In the early 1980s, the single-action 9mm P-35 Browning Hi-Power was my dream firearm. I handled a P-35 couple of times in area gun stores and really liked how it felt in my hand. No handgun I’ve held since has had the same feel. However, because it was a high-end imported pistol, I couldn’t afford the Hi-Power. With Springfield Armory reviving the design and introducing the U.S.-made SA-35, that’s changed.
Springfield Armory’s SA-35 9mm
The introduction of the SA-35 came totally out of the blue. The 9mm is a beautiful and carefully crafted piece. And the MSRP is only $699 — at least $400 less than the last Browning P-35 I had seen for sale.
This 21st-century, combat-capable handgun is meant to be carried or used for home defense due to its tasteful updates. It still maintains all the grace and elegance of the original, which means no accessory rail. There are other ways to make it more night-fighting friendly without one, however.
About the SA-35
The SA-35’s frame and slide are made from forged carbon steel and coated with a business-like matte blue finish. Weight is a svelte 31.5 ounces. The 4.7-inch barrel is cold-hammer forged, and the feed ramp has been redesigned to accept all modern 9mm defensive ammunition.
The grips are beautifully figured walnut, with fine checkering that covers the panels in their entirety. I haven’t seen walnut grips this nice on a gun in this price range for many years.
Importantly, Springfield upgraded the magazine capacity of the SA-35 from 13 rounds to 15 rounds to make it more competitive with contemporary 9mm defensive guns. The magazines are blued steel and made in Italy. Original Browning magazines will also work in the SA-35. The magazine well has been gently beveled to assist in a smooth reload without enlarging the frame.
Slide Forged carbon steel, blued
Grips Checkered walnut
Weight 31.5 ounces
Length 7.8 inches
Barrel length 4.7 inches
Height 4.8 inches
Magazines One 15-round included
The trigger is smooth-faced and nicely curved. It fits the finger perfectly for defensive shooting, ensuring consistent placement for those of us who index our fingers on the distal joint. The trigger pull was improved by eliminating the original magazine disconnect safety feature. This means the SA-35 will fire with the magazine removed. The trigger is also factory-tuned for a smooth, crisp break. According to my trigger pull gauge, the SA-35’s trigger pull weighed in at a very crisp 4 pounds and 3 ounces, with only a slight amount of slack.
The grooved manual thumb safety is mounted left-side only. The width and length of the safety have been increased by just the right amount to make it easily reached for engagement or disengagement. The safety delivers a satisfying “snick” when it moved up for on and down for off. And it locks the slide when engaged. Like the 1911, cocked and locked is the proper carry mode. There is no grip safety. The rowel-type hammer has been subtly reshaped to prevent hammer bite.
The sights are greatly improved over the originals though they don’t look modern. Front sights feature a plain white dot. And the grooved rear features a modern U-shaped notch.
Shooting and Daily Carry
I have had the SA-35 for a couple of months now and love it. It truly is a joy to shoot. I’ve range-tested it on steel and paper targets using ammo from the NovX Engagement: Extreme self-defense loads and SIG Sauer Elite 124 FMJ ball ammo as well as M17 V-Crown JHP. Everything fed and cycled flawlessly, and recoil was gentle no matter what ammo was used. Groups were consistently tight due to the trigger and bushing-free barrel design. The SA-35 is accurate and reliable.
I also found that one needn’t purchase a dedicated P-35 holster if you have extra 1911 holsters lying around. It fit perfectly in every holster that I had for full-sized 1911s — inside- or outside-the-waistband.
The Springfield Armory SA-35 is a must-have gun for any serious shooter. Its reliability, ruggedness and accuracy can’t be disputed. Like the 1911, it fits all hands without modification. It is ideal for self-defense or shooting for fun and would make a great instructor’s gun. It is a pistol I will never get rid of.
Springfield Armory: Springfield-Armory.com