Book Review, September 1999:

The Browning High Power Automatic Pistol
by R. Blake Stevens
Collector Grade Publications, 1992
Hardcover, 297 pages 
ISBN 0-88935-089-2
The Browning High Power Automatic Pistol by R. Blake Stevens

Many years ago, a noted gun magazine published an edition which was little more than a review of the popular pistols then on the market.  The Beretta M92F was included and was billed as "King of the Nines."  This evoked little more than a chuckle from your humble author, as it was plain that the Beretta, while a fine pistol in its own right, was little more than a pretender to the throne.  The one true 9x19mm bearing a royal pedigree was, and is, the Browning High Power.

Much as the pistol itself is the pre-eminent design in its class, Blake Stevens' book, The Browning High Power Automatic Pistol is the best book available on the subject.  Stevens treats the development, use, and production of the pistol from its origins to date in a most impressive manner.

Historically, the book starts by introducing the reader to John Browning, and Fabrique Nationale (FN), as well as the pistol's Browning designed progenitors; the 9mm Browning Long M1903, the 9.8mm Colt M1910, and the 9.65mm Grand Browning.  When the chronology reaches the High Power's design prototypes, Stevens does a masterful job of weaving in quoted original source material in such a manner that the user feels as if he has been privy to the design discussions and reviews.  This is a technique that Stevens repeats with great efficacy throughout the book, and indeed, throughout his other works as well.

Stevens covers the development of the High Power by John Browning and Dieudonne Saive, the commercial marketing of the pistol prior to the Second World War, pre-war variants of the High Power, Belgian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Peruvian and Chinese adoption of the pistol, pre-war technical developments, High Power production under the Nazi Occupation, Inglis High Power production in Canada, British adoption of the Inglis High Power, post-war Canadian High Power developments, post-war FN development of the High Power, post-war modifications to the High Power, parts interchangeability issues, current production High Powers, military markings, English military usage of the High Power, commercial markings, sporting and competition variants, deluxe and engraved variants, "fast action" variants, double action variants, licensed and non-licensed High Power clones, and current FN descendants of the High Power.

Each section is liberally provided with relevant photographs, line drawings, and document reproduction, as well as reproduced original source material.  It is hard to conceive of a more comprehensively detailed book.  In fact, this book is a "must have" for anyone interested in collecting High Powers.

Stevens writing is at the same time engaging and erudite, and the reader is made to feel as though he or she is an intimate acquaintance of a learned authority being taken on a private tour of a historic collection of Browning memorabilia.  There is nothing inaccessible or off-putting about the book.  The index is comprehensive and conducive towards using the book as a reference guide.

If you have any interest at all in Browning High Powers, or in the development, marketing and use of one of the most prolific and influential small arms ever developed, you will be hard pressed to find a better volume.

The Browning High Power Automatic Pistol  is available from IDSA Books.

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