The Browning Hi-Power: A Love Story

browning hi power suppressed
March 20, 2015  
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Today’s article is about a boy and his gun — almost as much of a classic tale as a boy and his dog or an E-2 and his daytime stripper. Mike Durand, a former Army Grunt and OIF vet talks about his Browning Hi-Power. It’s a much better love story than Twilight. Mad Duo

The Browning Hi-Power: A Love Story

Mike Durand

Browning Hi-Power

Every serious gun guy has that one gun. You know the one. The one on your mind right now. That one.  The one you wish you didn’t sell. The one you borrowed and never bought.  Your first gun. It doesn’t really matter how it left your life, the point is, that it is no longer in your life. Like that ex or first love, the one that you cannot get over, there is a feeling of regret, even deep loss. Almost as if a loved one has died. Though a gun is an inanimate object, it still has the ability to bring out real emotions for people. In some way, that weapon’s Tab A fits your Slot B. Click.

 For me, it’s the Browning Hi-Power. I can’t even really explain to my own satisfaction just what it exactly is about the Hi-Power that simultaneously makes my heart flutter and gives me that giddy, tingly feeling in my Lower 48. But something about that pistol does it for me.  I bought my first Hi-Power in 1991 for $285 dollars from a guy I worked bussing tables with. The minimum wage back then was $4.25 an hour, so you do the math when it comes to calculating how long it took me to save that because I’m not gonna.  The pistol came with a suede zipper case, leather pancake holster, and four 13-round and two 20-round mags, making it a really good deal, even back then. But it was the pistol itself that hooked me from the moment I saw it.

My Dad owned a beautiful Colt MKIV Series 80 1911 that I could use anytime I wanted and since first learning the legend of The Colt .45, it was my dream pistol as a teen. I loved it. I think I was born a .45 fanboy. But that Browning…

Black and white photo with John Wayne in the foreground.

The Hi-Power was different. Whereas the 1911 is John Wayne, a big brawler with hams for fists, the Hi-Power is Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden in Fight Club. It’s lean, sleeker, all tendon and muscle. The way the slide and frame narrow towards the muzzle, the sides stepping down in that iconic Browning look. Everything about the pistol seemed refined to me, deadlier. It was a Fairbairn-Sykes to a Bowie knife. The Hi-Power would leisurely, coldly, smoke a cigarette while it watched its victim bleed out. The 1911 would spout off some 1940s patriotic John Wayne/Captain America lines before stomping out to go punch some more Nazis and Japs in the face.  I was at that point in my life where I was tired of punching Nazis and Japs. I wanted to spike my hair, flip the collar of my jacket up, and smoke a cigarette. It was so different. I was in love. Worse, I was in lust.

A scene from Fight Club.

I graduated, joined the Army, came home, and went to college. The Hi-Power went with me.  Sure, it wasn’t a perfect love, but as with any relationship, there were things to get over and adjust to after fires die down. First of all, it wasn’t a goddamn .45 cal. The trade off was I had six more rounds in my magazine and at half the weight. Second was the magazine disconnect.  I still hate that feature, but I’ve learned to deal with it. And that was about it. I had to unlearn some bad habits I’d picked up with the 1911, but that, in the end, was a good thing. I became pretty damn good with the pistol. I should’ve been since I spent the most time carrying and shooting it. To the range, on day hikes, and on camping trips, the Hi-Power was with me.  The pistol felt like a part of me. It felt natural, an extension of my will. Disassembly for cleaning was a snap, so much easier than the 1911. And, of course, there’s the magazine capacity. Thirteen or twenty rounds. Baby does, indeed, have back.

Close up of the imprint of "Browning Arms".

Those were the salad days. The days of wind in our hair as we ran, hand in hand, across a sun-drenched meadow under cobalt blue skies.

Then the night came. I was in college, and I needed the money.

That’s all I can say about what happened next.

Browning pistol

I actually made money on the deal.  $150 more, as a matter of fact. Look, I thought it was going to a good home. Debbie was a friend from high school, dating one of my oldest friends, and she was a medic in the U.S. Army Reserve.  It was all OK, right? I thought so, up until Debbie knocked the Hi-Power off the seat of her car and into the red mud. The pistol lay ejection port down in a shallow, pistol shaped depression like the chalk outline of a murder victim. Debbie looked up at me. ”Oops,” she said, smiling. I stuffed the money in my pocket and left, crying manly tears.  That was 1997.

Crime scene tape with a chalk outline in the background.

Fade to black.

In January 2008, I purchased my second Browning Hi-Power.  It was the cornerstone of my new post-Iraq gun collection. A brand new Mark III. It was a different pistol, but the feelings were all the same, and that was good enough for me. Times had changed, though. The days of 13 and 20-round mags were as dead as MC Hammer pants. The political savants on the Left in The People’s Democratic Republik of California have deemed that the peasants can only have 10 rounds in their magazines. For now, at least.  But the extra space makes way for a nifty little spring that shoots the mag out of the well as opposed to digging it out. It’s been replaced as a primary carry by my USP .45. I’m back to punching Nazis in the face with modern Germans. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? But the Hi-Power is always there. It’s an old friend that knows the map of your soul.

Red2Alpha73


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About the AuthorAuthor Mike Durand 

Mike Durand is a US Army infantry combat veteran of Iraq who was probably wearing a smoking jacket, fuzzy slippers, and a Browning Hi-Power in a battered old leather holster while writing this. He has been featured before on other blogs and publications, including Military.com, Under the Radar, Tactical Fanboy and, of course, Breach-Bang-Clear. A history aficionado with a strange Winchester lever gun fetish, Mike recently underwent laser hair removal so he could stop shaving his knuckles. We’re glad his muse is back and proud to feature him here. Follow him on Instagram.

Mike Durand on the range

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9 Comments

  1. 19D Texas Scout

    I traded a Taurus PT92 for my first Hi-Power, which was a poorly maintained FM. I sold that to get a Belgian FN which has been my favorite pistol. I loved it so much, I replaced the worn parts with C&S parts and I gave it to my wife as a wedding present.

    Reply
  2. Steve Rupp

    My first two pistols and everyday carry guns are Hi Powers- one an Argentine FM and the other a Belgian FN. I like pistols, especially historic ones- P-38, 1911, Luger, etc…, but the Hi Power feels like it was made for me. After all these years and all the newcomers, the Hi Power is still a viable and classy-without-equal choice for a carry/combat pistol. Lastly, Mec-Gar makes flush-fitting 15 round magazines, so that plus one in the chamber is twice the capacity of a 1911 in a smaller and lighter package. More bullets=better.

    Reply
  3. Searcher12

    Nice story. The Browning Hi-power is my wife’s favorite gun.

    Reply
  4. Dave Valentin

    Ah, my first love also. 1982. Way back, before our department finally transitioned to the modern world of issued semi auto handguns, we were allowed to carry whatever weapon we desired. That BHP served me well as my duty sidearm for 7 years. It was holding my hand when I was awarded the top shot in the academy and still holding it through several department shooting competitions on range days. Although there are several striker pistols residing in the house now that BHP sits comfortably in my desk drawer. I’ll never part with it as long as I can still draw air.

    Reply
  5. Mat

    Mine is an FMAP Argentine. It came with good sights, the only things that I have changed is Pachmayr grips and a C&S ambi safety. It is 100% reliable with 124gr Gold Dots and the 15rd flush fit Mec-gar magazines.

    Reply
  6. MidgasFan

    What a great read! It’s amazing how cars, guns and music will conjure up such strong memories both good and bad.

    My first pistol was a super clean Baby Eagle in 9mm. Heavy and a DA/ST, but damn if that gun was not accurate as easy to shoot. My favorite DA/SA trigger out of the box by far. As a stupid you man I sold it to buy my G23. Dumb.

    I then bought a CZ-52 some years ago when ammo was dirt cheap and I swear the next month it doubled. That was an amazing pistol but I found a 1963 Argentina Police marked BHP so the CZ went towards that. I miss the CZ and I’ll get one again but man, do I LOVE shooting that High Power! Five Browning mags and five Mec-Gar mags, removed the mag disconnect and change out the main and recoil spring along with VZ grips and that baby will keep up with the plastic fantastic guns I have.

    Thanks for sharing your well written story!

    Reply
  7. nate

    My first pistol was a browning high power practical. I have been through tons of pistols plastic and metal, 9th .40 .45’s 1911’s etc. Finally settling on my CZ pistols…..and My Browning high power that has stuck with me always. I will never get rid of it. Cheers to the high power!

    Reply
  8. Ian

    Me to. Just got my VZ Grips for my MK3

    Reply
  9. Jerry

    Damn. This could have been the story of my first pistol, also a BHP.

    Reply

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