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After 82 years of continuous production, Browning announced that it would no longer be selling the iconic Hi-Power pistol. FN Herstal, the gun’s manufacturer, couldn’t justify the cost of rebuilding the tooling used for the pistol based on current demand. It was an inglorious ending for a gun which served both Ally and Axis powers during WWII and armed both communist and free countries during the Cold War. It served the elite British Special Air Services, American Special Operations Group and as many as 50 different militaries around the world. DEA agents and members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team carried the Hi-Power during the 1980s Cocaine Wars. The guns popularity spawned licensed and unlicensed copied produced in Argentina, Israel, Canada, China, India and Turkey. Now the Springfield Armory SA-35 continues the legacy of the classic Hi-Power.

Springfield Armory SA-35

The legendary John Moses Browning designed the Hi-Power. FN’s Diedonne Saive, responsible for the gun’s 13-round staggered column magazine, refined it. The pistol’s capacity made it popular with military and law enforcement groups alike. With the trend going towards even higher capacity guns using lightweight polymer frames and striker-fired actions, FN and Browning let the old P-35 quietly slip away.

That’s a shame because the Hi-Power earned a place in history and is still a viable fighting handgun! For those who wanted to own this classic gun things looked dim, until now! Springfield Armory has just introduced the SA-35, a faithful reproduction of the Browning Hi-Power but, in many ways, a better pistol.

Made completely in the USA, all of its major components machined from steel forgings, its parts will interchange with commercial Browning Hi-Powers. Springfield’s engineers went completely through the gun studying it, developing ways to manufacture its parts more efficiently and also developing solutions to common Hi-Power maladies.

Classic Hi-Power Issues

Hammer bite is one of the more-common Hi-Power problems, and it occurs when the shooter’s flesh pushes up over the frame’s tang and is pinched between the hammer spur and frame. Springfield Armory cured this problem by outfitting the SA-35 with a rowel hammer. Like the 1911, the Hi-Power is a single-action semi-automatic, and its condition of readiness is cocked and locked, or condition one. Browning’s manual safety was too small to easily manipulate. Springfield solved this issue by developing an extended manual thumb safety. It can be easily engaged and disengaged without compromising the shooting grip.

In some ways, the Springfield Armory SA-35 improves upon the Browning Hi-Power.

Hi-Powers also had a reputation for possessing atrocious trigger pulls. Part of this was due to the gun’s magazine safety. Originally designed to prevent a negligent discharge from the errant troop who removed the magazine but did not clear the chamber, this safety added pull weight and creep to the gun’s trigger pull. Springfield Armory wisely chose to exclude this “feature” from the SA-35. My test and evaluation pistol has a very nice 3.9-pound trigger pull. There’s a little bit of creep, but it is far nicer than any out-of-box commercial Browning I have handled.

Accuracy was never one of the Hi-Power’s benchmarks and those who have used the gun for competition have always had the barrels replaced with a match-grade aftermarket part. Springfield Armory uses a match-grade carbon steel, 6-groove barrel with a 1:10” twist. Combined with excellent dovetailed sights, the SA-35 was able to print some truly remarkable groups.

Round Downrange

I fired all of my groups from a seated rest with my targets set out at 25-yards. Then I rested the SA-35’s dust cover on a Millett BenchMaster to maintain a steady sight picture as I added the 3.9 pounds of pressure necessary to break the shot. I shot the SA-35 with eight different loads and shot at least three groups with each ammo. The best five-shot, 25-yard group is reflected in the accuracy chart. You’ll note that the aggregate group size is under 1 ½ inches, which is remarkable for any service gun but especially noteworthy for a Hi-Power facsimile.

Oddly enough, some cheap remanufactured 125-grain Total Metal Jacket rounds, bought at a gun show, produced the tightest group measuring just slightly over an inch! Hornady’s American Gunner +P 124-grain XTP rounds generated the most energy with 387-foot-pounds of energy. The SA-35 comes rated for use with +P ammo, which is something you should not shoot in older Hi-Powers and clones for fear of breaking the cam pin in the frame. The cam-pin pulls the back end of the barrel down during the unlocking sequence and it is difficult and expensive to replace.

A Classic Reborn

Shooting 9mm range ammunition in a steel frame gun is a lot of fun! Muzzle flip is negligible and with the SA-35, and I was able to lay shots on top of each other. It got me thinking that the new Springfield Armory gun might interest USPSA and IDPA competitors. I fired a number of doubletaps at my MGM BC C-Zone steel target and my best split, or time between shots, was just 14/100ths of a second. My average was only 16/100ths of a second and this impressed me.

Of course, in younger and more talented hands I’m sure this number would drop below 10/100ths of a second! Good sights, great trigger and accuracy–there’s no reason why this wouldn’t make a great competition gun or carry gun for that matter. Priced under $700, the new Springfield Armory SA-35 represents a tremendous value for the shooter interested in owning a piece of history. For even more info, please visit springfield-armory.com.

Shooting Results

AmmoVelocityEnergyGroup
Aguila 124-gr. FMJ1,0863241.24″
American Eagle 147-gr. FMJ Flat Point1,0363501.39″
Black Hills 115-gr. JHP1,2273841.63″
DoubleTap 77-gr. Solid Copper HP1,4893791.37″
Federal 150-gr. TSJ Action Pistol9012701.79″
Hornady American Gunner +P 124-gr. XTP1,1863871.67″
Wilson Combat Remanufactured 135-gr. HBFN9612761.62″
Remanufactured 125-gr Total Metal Jacket1,1043381.07″
Average1.47″

Springfield Armory SA-35 Specs

  • Caliber/Capacity: 9mm, 15+1
  • Operation: Semi-Auto, Locked Breech
  • Overall Length: 7.83 inches
  • Weight: 29 ozs, without magazine
  • Width: 1.38 inches
  • Barrel: 4.68-inch, Match Grade, Carbon Steel, 6-Groove 1:10″ RH Twist
  • Sights: Fixed, Rear Sight Drift Adjustable for Windage
  • Safety: Extended Thumb Safety
  • Finish: Matte Blue
  • Grips: Checkered Walnut
  • Magazines: One 15-round
  • MSRP: $699

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