I am thinking of buying a Hi Power. What changes should I make? This is a question I receive frequently via Email or see at the Internet gun forums. My answer is "none"…immediately. The reason is fairly simple: Until the new Hi Power is shot, we don't know what changes may be needed if any! In recent days a fellow reports buying a new Mk III only to find that the frame had not been properly heat-treated. This was a major problem and one that would lead to catastrophic failure, but it showed up because he had shot the pistol. It didn't show up immediately, but after a hundred factory rounds or so. Suppose he'd bought the pistol, sent it to his favorite gunsmith with a list of things to change, waited for its return after paying the 'smith's fees and then found that he had this BIG problem? This is a rare problem with FN products, but does re-enforce the view that a person should make sure their gun works and is up to snuff before having it customized.
Holding off on customizing also lets you reassess if you really need or want the changes that you thought you did. Hammer bite is common to many when using the Hi Power. After shooting, it might not be for you. Why change hammers or modify the existing one if it's not needed? If after shooting several hundred rounds through your pistol and it's never missed a stutter with ball or JHP ammo, is the "reliability package" offered by many really necessary? Shooting the gun allows the owner to determine if the sights provide for a POA that matches POI. If they do, great but if not, it's good to be able to provide the gunsmith with the information on where the gun does hit. This makes it more likely that new sights are properly regulated for your individual Hi Power. A person might even decide that the fixed sights on the Hi Power suit him or her as they are. I've had a couple of Hi Powers fitted with Novak fixed sights. I like them and think that they look great. I like the sight picture as well but I don't get hits any quicker or shoot tighter groups than with the fixed sights that came from the factory.
More than a few Hi Powers will probably need trigger work done. The US commercial market is a small percentage of FN sales. This is usually still to the military and police market throughout the world. Many specify a heavier trigger pull than most American shooters prefer. This also requires less time and work for FN as a heavier trigger is less likely to suffer the hammer falling to half-cock during firing than a lighter one that's slightly out of spec. In any event, it's a good idea to shoot the new Hi Power, as the trigger will smooth up a bit during about the first 300 rounds. Should there be problems with the sear and hammer hooks not mating properly, it will show up and the gunsmith can take care of this while the gun is in the shop. I do think a trigger job from a competent Hi Power 'smith is usually in order. A Hi Power with a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 pound trigger pull is much easier to achieve good hits with than one having a 9-lb. trigger pull.
Shooting will let you see if you actually want to pay for a fitted match barrel. In most cases the Hi Power is quite accurate with the factory barrel. Most shooters will not be able to see any differences between the two.
If the desire is for custom touches that really don't add functionality but just look good, I still recommend shooting the gun for a while before having the work done. Make sure that you have a properly working Hi Power before coughing up the dollars to personalize it.