The Therapeutic P-35


Browning's Hi Power, GP, P-35, or whatever of its monikers you call it remains one of the classic military and defensive handguns in the world. It's the choice of many in the US and especially in Europe who are geared to the "martial arts" aspects of handgun shooting. It and the 1911 vie for my own personal choices as "serious" pistols.


But must the Hi Power be associated only with deadly force scenarios? Must ammunition choices always be made with terminal effectiveness in mind?  Does practice ammunition always need to mimic our defensive stuff as closely as possible?


Unless a person's sole reason in owning and using the pistol is protection, I say no!


Don't misunderstand, please!  I'm not saying that any or all of the proceeding reasons are in the least invalid. I am saying that for the majority of us, we might do well to consider having plain old fun now and then with the Hi Power. Each of us has enough pressure that relaxation can be a tonic, a therapy that relieves stress and tension. Safe, innocent fun can be had with this pistol just as it can with others.


All of the ammunition shown with this 9mm Mk III could certainly be used for "serious" purposes, but what about when you "recycle" your carry ammo?  Now and then it can be shot in activities intended to be fun more than practicing for smiting the "elephant". You're still being able to make sure that it runs 100% in your Hi Power and still getting the "real thing's" recoil, POI vs. POA and so forth.


Like so many of you, I change out my defensive carry ammo on a regular basis and drop the "old" stuff in a box. Also like most of us, I routinely use this to reassure that the load is reliable in my pistol and to check sights and do an occasional El Presidente or shoot falling plates. These are good practice for quick gun handling, but what about this? Take a buddy with you and take a passel of water-filled plastic jugs.  Liter soft-drink bottles or gallon milk jugs are fine.  Set up three or four at about 15 yards and have some friendly competition. Use your discarded JHP ammunition (or handloads) and choose your poison.  It can be two-handed shooting at the jugs with the lowest time or number of shots winning. It can be firing one-handed or weak-hand only or even point shooting; you get the idea.  Someone will miss or be the slowest, whatever the competition criteria is. That person has to move 3 yards closer the next time he shoots.  If he continues to miss or shoot the slowest, he winds up the wettest. Most of you are aware of the splash when a plastic jug is hit with a high velocity 9mm JHP.


This encourages us to win, as we don't want to be the drowned rat in the deal.  (But guess what?  It's also showing us our weaknesses. The targets are reactive.  Do we focus too long on them before engaging the next target?  Do we find the jug's water explosion too interesting when trying to make rapid, accurate shots on multiple targets? You see where I'm going.  It can be fun and still have some foundation in defensive shooting…or it can just be fun; it depends on the mindset.)


The same game when played with watermelons or pumpkins can be "interesting" too.


Got a good high berm at your range? If so and if the rules permit, there's quite a lot to be said for shooting at old bowling pins at 50, 75, and 100 yards…or beyond with the Hi Power. You might surprise yourself at what you actually can do. A friendly wager might add some spice or the loser having to buy lunch.


I find shooting at such distances a great deal of fun and a welcome challenge. It's a chance to get away from the merciless bullseye and silhouette targets. The funny thing is that shooting a longer ranges will encourage shooters to work on steadiness, learn to use improvised rests, trigger control, and it lets you learn where to hold to make shots on targets farther than 7 yards.


Probably 30 years ago, I was on my folk's wilderness property and sitting outside listening for coyotes. The wind shifted and I could hear something coming from a small, but heavily overgrown pond in the distance.




In my neck of the woods many folks like frog legs and I'm one of them.  Normally my frog-getter would be a .22 handgun or rifle, but I didn't have one with me.  I did have my first Browning Hi Power. The ammunition was a bit much for the quarry, but it was all I had and consisted of a handloaded 115-gr. Sierra JHC at about 1272 ft/sec! I grabbed a spotlight and headed to the pond. Shining my light in likely places, I could see glowing eyes everywhere, most of them frogs. We did have some damned ol' water moccasins too, but they were also "fun"…and still dead.


It was necessary to shoot the frogs no farther back than what would be their neck to be able to find enough to recover the legs. The frog was not blown into tiny pieces although parts did fly upon impact. The very wet mud they were on probably enhanced this effect.  If the shot was too far back, the amphibian was blown wide open and killed, but would jump into the water and sink from sight.  If hit more forward, he was just killed where was and the legs could be taken.


To make a long story short, in less than 45 minutes, I had enough frog legs for six folks to get full on at dinner the next day.  It was fun, but still taught making shots at angles and at irregular distances.


"Number One" is my first Hi Power.  It has been with me in fun times and times that were more serious. The Hi Power can serve more purposes than just defense.  It can be a sporting arm or serve well in informal competition.


I've taken the Hi Power along on hunting adventures for decades. Mine's cleanly taken everything from "saber toothed armadillos" to fox, rabbits, coyotes and deer. I do not recommend 9mm as a prime deer cartridge, but it has proven itself capable to me on 4 separate occasions now…at least on Texas whitetails at close range and under ideal circumstances. (That's the only way I'd shoot them. I let many pass over the years if everything wasn't just right.)  Want to "practice" on moving targets?  Try running jackrabbits at 40 yards with your Hi Power.


Do you primarily shoot IPSC option targets or B-27's. Try some bullseye targets and work on slow, accurate fire for a change. Likewise, it wouldn't hurt slow-fire shooters to get after the silhouette targets now and again and pick up the pace.  If you're not used to doing it, a slight change in shooting disciplines can get things interesting again…and YOU benefit.


Shooting your Hi Power under new and untried conditions can only add to your ability to competently handle the weapon. It can keep you enthusiastically cranking off rounds that actually hit what you intend because you are mentally interested in what you're doing. It's different.  It challenging.  It's not the same old grind.


If you are a serious shooter, there's certainly a time to get back to the "work" part of what you deem essential to your shooting repertoire, but take some time now and again to have new challenges and exercises.  Do some things that are fun.


It will help keep you interested long term.