View Full Version : What’s so HI-Power about HI-Power?

September 21, 2005, 10:01 PM
Just wondering why is it called that way? :confused:

September 21, 2005, 10:04 PM
Mag capacity. At the time, 13 rounds was "high power" compared to the typical 6-10 rounds in autos.

September 21, 2005, 10:14 PM
Wasn't it also that it was high powered for a semi auto?

Weren't many 30 Mausers around in the sporting field in 1935. Not sure if the 38 super was around yet or still the .38 Colt.

The .45 was sorta bigger and I think Browning was touting the Hi-Power more as a large pocket thing.

Dunno though.

Dave R
September 21, 2005, 11:24 PM
The way I heard the story, its all a translational error. Since it was designed by Deudonne Saive (sp?), the Beligian, who later developed the FAL, in conjuntion with John Moses Browning, the Belgians kinda named it first. They called it "gran puissance" (sp?) which means high capacity. Somebody (Browning USA?) translated that as Hi-Power for marketing purposes.

Anyway, that's what I read on the Internet....

September 22, 2005, 01:18 AM
Yes, the real name is in French, for whom it was originally designed.
Its contemporaries are single columned.
Saive finished the design, since JMB died before it was accepted. Quite a few changes made to get around JMB's patents that were sold to Colt.
The .38 Super was around at that time. Check out some Raymond Chandler.
The .357 Magnum was being developed as a commercial load from hot-loaded .38 Specials. Those were originally in N-Frames in .38 Special-sized rounds.
I believe that Elmer Keith was already playing around with .44 Special loadings, which years later became the .44 Magnum.

September 22, 2005, 08:03 AM
The complete designation is Modèle 1935 pistolet automatique, Grande Puissance.
Puissance means "power, force, influence, strength" in French.
Saive was responsible for the double-row magazine, and for converting Browning's original striker fire mechanism to hammer fire.
Since the cartridge was not new, perhaps high power refers to the capacity.

September 22, 2005, 08:38 AM
My dad once told me that it was because all the other Browning pistols wer .22's, .32's and .380's. The 9mm was the highest power Browning pistol. I really don't know. He didn't even own a Hi-Power.

September 22, 2005, 09:15 AM
Was the first pistol to use staggered double-column magazines, for high-capacity.

Happy trigger
September 22, 2005, 06:05 PM
yes it was the first large capacitu pistol
that is why they called Hi power

September 22, 2005, 07:06 PM
I love my Hi-Power!

September 22, 2005, 08:17 PM
It was due to the increased magazine capacity according to virtually all the books in my reference library (Ezell, Smith, Hogg, etc.) that mention the gun. A bit of marketing flair as it is also known as the P35 it's original military designation, the BHP, GP etc.

It was the first of the "wondernines", high capacity 9mm handguns. Though that designation didn't come along for another 45 years or so.

Still one of the best 9mm handguns available (.40 S&W too).


September 23, 2005, 11:42 AM
I was intrigued by the question and did some independent research.

I got hold of the emergency room records for 1935 from the Liege, Belgium Sisters of Have Mercy Bendover hospital and found that it was John M. hisself who coined the phrase after accidentally gettin his finger in the ejection port an slippin the slide release.

He entered the hospital yellin ..... Yiiieeee! HIGH POWER....HIGH POWER...

And that's where it all started.

(detractors may disagree due to Mr. Browning's being dead at the time, but even dead it hurt a bunch and made him yell.)


September 23, 2005, 12:22 PM

September 23, 2005, 12:53 PM
Was the first pistol to use staggered double-column magazines, for high-capacity

No. Savage Model 1907 and 1910 used double column detachable mags. Many others had fixed two column mags.

It was the first of the "wondernines", high capacity 9mm handguns.

No. The word wondernine was coined (around 1985) to describe the S&W model 59 the original high capacity double action nine.

Christian 812
September 23, 2005, 01:21 PM
A bit of Belgian back up !

Yes, the Hi-Power as you call this gun in the US was designed by Dieudonné Saive (by the way, a typical name around Liège where FN - Herstal has its facilities).
Saive was also involved in the development of the FAL (Fusil d'Assaut Léger - Light Assault Rifle) which is not a bad weapon by the way.

I practised intensivaly both weapons while serving in the Belgian Forces ... I like the FAL very much ... it's not a simple full auto assault rifle, it's a tank ... don't remember anyone having major problems with it !

For the High-Power, the original name in French is "Grande Puissance", short named GP and that's how we still name this semi-auto hand gun in Belgium. Believe me or not ... one of my friend's son served in Kosovo the last few months and they are still using the GP as secondary weapon (last generation ... hopefully) !!

The appelation GP was not refering to the caliber (After WWII, 9 mm was still the most potent caliber) but well, as some of you stated, the mag capacity (15 + 1). So the correct translation in English would have been High Capacity - HC.

That being said, I don't have good memories using the GP 30 years ago, so I turned to Sig and H&K ... sorry !

My 2 Eurocents


September 23, 2005, 03:14 PM
because all the other Browning pistols wer .22's, .32's and .380's.

Uh, I think there was a little item called the M1911, in .45ACP?

Christian 812
September 24, 2005, 06:51 AM

You're right, so I correct :

After WWII, 9 mm was still ONE of the most potent caliber :rolleyes:

September 24, 2005, 07:10 AM
What’s so HI-Power about HI-Power?
Ahh Big G why'd ya have to rain on the parade with facts doggone it! :D

The P35 came by the moniker High Power the same way the Smith and Wessons came by the moniker Masterpiece...


Marko Kloos
October 20, 2005, 02:36 PM
The "Hi-Power" moniker had nothing to do with its capacity.

It was named "Grande Puissance" because the pistol it replaced in the Belgian Army was a .32ACP (7.65mm Browning). Compared to that round, the 9mm Parabellum is indeed "high power".

October 20, 2005, 03:07 PM
If memory serves, it was the first high capacity autopistol, with a capacity almost double that of the 1911, 9mm Luger or the P-38 9mm. The Hi-Power's designation given by the inventor, John M. Browning, is "P35" as it was invented in 1935.

Where "Hi-Power" came from, I'm not sure (Browning's marketing department, maybe???)

October 20, 2005, 03:37 PM
Well, here's my take on the story:

As you may or may not know, most of our artillery is descended from various models developed by the French before WWI. Among other things, that's why most of them are designated by millimeters. 105mm, 155mm and so on. (And among other things, you can see why rifles are called small arms). The exceptions were artillery pieces developed by the British, like the 8-inch. Anyhow, the first 155mm artillery (gun, as opposed to howitizer) was pure French and they called it--wait for it--the G.P., or in English, the High Power.

I think it was applied because it was a hot expression at the time, so to speak. In the same way, things also got called "special", "super", and "Express". The latter term has even been applied to at least one handgun cartridge fairly recently, yet almost unheard of anymore. Any guesses?

Ever here of the Velo-dog cartridge? (Hopefully, I spelled that right).

October 20, 2005, 04:41 PM
Hey Pro-
Browning didn't give it the P-35 designation, he died in 1926, and the pistol was actually ready for sales before 1935.

Sir William
October 20, 2005, 11:46 PM
IIRC, Shimek suggested that it was due to the BHP being capable of firing hotter 9MM Luger cartridges. I recall reading that there were actually hotter nitro loads originally used in the 9MM Lugers to assist in function of the toggle bolt action. Astras, FNs, Lugers and VIS-35s were touted as being able to accept and safely fire 9MM Luger cartridges. Parabellums, Largos and the Austro-Hungarian WW1 semi-autos notwithstanding.

Christian 812
October 23, 2005, 04:14 PM

You're maybe right !

Please provide your sources which .32 ACP semi-auto was used by Belgian Army prior to the introduction of GP model !?

Allways ready to learn.

Jack Malloy
October 25, 2005, 09:21 AM
At that time, most European military arms were either .32 or .380 so the 9mm round was indeed a step up to higher power.
For the record the original 9mm luger loading was considerably hotter than what we have today. I read one of Dean Grennells old books that pointed out that ammo makers started loading down the 9mm round following WWII when many iffy wartime European pistols entered the US surpluss shooting market.

November 9, 2005, 06:21 PM