Cast Loads For Springfield’s SA-35

Shoot The New Hi-Power cheaper!
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Here’s the cast of characters used for testing. Left to right, MP Molds
124-grain HPs, MP Molds 140-grain solid, Lee 125-grain RFN and X-Treme
124-grain copper plated bullet.

In a world of striker-fired, poly-framed, semi-auto shell shuckers, Springfield Armory surprised everyone with an old school, forged billet all-steel shooter. Now mind you, there’s nothing wrong with poly-framed shooters, I love them. But face it — at the end of the day, traditional shooters relish the heft and feel an all-steel pistol provides.

The gun we’re talking about is one of John Browning’s most popular designs, the Browning Hi-Power. Dubbed the SA-35, holding one rekindles long-lost feelings of nostalgia for combat pistols made the old-fashioned way. It brings a sense of American pride when holding it in your hand. Even British Commandos appreciated the accuracy and reliability of this gun, making it their side-arm choice, calling it the L9A1.

Yup, Springfield Armory’s release of the SA-35 makes what has been a traditionally expensive and collectible pistol in the used market now an affordable proposition. There’s reason to celebrate and Springfield Armory should be commended for making the SA-35 available for the many pistoleros pining for a traditional shooter.

The 15-round magazine provides plenty of firepower and reliability for the SA-35 even when using cast bullets.

Shooting

Shooting the SA-35 was a chilly affair with the temperature in the low teens and 4″ of crusty snow on the ground. I already had an impromptu shooting session just to check the sights and reliability of the gun. Needless to say, the short session teased me into wanting to really wring out the SA-35.

The SA-35 feels really good in my hand as the checkered walnut stocks provide a nice gripping surface. The thumb-safety is easily within reach, having a positive audible click when engaging it. The wide U-notch rear sight allows plenty of light on either side for the white-dot front sight and provides a good sight picture.

Trigger pull was just under 5 lbs. and very smooth. There were no malfunctions of any kind while shooting. The SA-35 balances well, making its weight feel lighter than it is.

Clear-powder-coated 140-grain slugs ready to load on Tank’s 550C Dillon press.

Cast Loads

I have a few standard 9mm molds I use for my 9mm shooting needs. Two are from MP Molds and the third is from Lee Precision. The first mold is an eight-cavity MP Mold dropping a 140-grain radiused flat-nose slug. The second is a double-cavity 124-grain HP design. HP pins allow casting either pentagonal or round HPs. A flat pin allows casting solids for versatility.

The Lee mold is a six-cavity mold dropping 125-grain radiused flat-nose bullets. I size my 9mm bullets 0.358″ as I’ve found best accuracy in my 9mm guns sized this way. Standard loads for these slugs consist of either 5.5 grains of Unique or 4.5 grains of 231.

Velocity runs just over 1,200 FPS from the SA-35 with the 140-grain MP Molds solid and almost 1,300 FPS from the 125-grain bullets. Powder does not seem to affect accuracy in the least, with both powders providing the same degree of accuracy for the bullets used.

The MP Molds 8-cavity mold really makes a pile of bullets in a hurry.

X-Treme Copper Plated Projectiles

I’ve been known to use copper-plated cast bullets from time to time from X-Treme. They’re a little more expensive than regular cast/lubed slugs but some guns seem to prefer them and it’s handy to keeping some around. I normally use 124-grain bullets in my practice/plinking loads as it’s the same bullet weight I carry for factory defensive loads.

Close-up of MP Molds 124-grain HP mold.

Results

Targets were fluorescent orange 2″ squares. Distance was 50 feet, each load shot and averaged three groups of five rounds. Shooting was done with my forearms propped on a 6″x6″ block of carpeted wood. The 124-grain HPs and 125-grain Lee RFNs averaged 1.7″ for five shots. The 124-grain X-Treme copper-plated bullets also averaged around 1.7″ for five shots.

The 140-grain MP Molds RFNs averaged just under 2″ for five shots. I experienced no misfires, failure to feed, eject or extract while shooting. The SA-35 performed perfectly.

Final Word

The Springfield Armory SA-35 is a wonderful cast-bullet shooter. It also handles copper-plated bullets such as those from X-Treme very well. If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative for practice loads, have no fear, cast bullets and/or copper plated bullets will not let you down.

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