April 22, 2022
By Michelle Hamilton, Field Editor
The FN Company is no stranger to top quality firearms and produce some of the more iconic arms ever made. From the "Right Arm of the Free World", to answering US SOCOM's request for a Combat Assault Rifle for Special Operations Forces use (SCAR program, Mk. 16 and Mk. 17) they have successfully struck more hits than misses. Synonymous with quality, durability and longevity, it is no wonder that so many trust offerings from FN. So, when I heard that FN was releasing the High Power at SHOT 2022 (following Springfield Armory's SA-35's release), I was ecstatic. The icon of 9mm handguns finally making the reintroduction to the market! My excitement was quickly extinguished when I saw the offered, production firearms.
The FN "High Power" is a single-action-only, steel frame, double-stack handgun with manual safety. That is pretty much where the similarities end with the original Hi-Power however. This 17-round handgun features several unique styling cues, meaning the parts are 100% proprietary and will not interchange with any variant of the Hi-Power/GP1935 handgun. The handguns appearance is "blocky" and almost "bulky" in comparison to its predecessor, losing much of those sleek Hi-Power lines. What is presented is a handgun that is lost in transition, somewhere within the past 80+ years. While somewhat "updated", it retains the Hi-Power's basic overall (and less than optimal) safety. The safety design is reminiscent of something found on the Colt Mfg. 2000, or something from the "Wonder 9" era. This isn't "retro" in a good way, rather in a bad, especially for those who may consider carrying this handgun "cocked and locked" (Condition 1).
For me, this handgun feels almost like a "hodge-podge" at best, when viewing it as a "High Power". Many may call me biased, as I am a Hi-Power owner and love the design, but FN needs to understand the customer basis in which they would be selling this firearm too. This target audience is expecting ultimately a Browning Hi-Power, a classic GP1935, or something extremely close. These people are purchasing these handguns due to their design, their lineage, history and the sleek, petite lines of this aging double-stack 9mm. They are likely not purchasing a newly produced single-action-only, steel-frame handgun in 2022 for carry purposes, especially considering the offerings of double-action/single-action, double-action-only and striker-fired handguns offered from so many other companies, including FN themselves.
In my opinion, Springfield Armory did their updates and upgrades properly and retained the classic GP1935 lines, appeal and luster. They brought about several things that people wanted originally, and introduced a beautiful handgun that is a true Hi-Power. Even with the Turkish Tisas BR-9 and the new EAA/Girsan MC-35 introduced at SHOT 2022, they are practically a direct copy of a Mk. I and Mk. III Hi-Power. While no noticed "updates" were made, they stayed true to what a Hi-Power is and what it is loved for. Where and what FN could have accomplished with this handgun is limitless to say the least. It feels and looks "rushed" into design and production. It is almost like FN saw the Springfield SA-35 and thought "we have to have something to throw at SHOT 2022!" and feels like a High School science project that has been postponed to the last minute if viewing it as a "High Power". They are counting on the customer base purchasing the handgun because it is "FN" and says "High Power", unfortunately, I believe the result will be the opposite.
While it seems that I am being negative to even "harsh" on FN's offering, it is nothing more than constructive criticism and personal opinion on how they marketed the handgun. That said, if a person views it outside the realm of their market goal and views it as an all steel handgun offered from FN, there are numerous positives. It utilizes a single-piece guide rod, which I like. I find that a noted and definite upgrade on its predecessor, the 1911. I also like the capacity as well. Anyone who knows me will know that I am a huge fan of more bullets, so the 17-round capacity definitely bring it into the realm of the 21st century. I like the fact that it will exhibit typical FN quality and quality control and also use FN's famed cold hammer-forged barrels. I also like the iron sights they marketed it with. They look nice and are definitely on level with other modern offerings. I also like the FN "square style checkering" that modern FN handguns are given. It always seems to fit my hand well with my FNS9, FNX9 and FNX45 Tactical. Overall, it is a really nice handgun, but it is not a Hi-Power or "High Power". It is closer to a single-action only, all steel FNX than anything.
Speaking on the FNX line of handguns, I believe that the "High Power" would have been better marketed as a "HP-510" or "HPX" line of handgun. The target audience is going to ultimately dislike this and largely skip over it simply due to its name and link to the name’s lineage. Also, I feel they did an incomplete job of transitioning this handgun into the 21st century. Viewing initial public opinions on the handgun, it would have been better served with an alloy frame, a picatinny rail for lights or accessories, made in double-action/single-action, design a quality safety and offer it as a decocker. I believe an "RMR cut" (micro red dot cut) offering would also work well, along with a threaded barrel and suppressor height sights. This could be offered much in the same way as the FNX and FNX Tactical or 509 and 509 Tactical are marketed and offered.
FN missed a golden opportunity to effectively break into the "DA/SA", metal-framed firearms market that is largely dominated by SIG Sauer and CZ with their 75 and 85 offerings. While the Browning BDM was largely unsuccessful, I believe that it was largely due to incompatibility of magazines between the massively popular (at that time) Browning Hi-Power, the fact that the BDM was a "high capacity handgun" largely produced during the Clinton era "assault weapons ban" and "high capacity magazine" ban. Also, the BDM was largely ahead of its time. That trifecta largely sunk the BDM, regardless of how well built, accurate, reliable or robust it was. Regardless of how settled SIG Sauer's P series and CZ's 75 series of handguns are, FN has the clout, reputation, history and the means to break that monopoly and the "High Power" would have been the golden opportunity.
It will be interesting to see how the market accepts and how it plays out for the FN High Power offering. I personally believe they missed the mark pretty badly with the offering. The handgun feels lost somewhere between a Hi-Power and CZ-75, with a lot of 1980s through 1990s styling cues borrowed from the largely failed design of the Colt 2000 All American, Colt Double Eagle, Sphinx 2000 and IMI Kareen Mk. III. The public is screaming for a reintroduction of the FN FNC rifle and possibly even a step back into the "Right Arm of the Free World", the beloved FAL.
The High Power feels a little bit too much like a "me too" offering, seeing as how Girsan is importing their Turkish MC-35 through EAA, alongside Tisas's BR-9, both of which are well built, traditional Hi-Power offerings, shoot well, and have a street price typically meeting the $500 or less mark. Then take Springfield Armory's Hi-Power offering with an MSRP of $699. All three offerings come in at roughly half of FN's projected $1,299 MSRP. With this price and the issues mentioned, I believe the High Power will be ultimately a hard sell and will fall into obscurity, much in the same way as FN's Hi-Power offering did to the Browning offering. For more information on FN America’s new High Power pistol visit www.FNAmerica.com
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About the Author:
Michelle Hamilton has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security, is a serious student of wound ballistics, military history, small arms design and manufacturing and is a competitive shooter.