TFB FIELD STRIP: Browning HP And Licensed Copies

    In XX century very few weapons were truly ahead of their time. You can argue about many designs, and if they were actually innovative, but there is no doubt that when FN Herstal Browning HP was designed in 1935 it was way ahead of any competition.

    Original prototypes of High-Power were designed by John Moses Browning and after his death, the work was continued by Dieudonné Saive, Belgium firearms designed who was employed by FN Herstal.

    During WW2, Browning HP was used both by Allied and Axis forces, in the 70s this pistol became a  weapon of choice of British SAS. In the 80s, the FBI HRT team used it as a primary handgun. And even now, 84 years after its creation, it still remains to be a standard sidearm in Canadian and Australian military, and there is a good reason for that.

    Private Greg Harris and Private Peter Hallin fire their 9mm Browning pistols, during a range practice in Dili, East Timor, 2009. (Photo: Royal Australian Army)

    Private Greg Harris and Private Peter Hallin fire their 9mm Browning pistols, during a range practice in Dili, East Timor, 2009. (Photo: Royal Australian Army)

    High capacity 9 mm handgun with double stack magazine is essentially what we use right now, in XXI century. If you think about actual capabilities of Browning HP against let’s say, Glock 17, they are roughly the same. Sure, Glock is lighter, has a slightly better magazine capacity and you can put tons of goofy aftermarket accessories on it, but when the lead starts flying those two guns would be almost identical in their capabilities.

    So, for those who say that Browning HP is antiquated and useless, I will say – as long as you have ammunition and magazines for it, it is not outdated. Different versions of Browning HP are still in production in India, Turkey and other countries, FN Herstal only stopped manufacturing these pistols in 2018. The amount of  Browning HP pistols in circulation is impossible to estimate.

    And therefore it makes sense to know how to field strip this iconic weapon. Back in the day, I did not know that, and when I first encountered a Browning HP in South Africa, I had to learn the hard way that you must keep your HP well maintained and lubed if you want it to run well.

    A friend's Browning HP pistol that kept author safe in some parts of South Africa.

    A friend’s Browning HP pistol that kept the author safe in some parts of South Africa.

    BEFORE YOU FIELD STRIP ANY WEAPON, REMEMBER the four rules of gun safety:

    1. All guns are always loaded.
    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
    4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

    Step 1. Remove the magazine by pressing the magazine release and visually inspect the chamber to ensure there is no cartridge in it.

    Step 2. Lock the slide rearward by pulling the slide back and engaging the “safety” lever into the disassembly recess on the slide.

    Step 3. Remove the slide stop from the pistol frame by pushing the protrusion on the right side of the pistol.

    Lift up slightly on the serrated portion of the slide stop to disengage it from the frame and pull it out of the frame.

    If that doesn’t work, you can always use a flat screwdriver to get under a slide stop lever and push it out.

    Step 4. Grasp the slide firmly, pull it rearward slightly and move the safety lever down. The slide will move forward under spring tension and off the frame.

    Step 5. While holding the slide, press the head of the recoil spring guide forward to release it from the barrel.

    Remove the recoil spring and its guide.

    Step 6. To remove the barrel from the slide, lift up the barrel lug and slide the barrel out rearward.

    According to Browning HP manual: “no further disassembly is recommended as the pistol is now stripped
    adequately for normal maintenance and cleaning“.

    If you want to know more, you can download Browning HP manual here


    Vladimir Onokoy

    Vladimir Onokoy is a small arms subject matter expert and firearms instructor. Over the years he worked in 15 different countries as a security contractor, armorer, firearms industry sales representative, product manager, and consultant.

    His articles were published in the Recoil magazine, Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defence Journal, and Silah Report, he also created several video series such as “Gun myths”, “Kalashnikov: around the world”, “Larry Vickers in Russia” and “Kalashnikov: evolution” that are available on YouTube.
    ► Email: machaksilver at gmail dot com.
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