John Moses Browning is a legend in the firearms world, and one of his greatest creations, the Hi-Power, needs no introduction.
Current pricing on those now-famous pistols could use the help of a courageous lion tamer, though!
Enter Girsan, imported by European Armory Corporation (EAA), equipped with the classic chair and whip. Their MC P35 is a clone of Browning’s creation that is far more affordable.
Historical copies of guns are pretty cool, but is this inexpensive copy worthy of your consideration? We took two models out to the range to find out for ourselves.
So keep reading as we take a look at the specs, features, pros, and cons of these Hi-Power clones.
Table of Contents
Pros & Cons
- Classic styling
- Functional historical piece
- Only one magazine
- Magazine doesn’t drop in MC P35
The Bottom Line
The MC P35 we tested was a functional yet faithful copy of the Hi-Power, while the Ops Optic version offered the same experience with more modern amenities. Both guns were a good value for the price.
Specs & Features
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 15+1
- Action: Semi-automatic single action (hammer fired)
- Length: 7.75”
- Barrel Length: 4.87”
- Height: 5.02”
- Width:1.4” (at safety)
- Weight: 1.8 lbs.
- Comes With: One 15-round magazine, owner’s manual, cleaning brush, gun lock
- Steel gun
- Ambidextrous safety
- Optics ready (Ops Optic)
The pistol was revolutionary for its time, even with a 13+1 original capacity. As a result, it was carried far and wide by militaries and law enforcement units over the ensuing decades.
EAA began importing the Turkish-made MC P35s in 2021.
While there are a few versions of the Hi-Power, the Girsans closely resemble the MkII/Mk III models developed in the 1980s.
Who Is It For?
The biggest appeal will likely go to those groups of people interested in the classic stylings of the Hi-Power, who can’t or don’t want to pay thousands of dollars. In other words, fans of military weapons on a budget will love this option.
With different versions of the MC P35 available, it has a somewhat wider appeal. And while it would serve as a concealed carry or home defender, there are better, more modern options out there for those roles.
Fit & Feel
The MC P35 looks and feels very similar to the classic Hi-Power. To those not familiar, it is a steel-framed pistol with grip slabs similar to the 1911.
The P35 has black synthetic grips, while the Ops Optic sports grey G10 grips which are more aggressively textured. And while there is a short beavertail on the P35, the Ops Optic features a much longer one.
The overall finish is surprisingly refined for what many would consider a “budget option.” The P35 model we tested came in a dark earth color that looked nice, while the Ops Optic version appeared more blued.
The trigger on the P35 was not to my liking, but I recognize it was likely a more direct homage to the original Hi-Power. The curve of the bow was so tight it felt a little like it was pinching my finger.
It traveled a little grittily back a few millimeters before hitting a hard wall, then broke at an average of 9 pounds on a Lyman digital gauge. Reset was almost imperceptible and occurred at the end of the return of the trigger.
The trigger on the Ops Optic felt much nicer, with the flat bow smoothly pressing back to the wall. It broke at an average 4 pounds 4 ounces. Reset was similar to the standard P35.
The sights on the P35 were steel, traditional irons with white paint. They were decent and allowed me to get on target fairly quickly though white targets presented more of an issue.
The Ops Optic featured a fiber optic front sight in a bright orange color. The Derry optic on the rear included two smaller orange fiberoptic sights for use in conjunction with the front.
These were visible through the optic and, after zeroing the dot, were very close to a co-witness. The Derry red dot was very basic, with no buttons, but it got the job done during testing.
The Ops Optic uses a direct mount, and the Derry was mounted from the factory. It does, however, utilize the RMS/RMSc footprint should you choose another red dot.
These guns only come with one steel, 15-round magazine– very hardy. Notably, the magazine on the P35 would not drop clear during testing, but the one in the Ops Optic would.
Research indicates this is likely due to a magazine disconnect which stops the gun from firing if the magazine is removed. This is not present in the Ops Optic version.
How Does It Shoot?
Testing began with an almost 100% failure to cycle on each round. The empty shell would clear, but the slide wouldn’t advance to the next shell.
With a tap, I could get it to advance, and the cycle would repeat itself.
This happened with both guns and both magazines. I kept trying different things until I finally figured out my grip was the problem.
My grip is high, and my thumbs lay atop each other, running down the side of the slide. The slide stop/release on the left side of the gun is part of a long lever that fulcrums at the takedown pin.
My thumbs applying pressure to this caused a malfunction consistently. The fix was moving my thumbs down along the frame, and after doing so, both guns functioned perfectly.
As far as accuracy, the heavier trigger and irons on the P35 were a trip down memory lane, and after adjusting, I was able to put together decent groups.
It’s easy to slip back to bad habits (anticipation, jerking) with a trigger like this though.
The trigger on the Ops Optic was much better, and I experienced increased accuracy as a result. The controls were also more refined on this model and easier to use as a result.
Were it not for having two guns to review; we wouldn’t have been able to conduct any reloads due to only one magazine per gun. The P35 mag had to be stripped from the grip as it only dropped an eighth of an inch from the magwell.
The Ops Optic magazine would drop clear with the mag release, and both guns received their mags nicely and locked up firmly when inserted.
What Sets it Apart?
The Hi-Power was a truly innovative gun in its day and age, but the world has moved on. Girsan’s faithful reproduction is a reliable, accurate copy that is much more affordable than original Brownings.
By the Numbers
After the initial problems caused by my grip, the guns ran flawlessly, though I would caution anyone with larger hands to be wary of this issue since it could happen again.
Averaging between the two models, the ergonomics are good, with controls being easy to reach. They are notably better on the Ops Optic model with the greater surface area on the slide release.
The standard P35 was okay, but the Ops Optic was better — a combination of the red dot and the much-improved trigger contributed to this.
With a gun that has been around since the 1930s, you might expect there are some options for customization. Some people opt for better sights, grip slabs, trigger work, and more.
In my view, this gun delves into a pool of users who wants a replica of a famous, historical gun, but don’t want to pay for the real McCoy. Girsan makes a fine copy, and both are reasonably priced for the features.
Upgrades for Girsan MC P35
Without a doubt, you can add different grips or sights or even upgrade the trigger on your P35.
The Ops Optic is significantly upgraded from the base model and includes an accessory rail, so you could add a weapon light like a SureFire X300.
And, of course, stock up on ammo.
9mm Ammo in Stock
While I wouldn’t suggest the MC P35 series as the only gun a person should buy as a defensive carry, they are great copies of one of Browning’s final ideas and a fine testament to his legacy.
Our testing also revealed them to be functional, affordable, and pretty cool!
Do you enjoy historical copies of guns like Girsan’s MC P35? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out Best Surplus Handguns to Own and Shoot for more fun shootable collectibles!