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BHP question

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Rittmeister, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Rittmeister

    Rittmeister Member

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    I have an Argentine FM Hi-Power. As it was explained to me they were made on FN machinery under licence in Argentina for their military. This one is actually stamped "F N Browning" on the left side of the slide, for which I have no explanation.

    Anyway, I'm afflicted with the compound conditions of "always looking for a bargain" and "modify to suit." I bought this gun in 2001 or 2002 from SOG near me in Cincinnati, for what I considered to be a good deal when compared to the price of a real Browning.

    In the intervening time I removed the mag safety (free) and added Cylinder and Slide safety, sear, hammer, hammer strut/mainspring (not free). I also had Novak 3-dot sights mounted and had the whole thing Gunkoted satin black.

    I really like the gun; it fits my hand very well and points quite naturally for me. However, the slide-to-frame and barrel fit have never been great; there's enough play that it rattles faintly when shaken. It's quite reliable but I wonder if the accuracy could be bettered.

    So the question is, would it be worth trading up to a real BHP (Mark III I think)? I doubt I'd get more than $400 for this even with all the extras added to it, and a new Mark III is going to run more than double that. The Mark III has decent sights to start with and a safety I could live with though it'd be back to a spur hammer which I don't like, so either bobbing it or a replacement would be in the cards.

    I don't know if the slide-to-frame fit on my FM could be tightened by a good gunsmith or not. I had one I liked to work with but his schedule has become unworkable for me.

    Any info/opinions would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Dentite

    Dentite Member

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    How about finding a lightly used MkIII BHP that you can inspect first to ensure the slide to frame and barrel to slide fit are more up to your liking. If you are patient and look around, my experience is they can be had for around $600-650 in good condition. And you might do better.

    Then you could swap your C&S parts over if you desired and put your FM back to factory condition and sell it if you don't have much need for it.

    FM in factory condition I would expect to sell for $300 at least. So you are now only in your new BHP for $300 or so and you have your C&S goodies in it.

    That's one option to consider anyway.
     
  3. Rittmeister

    Rittmeister Member

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    Unfortunately returning the FM to stock is not an option. I installed the C&S safety and sear (only because the stock safety was so tiny, not because I felt it needed hardened parts) originally. The sear wore out the factory hammer, to where it would follow the slide down after firing and wind up at the half-cock position. Since I didn't want a full-auto BHP I replaced the hammer too with a matching C&S part.

    Good thoughts though; hoping for more!
     
  4. Dentite

    Dentite Member

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    Say you buy the aforementioned slightly used MkIII BHP. What's to say you couldn't use the stock MkIII safety, sear, hammer etc to put in the FM? I do realize that not every pistol is the same and these are typically "gunsmith to fit" parts, but it might be worth a try.

    Or just sell the FM as is, spend $200-300 more on a MkIII BHP and DIY hammer bob. Or spend a few more bucks on C&S hammer for the new MkIII.

    You mention your concern with the excessive slide to frame and barrel to slide fit is accuracy...have you shot from a ransom rest or sandbags, etc to see what kind of group you can get?

    If you can do that and compare your groups shot offhand and you can't match the group from the rest then you might just chalk it up to the gun is more accurate than you and a more accurate gun won't necessarily result in smaller groups.

    Or do you shoot larger groups with the FM than other pistols of similiar caliber, size, etc?
     
  5. Rittmeister

    Rittmeister Member

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    I do shoot smaller groups with my CZ Sp01. It's been too long since I shot the FM together with my Sig P6 to compare. I also shoot better with my Kimber full-size 1911 but then that pistol outshoots everything else I own.

    I don't want to say that I shoot badly with the FM, just not as well as with my other pistols, and it's only going to get looser with use.
     
  6. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Unless you shoot the FM a lot you're not likely to face a problem with it wearing out. I ran 5,000 rounds through one of mine and it was snug from start to finish.

    I'd recommend that you consider sending it to a good BHP smith to have the slide tightened up to the frame considering you've done such a good job modifying it. You'd be surprised what a brute force precision operation most slide tightening turns out to be. It amounts to fitting the slide by giving it a good bash. Essentially tuning with a hammer.

    Alternately you could purchase a new frame or slide from Florida Arms. They make their own new version of BHP slides and frames (even in Al alloy). They have steel BHP slides for $360 (a lot cheaper than a new/used BHP).
     
  7. tarosean

    tarosean Senior Member

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    I have a 2004 Practical, lots of aftermarket bits and pieces. It rattles somewhat but it's very accurate.
     
  8. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Senior Member

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    How well does the gun shoot? Shoot it from a rest (you hands resting on some big bags of rice, if you can't find anything else -- just squeeze the trigger slowly) and see what the gun's capable of doing. You don't really seem to have assessed the gun fully.

    Slide to frame fit is relatively unimportant. Barrel to slide fit is more critical. If that's really bad, a new fitted barrel might be a cheaper solution than moving to a FN-made BHP, and you'd have a gun you already like with better accuracy.

    Just because you buy a more expensive gun DOESN'T mean you'll get one that performs a lot better.

    Better barrels are available. I recently put a new EFK Firedragon in a T-series BHP I own, when I found some of the lands and grooves of the factory barrel [somehow] damaged. The new barrel dropped right in and performed at least as well as the original factory barrel before it was damaged. (The BHP continued to shoot pretty well with the damaged barrel, which puzzled me; but,I couldn't stand seeing the damage when I cleaned it.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  9. Rittmeister

    Rittmeister Member

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    All good advice. I guess I need to try to shoot it off a rest. Unfortunately the range(s) I have access too are typical indoor ranges with a waist-high platform, no shooting benches :(

    HSO - can you recommend a "good Hi-Power smith?" And/or give me an idea how much a hammer operation might cost?
     
  10. Rock185

    Rock185 Member

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    Ritt, Ive owned a number of Hi Powers since about '66-'67. I have used Bar-Sto barrels in more than one. Instant accuracy job, even if slide/frame fit is not very tight. I have used both Bar-Sto's gunsmith fit and semi-fit barrels. I never could detect any difference in accuracy between the GS fit and semi-fit when shooting carefully hand held from a rest at 25 yards. The semi-fit Bar-Stos usually fit tightly, or actually require minor fitting. I did use one aftermarket Olympic barrel in one Hi Power. Nicely made barrel, dropped right in, etc. It was reliable, but no more accurate than the average factory barrel as it did not fit the slide and frame any more closely than the factory bbl. I have seen more than one recommendation that BHP slide to frame fit Not be tightened.

    One gunsmith that has done Excellent work for me on both Hi Powers and 1911s is Don Williams/ActionWorks of Chino Valley, Arizona ( near Prescott,Az.). He is quite well versed in Hi Power work, a gentleman to work with, and wouldn't steer you wrong if you contacted him about your Argentine Hi Power. I think Don is pretty well known now and that does, unfortunately, increase turn around times.
     
  11. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Senior Member

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    I shoot at an indoor range, with waist-high platforms. Just make yourself some sort of hand rest -- a big bag of rice inside a covering plastic bag will do -- and if you don't have a chair, just stoop down and squeeze off the rounds. Rest your hands on the "rest" and slowly squeeze off each shot. The big thing is to isolate your movement from the gun's performance. If you slowly squeeze off each aimed shot, you shouid get an idea of the gun's potential.
     
  12. HexHead

    HexHead Senior Member

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    If you have a Browning marked slide on that, and it's an FM, my guess is that the slide has been replaced which could explain it's so-so slide to frame fit.
     
  13. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    They all rattle.
     
  14. sub-moa

    sub-moa Member

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    Argentine "BHP" pistols licensed by FN and built by FM were marked "FN Browning" on the port side of the slide...
     
  15. Rittmeister

    Rittmeister Member

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    Certaindeaf - all HPs rattle, or just all Argentine HPs? Honestly curious about your statement.

    Now considering an aftermarket barrel... too many options I fear.

    At what point should I be concerned about safety, in re slide and barrel fit?
     
  16. phil dirt

    phil dirt Member

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    I've got an FM. It rattles but shoots straight and is reliable. I wouldn't think of monkeying with mine.
     
  17. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Senior Member

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    I've never known barrel/slide fit or slide/frame fit to be a safety issue. Slide to barrel fit can affect accuracy, but not enough to make the gun unsafe.

    If the slide is so loose as to come off the frame, then you might have a concern. I doubt that is likely. Slides can be tightened, if the rattle is bothering you. Gunsmiths do it for 1911s and the same technique can be used on a BHP. If you're really concerned, have a local gunsmith check the gun out. But if it rattles and still shoots accurately, you're letting concern with trivia affect your judgment. Why do you think you might need a barrel?

    Re: aftermarket barrels -- get one with a good brand name, but be sure (by talking with the maker) that it'll work with your gun. I tried an OLYMPIC BHP barrel off the internet with my BHP, but it wasn't a good fit -- My gunsmith fitted it and had to do some ugly things. I wasn't happy with it. There are apparently several different slightly barrel types out there, and some drop right in and some don't. My later EFK Firedragon DID drop into my older BHP, but that may NOT be the case with yours.

    You don't seem to want to spend more money on your gun, and I understand... but selling it and buying another, more expensive gun is still an outlay, and there's no guarantee you'll get THAT money back if you ever have to sell. If the one you've got is accurate, just think about getting another BHP or BHP-clone when you have the money; there's no real reason to sell it unless you're unhappy with it's performance.

    Somebody responded, "They all rattle." Maybe he was referring to the FM guns. I would say that my older T-series BHP, doesn't rattle. Neither did the .40 version of a newer BHP a owned. Even if he ws referring to the FM-made HP, I suspect they don't ALL rattle, either.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  18. Rittmeister

    Rittmeister Member

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    I think I was most concerned about safety, but from what you all are saying it shouldn't be an issue.

    I do have another, related question: I just spent some time replacing the mainspring. The original hammer strut/spring were replaced with a C&S part a while back for reasons I won't bore you all with here.

    The C&S mainspring was quite a bit heavier than the original. I just put the original back in, to make it easier to rack the slide and to lower the hammer after cleaning etc.

    So: why is the C&S spring so heavy? It's honestly the difference between my wife being able to rack the slide, and not being able to do so. I never experienced ignition problems before and I doubt I will now. Just curious, really...
     
  19. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Senior Member

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    Browning Hi-powers originally had 17-18.5 lb recoil springs, and they can be a challenge to rack. Wolf now offers a variety of weights, and you can go lighter if the gun continues to functions properly.

    You said mainspring -- that's the term generally applied to the hammer spring. The recoil spring is what makes it hard to rack the slide. Have your wife try cocking the hammer before racking the slide, until you can install a lighter recoil spring. (Maybe the old one.) Check the Woff Springs website for options. http://www.gunsprings.com Note: a recoil spring has no direct effect upon a gun's ability to ignite the primer -- it's main function is to chamber the next round and close the slide after a shot is fired.

    Be careful in how you re-install the guide rod. If you put it in upside down you'll have a hard time getting the gun apart again. I can't describe in words the proper way of installing the guide rod, easily, but you only have to do it wrong once, to learn the lesson and never make the mistake again. (Don't ask me how I know...)

    You can install it so that the spring is closer to the barrel or farther away, depending on how the small loop on the end fits in the slot near the rear of the barrel. You want the spring AWAY from the barrel, rather than closer to it. A diagram with the parts list will probably show the proper position.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  20. Arp32

    Arp32 Member

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    Rittmeister, you just saved me a duplicate post because I have a Kareen HP and was wondering the same basic question. Already installed a C&S extractor (had serious extraction issues when I bought it) and did my own magazine safety removal, and was just pricing new sights, a beavertail, grip stippling and a refinishing job and pondered the wisdom of putting that much money into a $275 pistol...

    I'll be following this thread.
     
  21. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Senior Member

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    Re: sights. There are a lot of sight options available for various BHP models and their clones -- some are staked sights (which require special tools, and some just fit dovetails in the slide. You want to be VERY CAREFUL when you order.

    Getting a gunsmith to do it for you, if there's any questions, may be the safest route. And if you're gun has staked sights, you may not be able to install them yourself.

    I've had a bit of experience with THAT problem, too. <grin>
     
  22. Rittmeister

    Rittmeister Member

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    Walt - I said mainspring, meaning hammer spring, 'cause that's what I replaced. The recoil spring was replaced not long ago with a Wolfe unit, though I can't remember the strength.

    The uprated hammer spring made it hard to rack the slide because the hammer was harder to move due to the higher tension.

    An added benefit to going back to the stock mainspring/hammer spring is that the trigger pull is now lighter again. Less tension on the hammer/sear I guess. Or maybe it's a placebo effect...
     
  23. PabloJ

    PabloJ Senior Member

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    Based on my experience with FM product I would take untested by me FEG. LGS had something special recently not just FNHP clone a CHROMED FEG FNHP clone. Oh YEH!:D
     
  24. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Senior Member

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    As noted above, cock the hammer first. It makes a BIG difference when you rack the slide. (Although, I don't know why that hammer spring has to be so heavy, either... <grin>)
     
  25. Dentite

    Dentite Member

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    You are good to question the wisdom in that. Not to say you coudn't do it and be happy with it.

    The resale value of an FN made BHP with those mods will have better resale than a clone such as the Kareen.

    If I were spending that kind of money I'd do it on an FN made BHP.
     

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