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I've been working on a book on the Browning High-Power and decided that a section on full auto High-Powers should be included. As a friend has a pair of select-fire ones built by Hard Times Armory, probably the best-known maker of full auto High-Powers, I asked my friend to bring them along for me to shoot.

J.D. Farmer, the owner of Hard Times Armory in Kennesaw, GA, was known for converting various weapons to full-auto. He was also known in the full-auto community for his suit against the federal government opposing the 1986 freeze on registering new machine guns for civilian sales. He won in district court, but the decision was overturned on appeal. The U.S. Supreme court declined to hear the case; hence the ban remained in effect. Farmer died in 1999.

Farmer had built a number of full-auto only High-Powers but some encountered are select-fire. Both Inglis High-Powers I tested are select-fire weapons. To understand how the select-fire pistol works it is necessary to first explain the semi-auto action of a High-Power pistol. On a standard High-Power, when the trigger is pulled to the rear, the trigger lever in the receiver is pushed upward to contact a lever on the base of the slide, thus pushing it upward so that the hammer falls to fire the pistol. As the slide travels to the rear in recoil, the trigger lever will move forward by spring tension causing it to fall out of position. Another pull on the trigger will cause the process to be repeated.

On the select-fire Inglis, when the selector is set for semi-auto fire, the pistol will function as described above. However, if it is set for full auto fire, a small rod is moved to fill the space that normally allows the trigger lever to pivot down out of contact with the slide. Hence, when the slide moves rearward, the trigger lever remains in contact with the slide so that as it moves forward again; as long is the trigger is still depressed, the trigger lever will still contact the slide pivoting lever allowing the pistol to fire again.

The Inglis offers a good basis for conversion if it is one of the No. 1 type pistols, as it will have the tangent sight and the slot for a stock. As holster stocks have proven useful with machine pistols to grant better control since the Mauser Schnellfeuer, the fact that Inglis pistols originally intended for the Chinese contract had a wooden holster stock meant that not only would a No. 1-type Inglis have a slot for the stock but that stocks would also be available. After acquiring the two registered Inglis High-Powers my friend sought to make them more effective for use in semi-auto or full auto fire by adding a Bar-Sto barrel, ambidextrous safety, and Spegel grips. The availability of quality 20-round High-Power magazines that will fit the Inglis is another plus.

The full-auto High-Powers produced by Hard Times Armory or elsewhere--and they are popular in many parts of the world including among Mexican Narcos--look no different from a standard High-Power. The only alteration is usually a small pin to fill the space so the trigger lever cannot pivot down out of contact with the slide. On the two Hard Times Armory select-fire guns the selector switch is on the right side of the receiver. On the left side is a button, which must be depressed in to allow the selector to be moved. When the selector switch is parallel to the slide, the pistol is set for semi-auto, and when it is rotated downwards at a 45-degree angle, the pistol is set for full-auto.

The Hard Times Inglis High-Powers will also fit into the holsters I use for my standard semi-auto High-Powers. It is arguable whether having a select-fire High-Power offers any combat advantage over a semi-auto one. I could certainly see more argument for carrying one of the select-fire ones than the full-auto versions that are more often encountered. In fact, a good comment on the full-auto High-Powers is that they seem to be most popular in cultures that consider ripping off a magazine into the air on full auto a celebratory requirement. On the other hand, the select fire version is a semi-auto combat pistol until one flicks the switch should a close-range engagement require a quick burst.

I had shot both of the select-fire Inglis pistols in the past but decided for this outing to really try one in a lot of scenarios. I've done a lot of shooting with machine pistols so realize that, if fired on full auto, they are at their best at close range (i.e. 10 yards or less). My past experience has shown that the one I can control the best without a stock is the Glock 18. I have also found the Stechkin controllable with the stock and relatively controllable without the stock. In both cases, when firing on a man target, the technique that works best for me is to aim for the lower midsection, lean into the weapon, and fire short bursts--normally three shots. With muzzle rise, the last round will usually impact in the upper torso or head/neck.

I did all of my shooting with Sellier & Bellot 115-grain FMJ. I planned on shooting a lot of rounds and had gotten a good deal on some cases of S&B. I started off, without the stock, shooting at silhouette targets at five yards with the Inglis we had found previously was most reliable. I have strong arms and hands but was still getting quite a bit of muzzle rise firing three-shot bursts. I kept about 75% of my shots on the silhouette target without the stock.

Then, I affixed the stock and fired two 20-round magazines on a Threat Down target that "bleeds" red for brain or heart hits and blue for lung hits. All but five shots impacted the target firing in three to five-shot bursts. The stock was tucked tight against my shoulder and I leaned well into the gun while firing. There was really little muzzle rise. Because the muzzle was not climbing that much, I did some bursts moving among multiple hanging plates at 10-yards. I didn't want to get closer in case of ricochet. I also fired at a slight angle. Since I was engaging quickly, firing three-shot bursts as I moved among targets, I dropped some shots but was hitting each target with at least one or two shots.

I decided to also try using the Inglis at five-yards on a hostage/hostage taker target from Son of a Gun Targets to test accuracy of bursts. I fired four three-shot bursts at the head and neck of the hostage taker at five-yards. None of the shots hit the hostage and 12 hit the hostage taker in the head or neck. On one burst, I squeezed the trigger a little longer and fired a fourth shot that climbed just off the hostage taker's head. If I were armed with the select-fire Inglis and had to take head shots at longer range, I would definitely push the selector to semi and fire them that way. In fact, I did fire a couple of semi-auto double taps at 15 yard and a couple at 25 yards into the head of another "hostage taker."

I fired a little more than 300 rounds doing shooting tests and handling tests with the Inglis. There were a few malfunctions, usually the hammer going forward with the slide and needing to be re-cocked before firing another burst. Overall, however, reliability was better than I have seen with many conversions of handguns to full auto. I don't know what the cyclic rate is for these conversions, but for machine pistols it's normally high. Nevertheless, the Hard Times Armory conversion I was shooting was emptying a 20-round magazine without fail most of the time.

I did conclude that if I were going to have a High-Power "machine pistol" I would want it to be an Inglis with the stock, to have Spegel grips, to have the ambidextrous safety, and to have the Bar Sto barrel--just like the one I shot for this article. I appreciate that accuracy is quite good when firing the Inglis semi-auto at 25 yards and believe that the Bar Sto barrel helped.

My High-Power book is for the British publisher Osprey in their WEAPON series, and I'm sure that the British readers will find inclusion of a High-Power machine pistol a bit perplexing. Too bad that they are forced to be so culturally deprived!

I was certainly glad to get the chance to shoot the Hard Times Armory Inglis machine pistol. Next time I won't have the excuse of my book and my Firearms News article. I'll just have to shoot it for fun.


Caption: Thompson firing a five-shot burst from the Inglis using the stock.

Caption: Two Hard Times Armory select-fire Inglis High-Powers; the top one has the selector in the full auto position, while the bottom one offers a view of the button that must be depressed to change the selector setting.

Caption: Two Hard Times Armory select fire pistols: top one has the selector set on semi-auto and bottom one has it set on full auto.

Caption: View of the inside of the frame of one of the Inglis pistols showing the gap that allows the trigger lever to fall out of position for semi-auto fire.

Caption: With the selector in the full auto position the gap is filled preventing the trigger lever from falling and thus allowing full-auto fire.

Caption: Pointing at the trigger lever being held in the full-auto position.

Caption: The Inglis is a good choice for conversion to full auto because of the availability of a shoulder stock holster.

Caption: Tangent rear sight on the No. 1 type Inglis.

Caption: Top view showing the selector release button on the bottom and the selector on the top.

Caption: Close-up of the selector in the "semi" position.

Caption: Close-up of the selector V in the "full" position.

Caption: At top a Hard Times Armory Inglis with the selector in the "semi" position and at bottom one with the selector in the "full" position.

Caption: The shoulder stock makes the Inglis much more controllable on full auto fire; note that a 20-round magazine is in use.

Caption: Firing at a Threat Down target from five-yards using three-shot bursts.

Caption: Firing a bust without the shoulder stock results in a lot of muzzle climb.

Caption: Result of firing two 20-round magazines in short bursts on the Threat Down target.

Caption: As this photo shows, the select-fire Inglis cycles very fast but with the stock is still easily controlled.

Caption: Firing a five-shot burst.

Caption: Firing 3-shot bursts at 5 yards at a "hostage taker"; the select-fire Inglis offers enough control that no hits were made on the hostage.

Caption: Even with four cases just ejected, the Inglis is controllable enough that Thompson is keeping hits on a silhouette target at 10 yards.

Caption: A standard semi-auto Inglis at top and a select-fire Inglis at bottom; they are close enough that a standard holster may be used for the Hard Times Armory conversion.

Caption: Left side view of the Hard Times Armory Inglis.

Caption: Right side view of the Hard Times Armory Inglis.

Caption: Firing a three-round burst without the shoulder stock.
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Author:Thompson, Leroy
Publication:Firearms News
Date:May 10, 2019

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