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Range Report: New Springfield SA-35 (Hi-Power)


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Well hello, TBS friends!  I recently was able to obtain a NIB Springfield Armory SA-35, after waiting A YEAR for one to be available at anything like a reasonable price.  I had tried to avoid paying more than MSRP ($699) , but finally weakened and picked it up on Gunbroker for just $805.  I haven't seen one go for that low the whole year I have been watching, so I don't feel too bad.  I was issued a FN Browning Hi-Power and carried it on duty for two years in the early 1990s, so this was a walk down memory lane and a labor of love for me.  

Initial impressions of the SA-35 are very positive indeed.  It is a cleanly machined, mostly faithful copy of the venerable Browning Hi-Power, with a nice, matte blued finish.  It is all forged steel and made in the USA.  The sights, safety, trigger and hammer are all improved designs, better than the original, and the walnut grips are much better looking and feeling than the plastic or wood originals.   The hated magazine safety is gone, and the magazine well is lightly chamfered.  The magazine is made by MecGar and has been redesigned to hold 15 rather than the 13 rounds of the original, although original BHP mags will fit and work just fine.  It is a handsome, old-school pistol.

Today was the first range session.  I put 500 rounds of Sellier and Bellot 115g 9mm ball through it.  I had absolutely ZERO malfunctions of any kind, and I did not clean or lubricate it during the session.   I plan to run another 500 through it to finish break-in and reliability testing, as there have been some reports of extraction issues in some early models.  Mine is a 9000-series serial number, so I'm hoping they have worked out the issues by now.  If not, the fix is cheap and relatively easy.  Springfield's warranty service is also solid.

Accuracy was excellent for a service pistol.  I could hit a quarter-sized bullseye with every shot at 7 yards from a standing unsupported position if I did my part.  Sights were well regulated from the factory.  Plate rack at 15 and various steel plates at 25 were easy.  Accuracy was aided by a relatively crisp and light trigger pull - I estimate about 5.5 lbs, with a bit of creep and then a clean break.  Reset is longer than I am used to with a Glock, but was consistent.  The pistol had somewhat sharper recoil impulse than I expected, given its weight.  I've gotten spoiled by almost three decades of shooting Glocks with polymer frames that flex and alleviate recoil to a surprising degree.

Nitpicks:  The recontoured loop-style hammer reduced, but did not eliminate hammer bite for me, as my grip is very high on the backstrap after 27 years of daily Glock carriage and shooting.  I do have an abrasion there where the hammer bit me a few times along the way.  Also, there is a bit of a sharp edge on the frame where the first joint of the right thumb rubs as you manipulate the safety and shoot.  This could be easily broken with a little stoning, but Springfield should just chamfer it during manufacture.  I put a band-aid on the spot and forgot about it after the first two magazines.

Will I make this my carry gun, retiring my Glock 33 and 31 daily CCW pistols?  NO.  The 357Sig and the Glock design are both superior to the BHP in 9mm.  We've learned a great deal about pistol design and manufacture in the last 87 years.  The Glock is a better choice for a daily carry combat gun.   That said, I will enjoy shooting this old (new) warhorse occasionally, and if I HAD to carry it for self-defense, I would do so happily and feel very well armed.  


YMMV, Gunboat1



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