The Browning Hi-Power is the original “Wonder Nine.” It’s a venerable piece of hardware, one that’s been popular for years and deeply respected. Then again, it’s a John Moses Browning design, so what else was to be expected?
Now, it appears that Browning is done with the design.
In February 2018, Browning announced its Hi-Power pistols are no longer in production. “Current dealer inventories will be the last available from Browning for the foreseeable future,” the website explains. Supply is scarce, however, because availability to dealers ended sometime in 2017. New Mark IIIs or Standards are easiest to find because they were the last models to come out of the factory.
John Moses Browning’s 1911 handgun design and its subsequent 100 years of popularity cast a long and unearned shadow over his subsequent Hi-Power work. When Browning was commissioned by Belgium’s FN to create a new military sidearm, the design required an all new approach because he’d sold the 1911 patents to Colt. In 1925, he’d completed the work, and a year later he was dead—making this his last gun design. U.S. patent inspectors approved it in 1927, but FN relied on the expertise of Dieudonné Saive to improve on the locked-breech recoil version. He’s credited with completing the project, rightfully so, and the final product included his staggered-cartridge magazine that provided double the capacity of contemporary handguns—a lucky 13.
There will still be Hi-Powers around for a while, but they’re going to be harder to find as time rolls on. While it’s been said that a million of the weapons have been made, I tend to agree with the original post that such an estimate might be low. After all, it’s been around for 90 years. If there’s only a million of them made, that’s just a hair over 11,000 annually. I can’t help but imagine the actual numbers are significantly higher.
But now, it sounds like Browning is done with it.
To be fair, the Hi-Power offers little advantage over more modern designs. I suspect the popularity of the gun has been in decline for a while, so Browning made the decision to drop it. Let’s be frank, it doesn’t have the same impact culturally as the 1911.
Still, it’s a shame to see this particular era end, even if that shame has more to do with nostalgia. The question now remains as to whether someone else will pick up the mantle and begin producing their own version of the Hi-Power.
If not, the firearms may only be available via European manufacturers like FN, which might impact their availability here in the United States. That would be better for Hi-Power enthusiasts than no new guns for sale, but not by a whole heck of a lot…maybe. It gets complicated when you’re talking imports, unfortunately.
This is the end of an era, unfortunately, but it was bound to happen. Without the consistent popularity of its sister design, the 1911, it was only a matter of time. As we grow older, we’ll all see more venerable designs fall by the wayside as new products are introduced. That doesn’t make it any less sad, though.