Why should I buy a Browning Hi Power? There are more modern designs available and everybody says that they have terrible trigger pulls. Whether or not you buy a Hi Power is really up to you and what you like. There are more modern designs, but if you still prefer the single-action automatic for use at the range, small game hunting, or personal protection, there's really very little competition and most still rate the Hi Power as the single-action 9mm.
For some us, the initial attraction remains looks, feel, or both. Speaking only for myself, I don't think any other semiautomatic pistol feels as good in the hand as the Browning Hi Power and I think it's one of the best looking pistols around. It is not perfect out of the box and most serious users buy them expecting to do a trigger job and probably remove the magazine disconnect. Some have fairly extensive customization done and wind up with very elegant pistols.
This is a Mk III 9mm that has been very lightly customized, mostly by me. I bobbed and reshaped the hammer spur and blued it. The Spegel checkered delrin stocks replaced the factory nylon thumb rest stocks and I did a trigger job on the gun. When the factory matte finish eventually became pretty dinged up, I had the frame matte blued while the slide is bright blue. It has the factory barrel and has not been accurized. This Hi Power hits spot on at 15 yards and will normally group well under 3" with most ammunition and considerably less than that with particular loads. The eagle-eyed will have noticed that the right side factory extended thumb safety lever is gone and that the shaft has been rounded on the end. I had the gunsmith do that as the ambidextrous thumb safety gets in my way. Most folks do prefer them. This is a lightly customized pistol that's equally at home for informal target work, self-protection, or on my person when hunting. It is fitted with a Wolff conventional 18.5 lb. recoil spring and has a buffer as well. Other pistols can shoot tighter groups, but being able to hit a tennis ball size target at around 25 yards or a bowling pin at 100 yards (not every shot, though) is plenty good enough for my needs.
In recent years, the trigger pulls are not usually as good as those on other pistols like the CZ-75 and the 1911. Part of this is due to the way the magazine disconnect operates and trigger pull on the Hi Power can actually vary depending upon which magazine you happen to be using at the time. The exact dimensions of the magazine as well as the smoothness on the front of the magazine in the gun at the time all play a part in this. For this reason and others, I routinely remove the magazine "safety." Others counsel against it. You do what you want. For what it's worth, there are a number of Hi Power gunsmiths who can do a darned good trigger job with or without the magazine disconnect in place.
Hi Powers in the past usually did have better trigger pulls. I think that some reasons this might have gone downhill might include the liability issue here in the sue-happy United States as well as the fact that the Hi Power's just not as big a seller for FN as in decades past. While there still are military forces that use the Hi Power, it's probably not the 65 or so nations that were 20 years ago. Though many, including me, still believe that the single-action automatic is the most efficient fighting handgun extant, it's day is probably passing. That does not mean that among its fans, the Hi Power won't remain a popular, viable tool and it will still be used by many if they have a choice. Still, production is down, liability issues up, and with the bottom line being profit, FN most likely does not spend the time and attention to trigger pulls it once did. I suspect that military contracts for the gun specify a trigger pull of not more than so much or less than a certain amount. FN cranks out the pistols knowing that most will fall within that range and if some don't and complaints made, they'll take care of it. Otherwise, the guns are sold and profits made without the extra expense of a pristine trigger out of the box.
Right now, both Browning Arms Company and FN-USA are importing Hi Powers. For the most part, the imported pistols are in 9mm and are the Mk III with the internal firing pin safety. This model is sometimes listed as the Mk III S. In the US, the most popular single-action automatic remains the 1911 as is witnessed by the numerous makers of the gun and the multitude of models and the caliber of choice, .45 ACP. Browning and FN were suffering in this market and this is why future importation of the pistol was in doubt. Currently, Browning imports a relatively small number of guns and when they're sold, imports more.
Even if production stopped tomorrow, spare parts would remain available for decades and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see more aftermarket parts makers begin cranking out parts for the gun. What I'm getting at is that if you're holding off on one as you think it may cease to be made, don't. The gun's everywhere in its original form and even the supply of Pre-Ban 13 round magazines has not dried up yet.
I think I've seen a ray of hope in three NIB Browning Hi Powers of late; all had surprisingly good trigger pulls and none allowed any sear movement when the safety was engaged. Can it be that FN is finally getting enough complaints to try and improve the trigger to more acceptable levels? I sure hope so.
If you actually do like the feel of the Hi Power after comparing it to other guns, it might be a very fine choice for you. If you don't mind single-action-only in a handgun, the Hi Power is a viable possibility.
If having a design that has been used all over the globe with proven performance in less friendly environments is important the Hi Power qualifies. If you don't require competition grade match accuracy, the Hi Power could be on your short list and might just surprise you in what it can do.
Not the same Mk III shown previously, this one was bought used at a very good price and some minor alterations made. This 15-yard group was fired with Winchester 115-grain USA ball ammunition. Such accuracy is plenty good for the vast majority of my needs, real or imagined. It continues to use the factory barrel.
In recent times, I've been hearing from a few folks that their Hi Power groups OK, but then will throw a flyer for no apparent reason. Some report this happening about 1 time out of 5 and are adamant that it is the gun and not them. If this is the case, it's a pretty sure bet that the Hi Power's factory barrel is just not locking up properly for each and every shot. As one gentleman's noted on a gun board, the problem could probably be remedied with a gunsmith's welding up the barrel and refitting. This might be a good option, but I think it might be better in the long run to have a Bar-Sto oversized match barrel fitted to the pistol. If the gunsmith's competent, there's plenty of material in these barrels to provide for a perfect fit. I strongly believe that this will eliminate the flyer problem. The problem is that it does cost money. What you have to keep in mind is that with the exception of the FN Competition Model, the Hi Power has never been intended to be anything other than a military combat arm. Better than "combat accuracy" has never really been a major concern for either FN or most of its customers. That it is often capable of better intrinsic accuracy is a good thing, but not necessarily one originally given as high of a priority as many US shooters might have preferred. While there's not a big chance that this will happen to you if you buy a Hi Power, there's always the possibility. (Of course, the chance of getting a "lemon" exists with any and all makers.)
If you want a gun with as light a trigger pull as can be had on a tuned 1911, the Hi Power is not for you. The best trigger pull I've ever seen measured right at 3.5 lbs. and the gun worked fine, long term. What you can expect is that a gunsmith who knows Hi Powers can get you a crisp, clean trigger pull of about 4 to 4.5 lbs. The Hi Power reset will never be as short as that of the 1911; it's mechanically not "in the chips."
Should you want match accuracy and are actually capable of shooting well enough to take advantage of it, there are better choices than an out of the box Hi Power. (I'd personally go with the STI Trojan in that case.)
The Hi Power hammer, spur or factory ring, very often bites the shooter's hand. It does me. I simply bob the factory hammer spur if I have a good trigger already and the problem goes away. I've also had good luck with Cylinder & Slide's abbreviated Type I ring hammer, but be advised that changing the hammer means a trigger job in most cases and I recommend going ahead and buying the same company's sear to use with their hammer. That means more expense so this might be an important part of your decision in buying a Hi Power or not.
Frankly, I think they're worth the extra money and time invested to get a relatively compact single-action pistol that fits like a glove, is extremely reliable, and more accurate that I can shoot under most conditions.
American shooters demand much from their handguns and the Hi Power can meet most of those needs, but sadly, not out of the box. For those who can and do enjoy the Hi Power out of the box, it is a good thing, but frequently, the gun does need a little help in being the best it can be.