In 2017, 82 years after Fabrique Nationale’s (FN) High Power pistol was first introduced, Browning announced that it would no longer be manufacturing the company’s branded iteration of the design, the Hi Power. In a world dominated by polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols, the all-steel, single-action autoloader had lost its appeal. Rather than replace the aging machinery needed to produce the pistol, Browning chose to drop the gun from its lineup; it was the end of an era.
But there was a time when the FN High Power dominated the market and was in use by more than 50 militaries. Originally developed for submission to a French military solicitation, FN tasked famed gun designer John Moses Browning with its development. Browning passed away in 1926 while still working on the gun, and the company’s lead design engineer, Dieudonne Saivé, continued the gun’s development until 1934 when FN was ready to take the gun into production. Dubbed the P35, the High Power (or Grande Puissance) was known for its large-capacity magazine and reliability. Though it was never adopted by the French, the Belgian military did adopt the gun.
With the discontinuation of the commercial Browning Hi Power, and the subsequent increase in value of existing guns, it looked as though shooters on a budget wouldn’t be able to experience one of the most successful autoloading handguns of the 20th century, but this changed in 2018 when LKCI introduced the Regent BR9 pistol. Based on the post-war commercial model of the High Power, the BR9 is manufactured by Tisas in Turkey.
Our test sample for this evaluation is the carbon steel, Cerakoted version of the BR9, however, a stainless steel model is also offered. Tisas uses a 4140 steel investment-cast frame and a slide machined from a billet of the same material. The gun is dimensionally identical to the Browning gun, and aftermarket parts will work with the Regent BR9. Like the late-model High Powers, the BR9 uses an external extractor. Low-profile three-dot sights are dovetailed into the slide to give the shooter a very usable sight picture. Tisas cold-hammer-forges its barrels, and the BR9’s is made from stainless steel.
Like the original FN High Power, the BR9 has a magazine disconnect safety. Designed to prevent the gun from firing unless a magazine is locked in place within the magazine well, the spring-loaded magazine safety pushes the trigger lever out of engagement with the slide-mounted sear lever when the magazine is absent. The magazine will drop approximately 3/8″ when the magazine release is depressed, but it will not fall free from the gun.
Examining the BR9 reveals very few machine marks, even internally on the frame and slide. With the slide in battery there is no discernible play between the two parts. External controls like the thumb safety, magazine release and slide stop are well-fit. Our test gun’s finish was applied so skillfully that we initially thought the gun had been blued.
Our test sample’s trigger broke at 7 lbs., and it has the usual grittiness and creep common to the High Power pistol. Because the BR9 is a service-size semi-automatic we did our accuracy testing at 25 yds. We fired all groups from a seated rest using a DOA Tactical shooting bench, and rested the BR9’s dustcover on a Millett BenchMaster for support. The sights were well-regulated and shot to point of aim. It should be noted that the BR9 is not +P compatible, and care must be taken with defensive loads if this pistol is to be used as a carry gun.
The gun’s heavy trigger pull did not prove to be as much of a hindrance as we anticipated, and we were able to print some very nice groups with the BR9. Our single best five-shot group was fired with DoubleTap’s 77-gr. hollow points and measured just 0.87″. This load also produced the best five-group average of 1.14″.
We fired more than 300 rounds during our evaluation, and had no stoppages or failures of any kind. The gun is supplied with two Mec-Gar 13-round magazines, and they locked the slide to the rear when the last shot was fired with absolute reliability.
It’s hard to find fault with the BR9. It is accurate and reliable. The inclusion of low-profile sights is a huge plus. Unfortunately, the thumb safety, which is patterned after the original High Power part, is just too small to easily disengage. Such a concession to originality is unfortunate, as a single-action semi-automatic is typically carried with the chamber loaded, the hammer cocked and the safety engaged.
While current tastes may trend toward polymer-frame, striker-fired guns, there is still demand for iconic designs that have earned their places in history. With an MSRP of $559 ($599 for stainless) we think the Regent BR9 provides shooters with a well-made and -finished facsimile of the High Power.