The Browning P-35 "Hi-Power"

The Browning P-35 or "Hi-Power" as it is popularly known is a true classic 9 mm pistol. It was called the P-35 because it was a pistol (P) adopted in 1935 (35). This was John Browning's last hurrah, and it was to be essentially a "product-improved" 1911. Originally Browning intended this to be chambered for a .40 calibre (10mm) cartridge, but that never came about. Browning died before he could finish this project and it was capably seen to completion by Dieudonné Saive at the Fabrique National plant in Belgium. Pressure from the French military resulted in the 9 mm Parabellum chambering.

During World War II the Axis conquered Belgium and took over the FN factory. Plans for the P-35 were smuggled to the Allies and production of the P-35 was begun in Canada by the John Inglis Company. The photo is of an Inglis-made P-35. Inglis P-35s have tangent rear sights and slots for a shoulder stock. They are lacking in fine finish, but are completely serviceable firearms. I once traded a 1911 for an Inglis P-35 just like the one in the photo. I loved it, but I ended up parting with it because a very good friend just "had to have it." By the way, parts do not interchange (for the most part) between FN and Inglis P-35s. Magazines do, however.

The Browning P-35 incorporates a magazine disconnect that really prevents getting a good trigger pull. Fortunately it is easily removed and can be replaced if so desired. Oddly enough this ran counter to German Army procedures and the Nazis did not allow them on P-35s made under their rule. The Germans thought that if you were changing magazines you should still be able to shoot one time if needed. I guess they didn't get EVERYTHING wrong! A point of information. There were a lot of P-35s made under German occupation by the folks at the FN plant. These were marked with swastikas and German Waffenampt proof marks. The Belgians had no great love for the Nazis and they would make these pistols somehow defective if they could get away with it. So if you ever own a Nazi-marked P-35, get it checked out thoroughly before you fire it.

This was the first of the so-called "Wonder Nines" with its 13-round magazine. That was pretty amazing for 1935. The P-35 served many elite military units well into the latter part of the 20th century. It is one of the few firearms of which I can think that are mentioned by name in popular music. In the Jethro Tull song "Crossfire" the lyric says "Somewhere there are Brownings in a two-hand hold, cocked and locked, one up the spout..." probably referring to the chaps of the British Special Air Service who were known to use them.

This is a great pistol. And it feels like it was made for my hand.