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Old July 23, 2000, 03:33 PM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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Custom Browning Hi-Power by Wickmann

Hello all, I finally got some pictures taken and a quick little webpage thrown up discussing my review of Kurt's work. I was ultra-critical in the review and I still am so pleased with his work I can't stop smiling. If anyone has any questions let me know...

<a href="http://www.ont.com/users/kolya/HiPo.htm">My review and Hi-Power pics</a>

[This message has been edited by Bartholomew Roberts (edited July 23, 2000).]
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Old July 23, 2000, 03:34 PM   #2
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/

[This message has been edited by Bartholomew Roberts (edited July 23, 2000).]
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Old July 23, 2000, 03:34 PM   #3
Bartholomew Roberts
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I am sure that most of you can figure out my muddled hyperlink; but just in case go to the link below for the review.
http://www.ont.com/users/kolya/HiPo.htm
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Old July 23, 2000, 05:00 PM   #4
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Hey Bart !

Glad to see you got your Browning back. I've been to the range once with mine. Being a .22 lover, the 9 took some getting use to. Once I got use to it, it was great, but I was left wanting a little lighter trigger pull - probably because I've normally shot single action revolvers.

I'll make decisions later after I get more practice. The problem could just be the shooter.

Nice pistol you've got.

rolltr
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Old July 23, 2000, 10:28 PM   #5
bk40
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Bart, she looks fantastic!

Kurt does really great work. The HP he did for me is very similar except I went with the gold bead front and black Novak rear.

Sweeeeeeeeet!!!!
www.kwgw.com - for all your Hi-Power needs!
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Old July 23, 2000, 10:36 PM   #6
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Wow! That's one awesome HP. Congratulations!

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"Get yourself a Lorcin and lose that nickel plated sissy pistol."
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Old July 24, 2000, 08:02 AM   #7
Bartholomew Roberts
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madison46: Thanks! I am happy to have it back. Usually you can smooth out the trigger some by removing the magazine disconnect safety (the procedure is listed at www.fnhipower.com), although whether you want to do this might be worth thinking over.

bk40: Thanks! Believe me, I could probably pick your Hi-Power out of a crowd since I looked at it often while mine was being worked on.

Tecolote: Thanks. Can you tell I am proud of it?
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Old July 24, 2000, 09:28 AM   #8
bk40
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Bart, I had Kurt remove the mag safety in mine. Glad I stuck with the factory barrel cuz Kurt {he shoots better than me was cutting <1" 25yd groups with CorBon's 115. Funny how a 65 year old design still can stir our soul- ain't nuthin' like beatiful steel and wood in a classic design!
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Old July 24, 2000, 04:29 PM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by bk40:
Bart, I had Kurt remove the mag safety in mine. Glad I stuck with the factory barrel cuz Kurt {he shoots better than me was cutting &lt;1" 25yd groups with CorBon's 115. Funny how a 65 year old design still can stir our soul- ain't nuthin' like beatiful steel and wood in a classic design![/quote]

Yes, in retrospect I didn't really need the KKM barrel; but this was more a case of "I have wanted this for a really long time and now I have the means" then a case of need. I know the gun is more accurate than I can wring out of it yet.

I agree with the classic design comments. There is a certain artistry in the Hi-Power that you just don't see in many guns.

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Old July 24, 2000, 08:03 PM   #10
VictorLouis
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I may be knicking pits here. Everyone refers to this as a "safety", when AFAIK, it is a magazine DISCONNECT. Is there any Browning, or FN , schematics with nomenclature that says otherwise? A poster once tried, but could find NO "documented" case where a "gunsmithed" pistol had been used against an otherwise innocent owner involved in a lawful shooting. AFAIK, Ayoob's extensive writing on this issue has been to caution against what MAY, or COULD, happen with such mods.
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Old July 24, 2000, 08:07 PM   #11
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Oh, damn fine pistol, BTW! I would love to have a piece of his artistry too.
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Old July 25, 2000, 06:54 PM   #12
Rosco Benson
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My friend and COMBAT HANDGUNS writer Rick Miller has a P-35 that Kurt Wickmann customized while he was employed by Novak. I have had the pleasure of handling and shooting this P-35 on numerous occasions and it is a superb piece of work. It is reliable and cosmetically perfect. Wickmann's work is top-notch.

Rosco
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Old July 25, 2000, 10:03 PM   #13
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Bart,

I understand completely why you had the KKM barrel installed... kinda like putting the finishing touches to a masterpiece

enjoy your beauty!
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:17 PM   #14
Bartholomew Roberts
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I just thought it might be interesting to update this post, some 13 years later. For a while, I had a blog where I tracked wear and tear on this pistol. Unfortunately, when I cancelled a stolen credit card, I forgot to notify the web hosting service who had been billing that card and much of that information was lost... or so I thought. I discovered that nothing on the Internet ever disappears and found a copy of my blog circa 2007 available at:

http://web.archive.org/web/200705021...kolya/HiPo.htm

First let me refresh this post with what the Hi-Power looked like a little after I received it from Kurt Wickman (at about 1,750 rounds post custom work or 7,750 rounds total) in July 2000.



Attached Images
File Type: jpg HiPo01.jpg (202.7 KB, 504 views)
File Type: jpg HiPo12.JPG (194.2 KB, 488 views)
File Type: jpg HiPo02.jpg (211.1 KB, 493 views)
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:52 PM   #15
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The Hi-Power had about 6,000 rounds of ammo through it when it went in for custom work (based on number of empty 1000rd cases accumulated). I begin to keep a casual log of how many rounds I shot and what issues I encountered in hopes of doing better preventive maintenance. The log is far from perfect and as I became a lawyer, I tended to occasionally forget to log shooting as I would sneak out during what little time I had to shoot a few hundred rounds. So the numbers I am giving (especially those past 24,000) are going to be approximate and are on the low side.

As of today, the pistol has approximately 30,075 rounds through it, with a little over 1,400 of those being +P defensive ammo, and the vast majority being 115gr or 124gr aluminium cased Blazer 9mm.

First, a quick run down of problems and parts wear I encountered along the way:

1. 13,102 rounds (7,102 since custom work): Bottom lug on KKM barrel sheared off - jamming the gun completely. KKM blamed the gunsmith. The gunsmith blamed KKM. I got hosed. I dug the original Browning barrel up out of the garage (where it had a few light surface stains from corrosion sitting in the hot garage unattended) cleaned it up and dropped it back in the pistol with no additional fitting or work. As of today, that barrel is still going strong and providing great accuracy.

2. 16,300-16,500 rounds: Top ring of recoil spring guide cracked. Part remained fully functional and was discovered during cleaning/maintenance and replaced with a factory Browning part that is still serving well.

3. Somewhere around 17,498 rounds, the firing pin retaining plate broke the left side notch off. Again, the pistol continued to function just fine despite this. Noticed it while taking a picture for the blog. Replaced it with a factory Browning part, which was then dremeled to fit under the Novak sights. That part is still going strong.

4. 18,322 rounds: Front lamp tube in Trijicon sight departs pistol - giving a nifty see-through effect. New front sight installed.

5. 19,894 rounds: Tip broke off of fixed ejector. Gun continued to function but stoppages running 10-20%. Replaced with factory Browning part that is still doing well today.

6. 21,594 rounds: During cleaning noticed a crack forming in the slide stop. The slide stop was NP3 coated (like every other part which is listed above so far) which aided in spotting the crack. However, since unlike the other parts, it wasn't mostly internal where you didn't really notice whether it was NP3 coated or not, I had to order this from Browning and send it to Robar to be NP3 plated. Something to think about when going for those fancy finishes!

I also discovered when I received the new slide stop that Browning had quietly redesigned the Hi-Power slide stop around 2000. Apparently I was not the only person to experience this issue. The new slide stop is still serving well.

7. 25,032 rounds: The left side grip screw broke off halfway in the hole (probably due to my habit of using Loctite liberally to keep the grips on). Giant mess. Ultimately replaced it with two factory nickel grip screws from Browning rather than send the two screws off for NP3. Those grip screws are a bit cruddy at the moment due to lack of tender care - the high side is polished bright by holster contact but the low side is covered in crud and dull.

And to date, those are the only problems I've encountered with the Hi-Power (knock on wood). Here is what she looks like as of today (30, 075 rounds):




You will immediately notice that the grips are much darker now. Those are, in fact, the same Craig Spegel Cocobolo grips shown in the original pictures. This is what 13 years of dirt, sweat, powder residue and CLP look like.
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg BHP30k_R.jpeg (130.6 KB, 475 views)
File Type: jpeg BHP30k_L.jpeg (128.5 KB, 469 views)
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Old September 7, 2013, 04:00 PM   #16
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For those who are interested in how the Roguard/NP3 finish is holding up after 30k rounds and regular wear for 13 years, here are some closer photos showing areas of wear on the pistol:

Here is what 24,075 rounds of barrel camming and sliding (not including loading and unloading, etc.) does to the Roguard finish. You can also see some slight peening of the slidestop cutout:


Here is the original factory Browning barrel with 22,973 rounds on it and some sloppy garage storage:


Here you can see the wear from the slide stop and safety:
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg 30k Barrel Wear.jpeg (120.0 KB, 474 views)
File Type: jpeg 30k Frame wear.jpeg (153.6 KB, 467 views)
File Type: jpeg 30k Slide Wear.jpeg (112.0 KB, 472 views)
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Old September 7, 2013, 04:04 PM   #17
Bartholomew Roberts
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And finally, the holster wear from being carried semi-regularly in a Milt Sparks VMII cowhide holster:

Attached Images
File Type: jpeg 30k Muzzle Wear.jpeg (109.3 KB, 474 views)
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Old September 7, 2013, 04:41 PM   #18
g.willikers
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That gun has become a hobby in itself.
High Powers have always been my second favorite auto loader shootin' iron.
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Old September 7, 2013, 06:37 PM   #19
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Indeed: it took ol' John Moses another 24 years to do it better.
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Old September 8, 2013, 11:14 AM   #20
745SW
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While I never owned a Hi-Power I can appreciate many of its design features like the bushingless barrel that are in use in the majority of pistols today.

A most outstanding endurance write-up, I feel, that would have never appeared in a for profit magazine publication. Thank You!
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Old September 8, 2013, 11:30 AM   #21
scollen
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So would you buy another? And if so, who would you have customize it?

I have a refinished Inglis Mk I* I was thinking about customizing. It has no particular collectability and in it's current condition isn't very accurate.
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Old September 8, 2013, 12:43 PM   #22
Bartholomew Roberts
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I did buy another (an Israeli MkII) and had Don Williams customize it. He did one of the best triggers I've had on any Hi-Power; but I started having trouble with the hammer following after less than 600 rounds through it. I had Gene Williams (a local smith, no relation) replace the sear return spring and it was just a wonderful trigger (that particular Hi-Power lacked the firing pin safety which I think helped).

However, I still didn't carry that Hi-Power much because I chose not to replace the spur hammer on it (as I did on the one shown here) which made it less comfy IWB and because I went with a parkerized finish that was easier to get replacement parts for; but that didn't wear or protect as well as the Roguard/NP3.

Both of those Hi-Powers were more accurate than I could wring out to start with though. So if the custom work improved accuracy I couldn't spot it.
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Old September 8, 2013, 12:47 PM   #23
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Bart - May I call you Bart?

Thanks for the update.

I'm a huge High Power fan and this is a great story.

Let us know how things are going in another 13 years.
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Old September 8, 2013, 02:57 PM   #24
Billy Shears
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Excellent information. Thank you.

Love those P35s.
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Old September 8, 2013, 05:40 PM   #25
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Whatever happened to Kurt? He has disappeared for years.
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