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A "Minimalist" Hi Power...

2164 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  pgm
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.

This holster does cause wear on the edges of the pistol contacting it more quickly than leather.

"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.

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.

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Hello Mr. Camp,

I could not agree more, that sometimes "less is more" especially in reguards to the High Power.

Sights: I personally love the MKIII's factory sights, and I think replacing them is a "cure insearch of a problem". The factory sights are easy to find, and offer a good sight picture, plus they fit the slide very well as they are made for it, and they are low profile and snag free.

Hammers: I personally don't like spur hammers on any pistol, and I really wish that FN would go back to a "Ring Style" Commander Hammer, that is alittle smaller than what comes on the Practical Model for those of you who get hammer bite, but one thats alittle larger than the C&S Type 1 BHP Commander Hammer. For me the hammer that comes on the Practical is fine because I have very lean hands and there for hammer bite is not a problem.

Safety Leaver: I don't care for ambi-safetys at all, but, I really, really like the current factory safety on the High Power, but, I don't like the leaver on the right side either, because my thumb drags on it when I rack the slide. Cutting the shaft off at the pin hole and dressing it down as you do, makes the perfect HP safety leaver in my book.

Grips: I flat can't stand the factory grips on any of the current HP models, they go as soon as I get a new HP to the house. For me, there are only two sets of HP grips that I like, they are Mr. Spegal's Black Delrin & Navidrex's Thin Combat Black Micarta. Oddly thow, I don't really like the feel of the heavier 40S&W HP with the Navidrex, it just feels right with the Spegal's, but, I prefer the Navidrex on my Nines.

Finishes: I dearly love the MKIII's Matte Black Epoxy Finish, it's very durable, and I even think it looks good. I would not change it if I could, and, I HOPE FN never changes it either!!!

Accuracy: I think the factory HP barrel is Fine, so much so, that if I ever had to replace one of my barrels, it would only be with another new FN/Browning factory barrel.

Take Care,
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Stephen, you and I have talked about this before in another venue, so you know we are like-minded on this issue. Less is better.
As you know I consider night sights to be a must have for a carry gun. While the OEM Mark III sights are very good, tritium inserts give a distinctive advantage at night.
Beyond removing the magazine disconnector I prefer to have a reliability package done just as a matter of insurance. I also replace the standard recoil spring with an extra power one.
Another matter of personal preference is changing the grips for something a little more "ergonomic" like Spegels. That is purely a personal preference.
That is it. No stippling, forward cocking grooves, mag wells, or extended tangs.
Carry guns aren't supposed to be "show ponies" are they?
Hello, abninftr. FWIW, that gun's wearing Spegel grips now, too. I just like 'em better.

Favorite HP is beat finish Israli surplus, gotten several years ago. The finish is some sort of epoxy something , over what appears to be parkerizing. Finish is consistent with being kept (not wrapped) in box with other pistols. Insides were close to brandy new , when bought. Have only changed the recoil spring, Houge rubbers and liberated the mag safety.

Pistol fits hand like a glove, is stone cold reliable, natural pointer and accurate enough for 5-50 yds with my more limited skills. While not a 25-50 yd bullseye pistol, am only thinking on switching out the safety, which is tiny. Is switching to the modern extended safety advisable?

That Fobus holster looks like a very good match for it.

Without Steve's involvement on lots of boards, would never have actually purchased a HP, as could never see past the gritty heavy trigger , on the very few examples actully seen in my "earlier" years.

Now, the Israli surplus (Belgian) is always close by or in the range box. It gets fed a steady diet of Win Q4172 (115 gn ball) at the range, and keep Speer's 124 plus p golddots at home, in a 17 rd mag.

The only other 9mm's currently owned, are a pair of CZ 75's, compact and standard length.
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Zeke, I got a good used take-off ambi safety from Novak's, I think. It was brand new, but already fitted. It dropped into my Izzy like it was born there. Cost about $55.
After reading all of Mr. Camp's original website (some of the articles more than once!) and, later, his very excellent books, I was compelled to purchase a BHP Mark III. Other than replacing the grips (I went with Hogue rubber), I have made no changes to the gun. This gun has functioned at 100% reliability with every single load I have tried in it (and this includes, to the detriment of my budget, most all of the common commercially available ones). The sights are "on" out of the box (quite adequate for my requirements, at least) and now, thanks to common sense prevailing amongst our elected representatives, the original 13 round magazines are again available. For sheer reliability (and just downright good looks and sex appeal) it is indeed tough to beat the "minimalist hi power" for my money. Is there any other 9mm pistol?
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