Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Why no .45 from Browning

Everybody makes a .45 these days. In fact, almost everybody makes a few of them, including a 1911 clone. Even SIG makes a 1911 (it's called the GSR, and it's a very decent pistol).

But Browning doesnt have a single weapon chambering .45acp in their catalogue... why is that?

Actually, at this point, the only cernterfire pistols Browning catalogues are the Hi-Power (the second greatest pistol design of all time behind the 1911):

and the Pro-9/40, which are pretty much gratuitous polymer frame SIG copies with the browning name on them.

Of course since SIG's copied their operating system from Browning, it's only fair that Browning copies back. I think I even remember there being some kind of deal between SIG and FN (Brownings parent company) about this gun, but I may just be halucinating again.

Parent company FN doesnt list any .45acp chamberings either... why on earth is that? The .45 is by far the most marketable choice here in the U.S. and we are by far the largest small arms market in the world...

There are a lot of folks out there who would just about kill for a .45acp version of the browning HiPower, including me.

See, I consider the BHP to be damn near ergonomic perfection (a small beavertail, a rowel hammer, a little lever and trigger tweaking, pull out the magazine disconnect if you are unfortunate enough to have one, and stick on a good set of grips and it's perfect). It's slim, it balances nearly perfect... overall it's a just plain excellent gun. In fact, in it's STOCK form, I'd say it's a better gun than the original 1911, 1911a1, and it's unmodified clones and variants. When it's done up right, as a custom gun... well I've got a pretty hard time picking between it and a custom 1911 really.

Problem is though, the BHP only comes in 9mm and .40S&W. Both excellent chamberings, but with everyone doing .45's why not Browning?

Now, if you want a BHP-like pistol; and dont mind a little extra bulk, you can get a CZ-75 copy chambered in .45acp. CZ, Tanfoglio, and IMI/Magnum Research all took the basic CZ-75 design (which itself was substantially based on the BHP only beefed up a bit and made a double action) and bulked it up considerably to take the .45 (and the 10mm in the case of Tanfoglio).

Honestly, that's not too bad a way to go. The CZ-97, and the Baby Eagle (the IMI CZ clone) are both excellent pistols, chambered in .45 acp. Unfortunately neither has quite the ergonomic feel and grace of the original BHP (both are a tiny bit thick through the middle and in the grip).

See the BHP is just a tiny bit too small for the .45acp. It needs to be slightly scaled up for the length and girth of the cartridge by a couple hundredths.

In manufacturing terms, a couple hundredths is a big deal.

Personally I would LOVE to see a genuine BHP in .45; but can it be done at a reasonable cost without ruining the lines and feel of the pistol? I don’t think it can be, at least not by Browning. It would have to be subbed out to a firm with a lower cost of labor and manufacturing overhead.

So, barring the .45, I’d like to see Browning take their .40S&W version of the BHP, maybe reinforce it just a bit, and release a factory .357sig version. After all, the entire purpose of the .357 sig, is to give me near .357 magnum power levels, in a .40 sized frame. If I can't get a .45 it's an adequate substitute.

Make it in "detective" length (as FN have done on their own branded version, and the Argentines have been doing for a while in their clones), with the 4” barrel and full size grip frame, and I’ll buy it for my daily CCW in a heartbeat.