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My first post in this sub-forum.
A recent acquisition is an unfired, left side roll marked "Fabrique Nationale Herstal Belgique High Power 88 Made in Belgium", right side roll mark "Howco Dist Inc, Laurel, MD USA"
The pistol is parkerized, including the barrel at the ejection port, has all the attributes of the MKII, center rib and integrated front sight, weep hole, hog nose, ambi safety, FN mark on the right trigger guard, and the serial number 245PX06755 applied to the barrel, the slide and the frame. The serial number implies a 1983 date of manufacture. Magazine is unmarked.
I've never seen one before and am curious about what others may know about the description. Howco Distribution Inc was a law enforcement, government and commercial distribution company established in 1971. The pistol described and photographed is an authentic FN MKII.
The information I've researched thus far is relatively vague and there seems to be as much folklore as fact.
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From someones research in 2007, just in case you haven't run across this already... more folklore!

Howco was a 'police supply' outfit that snagged an import agreement with FN to bring in about 6000 FNC's for the NJ State Police. This was a cool trick since at the time Steyr was supposed to have exclusive rights to import FN. The deal to the troopies fell through and Howco got sued by Steyr and folded up. Steyr took the inventory of FNC's and ran 'em through Gun South. The 'Model 88' as I understand it was a law enforcement grade P35...sort of a 9mm S&W Highway Patrolman. No idea how many are out there. Serial numbers in the regular Browning ranges with the date code showing manufacture in 1981.
 

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I remember when they were being imported/marketed and wanted to pick up one for the collection, but never managed to get around to it while they were readily available. I believe that there were a few of the competition models with the barrel weight, funky rear sight, and frame mounted magazine safety with the Howco rollmark imported during that time frame.
 

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I cannot believe how crudely finished the pistol is with un polished parts and roll pins...the worst part is all the ugly import markings reminiscent of what CAI does today ( obviously I am import mark sensitive). I see why it was compared to the utilitarian Highway Patrolman.
 

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I remember those. I examined a new one in a LGS, and an acquaintance had one. I knew that Howco was supposed to be an importer for LE, while Browning remained the mainstream importer of sporting arms,etc. Didn't know about the NJ connection. In spite of the utilitarian finish and roll pins, they were quality MK II type Hi Powers. I had a MK II but it was not one of the Howco imports. That Highway Patrolman analogy is probably apt. They were not pushing for the traditional Browning blue steel and Walnut market with the Howco guns. Were that Howco Hi Power mine, I'd hang on to it. I haven't seen one for ages.

BTW BBBBill, I knew of the Competition model, but didn't buy one for a long time because of the "funky" rear sight. Over the last 25 years or so though, I've owned 3. Two were 1987 guns imported by Cassi,Inc. in Colorado Springs,Co. My current GP Comp is 1981 manufacture, with just Browning/Belgium/FN,etc. roll marks. Never ran across a Howco version, but I've seen pictures of a FEG GP version. Oh yea, that funky sheet metal rear sight works just fine;)
 

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Unfortunately very late Hi Powers seem to have roll pins for the trigger and elsewhere and plastic magazine disconnects and grips. Perhaps putting the design to sleep was a good idea.
 
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