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An overdue retirement and a very capable replacement

Discussion in 'Handguns' started by 0dBm, Jan 6, 2021.

  1. 0dBm

    0dBm Loaded Pockets

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    No, not me: my Browning Hi-Power.


    I consider firearms to be the equivalent of kitchen appliances such as a toaster, microwave oven, or blender regarding the frequency at which I acquire them. I don’t purchase the latest, greatest model. I only do so with need, if one breaks, or has a noticeable performance degradation.


    Such is the case with my custom Browning P-35 “Hi-Power.” Manufactured in Belgium in late 1967, I acquired it new in early 1968. As with just until recently, I alternated carrying it with a .45 1911 when the prevalent caliber is 9mm. On occasion, it was back up to the 1911 and vice versa.


    For the remainder of the 60s, all of the 1970s, and most of the 80s, I used standard-velocity ammunition. It wasn’t until the findings of a well-publicised shootout in Florida involving several agents of a famed agency and the purported failure of standard-pressure 9mm ammunition to efficiently stop the bad guys that prompted me to begin using higher-pressure +P and eventually +P+ loadings.


    I tried several offerings of the hot ammo by several manufacturers. I switched from the mild but very accurate 950fps 115-grain Federal 9BP to their 1290fps 115-grain 9BPLE +P law enforcement-only round. From the P-35’s 4.7-inch barrel, typical velocity was 1280fps, but benchrest accuracy at 50-feet degraded to 5.5-inches from the 9BP’s 2.5 inches.


    Twenty-five years ago, Wayne Novak customised it with a 5.25-inch barrel. It achieved bench-rested 2-inch groups with the 9BPLE and 0.75-inch with 9BP both at 75-feet. I would typically achieve 2-inch groups at 40-feet with 9BP while moving.


    Well, during early 2020 and after an estimated 30k+ rounds with about 2k of +P, the old P-35’s accuracy wilted to 5-inch groups at 40-feet bench rested. It was time for an overhaul.


    I learned that Browning is no longer making this model. I could have had Novak’s rework it or a few others specialising in this particular model, but the work would have to be extensive since the frame-to-slide fit has worn.


    Time to retire it after 52 years of service.


    I researched and tried several models such as the offerings of Glock, FN, and Springfield. None of them had the same feel as the P-35 and my ability to shoot them accurately never developed.


    My wife’s EDC is the Wilson “single-stack” 9mm Model EDC9; a very refined compact semi-auto. My combat accuracy with it is typically just as good as the P-35’s before it’s accuracy dwindled.

    It’s just a little small for my preference for a service sidearm due to the svelte single column capacity.


    I tried Wilson’s hi-capacity EDC-X9 and found that it performs VERY nicely AND it feels quite close to my customised P-35. Still, required something with a longer sight radius.


    Enter the Wilson Combat EDC-X9L with the 5-inch barrel. Like the EDC-X9, it is a limited-quantity build. I found one through a retailer in the Midwest.


    It arrived several months ago but I was only able to test it a few weeks ago due to a very busy recent schedule and I almost forgot about it while it sat in my vault.


    I tested it with the typical type load that I will be using with it: the Federal 950fps 115-grain 9BP. I will not be using +P+ or even +P loads. Not because it cost $3k to acquire it and that I’m afraid that the hot ammo will damage it, but because the hot loads degrade accuracy.


    After about 150 rounds and achieving sub 2-inch groups at 40-feet wile moving, I found the proper replacement for the Hi-Power. I may have the P-35 reworked and returned to factory configuration, but is not a current priority.


    I used a Glock 17L recently and was impressed with its accuracy with the 6-inch barrel.


    I’m considering having the EDC-X9L modified with a ported 6-inch barrel. Another minor benefit is that it fits in a holster designed for a 1911.
     
    ran23 likes this.
  2. medic68

    medic68 Loaded Pockets

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    When I was in Rhodesia (back in the DAY), the Hi-Power was THE weapon of choice. I was lucky enough to pick up one made in Liege in 1942. Contemporary German "proof marked", along with the original holster. When I got back to America I went to Martin B Retting in Culver City California and purchased an additional frame, small parts kit, and barrel. While I don't use + or ++ ammo in it I've fired at least 10K rounds through it and I still, on occasion carry it. Arguably the greatest 9MM ever produced. For 3K I'd pick one up on the used market and have it gone through by Novack or Nighthawk. :smile_coffee:
     
  3. 0dBm

    0dBm Loaded Pockets

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    I may send my P-35 to MK3 Firearms in Las Vegas. I’ve seen their work. One of my underlings had his pistol done by them. I’ve shot it and I’m impressed.

    If anyone has ever carried and used the Browning P-35 for any more than just having it pose for photographs, the terms Rhodesia, Michael (Mike) David Rousseau, 10 paces/7.5 metres, Hi-Power, Failure Drill, and Mozambique Drill should be immediately familiar.

    Seven and one-half metres is roughly 20-22 feet. I use a two-inch grouping at 40 feet as the benchmark for the Mozambique Drill. Three inches is the typical distance between the pupils of adult eyes. If I can group two shots within two inches from forty feet while on the move, then I can certainty do so from 21 feet. Using the most accurate ammunition at standard pressure and moderate velocity from a ported, long-barrelled handgun (increased sight radius) plus practicing religiously helps TREMENDOUSLY in achieving that skill.
     
    medic68 likes this.