Springfield SA35 Hi Power review

Review: Springfield Armory SA35 Hi Power

US gun maker Springfield Armory surprised everyone with its version of an updated Browning Hi Power pistol, the SA35. Only a year earlier, in 2018, Fabrique Nationale (FN) had discontinued production, disappointing enthusiasts around the world.

Unfortunately for us here in Oz, the SA35 has become so popular in the US that it instantly became ‘unobtanium’. 

Springfield SA35 Hi Power review
The new Hi Power replica from Springfield is a good looking pistol

A source at Springfield Armory informed Sporting Shooter that factory is  running at full pace and still hasn’t caught up with US orders, let alone been able to deliver large overseas orders.

However, the team at Cleavers Firearms managed to import several SA35s and very kindly arranged for an exclusive Sporting Shooter — so with a huge thank you to Cleavers for the efforts they made to get us one.


Historically, shooters mostly complained about four things on the Hi Power and, despite making a faithful ‘classic’ Hi Power, Springfield hit a home run by addressing all of them (and some others).

1. Springfield replaced FN’s tiny, hard-to-use safety lever with one that I think is the perfect size and tension (after you shoot a few rounds to loosen it a little). In competition or speed shooting it is fast and reliable to click on or off with your thumb without any conscious thought.

2. The SA35’s hammer is a ring type with a slightly different shape than the original. It prevents most of the infamous hammer-bite issues of the past and it looks great.

Springfield SA35 Hi Power review
The SA35 is supplied with just the one 10rd magazine

3. The SA35 has an excellent fixed-sight setup — fast, clear and very rugged, with a white dot on the front blade and plain black tactical rack-type rear. They are fast to pick up and just work very well.  Also, the SA35 features a standard Novak cut on the slide so there are plenty of aftermarket options available in case you wish to change them (personally I love the factory ones).

4. The magazine disconnect was perhaps the most disliked feature of the original Hi Power, not least because it made the trigger very creepy and far heavier than it should have been. The first thing I always did with any Hi Power I owned was to remove the magazine disconnect mechanism to improve the trigger as well as making it able to fire if the magazine was lost for some reason. The SA35 fixes this issue by simply not having one, significantly improving the trigger pull. The sample we had was very clean and crisp, totally consistent and let off at 2.6kg (5.7lb) but felt lighter. It’s a huge improvement to the shootability of this firearm.

Springfield also improved the grips. The SA35’s grips look far nicer than the old FN models, blending in to the gun as good grips should. More to the point, they fit your hand better as they are slimmer. If you have very large hands and do need to change them there is a vast array of aftermarket grips available for the Browning Hi Power which will fit straight onto the SA35.

Cosmetically, I find this the most attractive Hi Power on the market. It looks like a classic Browning HP but with a subdued matte blued finish combined with beautiful walnut grips. For me it looks just how a Hi Power should.


Springfield SA35 Hi Power review
Despite some reports from the US, our SA35 test gun functioned flawlessly with various magazines

We put well over 300 rounds of mixed types of 9mm ammo through the SA35 with no malfunctions. We tried it with both the single supplied magazine (my biggest gripe is that Springfield only supplies one magazine with the gun) and also used three other Mec-Gar magazines and a Tiple K mag (available from importer Gold Coast Shooters Supplies). We even went so far as trying some old and very used and abused ex-army type Browning mags. All ran perfectly. I had heard rumours that the SA35 was very picky with what 10-round magazines it liked but this one was flawless.

We shot it in many drills, and with the exception of the safety catch being a bit stiff for the first 50 rounds or so (it is excellent now) we could not find anything negative. 

Springfield SA35 Hi Power review
Everyone liked the way the Springfield handled, though naturally the polymer-frame fans thought it weighty

As is my habit, I let a number of people at the pistol club try the SA35 and found a very interesting response pattern.  

The older guys who have known and used Browning Hi Powers over the years absolutely fell in love with the SA35 and wanted to buy this one (no chance!). 

The younger guys who have been raised on polymer striker guns thought it was nice but heavy. They enjoyed it but would not have rushed out and bought one.  

I think that says a lot about the allure of the Hi Power, an amazing gun that was revolutionary in 1935 when released; it was the first successful large-capacity semi-auto at 13 rounds. It truly is a classic and for those of us who love classics it’s a must-have, but it is not the latest and greatest techno-development, either.


Springfield SA35 Hi Power review
five-shot groups at 25 yards were all in the 2-3 inch range

The group in the picture is what I believe best represents a true average at just under 2.5 inches (63mm) with four of the five shots well under 43mm!

Five-shot groups were shot at 25 yards using four types of ammo. 

The SA35, seemed to have very similar point of aim with all brands and bullet weights but does show a slight accuracy preference for 115gn ammo. None of our groups were over three inches (75mm) and none were under two inches (50mm) but if we took the best four of five then several actually went under 40 mm. This is likely the real accuracy of the gun given my mediocre abilities.

That is great accuracy performance from a factory Hi Power, and combined with the smooth handling and excellent reliability of the SA35 I can see why they are flying off the shelves in the USA.

Springfield SA35 and Browning Hi Power
The new and the original. Major parts are interchangeable

As it seemed to be a faithful rendition of the Hi Power, we took a ’70s vintage Browning and laid it side by side with the SA35 to compare and then we installed the original FN Browning slide onto the Springfield and it fit and functioned perfectly, so it seems many of the parts may likely interchange if required.

Cleavers is now getting some of these into the country but you may have to wait a while for delivery. They are listing them at $1535 which, considering the sad state of the Aussie dollar at present, is pretty good and seems reasonable value for an excellent remake of this classic design.


  • Calibre: 9mm
  • Colour: Matte Black (blued)
  • Barrel: 120mm cold hammer forged stainless with 1:10 twist
  • Slide and frame: US-made forged carbon steel (blued)
  • Sights: White dot front, serrated tactical rack rear
  • Recoil system: Browning tilt barrel design with SA35 recoil spring and guide rod
  • Grips: Chequered and contoured walnut
  • Magazine: 1 x 10 round
  • Weight: 893 grams (31.5 oz)
  • Length: 198
  • Height: 102mm
  • Importers: Cleaver Firearms (as well as NIOA for trading distribution)
  • Price: $1535 (2023; price will vary through other gun shops)




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Graham Park

Graham is the President of Shooters Union Australia and is also a keen lover of all things that go bang. With over 40  years of experience in the firearms community and industry, Graham is well placed to share information on a wide variety of firearm related issues. He runs a cattle property and is also a well published writer, with an Australian best-selling book (health related) and many, many published articles in Australian and international media.