I’ve been kicking around a pair of 21st-century Hi-Power clones with two different origin stories, and we have a few things to talk about.
John Browning’s GP design, as delivered to the firearms world in 1935 via Fabrique Nationale’s resident gun genius Dieudonne Saive, was given its gold watch by FN in early 2018, and BHP fans the world over wept. While Turkish gunmaker Tisas briefly sent their Regent BR9 clone over here, other one-time Hi-Power clones such as Israeli-made Kareens and imports of the same branded by Charles Daly, Dan Wesson, and Magnum Research were history.
Then came 2021.
In September of that year, EAA announced they were on the cusp of bringing in the Girsan-made MCP35 from Turkey while Springfield Armory in October started hinting around at the gun they would soon introduce as the SA-35. Both were different takes on the classic Hi-Power of old, offering new ways to satisfy that eager fan base that was left with separation anxiety after FN exited the BHP biz.
Since then, I’ve given each of these newcomers a series of tests and evaluations, including putting over 1,000 rounds through each model. With that, let’s see how they stack up against each other – and the ghosts of Hi-Powers past with which they must contend.
At the end of the day, it boils down to why you want a Hi-Power in the first place. Both guns are better clones than I have seen in some past efforts under other banners (see the FEG, PJK, and the Bulgarian Arcus 94). Heck, even when stacked against late-model FN MK IIIs assembled in Portugal in the 2000s, there is little to grouse about. This is firmly an apples-to-apples comparison.
More on said apples in my column at Guns.com.
A modern and attractive reboot of a classic complete with new features for a 21st Century market, Springfield Armory’s SA-35 has a lot going for it.
Introduced late last year, the SA-35 isn’t a page out of the old FN/Browning catalog, although it generationally has a lot in common with the latter’s 1960s “T/C-series” Hi-Powers. This includes an external extractor (a little foreshadowing is due here), ring hammer, and “smooth” slide, lacking the earlier thumbprint take-down scallop seen in guns prior to that time. I personally think the T/C-series was the summit of BHP evolution, so that’s a wise choice on Springer’s part.
When Browning halted production of the Hi-Power in 2017– let’s just admit they allowed it to wither on the vine for 20 years beforehand– it started the clock running for someone else to pick up the design and run with it. Cue Springfield.
So far, I’ve put 1K rounds through the SA-35 since last November, and have a full report in my column at Guns.com.
I dig FN. Not even gonna lie. I probably have 15 FN-made handguns and rifles in my collection, including three generationally different Hi-Powers. My first EDC, back in the early 1990s, was a Hi-Power. Probably only two people bought the SFS version, one of them being me. I even owned a factory two-toned .40S&W variant briefly before I realized that I made a horrible mistake and traded it away.
But FN stopped production of the gun in 2017, after slowly declining their emphasis on the model for two decades prior. In short, I think they just fell out of love with it and the catalog can only be so big.
On the flip side of that, I am not a Springfield Armory fan.
Other than the Omega (a German-import 10mm) and a few of their latter model Operator, TRP, and Ronin models of the M1911A1, I never really found a Springer that I had more than a passing interest in.
Then they made the SA-35. For $699!
I mean look at this thing:
I’ve been kicking one around for a couple weeks and have some feedback on just where it fits in the Hi-Power evolutionary chart, and where it has some improvements that FN should have done and kept the gun in production.
One of these things is not like the other…
More in my column at Guns.com.
Springfield Armory kinda broke the gun internet a week ago when they introduced their new take on the classic Hi-Power (GP-35) design of John Moses Browning and his Belgian understudy, Dieudonné Saive. While the gun looked great in early photos, and promised lots of minor improvements (no magazine cutoff with a resulting better trigger, a beveled magwell, 15-shot MecGar mags, user-replaceable combat sights, a redesigned hammer to curb hammer bite, and an extended safety lever) people were still skeptical because, well, SA has kind of a reputation some times.
Well, I just got one in over the weekend for T&E and, on initial impressions, this gun looks and feels great.
Now that is a pretty gun, and Springfield says it is made in America. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
The mags (both vintage milsurp and new MecGars) drop free. It has an excellent trigger. Great build quality and fitment. I am really impressed.
Plus, it has an MSRP of $699, which should translate to a local gun store price in the $599ish area. Never mind the fact that they are going for twice that on Gun Broker right now.
Anyway, expect a few updates as I take a closer look at the new SA35 and head to the range later in the week.
Springfield Armory has delivered on rumors of a return of one of the world’s most iconic firearms, John Browning’s P-35 series pistol.
The newest version of the Hi-Power-style double-stack 9mm handgun, the Springfield Armory SA-35, seems like it stepped right out of the golden age of circa 1960s T- and C-series Brownings, but it only seems that way. While still showing off the vintage “wood and steel” look of mid-century commercial series guns, Springfield’s chapter in the firearm’s history has subtle upgraded enhancements that give a nod to more contemporary defensive pistols.
I’m not gonna lie, I have never been a Springfield Armory fan– although I know people who love their stuff– but I am looking seriously at the SA-35– and FN/Browning really screwed the pooch by ending the Hi-Power line in 2018.
More in my column at Guns.com.