Springfield Armory last month introduced the SA-35, an updated take on John Browning's classic 9mm double-stack pistol. We answer some questions on this rebooted icon.
Stacked up against legacy GP-35s
Across its 82-year run, the FN/Browning GP-35 series had several evolutionary generations. Interestingly, Springfield didn't pick up where the Belgians left off by jumping into the production of a Mk III with an SFS trigger system but instead seemed to have dialed it back to about the 1960s T-series guns and made improvements from there.
The SA-35 falls short of the Mk II series changes made by FN, such as the spur hammer, ambidextrous safety lever, and plastic grips – or the passive firing pin safety of the later Mk III guns.
Not your grandpa's GP-35
It is easy to think of the SA-35 as a retro throwback. A classic. It certainly looks the part.
However, the SA-35 has several small tweaks that give a nod to more contemporary defensive pistols.
Upgrades include improved ergonomics and enhanced surface controls, modern sights, an improved feed ramp design, and an increased 15+1 magazine capacity. Gone is the magazine disconnect feature that was standard on most modern Hi-Powers, reportedly giving the SA-35 a smoother trigger pull to its factory-tuned trigger. Also gone are the diminutive fixed sights, replaced with a modern white dot front and Tactical Rack rear that are dovetailed into the slide.
About those mags...
The 15+1 round capacity of the SA-35 comes from the gun's use of Mec-Gar'simproved Hi-Power mag that is flush fitting while adding two extra rounds to the stack. That is a major win as I have been using them for years in my BHPs with great success and can vouch for their reliability.
The bad news is that Springfield just includes one of these excellent mags.
Does the SA-35 accept regular Hi-Power/GP-1935 mags? I tried it with a mix of military surplus and commercial mags that work in my other BHPs and everything went off without a hitch.
The trigger is very good for a factory gun and is crisp.
Check out the video:
Take down is easy and familiar to anyone that has handled a Hi-Power.
With the changes, especially considering the larger surface controls, you have to worry that the grip panel patterns of the SA-35 may not jive with the standard, which would be a big downer.
The barrel has an improved feed ramp designed to run hollow points, and we have been evaluating the SA-35 with a variety of loads ranging from 115 through 147 grain with no complaints.
Stay tuned as we stretch the legs on the SA-35 and check in with what we find after 500 rounds.