1972 Browning Hi Power: Thumb safety easy disengagement


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stevemis
December 28, 2008, 05:56 AM
Hi folks.

My wife bought me a gorgeous 1972 model Browning Hi Power for Christmas. It came with the original Browning zipper case and the seller even included his original purchase receipts.

I am absolutely in love with this pistol. It's dead-nuts accurate, perfectly reliable so far, and it fits into all of my 1911 holsters. Operation-wise, it's essentially the same as my 1911's, so I should be able to transition back and forth without too much trouble... except...

... the thumb safety is incredibly easy to disengage. I carried the pistol for a couple of hours in a 1911 Yaqui Slide holster and found the safety got disengaged. I've since stopped carrying it.

Is the thumb safety supposed to be this easy to swipe on and off, or is there a chance something is missing or broken?

Thanks,

Steve

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nitetrane98
December 28, 2008, 08:58 AM
Unlike the 1911 which has the safety detent in the safety switch itself and the spring in the plunger tube, the HP has the spring and plunger in the switch and the detent notch in the frame. Most likely the spring is weakened or the pin funky dirty and not applying sufficient pressure. You might be able to get enough Gun Scrubber or such in from the outside edge to free it up. Otherwise a detail strip is involved.

stevemis
December 28, 2008, 10:17 AM
Thanks for the reply. Is the detent visible on the frame without removing the safety?

krs
December 28, 2008, 10:49 AM
The detent pin is IN the safety lever and yes, you can see the contact end of it if you look close at the front of the safety. Behind what you see is a small spring that may be sticking in it's bore or may be broken.

If you can't see the pin then you've probably found your problem if it's missing. The original is held in the safety lever by a pin, but what's transpired in 36 years is anybody's guess.

Oh, and a big NO to the question of whether the safety is supposed to be as easily disengaged as you describe. It should click on and off with a very positive engagement. some would be called difficult to use.

Old Fuff
December 28, 2008, 11:08 AM
Usually those safeties are hard to move, and users sometimes replace the stock safety with one that has a larger paddle (thumbpiece). I suspect that a previous owner might have removed the spring and plunger and either trimmed the stock spring or replaced it with a weaker one. A new spring, plunger (and if necessary, retaining pin) from Browning should easily and inexpensively cure your problem. ;)

krs
December 28, 2008, 11:57 AM
I'd have to try it to be sure but I think that you can reach the safety detent and it's spring, including replacing it if missing, without a full stripdown of the pistol. Use a slave pin going in from the right side to hold everything together as you remove the safety. Once the safety is out you can work on it seperately, make it right, and put it back. The detent being held in by a pin makes working with the whole thing realatively easy.

Also, if interested, Cylinder and Slide makes an ambidextrous safety kit that has bigger levers both left and right then the originals. Not so large as to be outlandish looking as some late manufacture guns come with stock.

There's a lot to be said for keeping good older BHP pistols in their original state but sometimes ease of use overides originality.

nitetrane98
December 28, 2008, 12:33 PM
"I'd have to try it to be sure but I think that you can reach the safety detent and it's spring, including replacing it if missing, without a full stripdown of the pistol. Use a slave pin going in from the right side to hold everything together as you remove the safety. Once the safety is out you can work on it seperately, make it right, and put it back."
I don't have one but I've been collecting info and diagrams, etc.
That's not going to work, the pin has different diameters for the ejector area and the hammer and has a stud that locks it against the ejector wall. In other words it's not a straight pullout. The sear will have to be removed and the ejector plate rotated down to align the notch and clear the stud that holds the whole thing in place. I perhaps erred somewhat in suggesting a detail strip. It, of course, would not require a complete stripping to remove the safety latch, just a little more than a field strip.

stevemis
December 28, 2008, 12:53 PM
Thanks for the pointers, folks. I'll look the pistol over tonight when I get home. In the meantime, I really doubt the original owner hacked anything up.... he has no mechanical inclinations whatsoever, and he probably last shot the BHP 25 or 30 years ago.

The safety is certainly mushy in engagement, at best.... certainly nothing like a 1911's positive engagement. I'll report back shortly.

I really see why some folks go gah-gah over these pistols. Neat stuff.

Thanks again.

Steve

nitetrane98
December 28, 2008, 01:00 PM
Steve,
Yeah, I've wanted one for a long time. Could never afford one just for shooting and I have little use for a 9mm otherwise. Fits my hand even better than a 1911.

krs
December 28, 2008, 07:19 PM
They squat down in you hand and feel natural when pointing.

i've only removed the safety in mine once in order to install the Cylinder and Slide kit above but do remember now that there is something that the ejector has to do in order to line the safety up for removal or installation.

Seems to me that the whole assembly fell apart pretty easily but took some more doing to put back together - a common situation with guns.

Steve, if the pistol has been lying dormant for that many years it's most likely, I think, that you've got a simple gumming-up issue at hand, but even so the safety will be unlikely to work as easily as one in a 1911 does if only for the reason that the design offers less leverage to use.

stevemis
January 9, 2009, 12:32 PM
Ok. I can see the plunger in the safety. With the safety on, I can push the plinger down with a toothpick and it springs right back. I put a drop of very light oil (RemOil) down there and worked it back and forth with the toothpick as well as engaged and disengaged the safety several times.

It's still really mushy. I can watch the plunger slide out as the safety engages, and think I can see a tiny part of a detent in the frame. The plunger doesn't appear to actually engage the detent.. or if it does engage, it doesn't enter it fully. The safety *is* flush with the frame, so I don't think there are any alignment issues.

Any thoughts?

rcmodel
January 9, 2009, 12:45 PM
Sounds to me like it needs to come apart to get all the dried grease & gunk out from under the spring & plunger.

rc

stevemis
January 9, 2009, 01:00 PM
Ok, figured it was a matter of time before I had to learn how to detail strip one of these.

I take it Jerry Kuhnhausen hasn't written a bible on the Hi Power. Can anyone recommend a good book or site that shows the procedure?

Thanks!

Steve

nitetrane98
January 9, 2009, 01:20 PM
Steve,
I bought this e-book and found it extremely helpful in understanding the HP.
http://www.hlebooks.com/ebook/fnhpload.htm

The pics are fantastic. It even has one of those animated .gif type sections showing how the gun works. The directions are not overly precise but sufficient. You have to have at least rudimentary mechanical ability. It won't tell you which hand to hold the hammer in.
The procedure for getting the download is a little cumbersome involving e-mailed passwords etc. I stumbled across it on ebay so maybe buying straight from the website might be different. I think it's a one guy operation.
It's not a "Everything you could possibly want to know about the Browning HP" but for 8 bucks, I can highly recommend it.

stevemis
January 9, 2009, 01:35 PM
nitetrane98, thanks for the link... I'd order it, but it looks like the e-book is a Windows EXE file.... and I'm on a Mac. :(

I see Stephen Camp has a printed guide.. I might just order that.

nitetrane98
January 9, 2009, 01:40 PM
One other note, according to the drawings there should actually be two detents in the frame.

nitetrane98
January 9, 2009, 01:46 PM
That's too bad. But the Mac is way cooler, eh? (sorry, that was totally uncalled for:<)
Steve Camp is a notable HP guru and at least in cyberspace comes across as a helluva a nice guy. I'm sure anything from him will be fine.
If you haven't already found it this is pretty good.
http://hipowertalk.com/forum/default.asp
Steve hangs out here occasionally.

stevemis
January 9, 2009, 01:50 PM
Macs are awesome, it's these Windows people who think the entire world revolves around them that cause all of the problems. :eek:

I'm actually a Unix guy, so OS X is kind of a natural extension.

I just sent $12 to Stephen Camp for the Hi Power guide.

Thanks for the help!

Steve

Jim K
January 9, 2009, 06:55 PM
The safety catch plunger and spring can be removed for cleaning, but it requires a tiny punch and should be done only if a solvent and working the plunger doesn't free things up.

Jim

stevemis
January 9, 2009, 09:37 PM
I've got an FEG Hi Power with a different safety .. it certainly engages better. Once the guide from Mr. Camp arrives, I'll move it from the FEG to the Browning and see if that solves it. If it does, I'll call Charles Daly and see if they'll sell me a replacement safety. I understand their Hi Powers were made by FEG.

I saw a post on another forum by someone who didn't like the Browning safety. He ordered the CD safety for $32 and said CD claimed they were almost out of stock... this was only last week, so I should be OK.

I'll certainly keep the original safety in the Browning case.. honestly, I'm hoping the original will clean up and work... but it's nice to know I should be able to resolve this (and get a more 1911-ish safety) for $32 without making any permanent alterations to the pistol.


The safety catch plunger and spring can be removed for cleaning, but it requires a tiny punch and should be done only if a solvent and working the plunger doesn't free things up.


I haven't been able to resolve this with the safety mounted on the pistol. I started with a drop of Rem Oil, then progressed to a quick squirt of Liquid Wrench and then Hoppe's 9. I see the plunger moving in and out and can move it with a toothpick, it just doesn't seem to engage the frame with much authority.

Once the safety is out, I'll toss it into the ultrasonic cleaner my wife uses for her engagement ring. It's the real deal and has helped out quite a bit over the years with other projects.

Steve

nitetrane98
January 10, 2009, 10:01 AM
"The safety catch plunger and spring can be removed for cleaning, but it requires a tiny punch and should be done only if a solvent and working the plunger doesn't free things up."

I'm going to have one of these little darlings if it kills me so I'm still working up a little knowledge base. Jim, do you think this can be done with the safety still in the gun? According to my drawings and pics you can possibly get the pin out but the plunger and spring would still be trapped on the frame. OTOH, it would be an excellent place to stick the tube of a can of Gun Scrubber or such and blow the crud out around the plunger and spring. I agree that some kind of solvent is needed to dissolve the crud. More oil and #9 would seem to just possibly make it softer crud.

Stephen A. Camp
January 10, 2009, 11:00 AM
Hello. While the guide doesn't show how to diassemble the safety, as removing the detent and spring are not usually necessary, the only "hard" part will be removing the little verticle pin that contains the plunger and spring and just messing around with these tiny parts. I am hoping that replacing the spring (if need be) helps achieve more positive safety engagement for you.

Best.

nitetrane98
January 10, 2009, 12:55 PM
"I saw a post on another forum by someone who didn't like the Browning safety. He ordered the CD safety for $32 and said CD claimed they were almost out of stock... this was only last week, so I should be OK."

I guess that means that the CD is different than the Browning?

SARCO has FN safeties for 25 bucks. Might likely be a little rough looking if it's military stuff. Just in case CD is out. I'm pretty sure when I get mine I'm going to put a bigger switch on it. Then again, maybe not. It'll never get used as a carry weapon.

stevemis
February 2, 2009, 10:24 PM
Ok, I got up the gumption to tear both the FEG and Brownings apart tonight. The safety spring in the Browning was W-E-A-K! I could depress the plunger with my fingertip.

I yanked out the safety from the FEG and it fit fine. I tried to re-assemble the FEG with the Browning safety and it wouldn't fit -- the edge of the safety rubbed against the frame by the grip, and I couldn't get it to wiggle in.

I've got the FEG parts set aside and will contact Charles Daly tomorrow and see if I can get a replacement safety from them.

The Hi Power Guide from Mr. Camp was a fantastic investment... it was dead-nuts simple following his instructions. I found that inserting a magazine about 5/8's in would hold the sear spring in place during the installation of the sear. Hopefully someone years from now will stumble on this tidbit.

Steve

johnds
February 8, 2009, 03:05 PM
I have owned a 72c since new. I finally got around to wanting to upgrade that safety that is hard to work and maybe put a new hammer on that does not pinch and get rid of the magazine safety and........

Then I realized that I would be defeating my purpose of having a nice original made in Belgium High Power. I did remove the magazine safety and put some reduced power springs in it to improve that really long and hard trigger pull.

I did buy the Stephen Camp disassembly guide and it was plenty. I really had trouble getting the first big pin out. I finally held my breath and hit it with a big hammer using a large brass drift.

Thinking back, I should have put the egw hard sear in it while I had it apart.

This is a really nice gun that I will own till I die or the government takes it away from me.

Good luck,
Johnds

Jim K
February 9, 2009, 09:41 PM
Sorry, I lost track of this thread, and I suspect nightrane has his answer, but no, the pin and plunger can't be removed with the safety in the pistol. Trying it would risk scratching the gun.

Jim

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