Browning Hi-Power after 30,075 rounds and 13 years


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Bartholomew Roberts
September 7, 2013, 06:11 PM
The full report, complete with pictures is here:
http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?p=5629415#post5629415

Since that is the thread where I first posted a review of the gun, 13 years ago, it seemed appropriate to do the follow up there as well. For those who don't want to follow the link, here is the short run down of broken parts over the years:

1. 13,102 rounds (7,102 since custom work): Bottom lug on KKM barrel sheared off - jamming the gun completely. KKM blamed the gunsmith. The gunsmith blamed KKM. I got hosed. I dug the original Browning barrel up out of the garage (where it had a few light surface stains from corrosion sitting in the hot garage unattended) cleaned it up and dropped it back in the pistol with no additional fitting or work. As of today, that barrel is still going strong and providing great accuracy.

2. 16,300-16,500 rounds: Top ring of recoil spring guide cracked. Part remained fully functional and was discovered during cleaning/maintenance and replaced with a factory Browning part that is still serving well.

3. Somewhere around 17,498 rounds, the firing pin retaining plate broke the left side notch off. Again, the pistol continued to function just fine despite this. Noticed it while taking a picture for the blog. Replaced it with a factory Browning part, which was then dremeled to fit under the Novak sights. That part is still going strong.

4. 18,322 rounds: Front lamp tube in Trijicon sight departs pistol - giving a nifty see-through effect. New front sight installed.

5. 19,894 rounds: Tip broke off of fixed ejector. Gun continued to function but stoppages running 10-20%. Replaced with factory Browning part that is still doing well today.

6. 21,594 rounds: During cleaning noticed a crack forming in the slide stop. The slide stop was NP3 coated (like every other part which is listed above so far) which aided in spotting the crack. However, since unlike the other parts, it wasn't mostly internal where you didn't really notice whether it was NP3 coated or not, I had to order this from Browning and send it to Robar to be NP3 plated. Something to think about when going for those fancy finishes!

I also discovered when I received the new slide stop that Browning had quietly redesigned the Hi-Power slide stop around 2000. Apparently I was not the only person to experience this issue. The new slide stop is still serving well.

7. 25,032 rounds: The left side grip screw broke off halfway in the hole (probably due to my habit of using Loctite liberally to keep the grips on). Giant mess. Ultimately replaced it with two factory nickel grip screws from Browning rather than send the two screws off for NP3. Those grip screws are a bit cruddy at the moment due to lack of tender care - the high side is polished bright by holster contact but the low side is covered in crud and dull.

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huntershooter
September 7, 2013, 07:10 PM
Great post/record keeping!
Was modification to the replacement slidestop necessary?

Bartholomew Roberts
September 7, 2013, 07:13 PM
The new slide stop was backwards compatible with the 1995 Hi-Power, so no modification necessary.

Outlaw Man
September 9, 2013, 02:18 PM
Awesome! I bet it was a lot of fun getting there, too. I've never met a handgun I liked to shoot more than a Hi Power.

Dr.Rob
September 11, 2013, 03:49 AM
now THAT is a range report

saltydog452
September 12, 2013, 10:25 AM
Are the slots and lugs still sharp?...none, or not much, +P downrange?

For true, the BHP is an impressive sidearm.

Thanks for the post.

salty

P.S.: And I admire your record keeping system

Bartholomew Roberts
September 12, 2013, 01:25 PM
Slots and lugs are still sharp and in good shape. If they continue to wear at the present rate, they have at least another 30k in them and possibly much more than that. I have been using 18.5lb recoil springs (a little stouter than the factory 17lb spring) from Wolff and I think that has helped prevent wear.

There is maybe a few hundred +P+ and a little over 1000 +P on the pistol. I didn't distinguish between the two in my log so that is a guess but overall it is just a bit over 1400 +P or higher pressure ammo.

Orion8472
September 13, 2013, 01:14 PM
My Hi Power will last far longer than I can afford. :banghead:

918v
September 14, 2013, 12:14 PM
Tell us more about the broken barrel lug. What did KKM say was done wrong in fitting the barrel to the pistol? I read, on the Internet, that HP have lug shearing issues with 147gr ammunition.

Bartholomew Roberts
September 14, 2013, 09:29 PM
The link to TFL goes into the lug shearing in more detail. KKM never gave specific examples of what was done wrong and confirmed to me they were changing their Hi-Power barrel design. On the flipside, a year or so later Wickmann became very unreliable and went out of business. So who knows?

SFsc616171
September 24, 2013, 12:40 PM
Thank you for the engineering reports, aka 'custom work', and reports on the life of your BHP over the recorded years.

I own two BHP's, one a Belgian-produced MKII ca. 1985, that I acquired for $500.00, with the newer ambidexterous plastic grips installed; the other, a brand new, as of 2009, MKIII, in what have come to call 'fugly digi-camo factory finish', for the price of $949.00.

I have read plenty, including acquiring the late guru Mr. Camp's book, this forum, and other BHP-particular forums.

My question:

With these being considered top-of-the-line handguns, since they have been imported into this country, and well-qualified handguns in the hands of many a military man across the globe, what custom work did you order performed?

My reason for asking:
I purchased these because they ARE BHP's, with their history in the field, and many conversations in Lucy's Tiger Bar. I did NOT purchase them, as someone might, a shade-tree mechanic's fix-er-upper, because it was all I could afford, with the pursuant, hidden mechanical problems bolluxed by that mechanic. I do not compete in IPSC, or in gun club range competition. I bought these for the designed purpose that these were built, in the present day world of CHL madness, to keep my aged bacon where it belongs.

Bartholomew Roberts
September 24, 2013, 03:23 PM
If you follow the link, it describes the work done in some detail at the archived link. I had that work done because I wanted a custom Novak-style Hi-Power ever since I'd seen one in the gun mags in college. So the work ordered wasn't necessarily a well-informed decision :)

Based on my time shooting that one, if I was redoing a new Hi-Power, I would have the following work done on it:

1. Replace the spur hammer with the Cylinder & Slide Commander hammer - I carry my Hi-Powers often and the C&S hammer offers a noticeable improvement in comfort carrying cocked & locked, especially if I am wearing it next to my skin.

2. Trigger job - the factory Browning trigger is completely unsat. Much heavier than it has to be with a long, soft reset that encourages trigger slap. You'll never hit 1911 trigger nirvana with a Hi-Power due to the design; but there is a lot of room for improvement.

3. Novak sights - I've tried several different sights and this is what I like best. I can live with the factory sights; but I'd just as soon have it the way I want it.

4. Spegel or similar grips - the plastic black grips are mediocre. I like the blockier wood grips but I prefer a more aggressive texture and the better ergos of the Spegel

5. Replace factory 17lb recoil spring with Wolff 18.5lb recoil spring. Cheap change and I believe this has contributed to how well the pistol has held up.

6. Another not necessary but nice to have is to clean up the Hi-Power safety so it is more 1911-like with a nice positive click instead of the factory mushiness.

7. The factory epoxy finish is good to go. The factory blue finish is beautiful; but it isn't going to hold up to carry like Roguard/NP3 does or stay pretty if you keep carrying it.

johnmcl
September 25, 2013, 01:08 PM
We have similar BHPs, all me to share. I do like that Cylinder and Slide hammer for the concealed carry work. I slip mine into a Milt Sparks Summer Special that's really for a 1911. It holds just fine.

How are finding the Novak sights to work? I'm considering a set with the three white dots, and perhaps the wider rear sight that's available now. I believe they have an option if you send them the slide with a target to help with the front sight selection.

Have you seen those Pathfinders out of Cylinder and Slide?

Bartholomew Roberts
September 25, 2013, 11:08 PM
The Novak sights aren't magic or anything. I just have a lot of time with them and I feel they offer a good combination of speed and precision. I've shot a lot of different sights (going back to the odd Steyr diamond sights) and the Novaks just work for me.

I had some Ashley Standard Dots on another Hi-Power but the rounded top of the front sight was just something I couldn't get used to (even though I made a few phenomenal shots with that pistol). I don't like the way the white inserts in the factory sights go all the way to the top - that also breaks up the outline in a way that was weird for me.

I have seen the Pathfinders. A neat piece of work but not super practical for me. I carry IWB so the chopped barrel doesn't conceal better for me and in the Versa-Max 2, I don't have trouble with the standard grip. Plus as often as I shoot, replacing the recoil spring every 300 rounds doesn't work for me.

tipoc
September 26, 2013, 12:02 AM
Well done write up.

tipoc

shootr
September 26, 2013, 08:49 AM
Great write up and insights!

Long time BHP fan here and never found a 9 I shot better. Regret having sold mine.

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