Lightweight High Power Handguns – Aluminum Framed Could Have Beens

John Moses Browning was known to have stated his High Power designs and the technological upgrade and successor to the venerable 1911 handgun. Using a double-stack 9mm magazine and the first handgun to feature the now ubiquitous Browning tilting block operation, the High Power has served and continues to serve as a stalwart military sidearm… but its a heavy one.

Clocking in at 35 ounces, the High Power cannot typically be viewed as a svelte design. Unlike many more recent designs, both the frame and the slide are steel. While certainly strong, the steel construction makes the High Power the modern handgun equivalent of a functional boat anchor – a fact not lost on many, including the handguns’ manufacturers.

Canada, in fact, was at the forefront of potential weight reduction on the handguns. After an initial successful experiment at milling material from the slide, the Canadians proceeded to manufacture High Powers out of billet aluminum. Sent to the US, UK, and to domestic armories, the various militaries found the weight reduction quite agreeable, though the aluminum did show some wear issues around the locking block (which could and would have been easily solved).

For the full story, to see the handguns themselves, and brush up on your post World War II weapons development, check out the video from Ian over at Forgotten Weapons.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Edeco

    I could be wrong but think of “svelte” as a matter of outside shape, so I’d call them svelte, albeit heavy. Where as Glocks are light but not svelte. Metal frame Sigs are the worst of all worlds 😛

  • This is probably the first time in my life I’ve ever heard someone refer to the BHP as a boat anchor. It is more or less the same weight as every other steel handgun out there, and IMHO, it’s still one of the most comfortable handguns to hold and shoot ever made.

    • retfed

      I agree. The BHP is one of the slimmest designs there is, and the grip is what every double-stack grip wishes it could be. It’s probably the most comfortable double-stack pistol I’ve shot in 40 years of shooting them. The only problem is that tiny, flat safety.

    • Jim Kiser

      I have to agree. I have a family member that owns one and it’s a pleasure to handle and shoot every time. As a matter of fact this article reminds me that’s the next pistol I want for my collection. Have fun and stay safe all.

  • Gus Butts

    The regular Hi-Power No.2 Mk1*s with the steel frames already have a very common problem of the locking pieces in the frames becoming loose because the holes oval out over time. I can’t even imagine how bad it would’ve been with aluminum frames…

  • Xanderbach

    Hate to be that guy, but the first sentence in this article doesn’t work as a sentence.

    • retfed

      You beat me to it. It needs a verb in the subordinate clause. I think the first “and” should have been an “are” or a “were.”

    • Graham2

      It reads like it’s been translated using Google Translate! I hate moaninng about speeling an gramar but its quiet destracting!

      • retfed

        Eye here ewe. Its bin grate to sea yew.

  • Joel

    “John Moses Browning was known to have stated his High Power designs and the technological upgrade and successor to the venerable 1911 handgun.”

    • There is quite a gulf between what JMB finished before his death and what D.J. Saive delivered to the world as the GP35.

  • Roguewriter

    Every time I see an article or ad for a new 9mm 1911, I think of the Inglis HiPower I have in my safe and smile.

  • Adam

    The only thing the hi-power needs is a beaver tail as part of the frame casting/forging. A flared mag well, undercut trigger guard, and mounting rail would also be nice.

  • Mark Horning

    Israeli Aluminum Hi-powers are out there. They come to market every so often.

    • Yes, but those were later FN production. This one was made in Canada by John Inglis.

  • Diver6106

    Give me steel – no plastic, no aluminum! I have a S&W 69 because of the higher capacity 9mm mag. But it quickly had noticeable wear on the the aluminum frame where the steel slide moves. Wish I had known more, I would have bought a High Power instead.