Dual-purpose hi-power: convertible fun with a 9mm and a .22 LR.

Author:Wood, J.B.

Even among today's excellent polymer wonder-nines, the old Hi-Power still has a certain chasm. Being all steel, it sits solidly in the hand. and many shooters like the fact that it is not double-action. Its reliability is well established and in previous times, numerous nations adopted it as military standard. One of those was Argentina, where it also was used by police.

The earliest of those contract pistols were made by Fabrique Nationale in Belgium. Later, in 1969, under license from FN, production of the Hi-Power began at the Fabrica Militar de Armas Portatiles Domingo Matheu in Argentina. The name of this firm is often given as simply "FM" (Fabrica Militar), so let's take care to avoid confusing it with "FN."

After the military and police contracts were completed, the Argentine-made Hi-Power began to be offered for commercial sale. There have been several U.S. importers over the years for both surplus pistols and new ones. The current importer for the new-production pieces is Pacific Armament Corp. in Modesto, Calif.

These new HPs are very ranch like the old originals in appearance and feel the same in hand, but there are important differences. They have the extended manual safety of the late Browning/FN Hi-Powers, and the system is ambidextrous. Also, there is a neat internal automatic firing pin block that is cleared only in the last fraction of trigger pull.

The polymer grip panels are also similar to the late FN versions, with a thumb-and-finger recess at the top and checkering in the main portion. The slide latch and the push-button magazine release are within easy thumb-reach without changing the hold. The sights are excellent, give a square sight picture, with three white rectangles and the slide has a full-length grooved rib. Both front and rear are dovetail mounted and laterally adjustable for windage.

The magazine has the usual HP capacity of 13 rounds. And now, some good news and bad news: The good news is the damnable magazine safety is easily removable, and taking it out will allow the magazine to drop free when the button is pushed. The bad news is someday you may hear an ambitious prosecutor in court say, " ... and you removed a safety device from this pistol?"

Pacific has the pistol in two versions, a full size and the Detective model. The latter has the same frame, but the slide and barrel are about an inch shorter. The finish is an attractive flat black, and I am told that it's a polymer application over Parkerizing...

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