Hi Power Durability


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zinj
January 21, 2008, 11:17 PM
A notion seems to be floating around the internet that the Browning Hi-Power is a (relatively) fragile pistol. I've read that they cannot stand up to +P ammunition use, and that the frame has an approximately 30,000 round service life. How does the HP's durability rate compared to similar 9x19 autos?

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jonnyc
January 21, 2008, 11:23 PM
I know of parts breaking on HPs, but that goes for just about any autopistol. I have never heard of a worn-out HP, at 30,000 rounds or more. Whatever the life might be, it will be shortened by a steady diet of +P. Check the relevant readings on Stephen Camp's "highpowersandhandguns.com" site.

bharen
January 21, 2008, 11:31 PM
Steven Camp, the HiPower guru, will probably hop in here real quick, but until he does I'll take a stab at your question.

Current production HiPower's, both 9mm and 40 S&W, have investment cast frames. For a reason. When FN first thought of bringing the HP out in .40 S&W the fitted a heavier slide to standard forged HP frames and tested the package. The frames started to show signs of failure pretty early on (less than 10,000 rounds, from what I remember). FN took a step back and realized they needed to approach frame production from a different angle. After researching investment casting (and, I believe, talking to Ruger) they realized they could produce better, tougher frames through casting and tightly controlling the heat treating process. This yielded a much more homogeneous metal structure and hence, a tougher frame. FN (and Browning) now use the same HP frame for both the 9mm and 40 S&W round, and frame failures are a rare event.

Does this mean the earlier forged frames are 'weak'? Depends on who you ask and what you consider a high round count. NATO Milspec 9mm ammo is hot - into the +P+ range. It has a reputation for battering even the US military's Berettas. From this viewpoint I don't thing the original HPs are necessarily weak when compared to other service pistols.

One thing is certain, though. Current HP frames are tougher than their earlier forged bretheren.

Stephen A. Camp
January 21, 2008, 11:57 PM
Hello. I do not "know" about the 30K durability being a hard and fast rule. I do know that I've never worn out a 9mm Hi Power, including the first one I bought in '71. I still shoot it today. I am in no way sure of the round count but would bet it is well over 30K.

Having said that, I do firmly believe that the Hi Power will not adapt well to being shot with weak recoil springs. Part of the Hi Power's appeal to many of us is its "petite" and graceful look coupled with a grip that remains suprisingly comfortable and compact for a double-stack. This comes at a price; there is not as much steel there as on some 9mm pistols. I keep my Hi Powers clean and change recoil springs about every 2K rounds. I use shock buffers from buffer tech, at least in range guns; others do not and opine that they do no good. I don't know but the way the buffers eventually get chewed up, I think that I must be relieving at least some slide-to-frame impact.

I use conventional 18.5-lb. recoil springs rather than the factory standard 17-lb springs. I believe that it slows down rearward slide travel and therefore lessens the impact on the frame or buffer. Others suggest that this may be so but that the gun slams closed into battery harder so we just get the stresses on the other end of the cycle. Of this I am not so sure because the .40 Hi Power uses a 20-lb. factory standard recoil spring and the guts of the guns are identical. I do wish that the 9mm pistols had three locking lugs as do the forty-calibers. Much of the ammo that I use in 9mm is a bit hotter than standard pressure and I've had no problems with the 18.5-lb spring when using standard pressure ammunition from 115 to 147 grains. If a person uses primarily standard velocity ammunition, the factory standard is probably just fine.

The only Hi Powers that I've seen that were had rounded locking lugs or a cracked cam uniformly had extremely weak recoil springs, probably the originals. I do not have calibrated fingers but one of these had a spring that must have been no more than 8 or 9 pounds. It was so weak that with a loaded magazine in place and just easing the slide into contact with the top cartridge resulting in the magazine spring's tension stopping the slide from chambering the round!

This does not mean that I believe the Hi Power is the best choice for doing "torture tests" using copious amounts of hot-loaded ammunition but neither do I find it a particularly fragile design.

If interested, here are some further observations:

http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Hi%20Power%20Longevity.htm

Best.

zinj
January 22, 2008, 12:56 AM
Thank you all for your input!

zinj
January 22, 2008, 01:14 AM
Oh, and on a related note, what is the consensus on the Charles Daly Hi-Power clone? Is the quality acceptable, and is it a true clone or are the design differences?

A new Browning is out of the cards for me, and while a used Browning would be my first choice I have seen a new CD for a very attractive price.

zxcvbob
January 22, 2008, 01:26 AM
I have an FN (Argentina) Hi Power and it has between 2000 and 3000 rounds thru it so far. I just ran my load data in QuickLOAD and found out it's *higher* than +P pressure. :eek:
The gun has no noticable wear. I'm gonna shoot up the last hundred or so rounds of this ammo and work up some new lighter loads.

novaDAK
January 22, 2008, 02:08 AM
Oh, and on a related note, what is the consensus on the Charles Daly Hi-Power clone? Is the quality acceptable, and is it a true clone or are the design differences?

A new Browning is out of the cards for me, and while a used Browning would be my first choice I have seen a new CD for a very attractive price.
From what I've heard, people like 'em. They are made from FEG parts, which are of good quality, and then assembled here in the US.

bannockburn
January 22, 2008, 07:06 AM
zinj

I've found the various Hi-Power clones to be of very good quality, especially those by FEG. The Argentine FMs are serviceable but not as well finished as the FEG models.

Pilot
January 22, 2008, 07:27 AM
I have an FN (Argentina) Hi Power

Just to clarify, if your Hi Power was made in Argentina its an FM not and FN. FN produces the original Browning Hi Powers in Belgium and assembles them in Portugal.

Luomu
January 22, 2008, 08:33 AM
I shot ~20K through my cast Mk III before selling the pistol. At around 12K the extractor broke, but that was all, and easily replaced.

A friend had put over 80K rounds through an earlier model forged Hi-Power last I checked. And this was our military load, which is about +P+. Around 50K the barrel cracked, and all the small parts were probably replaced at some point. But the frame and slide were still going strong.

zxcvbob
January 22, 2008, 10:37 AM
Just to clarify, if your Hi Power was made in Argentina its an FM not and FN. FN produces the original Browning Hi Powers in Belgium and assembles them in Portugal.

I knew that. I just got it mixed up when I posted. Thanks for the clarification.

Bob

whitebb
January 22, 2008, 10:47 AM
The only hi-powers I saw worn out were Inglis's from when I was in the Canadian Army. Mind you these had seen considerable military use for over 50 years. These were rode hard and cleaned, but were falling apart. Accuracy was off on most, but they did still function fairly reliably.

Capstick1
January 24, 2008, 05:09 AM
From what I've read the the slides on the Hi Powers and the Beretta M92's crack after about 13000 rds or so. I don't really like the safety features on the Glock 17 but if you're looking for durability this one has it in spades. I've read about one from the 80's thats been torture tested and has had over200,000 rds put through it. Other than changing out the magazine release lever and the slide release lever this gun is still going strong. I'm not a big fan of the 9mm round in general though. I'll continue to stick with my .45's.

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