Springfield Armory SA-35 Review By: Caleb Giddings


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I​’ve always had a thing for the Browning Hi-Power. In fact, I’ve made the argument that the original BHP was basically a 2011 before 2011s were cool. But, unlike John Moses Browning’s original 1911 design, the Hi-Power never received equivalent levels of aftermarket love and support. The “best” iteration of the gun was the Hi-Power Practical, which these days fetch insane prices on Gunbroker. However, this void created a market opportunity for the 1911 experts at Springfield. The end result: the Springfield Armory SA-35.

T​he Springfield Armory SA-35 Isn’t a Hi-Power

A​t least, Springfield can’t call the SA-35 a Hi-Power because that’s copyrighted. So all their marketing materials refer to it as the Springfield Armory SA-35. But we all look at it and can tell that this is a Hi-Power clone. 

But is it a clone? I don’t know if I’d use that word, actually. It certainly preserves the original design of the Hi-Power, but there are notable product improvements not present on the original gun. The first, and in my opinion the best, is the deletion of the magazine disconnect safety. I absolutely hate magazine disconnect safeties. The one on the original BHP was pretty egregious, so deleting it is awesome. 

M​ore Upgrades on the New SA-35

T​he Springfield SA-35 has two other notable product upgrades from the OG gun. First, the sights. They’re actually good! A white dot on the front sight contrasts nicely with the black, serrated u-shaped rear notch. I was able to easily smoke a plate rack at 25 yards 6 shots out of 6. This was helped out by the excellent trigger pull, which breaks just under 4 pounds. 

However, the best upgrade on the Springfield Armory SA-35 isn’t even technically part of the gun. It’s the magazine capacity. The new magazines hold 15 rounds, a +2 improvement over the original. Plus, they drop free easily. That increased 15-round capacity is nice. But good news, the Springfield SA-35 accepts old BHP magazines, so if you’ve got a bunch of 13 rounders laying around, you’re in luck. The new magazines are made for Springfield by Mec-Gar. That’s good, because it means you can go direct to get more. Why would you need more? Well because Springfield only ships the SA-35 with one magazine.

T​he Springfield Armory SA-35 has One Major Flaw

I really like this gun. Once I got dialed in on it, I was hitting low 5 second runs on the FAST Drill, despite the small magazine well. I pulled a couple of 10 yard plate racks right at the 3 second line. So you can definitely shoot it fast and accurately. 

Here, the Springfield SA-35 was beating my hand up

However, there is one problem, and that problem is the beavertail, or tang. I get that the price point of this gun drives some of the design. However, the beavertail is excessively sharp. Other reviewers have noted this problem as well. After a 344 round range session, the web of my hand wasn’t very happy. When I got home I used some polishing cloths and an emery board to break the sharp edges off the beavertail.

A​t the Range with the Springfield SA-35

S​peaking of that range session, let’s go through the details. We fired 100 rounds each of Winchester White Box 115 grain, and American Eagle 124 grain FMJ. I also ran off 5 rounds each of several different defensive loads like Federal HST and Winchester Ranger. The gun feeds jacketed hollow points just fine, which is important. Lastly I used up 119 rounds of my dwindling supply of Federal 150 grain Syntech Action Pistol.

Everything ran fine regardless of the magazine. The only issues I ran into were user caused. Where I put my support hand thumb on the gun can activate the slide lock prematurely. This locks the slide to the rear with a magazine in the gun, and is pretty annoying. But that’s a user issue, which I corrected by moving my thumb.

Accuracy was right where you’d expect; the Federal HST popped out a nice group that was around 3ish inches. Practical accuracy was solid. I took another run at the Eli Dicken Drill and went 10 for 10 at 40 yards.

I still really like the SA-35

T​he Verdict

S​o here’s the deal with the Springfield Armory SA-35. It’s not the best single action double stack 9mm on the market right now. That honor goes to the Staccato. It is however the best Browning Hi-Power you can buy right now. The new FN High Power is a completely new gun from the ground up. But this?

It’s a Hi-Power, even if it can’t say it’s a Hi-Power. It does exactly what Springfield excels at: taking an old design and updating it just so to bring it into the modern age. If you’ve always wanted a BHP but balked at the price of an original version, then your prayers have been answered.

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