Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Comparison: Baretta 92 and Fabrique Nationale Hi-Power

Somewhere along the way it morphed from self-defense shooting to an interest in accuracy.  A desire to group tightly and punch the center right out of the target.  Well, OK, wanting to look at others on the range and think "Nah nah na nah na I shoot better than you!".  But let that go...  I work with my carry piece virtually every week trying to get as close to that as I can.  But, of course, there's only so much you can ask of a short-barreled self defense carry gun.  It's made for more close up shooting.  I'll keep working on it, but the chances of my punching the center out of a target at 25 yards with a gun that has a 3.5 inch barrel is probably not real good.  I just figure the more I practice and use that as my goal the more likely that in a SHTF moment my muscles will know what to do when the rest of me is going "WHAT THE HELL?!"

I sold the Glock 19 on because I realized that I was never going to shoot well with it.  The grip, the trigger, and my small hands meant that I always felt like I was squishing things around after every shot, trying to get a better grip.  Not as bad as the day I was sweating like crazy and my first gun sort of popped out of my hands like I was trying to grab a fish, but once I started shooting other guns I realized that it just didn't feel right.

Anyway.  Murphy's Law is not one to not stoke a burgeoning gun addiction, so he's been good enough to lend me some guns to try.  Which is good - again, small hands, short arms, need to find right fit, which means handle the gun and stores don't tend to let you take their merchandise out for a trial at the range.  So he lent me two 9 mm guns to compare:  a Beretta 92 and a Fabrique Nationale/Browning Hi-Power.

First discovery was not so much a discovery so I knew to just keep at it - dadgum slides on unfamiliar guns.  It's not just hand strength, but also just getting the feel of how you need to hold and pull in order to rack the slide.  And I have at least learned to drop the magazine out if it's fighting back.  Seems a simple thing, but each gun is different and I have to work for a bit to find just the right grip and stress point to make it lock back.  It made life much easier once I realized I might have to mess around a bit to get the feel of each gun.

First up was last week - the Beretta 92.   Originally designed in 1972, a version of it is now the official military side arm.  A search on the serial number turned up a manufacture date of 1988 for this one, which formally lived with the New Orleans PD.  According to the ever useful Wikipedia:
In the 1970s every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces except the U. S. Air Force carried the .45 ACP M1911 pistol. USAF opted to use .38 special revolvers, which were also carried by some criminal investigation/military police organizations, USAF strategic missile (ICBM) officer crews, and by military flight crew members across all the services when serving in combat zones or when engaged in nuclear weapons duties.
The Department of Defense then decided to synchronize the weapons of all five branches of U.S. forces. The ground combat branches of the services found this decision highly contentious, but was meant to eliminate the need to buy replacements for worn out M1911 frames and to establish a common NATO pistol round to simplify logistics in case of war with the Soviet Union in Europe. In 1979 the Joint Service Small Arms Program began searching for a replacement for the venerable M1911, and the 9×19mm Parabellum round was selected for compliance with the NATO Standardization Agreement(STANAG). In 1980, the Beretta 92S-1 design was chosen over entries from Colt, Smith & Weson, Walther, the Star M28, and various Fabrique Nationale and Heckler & Koch models.
It's a real gun.  Not polymer - steel.  Heavy and very solid feeling.  One thing I found interesting is the open slide design:

 We got along very, very well, even with the large grips.

That was at maybe 15 to 18 yards - I was about 3/4 of the way back on the 25 yard range at 340 Defense for those that know that range.

Then I had to wait a while because the stars weren't aligning for pistol work.

But they matched up today for a short run to the range with the Baretta and another in tow - a Fabrique National (or Browning)  Hi-Power.  It's wiki entry says it started production in 1935 and:

The Browning Hi-Power was designed in response to a French military requirement for a new service pistol, the Grand Rendement (French for "High Yield"), or alternatively Grande Puissance (literally "high power"). The French military's requirements were that the arm should be compact, have a capacity of at least 10 rounds, a magazine disconnect device, an external hammer, a positive safety, be robust and simple to disassemble and re-assemble, and be capable of killing a man at 50 meters; this last criterion was seen to demand a caliber of 9 mm or larger, a bullet mass of around 8 grams (123.5 grains), and a muzzle velocity of 350 m/s (1148 ft/s). It was to accomplish all of this at a weight not exceeding 1 kg (2.2 lb).
FN commissioned John Browning to design a new military sidearm conforming to this specification. Browning had previously sold the rights to his successful M1911 U.S. Army automatic pistol to Colt's Patent Firearms, and was therefore forced to design an entirely new pistol while working around the M1911 patents. Browning built two different prototypes for the project in Utah and filed the patent for this pistol in the United States on June 28, 1923, granted on February 22, 1927.   One was a simple blowback design, while the other was operated with a locked-breech recoil system. Both prototypes utilized the new staggered magazine design (by designer Dieudonn√© Saive) to increase capacity without unduly increasing the pistol's grip size or magazine length.
Interesting note:  "Hi-Power" doesn't mean high power.  It refers to the ability to carry more ammo in the magazine.

This one's serial number says it was made in 1989.  Not as big as the 92, it's still a substantial pre-polymer gun.  I noticed one thing in particular - more muzzle flip than the 92.  I need to do more digging, because the stats I find for both guns right now are for current models, but I'd be interested in the weight difference.

92 top, Hi-Power bottom
And I don't have any pics from today.  For one, it was unpleasantly crowded.  I suppose people are off for Thanksgiving.  I did well to get a target out, let alone run down and get a picture.  For the other, ya know the John Denver song that says some days are diamond and some days are rust?  Today was rust.  There was an impermeable dome over the plate a good deal of the time.  I shot the daylights out of an area starting about where you see the tops of my fingers in the first pic all the way around the bottom at about that same hand width.  Yeah, I killed the bad guy but yeesh.  And because it was crowded I couldn't start closer and work back - I had to shoot the full 25 yards.  Ah well, another day.  Everybody please go back to work and let me practice in peace.  Although I was somewhat entertained by the guys next to me who had some sort of sooper dooper whizbangy laser sight on their pistol.  "It's the gun it's the gun the sights are off."  Partner takes gun and knocks the plates down one by one.  "The sights are not off.  I hit dead center every time I shoot it."  First guy tries again and doesn't shoot dooky.  "It's the gun it's the gun the sights are off."

The verdict right now - I like the 92 a bit better than the the Hi-Power.  On these specific examples I like the trigger on the 92 better than the one on the Hi-Power, but I realize triggers are changeable.  I liked the 92 well enough that when Someone-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named forwarded me a link for a heckofa price on one I grabbed it.  I didn't get more than 30 rounds through the Hi-Power today though.  It deserves further contemplation.

And now I have to go back to trusty Google and find out how to strip and clean these guys.


  1. What fun for you!
    Stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. What fun for you!
    Stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


  3. Hi-Powers have cruddy triggers because of a disconnect safety that keeps the gun from being fired if the magazine isn't inserted. Many shooters will advise removing that disconnect to improve the trigger, but others will advise against removing any safety device from a gun for fear of a prosecutor using it against you if you have to shoot someone.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving

  5. It's practice... that'll knock the rust off. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  6. It's practice... that'll knock the rust off. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  7. I like the reduced width on the front of the 92 slide. Useful for operating the slide when ol aurther-itis makes my hands ache. I also am fond of the hammer drop safety, and the DA shot ability. It is not much different than a 1911 in size though, when you hold them side by side.

  8. I like the reduced width on the front of the 92 slide. Useful for operating the slide when ol aurther-itis makes my hands ache. I also am fond of the hammer drop safety, and the DA shot ability. It is not much different than a 1911 in size though, when you hold them side by side.