WE Browning Hi-Power GBB Pistol
WE Browning Hi-Power review by Booligan
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Basic Gun Information
WE specializes in making GBB replicas, and one of their newest is the Hi-Power. This pistol is a replica of a WW2 era weapon, which was previously quite rare in the airsoft world. It is more of a collecter's item, as opposed to a hardcore skirmish piece, and I will discuss the reasons why in this review!
I obtained the Hi-Power from Evike, who currently has it available HERE, priced at $99, making it one of the least expensive WE pistols currently available. It was shipped out quickly after ordering, and I received it a few days later through UPS Ground.
Basic Gun Information:
The WE Hi-Power is modeled after the Browning Hi-Power, a single action pistol designed by John Browning. It was completed by Dieudonne Saive at FN in 1935, where it was produced and used in WW2 and beyond. Over 50 countries have used the Hi-Power, making it one of the most widely used pistols ever.
The WE replica is similar to a Canadian variant, which was manufactured between 1944 and 1945. It has an adjustable rear sight, as well as a frame designed to receive a detachable stock. It is full metal, with polymer faux wood grain grips, and it is incredibly comfortable to hold. John Browning did a GREAT job with the overall layout of the pistol, as it is very user friendly, and very easy to point and shoot.
WE put together some decent box art for the Hi-Power, comprising of an image of the pistol, and some various information about the gun. My first impression upon pulling the gun out of the box was just how slim and comfortable the grip was, very similar to the CZ75 which is based on the Browning design.
From this point on, click on the thumbnails to view full size photos
Don't expect a box full of accessories with the Hi-Power, as it only includes a manual, and a single magazine. The manual is pretty thorough, and includes information on disassembly and basic maintenance. Overall, it is a sparse package, but really includes everything you need to go, with the exception of gas and BBs.
Weight: 2 lbs
Sight Radius: 6.3"
As mentioned previously, the WE Hi-Power is a full metal replica, and the only parts that are made of plastic are the faux wood grips. It is a full size pistol, about the same size as a 1911, with a similar grip angle and width.
External overview, left side
External overview, right side
The grip is really one of the things that I love about this gun. John Browning knew how to make a gun that is comfortable and easy to point. He really did a good job with this design, and WE did a good job replicating it. The front and rear straps are smooth, however, the side panels have diamond checkering, allowing you to have a good grip on the gun. The rear of the grip has a slot for a removable stock, however, I have no info on if WE is coming out with one.
Stock attachment groove
The frame of the pistol houses the controls, including the trigger, slide locking lever, magazine release button, and safety switch. The trigger pull is a bit of a negative for me, as it is really heavy for a single action pistol, however, it is predictable and has a clean break, so you can learn to prepare yourself for the heavy trigger pull and keep your shots on target. The slide lock functions well, locking the slide back when you run out of BBs. The safety, which is located on the left side of the frame, can only be activated when the hammer is cocked back.
Safety – off
Safety – on
The slide is quite slim, really similar to a 1911, but it seems slightly thinner overall. It pulls back fully to cock the gun and load a BB, like any other GBB pistol. Being that this is a gun design dating back to the mid 1930s, you won't see a lot of tactical features on the slide, and it only features slide serrations at the rear. When you pull the slide back, you can get a look inside the open chamber, showing the top of the magazine, as well as the blowback system's air nozzle.
Slide, right side
Being a single action pistol, the hammer must be cocked before the gun will fire. Normally, the action of racking the slide will cock the hammer, however, you can release the hammer without firing the gun by slowly riding it down into the frame while pulling the trigger. You can then recock the hammer and fire, which can act as an additional safety mechanism.
Hammer pulled back
Aiming this pistol is accomplished using the adjustable iron sights which reside at the top of the slide. The rear sight is very unique, as it is adjustable for a WIDE range of elevation settings, and it resembles an AK47 sight both visually, and functionally. The front sight is a removable post, which is dovetailed into a mount in the front of the slide.
WE left the Hi-Power completely devoid of any trademarks, either real or airsoft specific. The only markings on the gun were a gold sticker indicating that it was made in Taiwan, and the range marks on the rear sight.
The magazine is cast metal, with clean lines and a good weight. Like most GBB pistol magazines, the BBs are loaded from the top, and the gas is filled from a small port on the bottom.
Chrono results using Matrix .20g BBs and Propane, shot through a Madbull V1 chrono, after a 200 round break in period:
High FPS: 328.2 FPS
Low FPS: 301.5 FPS
Average FPS: 315.25 FPS
Accuracy and range were less than fantastic, due to the total lack of a hop-up. You can put a consistent arc on your shots, which, oddly enough, the adjustable rear sight does help with, but overall, this is a CQB pistol, for sub 100' ranges. I could only consistently hit a torso sized target at 75', and that was with a bit of arcing in my shots.
Gas usage wasn't too bad, but I could still only get out a single magazine worth of shots on a single gas charge. You will likely need to gas this up in the field if you decide not to use additional magazines.
Internally, you will find a lot of really standard GBB designs, with a few exceptions. Disassembly is a breeze, only requiring you to remove the magazine, lock the slide back using the safety on the second slide notch, and remove the slide lock lever pin, which can be done without any tools. The slide can now come off the front of the frame, and you can access the GBB system, barrel, etc.
The hammer mechanism is located in the frame, and it has a mechanism to prevent the hammer from falling without the slide and magazine in place. It won't fire with the slide even a few mm out of battery.
The slide houses the blowback system, which was actually really well lubricated, and didn't need a clean-up job to properly function. The tolerences on the slide and frame are pretty good, with very little slop once the gun is fully assembled.
The barrel is where I got really confused. WE didn't put any sort of hop-up system in the gun, adjustable or not. Nothing. Really really bizarre, but for short range shooting, it does okay. The outer barrel is metal, and the inner barrel just sits inside of it. The recoil spring is a bit tricky to install, as the recoil rod is very short, however, it goes together quite well.
Outer barrel removed from slide
No hop-up at all
This gun really shouldn't need any external modifications, as it isn't a tactical gun at all, but hopefully someone will come out with the grip mounted stock for it. Internally, time will tell if companies come out with parts for it, and hopefully someone will rig up an adjustable hop-up.
Browning Hi-Power replica – pretty rare in airsoft
Very affordable – sub $100
Full metal construction
Crisp, snappy blowback
Incredibly comfortable layout
No hop-up at all – really odd to see WE go this route
Funky rear sight – a standard rear sight would drive more sales in my opinion, but some may really like the styling
Paint chips easily on the controls – my slide lock lever pin is already showing bare metal
Heavy trigger pull
As I mentioned previously, the WE Hi-Power isn't really a skirmish pistol due to the heavy trigger pull and lack of anything resembling a hop-up, however, it certainly fills a niche in the collector's market for this gun. It is great for plinking, or other short range usage, but the lack of a hop-up kind of kills the skirmish potential. It is a very unique gun however, and I'm happy to add it to my collection of interesting guns with interesting back stories.
Many thanks again to Evike, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!