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Osprey Pub, Weapon 73, The Browning High Power Pistol

ISBN Number:
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Osprey Publishing
Retail Price:
$22.00 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Osprey Publishing Weapon #73

The Browning High-Power Pistol


Since 1969, Osprey has published a staggering number ( 3000+ ! ) of military history titles, grouped by subject matter such as ; Campaigns, Weapons, Uniforms, Men at Arms, and many others. They also have published an extensive line of titles aimed squarely at modelers. These tiles generally all share some "family" resemblance such as general size, format, and price range.

The title being reviewed here is one in the Weapon series; which examines the Browning High-Power semi automatic pistol. The High Power was the final firearm design coming from genius firearms inventor John Browning, who had previously given us the 1911 Colt pistol, the Browning Automatic Rifle ( BAR ), and many other iconic firearms. The 13 shot High Power 9mm semi auto was light years ahead of it's time when it was designed in 1934/35, and in fact is still a perfectly capable fighting pistol to this very day. The pistol had state of the art ergonomics, magazine capacity, simplicity of operation and take down, and robustness of design. The High Power was more widely used during the 20th century than even the iconic 1911 series ( an earlier John Browning design ), and its design is so good that it was widely used by BOTH Axis AND Allied forces during WWII, and post-war, the High Power was the standard sidearm of most NATO countries.

Vital Statistics

Format - softcover, portrait format 

Page Count - 80 pages, heavyweight, glossy paper

Size - 10.0" x 7.25"

Photos - many full color images, a few wartime period Black and White

Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - a period patent drawing of the pistol, one cut away view of the pistol

 All text and photograph captions are in English.


What's in the Book?


Above - the book's Table of Contents


The early days of the High Power including it's predecessors in the evolutionary chain are well described, accompanied by nice photographs of these earlier guns. The image above shows the cutaway diagram of the High Power with all major parts labeled.


Above - over the years of it's production, many changes came and went, different sights, hammers, etc. Good, clear photographs illustrate many of these design changes. The High Power has only just finally gone out of production in 2018. It was quite a career for a fighting pistol that first entered service in 1935. 


The combat career of the the High Power is well described, and as the pistol came along in the mid 1930's, it was service pistol for many nations involved in WWII. As it was primarily being manufactured in Belgium pre-WWII, when the Nazi's took over Belgium, this naturally included the Belgian arms factories, including Fabrique Nationale which manufactured the High Power. Using forced labor, the FN factory manufactured something like 300,000 pistols for the Germans. I've owned a couple of those pistols made under German occupation, they were quite crude and rough compared to all other High Powers. But, they still worked, and sent rounds down range.

Highly placed FN factory management escaped German capture and wound up in England, along with some drawing and blueprints. Production of the High Power for Allied forces soon began by Inglis in Toronto Canada. Hundreds of thousands of High Powers were manufactured for Commonwealth forces use, as well as by the Chinese ( engaged in warfare with the Japanese since the mid 30's ).

The somewhat complicated story of the High Powers usage with all of the various armies in the WWII period and beyond is well described in the text, and it IS quite an interesting tale.


Above - 5 pages of this volume are taken up with artists renditions of the High Powers in use at various times and places. Personally, I'd prefer to see more historic photographs, but that's just me. 


Above - text throughout the book is interesting and well written, and the photos are clear and sharp. 


If you have any interest in arms of the 20th century, arms of WWII, or just have an interest in classic pistols you will find this book of interest. Even having a couple of much larger works on the High Power, I still found this slim book of good interest and value.

Osprey knows it's business very well. This is a quality reference work, with loads of well written historical background on this iconic firearm, and well selected photographs. This book would be perfect for someone with little or modest knowledge of the High Power, and those of us with references that may be much more in depth will still find this volume of use.

Osprey always delivers the goods IMHO.

Highly Recommended

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland 

AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region



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