Replacing my Velveeta-steel Browning HP


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fnbrowning
April 25, 2013, 01:08 PM
Hello everyone;

First off, was that not a catchy title? I will explain it in a minute.

I currently own a 1986 Browning Hi Power Mk II. I had it customized by Jim Garthwaite in 1999 with all the usual carry refinements. It has had a 18.5pd spring and buffer since Ď99.

I do not shoot IDPA, or other pistol disciplines, but I try to stay competent with the gun. In the time Iíve owned it I can only guess at the round count, which might be in the neighborhood of several thousand rounds.

The title: Lately Iíve been reading about Brownings, and everywhere I stop to visit, pistoleros are making unfavorable comments about the Mark II series and how those pistols are all destined to calamitous failure and an early grave due to the soft steel in the forged MK II. One poster in a forum actually used the epithet "Velveeta-steel" regarding the forged BHP.
The criticisms have me despondent, and anxious to replace the pistol.

If youíd like to help me chose a replacement for the Browning, please read on!

I am a long time and committed single action pistol shooter. All my experience, and muscle memory is tuned to that platform, and thatís where I want to stay. As I have a perfectly fine carry pistol, the replacement for the BHP Mk II would be a combat sized pistol for open carry. So weight or length arenít compelling issues.

I want to continue throwing 9mm. (AKA europellets in some forums! :) ) The catch is that as a reloader, I can make ďwarmĒ 9mm loads as easily and inexpensively as downloaded ammo, and see no reason not to train with the ammo Iíd have to shoot defensively with.

Therefore the pistol I replace the Browning Hi Power Mk II with should be resistant to wear from high power 9mm. Disclaimer: I do know and accept that all pistols with wear faster with hotter loads. Iím just asking the pistol not show grossly accelerated wear with heavy NATO rounds.

Ergonomics. I noticed the Sig P226 226 X-Five Tactical comes in SAO, so I sought out a standard P226 to try on for size. However, coming from a BHP, when I picked up the Sig, my hand felt like I was grasping a hand cannon, or the wrong side of a baseball bat. . .

So what are the criteria Iím looking for?

Service or combat style in 9mm, in Single Action Only or readily convertible to SAO.
Very reliable out of the box, and decent factory or aftermarket support.
Minimum 10 round magazines.
Accuracy: My BHP shoots to 3" or less at 15yds so thatís a standard I like.
Durability: Resistant to wear from warm loads, like NATO Spec 9mm.
Good trigger out-of-box or tunable trigger.

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wow6599
April 25, 2013, 01:17 PM
Keep the MKII. Or I guess you could buy a MKIII or CZ 75b.

fnbrowning
April 25, 2013, 01:43 PM
I could keep the Mk II Wow, I've had the pistol for many years

But the negitive buzz I read has me genuinely concerned now about parts breakage in the gun. No where can I get a round count life estimate on the Mk II series or confirm or deny the criticisms of a short lifespan.

MKII, or MKIII or CZ 75b. - What would you do Wow?

jonnyc
April 25, 2013, 01:56 PM
Or you could just stop listening to "the negative buzz".

Walt Sherrill
April 25, 2013, 02:35 PM
Keep your BHP and look for a SIG P226 X-Five in one of the variants available. There are several models, including some that are SAO. Pricey, but a thing of beauty and VERY accurate.

Or, you could just ignore the buzz, as someone else suggested.

That buzz is always there for almost any brand of gun, and generally it's BS. BHPs don't break easily or often.

Bovice
April 25, 2013, 02:36 PM
People worry about the older SIG pistols with pinned breech blocks. "Omg they get loose and crack the frame from slide flex!"

I have two that are of that design and who knows how many rounds. Breech blocks are locked solid in the slides, the pins aren't walking either. Shoot the gun, and if it starts to wear out and whatever, get a new one. Basically people will find something to whine about. Remember that nothing lasts forever. Enjoy your velveeta BHP, use it till it's toast, and retire it. I'm fairly sure it won't be a sudden and catastrophic failure.

fnbrowning
April 25, 2013, 02:58 PM
jonnyc
Or you could just stop listening to "the negative buzz".
That's an option. However, on the pistol-forum.com, they were attributing cracked barrel lugs to poor metallurgy.
As written there:
>>"My lack of confidence regarding the BHP's barrel service life comes from talking to enough folks I trust whose experience included not just factory barrels but high quality aftermarket barrels. FBI HRT tried for a long time to make theirs more durable and without adequate success. I'm reaching out to a friend with a lot of experience during that era in the unit for more details."<<
and
>>"The FBI/Novak guns were forged frame guns, that Wayne Novak cobbled together for them (snip) . . FBI special as a basis of comparison . . basing our assessments on the obsolescent Hi Power forged platform, with their softer steels and softer small components."<<

A cracked barrel is a hard to predict catastrophic failure, and could cause a really 'bad day' when you need the pistol the most.


Walt Sherrill
Keep your BHP and look for a SIG P226 X-Five in one of the variants available. There are several models, including some that are SAO. Pricey, but a thing of beauty and VERY accurate.

I did seek out a standard P226 to try on for size. However, coming from a BHP, when I picked up that Sig, my hand felt like I was grasping a hand cannon, or the wrong side of a baseball bat, or a fat tree limb . . .

Walt Sherrill
April 25, 2013, 03:22 PM
You can conceivably have a catastrophic failure with any gun's barrel -- stuff happens. (I had it happen with a Witness Sport Long Slide, some years back.) Here's THAT .45 barrel:

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y87/WalterRSherrill/CZs/Dscn0740.jpg

That written, in my many years of participating on the gun forums on the web, and quite a few years as a BHP owner myself, I've never before encountered a discussion of barrel failure of barrel lug issues in a BHP. It can't be THAT common!

I had a BHP barrel fail, but it wasn't catastrophic -- as it continued to shoot afterwards, and I didn't notice a great change in performance or accuracy, In that case, part of two "lands" of the barrel near the crown got damaged -- don't know how it happened; I just noticed it when cleaning the barrel several days later. I was both surprised and sickened.

Rather than replace the damaged barrel with a factory barrel, which are too darned expensive ($400+/-), and not wanting to wait for a Bar-Sto barrel (arguably one of the best that money can buy, but not always available from Bar-Sto without a long wait), I picked up an EFK Firedragon barrel. I love that barrel: it was beautifully made, dropped right into my T-Series BHP, and may be more accurate than the factory barrel.

http://www.efkfiredragon.com/browning.html

Just picking up another barrel -- perhaps a Bar-Sto -- would seem to be a better, more economical, and arguably more practical alternative than to dumping your BHP. Bar-Stos are clearly the Gold Standard of after-market barrels. Having Bar-Sto fit it also makes sense, but adds a lot to the total costs -- including shipping.

If you still feel you can't be confident in your BHP, the only gun I've owned that seems similar (in the ways you want it to be similar) is the CZ 75B SA model; getting one from the CZ Custom Shop, with the tuning already done seems a good way to go and would give you a gun that can probably fit in your existing holsters and feel much the same in your hand.

blackrussian
April 25, 2013, 03:26 PM
Consider the CZ 75b SAO.

Pilot
April 25, 2013, 03:51 PM
Keep it. There is nothing wrong with a MK II's steel. If you want an excuse to buy another 9MM, get a MK III BHP, CZ-75 variant or Beretta 92FS.

fnbrowning
April 25, 2013, 04:23 PM
by Pilot:
Keep it. There is nothing wrong with a MK II's steel. If you want an excuse to buy another 9MM, get a MK III BHP, CZ-75 variant or Beretta 92FS.

No, don't want an excuse to divorce the "Lady" I've kept with for 27 years. I just want to know she'll be healthy for the forseeable future.

Any MkII BHP owners that want to chime in with round counts and maintenance schedules would keep me loyal. :)

ku4hx
April 25, 2013, 05:26 PM
Shoot it with the ammunition it was intended for and enjoy it. Everything mechanical fails sooner or later but ones thing's for sure ... the bad stuff gets the press. Why think of all the "bad press" about shooting lead bullets in Glocks. I fired ten of thousands befoer i got edumicated on thew interweebs an realised I was doing it all wrong.


"They can't put anything that's not true on the internet.", BonJour

tarosean
April 25, 2013, 06:15 PM
Shoot then shoot some more. Rinse and repeat..

If I worried what people online thought, I don't believe I could own a single gun.. Name it someone is bad mouthing it. Heck one of my Hi Powers has a Cast frame... OMG it's gonna crumple apart!

If you really want a 9mm SAO. Nighthawk Heinie PDP, Beretta Steel are ones no one will bad mouth. :)

TimboKhan
April 25, 2013, 06:33 PM
Wait... you have shot this gun for 27 years, and now the internet has you worried? Keep your gun, man. If your worried, have it inspected, but if your not abusing it or feeding it hot rounds, my guess is your gun will keep on ticking.

The net is full of good information, but you gotta weigh everything with a grain of salt.

sent from my Galaxy Note II.

ddc
April 25, 2013, 06:59 PM
If you've been using a hipower all those years why switch?
Option 1: As has already been suggested get a cast frame MKIII. The frame was developed in part to withstand 40s&w. 9mm shouldn't be that big a deal.
Option 2: Get a cast frame 40s&w MKIII and get it set up with a 9mm barrel using the 40s&w slide. I've heard of several people doing this over the years.
You should be able to shoot hot 9mm in that for the next 27 years and the 27 years after that.

sub-moa
April 25, 2013, 07:12 PM
Your MkII is probably about to explosively disassemble itself...it is unsafe :what:

Send me an email, I've got a couple hundred bucks laying around, I'll let you know where to ship it so I can dispose of it properly...for your safety ;):evil:

jungle
April 25, 2013, 07:47 PM
I used to use a set of pistols used for training at an agency, they were BHP T series BHPs-the guys that took care of them told me they had all gone way over 50,000 rounds but didn't know how much over.

They all shot very well, no malfs, accurate and smooth. Supposedly the MKIIIs are even tougher.

I wouldn't worry a bit, you are likely to see many other pistols give up before the BHP.

browningguy
April 25, 2013, 07:51 PM
Anyone telling you there is a problem with BHP's in 9mm simply doesn't know what they are talking about.

For the life of me I can't understand why anyone listens to that kind of BS. The BHP is widely known as one of the most reliable handguns ever made. It's the only gun I would be comfortable taking straight out of the box, loading it up and carrying without shooting it in a bit.

Coltdriver
April 25, 2013, 08:33 PM
I am not sure how any pistol would hold up using a regular diet of warm rounds. I have had a couple of HP's and never had a problem.

That said, see if you can find a CZ 85. I think they called it a combat version. They have a great feel that is not unlike a HP.

I owned one of those too. Great pistol.

Any excuse will do to get a new pistol, you have to learn to dislike the one you have first then let the lust for a new one take over.

Let us know what you end up with.

jonnyc
April 25, 2013, 11:14 PM
Sounds like the message here, and another site that this is posted, is pretty clear........the problem you heard about does not exist. I have 7 HPs, all with at least a few thousand rounds. I have seen nothing to indicate any kind of metallurgy issue. Apparently I am not alone.

Certaindeaf
April 25, 2013, 11:18 PM
those go bang long time

bdb benzino
April 26, 2013, 12:06 AM
I traded over a year ago for an used FM90 (also have a Browning MIII and consider it better built than the FM) that the owner said he put a few thousand rounds through. It had some wobble or shake to it, but most of the painted fnish remained. That well used HP clone shoots better for me than most handguns costing 2-3 times as much, and is totally reliable even with the "humped" style feed ramp.

I liked it so much I added some cutom touches to it such as, Cylinder & Slide ''No bite" hammer and sear set, Cylinder & Slides extended single side safety, Novak rear sights, and thin Ergo grips for carry. Love the thing now, truely one of my favorites!

Don't worry about yours unless it is showing issues, they are amazing pistols!

huntershooter
April 26, 2013, 07:00 AM
The logical choice IMO is a 9mm 1911.
Baer makes a good one.
The CZ 75 SA is also a viable choice.

johnmcl
April 26, 2013, 07:41 AM
FN,

By now I hope you are seeing the trend of opinion. You're in fine shape with your MKII. Shoot comfortable ammo in the middle of the power curve and your grandkids will be enjoying that pistol.

Here's the guidance.

1. Keep the gun.
2. Any questions, see #1.

Happy shooting,

g_one
April 26, 2013, 08:31 AM
Although I also would recommend keeping it, if you're dead set on not keeping it then my vote goes to the CZ-75 SAO. IMHO it comes in close second to the BHP on the list of best guns designed for 9mm.

Walt Sherrill
April 26, 2013, 10:27 AM
That said, see if you can find a CZ 85. I think they called it a combat version. They have a great feel that is not unlike a HP.

The CZ-85B is simply an ambidextrous version of the 75B (i.e., ambidextrous safeties and slide release -- but not mag release, which also isn't reversible.)

The 85 Combat (I have had one for years) is the 85B without the firing pin block (what the "B" denotes in the model name), but it comes with a straight mag brake that allows the mags to drop free, an adjustable sight, a trigger adjustable for overtravel, and an extended slide release.

Because the 85 Combat doesn't have the firing pin block, the trigger can be tuned more easily. That model, however, is DA/SA, and while it allows for cocked and locked carry, the safety levers aren't as friendly as the 75B SA models. It would be simple to convert it to SA only, however, and then you could use the two-way adjustable (for takeup and overtravel) trigger available for the CZ 75B SA, and I suspect the larger safety levers would work, too. But there's no advantage, really in the 85 Combat over a tuned 75B SA... (I've had both, and all sorts of variants of other CZs.) As I noted earlier, the CZs do come close to approximating the "FEEL" of a BHP.

I think the OP's concern about a BHP self-destructing (particularly the barrel) is based on questionable info (although he is convinced it's good information); if he's worried about a barrel screwing up, he simply needs to buy a good aftermarket barrel (like a Bar-Sto) and quit worrying. Barrels that fail due to poor manufacture or inferior materials tend to die early, while good ones go on and on. Putting a new quality barrel in the gun would seem to be the best course of action, particularly given the work he has already had done to the gun. The CZs will come CLOSE to the BHP in most respects, but an ardent BHP lover will arguably always feel a CZ isn't quite as good. Me -- I like them both. And I have a customized AT-84s (a CZ clone, mine worked on by a big-name gunsmith) that I like better than the BHP and the CZ or even the Sphinx (and I've had several of those.)

A 1911 in 9mm isn't a bad choice, and the only drawback there is that they hold only 9-11 rounds (in stock and after-market mags), while the CZ can hold from 16-19 rounds.

.

smalls
April 26, 2013, 02:21 PM
You've had it for 27 years, and it only has a few thousand rounds through it. My guess is even if the metallurgy wasn't good, you'll never see a high enough round count to see any major breakages. Keep it.

If you absolutely must replace it, replace it with a different generation.

SharpsDressedMan
April 26, 2013, 05:27 PM
Buy another one just like it, and when the first one breaks, use the 2nd one while the other is in the shop, or in the trash bin.

ApacheCoTodd
April 26, 2013, 06:07 PM
While I know that I don't know everything... This scary shortcoming is news to me.
I'd attribute any issues to ammo rather than structural/build failure relative to the pistols original parameters.

falnovice
April 26, 2013, 07:01 PM
Have you kept up on changing the springs? Guns are really spring-driven machines and are sensitive to spring wear.....the BHP moreso then others.

Have you read the articles by the late (and great) Stephen Camp?
www.hipowersandhandguns.com

That would be a place to start.

If you love the gun I would suggest getting it checked out by a good smith and go from there. If the gun is good to go then keep on shooting. If not, replace it.
MkIII's are a lot tougher than people give them credit for.

Also, I am a big fan of having dupes when it comes to carry guns. If you like to shoot a lot it helps keep the round count down on the primary carry piece.

IF you are just looking for a reason to get a different gun then put the BHP away and pick up a used 3rd Gen Glock 19 or M&P9.....regular or compact. Give it a couple months for the prices to comeback down first.

The Lone Haranguer
April 26, 2013, 08:50 PM
I don't think your BHP is ready to be toe-tagged yet, but if you want a pistol somewhat like it, I would recommend a CZ75B, which, although a double-action, can be carried as a SA.

ku4hx
April 27, 2013, 03:49 AM
Have you read the articles by the late (and great) Stephen Camp?
www.hipowersandhandguns.com

That would be a place to start.


He has a little bit to say about +P in the Hi-Power as well as "soft" steels ... the forged vs. cast thingy.
http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/BHPandHighPressureAmmo.htm

bannockburn
April 27, 2013, 05:45 AM
I have had a MK.II now for over 27 years (bought one when they first came out), and have sent thousands of rounds downrange in that time. My particular gun has never been all that fond of JHP's so I have pretty much stayed with factory FMJ ammo and have had zero problems with it. No parts breakage or excessive wear anywhere on my gun and everything has worked so well on my Hi-Power that I have kept it box stock all this time with the exception of swapping out the grips with a set of Pachmayrs. Some day I may get a Bar-Sto barrel for it just to see if I can improve what is already a very accurate and exceptionally reliable gun, but that's probably so far off into the future that I wouldn't give it another thought til then.

ku4hx
April 27, 2013, 08:26 AM
I have had a MK.II now for over 27 years (bought one when they first came out), and have sent thousands of rounds downrange in that time. My particular gun has never been all that fond of JHP's so I have pretty much stayed with factory FMJ ammo and have had zero problems with it. No parts breakage or excessive wear anywhere on my gun and everything has worked so well on my Hi-Power that I have kept it box stock all this time with the exception of swapping out the grips with a set of Pachmayrs. Some day I may get a Bar-Sto barrel for it just to see if I can improve what is already a very accurate and exceptionally reliable gun, but that's probably so far off into the future that I wouldn't give it another thought til then.
I bought my "T" model in 1970 and still have the receipt from Bucky's in Idaho Falls, ID. My experience mirrors yours. I too have a set of Pachmayr grips, but I did have a few mods done.

I had a nice set of black Novak sights and an extended safety installed about twenty years ago. About four years ago, I had Novak do their BHP reliability job on it and it now chambers everything I put it. It always chambered RN and TC extremely well, but I wanted a bit of "insurance" in the JHP area. The job was well worth the price.

daisho13
April 27, 2013, 09:04 AM
Yeah, just going to echo the keep it recommendatons. If you really want another pistol to shoot, a CZ75 SAO is an option, or Sig is releasing a P226 SAO that should be a lot cheaper than the x-5 line. Probably still more than the CZ though.

Certaindeaf
April 27, 2013, 01:17 PM
I've "worn out" two beer barrel sighted Hi-Powers with essentially all proof loads. I was young and I'd a done/do it again. 50k per.. sold them for more than I paid and I paid a lot new back then for those
they are plenty good guns

BullfrogKen
April 27, 2013, 01:25 PM
I've known Jim Garthwaite personally for coming up on 15 years. He wouldn't do the high-quality work he does and attach his name to a P.O.S. gun.


Ignore the internet opinions. Jim worked it over for you and his specialties are 1911s and High Powers. If he would have had a concern he would have told you.

Certaindeaf
April 27, 2013, 01:27 PM
I prefer the forged guns my own self. they are cooler to me

Kiln
April 27, 2013, 02:47 PM
You'd probably be comfortable with the CZ75B and lots of people shoot them in competitions so they obviously hold up pretty well. They're also extremely accurate and the triggers go from good out of the box to great after a couple hundred rounds.

I've got several thousand rounds through mine without any sort of failure. Only real downside I've seen is that the low profile slide might be difficult to rack in an emergency for some people.

RetiredUSNChief
April 27, 2013, 04:18 PM
On the subject of "velveeta cheese" steel...

If the steel of your gun was truely as attrocious as the critics you are concerned about are saying, then your gun would never have lasted 27 years and thousands of rounds without giving you problems.

If the steel was truely that bad, then you would have signs of plastic deformation in areas that any competent gun smith would be able to check. Chamber dimensions would be out of tolerance, slide wear would be noticable, and more.

The fact that you've had this pistol for nearly three decades of good usage and no apparent complaints tells me that this "velveeta cheese" steel isn't a problem for you.

This is not to say that your pistol has no wear...however, given its apparent good performance statistics I'd have to say it's not suffering from any undue wear...no more so than any other quality pistol after a similar life.

Keep the gun. Have it thoroughly inspected, if you wish. Buy another if you wish. But keep the gun.
.
.
.
Oooooorrrr...sell it to me dirt cheap because you couldn't bear to ask top dollar for a "defective" pistol.

:D

fnbrowning
April 27, 2013, 05:11 PM
UPDATE & MY CONCLUSION

I was not looking for an excuse to buy another pistol. I'll assure you, the "velveeta steel" was an actual quote. Some may think I became overly apprehensive. But I needed to find if I was going to be able to trust my BHP now, and in the future. I see now I put too much stock in poor information. And now I have many good refutations on that Velveeta epithet.
I've read claims of as many as 113,000 rounds thru one BHP, another has 82,000. Both were pre-Mk III's and both were religiously maintained.

I bought my Mk II as a young man, and sometimes I feel like it's a part of me. I will keep my 1986 Browning High Power, Mark II. I think the reason it shoots so nice after years is that I've used the Wolff 18.5 spring and Buffer since '99. I will endeavor to continue to maintain it to the highest standards, and to feed it ammunition that is not too warm.

I consider this issue answered.
Thank you for all for your interest and participation.

earlthegoat2
April 27, 2013, 06:29 PM
Good to see you are sticking with it. I have put nearly 50,000 standard pressure rounds through my 1989 (I think) MKII.

What is weird is that for everyone who says anything nay about the MK II there are those out there who will say the same thing about the MK III. I have read both ways and never once do they mention the pre MK IIs which my be the worst of all but still pretty darn good.

RetiredUSNChief
April 28, 2013, 12:12 AM
Drat...I was kinda hoping to pick up a nice BHP from you over this...

:evil:

Seriously, I think you've made a wise decision.

And, as I've told other people...you don't have to give up one gun to get another, if you want.

:)

TimboKhan
April 28, 2013, 12:56 AM
OP had his question answered, no reason to keep beating the drum.

sent from my Galaxy Note II.

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