View Full Version : Help with Browning Hi-Power

July 5, 2011, 03:11 PM
My brother has a Hi-Power made in Belgium and is experiencing the following problems. When the gun is loaded by racking the slide, the gun will not fire when the trigger is pulled. When I cocked the trigger manually, the gun would fire, cycle a new round, and cock the hammer. Pull the trigger and nothing. Re-cock the hammer and it fires, recycles, etc. I am now well versed with the gun but am guessing it needs a new hammer spring. Does this sound right? Anything else I should be looking at, firing pin spring, etc?
Thanks in advance for any advice!

Clifford L. Hughes
July 5, 2011, 03:36 PM

Try field stripping you pistol, clean it good, lubricate it and then reassemble it. If this doesn't work it will most likely need a gunsmith.

Semper Fi.

Gunnery sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired.

July 5, 2011, 03:52 PM
Try a thorough cleaning first ^^^^.

You didn't specify if the hammer is following the slide into battery when the next round is chambered though.

If that's the case, then it is possible you have a weak sear spring (the flat spring inside the mag well).

July 5, 2011, 06:45 PM
Thank you for you reply.

The gun was cleaned by a gunsmith about a year ago and my brother never got around to shooting the gun until recently. Yes the hammer is following the slide into battery but when the trigger is pulled it will not make ignition. If I manually cock the hammer I feel the two distinct clicks and the round will ignite when I pull the trigger. A friend also mentioned the sear as a possible source of the problem, but as previously stated, I am not familiar enough with the gun to attempt removing the sear w/o a video. I am a visual learner.:)

July 6, 2011, 06:41 AM
If you are hearing two distinct clicks, and then you are also able to fire the gun when you manually cock it, the sear is not the problem. It would seem the sear spring itself has at least enough tension to allow the sear to engage the hammer.

And what I meant by "the hammer following the slide into battery" is that the hammer is following the slide down and automatically putting itself in the "uncocked" position. That would indicate that the sear is not catching the hammer during the relatively violent (by comparison to hand cycling) recoil cycle when firing.

I'm still not clear if, when you manually cock the hammer, then fire, the hammer is remaining at full cock position or not. The fact that you are able to manually cock and fire one round tells me that the sear itself is OK.

Here's another thing to check: Field strip the gun, then look at the small vertical bar ("trigger lever") that is attached to the rear of the trigger. Pull the trigger and watch the trigger lever bar rise up from the frame. Now, while holding the trigger back, see if the trigger lever moves forward freely by pushing on it. It should also snap back to its rearward position when you let go of it.

Also, while you have the slide off, look at the pivoting bar that is held in place by the pin that goes through the slide. The small "bump" (or hump, if you prefer) should be at the rear of the lever if it was installed correctly, although, if, as you stated, you are able to manually cock the hammer and fire one round it seems to be correctly oriented.

My best guess still is, IF the hammer is following the slide forward and ending up in the UNCOCKED position after you fire the one round, you have a weak sear spring. It's easy enough to change, but you need a strong thumb, a small punch, a strong index finger and a little patience.

July 6, 2011, 09:25 AM
Some oils will gum up over time. I'd strip it and clean it again. Also a Hi-power is one of the easiest handguns to strip.

Do a search on Ed's Red and mix up a batch then clean every part in it and then reassemble. Odds are that will make it better...


July 6, 2011, 12:15 PM
When the slide goes into battery the hammer remains fully cocked. When the trigger is pulled the hammer drops but there is no ignition. If I remove the round, there is no mark on the primer. If I reinsert the round and manually cock the hammer and pull the trigger, it falls and there is ignition.

Now, I think you may have found my problem. When I hold the trigger back and push the trigger lever, it moves forward easily but does NOT spring back to it's rearward position. Now showing my ignorance, What does this indicate and what do I do to correct this?

I want you to know how much I appreciate your help in this matter. Thank you very much!

July 6, 2011, 02:22 PM
Is this one of those Drop-cock safety critters…The kind that puts its self back in
The cocked Position when you come off safety?

James K
July 6, 2011, 06:09 PM
Hi, Massman,

"What does this indicate and what do I do to correct this?"

It probably indicates that the back end of the trigger spring is not pushing down on the trigger lever. Likely someone had the gun apart and didn't assemble it correctly. Depending on where the spring is, you might be able to get it back in place without disassembling anything, just hook it and move it.


July 6, 2011, 07:04 PM
Now, I think you may have found my problem. When I hold the trigger back and push the trigger lever, it moves forward easily but does NOT spring back to it's rearward position. Now showing my ignorance, What does this indicate and what do I do to correct this?

That trigger lever actually functions as a disconnecter. If it is not "springing" back to its rearmost position, it could be, as Mr. Keenan said, that the tail of the trigger spring is not engaged properly, or there is some sort of fouling or oil gumming that is not allowing it to function properly. Geezerbiker is correct that many oils tend to turn to gum after a period of time, and WD40, which is commonly used, is one of the worst offenders.

Did you look at the sear lever (installed in the slide) to make sure that the little tit or hump is toward the rear?

July 6, 2011, 07:36 PM
I would give the gun a good cleaning and if the problem still occurs then take the gun to be looked over by a smith or you could look your self and replace parts if needed.

July 6, 2011, 08:42 PM
I tried pushing the trigger lever forward and it is now springing back. When I checked this the first time I had the hammer lowered. When I rechecked this with the hammer cocked it does in deed spring back to its original position. Also I borrowed a friend's Hi-Power to compare with this gun and checked the trigger spring and it is identical. Also the entire gun is spotless from the cleaning he paid for.
Someone else suggested that I take a caliper and measure the firing pin to see if it is the proper length. I had it out and it looked fine (straight and w/o any marks or signs of breakage). I will now put a caliper to both firing pins to see if there is any difference in length.

Re: the pivoting bar. Where exactly is that?

Once again I want to thank you for her help.

July 7, 2011, 04:10 AM
Re: the pivoting bar. Where exactly is that?

The "pivoting bar" aka sear lever is located in a milled channel in the breechblock portion of the slide and is readily visible when you turn the slide upside down. It is held in place by a roll pin that is installed through the slide. (The roll pin is visible on either side of the slide exterior, and is located about mid point in the slide serrations.) Make sure that the lever is installed with the small "hump" located toward the rear. Normally, this part is not removed during a routine cleaning, but you never know. If the person who did the cleaning installed the part in reverse, it could cause a malfunction.

(BTW: I have assumed your gun is a later model with an external extractor.)

July 7, 2011, 08:22 AM

After you fire a shot and the gun has cycled and you are about to get the first failure to fire, note the location of the back edge of the slide with respect to the frame. Then, after you pull the trigger for the first time and before manually cocking, look at the location of the slide again. If it has moved forward a little when you dropped the hammer the first time, the problem is incomplete feeding. This can be due to a weak recoil spring, but it is also not uncommon to run into a particular shape bullet a self-loader doesn't like and that will prevent proper feeding. A new or slightly stiffer recoil spring may make it work. If it's the ammo, going to Plain Jane round nose ammo can fix it.

If it's not failing to go into battery, then the sear lever is probably just not springing fast enough. It may need a new spring, but I think the gummy oil diagnosis is more likely. Spotless doesn't preclude stickiness, unfortunately. A drop of Kroil or other thin penetrating oil on that part will likely tell you pretty quickly if that's the issue.

July 7, 2011, 10:07 AM
Thanks for the clarification. I checked and the hump is in the back. Also, I believe the gun to be late 79's early 80's. The serial # is 225RP2xxxx.

July 7, 2011, 10:25 AM
Thanks for your info. I didn't even think to check that, but I definitely will. Also, I was only using FMJ rounds. I used Remington UMC 115 gr, PMC 115 gr, and Hansen 123 gr NATO rounds so I don't think it was the ammo.

I will also take your advice and use some Kroil oil to be sure nothing is gummed up.

I am most appreciative of all who gave me advice. You guys are great and I am learning a lot about this gun. Thank you again.

July 8, 2011, 10:34 AM
Upon your advice I got to thinking and decided to compare the recoil spring with the one on my friend's gun. Come to find out the spring was installed backward. I am going to the range shortly to try it once again. I have a feeling you put me on the right track.
Thank you, again.

July 8, 2011, 06:41 PM
Interesting day at the range. Completely cleaned the gun to be sure nothing was gummed up. Re lubed everything and set out.
Loaded the first clip with 5 rounds. 1st 3 went as should, then a new problem arose. This time when the gun cycled a new round and I pulled the trigger the hammer fell part way to the 1st stop (or half cock position). I cocked the hammer manually and when I pulled the trigger, same thing. Hammer fell to 1/2 cocked position. I swapped out the firing spring and recoil spring and guide rod from my friend's gun (with permission) and the same thing occurred. Replaced the original parts and tried the gun again. Same thing, a couple rounds would fire normally and then the hammer would only fall to the 1/2 cocked position whether when cycled or cocked manually. Discouraged, I put the gun in my range bag and did some shooting with another gun. When I was ready to leave, something told me to give the Hi-Power another try. This time all went as should. Firing 5 shot groups in slow, rapid, and mixed rates the gun worked perfectly until I had fired 40 rounds of mixed brands and not a single hiccup.

Now, I have no idea what is going on but I will take it out one more time before returning it to my brother to be sure all is well. I sure hope it is cured.

Once again I want to thank all who provided input I sincerely appreciate it.

July 9, 2011, 12:57 AM
This would require complete disassembly of the frame to look and see, but now I'm wondering if you're the victim of a "bubba" trigger/hammer job?

It almost sounds like some clown fooled around with the sear notch to "lighten" everything and now you're getting the dreaded "drop to half cock" result.

There is a very critical timing element whereby the sear has to pivot forward enough away from the hammer and avoid the half cock notch.

If someone has shaved the front of the hammer in an attempt to reduce the full cock ledge, the sear is releasing early and not pivoting far enough to clear the half cock safety notch.:confused:

(Just boiling my brains here trying to think of possibilities.)

July 9, 2011, 03:48 AM
For the top Hi-Power experts in the good ole US of A, I'd look over www.AmericanPistol.com www.Browning.com (the custom shop) Karl Sokal's Chestnut Mountain Sports in VT or maybe Cylinder & Slide in Nebraska.

Sokal is highly rated & did Hi-Power custom work for many LE & spec ops in the 1980s/1990s. The FBI's elite HRT(Hostage Rescue Team) used Sokal's shop. At one time, each HRT member was issued 2 Hi-Power 9x19mm sidearms for duty use.

July 9, 2011, 11:26 AM
This half cock issue was completely new. Previously the hammer fell w/o ignition but when manually cocked it would ignite the round when the trigger was pulled. I cleaned the gun using Kroil, sprayed CLB on the mainspring, Triflon on the recoil and firing pin spring, and used Slide Glide on the rails, firing pin, and guide rod. As previously stated 1st 3 rounds went fine then the 1/2 hammer fall began even when manually cocking the hammer. After the gun sat for 1/2 hr or so no problems. I am wondering is there was some gunk I missed and it was dislodged when I field stripped the gun prior to the final firing?

I intend to hit the range again next week to see if it is still working properly. Now my (stupid?) question is, would it harm either gun if I were to switch slides and try each gun? If my brother's slide works on my buddy's gun that would eliminate all slide issues and if my brother's frame works with by buddy's slide that would seem that the problem has been corrected. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

July 9, 2011, 11:28 AM
Thanks for the info. If I can't resolve this issue with the help of the members here I will pass the info on to my brother. He will probably opt for one of your recommendations as I know he's not going back the "gunsmith" who did the cleaning for him.

July 10, 2011, 08:05 AM
Swapping slides won't hurt a thing. Usually the tolerances of the Hi-Power are such that it is easily done.

July 10, 2011, 01:22 PM
Thank you! I think I will give that a try and see what happens.