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Thread: New SA-35 vs BHP Mark III Standard

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    New SA-35 vs BHP Mark III Standard

    I got my new SA-35 last week. It came with only a right hand safety (on the left side of the frame). Today I fitted a Cylinder and Slide ambi safety to it and decided to show yall some pics and compare it to my Browning Hi Power Mark III Standard Ive had for a few decades.

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    The SA-35 seems to have been bead blasted then coated for mat finish that feels a little like a parkerized finish. Other than that it feels the same as the BHP. Frame contours, slide contours, weight and point ability are the same.

    I paid MSRP for the SA-35 which IIRC was just under $700 before tax. In my opinion the gun, for a defensive weapon is very much worth that. However, it is not in the same class as the BHP for fit, finish and making small groups.
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    The SA-35 has better sights. SA-35 on the right.
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    And the SA-35 has wider dovetails. BHP on right with smaller dovetails.
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    Last edited by shooting on a shoestring; 12-11-2021 at 02:49 PM.
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    The BHP still has the magazine disconnect. The SA-35 doesn’t have one nor is the frame cut for one. BHP on the right.
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    Consequently, the SA-35 trigger breaks with less pressure and feels cleaner. The take up feels the same, over travel is not noticeable in either gun although they both have a little.
    Last edited by shooting on a shoestring; 12-11-2021 at 03:22 PM. Reason: Fixed pic
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master
    rintinglen's Avatar
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    How do the triggers compare? I couldn't care less about an ambi safety, being pretty darned right handed, but trigger pull matters. My own Mk III has a spongy 6 1/2 lb. pull.

    Ah, I was too quick on the trigger, errr, post. I am wanting one of these, but I need to examine one before I spend any money.
    _________________________________________________It's not that I can't spell: it is that I can't type.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    The SA-35 barrel doesn’t have a hood.
    BHP on top, SA-35 on bottom.
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    Also the SA-35 has endmill drag marks on the underside of the slide. When racking, when the slide rides over the hammer, there is a grittiness as the hammer rubs over the drag marks. It’s not a deal killer, but it is very noticeable. The BHP is smooth as glass when racking.

    Also the BHP has a much tighter frame to slide fit. When you pull the trigger on a BHP the slide is pushed upward due to the see-saw in the slide that pushes down on the sear to release it. Therefore the slide travels upward a few thousandths of an inch during trigger pull buts it so small it’s not noticed. It can be felt and seen on the SA-35.
    Last edited by shooting on a shoestring; 12-11-2021 at 03:25 PM.
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    The barrel grove diameter of the BHP is 0.357”.
    The SA-is 0.355”.

    The SA-35 has a little better throat into the rifling.
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    BHP.
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    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    The worst thing on the SA-35 is the barrel to slide fit at the muzzle.
    It’s very sloppy and the barrel muzzle noticeably moves and rattles around.
    The outside diameter of the barrel in that area is 0.499” while the inside diameter of the slide is 0.512”. Yep about 0.013” clearance.

    The BHP barrel OD measures 0.501” and the slide ID measures 0.507”. So it has 0.006” clearance.

    You can see the BHP slide was honed to fit. The SA-35 was not.

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    Last edited by shooting on a shoestring; 12-11-2021 at 03:26 PM.
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Rodfac's Avatar
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    Good review...Range results? I've got one on order to add to my "Practical" two-tone and .40 Mklll. Rod
    Rod

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Last weekend with the factory single sided safety on the SA-35 I fired 50 rounds of factory MagTech 124 gr followed by 100 of my generic 9mm loads with 5.5 gr AA#5 and a 130 grain Accurate boolit at 0.359”. The SA-35 functioned flawlessly. I fired all the shots standing with only a couple of paper targets used and mostly shot a dueling tree. But…i was a little disappointed in the groups I did see. 18 yards and I saw 5-6” groups with both factory and mine. I’d expect the BHP to have been 2-3” groups there.

    However, for point shooting and rapid fire, the SA-35 is adequate.

    It’ll never come close to the BHP unless that barrel to slide fit is improved.
    I do like the SA-35 trigger and sights. I like the price. I’m glad I got it and I’ll keep it. But I like my BHP better even with the disconnect.

    Thought I’d share.
    Last edited by shooting on a shoestring; 12-11-2021 at 03:27 PM.
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Rintinglen….yeah I should have measured trigger pull.

    I don’t have a fancy pull meter but I can measure it by dribbling birdshot into a plastic water bottle coat hangered to the trigger, then weigh the bottle when the trigger breaks.

    I’ll see if I can get that done before SWMBO finds something else for me to do.
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy

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    Thanks, good post. I would be interested in parts inter-changeability, mostly slide and barrel fitment. That .357 bbl dia. has been my main bitchin point for years. It took a while to get a load that would do 2" at 25 in any of my HP's. Again good post....

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Perhaps the gun writers got hand finished guns because all that I have read described target groups about half of what you described. My wife and I are still waiting for ours to come in to our dealer and I will give a report once we have them in hand and worked with. GF

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Ok measured the trigger pulls.

    BHP 9.75 pounds.
    SA-35 5.5 pounds.

    I didn’t realize the BHP was THAT heavy.
    "Time and money don't do you a bit of good until you spend them." - My Dad

  14. #14
    Boolit Master bosterr's Avatar
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    In this day and age of CNC machines, I would think the barrel/slide fit at the muzzle would be closer.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by shooting on a shoestring View Post
    Ok measured the trigger pulls.

    BHP 9.75 pounds.
    SA-35 5.5 pounds.

    I didn’t realize the BHP was THAT heavy.
    I've had a problematic Hungarian FEG clone for probably 25 years that I've only recently dug back out to start applying improved know-how to (hopefully) get it extracting properly. It's still got the mag disconnect and it's right in there with your FN - trigger breaks clean. . .but just shy of 9 pounds.

    Can't fault the ergonomics of the piece. . .but that teeter-totter fire control system reminds me of one of Wile E. Coyote's Rube Goldberg contraptions, and I do wish they stuck with the 1911-style internal extractor the design started with. Hopefully I soon have it to a point where it will run a full mag without half of them jamming the rim of the fired case on the bullet of the round below. That'll improve my outlook enormously.
    WWJMBD?

    Is the mightiness of the pen still relevant after we roll the writing paper into cartridges for a Sharps?

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    You might try changing the extractor spring on the FEG. That spring is under constant pressure and it’s recommended to be changed out every 5 years or 5,000 rounds.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigslug View Post
    I've had a problematic Hungarian FEG clone for probably 25 years .......
    I also have a FEG but mine runs flawlessly and has never failed due to gun or magazine. As far as tight groups go, it does leave something to be desired but it is way better than 5 inch at 25 yards, more like 3 inches.

    I have a SA-35 on order but the more I look at them, I am put off by the finish, which looks like rattle can paint. Any comments from those of you who have the gun in your hand?
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by txbirdman View Post
    You might try changing the extractor spring on the FEG. That spring is under constant pressure and it’s recommended to be changed out every 5 years or 5,000 rounds.
    Done and Nope. Got a perfect run with aluminum-cased Blazer, but it regularly slips off anything brass. Problem seems to be a too-narrow extractor hook with insufficient grip. Wheels turning on the upgrade, in a back-burner project kind of way.

    I'm gonna take a moment to prognosticate a little here; in ten years, if these "legacy" designs are still being produced, they're going to switch to either a 1911-style system where the extractor is it's own spring, or, more likely, to a Glock-style coil-spring-and-pushrod arrangement that allows you to increase or decrease tension by changing out cheap plastic caps to the coil spring that are of different thicknesses.

    The reason for this is that those two systems insert from the rear of the slide. In this brave new age of slide-mounted red dot sights, any system with a slide using vertically-driven roll pins to hold in its guts is really going to be showing its age.

    I had thought that the teeter-totter sear lever fire control system was my biggest beef against the Hi Power. Having now struggled with one that has issues, I think that's changed to the fact that you have to first remove that sear lever BEFORE you can remove the extractor, and in the process, you may end up faced with a need to replace the possibly-no-longer-grippy roll pins for BOTH. One of those frustrating design elements where "cheaper" unfortunately didn't make for "better".

    I keep coming to the conclusion that semi-auto handgun functionality is capped by the genius of Browning on one end, and by that of Glock on the other. . .and had/has a bunch of determined amateurs like Dieudonne Saive struggling valiantly in the middle. The HP has a lot of potential - it just needs to be a gun that feels like a Hi Power, but doesn't operate like a Hi Power.
    WWJMBD?

    Is the mightiness of the pen still relevant after we roll the writing paper into cartridges for a Sharps?

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy AlHunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigslug View Post
    I've had a problematic Hungarian FEG clone for probably 25 years that I've only recently dug back out to start applying improved know-how to (hopefully) get it extracting properly.
    My FEG from way back when had extraction problems. A max charge of Blue Dot (which is now considered an overcharge) cured the problem. Wasn't so much extracting, I think, as much as blowing the case out ...

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    This is an inquiry, not an argument, since I know next to nothing about P-35s. It was mentioned that the BHP barrel was hooded, and the SA-35 is not. What is the purpose of the barrel hood, and does its presence/absence really matter?

    ADDENDUM: There's also the matter about whether the slide locking lugs (or maybe the entire slide?) on the SA-35s are merely surface-hardened, a la BHP, rather than "through hardened". The latter process tends to engender a longer wear cycle. I can't imagine what the "wheels" at Liege were thinking, when they decided to just surface-harden key parts of the weapon vs. using through-hardened steel everywhere. I guess deep bluing finishes and polishing were cheaper.
    Last edited by Kosh75287; 12-12-2021 at 06:34 PM. Reason: additional information
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check