If Fabrique Nationale’s (F.N). FAL rifle was the “right arm of the Free World” during the Cold War, surely its sidearm counterpart was the Browning Hi-Power Pistol. In a world of single stack magazine-fed semi-autos, the Hi-Power offered 13 rounds of firepower in a double-stack magazine. This feature, while novel in the 1930s, would soon become highly sought after by military, police and civilian shooters around the world. Chambered in the popular 9mm parabellum, and featuring design technology far ahead of its time, the Browning Hi-Power has continued to influence countless pistol designs ever since its introduction.
John Browning developed the concept for what would eventually be called the Hi-Power in the early 1920s. During that era, most self-loading handguns whether large or small all featured in-line magazines that severely limited the number of rounds that could be carried or fired without having to reload. Even full-size service pistols in 9mm or .45ACP were typically limited to a magazine capacity of six to eight rounds. With one fell swoop of engineering genius, Browning was able to design a highly reliable handgun with nearly twice the magazine capacity of its contemporaries such as the German Luger or the Colt 1911. With all of this additional firepower at their fingertips, the engineers at F.N. decided that only one name would be suitable for their unique new pistol and thus the Hi-Power was born.
Unfortunately, John Browning didn’t live to see his famous Hi-Power design come to full production, but due to his long relationship with Belgium's state arsenal F.N., his dream was able to live on. After Browning's death in 1926, F.N. acquired the design plans from his estate and the Hi-Power was perfected by their designer Dieudonne Saive. The Hi-Power went into full-scale production in 1935 and was soon adopted by the Belgium military as the Browning P-35. The pistol featured a short recoil operation with a single action firing mechanism and could fire from a locked breech. Lugs on top of the barrel matched with corresponding recesses inside the slide. Due to existing patents at the time, the barrel dropped to unlock using a linkless design.
When Germany occupied Belgium in WWII, they seized control of the F.N. factory which was already tooled up for mass production of the Hi-Power. Recognizing the value of the Hi-Power, Germany allowed the Hi-Power to continue to be manufactured and adapted the pistol as an alternative handgun for Germany and its allies.
Eventually, Hi-Power pistols served on both the Allied and Axis sides of the war. In fact, John Inglis and Company, a Canadian firearms manufacturer, also produced the Hi-Power during WWII for Allied forces. After WWII the Hi-Power continued to be produced by various nations and essentially became a de facto NATO sidearm. It has also been highly favored by police departments and special deployment teams around the globe as a reliable and highly accurate sidearm. During the course of its production, it has gone through numerous updates and several variants have been made, but the basis of Browning’s original design has remained remarkably unchanged.
The Lightweight Option
Recently, Classic Firearms purchased a small lot of the highly sought after Lightweight Belgian F.N. Browning Hi-Powers. These pistols are even more collectible than other Hi-Power variants because they were made in much smaller numbers for certain European police agencies that requested a lighter sidearm. The Lightweight Hi-Power distinguishes itself from standard models by having a weight-reducing aluminum alloy frame rather than the much heavier traditional steel frame. Being ever mindful of their high-quality standards the engineers at F.N. ensured the alloy frames integrity by incorporating steel reinforcements at the barrel seat. This is the intersecting part of the frame that the barrel cams against. This design allows for the best of both worlds as it reduces unwanted weight while still maintaining the strength of an all-steel pistol. Of course, this model features the same all-steel slide, barrel, and firing mechanism that has made the original Browning Hi-Power so sought after. This construction makes for a pistol that shoots beautifully but doesn't weigh you down. Even better, we are currently able to offer several groups of Hi-Powers with consecutive serial numbers. This is a very rare find and would be perfect for a father/son, husband/wife, or to pass along to siblings who could have consecutive number firearms.
While there certainly are more modern handguns available these days, few are made as well as the Hi-Power. These pistols were produced using true old-world craftsmanship, the kind of which is seldom seen today. As such, a surplus Hi-Power pistol is not only a collectible piece of firearms history but also a very well made, reliable and accurate firearm, that anyone would be proud to own.
Ready to Buy?
As of the date of this publication, we have a small batch of Lightweight Belgian F.N. Browning Hi-Powers. Based on the rarity of these handguns, any future availability is uncertain. Luckily, we always keep a wide variety of handguns in stock. Browse through our selection of handguns!