Springfield Armory SA-35 Hi Power High Power
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You might wonder why a company would introduce a new version of a discontinued pistol that wasn’t selling particularly well? The Browning Hi Power was becoming too expensive to be competitive at its price. You would have to think hard whether the pistol was worth the money compared to something like a SIG P226, Beretta 92 or CZ 75 9mm.

At the same time, nothing else is quite like a Hi Power. And collectors, shooters and niche pistol sales don’t always climb the logic ladder. There have been other clones of the FN Browning Hi Power such as EAA’s P35, but the Springfield may be the best of the bunch (I haven’t seen the new FN release yet).

Springfield Armory SA-35 Hi Power High Power
The SA-35 has a forged carbon steel frame and slide. (courtesy Springfield Armory)

The pistol is all steel and there are no MIM parts, which is all to the good. The new Springfield Armory SA-35 isn’t a straight-up clone of the Browning pistol (Springfield doesn’t call it a Hi Power). Springfield chose to upgrade the pistol while listening to various complaints concerning the original.

One of the updates Springfield has made to the SA-35 is a redesign of the small safety lever of the Hi Power. Springfield also decided against the ambidextrous safety of the later Browning MKII 9mm.

Springfield Armory SA-35 Hi Power High Power

The SA-35 safety is a speed safety that’s very similar to the excellent Cylinder and Slide Inc. aftermarket safety. The new version is well fitted with a sharp indent.

Springfield Armory SA-35 Hi Power High Power

The sights aren’t like anything offered on a Hi Power type previously. The rear sight is a well designed wedge type U notch that allows fast target acquisition. The front sight is a simple white dot post.

Springfield Armory SA-35 Hi Power High Power

The Hi Power’s magazine disconnect “safety” feature, which prevented the pistol from firing if the magazine is removed, was a regular bone of contention as it adversely impact the trigger action. Springfield wisely chose not to include this feature in the SA-35.

Springfield tells us that they’ve made minor changes to the feed ramp and extractor contours to improve reliability with JHP ammunition. It’s handled the hollow point ammunition I’ve used so far without a problem.

Besides its slim lines, part of the appeal of the original Hi Power was its thirteen-round magazine capacity. That was a lot back in the day when the Hi Point was first introduced. The SA-35 is fully compatible with those original magazines, but Springfield’s new mags hold 15 rounds (a single 15-rounder ships with the pistol). I’d rather pay a little more for the gun and get two magazines.

Springfield Armory SA-35 Hi Power High Power
The SA-35 has a historically correct short beavertail. While Springfield redesigned the hammer, shooters with large hands may feel the pinch.

Springfield has also improved the grips over those on the Browning Hi Power. Most High Powers had grip panels that were too thick for many shooters. Later variants used plastic grips. The slimmer checkered walnut grips of the SA-35, which I like very much, are reminiscent of Herrett’s checkered stocks.

Springfield Armory SA-35 Hi Power High Power

The big change over Hi Power handguns of the past is the SA-35’s trigger. I have never felt a truly good factory trigger on a Browning Hi Power. Some are better than others. Some are fairly smooth, if heavy. The heavy hammer fall was a component of the pistol’s legendary reliability with heavy primers and off-spec cartridge brass.

With modern ammunition from the major makers, though, a crisp trigger is more desirable than a heavy trigger action. The SA-35’s action has a bit less takeup than other Hi Power clones. My example breaks at a very smooth 5.1 pounds. This is virtually unheard of in a factory Hi Power.

Firing the pistol was very enjoyable. The factory magazine is easy to load and I’ve added several Mec-Gar 13-round magazines as well.

I used primarily the Remington UMC 115 grain FMJ for testing. Over time I have used quite a few different types of ammunition, all with good results and didn’t clean the pistol until the end of the test period. I don’t think that’s abuse, but I would clean my pistol more often if I were trusting my life to it.

In short, the SA-35 is reliable, plain and simple. I had no problems with any of the ammunition I’ve used including JHPs and bullet weights from 115 to 147 grains.

As for combat accuracy the pistol is very fast to an accurate first shot. Draw the handgun get on target as you flick the safety off and press the trigger to the rear. You will get a hit. The sight system is ideal for combat shooting and speed loads are very fast. A tapered magazine going into a magazine well this size isn’t difficult to handle with real alacrity.

The SA-35, weighing almost 32 ounces, handles recoil well. The pistol is an excellent defensive handgun. Fast to a hit, easily controlled, and boringly reliable, the SA-35 may stand on its own merits without comparison to any other handgun.

Springfield Armory SA-35 Hi Power High Power

Absolute accuracy may be the least important part of a personal defense handgun, but just the same it’s interesting. I fired the pistol from a solid bench rest taking every advantage to see what the SA-35 can do. The rear U-notch sight is at its best in combat shooting, but when properly aligned, can be very accurate. I carefully hunkered down on an MTM K Zone shooting rest and put five rounds into 2.3 inches at 25 yards with Golden Saber. That’ll do.

Springfield has done a good job here This is an accurate, reliable 9mm with good capacity. And priced at $699 MSRP (retail isn’t discounted much yet) this callback to a classic is very much within the reach of the average gun buyer. That can only be a good thing.

Specifications: Springfield Armory SA-35 9mm Pistol

Caliber: 9mm
Length: 7.7 inches
Height: 5.2 inches
Barrel length: 4.7 inches
Weight: 31.5 ounces
Sights: Fixed, U notch rear, white dot front
Action type: Single action only
Magazine capacity: 15 rounds
MSRP: $699

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
No failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject. Perfect.

Accuracy * * * * *
Springfield has improved the sights from the originals and the results are there. Accuracy is better than expected.

Fit and finish * * * *
Very good. The walnut stocks are good. I’m less of a fan of the matte finish, but it’s done well.

Concealed carry * * * *
The pistol is long but reasonably slim. The SA-35 is an easily concealed EDC gun if you don’t mind the weight.

Overall * * * * ½
Springfield has given us a pistol with better sights, an improved safety lever, a much better trigger, and without the hated magazine disconnect. The SA-35 is a well-executed tribute to the original Hi Power at a price most will be able to afford.

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75 COMMENTS

    • Can’t hurt to wait a while… it seems like a solid value but it’s not like anybody really needs one *right now*.

    • @Sam

      With all due respect to Virgil’s coverage of his “loaner” SA-35, my experience with my SA-35 has not been as smooth and trouble free as his.

      I purchased the second one sold in my area. S/N#15xx. It is attractively finished, fits my hands well, decent sights (want night sights), good trigger…lousy reliability. Plagued by failures to extract. It has been back to SA once (so far). They polished the slide face is about all that I can discern. The extractor was so tight that it was pinching extractor claw sized pieces off the cartridge rims…and failing to extract. When it came back from SA it was still having issues extracting AE 115 gr FMJ. Federal HST 124 and Hornady Critical Duty 135 seem to work the best.

      I do enjoy taking it to the range and putting a mag or two through it in the hopes that it will “wear in” (current round count is between 300 – 350).

      I did not buy it for a carry firearm. As it stands now I would NOT carry it…I cannot trust the SA-35 to perform with the reliability I expect from every firearm I carry.

      • Thanx for the report.

        Are you going to keep the pistol? Send it back again? Is there an authorized Springfield repair facility near you, so you could talk face to face?

        • @Sam

          Yes Sir, going to keep it. Don’t get me wrong, I like the pistol…just aggravated that I have one that has problems (my expectation with new guns is that they should work out of the box). Two of my shooting buddies bought the other two (of the three the dealer received). One works as designed…the other had to go back to SA because they “forgot” to include a firing pin spring. With two out of three (agreed that it is a limited sample size) having to return to the manufacturer within a day or two of purchase does not give me a warm fuzzy regarding Springfield’s Service Dep’t and gunsmiths. Hopefully, these were some of the early, rushed to distribution guns and are not indicative of long-term QC issues.

          I’m going to the range this Thursday. I will try and put 100 rounds through it, including the troublesome AE 115gr FMJ’s. That will put me well over 400 rds. If it is still problematic then back it goes. Ultimately, if SA can’t / won’t address the issue I plan on polishing the leading edge of the extractor claw and (carefully) removing half-coils of the extractor spring until it either works better or I have to order a new extractor and spring. It’s become a personal challenge to get it to the point of reliability to where I could carry it, if I chose to, with no qualms.

          There is no authorized service facility (that I know of) near me.

          Virgil’s experience has been better than mine. Don’t let my negative experience guide your decision to buy or not. I offered my experience with the idea that potential buyers should be aware that some SA-35’s have issues.

        • @Vc

          Apologies for thinking that you had received a test and evaluation SA-35 from Springfield. Happy that yours works better than mine.

          Did you notice that the sight cuts are proprietary…there are no night sights available from the major sight manufacturers I contacted for the SA-35 yet.

      • Had a similar experience with my p320 that everyone seems to fawn over. Except mine was back twice for failures to extract. Made me swear off sig forever for wasting my time and money.

        • bad luck- and if I have to say, back to the wall, SIG is easily the most reliable handgun in the world, proven in institutional and military testing. But things happen.

      • Thanks for the input. If you watch Garand Thumb on YouTube, he got two SA-35s and both had serious problems. He was disappointed.

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  1. What is the holster in picture with the SA-35? I will be buying a SA-35 and I am considering what holster to purchase. That one looked good. Thanks if you know and respond.

  2. After being out of stock for quite some time, GrabAGun notified me last week that the SA-35 was back in stock and priced at $!,!99.99. They sold out rapidly and went right back out of stock. It’s certainly safe to say that “retail isn’t discounted much yet”…

  3. This gun will never be approved for sale in California. Even if the hated microstamping law goes away, there is no mag disconnect (required) and too much capacity unless sold with a 10 round mag. Sad, I’ve always wanted a Hi Power. So someday I will ave to find an original in reasonable condition (a pricey proposition) or go for a CZ 75B.

  4. I was hot to buy this. I searched all my local shops, large and small. Nothing available. I waited a month and tried again. I’ve kept trying. Now there are variations from Garsin and the originator, Browning.
    Now, I’m not so excited. I’ll wait.

  5. $700, that’s three months of scrimping on luxuries and a few minor necessities for me.
    $500 Glock or this? ehhh I can do without hair shampoo.
    Now if I can just find one in stock at a gunshop and not online.

    • Don’t forget another $100 for a couple spare mags. Selling a pistol for $699 and including only 1 mag is jackassery of the highest order.

    • @possum

      Spare magazines are nice to have. Springfield has them for $38.99/ea. Added benefit is that if you already have a full-size (5″bbl) 1911 holster, you can save some $$. The Sa-35 fits leather 1911 holsters almost perfectly (I do not have any Kydex 1911 holsters. Can’t speak if they fit or not). Not every dealer is gouging on the SA-35. I paid $659.99 for mine.

      • Have 1911 and three holsters.
        LOL, I want too many gunms, M14, .45LC Ruger Vaquero, a .38 derringer, now this.
        Then add my girlfiend wanting an AR.
        I give her one of my AK’s but she dont like it. “Its to heavy, it dont feel right, I dont like the way you have to tilt the mag to load it, it dont have a bolt hold open, I dont like the magazine catch it hurts my finger, I dont like the safety, I dont like the sights, Jerry had an AR and I liked it, it’s what I shot my first deer with. That’s the hide you see hanging on the wall over there, Merlin tanned it for me, we had deer steaks and deer burgers anytime we wanted them, Merlin liked to hunt and shot the ugliest Turkey in Oklahoma, it didn’t have many feathers on it, he also knew where to find mushrooms he’d get a whole sack of mushrooms, everyone would come over and we’d eat deer and mushrooms and party all night, I’ve got a picture of it somewhere, I think in this album, oh look that’s one of the bikes me and Jerry used to have, a panhead, and here’s a picture of my sporty, theres Mel with Skooter, he won troohys with that bike, they broke up after they moved to Missouri I still keep in touch with her but dont know what happened to him she said he moved to little rock, or hot springs, here’s a picture of our cat Mitzy, one time she got to close to the fireplace and her tail caught on fire, and here’s our dog Ring , now where is that picture of Merlin with that ugly turkey, must be in this album, oh here’s some pictures of Mount Shasta when we went on a road trip and ,,,,,,,,,,”
        Zzzzzzzzzzz snore zzzzzzzz
        “OUR YOU EVEN PAYING ATTENTION TO ME ! !”
        Whu, what,
        uh yeah, cornbread sounds good when did you say them beans would be done?”

        • Best laugh in days!!

          Thank you for your humor on TTAG.

          You should write a column, blog or book…Possum’s Musings…The Book of Possum…The Life of Possum…Search for the Wholely Possum…Possum’s Memoirs…The Life and Times of a Rogue Possum..Live Possum or Die…Possum is a State of Mind…The Possum State…The Possum Diet…101 uses for a Possum…F.O.R.D. – Found On Road Dead…P.O.R.D. – Possum On Road Dead…Don’t Tread on Possums…Possum – Technicolor Roadkill…50 Teeth – One Tooth at a Time…Hiss, Growl or Play Dead – The Way of the Possum…
          There are so many possibilities.

    • Sam, I agree. Montana, keep us informed. I have a Hi-Power, but was planning on buying the first SA I saw. I’ll hit the pause button now.

      • @ Gadsden Flag and Sam

        Back from the range.

        Didn’t have any AE 115gr FMJ.

        Shot: 60 rounds of Armscor 9mm 115 FMJ – no issues
        30 rounds of Belom 9mm 124 FMJ – no issues
        15 rounds of Federal HST 124 standard vel – failure to feed on first round. no other issues.

        At 400 plus rounds (and a trip to Springfield) my SA-35 seems to be settling in. Fast or slow it was feeding and extracting as designed. The HST nose jammed on the bottom of the feed ramp. The subsequent HST’s all fed and extracted ok. I should have taken 15 rounds of Hornady 135 plus P Critical Duty to see how they fed / extracted.

        For plinking at the range, I usually reload 9mm with 124 Plated FP (X-Treme Bullets). 5.1* gr Power Pistol with a COAL of 1.10″. These feed well in most of my 9’s…definitely NOT in the SA-35. Will have to try some 124 gr RN.

        It’s not quite to the point of where I would EDC my SA-35….but it’s getting there.

        Hope this helps allay some of your fears regarding purchasing the Springfield SA-35.

        *do NOT copy or use any cartridge reloading data posted on the internet (unless from a powder or bullet manufacturer’s website). Always verify if a particular load is within safe limits for your firearm / cartridge combination.

        • “It’s not quite to the point of where I would EDC my SA-35….but it’s getting there.”

          ‘Preciate the update.

          Thinking that with the erratic performance, EDC might not be a good choice, regardless. However, maybe if newer (higher quality?) magazines are used, all the problems might go away. Or, maybe moving to Lehigh, or Honey Badger, all copper rounds would be a viable “fix”.

          Still….

        • @Sam

          Never tried Lehigh or Honey Badger ammo (that stuff is $$$$).

          I purchased four additional magazines from SA when I purchased the SA-35. All the mags are essentially “brand new’ish”.

          I never planned on EDC’ing the SA-35 (but, just in case I wanted to…). I typically carry a P365 when I’m out and about in town.

          As I said earlier, I like it and have no plans on selling it…still a bit aggravated that it did not work as advertised (and expected) out-of-the-box. It appears that the SA-35 is experiencing erratic QC at this point. It’s a crap shoot to see if you get one like mine…or Virgil’s. If you find one at MSRP or less, take the plunge and let me know how yours works.

          G’nite

  6. Why would S.A. show this gun when they do not have any to sell. I cannot find one on the internet or anyplace else for that matter. It angers me to the point that I won’t buy one when they do become available in 2023 or later! Just my two cents.

  7. quote————The big change over Hi Power handguns of the past is the SA-35’s trigger. I have never felt a truly good factory trigger on a Browning Hi Power.———quote

    Bullshit!!!!!!!!

    I have three 1960 era High Powers and one 1946 era High Power and they have crisp 3 lb trigger pulls with zero creep. I have one 1990’s High power that has a crisp 6 Lb trigger (with the magazine safety removed) The real problem was that the High Power had a magazine safety that made the trigger pull very heavy and creepy, once removed it lowed the trigger pull substantially. The 1960’s era guns even with the magazine safety in place often had trigger pulls in the 4 1/2 lb range albeit with a lot of creep.

    The High Power had a steep feed ramp you must chose expanding ammo with care as not all expanding ammo will feed reliably.

    The High Power’s slide can eventually crack with plus P ammo and sooner with plus p plus ammo. As much valid criticism as I have leveled at the Glock its massive slide certainly will take a tremendous amount of pounding. Guns like the 1911 and the High Power will eventually crack with heavy loads. The Glock has even held up amazingly well in the 10 mm chambering something the 1911 does not handle as well.

    For the average gun owner the slide problem is probably not a concern because with the price of todays ammo and its scarcity most people will never put enough rounds through a High Power or 1911 to have to worry about the problem of slide cracking.

    For everyday carry most people will opt for the modern made junk plasticky pistol as they are cheaper in price and much lighter in weight. Also when, not if, the cops take your gun you will not miss a junk plasitcky pistol as the factories vomit out this trash everyday.

    I might add most modern pistols have much lower feed ramps often with almost a straight inline feed. In other words they were designed to work with modern expanding ammo, the High Power was not with its steep feed ramp that was designed for fmj bullets.

    In conclusion I would say with the tremendous amount of “original” High Power pistols out there if one is not a complete Moron you are way better off spending a bit more and buying a high quality “Original High Power” it will continue to escalate in value as opposed to the Turkish made gun. I am speaking of a collectors item and occasional range gun not a carry gun. Use the cheaper Turk gun if you like carrying around a gun weighing only slightly less than a WWII German Panzer Tank every day.

  8. I saw one a few months ago at a local gun show. Looked at it then went away for a while. Came back and it was gone. It was $699 which is retail. They are getting double that on Gunbroker now. People are willing to pay it but I’m not.

  9. Modbinned again for a simple, normal word. I know it’s not a WordPress problem because other sites don’t do this. It’s something TTAG is doing on purpose — to no good purpose. By itself it might not be so aggravating, but it’s the last straw.

    It’s going to be hard to do, because reading TTAG is an ingrained habit now after 10+ years, but I’m leaving and not coming back. It’s not worth the time and effort anymore.

    Thanks to all the good commenters — you know who you are — for all the good conversations and fun reading. Maybe I’ll see some of you around elsewhere…

    • “…but I’m leaving and not coming back.”

      Well, rats. “And another one rides the bus”.

      Been “here” over 10yrs, and never had a moderated comment. Am I not trying hard enough?

        • ” ‘Citation, please.’ got me moderated.”

          JWT is an “insider”. He is not ignorant of these complaints. It is curious that TTAG management hasn’t informed the community of that which will result in “moderation”.

          On the other hand, TTAG membership is free.

  10. That $700 MSRP isn’t bad, until you realize that $100 or so of it is going to a guy who used it to attempt to use the power of the State to bankrupt his competitors and infringe the natural rights of the citizens of Illinois.

  11. Curious….

    If I buy a Springfield firearm from the original owner (or subsequent owner), am I supporting Springfield?

    (on the “used” market, i might be able to afford something besides my .22 Neos.

    • Same question here. I know a lot of folks here have a beef with SA, but I recently picked up a used Springfield Vickers Tactical Masterclass 1911 that runs like a top and can hold its own with anything from Ed Brown, Les Baer, or Wilson.

    • No. That’s why I don’t have cable, satellite, streaming or whatever. I buy dvd’s. At second hand shops. Hollywood don’t get my money.

      If you’re buying used you are not supporting the SA company. IMHO.

  12. “I buy dvd’s. At second hand shops. Hollywood don’t get my money.”

    Seems the price of a dvd at retail would include royalty payments to Hollywood critters.

    • That’s why he said he buys them SECOND HAND… like, after the original owner bought them and sold them to a store that’s not a direct supplier of the DVDs….

      I do the same things, I’ve watched Dirty Harry movies over and over, nothing new, and I couldn’t tell you the last time I watch actual “television”….

      • “That’s why he said he buys them SECOND HAND…”

        Yep, I slipped a gear on that one. Thanx for the elbow in the ribs.

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  14. I always get a kick out of anyone disparaging the magazine disconnect safety. First off, I do generally agree that they are a unnecessary feature for a non-LEO firearm, I vociferously disagree with anyone saying they aren’t useful for LEOs.

    I do have the “been there” credentials to say that it is a lifesaving feature in an occupation that often involves groundfighting. Studies have been done that support that also. Most LEOs back in the day had no problem with them.

    As for negatively impacting trigger performance…no. Not at all, maybe, just maybe if you’re comparing it at a Bullseye competition v. a dedicated target pistol And IF you compete at a very high level. I do concede that my only experiences with a magazine disconnect are with S&W.

    I doubt that 99% of people on the “magazine disconnect hater” bandwagon could pass a blind taste test comparing normal DA/SA triggers with or without the feature.

    Both my old 4006 and 4013 TSW have better trigger actions than my newer Sigs and CZs.

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