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Putting a Warhorse Out to Pasture: Browning Discontinues the Hi Power

According to Browning’s website, quietly and without fanfare, the GP35 Hi Power has been discontinued. While it was a landmark in small arms development, carried by both sides in WWII and adopted by over 90 militaries the world over, perhaps the bigger story is the almost complete and total domination of the market by polymer framed, striker fired guns.

Since the early 70’s, Hi Powers imported to the US by Browning have been assembled in Portugal, from parts made by FN in their Liege facility in Belgium. It’s the same plant where John Moses Browning lay in state in the boardroom, following his death in 1926, so revered was he by the staff there. His last pistol design has ostensibly been in continuous production for the past 83 years. Or has it?

FNH tore down the Liege Hi Power production line around February 2015, right about the time the last of the FS2000’s left the plant, bound for someplace warm. I know, I was there. It’s taken Browning three years to work through the collection of spare parts they had on hand, before finally announcing the GP35’s demise. I’d hoped they’d use that time to design a worthy successor to the Master’s final work, but alas not.

Hi-Power-01

The fact that three years have elapsed since any new parts have been made, is indicative of chronically slow sales – nobody wants a steel-framed, 15 round 9mm in a market saturated by plastic fantastics, particularly if that gun comes with a 1k-plus price tag. Well, perhaps nobody is a bit strong.

To mourn its passing, yesterday I dropped off a used, surplus MK3 that had seen Israeli service and placed it into the tender care of Robar’s specialist, for a makeover. The intent is to remedy the Hi Power’s shortcomings and turn it into a worthy CCW pistol that can hang with the best of today’s crop of handguns. Check a the next issue of Concealment to find out if we succeeded.

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