December 08, 2022
By Jeremy Stafford
In a world full of specialized guns, I’ve found that the new FN High Power does many things well. (Yes, Hi-Power aficionados, that’s how FN spelled it.) What it does better than most is simple. It’s fun. I know that’s a crazy concept in 2022 when every gun is supposed to be a hyper focused tool to save lives or win matches, but this pistol is nothing if not defiant in the face of modern pistol norms.
It does not have a light rail or an optic cut, so it can’t possibly be tactical. It doesn’t have a flared or even beveled magazine well so one could not possibly hope to win a match with it. In case you can’t tell, I’m being facetious. The fact remains though, that the new HP is not optimized for any particular task. It’s just fun, and that’s one of the most endearing things about it.
Let’s get through the technical specifications and then we’ll talk about range performance. The gun is large, at 8 inches long and over 5½ inches tall. It’s also heavy weighing in at around 40 ounces. To put that weight in context, that’s more than a pound heavier than a Glock 17. Distance from the backstrap to the face of the trigger is a scant 2.5 inches with the trigger itself retaining the legacy frame to slide sear linkage of the original pistol. I’m not sure why this was done as all the Colt patents that drove this idea are long since expired, but it is what it is. Regardless of the overcomplicated linkage, the trigger broke at a very consistent 5 pounds, 2 ounces. The trigger moves through about 1/8-inch of take-up before breaking cleanly, but the reset feels very Beretta 92-like, with the shooter’s finger having to move about 1/8 past the wall before the sear resets. It’s a longer movement than some striker guns and forces the shooter to press through the take-up slack every time. In dry practice, it’s noticeable, but since I rarely shoot to reset, it was not noticeable on the range. The frame feels like legacy Hi-Powers but is slightly larger. The replaceable grip panels are sculpted plastic and the black model I tested ships with two sets, black and brown. I’m looking forward to seeing what the aftermarket has in store for the grips.
The pistol’s controls evoke the P-35 that it claims as an ancestor, but they have been re-engineered. The thumb safety is ambidextrous and engages positively with just a little right-side wiggle. The slide release is also ambi and is of the long-arm style. It’s meant to be used as a slide release rather than just a slide lock as it is serrated and angled at the top to allow the slide to be dropped on a loaded magazine. The takedown process has been streamlined with the shooter only needing to remove the magazine, lock the slide to the rear, rotate the takedown lever on the right side down, and then guide the slide off the frame. From there it mimics nearly every other modern service pistol in existence. The guide rod is plastic and noticeably shorter than the 4.7-inch barrel would indicate. Perhaps it’s meant to be used with a commander sized slide assembly down the line like the old Argentinian FM detective model? Time will tell, as the factory was mum when I asked. The barrel is slightly belled at the muzzle allowing the pistol to lock up tightly at both the muzzle end of the slide as well as on the barrel hood. The extractor is an internal design, but it is substantial and utilizes a coil spring.
Sights are steel, plain black, and feature a very generous notch in the rear. I might change the front out for a fiber optic in the future, but as-is the sights are very easy to use with plenty of light on each side of the front post. The slide is tastefully serrated at the rear and the scallops at the front provide plenty of surface to perform a front press-check if that’s your preference.
I’ve had the HP for several months now and after shooting over 3,000 rounds of mixed ammunition through it I feel like I’ve got a handle on its performance. Because of the weight and the ergonomics like the undercut trigger guard and the high tang, the pistol is very flat shooting with minimal muzzle rise. Bore axis is low because of the aforementioned attributes, and while I don’t think that it is as important as some make it out to be, it certainly doesn’t hurt. The pistol responds well to being shot with a high grip that focuses tension laterally high up on the stocks. There were times when I really got into the gun, and I barely saw the front sight jump. In just over 3,000 rounds, I haven’t had any malfunctions. That’s pretty impressive for an all-metal gun that hasn’t been cleaned, although I did keep it lubricated.
The pistol did get slightly more accurate as I shot it, with groups being shot at 25 yards at 500 rounds, 1000 rounds and finally at about 2300 rounds. This could also be due to me getting dialed in on the pistol, but the paper doesn’t lie and using my control load of Federal’s 124-grain HST, the pistol’s average groups went from 1.6 inches to 1.5 inches and finally to 1.1 inches, respectively, at 25 yards with many sub-1-inch groups in the mix. The big FN does seem to have a liking for bullets in the 115 to 124 grain range with many sub-2-inch group averages from offerings like the Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense and the Remington 115-grain HTP hollow point. Even bulk ammo was respectable with nothing going over 4 inches regardless of bullet weight.
For a pure shooter, it’s in the conversation of best in class. I compare it favorably to some of the more established heavyweights like the CZ 75 series and I hope that FN continues to develop it and offer specialized options, like a competition model and a duty model. Much like the newer Camaros and Challengers, the FN High Power gives you plenty of performance along with a touch of nostalgia. It’s a heady combination.
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