Monday, August 25, 2008

Is the Single-Action Automatic Obsolete?

I have a friend who chides those of us using Hi Powers and other single-action automatics as "living in the past" and playfully encourages us to "move into the 21st century" with our pistols, referring to his well-used Glock 17. Now, he's just kidding because he knows that "we" are wedded to these pistols, but others are not and advise that the single-action automatic's day has passed. They remark that it was perhaps "cutting edge" many decades ago, but that better semiautomatic pistols exist now.

Are they right?

Springfield Armory's XD 9 is an example of "new technology" handguns with its lightweight polymer frame, rust resistant finish on steel parts and manner of barrel lockup. Glock pistols are now several years "old," but continue to sell very well. Like the Glock, they command a large section of the American police market today. They are extremely reliable pistols and simple to use. The SIG-Sauer P-Series handguns are newer designs than the single-action autos and some can be had in double-action-only. In that regard, they do match the single-action in having but one trigger-pull to master. The DA/SA auto has been around for decades now, but is still newer than the single-action. Is it really superior?

In some ways, I do believe that some of the newer designs are better, but by how much can be more theoretical than real. One area might be reliability.

Most of the time, the newer pistols can be counted upon to feed about any available JHP ammunition on the market right out of the box. In the past, pistols like the Browning Hi Power was not unknown to choke on certain types of hollow points. Current Hi Powers no longer use the old classic humped feed ramp and in many examples I've shot long term, they feed and function fine with about any ammunition one cares to use. Likewise, the 1911's of year's past would frequently fail to feed much besides "ball" ammunition. These days, they come "throated" and most will feed most JHP ammunition, particularly if it has a rounded ogive. We do see complaints concerning some guns not reliably feeding some rounds and about as many about the slide not locking open on the last shot or locking open too soon. There are many reasons for this and most can be fixed pretty easily. I think one reason for these problems with the 1911 pistols in particular is that a myriad of makers produce them and there are many, many companies being used to make small parts. In this there will be dimensional variations and the 1911 design doesn't seem to tolerate that too well. However, with those that work reliably, they can be extremely effective pistols as they have been from nearly the time of the US Indian Wars to the days of the personal computer!

In a time when fewer folks shoot and where administrators are concerned with lawsuits anytime a service handgun is fired, the newer designs have found a home. This is understandable. One's perception of what is "safe" or "dangerous" is that person's reality, at least for that moment. If they opt never to investigate or delve a bit deeper, they can easily make wrong assumptions as to fact. Some opine that the cocked and locked automatic looks "too aggressive." One cannot argue with emotion though those familiar with "Condition One" frequently tend to favor it for fast and accurate shooting.

The 1911 pattern pistol remains a favorite to this day. Designed in a very different era, it can still deliver when called upon, be that in a hard-fought match or dark, danger alley.

It's been my experience that the single-action automatic carried cocked-and-locked is not unsafe. It is less tolerant of unsafe gun handling than a pistol with a longer, heavier double-action, but with proper handling, the mechanically sound single-action automatic will not fire until intended. (It's interesting to note that there's a rather large contingent of shooters who consider the Glock unsafe and cite numerous negligent discharges to back up this view. I think the Glock is "safe," but like the single-action it is not forgiving of unsafe handling.)

With regard to manufacturing methods, the older, single-action designs might be considered obsolete or at least not as "cost effective" compared to the newer guns.

I've proven to myself at least that the easiest pistol with which to get quick and accurate hits remains the single-action automatic. I've noticed on many occasions in tactical training that when some pretty fast shooting, particularly involving distance was required, the officers using DA/SA automatics preferred to start with their pistol cocked, if possible. The single-action auto is designed to start off cocked and allows the use of a safety up until it is being brought to bear on the target. The Glock does offer a fairly short trigger-pull compared to other newer pistols, but even it does not have the short reset of the 1911. I have never been able to shoot any semiautomatic at distances of 50 yards and farther better than an accurate single-action.

While some really don't like the double-action first shot and single-action transition thereafter, I've not found it to be as "bad" as some. However, it is not as "easy" as with the single-action.

It is interesting to note that here in the earliest years of the 21st century, some of the "high speed - low drag" police and military units having a choice go with the "ancient" 1911, albeit with features not available on the original guns and this is sometimes an overlooked point. You see, the single-actions have not just been frozen in time. Their actions and manuals of arms may have remained the same, but features have been added and refined to make them very capable of dealing with about anything a handgun might be called upon to "handle." Colt, Kimber, Springfield Armory, STI, and others continue to refine the 1911 single-action as it approaches 100 years of age.

Not as popular in the US as the 1911, the Browning Hi Power is now available in several configurations having extended, ambidextrous thumb safeties and easy to see high-visibility fixed sights. These pistols shoot very well and are extremely reliable. I'd prefer to use one of these or a 1911 in a fight if required to use but a semiauto handgun.

Please don't get me wrong. I have nothing against many of the newer designs, but I emphatically do not believe that the single-action auto is obsolete; not if getting bullets where you want them in a short period of time is the goal. Training with them is essential, but in skilled hands, the single-action automatic can do miraculous things.

If you prefer the DA/SA, Glock, P-7, or other handgun type to the single-action, I have no problem with it at all. People sometimes simply prefer other than single-actions and some are given no choice by mandates from bosses to agencies, but I do think that simply bypassing the single-action because it's "obsolete" is a mistake.

It's not.

Not by a long shot.


Lightweight 1911 Pattern Pistols

I am not going to get too bogged down in what does or does not constitute a 1911 pattern automatic in this article. For this work, it will mean a single-action semi-automatic pistol whose lineage from the full-size all steel 1911 is apparent. The lightweight can be a full 5" gun, a Commander-size, or one of the more compact versions sporting a 3 or 3 1/2" barrel.

Before the really small compacts or the full-size lightweight 5" guns, the Colt Commander filled as the "lightweight forty-five". These remain popular today and for good reason. They can be concealed without major effort, carry the usual 7 or 8 +1 capacity and can be extremely reliable pistols.

This piece will explore why these pistols have a following, shooting observations, as well as special "problems" that may crop up with the aluminum-frame pistols. (Polymer-frame guns are not discussed.) I will also give my own subjective views on both their strong and weak points.

It is a fair statement that Mr. Browning's 1911 remains a popular gun after many handguns designed after its birthday have faded from the shooting scene. I strongly suspect that more 1911 pattern pistols are produced domestically than any other American-made handgun. This might not be true worldwide, but I'll bet a sizeable percentage of non-US handgun owners have them…or would if they could.

Not surprisingly there are several variations on the 1911 theme and lightweight versions with aluminum frames are but one.

This Springfield Armory 5" Lightweight has an aluminum alloy frame. This one was fitted with a Ed Brown grip safety several years ago. Since that time dimensional changes call for a 0.220" radius rather than the 0.25" required for most. It has a Brown sear and hammer and an STI trigger. Anti-skid tape covers the front strap. Being an older version it also has the more squared off front grip strap. Of my lightweight 1911's, this one sees the most use. The 1911 pattern pistol in lightweight form can be a pretty useful item. Are they essential? Probably not, but they are nice for some purposes or circumstances.

Why a Lightweight? This is a good question and I'll give my observations and best guesses. It seems that the more popular handgun models eventually do come out in a lighter version. If a handgun is popular, it seems that many manufacturers will offer it in several variations to get as much of that market share as possible. Advertising always stresses a particular gun's strong points but never the weak. (We'll look into some of the problem areas a bit later.) Advertising can be geared to helping a potential buyer "believe" that they really do "need" this version of the gun in question. Many of the newer handgun models stress lightweight. Look at the ultra-light S&W revolvers, the scads of lightweight polymer-frame pistols, as well as the continuation of aluminum frame standards like the Colt Commander, SIG-Sauer service handguns, as well as Glocks. All of these use frame materials lighter than traditional steel.

So am I saying that gun makers are creating a false need to increase sales? Not necessarily, although the main focus of any company rests at the bottom line. They want to stay in business and need sales to do this. If essentially the same gun as an all-steel one can be made by simply substituting aluminum alloy for steel, they can offer at least one other variation on a successful theme with relatively little R&D or start up costs.

The more compact lightweights include the Colt Defender and the mainstay Commander. Many do not consider 1911 pattern pistols smaller than the Commander to be true 1911's and reliability issues are frequently cited. While it's no secret that I personally own no 1911 pistols smaller than the Commander, more than a few folks tote such diminutive forty-fives as the Defender. For this article the important factors concerning its special "needs" compared to all-steel guns are the same.

I will offer my opinions as a shooter and former police officer on the role of the lightweight handgun in general and the 1911 pattern pistol in particular.

We frequently hear that the only thing the lightweight 1911 does is to carry easier. While it is true that they are lighter, for myself they seem to be quicker from the holster to the first shot! It seems that they just get "on target" quicker for me…for the first shot which very well might be the most important in self-defense scenarios.

There's not much way around there being more felt recoil in a lighter pistol of the same type. (The LW 5" SA weighs about a half-pound less than its steel frame counterparts.) The interesting thing is that it makes no difference in speed if firing one shot on one target and moving to another. The gun doesn't have to be down in from recoil before moving to another target. I verified this with a timer using myself and a friend as guinea pigs. There is a slight increase in the time between individual shots on a single target. This proved true for both myself and my friend, who is extremely quick. So, if in a shoot-out situation and you engaging multiple targets, we probably won't see a difference in time between a single hit on each. If one requires a second or third shot, the split goes up (slightly) and translates to a tiny bit slower response time for secondary targets. I do not remember the exact times but it seems that there were but a few hundredths of a second difference. How much of a factor this might or might not be in real life I leave for each of us to decide based on our own experiences and perceptions.

Problems with Lightweight 1911's: The aluminum frame 1911's are nice to carry despite a bit more actual felt recoil when firing, but to have this we also inherit a few problems. Some are easily overcome and one might be impossible to totally eliminate. Let's talk about it first.

Longevity: This is usually the reason cited for not owning a LW rather than all steel 1911…and there is some truth to it. The aluminum frame guns probably do not hold up to as many rounds as the steel frame ones. The question is how many is "many"? If you shoot perhaps 100 full-power rounds per month through your LW, that would be about 1200 per year. I've heard estimates suggesting that the LW is good for 15 to twenty thousand rounds before the frame will crack. I have no idea if this is true or not, but assuming that both are "good numbers" and pick one in the middle at 17,500 rounds. Doing the math indicates that our pistol should be good to go for over 14 years at 100 full-power shots per month. This assumes that the recoil spring is changed when needed. I honestly believe that using a bit stronger recoil spring and a shock buffer can significantly extend the useful life of the LW aluminum frame. This would cushion the impact transferred from the steel slide to the aluminum frame via the flange on the recoil spring guide. The factory standard recoil spring for the full size 45-caliber 1911 is 16 pounds. I use an 18.5-lb spring with no problems and I also use a shock buff. If you are concerned with either or both causing malfunctions, why not just use them at the range and then revert to the factory standard recoil spring and no buffer when carrying for serious purposes? Mine stays set up with the slightly heavier spring as well as the buffer as this combination has caused me absolutely zero problems in my guns. The same might or might not be true in others.

I believe that using the polymer buffer along with the slightly stronger 18.5-lb recoil spring extends the life of the aluminum alloy frame. Others disagree. I suggest that if you have reliability concerns, use the slightly heavier spring…or at least the buffer for practice and remove when you clean the pistol before carrying.

I do not subscribe to the theory that the 18.5-lb spring damages the gun when it "slams" the slide forward. The 5" Delta Elite fires the 10mm and uses even heavier springs. If you do, just use the 16-lb. spring and a buffer when practicing.

The relatively few lightweight frames I've seen cracked have been on Colt Commanders and most eminate from the hole through which the slide stop passes…or are in that immediate area. Frequently drilling a small hole at the end of the crack can stop its continued growth. Of course this looks like hell.

I don't think the LW 1911 pattern pistol is best served with +P ammunition in .45 ACP. Assuming equal bullet weight, the +P round should translate into that bullet being pushed faster than the standard velocity one. That translates into the slide being driven rearward harder when the gun is fired. It also means more felt recoil. For the lightweight pistols I suggest standard velocity ammunition. If a person is bound and determined to use +P, I suggest using it only for ocassional practice (with a buffer) and then as a carry load if that is intended. My own lightweight 1911's use standard pressure ammunition for carry and the handloaded equivalents for practice.

The LW 1911 might not have the longevity of its all-steel brethren, but neither is it waiting to just crumble, either. A little prevention and common sense should allow a shooter to do quite a bit of shooting with one with no problems.

Feed Ramps: On many of the lightweight 1911 pattern pistols the feed ramp will be the traditional setup in which the frame provides the lower portion of the system. Aluminum is softer than steel. It will dent and gouge easier and is usually covered with a hard finish called anodizing. This protects the aluminum alloy and should not be removed. Bare aluminum can be damaged fairly easily if bullets with sharp edges are used and particularly so if the magazines used don't angle the bullet upward. If the cartridge "dips" or hits the ramp straight on as it is stripped from the magazine, even an anodized ramp area can eventually get pretty dinged up.

In my experience, ammunition having rounded edges around the bullet's meplat or hollow point is not harmful to the aluminum lightweight 1911 frame portion of the feed ramp.

Magazine followers can wreak havoc on an aluminum frame gun's feed system. If the follower is free to move forward past the front of the magazine tube as the last round is stripped and chambered, it can cause dings in the ramp. Fortunately these are usually below where the bullet initially contacts it but the problem can be avoided altogether. I suggest using only magazines in which the follower design does not allow it to possibly move out of the magazine body and contact the ramp. Examples would include some of the old Randall magazines as well as Wilson and Tripp magazines.

Plunger Tube: Aluminum is simply softer than steel and a vital part of the 1911 is staked to the frame. Of course this is the plunger tube. It simply holds the spring-loaded plungers that tension both the slide stop and the thumb safety. If too much up/down pressure is applied to the plunger tube it can become loose. Its legs are steel and extend through the aluminum frame where they're flared on the inside. Too much force can let these legs wallow out the holes they're in and the tube no longer is stationary. Depending upon how loose it becomes, it can allow differing amounts of pressure to be applied to the slide stop and/or the thumb safety. The main cause I've seen for this malady is apply too much force to the slide stop plunger when reinserting the slide stop when reassembling the pistol.

The spring-loaded plungers tensioning both the slide stop and the thumb safety can be seen protruding from the plunger tube, which is staked to the aluminum frame. If the front plunger extends outward too much to somewhat easily allow the slide stop to seat that you retract it a bit. Don't just force the slide stop into place. That is guaranteed to eventually loosen the plunger tube and has the potential for severely degrading reliability.

Conclusion & Observations: I like lightweight 1911 type handguns. I lean toward the 5" gun but have no arguments against the 4 to 4 1/4" Commander size versions. They allow for very comfortable concealed carry of a relatively potent full size defensive arm. They can stand considerable shooting but will not handle the extreme amounts that the steel frame guns can in all likelihood.

Were I only going to own one 1911, it would not be a lightweight. I am a shooter and folks reading this probably are too. Were I going to own a couple of 1911 forty-five's, one very well might be a lightweight.

I see these as filling a specific niche for the handgunner as either an exceptionally easy gun to carry concealed or even as a backup that is the same as his primary except for its weight.

This SA Lightweight 5" is a favorite .45 ACP 1911, but it would not be my choice were I going to own but one 1911.

They do bring special concerns for maintenance but it is not difficult to meet these specific needs. I believe that they are great guns for specific purposes.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Why the 9mm Hi Power Remains a Favorite of Mine...

Hello. It is a safe bet that the choices in 9mm pistols has never been greater than today. They can be had from diminutive little things about the size of the traditional .380 ACP (and smaller) to the 1911 platform in standard 5" guns to 6" long slides.

The Hi Power, P-35 or by whatever name it is known is definitely a classic of proven, tested design. Some do consider it "obsolete" and "outdated". I consider it a favorite and expect to for years to come.

The choice is there in action types, too! We can still find purely single-action autos from a number of makers including FN, CZ, and a number of 1911 makers who chamber it in 9mm. Traditional DA/SA automatics can be found from S&W, HK, SIG-Sauer, CZ, and more. Want a "plastic pistol"? You can sure find in from Glock, SA with their XD9, S&W, and others. Some such as CZ and HK offer selective single-action, meaning that their DA/SA pistols can be carried cocked-and-locked.

For me, the Hi Power continues to remain my favorite overall.

Part of this is admittedly subjective but some valid arguments for the "mature" Hi Power design can be made. So let's take a gander at why this classic design continues to be popular with folks interested in something to take to the range to those most assured that they will go in harm's way.

Simplicity & Reliability: The Hi Power consists of very few internal parts compared to many of today's handguns, but it is not alone. Others include the aging Makarov, the 1911, and the considerably younger Glock. All of these pistols share a common trait and one that is frequently espoused by their devotees: reliability. Each of these guns has proven itself capable of functioning under adverse conditions. The ultra-fine sand of Iraq may affect one more than another, but that pistol may do better in arctic climates. The Hi Power has been doing this decade after bloodletting decade. I am not saying that more internally complex handguns are doomed to be unreliable; I am saying that the potential is there.

With older classic Hi Powers pre-dating the Mk II which arrived in the '80's, the Hi Power's legendary reliability was primarily with FMJ or ball ammunition. It is very true that many of these guns simply would not run reliably with other than jacketed round nose ammunition. Their humped feed ramps worked great with military-style ammunition but could be very selective about which JHP ammo they would feed. With some work on the feed ramp this could be changed and I've done that very thing with a couple of my older Hi Powers. They handle any JHP I've put in them since. With the Mk II and it progeny, the Mk III, there is no such problem. FN finally went with a feed ramp capable of slickly feeding about any JHP.

Today it seems that the few reliability complaints with the Mk II or Mk III pistols are not feeding, but extraction. With enough ammunition fired, it is possible for crud to build up under the extractor to the point that the claw does not move inward enough to get a complete "bite" on the cartridge rim. A failure to extract can be the result. Simply removing the extractor and cleaning out the mess usually solves the problem and it is not chronic; it occurs after many rounds have been fired, assuming that parts are in spec…and they usually are.

The other "problem" with the Hi Power is that the extractor spring must be a strong one. Pushing inward at the rear of the extractor should require pretty good effort to move the extractor. If it doesn't, the spring needs to be replaced. (I've had really good luck with Wolff extra strength extractor springs.)

That's about it. Clean under the extractor every case or two of ammunition and you should be good to go and check the extractor spring. If you unexpectedly begin experiencing failures to extract and the extractor claw is in good shape; I'll bet the problems either crud under the extractor or a weak spring.

Reliability is desirable at the range. It is essential for self-defense whether fending off felonious assault as a private citizen, shooting it out with a criminal as a peace officer, or dishing out defeat to enemies in war.

The Hi Power will reliably pop any primer I've tried. This includes the very hard-primed Greek ammunition sold in droves here a few years ago. Glock 9mm's simply did not get 100% detonation. Neither did S&W 9mm pistols. The reason is that the Hi Power has a hell for stout mainspring. I am not aware of another handgun mainspring rated at 32-lbs. The striker on the Glock and the S&W with it's lighter mainspring simply couldn't overcome each and every single one of the hard Greek primers. A few months after its debut, ads for the Greek surplus stated, "Not For Use in Glock Pistols". At this point I should mention that this stuff was probably excessively hard primed, possibly for use in open bolt submachine guns. (Glocks and most other quality 9mm automatics have reliably fired most every other military round I've tried or seen shot. I know they've been reliable with any and all US-manufactured ammo I've tried.) Still, this speaks well of the Hi Power. The change to the heavier mainspring took place in the '70's with the "C-series" Hi Powers. I was told at the time that this was not necessarily to increase reliable primer detonation but to help the pistols withstand some hot-loaded SMG ammunition being used in the unending unpleasantness in the Middle East. The heavier mainspring works similar to a heavier recoil spring in delaying the slide's rearward movement and slows slide velocity to avoid rounding locking lugs on the barrel. Still, it is a good thing to know that the pistol is capable of reliably firing most any 9mm cartridge made in the world. (The only primers I've seen fail to fire in the Hi Power 9mm and .45 1911 have been in factory Sellier & Bellot ammunition. In these cases I believe that the primers were defective. Both pistols had full-strength mainsprings and the same rounds failed in other pistols as well. I have not seen this repeated in several years but still have a hard time trusting S&B for anything other than the range.)

Accuracy: This is a relative term. To a formal match pistol shooter, the Hi Power is an inaccurate handgun. To the less-than-stellar shot, that the gun will keep its shots on a piece of typing paper at 10 yards might mean that it is very accurate in his estimation. To me the Hi Power is a very accurate handgun considering that its original intent was not to wallow out a single hole at 25 meters. Having shot lots of Hi Powers over the decades, I submit that most will put 10 shots inside about 2 to 2 1/2" with ammunition that groups in that gun. I've seen it consistently group better than what some gun scribes euphemistically call "acceptable combat accuracy." A Hi Power capable of but 3" @ 25 yards would be dropping any shot no farther than 1 1/2" from the POA, assuming zero error on the shooter's part…which is rare.

For those wanting greater intrinsic accuracy in their Hi Power, a fitted BarSto barrel will usually reduce group size by 15 to 20% with most jacketed rounds and more with cast bullet loads, at least in my experience. The 1:10" twist of the factory barrel works with some cast loads, but the 1:16" does better in my experience and with a wider variety of cast/plated bullets. The majority of my Hi Powers use their standard factory barrel, as they're plenty accurate enough for my purposes. For a general-purpose sidearm, if I can hit a target the size of an orange at about 25 yards that's all I require. This does not mean that the Hi Power platform is incapable of better accuracy. The target version of the gun, the FN Competition, is capable of very small groups, but the gun is no longer produced; no demand. It appears that fans of the Hi Power find it accurate enough in standard trim for their intended needs.

Here we see two 15-yard, slow-fire groups fired with a Mk III Hi Power using the standard barrel w/o any "accurizing" other than a good trigger-pull. These were fired from a seated position with my wrists braced and bagged. No effort was made at speed. For me, this is plenty accurate enough since I cannot match these groups off-hand. Thus, I cannot shoot beyond the intrinsic accuracy level "built" into the gun. Others might but I cannot.

The thing that really contributes to the Hi Power's accuracy for me is its practical accuracy. In other words, I find it extremely easy to shoot well in both slow and rapid-fire. This is akin to how "good" a gun feels and is subjective but it would appear that from the gun's long service history and relative popularity among 9mm shooters, a great many folks feel the same way.

No other 9mm pistol feels quite as "right" to me as the Hi Power. For me, this pistol groups plenty tight enough for my purposes and is easy to shoot accurately at speed as well as in slow-fire.

It has been reported that some 9mm pistols suffer reliability problems when using 147-gr. JHP ammunition. While I admit not being a user of this weight bullet in 9mm, I have had no problems with the limited amounts that I've tried in a couple of Mk III pistols. Ammunition used was Speer Gold Dot, Remington Golden Sabers, Winchester Silvertip, and Winchester Ranger. These loads ran smoothly and w/o malfunction using either the standard factory 17-lb. recoil spring or the Wolff 18.5-lb. All of this ammunition grouped well with ejection being positive. People considering the Hi Power but preferring the "heavy bullet" approach should have no reliability problems based on what I've seen. (This does not mean that the ammo to be used shouldn't be tested in the individual pistol.)

Spare & Aftermarket Parts: Parts remain plentiful for the Hi Power from the manufacturer as well as from Cylinder & Slide and a few other places. There will probably never be as many aftermarket parts and choices as exist for the Hi Power and Glock pistols, but spare parts are available and should be for years to come even if FN does eventually cease production of the Hi Power.

9mm Cartridge: I like it and consider it the "perfect" cartridge for the sleek Hi Power. There are other articles on this site focusing on various standard velocity and +P rated 9mm loads for the Hi Power so I won't dwell deeply on it here other than to say that the choice is wide for people interested in high-performance loads in this caliber. With the advent of some of today's bullet designs I think the "gap" between standard velocity performance and that from some +P has considerably narrowed. I do not consider the 9mm wanting in terms of performance when loaded with such ammunition as Winchester's 127-gr. +P+, Corbon DPX 115-gr. +P, Remington's 124-gr. Golden Sabers in either standard velocity or +P or Speer's 124-gr. Gold Dots in either pressure range. The old Federal 115-gr. JHP isn't bad, either! While I do believe that in its better loadings .45 ACP edges higher performance-wise than 9mm, I am not convinced that the difference is significant. I am sure that it is not if the larger caliber cannot be shot as accurately as the 9mm. In short, I'm quite happy if armed with a 9mm Hi Power and what I consider good defensive ammunition.

Conclusion: The FN Hi Power, GP, P-35, or by whatever name it is known has served people going into dangerous situations very well for many decades. Though its popularity is declining in current times, the pistol remains a favorite of many handgun enthusiasts and will for decades to come. I think I might have written many of the reasons why. Born in a different era, some consider it a relic. Others simply see it as continuing to do what a pistol should: function reliably and allow the shooter to put the holes where he wants them. I see it as something a little different. To me it is a reliable design but one that is also a work of art, combining function with graceful lines and deadly beauty.

For those desiring to do so the Hi Power lends itself to custom touches and a number of famous gunsmiths specialize in Hi Power customization.

I have no quarrels with those opting for a different 9mm. Each of us must "work out our own salvation" so to speak, but for myself, no other 9mm satisfies so completely as the Hi Power.