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Old April 20, 2013, 06:07 AM   #1
kcub
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Browning thoughts and anecdotes

I again watched the Usual Suspects the other day and was surprised how many BHP's they used, I did not remember that.


I wonder why this gun did not have a more widespread following and impact in this country during the revolver heyday from its inception in the 1930s. It wasn't until the proliferation of the Glock, Sig and Beretta 9s that law enforcement hung up their revolvers. I guess there was/is a significant chunk of pistoleros who were just not comfortable with single actions.
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Old April 20, 2013, 07:55 AM   #2
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It was/is a foreign gun made in Belgium. In times past, the propensity to buy foreign wasn't what it is today. The cartridge was also foreign, and not nearly as popular here until the 1980's.

How many foreign cars did you see in the U.S. until the 70's, and 80's? VW was it until the Japanese cracked the market.
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Old April 20, 2013, 04:30 PM   #3
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It also cost a lot more than the others. Agencies tend to be "thrifty" when it comes to equiptment to protect their own.
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Old April 20, 2013, 04:40 PM   #4
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Back then we had the impression that, with one exception, only revolvers were reliable, i.e., "six for sure." The one exception was the 1911 Colt, which could be counted on to "run when full of dirt" and powerful enough to "deliver a knock-down with a hit to the earlobe." Things were different then.

I recall the move to autos prior to the introduction of the plastic Glock - there was a huge move Smith autoloaders (M59, primarily) in the late 1970s as well as a run on Smith revolvers. (I know gun shop owners who had to commit to buying a full line of Smith crap in order to be allocated a Smith handgun, which they would sell at an elevated price, then discount the gloves, shirts and hats they had to buy to get the guns.) It seems to me the next group in was SIG with their big 220 45 ACP which surprised a lot of folks, including me - most of us wanted to Buy American, but we couldn't let these gems get past us. I think that acceptance of foreign handguns opened a door for the oddly-designed Glocks, but they weren't the first by any means.

FWIW, I bought my first Browning HP in 1973, so they were available back then, as was the Sig P210 I bought a year later, and the Walther PPK/s the following year, along with various 44 and 357 magnums. There was some good stuff ready for pickup for those of us who read gun magazines (and their advertising) back then.
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Old April 20, 2013, 05:06 PM   #5
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that prior to the 1960's, revolvers were the professional's choice of the day. In the mid-60's, several things happened that made the semi-auto pistol more acceptable for sport and defense: newer guns, soft/hollowpoint ammo, and some gunwriters that liked and promoted them. Of course, the Colt 1911 always has a following from G.I's, etc, and this filled the niche for most. But, introduction to the market of some fine foreign guns (Lugers and P38's were already here, as were a smattering of other bringback WWII guns), and a few imports like the SIG, MAB, and later the Beretta 92 series, added to the presence of the growing trend started by the S&W 39, a US made, modern version of the already popular P38. When police started to use and express interest in modern design DA autos, and better ammo grew on the scene, civilian sales really went up. The Browning was always there, and many cops used it off duty (remember Serpico?), and along with the 1911, it was a popular choice for customizing and carry. I'd say it enjoyed as much popularity as any 9mm in the hands of the US civilian market at the time.
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Old April 20, 2013, 05:50 PM   #6
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And I had the good fortune to buy a LN Belgian Browning HP for $100 in 1970 or so and suffered from a profound lapse of judgment when I sold it for $100 because a guy wanted it.
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Old April 20, 2013, 06:48 PM   #7
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New Jack City/Beverly Hills Cop(I II III)....

Hi-Powers were very popular in the 1970s/1980s/1990s. Many working cops & "armed professionals" toted them in the days before the SIG P series & Glocks.

Other hit films where the main characters used a Hi-Power 9x19mm include New Jack City & Beverly Hills Cop I II III.

The Browning Hi-Power 9mm was also standard issue of the FBI's elite HRT.

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Old April 20, 2013, 08:46 PM   #8
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All I know is that I wish I would have bought one 40 some years ago.
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Old April 20, 2013, 08:51 PM   #9
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All I can say is I am a fan.. Points better than any other 9mm for me. Ergos simply work YMMV ...






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Old April 21, 2013, 05:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
It was/is a foreign gun made in Belgium. In times past, the propensity to buy foreign wasn't what it is today.
I think this is a valid point, Pilot. However, the Belgian made Browning shotguns were extremely popular in this country. They were well marketed though. If Browning had bought a few adds for Hi-Power, I bet they would have sold more, many more. They could have harped on the fact that you have the same firepower as 2 .38 revolvers without thinking about a reload.
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Old April 21, 2013, 07:51 AM   #11
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Re Hi Power movies, Richard Harris played a hit man who carried a brace of Hi Powers in twin shoulder holsters in "99 and 44/100% Dead" (1974).
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Old April 21, 2013, 08:36 AM   #12
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A MKIII Browning Hi Power was the first centerfire pistol I bought on my own. I had bought a Browning Challenger II .22 as my first pistol back in 1981 that I did not inherit from my Dad or relatives, so I guess I have always thought highly of all things Browning. About ten years later, I bought the Hi Power, and while I have other 9MM semi-autos, I have always preferred the BHP.
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Old April 21, 2013, 10:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Points better than any other 9mm for me.

No doubt , it is almost the ideal weight and size for an all steel frame & slide 9mm pistol and the action is butter smooth when cycled !
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Old April 21, 2013, 12:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
kcub ....I wonder why this gun did not have a more widespread following and impact in this country during the revolver heyday from its inception in the 1930s.
John Browning granted licenses of his handgun designs to Colt Firearms and Fabrique Nationale.

Each company was restricted to certain countries in the sales of JMB designs.

This meant Browning Arms could not import the Hi Power to the USA until the license expired in the 1950's.
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Old April 21, 2013, 12:41 PM   #15
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Ah, so Colt screwed it up. That stands to reason. Not the first time they dropped the ball on a golden opportunity.
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Old April 21, 2013, 01:22 PM   #16
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My opine...

I think one of the big draw-backs of the Browning P35 design & it's lack of widespread support in the USA & maybe South/Latin America was the magazine safety feature.

When I was a teen, I would see gun press articles from top tactics/firearms experts saying a pistolsmith would remove the mag safety & modify the P35 magazines so they drop smoothly.
Now in 2013, to remove or alter a firearm's safety or feature would be frowned on.

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Old April 21, 2013, 07:57 PM   #17
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love my BHP - a couple old timers introduced me to that fine weapon at an IDPA shoot years ago. They both had custom Novak pieces - beautiful! Anyway, I have put thousands of rounds through mine with no issues at all.
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Old April 22, 2013, 01:35 AM   #18
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Love my BHP too. Father in law gave it to me. I like it more than my Ruger SR9. They are both fun to shoot, but to me the Browning just has "that look" to it.
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Old April 22, 2013, 09:08 AM   #19
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Something about the BHP that I find interesting is that it is rather "small" and svelte for a double-stack. With its rather short grip it "only" holds 13 rounds and many believe (as per British SOP) in carrying it 12+1 for reliability. Therefore in jurisdictions that only allow ten round mags it is not terribly handicapped and plenty of 13 and 15 round mages are available in other jurisdictions. Further, with aftermarket, thinner grips like Spegel or Hogue or others, it is no thicker than many single-stack autos. I have a Kahr T9 which is a fine full-sized 8+1 single stack 9 and my BHP is no taller nor thicker than the Kahr. Both are fitted with Hogue Pau Ferro wooden grips. It is longer due to a longer barrel.
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Old April 22, 2013, 11:05 AM   #20
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+1 for Hogue or Craig Spegel grips...

I'd add a +1 for the top rated Guy Hogue or wood/Craig Spegel, www.craigspegel.com grips for the HP/P35 series.

Crimsontrace, www.crimsontrace.com markets a Hi Power lasergrip(red) too.

I'd buy a HP but Im left handed & do not like the fact that the mag release isn't ambi.
That & the magazine safety issue.

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Old April 22, 2013, 02:52 PM   #21
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I hear ya on the mag safety but its not a deal breaker for me. Lots of great semi autos have had that including the Smith 59 series. Anyway, I feel just fine with a double-action revolver and when the cylinder is open during a reload it is every bit as much out of action as a BHP during a reload - and it gets there twice as fast.
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Old April 22, 2013, 03:09 PM   #22
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In the book The Hall Street Shoot-Out, author E.R. Walt specifically mentions that numerous Dallas Police Department officers carried BHPs in 1969 when the shootout occurred.

He writes that the DPD had a "remarkably liberal" 1969 firearms policy, which allowed an on-duty officer to carry virtually any handgun of ".38 Special caliber or larger" that he could qualify with. (I assume that the supervisors enforcing this policy were sophisticated enough to realize that .38 Special is actually a .357"-caliber round and that a .355"-caliber 9mm is close enough to be considered equal.) Many Dallas cops carried a department-issue .38Spl revolver- usually a S&W M15, sometimes a Colt OP or S&W M10- but many others chose their own handguns.

The author writes that the most popular choices were the S&W Model 19 and Colt M1911A1, along with S&W N frames of various stripes, but some cops carried a 9mm Colt (presumably the Commander), S&W (presumably the Model 39), or a Browning. Regarding the Browning, he writes that some officers "agitated for it and its thirteen-round magazine."
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Old April 22, 2013, 04:10 PM   #23
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The main reason for the BHP not being common here prior to WWII was that it could not be exported by FN to the U.S. Under an agreement with Colt dating back many years (1906 comes to mind, but may be wrong), Colt would not export its handguns to continental Europe and FN would not export its guns to the U.S. While some FN pistols were brought back by GI's, who captured them from the Germans, that deal held until the 1950's when Colt effectively withdrew all its auto pistols except the Government Models from the market and FN was free to export to the U.S. But then GCA '68 stopped import of most Browning pocket and vest pocket pistols, so those never had much market impact here, either.

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Old April 22, 2013, 07:41 PM   #24
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S&W 39, a US made, modern version of the already popular P38
I'd phrase it as "S&W 39, a US made, modern equivalent of the already popular P38" because of the Browning HiPower style tilting barrel used by S&W, although other features were greatly inspired by Walther. The DA/SA action, the slide safety/decocker, the great shape of the grip, for example.

But we need not argue about "version" versus "equivalent". The P38 (or Walther PP, since they didn't use the Walther locking block design) lit up the light bulbs in S&W designer's heads, no question about it. And, we might mention, also at Beretta.

The marketing history lessons from some of you are certainly appreciated.

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Who was a kid in Illinois when the State Police there started using the S&W 39. Imagine the discussion in the gun magazines!
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Old April 22, 2013, 09:52 PM   #25
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Welcome to Detroit MI...

Retired homicide cop & SWAT team member(call out van driver) Evan Marshall wrote a few gun press items of how he toted a fully loaded Browning Hi-Power 9x19mm AND a S&W model 58 .41 Magnum wheel-gun.

I guess that's how he dealt with the motor city madness.

I'd consider packing a .44 or maybe a Charter Arms Bulldog DA only(snub hammer less) .44spl revolver to back up a HK45 or a P220R/P227R .45acp.

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