Firearm: Springfield Armory SA-35 (MSRP: $699)
In what was certainly a surprise, Springfield Armory launched a new pistol this year that wasn’t a line extension of the company’s super popular Hellcat series or another barrel-length variant of one of the XD lines. No, this was the SA-35, Springfield Armory’s modernized take on John Moses Browning’s last design, the pistol that would come to be known as the Browning Hi Power. In a bold move, Springfield Armory resurrected the design only a few years after Browning dropped the Hi Power from its product line.
And it is a gamble, albeit a pretty savvy one. The Hi Power never really got the attention it deserved. I mean, we’re talking about a double-stack 9 mm pistol that pre-dates other “wonder nines” by more than three decades – the Smith & Wesson Model 59, Beretta 92 and CZ-75 all hit the scene in the 1970s. I’ve often wondered why the Hi Power wasn’t more popular, but a lot of it has to do with the state of defensive 9 mm ammunition up until about the 1990s – not coincidentally after the arrival of the Glock on US shores.
So, who might be interested in a Springfield Armory SA-35? Well, for starters, anyone who’s a fan of the Hi Power, of course. Fans of the 1911, too, will recognize an analogous operating procedure—while there’s no grip safety, there’s a thumb safety so that the pistol can safely be carried with a round in the chamber and the hammer cocked. In a move that should be celebrated by Hi Power fans everywhere, Springfield Armory engineered the magazine disconnect out of the SA-35 and smoothed the trigger to a crisp, 5-pound pull. Sights are updated, too – the front sight is a white dot, while the rear has a plain-black, serrated face for welcome contrast. It’s even designed with a ledge for one-handed racking in emergency situations.
The SA-35 isn’t even as big as you might think: it’s roughly the same size as the Glock G17. It’s about 6 ounces heavier (since it has a forged-steel frame), but shorter both in the height and overall length, despite having a longer barrel. Compared to even Commander-length 1911s, it’s just about identical in length and weight, and folks have been carrying Commanders for decades. Plus, the SA-35 comes with a 15-round magazine (only one, though), so that’s more than double a Commander’s capacity. While it might be slightly heavier and longer than compact striker-fired pistols, the smooth trigger and reduced felt recoil are definitely arguments in the SA-35’s favor. In any case, it’s another excellent option for a carry pistol, and that’s a good thing.
Holster: Galco Summer Comfort (MSRP: $96)
Since we wanted to highlight the concealed-carry angle for the SA-35, we’ve opted for Galco’s Summer Comfort inside-the-waistband holster for this kit. Designed with a butt-forward cant to facilitate a faster draw, the Summer Comfort also offers twin belt loops for belts up to 1.75 inches. Should you wish to tailor the Summer Comfort to smaller belt widths, Galco has loops for 1.5- and 1.25-inch belts as well.
Constructed of premium steerhide with a molded sight track, the Summer Comfort also has a reinforced mouth to keep it open when reholstering. It’s available in right- and left-hand configurations, but only in black leather. As with most leather holsters, some minor break-in may be required – we’ve had great success with leaving the pistol inside a plastic bag in the holster for a few days to smooth out the draw.
Accessory: MecGar and ProMag magazines (MSRP: $34.55/$23.99)
To highlight the compatibility of the Springfield Armory SA-35 with existing Hi Power gear, we’ve chosen two aftermarket magazines to complement this EDC kit. We have both a 15-round replacement magazine from Mec-Gar and 13-round magazine from ProMag here today, and both function just fine in the SA-35. A common question we’ve seen since the launch of the SA-35 centered on magazines; if you own a Hi Power, you most likely have a number of magazines for it and want to make sure they’ll work in the SA-35.
For the Mec-Gar, magazines are available in 10-, 13- and 15-round configurations; while ProMag offers 10-, 13- and 32-round sizes. While the 32-round magazine might be fun on the range, it’s going to be a little difficult to conceal… We’ve opted for the classic, 13-round configuration here, as the original Hi Power was designed with that capacity and there are a number of 13-round magazines available. They should work fine in the SA-35.