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A "Minimalist" Custom Hi Power...

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Stephen A. Camp, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello. While there are likely as many or more 9mm pistols in service and concealment size than other calibers, for some of us, the FN Hi Power remains the 9mm choice for defensive carry. Eventually, those of us truly afflicted will want to "improve" or personalize this pistol; I have no problem with either concept. As is the case in most things, a guy can spend as much as he wants (or can afford) in such endeavors. I've had my share of Hi Powers customized and I do really like/enjoy them, but what about the fellow who can't or chooses not to put several hundred more dollars into his P35? Just how much does he lose if he doesn't have aftermarket sights, fancy grips, and a non-factory finish or stippled gripstraps?

    Defensive Handgun "Must Haves":

    1. Reliability: It MUST go "bang" each and every time the trigger's pressed. Generally, today's HPs meet this requirement with a variety of defensive ammunition.

    2. Practical Accuracy: Translation: It must be easy to shoot, particularly under stress. This generally means decent sights, decent trigger, and for me, comfort in shooting. The Hi Power is almost always more than "combat accurate," which I define as 3 or 4" @ 25 yards. With loads the particular pistol "likes," accuracy can be well under 2" at the same distance.....if the shooter's capable of it.

    Surprisingly, with the notable, frequent exception of the Mk III's trigger-pull, that gun can be all we need.

    Depending on your personal abilities, some of this work can be done at home by you with "add-ons" being pretty inexpensive.

    I bought this MkIII 9mm for $350 used. It'd not been shot much at all, but did have a ding or two on it. The hammer spur was bobbed at home and I did a light trigger-job at the house; it breaks cleanly at about 4 3/4 lbs, fine for a carry gun. Mercifully, this gun did NOT have the magazine "safety" in place when I bought it. The Butler Creek grips cost around $20 at the time and there's maybe a dollar or less in the skateboard tape. Less than ten bucks got me a Wolff conventional 18.5 lb recoil spring and another ten, the Buffer Technology buff. (I've had zero problems with either, but you decide what's right for you.)
    So, there's something like another $40 in the pistol. Note also the self-defense type ammunition with the pistol. Some are standard pressure while others are +P and +P+. The gun has no problems with any of them.

    Holsters can be cheap, expensive, or inexpensive. For me, one that falls into the latter catagory is the Fobus C-2 and their "universal" double-stack (non-Glock) magazine carrier. Buying one of each will set you back about $45. While they will rub the finish, I find the paddle design secure, convenient, and easy to conceal.

    Here's the pistol with the set-up mentioned above. The extra magazine is a KRD 17 rnd magazine that costs around $20 or less, depending on where you buy them.
    Though NOT the holster for the 1911, this IS the holster for a Kimber 1911.

    "Something Old - Something New": While some opine that the single-action automatic is "obsolete," I do not share that belief. While I do personally find the old saw that the transition from DA to SA is overstated, for me, the easiest pistol to accurately shoot at speed remains the single-action like the Hi Power or 1911.

    Like the 1911, the Hi Power was originally designed for non-expanding FMJ round nose or truncated cone slugs and some of the earlier HPs did require some attention to keep them from choking on blunt ogive JHPs. I have NOT found this to be a problem with the Hi Power from the MkII to today's pistols.

    So, let's see how our "old" pistol does with some "new" loads.

    Ammunition Used: For today's "work," I chose primarily defensive type expanding factory ammunition. This is what I could lay my mitts on and is not intended to be all-inclusive, but does cover the generally-used range of bullet weights. (I also included two ball rounds that can be had at bargain prices on occassion as most of us like to practice without having to take out a loan for the high-dollar stuff!)

    I chronographed 10 rnds about 10' from the gun's muzzle for the average velocities, extreme spreads, and standard deviations shown.

    PMP 115 gr FMJ:
    Average Velocity: 1092 ft/sec
    Extreme Spread: 74
    Std. Deviation: 23
    (This is neither quite as fast nor consistant as the last batch of PMP ammo I checked in this same pistol.)

    Fiocchi 115 gr FMJ:
    Average Velocity: 1127 ft/sec
    Extreme Spread: 41
    Std. Deviation: 15

    Federal "9BP"
    115 gr JHP, std pressure:

    Average Velocity: 1177 ft/sec
    Extreme Spread: 57
    Std. Deviation: 18

    Federal Nyclad 124 gr
    Hollow Point, std pressure:

    Average Velocity: 1140 ft/sec
    Extreme Spread: 50
    Std. Deviation: 16
    (This ammunition's hard to find as Federal's discontinued its sale to the general public.)

    Remington 147 gr Golden Saber:
    Average Velocity: 1033 ft/sec
    Extreme Spread: 42
    Std. Deviation: 17

    Corbon 115 gr +P JHP:
    Average Velocity: 1411 ft/sec
    Extreme Spread: 16 !!!!!
    Std. Deviation: 6 !!!!!
    (This is THE most-consistant lot of Corbon 9mm I've ever fired and the highest velocity. A past test with this pistol gave an average velocity of 1388 ft/sec.)

    Winchester RA9TA 127 gr +P+:
    Average Velocity: 1269 ft/sec
    Extreme Spread: 31
    Std. Deviation: 11

    In today's shooting, the Corbon 115 gr JHP was the winner in terms of velocity.

    As mentioned above, there were zero malfunctions of any type in firing any of this ammunition. Though not a definitive test TODAY due to the small number of rounds fired, I've fired quite a bit of some of these rounds over time in this and other Mk III pistols.

  2. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam


    Accuracy: Each of the loads mentioned above were shot for group at 15 yards, slow-fire, standing w/2-hand hold.

    I fired two groups with the Federal 115 gr JHP as I blew the first group, which was not the ammo's fault. Heck, I had one called flyer in the second group! The one high hit with the PMP was not called.

    and the remainder...

    Of the rounds fired today, the Corbon had the sharpest recoil to me, followed by the Winchester round, so I fired some controlled pairs at 10 yards with these two.

    I only fired 8 rounds of the Corbon as that's all I had with me at this point!

    ...and the Winchester..

    I had no timer, but fired as quickly as I could get a "flash sight picture" for each shot.

    Fired into water, this standard pressure Federal 115 gr JHP showed good expansion in my opinion. It did shed its jacket, but such is frequent in water-testing. For those interesting in how various 9mm expanding bullets perform in 10% ballistic gelatin, more extensive data can be found at www.ammolab.com.
    The expanded bullet weighed 107.8 grs and measured 0.65 X 0.61".

    Considered by some as the ne plus ultra of the defensive nine loads, this Winchester 127 gr +P+ expanded to 0.68 X 0.71 and weighed 116.4 gr.

    To me it appears that a fellow can have a pretty formidable defensive Hi Power w/o sinking an arm and a leg in it. The modifications I mentioned above are the ones I find necessary for me to do my best with the Hi Power. In addition, I remove the right-side of the ambidextrous, extended thumb safety as it gets in my way when shooting. Others may not find this necessary.

    Again, I have utterly no problem with fixing up the ol' Hi Power with aftermarket sights and other nice touches and admire a fine-handling, good-looking Hi Power as much as the next guy, but the folks who simply cannot afford these sure don't need to feel that they have "less."

    Sometimes, less can be more.
  3. Neal Bloom

    Neal Bloom Well-Known Member

    Thanks for another great write-up. I sure do need to practice with my BHP after seeing these pics.
  4. CZF

    CZF Well-Known Member

    With more Hi Power guys like you in the world. Nobody would
    buy CZs. Well, there are certain times when a DA combat Nine is
    required or desired. That's where the P-35 inspired CZ75
    comes in:) The classic pre-B to the trendy P-01. Rock Solid!

    Given that the CZ75 is marginally larger in most areas..including
    the safety. The HP is still smaller, lighter and justifiable as a Landmark design in handguns. I like the 124 gr Nyclad group. Is this ammo still on the market??

    I bet your HP loaded with 14 rounds of SENTRY + P would be
    nice for carry.
  5. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello and thanks for the kind words.

    CZF: I have some Pre-B CZ75s that I like quite a lot and shoot now and again. They're really neat pistols in my opinion. The Federal Nyclad is no longer listed by Federal other than by special order for LE. They claim it was because the stuff didn't sell. I don't know if that's the real reason or not, but there's still some around.

    Mr. Bloom: We ALL need to practice more, including me. (Besides, it's fun to compete against yourself.)

  6. BLiTzNicK

    BLiTzNicK Well-Known Member

    Where did you find the C2? Fobus no longer lists it on their site, and none of the locals carry it.
  7. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello. I ordered it from Fobus approx 5 weeks ago. Perhaps they're calling it something else? I've also seen them at a local gunshop, but I don't know how long they might have had them.

  8. Prodigalshooter

    Prodigalshooter Well-Known Member

    I just want to live long enough to shoot a quarter of the 9mm & .45ACP handguns I've seen you review! I own a few, have shot a few more, but you have me in awe, sir!
    insert thumbs up here.;)
  9. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello and thanks.

  10. beemerb

    beemerb Well-Known Member

    Have you done anything with saftey? Mine tears up my thumb when I snap it down.The only after market I can find are over 40.00.Too rich for me.
    Any advice in that area?
  11. firestar

    firestar member

    As always, great report. I was surprised at the Fobus holster though.:confused: I don't like Fobus but I have only had one (for a snubbie) so maybe I should try one for a larger auto.
  12. PCRCCW

    PCRCCW Well-Known Member

    Typically great write up by Mr. Camp.
    Everytime I read one of these...It makes me wonder about my writing/shooting skills.....Im glad there is only one of you! :D :rolleyes:
    PS....Excellent points made about defense requirements of a gun.....
    Get a good one and keep it good....
    Shoot well
  13. Kahr carrier

    Kahr carrier Well-Known Member

    Nice report ,good read.:)
  14. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello and thanks.

    Some folks like Fobus holsters and others don't. Use what works best for you. Just because something is "right" for me doesn't mean it's just the thing for the next fella.

  15. mattk

    mattk Well-Known Member

    Hey Thats my GUN!!!

    Well almost. I picked up an HP for $400 at local store. Plain old Mk3. I did a quick trigger job(I removed the mag safety), slapped some 35 dollar Navidrex grips on it there we got.
    I did file down the little nub on the back of the safety because it bothers my thumb but thats it.
  16. Serpico

    Serpico Well-Known Member

  17. ACP230

    ACP230 Well-Known Member

    I have had similar accuracy in my Argentine HP with PMP 115 grain ammo. I wish it was a bit more accurate, but it has been very reliable and cheap.

    Have you seen any signs of high pressure in your Cor-Bon cases? I won a few boxes of 115 and 124 grain Cor-Bon hollowpoints playing trivia at the old Second Chance Bowling Pin Shoot. (Regrettabley trivia was always my best event!) It seems too hot for my FM HP. The primers look OK but the cases eject with odd burnished looking bands on them. I figure a small amount of shooting is OK, and I use PMP or Olympic most of the time, but I find the whole thing curious.

    Cor-Bon ammo in .38 Special, the old 158 grain LSWC load, shoot fine. Cor-Bon .45 and .40 S&W ditto. The only odd one seems to be the 9mm.
  18. garrettwc

    garrettwc Well-Known Member

    This thread just got bookmarked :D

    Great write up as usual Stephen. I have the same Fobus holster and it works great. I keep telling myself I should order a fancy leather one, but I don't really need it. It's amazing how good the holster is for only $20.

    Blitznick, don't know what part of KY you are in. If you are near Louisville, hop across the bridge to Keislers in Clarksville, or check their website keislersonline.com. I bought mine in their retail store.

    Stephen, how does the 18.5 lb spring differ from a stock one, and what is the purpose of the buffer? Is it to allow +P? I always thought HPs were standard pressure only guns.
  19. BevrFevr

    BevrFevr Well-Known Member

    Mr. Camp

    If I had $500 more or less to buy my first hp, what should I look for?

    Are clones acceptable? What should I avoid? What would be the best models to hope for at any cost.

    Any general advice about hps would be great.

    You are becoming my favorite reading material.

    Thanks for everything -bevr
  20. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Staff Member


    Though your question was not addressed to me, I will contribute my opinion.

    I recently acquired my second BHP for around $470, delivered. It was used but in excellent condition: c.a. 1995 vintage cast-frame MKIII model, matte black, fixed sights. The "best" is debatable, but by all accounts, the modern MKIII models are solid and reliable performers.


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