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Browning Hi Power - JAC

Anyone who knows their Airsoft history will have, at least, heard of JAC. They were makers of some of the early automatic airsoft guns, back in the 1980s and have something of a cult following. They also made (amongst other things) GBB Browning Hi Powers.

Top to bottom : Jac Hi Power Target, Jac Hi Power frame with Hsu Wei Metal slide, Hsu Wei frame.

I had a Hsu Wei Browning, which broke its blowback mechanism. I'd almost sold it a couple of times, when I saw someone selling a JAC Hi Power, less it's slide, magazine and recoil spring. As the Hsu Wei is a copy of the JAC, I made an offer for the frame and it duly arrived.

Most parts were a direct swap and it didn't take long to get the slide fitted. However, the HW magazine would not mate with the JAC mechanism, so I contacted the seller to see if he'd sell me one of his magazines. After some negotiation, I bought two magazines and a second JAC Hi Power from him.

In the Box

The box in this case was a grey plastic gun box filled with foam. This is just big enough to hold both Hi Powers and is marked with the JAC logo on the outside. It's not pretty, but it's most definitely effective.

First Impressions

Black Hi Power

The first thing I noticed about the JAC version of the Hi Power was how much better made than the Hsu Wei it was.

Frame is JAC, but the metal slide is from the Hsu Wei.

The quality of the plastic is very good; maybe even better than the best modern airsoft pistols. It was also evident that all the metal parts were made to much tighter tolerances than the Hsu Wei, although they all seemed to fit either gun without problems.

I used the metal slide, recoil spring and outer barrel from my Hsu Wei on this gun and all parts fitted with no modifications.

Exterior metal parts include the outer barrel, ambidextrous safety, magazine, magazine release, trigger, hammer and slide lock.

Silver Hi Power Target

The Silver gun shared most elements with the black one, but had been modified. The slide is shortened and a heavy metal muzzle weight/compensator is fitted to the frame. Along with this is a extended inner barrel, which extends into the compensator.

JAC Browning Hi Power Target 1 - note huge muzzle weight and real steel Hogue grips.

Exterior metal parts include the outer barrel, ambidextrous safety, magazine, magazine release, trigger, hammer and slide lock.

Closer Look

Black Hi Power

There's not much to add for the black frame. The slide, from my Hsu Wei, has been stripped of it's chipped paint and I've partly polished it, although it clearly needs more work to be finished. The markings on the slide say simply "BROWNING ARMS COMPANY MORGAN, UTAH & MONTREAL, P.O.".

Both this gun and the silver one have closed ejection ports with a chrome metal plate over it, bearing the legend "Cal. 9x19 NATO".

Note nicely engraved trademark on slide.

A notable point about both guns is the very heavy trigger pull. It's on a par with a modern NBB.

The magazines are also strange, being quite flimsy in construction and having the gas fill valve part way up the back of the magazine, rather than on the bottom as is the norm these days. They are very difficult to fill and are also a very tight fit in the grip of the gun, requiring a good slap to seat properly.

Silver Hi Power Target

The markings on the silver gun's slide match those on the Hsu Wei slide and the silver finish is, overall, excellent.
The big heavy weight/compensator is grey in colour and certainly changes the dynamics of the gun, making it distinctly muzzle heavy.

Note closed ejection port and front blade sight relocated to compensator.

When I bought this gun, I was aware of cracks in the rear of the slide, behind the adjustable sights (quite different, interestingly, from the Bomar adjustable sights which came with my Hsu Wei), which means the gun is never going to see a lot of use.

Complicated, but adjustable rear sight and real steel Hogues - latter added by me.

The Hogue grips in the photographs are real steel and were purchased off eBay (originally for the Black frame) and were a direct swap. The silver gun came with grips identical to those on the black one (replicas of Mk3 grips) and similar to those on the Hsu Wei, although those are shinier in finish.

Shooting Impressions

Both guns FEEL very similar to shoot. They have the, already noted, heavy trigger pull and an impressive kick and sharp, swift recoil, even with 134a gas.

However, once I got to actually shooting at a target, something very strange came to light, which I haven't yet got to the bottom of...

Click on image for bigger version in separate window.

Carrying out my standard 5m test, I found the silver gun grouped impressively (5 shots in a 1.5 inch (4 cm) diameter), albeit a little low, with the outlier only an inch away.

With the black gun, however, I could not even hit the target! After quite a few rounds, I realised the shots were falling inches low of the target (about 6 inches - 15 cms - below the aim point). I swapped the inner barrel for the Hsu Wei one and saw slightly better accuracy (5 shots in a 5 inch - 12 cm radius), but still probably the worst of all the guns I have ever tested.

Over 10 shots, the black gun with the Hsu Wei metal slide (I had sold the silver gun long ago, by this time) averaged 248fps (using Abbey Ultra gas) indoors (around 25C). As you can see, the velocities varied considerably, too.

Shot      FPS
1 262.4
2 319.2
3 244.2
4 288.4
5 195.1
6 224.9
7 254.9
8 249.4
9 217.6
10 233.2

The trigger pull weight test (on the black gun) produced a figure of 2,000g (70.5 ounces), which is VERY heavy for a GBB, being closer to that recorded by my NBB Mauser M712.

Update - October 2004

MrkDav5 has sent me some shots and info on his JAC Hi-Powers.

I have attached a photo of the "silver stainless" model. It's a JAC variation of the Standard model, with a rifled barrel, barrel sleeve, adjustable sights, stainless mag. The owners manual has an additional sheet in it showing all the parts that are different. There is no differences to the size, weight of the SS version over the standard model.I even got a little key in the box- standard grey plastic affair- that allows you to strip out the top valve on the mag. At the weekend I can take some detailed pics of the manual - key if you like.

All silver finish, like my Target - I suspect my Target started life as one of these.

I have also acquired a Novak Special variation which came with a black barrel, chamber cover and a metal slide fitted with Novak fixed sights. I will send you some pics in a separate email as they are large. I even got a cardboard sleeve showing the gun. It has a parts diagram of the "Novak" bits.

Very 80s box art!

The main difference is the Novak rear sight, but note lanyard ring.

Please feel free to use these as you feel fit. I am tr ying to find out more about the variations on the JAC Hi Powers and the numbers made, interestingly all the guns have the same serial number 245PR20225 stamped on the slides and the chambers, even the steel slide, as you can guess information is sketchy and it may take some time, although that sort of adds to the interest, if you know what I mean


Overall, this pair of Browning Hi Powers make an interesting comparison to modern guns. They are reasonably powerful and very well made, but seem a little agricultural and unrefined, with their heavy trigger pulls, flimsy, tricky and overly tight magazines and closed ejection ports.

The accuracy is a mystery. Whilst the Silver Target version is very accurate, once you adjust for the drop off, the black hybrid gun is terrible. Whether this is explained by the shorter barrel is hard to say (and seems, frankly, unlikely - especially as the Hsu Wei was reasonably accurate, albeit exhibiting the same drop off as the silver gun), but it requires further investigation.

Would I want to go back to the days of JAC guns? Probably not. The build quality is good, but not noticeably better than modern WA or KSC, for instance and the guns feel 'old' in the way they are designed and operate.

Black Hi Power

Weight : 660g

Realism : ***
Quality : ****
Power : ***
Accuracy : *

Silver Hi Power Target

Weight : 770g

Realism : ***
Quality : *****
Power : ****
Accuracy : ***

Real Steel link at World Guns

HL E-book on the Browning Hi-Powers

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