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Discussion Starter #1
Hello group, I am new to this Forum and am interested in learning the manufacture date of my FN High Power Browning, manufactured in Belgium around 1938-1944.
I have looked on-line a bit and some reference books with no luck. It has tangent 500 meter sights and has acceptance stamps, WaA140 on the left slide and frame and front of frame on the business end, just below the barrel. It is also marked on the left side next to the trigger guard, "MR". It does not have a stock lug.
The serial number has no letters and is in the 140000 range, six digits. The bluing looks original and is in pretty decent shape with wear marks and a few scratches, which is what I would expect if it saw limited to no war action.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Found this on line, it should get you started:

https://www.ai4fr.com/main/page_militaria__collectibles_germany_hipower.html

Yours was probably born in 1942.
Doug, I saw that web info last night. Thanks. The problem there is, that with tangent sights, it falls out of the serial number range of 135000, by over 5000 units. The Germans were very meticulous about keeping records and accounting for everything. Right down to a single pistol or Deutschmark.
Sie waren für so ziemlich alles verantwortlich, auch für Sachen, die sie gestohlen hatten
 

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Doug, I saw that web info last night. Thanks. The problem there is, that with tangent sights, it falls out of the serial number range of 135000, by over 5000 units. The Germans were very meticulous about keeping records and accounting for everything. Right down to a single pistol or Deutschmark.
Sie waren für so ziemlich alles verantwortlich, auch für Sachen, die sie gestohlen hatten
Yes the Germans kept records, however a lot were destroyed at the end of the war. Quoting from the web site I listed. "It appears that the first of these WaA 140 marked fixed rear sight pistols begin at around the serial number of 150,000", so apparently yours was near the last of the tangent sighted pistols. And they might have been making tangent and fixed at the same time until all the old parts were used up.
 
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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Yes the Germans kept records, however a lot were destroyed at the end of the war. Quoting from the web site I listed. "It appears that the first of these WaA 140 marked fixed rear sight pistols begin at around the serial number of 150,000", so apparently yours was near the last of the tangent sighted pistols. And they might have been making tangent and fixed at the same time until all the old parts were used up.
Certainly, that would make sense. I wasn't looking at the break in serial numbers as possible lost records. Indeed, 1942 seems to be the number I was looking for.
Thanks for your insight. I have always said, "reading and interpretation with the use of two or more minds is a far better than just with the one!"
 

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I've found one of these Hi-Powers while cleaning out my cousin's house after her passing. Left side of slide marked standard Fabrique Nationale Herstal Belgique, W/ waffinampt eagles on slide and frame, WaA140 marked with the 500 Meter tangent rear sight but no stock cut in the 141,800 serial number range. Any way of finding out the manufacture date for it? Thanks, for any response.
 

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I've found one of these Hi-Powers while cleaning out my cousin's house after her passing. Left side of slide marked standard Fabrique Nationale Herstal Belgique, W/ waffinampt eagles on slide and frame, WaA140 marked with the 500 Meter tangent rear sight but no stock cut in the 141,800 serial number range. Any way of finding out the manufacture date for it? Thanks, for any response.
Hi John,

I'm just interpreting passages from the R Blake Stevens book "The Browning High Power Automatic Pistol".

-Does your pistol have the magazine disconnect?

There is a picture in his book of a pistol similar to yours, tangent sights/WaA140/Magazine Disconnect/No Slot/Wood Grips, with a serial # 94162... it was made in 1941.

In the early days of occupation they used up available parts (including the mag disconnect, tangent sight slides and slotted frames). WaA140 was the third acceptance code used in 1941, beginning in the final months of the year, and continued through the end of the war. Until 1943 the pistols continue the FN serial number pattern... consecutive numbers beginning with 50,001. That changed in 1943 when the serial numbers were only 5 digits long, ending with a letter; a for the first 100,000, b was next.

I have one marked 25342a. I'm dating it to 1943... possibly around April presuming production was consistent throughout the year. I don't think there is a way to know for certain and my tale would change with additional info. I paid $500 for it at a local (Chicago) gun store in the summer of 2019.

Yours... Possibly accepted in the final months of 1941 but more likely early 1942.
-WaA140 indicates end of '41 at the earliest
-Six digit serial number indicates pre-1943
-Tangent sights indicate pre war parts
-Serial number indicate it was of the first 92,000 accepted
-65,000 pistols produced in 1941
-80,000 pistols produced 1942

What are you going to do with your pistol?
I shoot mine from time to time. I have replaced all of the springs (all springs were no longer usable), and the wooden grips which were suffering from dry rot. I also installed a new extractor. All of the original parts are stored safely away, for posterity.

If you intend to shoot yours, there are springs which must be changed, especially the sear spring. My sear spring was so weak it exhibited hammer follow during dry fire and could have gone full auto in a very dangerous way had I tried to fire it. Replacing the sear spring returned the trigger pull from 2#s to an acceptable 4.5#s.

1943 - right.jpg
1943 - left.jpg
 

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As I said, tangent sight, no stock cut or lug, does have the magazine disconnect. Seems to be commercial finish, with some wear....grips are wood, seem ok, havent had a chance to strip it down completely yet, springs seem good. Serial # as said above. Didnt know if the Herstal FN markings were continued by the Germans, or just using up on hand parts....
 

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As I said, tangent sight, no stock cut or lug, does have the magazine disconnect. Seems to be commercial finish, with some wear....grips are wood, seem ok, havent had a chance to strip it down completely yet, springs seem good. Serial # as said above. Didnt know if the Herstal FN markings were continued by the Germans, or just using up on hand parts....
Yes, the Belgian markings seem to have been retained on all pistols during the occupation. Having a mag disconnect may point to an earlier production date as it was discontinued later on as a cost savings measure. Earlier pistols had a better finish than later pistols.
 
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