Review and range report: FN Hi-Power SFS in .40S&W


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Marko Kloos
October 24, 2005, 04:53 PM
On Friday, I treated myself to an early birthday gift by picking up a new FN Hi-Power. I've been in the market for another HP ever since I got rid of my shiny blue 9mm HP several years ago, but all the new ones I've seen around since then have been the two-tone Browning HP Practicals. I don't care for the two-tone look, and the Practicals cost north of $700 in this neck of the woods.

My local shop had two brand new FN Hi-Powers on the shelf, a standard 9mm and a .40 with the SFS system. Both were service-grade, with fixed sights, plastic grip panels and matte blue finish. The 9mm was priced at $499, and the .40 price sticker showed the whopping amount of $415. I verified the price twice and made sure it was a NIB gun, and it is indeed straight from the distributor.

I'm usually lukewarm about the .40S&W, and if I have a choice between the same gun in 9mm or .40, I would pick the 9mm just about every time. $80 is a big chunk of change, however, and the .40 Hi-Powers are universally well regarded.

I was also kind of lukewarm about the SFS system at first, but it grew on me pretty fast after messing with the gun for a few minutes. This is the hammer system that is retrofitted to Hi-Powers and 1911s by Cylinder & Slide for about $180--the cocked hammer can be pushed forward, which will engage the safety and enable hammer-down carry. Thumbing the safety down will make the hammer snap back to the cocked position with a nice, positive click. As far as I can see, it has no disadvantages over traditional C&L carry, except for the higher parts count in the gun. It does have several advantages I can see...it provides a visual, audible and tactile indication that the gun is ready to go, it comes with a pre-bobbed hammer that won't poke the wearer or induce hammer bite, and it provides a certain "familiarity safety" that may keep an uninitiated bad guy busy trying to figure it out if he's not familiar with SFS-equipped guns.

When I tried the standard 9mm and the SFS .40 side by side, I actually took a bigger liking to the .40, which may horrify some purists. The $80 price difference was the final factor, and I ended up taking the .40. When the guys got the box out of the back, there were two spare magazines in the case, for a total of three. Any way you slice it, $415 is a killer deal for a brand new all-steel FN Hi-Power, and I was pretty excited about it. One of the guys at the shop had a set of Hogue laminate rosewood grips which he let me have for $20, so for $435 I now have a good-looking top-shelf defensive handgun.

I had a chance to take the new Hi-Power out to shoot twice this weekend. It went through 100 rounds of WWB, and fifty rounds of assorted hollowpoints (Golden Sabers and Hornadys) without any problems whatsoever.

This gun is a shooter. The first three rounds at seven yards made a little cloverleaf, and after fifty rounds I could basically pick where I wanted to enlarge the small hole torn into the center orange. It's easily the most accurate .40 I've ever shot, and that's with the slightly rough trigger with the magazine disconnect. The trigger pull has smoothed out a little after 150 rounds, but I'll have my gunsmith improve it even further by removing the mag disconnect.

Another advantage of the SFS system surfaced at cleaning time: it simplifies the field-stripping process. Unlike the standard Hi-Power, the SFS HP field-strips by pushing out the slide release lever without having to retract the slide. The recoil spring is a 20# and requires some elbow grease during reassembly, but I found that it's a lot easier when you mate the recoil spring with the barrel and then insert both into the slide together.

All in all, I am very pleased with this gun. It won't replace my S&W M10 as my carry gun, but it's a classy and elegant piece that shoots and functions very well, and I'll be carrying it on occasion when I feel the need to pack a bottom-feeding brass puker. If you gotta have a fancy flatgun, the Hi-Power is one of the better choices.

http://www.frontiernet.net/~lendringser/images/FNHP_6x4.jpg

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BHPshooter
October 24, 2005, 06:08 PM
Thank you for the report.:)

Those are some VERY nice grips!

Wes

GrandmasterB
October 24, 2005, 06:27 PM
Congrats on the Hi Power! Great purchase. :D

spacemanspiff
October 24, 2005, 06:40 PM
i might have misunderstood, but i thought there was nothing able to be done on a trigger that has a SFS system?

Marshall
October 24, 2005, 08:16 PM
Marko,

Great report, thanks! I have been considering another HP, I have three now but I do not have an SFS. It has intriged me since it came out and now that I read a positive report, I think I'll make it my next one.

BTW, love the grips. I think I will black out the serial number though when I get one. ;)

Marko Kloos
October 24, 2005, 08:29 PM
Last three digits are Photoshopped out. ;)

Or did you mean actually applying black paint to the number itself to make it stand out less?

Eh...I can live with that. At least it doesn't have a Ruger- or Beretta-esque warning billboard all over the side of the slide.

Marshall
October 24, 2005, 09:36 PM
Last three digits are Photoshopped out. ;)

Or did you mean actually applying black paint to the number itself to make it stand out less?

Eh...I can live with that. At least it doesn't have a Ruger- or Beretta-esque warning billboard all over the side of the slide.

LOL, I meant actually black it out for good. I think it would improve the looks, be a breeze to do. Your eyes would go to the beautiful rosewood grips without having white numbers distract them. And I agree, it's much better than those billboards you mentioned! :barf:

Not much beats a clean looking Hi-Power. :)

wrangler5
October 25, 2005, 01:14 AM
I picked up a new SFS Hi Power in 9mm last summer ($499 w/2 thirteen round mags) and feel the same way about mine as you do about yours. It is a tack driver, very comfortable to shoot (I prefer the Hogue rubber wraparound grips to any hard grips I've tried,) and classy. With the magazine disconnect in place, it had what I can only describe as the worst trigger feel I had ever experienced on any gun. After I took the disconnect out the trigger became one of the best I've used. Tell your gunsmith that getting the pins out to remove the disconnect can be a real b***h, especially the little pin in the trigger that frequently is staked from both sides. But have him persevere, as the results are well worth it.

Field stripping a SFS is indeed a bit simpler than a standard Hi Power, but the downside is that a detail strip is much more complicated. I have an older Browning HP that I've had completely apart, including the bits pinned in the slide, but I haven't had the nerve to go beyond a field strip on the SFS yet.

BTW, the SFS system is actually a Belgian invention that FN installs at the factory on their SFS guns - at least mine was a factory job, and it came with a properly done instruction manual that covered the SFS operation. Cylinder and Slide just retails/installs the mechanism over here.

Reed1911
October 26, 2005, 07:54 PM
We have a great sale on the FN Browning Hi-Powers. All new in the box, all have the fired case for the States that require it. We have the following available:
.40 S&W Polished walnut grips W/SFS 2mags
.40 S&W Matte walnut grips SA 2mags
.40 S&W Matte Black grips W/SFS 3 mags
9mm Matte/black grips W/SFS 3 mags

We have several of each all are 400.00 + 20.00 S/H.

Marshall
October 26, 2005, 08:37 PM
Ron,

Have any pics of the polished blued ones? If so I'll send you my e-mail address. Some others here might like to see them too?

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