thirteen round double column
staggered magazine is considered, and that the rounds will feed
from heavy compression to almost no compression,
we see that the pistol offers a high standard of
reliability regardless of type.
have a good bit of experience with three full size FM types, and
this experience has been positive. Since the Detective class is a new idea,
I felt that it would behoove us to concentrate on the
shorter pistol. As
such, I have been shooting, firing, and carrying the Detective
for the better part of seven months.
I like it well enough to consider it among my top-flight
personal defense handguns.
When I am not carrying a 1911 .45, I am more likely to be
carrying this handgun than any other semi auto.
There were objections to the handgun at first, but these
are nit picking. First,
I didn’t particularly like the bold slide markings.
But then, they are less obtrusive than the MK IV
SERIES 70 billboard type markings we all know and love.
They certainly let you know what you are handling!
Second, I did not like the grips. They are not as hard as
the FN types but the slight palm swell does not feel good in the
hand – I thought. Almost
fifteen hundred rounds later they are still on the gun and I
feel more confident in the pistol as time goes by.
They will stay. Often,
the first thing I trash is the grips on my Browning High Power
and 1911 type pistols. But
this gun’s stocks will stay in place.
I have acclimated quite well.
Detective pistol offers few tradeoffs compared to the full
length pistol. It
is quicker from leather by a margin.
It is difficult to say the pistol is quicker on target,
but it seems to come on target quickly due to the short sight
radius. It is as reliable
as the full length pistol, per limited testing.
The full length pistol, with its longer sight radius,
will usually prove more accurate in bench rest testing but the
difference is not so great as we may imagine.
The three dot high visibility sights offer a good sight
picture and can be acquired quite quickly.
Overall, there are no flies on this gun. It works well in
the practical and mechanical sense.
have fired an eclectic number of cartridges in the High Power,
choosing a carry load and also qualifying the handgun with a
variety of loads. The
gun was first fired with Winchester’s 124 grain NATO loads.
This is a good choice for breaking in a pistol, although
break in was not necessary.
The FM came out of the box shooting.
Everything put in the magazines has fed, chambered, fired
and ejected normally.
I settled upon a combination of the National Bullet
Company 125 grain round nose bullet over a moderate charge
of HP 38 for most of my work with this pistol.
Velocity is 1,050 fps.
This is a mild, accurate and reliable loading that
allowed me to understand the merits of this handgun.
I have to admit the test period was not all work.
It is a ball to unload a magazine from the 9mm at pine
cones, dirt clods, cans, and other range brick-a-brack.
This type of shooting, firing at targets at known and
unknown ranges, gives the shooter a better gauge of the pistols
performance than paper shooting.
The FM is a fine light handgun for all around shooting.
I may admit at this time that the 9mm is a better plinker
than the .45, while the .45 is more effective against the
possible range of animate
personal defense, I made an interesting choice.
Over the years, I have tested more 9mm Luger ammunition
than practically any other. It is no secret some of these loadings have given dismal
deviation in penetration and expansion can be one hundred per
cent, with some loads expanding too early and others expanding
hardly at all. Careful
consideration should be given a loading destined for personal
defense. With the
scenario calling for lightly clad individuals in a crowded
environment, I looked to light fast hollowpoints. The Cor-Bon 100 grain PowR’Ball
is intended to offer optimum feed reliability in any type of
will feed in the likes of a circa 1970 Browning High Power or
the Egyptian Helwan.
This round nosed bullet is actually a wide mouth
hollowpoint that features a polymer ball that is capped into the
hollow point bullet to insure feed reliability.
In tests involving tissue simulations, the PowR’Ball
performs in a similar manner to the same company’s 115 grain
JHP. However, the
100 grain PowR’Ball consistently breaks 1,450 fps from the
3.75 inch barrel FM and practically 1,500 fps from the five inch
generation or two ago, Colonel George C. Nonte designed a
shortened .38 Super cartridge he managed to chamber into several
short light 9mm pistols of the day.
He achieved 1,500 fps with 90 grain Sierra JHP
modern technology, Cor-Bon has outstripped this loading by a
margin while using the 9mm Luger case.
This is a powerful load sure to increase the load on
moving parts, but I find the loading accurate, reliable, and
PowR’Ball loading offers a real advantage in such a compact
pistol. Most of the time, you won’t need to run so hot and you
should choose an appropriate practice loading.
If your scenario calls for felons behind light cover,
then the 124 grain Cor-Bon loading is superior.
For my scenario, PowR’Ball is impressive.
this point I should mention that the FM guns are delivered with
thirteen round magazines. With
the sunset of the ban on high capacity magazines, we now are
able to own and purchase new high capacity handguns once again.
It is going to be quite interesting.
I have on hand a rather well worn and aged Mec Gar
extended magazine that holds a full 25 rounds.
I don’t deploy it on defensive missions and did not
when I was a peace officer occasionally carrying a Browning High
the magazine has proven reliable and is completely enjoyable on
trips to the range. I know the anti gunners will never get it and frankly some of
the other handgunners on my range don’t get it, but if the
business were grim serious all of the time it would be a shame!
Often it is fun to simply empty a magazine into the paper
as quickly and safely as we can pull the trigger.
Often, I have a day when I choose to fire a handful of
Magnums at the 200 yard paper.
This serves no purpose, as I will not be hunting any game
at 200 yards with the .44 Magnum.
By the same token, since I am not involved in clearing
bunkers I won’t be firing 25 rounds of 9mm in a few seconds.
(For either use, there are better tools.)
I simply like shooting these handguns.
I have often been critical of the 9mm for ballistic
effect, but on the
other hand there is no better centerfire plinker anywhere, and
no semi auto better suited to bringing shooters into the game. The FM is a worthy gun on all counts.
have settled upon two holsters for carrying the FM of late, and
I will probably stick with them as they seem to offer the best
solution to numerous problems.
First, the FM is suitable for carrying concealed under a
light jacket. For
this task the High Noon "Topless" offers
considerable advantages. These
include excellent molding of the gun to the leather.
The Topless also features a retention screw.
The retention screw offers two advantages.
First, it will adjust the draw of the gun by friction and
once the leather becomes well worn the retention screw can
tighten the holster considerably. I
like this a lot and find the topless a tremendous asset in
carrying the handgun on a strong side position.
It offers good retention but is fast, very fast.
The trademark tan finish and gold threat of the High Noon
type holster is very distinctive, with a look that fairly
deeper concealment, we need an inside the waistband holster. One
of the most interesting new types comes from one of the master
shops, and a quite famous one I might add. Milt Sparks Gunleather
is the home of the unmatched "Summer Special", but
they are also an innovative shop offering new products.
The "Watch Six" was developed partly in
response to the difficulty in concealing the popular but blocky
new generation of handguns such as the Glock and the SIG.
It does not incorporate a welt for holstering the gun,
but rather relies upon light but very strong horsehide
offers a previously unrealized level of concealment for pistols
such as the Glock but even more concealment for the 1911 and
Browning High Power type handguns.
The Watch Six should never be worn without the pistol
holstered, and there are certain tradeoffs, but overall this is
a worthwhile advance for those needing more concealment than
offered by the king of concealment holsters, the Summer Special.
It is also offered at a very good price. I am impressed on all counts.
yards, benchrest - five-shot groups
147 grain JHP
125 grain National Bullet Co./HP 38
Sierra 115 gr. FMJ/HP 38 (1,245 fps)
Arms 124 grain JHP +P
Arms 115 grain Ball (remanufactured)
PowR’Ball 100 grain JHP
Warehouse - FM Pistols
Enterprise Way Unit K
Harbor Fl 34682
East 44th Street #2
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