In what could be considered the swansong of the famed John Moses Browning, father of the M1911 and dozens of other timeless designs, and the introductory concert of Dieudonne Saive, who would go on to design the FN FAL, the original Browning Hi-Power went through decades of interwar development before it hit the market in 1935. Eventually falling out of production (with FN at least) in early 2018 after a run that saw it become a solid hit on the military, commercial, and law enforcement markets in its heyday. The new High Power (note the difference in spelling) is, for all purposes, an improved 21st Century salute to that old warrior.
The new FN High Power is a full-sized all-American-made pistol that is a single-action-only hammer-fired 9mm using a double-stack magazine. It uses a steel slide, barrel, and frame with interchangeable grip panels and dovetailed sights in FN's 509 pattern. It is available in Flat Dark Earth (because FN), black, and stainless.
So naturally, we went FDE...
Specs (via FN)
Overall length: 8 inches
Barrel length: 4.7 inches
Sight radius: 6.37 inches
Height: 5.62 inches
Width: 1.35 inches over manual safety (thickest point)
Weight: 40 ounces (unloaded)
Frame & Slide: Steel with corrosion-resistant PVD finish
Barrel: 1:10 twist, stainless steel, target-crowned, and cold hammer forged
Magazine capacity: 17+1
Comparison to the "old" Hi-Power
While styled in the shadow of and with an aesthetic that instantly recalls the Hi-Power of old, the new High Power is not compatible in any way with each other than the fact that they use the same ammunition (without getting into the .40S&W and 7.65x21mm BHP models, you nerds.) The new gun has better ergonomics, a simple and modern firing pin safety that is much more drop safe than the old BHP, a 17+1 capacity rather than the original 13+1 capacity of the older gun, and fully ambi controls that you can actually use while still retaining the classic good looks of its circa 1935 grandpa.
Let us compare the two, just to get that out of the way, putting our new test FN High Power and a circa 1943 Hi Power made in Belgium side-by-side.
Shooting & Accuracy
After a field strip for inspection followed by a reassembly and function check, we headed out to the range with the new FN and went to work. Without any additional lube or prep than what the gun was shipped with, we ran a mix of some 500 rounds without issue including Blazer Brass and Federal American Eagle 115-grain target loads, Speer Gold Dot 124-grain GDHPs, and Federal Hydra Shok Deep 135-grain JHPs. We had no stoppages in live fire.
It was rock solid and reliable.
The trigger on the FN High Power, without the old BHP's hideous magazine safety plunger to activate, is otherwise similar in profile to that of old. It is velvety-smooth for a factory trigger and only needs about a quarter-inch rock to pull through the wall with a corresponding short reset. We found it to break at about 4.7 pounds on average at the beginning of our tests, lightening just a skosh to the 4.2 mark after 500 rounds.
Check out that trigger:
The High Power is very light recoiling and shoots flat. Seen below with some spicy personal protection rounds.
Pros & Cons
Uses commonly available 509-pattern sights dovetails
Classic styling from an iconic brand
17+1 magazine capacity
Non-compatible with any legacy BHP parts or accessories
Cheap-feeling OE plastic grip panels
Proprietary mags that cost $50
Kind of expensive at $1,200+
One of my very first everyday carry guns back in the 1980s was a beat-up BHP MKIII as it was dependable, steel, slim, and had a 13+1 capacity. I could hit anything I ever aimed it at and loved range time except for the "slide bite" I would nurse for the following week. I never felt underserved with the old Browning.
This new High Power is dependable, not quite as slim, has a 17+1 capacity, I can hit anything I aimed at with it, and never once carried home a slide bite after shooting it.
The styling is spot on and, while at first, I was shattered and let down that it wasn't just an MK IV BHP that would fit all my existing BHP stuff, I kind of like the new High Power and think that FN made the right call after firing it. For what it's worth, FN sent this gun to me on loan, and I'm going to buy it. They aren't getting this one back and I am almost to the 1K mark on it already, simply because it is fun to shoot and a joy to take to the range.