Snapshot|Opinion Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are mine and mine alone. This should have no sway over your firearm purchasing decisions or your […]
Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are mine and mine alone. This should have no sway over your firearm purchasing decisions or your personal opinion on FN’s upcoming High Power.
Over the past two decades we have seen the emergence of the “remake” in film, tv, and video games. With those remakes we has seen various degrees of success and failure. The entertainment industry has taken more L’s than W’s in the realm of remakes. Most remakes are soulless cash grabs by the studios, while also showing the lack of creativity within their respective industries. Most movie remakes lack the soul, character, and story development of the original. In turn making it a lifeless and soulless rendition of its former self. Especially, when comparing it to the original movie. These soulless remakes only alienates, disrespects, and angers the core audience the studio’s were attempting to appeal to.
This desire of industries to remake instead of innovative flows across all industries. It seems that we are witnessing the emergence of the “remake” in the firearms industry with the Browning Hi-Power. Since late last year we have seen the release or announcement of three Browning Hi-Power clones.
The first apperance of a new Hi-Power was in October 2021, when Springfield Armory released the SA-35. The SA-35 is a modernization of the iconic Hi-Power pistol. Adding quality of life features, increased reliability, and better overall performance. In doing so making it more appealing to modern gun buyers. Blending in its classic aesthetics with 21st Century improvements.
Then, a few months later at Shot Show 2022 FN and EAA announced their modern interpretations of Browning’s iconic pistol. The one I will focus on today is FN’s interpretation of the Hi-Power pistol.
Shot Show, The Hi-Power, & FN
While attending Shot Show I had a chance to gain a lot of hands on experience with the High Power at FN’s booth. I also had the opportunity to discuss the upgrades and quality of life improvements included by FN versus the original Hi-Power. This time with FN’s interpretation allowed me to get a sense of the pistol’s essence and character.
During my time spent with the firearm during visits to FN’s booth I became less and less of a fan of the pistol. The more I handled FN’s High Power the more I felt like it was a soulless rendition of the iconic pistol. Just like all the cringe inducing remakes fans of film and television has had us to endure. It felt like another cash grab by a company meant to prey upon consumers nostalgia and reputation laid by the iconic Browning Hi-Power.
Originals Vs. Remakes
The more time I spent with it the more it reminded me of the horrible and lazy remakes done by film studios. Memories of atrocious remakes such as Point Break, Robocop, and Total Recall all came to mind as I spent time becoming acquainted with FN’s pistol.
The new High Power doesn’t have the soul or character of its original. Its just the husk of what made the original so iconic. Wrapped in today’s modern aesthetics and designs. This is the trap that happens often within the film industry. Movie studios idea of a remake is the wrong approach. In the process of remaking the film the studio remove its character, change its narrative pace, removes key elements, modernizes it, and then slaps a new coat of paint on it. The studio’s expectation is that it will be another box office hit.
In essence what they have done is remove all the soul, character, and narrative from the film. What is left is just the husk of what the movie was. These film executives are banking on your memory and nostalgia to sell you something that isn’t as good as the original film.
This is the trap and cycle that many industries fall into. Everything in this world occurs in cycles and the firearm industry is no different. This is the trap I believe that FN has fallen into.
Robocop VS Robocop (2014)
When I think about comparing Browning’s Hi-Power versus FN’s rendition I think of one film: Robocop.
Robocop is one of my favorite science fiction films of all time. The story, character, and themes of Robocop are timeless. The story is a narrative of a good cop being untangled in the greed and corruption of the political system and a powerful organization.
Our main character Murphy is brutally slaughtered by a ruthless gang as a cop in Detroit. Then, declared dead and saved by OCP. OCP in turn takes his body and turns him into a cyborg. In the process erasing his memory. Over the course of the film he slowly regains his humanity and memory. Remembering he is more man than just a machine. Our main character Murphy follows the classic hero’s journey throughout the movie.
The themes of woven into the story deals with privatization of police and military, American greed and excess, systematic corruption, and what it means to be human. The story weaves an elegant dystopia nightmare of where all these ideas could lead us to. As, well the power of humanity, fairness, and justice. The movie never disappoints me.
The remake of the Robocop was released back in 2014. The movie followed the same general beats for the most part. We have Murphy our good cop working the dangerous streets of Detroit. He is yet again killed by a gang. Just as in the original turned into a Cyborg by OCP. While Robocop is fighting crime he slowly begins to gain back his memories. Following the same story beats and plot of the original.
In general the movie has the right frame work and tone of it’s predecessor. Yet, it falls short in many regards. First, it adds characters and story beats that weren’t in the original. Changes that don’t help the narrative in the long run. Next, characters arcs and story relevance of those character arcs are weakened. Finally, the themes of systematic corruption, American greed and excess, and privatization of policing are greatly diminished. These themes were apart of our story but their relevance seemed smaller and not as critical in this interpretation. The original Robocop was satire on American greed and excess and the inherent corruption of the system. In the remake that message is lost or at best weakened it. Which in turn lost the appeal that made the original such a classic.
The remake changes and removes too much that it turns into a soulless remake. A husk of the original movie. A movie that can never hold a candle to the original. It is only a Robocop movie by name. It lacks the soul, character, and the story of the original.
This is exactly what has happened with FN’s High Power rendition. It takes the soul of original and strips away all the parts that made the pistol so iconic.
Browning Hi-Power VS FN’s High Power
The Original Hi-Power
The original Browning Hi-Power is a pistol that is engineered and crafted ahead of it’s time. Featuring clean and sexy lines, great ergonomics, a solid trigger, with larger magazine capacity.
First, off the Hi-Power is a beautiful firearm. It features clean and sexy lines. Browning takes notes from his 1911 while adding new design language. The rich black finish that has a certain shine and luster to it. Also, featuring those iconic wood grain grip panels. When witness together creates a beautiful balance of contrasts. Yet, tying together elements of machine and nature into one. The Hi-Power was a beautiful balance between the two worlds of beauty and functionality.
The Hi-Power also features great ergonomics. When you hold this pistol in your hands, it feels like the pistol has always belonged their. The way this firearm just melds into the contours of your hands is amazing. Allowing for your to acquire the ideal grip. The 1911-style grip with beavertail allows for you to get a nice high purchase on pistol to help with optimal control recoil management. (I know for some with bigger hands slide bite is an issue.) The grip panel checkering allows for the right amount of friction to lock your hands into place. Which in turns allows for the reduction in felt recoil to be minimal. Allowing for the pistol to shoot the Hi-Power accurately and effectively.
The trigger on the Hi-Power is great as well. Having the familiar notes of a 1911 trigger but, yet being uniquely its own beast. You have a short pre-travel to your wall. Your wall is clear and well defined. As, you break through your wall you have a clean crisp break with a satisfying snap. The reset of the trigger is what you expect: clean and short (for that time period). It features a nice audible click with a nice tactile reset. Once you understand the subtleties and nuances of its trigger it is a solid performer.
The Browning Hi-Power is a well built firearm that has stood the test of time. It has been used by military, law enforcement , and beloved by firearm enthusiasts for over 80 years. Even, though Browning didn’t get a chance to finish his Hi-Power. FN’s Dieudonné Saive completed his vision with great success in my opinion.
FN’s High Power
First off, if anyone could do the Browning Hi-Power justice it should be FN. FN’s Dieudonné Saive completed Browning’s design and watched the Hi-Power come into existence at FN. FN was primary producer of pistol during its life cycle, which stretched over 70 years. The company knew the pitfalls of the pistol and what needed to be address to improve upon its original design. So, if anyone could get it right I believed it was FN.
The new High Power by FN checks all the right boxes for a remake. Keep the iconic design. Check. Makes quality of life enhancements. Such as removing the magazine disconnect, a better designed feed ramp, and ejection port. Check. Redesigning the beavertail to remove slide bite. Check. Making disassemble and reassemble of the pistol easier. Check. Modernizing the Hi-Power with ability to use modern sights and increasing magazine capacity. Check.
All-in-all FN’s remake should have been a home run in my mind. Yet, the more time I spent with the pistol the more I personally felt like it was the husk of its former self. Let’s investigate what FN does right with this remake.
Improvements & Changes
First, let’s discuss the design. FN’s High Power pays homage to the original. It doesn’t really change much at all. The pistol keeps the design language that made the original so iconic. So, when you see it you know it’s an Hi-Power. Overall, FN respects and honors it’s lineage. There are slight variations in its redesign. The devil is always in the details. Let’s delve into those subtle changes.
First, the grip of frame is slightly bigger to accommodate the 17+1 magazine capacity. The original magazine capacity for the Hi-Power was 13 rounds. So, FN introduces 5 more rounds of 9mm.
Second, they redesign the beavertail to eliminate slide bite of the original. Slide bite wasn’t an issue for all shooters. A person with a larger hands with would have had issue with that. So, it had to be address properly. A weapon should never punish a shooter for having the correct grip.
Finally, they modernize the pistol for today’s shooter. The new High Power features FN’s 509 dovetail pattern. Which allows for easy change of sights to accommodate shooter’s preference. As, stated before it in increases the magazine capacity from 13 to 18 rounds of 9mm. Lastly, FN redesign the takedown process making it easier for disassembly and reassembly. That is a great addition because the original takedown process is a bit cumbersome.
Those are the major needed changes to modernize the Hi-Power platform. In which I commend FN for seeing these flaws and correcting them.
A Soulless Rendition
Even with honoring and maintaining its lineage and properly modernizing the Hi-Power still felt lacking. It was missing what made it iconic. It felt like a part of its essence was missing. It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch when I was trying to figure out what it was. Then, it dawned upon me what it was missing. FN’s new High Power was missing its soul and its character.
When I look at this iteration of the High Power it’s visually the same. It hits the same visual notes I’m looking for: clean and sexy lines with a hint of 1911. Yet, when I look at it feels like it’s missing something. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Then, it hit me and I finally realized what it is missing… it’s character. It’s missing what made it iconic and unique. It’s missing its iconic black luster and its vibe of coolness.
The original Hi-Power pistols had this rich black finish with a dull luster to it. The black had a certain appeal to it that is apart of its character. It also exemplifies its uniqueness. When you close your eyes and think of a Hi-Power you think of its clean and sexy lines. You imagine the rich black luster of the frame with those wood panel grips on each side. Creating this elegant contrast between the mechanical and natural. Between man and machine. It’s beautiful and it is apart of the character of this iconic firearm.
The new PVD finish from FN removes that dark and seductive luster from the original. Now, making it look and feel like any modern gun. Combined with the polymer grip panels removing that metal and wood contrast. At every turn FN strips away its identity and character. The Springfield SA-35 and the Girsan MCP-35 do an excellent job of keeping its character in their renditions of the Hi-Power. FN’s version also comes in FDE and stainless steel. I don’t personally mind the stainless variant but, the FDE is a color option doesn’t fit well with the High Point’s character.
So, when you look at the High Power it passes the eye test. Yet, when you look for and endeavor to find its character the pistol falls short. It’s character has been stripped away under a modern coat of paint.
Losing Its Soul
The more time I spent with the FN’s High Power the more I became disappointed in its interpretation. When I looked at the pistol I witness it’s missing character lost under its new coat of paint. As, I handled the firearm and dry fired it the more it lost its appeal.
That itch I spoke about before came yet again. Scratching and nagging upon my mind. What is this pistol missing? Why doesn’t this weapon appeal to me as it should? Why can’t I put my finger on it?
I am a fan of the original Hi-Power. I enjoy the idea of seeing a classic reborn. Paying homage to its roots and improving upon its initial design. Yet, FN’s modern rendition of the iconic pistol falls short. Then, I realized what it is missing. It’s missing its soul.
When, FN modernized the High Power it stole its soul. It feels like the firearm lost its uniqueness. It seems more utilitarian than ever before. If feels like it’s lost the rough edges that endeared it to people. It wasn’t prefect but, it was perfectly imperfect. Those imperfections allowed you to enjoy the nuance and beauty of what the Hi-Power did well. The original Hi-Power had a level of craftsmanship and personality put into it that this interpretation lacks severely.
FN’s rendition is so by the numbers. Too much of a modern take that it becomes soulless. What makes a remake good is when it takes and keeps all that makes the original so iconic.
Most modern movie remakes fall into this same trap. Those remakes on the surface hit all the right notes. When film studios edit and tweak it too far from the original it loses its soul. What remains is only the husk of the original. That is what FN did with the High Power they stripped it of its soul. It became too modern in its feel and too utilitarian in its design. It removed the character from the pistol. In doing so removed it’s soul.
When we see refinements in other platforms like the 1911 it keeps its soul. The manufacturers of those quality 1911s don’t change the formula they refine and tweak it. Making sure the 1911 never looses its roots. Other firearms outside of the 1911 have accomplished this as well. FN’s rework of the formula was too much in my opinion and just leaves a soulless rendition before us.
I believe that Springfield Amory’s SA-35 pays respect to its lineage while also modernizing the Hi-Power. It makes the same quality of life additions as FN’s High Power without stripping out all of its soul away. I know the SA-35 isn’t prefect. It has to iron out some extractor issues that have been found. Once that is ironed out it will be a fitting rendition worthy of the. Hi-Power lineage.
To wrap this all up I believe FN should have done a few things differently with their High Power. First, FN should have stayed in the 13-15 round magazine capacity to keep it classic. Two, they should have made the necessary reliability and performance enhancements. Third, FN should have kept the dark and seductive black luster finish with the iconic wood grain grip panels.
Then, final nail in the coffin I almost forgot to mention is the price point. I believe they should have lowered the price of admission for this pistol. FN’s High Power is retailing at $1,299 MSRP, which is a steep price of entry. I expect a high quality rendition of the Hi-Power at that price. My impression leads me to believe that it’s not worth that amount of cash. The new Springfield SA-35 retails for less than half the price at $699 MSRP.
Which makes you wonder if this is a cash grab by FN or if they are relying on its brand pedigree to justify its price. That, I do not know but it’s price point is something I wish would be reevaluated. I know firearm manufacturers run on razor thin margins. I’m not trying to strip their earnings but, damn I didn’t expect that price point. Maybe this price point is what FN believes is fair market value. That’s understandable. I just believe the price point is a little steep.
At the end of the day I wanted to like FN’s High Power. Yet, in the end I didn’t like FN’s rendition stayed faithful to it’s origins. The rendition that FN has presented before me is devoid of character and soul. Character and soul that made the original Hi-Power beloved by some firearm enthusiasts. Instead of honor its lineage we receive a soul rendition of a iconic pistol, which at the end of the day is disappointing.
Thanks For Reading
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