5 YEARS or 5,000 ROUNDS
5 REASONS WHY
REASON #1 – RELIABILITY
All John Browning designed handguns are legendary for superior reliability, and all are “HARD ON SPRINGS”. If your Hi-Power or Clone serves to protect yourself and others, RELIABILITY is the primary reason to embrace a 5 Years or 5,000 Rounds replacement spring protocol. Excellent spring health in John Browning designed handguns means maximum reliability and function of critical components such as safety lever and magazine release.
REASON #2 – ACCURACY
During recoil, the barrel disengages from the slide and the feed ramp portion of the barrel tilts downward which also means the business end of the barrel tilts upward. A weak recoil spring may allow the barrel to start to disengage from the slide too soon (before the round has left the barrel). The timing of this function is dependent on healthy springs and can dramatically impact accuracy.
REASON #3 – CONFIDENCE and PEACE-OF-MIND
Reliability + Accuracy = Confidence + Peace-Of-Mind. No one knows how much Confidence and Peace-Of-Mind are worth.
REASON #4 – Safety
Nothing is safer about any gun’s function when it is less than optimal. Malfunctions avoided will always be a safer proposition.
REASON #5 – INVESTMENT PROTECTION
Healthy springs may prevent premature/excessive parts wear and expensive visits to the gunsmith.
WEAK SPRINGS – THE ACHILLES HEAL OF JOHN BROWNING DESIGNED PISTOLS.
We learned this lesson many years ago from Nick Riggio at Commemerative Arms. Nick sells springs for discontinued Belgium made Browning pistols. He explained that Browning pistols are just hard on springs and went so far as to explain how springs in John Browning designed pistols weaken springs while they are sitting in the safe. The occasion for contacting Nick was a malfunctioning Baby Browning .25ACP. Nick prescribed all new springs, which I did replace. I was literally amazed. I never experienced another malfunction and I was extremely impressed with the like-new function of every aspect of the pistol after spring replacement. I had had no idea how compromised the little pistol was, until I experienced the difference with new springs.
A couple years later, I experienced the only malfunctions I’ve ever experienced in my primary carry Hi Power. To date, after approximately 12,000 rounds, the only malufuctions I’ve ever experienced were caused by a weak extractor spring. After tracing the problem to the extractor spring, I obtained one from an aftermarket supplier and have experienced no malfunctions since. When I removed the extractor spring, it was 20 years old and had seen about 10,000 rounds at that time. The extractor spring was about half the length of the replacement because it no longer bounced back from it’s compressed state. Two years after replacement, I learned first hand why the after market supplier I had chosen, sells their extractor springs in packs of 10. After two years and about 2,000 rounds, the extractor started to feel “mushy”. Upon removing the extractor spring, I found it had bulged in the middle and no longer was straight. It was a function failure waiting to happen. The after market supplier’s steel and designs are simply inferior. I had also purchased an 18.5 lb recoil spring which arrived much too long and had to be cut. Initially, my Hi Power was barely ejecting spent shell casings – 2000 rounds later, brass was flying 12-16 feet from the gun.
Since the early 1900’s, spring technology has advanced. Today, pistols like the FNX line of FN’s handguns, utilize a flat coil recoil spring that is not further compressed when it is installed in the gun, and other springs have been “upsized” compared to those in a Hi Power, so they should be more long lasting. Are the redesigned and more modern pistols more reliable than the Hi Power design – NO. Are they more accurate than a Hi Power – NO. They just don’t wear out springs as often.
The springs in a Hi Power are in a continuously compressed state when installed. That means each spring is “pushing”, or expending energy, on the surfaces at each end of the spring. That means, the springs in your Hi Power are losing strength from the moment of installation. Spring strength is further reduced when put under stress, such as when a recoil spring compresses and becomes hot during shooting. No spring can ever be a source of infinite energy. Many springs in the Hi Power design are rather finite in size and the amount of force required of them for optimal performance is asking a lot of such small springs. One prime example is the often forgotten about Safety Lever Spring.
Safety Lever Spring
Some Hi Power schematics and manufacturers of Hi Powers, wrongly forgot about this spring. It does not even show up as a stand alone part. Apparently, they’ve assumed that no one will ever need to replace it. The safety lever spring is located inside the left side safety lever. It functions a plunger that clicks into recesses in the gun’s frame when the safety is moved to the On-Safe and Off-Safe positions. The problem with not replacing this spring is that this spring tends to collapse. If you have ever operated the safety lever on a new Hi Power, it has a decisive “click” feeling and audible click-sound when the safety lever is moved on or off. As this spring weakens, that “click” becomes less decisive and it takes less effort to move the safety from one position to the other. For ANYONE who carries their Hi Power in Condition 1, Cocked and Locked, the health of this spring really matters. A weakened safety lever spring dramatically increases the risk of inadvertent movement of the safety lever to the fire-position. When I want “Cocked and Locked”, I don’t want Cocked and Unlocked sliding inside my waistband. Cocked and Locked Carry is placing a tremendous amount of trust in your gun – specifically the “Locked” part, and what you are trusting most is the performance of a very tiny spring inside the safety lever and that spring is prone to weakening and even collapse.
At BH Spring Solutions, we consider the safety lever spring to be a necessary replacement part every five years because this spring needs to be fresh in order for your gun to be as safe as it can be – because Cocked and Locked does have a safety formula. I want my gun to stay locked, so that it will absolutely stay cocked, when I’m sliding my Hi Power into my pants!....or any other holster for that matter. And it all starts with an optimal spring in the safety lever.
It’s easy to recognize a spring that is prone to failure because manufacturers attempt to redesign them and improve them. Between Browning, Kareen, and Arcus, we found a couple different variants of this spring. One variant has more coils and one has less. The variant with more coils seems to be more prone to collapsing and the one with less coils and slightly wider diameter steel wire is more robust and less prone to collapse. “Collapse” refers to the what happens when the first two or three coils no longer spring back when the spring is removed from the safety lever. So, the variant that has more coils is too much spring and also not enough spring. It is too many coils for the application and also a spring wire diameter that is too weak for the application. The better idea is a thicker wire spring with less coils. The design of the BH Spring Solutions Safety Lever spring follows the more robust “less coils/stronger spring wire” formula.
Like all BH Spring Solutions Springs, the coils on both ends of our Safety Lever Spring use the “closing coil” (flat on each end) design, to provide maximum effectiveness from the spring’s energy.
Magazine Release Spring
This is the spring that causes your magazine release to return to it’s position after you release the magazine and is responsible for magazine lock-up in the grip frame when a magazine is inserted into the gun. This is a spring that is difficult to keep lubricated when not removed from the gun. It is prone to weakening and it is prone to rust. If this spring fails, your magazine will fall out of your gun. While breakage or failure of this spring is rare, weakening of this spring is common. The weaker this spring becomes, the less inadvertent force is necessary to unintentionally release the magazine from the gun during holstering, deholstering, handling and shooting. This spring has also been made in at least two variants by different manufacturers. We found one variant to be stronger and we embraced the most robust design. The stronger variant reduces the possibility of inadvertent magazine release, provides a more decisive lock-up of magazine into grip frame, and longest spring life.
Like all BH Spring Solutions Springs, the coils on both ends of our Magazine Release Spring use the “closing coil” (flat on each end) design, to provide maximum effectiveness from the spring’s energy.
The late Stephen Camp brought the Hi Power’s vulnerabilities to the forefront when he advocated replacement of this spring every 5,000 rounds – and for good reason. A weakened extractor spring can paralyze your Hi Power and cause malfunctions. It is a tiny spring under the extractor. The extractor is the primary component responsible for getting empty bullet casings out of the gun. A fresh extractor spring causes your extractor to decisively hold onto the empty bullet case until it contacts the ejector that causes the empty bullet casing to exit the gun. We cannot over-emphasize the importance of replacing this spring every five years or five thousand rounds – whichever comes first.
One seller of aftermarket springs sells 10 count packs of Hi Power extractor springs – and for a reason. We’ve experienced bulging and appreciable weakening of their extractor springs after only two years and 2000 rounds in our own Hi Power. We don’t believe Hi Power owners need 10 packs of an inferior extractor springs. Hi Power owners need an optimal extractor spring that is worthy of confidence.
We received extractor springs from one Hi Power manufacturer. The specifications of the springs we received were inconsistent and qualified for adjectives like “interesting” and “questionable”. And while we are not in business to criticize any specific supplier of Hi Power springs, including manufacturers of the pistol, this is one spring that is most critical.
If there is one spring that is thee Achilles heel of the Hi Power, the extractor spring is it.
If there is one spring in the Hi Power that is also the true measure of a spring manufacturer, the Hi Power’s extractor spring is “that spring” too. In the early 1900’s, John Browning did not design springs that could be made by automatic machinery operated by computers. If John Browning were alive today, he would have probably already designed a machine that can spit out hundreds or thousands of properly made Hi Power extractor springs per hour. But John Browning is not here and neither is a machine that can properly make this spring. To manufacture an optimal Hi Power extractor spring, each tiny extractor spring must be made by hand. It is a unique conical shaped spring – the conical end is necessary so you don’t have spring hanging out from under the extractor.
Hand coiling each extractor spring to precise dimensional correctness is a specialized skill that cannot be duplicated by machine without either altering the optimal design, or sacrificing diameter and strength of the spring wire used, or both. BH Spring Solutions Hi Power extractor springs have taken this critical Hi Power spring to the optimal level of performance by completing each end of the spring with a closing coil and then to accomplish optimal spring to surface contact, each end of the spring is filed to create a true flat contact surface at each end of the spring. Dimensional correctness and maximum spring strength of the Hi Power extractor spring can only be accomplished by producing the optimal spring, by hand, one at a time. If you have Hi Power extractor springs on hand from any other source, we invite you to find your magnifier and compare a BH Spring Solutions Hi Power extractor spring to any other. We know you will be impressed by our attention to detail – even though some may call us “obsessive” or “off the charts crazy about quality”.
Firing Pin Spring –
One supplier of aftermarket springs boasts about the advantages of an extra power firing pin spring – this same aftermarket supplier has become known to us for their recoil springs and extractor springs that have lost their integrity after less than 2 years and 2,000 rounds.
We once disassembled a military surplus Kareen Hi Power (after firing several hundred rounds) and found the firing pin spring to be fractured – in two places. In other words, the firing pin spring was in three pieces and we had experienced zero malfunctions. This true story is not shared to encourage apathy about replacement of this spring – quite the contrary. A three piece firing pin spring can cause a lot of problems. This story is shared to illustrate that the Hi Power’s firing pin spring is a vulnerable spring that should not be taken for granted.
To the best of our knowledge, no manufacturer of the Hi Power has seen a need to “extra power” their firing pin spring – and we agree. (And, there is definitely no advantage to a firing pin spring that begins it’s life as an “extra power”, only to have less strength than an OEM firing pin spring after less than two years after installation.) However, no manufacturer has advocated replacement of this spring on a regular basis and this is a point of disagreement. We know that a fresh, full strength, and fully in-tact firing pin spring is critical to safety and reliability and should be replaced when replacing recoil spring. And every 5 years or 5,000 rounds is not excessive if “optimal” is the goal.
Like all BH Spring Solutions Springs, the coils on both ends of our Firing Pin Spring use the “closing coil” (flat on each end) design, to provide maximum effectiveness from the spring’s energy.
Finally, here is one other side note about the firing pin spring area of your Hi Power. We have received used/surplus Hi Powers/clones with fractured firing pin retaining plates – meaning, there was a chunk of steel missing from the firing pin retaining plate. The potential danger to the shooter of this condition is extreme. Become familiar with your firing pin retaining plate. “Eye-ball” it often….which is pretty easy to do considering it’s directly in front of your eyes just before pulling the trigger, and always inspect it carefully for any signs of compromise when replacing the firing pin spring.
Co-founder of BHSpringSolutions LLC.