Canadian Military Keeping the Browning Hi-Power a Little Longer: Many of prolific gun designer John Browning’s best efforts are still in use with militaries around the world. That has included the Colt M1911 .45 pistol and of course the M1919 .30 caliber machine gun, which remains in service in secondary roles. While the U.S. military didn’t adopt the Browning Hi-Power, a weapon that Browning was working on when he died in 1926 and was subsequently completed by Dieudonné Saive at Fabrique Nationale (FN) in 1935, it has remained the standard service pistol for the Belgian Army, Indian Army, Indonesian Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force, Argentine Army, Luxembourg Army, Israel Police, and Venezuelan Army.
The Mk1 version of the Browning Hi-Power will also now remain in service with the Canadian Armed Forces – at least for a little while longer.
Browning Hi-Power Just Can’t Retire
The Canadian government had sought to replace the Hi-Power in the first half of this year, but due to the pandemic and supply chain issues, it now appears that is unlikely to happen. Another factor is that there have been complaints that the competition had been rigged.
The Canadian Armed Forces have been seeking to find a replacement for the Browning Hi-Power since at least 2011, and it has sought to buy a minimum of 8,000 pistols – with additional options for up to 16,500 for service with the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy.
The potential value of the contract was reported to be worth $18 million (Canadian) – roughly $14.17 million USD.
Last summer, Ottawa went to various companies to request bids for a new pistol, and the plan had been to award a contract by the end of the year, with the delivery of the first weapons to troops this coming summer. Things actually seemed on track, until the firm of Rampart International of Ottawa, which represented handgun manufacturer Glock in the Canadian market, filed a complaint with the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT). It alleged the government-run competition favored Glock rivals, Beretta and Sig Sauer, The Ottawa Citizen reported.
In November, the CITT ruled that Rampart’s complaint was valid in part, and in addition, the trade tribunal also recommended that the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) cancel the competition and begin a new one while changing some of the wording in its requirements.
“Canada has decided to cancel this solicitation,” explained PSPC spokesman Gabriel Leboeuf, who added that government would follow the tribunal’s recommendation.
“Public Services and Procurement Canada will work with the Department of National Defence to issue a follow-up solicitation for the same requirement that addresses the Tribunal’s concerns,” continued Leboeuf. “Precise timelines have not yet been determined.”
This is among the latest issues that have slowed the acquisition of a new handgun. In 2011, the federal government of Canada had stipulated that the new pistols would be manufactured at Colt Canada in Kitchener, Ontario. That resulted in some complaints from the firearms firms competing for the contract, as they would be required to turn over proprietary firearm information to Colt – which has been seen as an industry competitor.
However, those requirements have since been put aside.
The new firearm that will eventually replace the Hi-Power must be modular in design, which means that it could be reconfigured for various roles. A number of safety features are also required.
As The Ottawa Citizen also reported, “The handgun replacement project has been seen by some as an example of a highly dysfunctional Canadian military procurement system.” At least the Canadian Armed Forces still has the time-tested Browning Hi-Power for now – and for the foreseeable future.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.