I have a thing for Browning Hi-Powers. It’s not rational and I admit that, but that doesn’t change the fact that I really want to do a just out of control awesome Hi-Power build. The goal would be to build a Hi-Power into an awesome IDPA ESP gun that you would also actually carry in real life. Why the Hi-Power? For me, it’s sort of the perfect union of old school and new school. It’s a 9mm that carries a decent number of bullets, but it’s still a steel framed gun with a single action hammer. Kind of the best of both worlds. So, if I had a ridiculous budget, what would I do to a Hi-Power?
We’ll use this post as a project roadmap, because this is a build I’d actually really like to do. Remember, the goal here is to build a proper IDPA racegun that’s also something you’d actually carry, so step 1 is “Get Crimson Trace grips.” I believe that every carry gun should have a set of Crimson Trace grips on it; because they just make things better. Now, we’ve dealt with the “shooting badguys in the dark” issue, which is definitely part of the carry gun consideration, but what about shooting cardboard at high speed during the day? Since we’re assuming that I have an unlimited budget of pretend money (like the current administration) I’d actually build two mostly identical guns; the only difference would be that one would wear the CTC grips for carry and the dedicated competition gun would wear these red grips from Hogue, because it’d match my car. Alright, so grips are done, and like I mentioned before, we need sights. The factory sights on the Hi-Power leave a bit to be desired, so we’ll want to go with something a little better suited for competition shooting. That issue is easily solved with some Heinie Slant-Pro sights. Black rear sight mated with a black front sight, done and done.
Now, the biggest issue with the Hi-Power isn’t the sights though, it’s the hammer bite. Because it lacks a full beavertail like it’s older cousin, the standard spur hammer on the Hi-Power just eats up the web of your hand. To solve that issue, we have to hit up Cylinder & Slide – they make a no-bite hammer that you can buy in a packet with their CNC machined sear, which is a part we’d have replaced as well. Kills two birds with one stone. It should also go without saying that we need to get rid of the magazine disconnect safety, because such devices are of the devil and not to be trusted. Since we’re already going to give Cylinder & Slide a bunch of money anyway, might as well get their BHP wide trigger, which gives us more surface engagement on the trigger and eliminates the magazine disconnect, all in one fell swoop.
Pick up a spring kit and an extended safety, and you’ve now done all the major mods to make the Browning Hi-Power an awesome ESP gun. There’s one last modification that you may consider though, and this one is of questionable utility. Do you install the Cylinder & Slide mag funnel? To do this, you have to have 1/4 inch of frame cut off the gun, and then have the magazine funnel welded on to where the frame was. If it’s done right by a skilled gunsmith, it’s sexy as hell. But the risk of getting it botched and ruining your gun also exists, so this is one I’d undertake with caution. The cost of the magazine funnel and installation will probably be north of $300 (most of that is labor) if you have someone else do it; if you do it yourself you’ll only be out $60 for the magwell. But I personally feel like this is one issue where you’re not going to buy that much skill. As slim as it is, the Hi-Power is still a double stack gun, and a lot of dry fire practice on the reloads seems like a better investment than chopping your gun up. Unless you happen to be best buds with a top notch gunsmith, in which case knock yourself out.