Estonian Home Guard Browning High Power

Estonia purchased several batches of early FN High Power pistols in the 1930s. First in 1936 120 were ordered for the police, and then much larger orders followed in 1937. The military bought 5,338 and the Home Guard bought an additional 3,038. Both batches have their own serial number ranges, and the military guns are identified by an “EV” (Eesti Vabariik) marking on the backstop, while the Home Guard guns are marked “KL” (Kaitseliit). The guns have 500m tangent sights and stock slots. No holsters or stock were ordered from FN, but the Estonian arsenal at Tallinn manufactured some 3,150 shoulder stocks as well as spare parts for the guns. Apparently there was a plan to start making complete guns there under license, but the occupation in 1940 interrupted them.

Sold for $3,163 at the December 2019 RIA Premier auction.


    • Optimistic if fired without the stock attachment, but still the Hi-Power is better than a bolt-action rifle when you ask for a truck-driver’s side-arm. Unless most European armies adopted American style pump-action shotguns between the wars (and they clearly didn’t), the vehicular soldiers were trapped between carrying a really short bolt-action rifle and carrying a compact pistol like the surplus Ruby (don’t give any lip about the sub-machine gun outside of shock trooper units, that was reserved for the commissioned officers). I could be wrong.

  1. Is there any history, or even suggestion, as to how this gun got to the USA? The USSR occupied Eastonia in 1939. I doubt this gun came via the Soviet Empire, but if it did then I’d love to hear how. The Nazis occupied Eastonia from 1941; but if it came via them then the gun had to have been hidden from the Soviets and found by the Nazis. I would bet a bottle of good whisky that it did not stay hidden away from the late 30’s to the early 90’s.

  2. A good guess is that it did travel to the US via Finland, brought to Finland by one of the Finnish Boys, ie Estonians fighting against the Russians in the Finnish Army where they did make up their own units simliar to Poles and others in Britain etc.

    But it might have been hidden for a long time and then found its way to the US during the early 90s during the time Estonia regained its freedom, back then anything was possible …

    Btw, keep in mind, it was only in the mid 50s that the Russians did break armed resistance in Estonia through killing the last fighters ( Forrest Brothers as the resistance fighters were called ), some of these fighters being Finnish Boys.

    A little known fact is that when the Germans had withdrawn from Tallinn (the Estonian capital), the area was held by Estonian forces partly consisting of the Finnish Boys and the Estonians did run the Estoninan national flag from Pikk Hermann, the symbol of Tallinn and Estonia while they were assembling an Estonian administration. In fact the Russians did crush Estonia twice, the first time when they did occupy Estonia, the second time when they did crush this last Estonian stand.

  3. Another possibility is that it ended up in Sweden together with its owner. A lot of people from the Baltic, among them a lot of Estonians, did flee to Sweden using fishing boats and other small crafts. Most of these people were then later sent back by the Swedes to the Russians … A former member of the prewar Kaitseliit would have been marked for deportation by the Swedes, no doubt about that.

    NB, the Estonian government had transfered their gold reserves to Sweden for safekeeping prior to the Russian occupation. The Swedes did surrender this gold to Stalin without him even demanding it. This in turn did force Sweden to pay as compensation the current value of this gold to the new Estonian state after liberation in the 90s.

    • Compensation? And they actually went along with it?!


      As for the gun, I wouldn’t be surprised if the gun passed through Germany on its way to the US.
      Either through a German serviceman or officer or through an Estonian. Nazi Germany had quite a few Estonians fighting on their side including several Waffen SS formations.

      Some Browning HiPower would have come in handy, as the Germans had problems enough finding weapons for their own soldiers, let alone tens of thousands of Estonians.

      Quite a few Estonians followed their former allies on their retreat after the Baltics were run over. Likely that the gun belonged to one of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.