April 08, 2011
By Stan Trzoniec
Known as the Model 1935 or P-35, more than 1 million have been manufactured since its entry into the market and is in service by military organizations from Argentina to Zimbabwe.
By Stan Trzoniec
Based on a design by John Browning and later improved, modified and finalized by Dievdonne Saive in Herstal, Belgium, the P-35 pistol--the venerable Hi Power--has had a long service life in the military, law enforcement and civilian sectors. Originally designed from a request from the French for a new service pistol, the final project was finished after Browning had passed away in 1926.
Known as the Model 1935 or P-35, more than 1 million have been manufactured since its entry into the market and is in service by military organizations from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Not too many pistols made over the course of history can lay claim to that much popularity, and last year the pistol celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Browning's anniversary model is finished in a perfect bright blue, so smooth in fact that I had a hard time cleaning the factory oil off it for photography. There is not a place where the bluing is flawed, even in the most difficult of places to polish around the trigger guard, backstrap or on each side of the slide serrations. The slide is further treated to stylized engraving on the top, just to remind you that you've invested in something special.
The author is a big fan of the extended slide release on the Hi Power, and he also praised the flawlessly polished blue finish.
Browning is selling two models of the anniversary gun. Just like the original, you can get it with either fixed or adjustable sights. My vote goes for the latter as I like to handload, and the ability to change the zero is a great advantage to me.
On the adjustable model, an LPA rear sight graces the gun and includes markings for precise windage adjustments and notations on the direction to turn the screws for both elevation and windage. The rear sight blade is tipped back to eliminate glare, and the rear sight assembly is melted into the slide.
Additionally, there are twin vertical white markings on each side of the notch, so when you line them up with the single vertical mark on the tall front sight, you have the perfect sight picture.
Other operational controls include ambidextrous safety levers, and for those who like to be extra safe, there is a half-cock position of the hammer.
The one thing I always liked about the P-35 is the rather long slide release that runs down the left side of the gun. For those with normal fingers, the release is easily reached with hardly a twist of the gun. The magazine release is directly below it.
Because of state laws, I had to get the 10-round magazine (a 14-round is also available). If you're not familiar with the Hi Power magazine, it has a spring at its base that provides more than enough tension to eject either a full or an empty magazine from inside the well--which is not beveled, something I think should be added even with a tapered magazine.
The gun can be had in either adjustable- or fixed-sight versions. The adjustable rear sight is an LPA with vertical lines on the rear notch.
If you are looking for a clean-breaking trigger, this gun does not have it. My sample broke at a horrible 91â'„2 pounds, which comes from the fact that the P-35 contains a magazine safety device that's connected to the trigger. The tension is further increased by a plunger pressing down on the surface of the magazine. Most custom pistolsmiths can negate this by either removing the device (which then allows the gun to be fired without a magazine) or simply honing the internal parts. I had that done to my Browning Centennial Hi Power, and it breaks clean at 41â'„2 pounds.
The arched mainspring housing on the Hi Power fills the hand nicely. Grips are checkered walnut.
Shooting it is a pleasure. The Hi Power seems like it was made for your hand. I can easily wrap my shooting hand around the gun, thanks to an arched grip frame, which adds the feeling of fullness to the gun. The grips are checkered walnut.
Like always, firing the P-35 proved its mettle even to those who might prefer a more "modern" gun. The hammer is serrated for a solid purchase, and the trigger (not gold this time around) is of the wide, target type. And, aside from the heavy trigger pull, groups were in line with my own Hi Power.
While there are more modern handgun designs, the Browning Hi Power is about a traditional as one can get. There are no synthetic parts; it's metal all the way. For more than 35 years, I've been a big fan of the Browning Hi Power, and I think you owe it to yourself to try one.
The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors, Inc. assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data.
Notes: Accuracy results are averages of three five-shot groups at 25 yards off a benchrest. Velocities are averages of five shots measured on an Oehler Chronograph Model 35P set 10 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviations: JHP, jacketed hollowpoint