Hi Power vs 1911

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So you’re wondering if the Browning Hi Power is better than the ever-famous 1911? That’s a common question that’s passed around but these two guns have some very interesting similarities.

I want to preface this by saying we won’t be choosing a winner per se but rather presenting the facts and non-objective differences.

Let us go ahead and dive into the two guns to see how they stack up.

Hi Power vs 1911 The Stats

Hi-Power Specs1911 Specs
Overall Length: 7.75″Overall Length: 8.5″
Height: 5.02″Height: 5.5″
Width: 1.4″Width: 1.2″
Barrel Length: 4.625″Barrel Length: 5″
Weight: 32oz unloadedWeight: 40oz unloaded
Specs of different makes and models of 1911 will vary

Hi-Power and 1911 In Stock

Searching for your very own Hi-Power or 1911? Check out the links below to see Hi-Power’s for sale and 1911’s for sale.

In Stock Hi-Powers and 1911s

About the Hi-Power & 1911

One of the most interesting facts about both the Hi-Power and the 1911 is that the original design of both guns was by the same person, John Mosses Browning.

Like its namesake, the 1911 was first released in 1911 and has since been changed and made by many other firearms companies, including companies like CZ, Browning, and Staccato. If you want to see some of the best 1911’s see our full list of best 1911s.

The Browning Hi-Power was released in 1935, 9 years after Browning’s death but he is still credited with the initial design of the pistol. We cover more of the history of the Browning Hi-Power in our full review.

Is the Browning Hi-Power better than a 1911?

That’s extremely subjective and it depends on your personal preferences. There are things you certain undeniable facts that can’t take away for either gun.

Both are great guns and are impressive technology given their age and years of active service.

Browning Hi-Power vs 1911 Overview

Diving into these guns we are gonna talk about some major parts of the gun that make it unique or are essential pieces of the pistols.

We will start from the back to the front and go over each design to compare and contrast the major differences between the two guns.


The hammers on both the Hi-Power and the 1911 are very similar in design. They both have a number of aftermarket options that feature different styles and weights.

Hi Power vs 1911 Hammer

The major difference you will see between a 1911 and a Browning Hi-Power is the beavertail. While this doesn’t relate directly to the hammer itself it does play a key role while gripping the gun.

Let us move to the grip to talk more about this beavertail.

Hi-Power and 1911 In Stock

Searching for your very own Hi-Power or 1911? Check out the links below to see Hi-Power’s for sale and 1911’s for sale.

In Stock Hi-Powers and 1911s


The grip on the Browning Hi-Power and the 1911 are different shapes and even attach differently.

The 1911 has two screws that hold on panel grips whereas the Hi-power has a single screw that holds the panel grips on.

In the hammer section, a beavertail was mentioned and this beavertail is most noticeable on the 1911 because it usually is part of the palm safety.

This safety is built into the back of the grip and when depressed allows the gun to be fired. This is a secondary safety feature that the Browning Hi-Power does not have.

Hi Power vs 1911 Rear Grip


Now we will slide up to the slide… okay, sorry. I’ll stop. But on to the slip n’ slide! Okay, really. I’m done.

The slides on these two guns are slightly different design-wise but function and size are very similar.

Slide Comparison 1911 vs Hi-Power

The 1911 slide has a front lip that rides over the top of the guide rod and back into the frame of the gun.

The Hi-Power slide has a much larger lip and has a distinct dip on the front of the slide near the muzzle.

Side by side they do appear extremely similar but you can definitely tell the difference.


Moving along the slide you’ll definitely notice the sights are very different on these two guns.

Sights on the Hi-Power vs 1911

The sights on the Hi-Power are extremely sub-par sights. They may have been nice for their day but they are not good sights compared to the guns of today.

1911’s feature removable sights so if your model of 1911 doesn’t have great sights you can easily switch them out. Many 1911’s come with fiberoptic sights or night sights with tritium in them.

This technology has evolved and the 1911 has adapted to it whereas the Browning Hi-Power has not.


The frames on both the Hi-Power and the 1911 are remarkably similar to each other. Even some of the screw holes seem to match up.

These two pistols wildly favor each other when it comes to the overall grip style, angle, and design.

Side by Side View of Browning Hi Power and 1911

When it comes to frame design John Browning didn’t change much up on the 1911.

Frames on the 2011’s are a bit different than the 1911’s, which we covered in our 1911 vs 2011 article that covered most of the differences in the two designs.

Hi-Power and 1911 In Stock

Searching for your very own Hi-Power or 1911? Check out the links below to see Hi-Power’s for sale and 1911’s for sale.

In Stock Hi-Powers and 1911s


The triggers on these two classics are really one of the largest mechanical differences.

The 1911 trigger is a straight back solid almost rail-like slide on the pull. It’s straight back and has a defined wall. The break is crisp and the reset is extremely short. Most 1911 triggers are adjustable with a small screw in the middle of the trigger.

Hi Power vs 1911 Trigger

The Hi-Power trigger is a pivot-style take-up. There’s a good bit of take up on the stock Hi-Power trigger. Once you hit the wall the break is extremely gritty and heavy. The reset is not all the way back out but the reset is further than the wall so there is some take up again once you get to the reset.

Won’t declare a winner, as I said above, but once you hold it the innovation in the trigger of the 1911 is evident.

The other notable thing about the Hi-Power is the fact you must have the magazine in the gun to fire it unless you remove that function in the mag well.


Magazine availability for both of these guns is abundant as companies like MecGar have been making magazines for both pistols for eons.

Hi Power vs 1911 Magazines

You can grab brand new mags from GunMagWarehouse or anywhere magazines are sold.

Both 1911 and Hi-Power magazines are metal magazines and both offer different base plate options.


Shooting these two guns are similar experiences in that they are both handguns but the recoil profile, trigger, and ease of shooting are pretty different.

The 1911 I have is a double stack 9mm 1911 so it’s about as close as you can get to the Browning Hi-Power in terms of caliber, grip size, and design.

The trigger experience on the 1911 is smoother and helps when shooting multiple rounds of fire.

The Hi-Power is impressive when shooting when you realize that this gun has been in production for years and this particular model is as old as the hills.

The 1911 seems to have a smoother recoil and an overall more polished feel.

Is the Browning Hi-Power obsolete?

The Browning Hi-Power is no longer produced by Browning but it is far from obsolete.

The Hi-Power was such a loved gun Springfield Armory brought it back as the Springfield Armory SA 35. It will be interesting to see how the SA35 compares wit the classic Browning Hi-Power.

Hi-Power and 1911 In Stock

Searching for your very own Hi-Power or 1911? Check out the links below to see Hi-Power’s for sale and 1911’s for sale.

In Stock Hi-Powers and 1911s

Hi-Power vs 1911 Conclusion

I’m no pistol expert so I may have missed some glaring differences but this article should definitely give you some clear differences between the Hi-Power and the 1911.

hi power vs 1911 overview

If you have feedback or know something we missed the comment section below is wide open and we are all ears!

Check out another Browning classic the Browning 1911 22 Black Label.

Michael Savage
Michael Savage

Michael is the President of Lynx Defense and an avid gun owner and outdoors man. He's passionate about helping find the best bang for your buck and helping others learn about firearms and the industry as a whole.

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  1. What a bunch of horse puckie. Obvious bias comparing as has been said Old oranges to new bananas. No credibility!!!

  2. I own a Colt LW Commander in .45acp. I have about 5000 rounds thru it over 10 years. Other than 1 crap out of spec steel import shell about 9 years ago when decent ammo was hard to locate, it has never failed. Never.

  3. I enjoyed reading your article but I have to agree with most of the people that commented on the article the 1911 was originally only chambered in 45acp and the Browning hi power was in 9mm wich makes it difficult to make a good comparison but they are both very good guns I prefer the 1911 but that is just my opinion

  4. This is not a fair comparison. It looks like you were using a customizes 1911 against a stock Hi Power and a 9mm at that. I own a Springfield MIL-SPEC 1911 in 45 acp and a 1968 Browning Hi Power both are great guns with no mods at all.The P35 seems a bit thicker as you stated and my 1911 like most stock 1911 does not have a adjustable trigger. Still a good write up though. I believe Browning started producing the Hi Power again.

  5. Came across the title of the article in the process of a search and was interested. On opening the article and seeing the picture I didn’t really need to read any further. Totally agree with Mr. Zahler, you’re “comparing Oranges to Bananas”. Please go back to the bench and write a responsible article comparing the original sidearms having put a hundred rounds down range in both.

  6. I read the article with both guns sitting in front of me looking at each as I read. I like thw fact that you chose not to comit yourself to which one is better. I like both. Maybe thw hi power a Little more since it was given to me by my father in law but the old colt 1911 is what I cut my teeth on in the army. So up until receiving his gift, I would have said the 1911 but since I have both I like them equally. Maybe the hi power is more my favorite since it drew some of my favoritism away from the 1911. But a really well written article. Tyanks.

  7. An interesting assumption…but not necessarily accurate. All the people I shoot with use “Original” 1911s, even in non .45 calibers. All 4 (5 if my .22 conversion gun is included) 1911s that I own and shoot, are original 1911 design.

    As long as you are comparing the two guns, maybe a statement, early in the article, as to what you are actually comparing would be appropriate.

    OR why not compare all three – Orig. 1911, modern / modified 1911 and Hi Power?

    Thank you for the reply and thank you for writing such articles.


  8. An interesting article but comparing Oranges and Bananas. To my untrained eye, it appears that the Hi Power is an original design and the “1911” is a much modified, more modern version. Look at the picture regarding “Beaver tail” – No where an original design beaver tail! “Most 1911 triggers are adjustable with a small screw…” – Again, not the original design.

    • That is fair but in the context of the times, I think people are more likely trying to compare a Hi-Power to a current production 1911 vs an original.

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