FN’s High Power is Much More Than Just a Remake By: Jeff Cramblit

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Having carried a 9mm High Power as my carry gun for many years before the invention of all the polymer guns, I jumped at the chance to do the review of the new FN High Power. When it arrived, I knew it was not just a remake of the legendary design, but a significant upgrade. Some of the differences were evident as soon as I opened the pistol case. The subtler changes revealed themselves as I handled the pistol on the range.

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The most obvious change is that the new High Power looks a bit larger, and it is. Instead of the original 13 + 1 capacity, it now sports a 17-round magazine, so the grip is a bit longer. The added .35” doesn’t seem like much to add 4 rounds to the magazine. I tried the new magazine in my old High Power and unfortunately, it wouldn’t fit. The new 17-round magazine is a few thousands of an inch wider as well as longer.

Enlarged and flared ejection port

The slide also looked beefier to me so it warranted a little measuring. It was thicker, almost a tenth of an inch thicker on the rear of the slide, and about half that at the muzzle. I expected this to make the slide significantly heavier, but it didn’t due to machining on the underside of the slide and the large aggressive cocking serrations. It turned out it was only 1/8th of an ounce heavier.

Simple take down and field stripping

Specifications

Height              5.25”

Length             8”

Thickness         1.24”

Weight             40 Ounces

Caliber             9mm

Action              Single Action

Barrel               4.7” 1 in 10 twist

Capacity           17 + 1

Sights               Fixed High Profile

Safety               Ambidextrous

Slide Release    Ambidextrous

Finish               Black PVD (Flat Dark Earth or Stainless Steel ($1369)also available)

MSRP               $1269

The heft of the pistol is evident as soon as you pick it up. In a time of polymer pistols, the 2-pound weight of the new HP gives it a solid feel in your hand. It also makes the 9mm very easy to shoot. The weight tames the recoil and makes the pistol easy to keep on target. It was an absolute pleasure to shoot for a few hundred rounds at the range.

No more hammer bite

The best part of the entire FN HP package is that the updated grip design is outstanding. A huge issue with the old High Powers was that the hammer would pinch and bite the web of your hand when the slide cycled, and it hurt. I hate to question the venerable John Moses Browning design, but the beavertail area of the old guns was just a poor design. FN fixed all that and I never felt the first touch from the hammer or slide in hundreds of rounds of testing. Thank you, FN.

In addition to fixing the beaver tail FN also put a little checkering on the front and rear of the grip allowing a more secure hold while firing the pistol. One of the subtler touches is the generous undercut where the trigger guard meets the grip. That undercut allows a higher grip and more control on the gun.

Clean, classic lines, high undercut grip and ambidextrous controls

The new High Power also comes with fantastic ambidextrous safeties and slide releases that are large and easy to operate. It also comes with a new takedown lever system rather than removing the slide stop on the old styles. One welcome thing that is missing from the new design is the old magazine disconnect that would keep the pistol from firing without a magazine inserted.

Large, clean sight picture of the FN High Power

The high-profile sights are securely dovetailed into the slide and allow for windage adjustments but not elevation. The sights are bold and present a great sight picture for defensive/ practical shooting. The trigger breaks with a nice 4 lb 10 ounce press. It has a small amount of take up and a light trigger return. The good sights, solid weight and smooth trigger make the gun easy to shoot.

Range Time

Perfect reliability and function with everything from 100 to 147 grains

I ran the FN High Power through 100 rounds just to break it in a little and see how it functioned while it was new. I’ll cut straight to the chase: the FN High Power ran flawlessly from the first round to the last, not just the first 100 but through all the testing. It functioned with hollow points, flat tips, TMJ, ball ammo, everything I put in both of the 17-round magazines.

Hornady Critical Defense posted excellent groups

I did accuracy testing from a table at 15 yards with several types and manufacturers of ammunition. The good news is 4 different loads shot 5 round groups between 1.73“and 2”. Hornady Critical Defense shot the best 5 shot group, and Speer Lawman 147 TMJ the best 10 round group measuring 2.037”.

One constant besides the good groups, was that the High Power was hitting slightly low on the targets. Unfortunately, the sights have no provisions for elevation adjustment. The average with the ammunition I tested was about 1- 1.5 inches low at 15 yards. This was the only issue I found in the entire testing. A slightly shorter front sight would correct this.

10 rounds just a touch over 2 inches

After the recent shooting event at the Indiana shopping mall, the Dicken Drill has been making the rounds at the ranges, so I tried it with the FN High Power. The drill is 10 rounds in 15 seconds from 40 yards at a silhouette target. The passing score is 8 hits of the 10 rounds.

I shot the drill twice and got all 10 hits both times from the 40 yards in 12.3 and 12.4 seconds. Both drills had all the hits but the hits were low as expected from the previous group shooting.

Checkering everywhere you need it

Summary

So how does the FN High Power stack up against my original HP? FN did a great job on the new model. It is a fantastic upgrade to the old design that corrects several of the original design limitations. It functioned flawlessly, has great upgraded controls, increased magazine capacity, a much better-designed grip for control and comfort, and shot accurately with a wide variety of ammunition.

FN changed the battlefield in 1935 putting the high capacity High Power into service around the world, and the new model raises that design to modern standards. The icing on the cake is that it is made in the USA in Columbia SC.

FN High Power

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