Inglis 9mm Hi Power

Crude but better?

Duke firing his Chinese-contract Inglis Hi Power 9mm with wooden shoulder stock/holster.

Here’s a conundrum for you — what World War II pistol had the same name, fired the same cartridge but were made by two different manufacturers on different continents and issued to opposing sides? They were the FN (Fabrique Nationale/Belgium) 9mm Hi-Power and Inglis (John Inglis/Canada) 9mm Hi Power.

The FN factory was seized by the German Wehrmacht in 1940 and all its production of weapons were diverted for use by Axis forces. Prime among those weapons was the Browning Hi-Power, aka the P35. The Nazi SS especially was known to favor Hi-Powers. On the other hand, the Inglis Hi Power made in Canada were intended for Canada’s military, plus Britain’s and even the Nationalist Chinese.

Top is the Inglis Hi Power made for the Canadian and British forces in 1944/1945.
Middle is Inglis Hi Power made for the National Chinese with wooden shoulder stock/holster.
Bottom is the FN Hi-Power 9mm made in Belgium for the German Wehrmacht.

Two Tales

There are two basic stories of how the Inglis Hi Power came to be. One is six FN Hi-Powers were smuggled from Belgium to Canada then reverse engineered. The second story — and likely the correct one — is six Belgium-made Hi-Powers were obtained from China by Inglis and reverse engineered.

This information came from a booklet titled The Inglis-Browning Hi Power Pistol by R. Blake Stevens. Mr. Stevens also reported Inglis Hi Power production did not start until February 1944 and ended in September 1945. Despite the short period of manufacture, 151,816 were made.
FN and Inglis Hi Power pistols look the same but are different. Some but not all parts may interchange but from my own experience, their magazines do. When the Inglis engineers designed their Hi Power, they changed screw threads from metric to American National Form (ANF) — inches, in other words. Belgian-made Hi-Powers still received a blued finish with wooden grips while the Inglis Hi Power was given a phosphate finish (Parkerizing) and checkered grips of a synthetic material.

One small factor gives the Canadian version a plus in my mind — their front sights are blades fitted into a dovetail on the slide while the Belgium Hi-Power has a staked-in blade front sight. Thusly, the Canadian version can be fitted with four inserts of varying heights ranging from 0.125″ to 0.165″ and drifted laterally for zeroing. Interestingly, they were adjusted for point of impact at 20 yards. America’s U.S. Model 1911/1911A1 were set for 50 yards.

According to Steven’s booklet, Inglis specs were barrels of 4.875″ with six-groove, right-hand rifling of one turn in 10″. Weight empty was 2 lbs., 1 oz. Magazines were double stack but single feed. A lanyard ring was installed on the left side at the bottom of the grip panel. Safety was an up/down latch at the rear of the slide. Hi-Power pistols from both sides had magazine safeties, meaning the pistols could not be fired when the magazine was absent. There was also a half-cock notch on the hammer.

Inglis copies were made in two basic styles. For the Canadian and British militaries there was a simple non-moveable notched rear sight coupled with the already mentioned dovetailed front. For the Nationalist Chinese, the Inglis Hi Power was fitted with a tangent style rear sight, which could be raised in increments from 50 to 500 yards — ridiculously optimistic for 115-grain bullets at about 1,250 fps!

The Chinese/Inglis pistols also had a fixture at the back of the grip frame so wooden shoulder stocks, also serving as wooden holsters, could be fitted. The Hi Power meant for China had a CH as part of their serial numbers. Early Chinese contract versions also had Chinese characters stamped on their slides while later ones did not.

Here is one last tiny interesting feature — even though the Inglis Hi Power pistols were actually a counterfeit, their slides did carry the name Browning. Also, unlike most military firearms of this era, Inglis Hi Powers were caliber stamped “9mm.”

One advantage the Inglis Hi Power has over the FN Hi-Power is its front sight
is dovetailed to the slide so it can be moved laterally for windage or replaced
with a differing height as needed for elevation.


This brings us to my Hi-Power experiences. For years I owned 9mm Inglis of both types. However, I came to favor the Chinese version with its tangent sight and wooden holster/stock and sold the one made for Canadian and British issue. Why? The Chinese one is so unique and fun to shoot with the stock fitted.

Also, I should mention I have a World War II FN Hi-Power and sometimes shoot the two side by side. Once in a while, I also include my World War II vintage German P08 (Luger) and P38 (Walther).

Here’s my opinion — the German 9mm and the FN Hi-Power are better finished and fitted handguns while the Inglis Hi Power is just a mite crude. With some factory loads and handloads, the German P08 and P38 occasionally have a failure-to-feed or extract, especially the Luger. Neither one of my Inglis Hi Powers have ever had a failure to function, period. They are amazingly reliable.

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