May 9, 2008
Charles Daly HP with Novak Sights and Craig Spegal Grips
This is my Daly Hi Power after the upgrades.
I added several upgrades to my Daly Hi Power. These are actually fewer additions than if it had been a Browning since the Daly has the proper slide cuts for easy addition of Novak sights.
Craig Spegal Custom Grips From Novak. These are the grips on the Daly.
I added these Spegal grips as well as a set of Novak plain black sights to replace the XS sights. The other Daly will keep the XS sights. I wanted the Novaks on this one to be more precise in my shooting when on the range. The later model Daly HP’s use a standard 1911 Novak slide cut which certainly makes it easy to change these sights out. The folks at XS told me they didn’t want a proprietary slide cut so owners wouldn’t be limited to the XS sights. They decided that the Novak cut for the 1911 was the best possible solution sense these are the most prolific sights on the market. My hats off to them for this decision! Novak only charges $59 plus shipping for these sights. The grips were $75 and graded Std+.
Installing these sights was a very simple task and took about 30 minutes with only very minor fitting on the front sight with none on the rear. The rear Novak sight was an appropriately snug fit that only needed a tightening of the set screw on top of the sight. The front sight needed a few light passes with 1200 grit wet dry sandpaper to fit properly. After that it was just a simple matter to sight the pistol in. Using the plain black sights allows a very good sight picture with ample space on either side of the front sight.
The Spegal grips fit like a glove as expected but did come with detailed instructions for fitting should yours need it.
Novak Sight Selections
Along with these last additions there was also the addition of the Cylinder and Slide trigger, reduced tactical spring kit which included the extra power trigger return spring, mainspring, extra power firing pin spring and the addition of a C&S sear spring. With the exception of an extractor spring and new extractor most all the internals are now from C&S. This makes for a wonderful trigger, reliability and no MIM parts. The only other addition will be a Bar-Sto match barrel in a couple of months. It’s very accurate as is and this will make it a tac driver for certain.
The sight used is pictured above as the top left and also pictured on the bottom right. The product codes are as follows. LMC01 Colt plain black, DFS02-3.225 black front. These are the standard Novak slide cuts for the 1911. Now this is for the later model Daly HP’s finished by Magnum Research. The earlier guns finished by Dan Wesson used a standard Novak cut for the series II Hi Power. Check my original review for the serial number reference to make sure you order the correct sights for your gun.
Even though the high quality parts added a good amount to the Daly project it came out very nice. Of course if you choose to do the same with your Browning you will need to send your slide in to Novak to have the slide cut for the sights. Turnaround time is one week or less depending on your location and mailing time. One other thing I have to commend Novak on besides the usual great customer service is the shipping time and cost. Many companies add to the profit for parts etc. by charging high shipping cost. Novak will not do that. Two Day Air shipping from UPS was only an $8.00 charge from Novak. Now that’s very reasonable!
I hope you enjoyed the review on my mods to this pistol and will find it useful.
September 30, 2007
Update from Charles Daly 2/13/08:
I’ve learned some sad news directly from Charles Daly this afternoon. The Daly Hi Power has been discontinued. I really hate to hear this news since I think a lot of this gun. There are still some out there at various distributors so if you want a new one now is the time to get it. Of course all warranties are still in effect so that should be of no concern to any potential buyer. After these are gone we’ll just have to locate them on the firearm auctions websites. I did check with some distributors and was able to locate some of these hi powers. The prices are around $330 (includes shipping) to your FFL. Daly has reduced the prices for the remaining inventory.
Information From Charles Daly
For your readers, serial numbers beginning with HP—- were completed by Dan Wesson. Serial numbers beginning with HPM—- were completed by Magnum Research.
I’ve been comparing the Browning HiPower with the Charles Daly version and come up with some interesting conclusions. Now some may say there is no decision to make you can’t beat the original Browning. If a shooter comes to this conclusion that’s certainly fine but here’s some food for thought. I was able to find a Browning HiPower at Bass Pro Shop for $595.00 which is a very good price for a blued fixed sight Browning. I also found a Charles Daly HiPower for $399.00. Ok, $200 difference between these two guns. I’m sure I could find a Daly for less money but lets just go with the $200 difference in price.
Lets make some comparisons between these two fine guns. First the Browning Hi Power is assembled in Portugal from Belgian parts. No big deal on that count. Daly Hi Powers are a joint venture between KBI and FEG of Budapest, Hungary. They
manufacture most of the components and Magnum Research (Desert Eagle fame) doing the final machining, finishing, assembly and test firing here in the US. The Daly Hi Powers are very well made. They weren’t always fine guns (the 1911′s) but in the last ten years quality has been greatly improved.
CORRECTION: I’m not one to try and hide my errors. I asked a gunshop owner I know who makes the Daly Hi Power and was given incorrect information for which I apologize to readers and to Mr. Kassnar. Mr. Michael Kassnar of KBI wrote me to correct my error. I submit the following correspondence from Mr. Kassnar by way of correction. “Just to correct the record, KBI, manufacturer, importer and distributor of Charles Daly firearms, is an American company (incorporated in 1989) located in Harrisburg, PA. Our Hi-Power was the result of a joint venture with FEG of Budapest, Hungary, who manufactured most of the components and Magnum Research (Desert Eagle fame) doing the final machining, finishing, assembly and test firing here in the US. There are no Philippine parts at all in our Hi-Power. Our 1911′s are made in the Philippines by Armscor (same manufacturer as the RIA). Perhaps that is where the confusion came from. Other than that, thanks for the great review on this pistol. We feel it is the great Hi-Power value in the market.”
On to the feature comparison. The Browning has the standard ambi-safety which for me could be improved. The contour and surface area leave something to be desired for positive function. It’s a hard safety to manipulate and many Browning owners change this part out with a C&S thumb safety. The Daly has a single thumb safety but is designed much like those tactical safeties for the 1911. It has a wide flat upper surface which the thumb just naturally engages. The safety is also crisp whether flipping it up to safe or down to fire. The tension is perfect and very positive to engage. The trigger on the Browning is as always very heavy with very perceptible stacking as slack is taken up. This is because of the mag safety which is a useless feature and shouldn’t even be called a safety feature. This can be remedied by replacing the factory trigger with a C&S trigger which has no accommodation to reinstall the mag safety. This greatly improves the trigger pull. The Daly uses the same setup but for some reason the trigger is much, much better even with the mag safety in place. Since all parts between these guns are the same you can also replace the Daly trigger with the C&S for an even better trigger pull. My personal feeling is that once you bring the gun home that’s the first thing I would do is change out the trigger. One consideration is the legal ramifications should, heaven forbid, you ever had to use your gun in a violent encounter. Lawyers love to hang anyone who disengages what they term a safety device. This is a big consideration when having any custom work done on a gun. I can live with the Daly mag safety whereas the Browning trigger is just awful with the mag safety. One minor consideration for me is the hammer. The Browning uses a standard hammer which can bite you pretty good. The Daly uses the commander type which is easier on your hand. Next lets compare sights. The Browning has the usual higher profile plain black sights. Not ideal sights but certainly usable. The Daly has the XS sight system pictured above. It uses a large white dot on the front sight with a v notch on the rear with a vertical white post. You just place the dot on target on top of the rear post and fire. These are also available with tritium inserts from the factory. They also have an option of a larger dot in the front if you prefer. I know some don’t like these sights but after speaking with Sheriff Jim Wilson he agrees that these sights are very fast to get on target. If you are approaching 50 years old your older eyes appreciate this setup even more. Sheriff Wilson has these sights on his Walther PPK and several other of his guns. He also owns a Daly Hi Power. After testing it he bought it:-) These are the basic differences between the two guns but they are major differences. As Jeff Cooper said what you need on a fighting gun are sights you can see and a good trigger. Everything else is secondary in my opinion.
Cosmetically the Browning with a blue finish is beautiful as always. The Daly is also blued but doesn’t have that deep blue the Browning has. One thing Daly did was to get rid of the silver highlight stamping on the slide. I always though that was a bit gaudy. The new ones still have the large name on the slide but has no color to it. It looks much better this way. Both guns are attractive but you have to give the nod to Browning on the guns with the deep blue finish.
Now for the question—do you want to pay the extra $200 for the Browning name and beautiful blue finish and the need to do some type of work for a serviceable trigger which of course means spending more money. Will you be satisfied with the Browning sights or would you rather have a sight system that is superior and very fast on target. Can you live with the thumb safety on the Browning or would you rather have a Daly which already has a fine thumb safety? In short the Daly doesn’t really need anything done to it it’s fine as is or would you rather spend the extra money on the Browning? What did I decide to do? I’m going to buy the Daly. I’ve shot both guns a lot. They are both very accurate and reliable. The Daly is a little more accurate but I believe that’s because of the good trigger. The Browning suffers in accuracy because of a heavy trigger. What would I really like to do? Buy both and have the work done on the Browning but for me that’s not an option. Being a retired police officer I’ve had to save and before retiring work all kinds of off duty jobs to get the guns I have. Some great fellow shooters can afford to do what they want and more power to them but for most of us we have to choose between guns and plan ahead and of course save money for our guns.
One last thing. Do I feel comfortable with the 9MM. In short a resounding yes! Over the last ten years or so ammunition companies have made great strides in developing better loads for all calibers. The 9MM has probably benefited more from these improvements than any other round. Give me a Daly Hi Power loaded up with Speer Gold Dot 124 grn +P or the Remington Golden Saber 124 grn +P and I feel very well armed! One last comment. Stephan Camp is an authority on the Hi Power and has his website listed in the blogroll. He also puts out a very nice book on disassembly of the Hi Power and other reference material. Give his site a look it’s very informative.