EAA MC P35
European American Armory (EAA) has been importing firearms manufactured outside the United States since 1990. It is probably best known for the guns from Tanfoglio, a firearms-manufacturing company in Italy. In late 2021, however, EAA introduced a new handgun, but this pistol is manufactured in Turkey by Girsan. It is a faithful rendition of John Browning’s Hi Power, and EAA is calling it the MC P35.
The history of the BAP (Browning Automatic Pistol), Hi Power or P-35, is long and storied. In late 1926, John Browning was developing a pistol design for Fabrique Nationale (FN) to satisfy a French military request. However, he died three months prior to the patent being granted. The pistol covered by the patent was a far cry from what would ultimately become the celebrated Browning Hi Power. Browning’s design was striker fired. Dieudonné Saive of FN deserves the credit for the Hi Power as we know it today, and it was released in 1935. This is why Hi Powers are often called P35s, hence the MC P35 name for EAA’s latest pistol.
In 1977, first- and second-place winners of the third IPSC World Shoot used Browning Hi Powers, beating out the Americans and their 1911s. In the 1980s, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team armed its special agents with Browning Hi Powers. Additionally, the Hi Power has been used by more military units, in more countries, than any other handgun. Given all this, you would think the Hi Power would be the most popular handgun in the world. It’s not. In fact, in 2015 FN stopped making them, and in 2018 Browning stopped selling them (interestingly, this year FN reintroduced a revamped version of the pistol, so things seem to be changing on that front).
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Before getting into the particulars of the new MC P35, in the interest of full disclosure I should say I’m a dedicated Hi Power carrier. I own a rare, lightweight, FN-made Hi Power customized by Novak’s that’s with me most often.
As a backup, I have a Browning Mk III customized by Robar. In addition, there’s a Springfield Armory SA-35 in my safe. Similarly, I also own a Hi Power made by Tisas of Turkey that I just recently shipped to Gritus Precision for some customization. I really like Hi Powers, and I am fortunate enough to shoot them well. Like many who handle a Hi Power, I feel the pistol fits my hand better than any other.
The Girsan/EAA MC P35 is quite true to the most recent Hi Power, known as the Mk III, that was manufactured by FN and sold by Browning. It has an external extractor, an ambidextrous manual thumb safety, a firing-pin safety and a magazine disconnect. The two most notable differences in the MC P35 and the latest Browning Mk III Hi Power are Girsan’s Commander-style hammer—like what was found on Browning’s Practical Mk III edition of the Hi Power—and a Cerakote finish.
I found the MC P35 to be well made. There were no mill marks, the slide-to-frame fit was as tight as any FN Hi Power I’ve handled and the flat dark earth Cerakote finish was well executed and smooth. It also contrasted nicely with the black controls. EAA also offers the MC P35 with an all-black or a black-and-silver, two-tone Cerakote finish.
Safety operation was smooth and positive and the trigger was reasonably good considering the magazine disconnect. As is common with Hi Powers that have not had this feature removed, the trigger press was a bit mechanical, and it took approximately 5.25 pounds of pressure to release the sear. However, at the point of sear release, trigger break was superb.
Over the course of several weeks, I fired almost 600 rounds through the MC P35. In typical Hi Power fashion, it digested every round and I found no indication of excessive wear. For what it’s worth, until reaching 500 rounds the only attention I gave the pistol was an occasional squirt of EDC CLP on the slide rails, barrel hood and muzzle. At 500 rounds, it was field-stripped and cleaned. Precision on target—offhand and from the bench—was on par with any Hi Power variant I’ve fired and more than sufficient for self-defense or even combat-handgun competition.
The sights were proud enough for easy recognition, and on either side of the .14-inch notch in the rear sight, the MC P35 had white rectangles instead of circular dots. They corresponded perfectly to a white rectangle on the front sight that incidentally is long and tapered, just as Jeff Cooper suggested a front sight on a handgun should be. I would have preferred a solid-black rear sight with a notch just a wee-bit wider. But, sights and their appeal are largely personal. Those on the MC P35 are practical, and if you like three-dot sights, you’ll like these.
The magazine disconnect is a feature many don’t like. Some, however, do preach its benefit if you’re struggling for your handgun with an assailant; by ejecting the magazine you render the pistol inoperative. However, regardless of manufacture it’s not uncommon for Hi Power magazines to not fully eject unless the magazine safety mechanism has been removed. That was the case with the MC P35. When the magazine release was pressed, the magazine would only drop about a quarter inch, and not at all if the slide was locked to the rear. Interestingly, Browning offered magazines with a spring to kick them out of the magazine well, and they’re still currently available. Of course, the solution to this and the Hi Power’s less-than-ideal trigger pull is to remove the magazine disconnect. It is a very common and uncomplicated process.
The biggest complaint with the Hi Power has always been hammer bite. During recoil, as the slide moves to the rear and presses the hammer down, the hammer will often pinch the web of the hand between the hammer and the frame. There are a couple ways to correct this. Most common is the use of a Commander-style hammer such as Girsan has done on the MC P35. For most shooters this sorts out the problem. The other option is to have Novak’s install its No-Bite spur hammer, which usually solves the problem for everyone. The final option is to extend the tang of the pistol. This custom extension is the best solution, but is also rather pricey.
The Commander-style hammer on the MC P35, just as with the Springfield SA-35, does not solve the hammer-bite problem for me. I shoot with a very high grip and still get pinched with both pistols. However, my son and I have the same size hands, his are just not as thick. He had no hammer-bite issues with the MC P35 at all and shot the pistol well. He used a Hi Power when he took his 250 Pistol Class at Gunsite and even won the shoot off at the end of the class. The minimal hammer bite I did experienced with the MC P35 was not bad enough to draw blood and did not negatively impact my shooting.
My standard practical test for handguns is the Forty-Five Drill, where I draw from the holster and put five shots inside a 5-inch circle, at 5 yards, in less than 5 seconds. With my custom Hi Powers, I can typically do this drill—without a miss—in approximately 3.3 seconds. My times with the MC P35 were very similar, but due to its trigger pull being a bit heavier than that of my custom pistols, and due to me trying to go too fast, I sometimes pushed the first shot low. My average for five runs was 3.46 seconds, with 22 out of 25 hits. Granted, the three misses were misses, but they were just outside the scoring circle.
Someone wanting a Hi Power today has numerous options. You might find an unfired Browning or used Hi Power for sale. Prices will start at about a grand and climb steeply. Fabrique Nationale’s recently introduced High Power line starts at around $1,300. Alternatively, there’s the Springfield SA-35 which has a suggested price of $699. And then there’s the Turkish-made, EAA-imported, MC P35, which retails for $132 less. An FN Hi Power is generally considered a last-a-lifetime gun. I cannot speak to the durability of the SA-35 or the MC P35; I have less than 800 rounds through each pistol. Also, when it comes to a carry gun, I’m a bit of a Hi Power snob and would have some custom work done to any out-of-the-box Hi Power, regardless of the manufacturer. This makes the more affordable MC P35 appealing. If you want a pistol that best replicates the last-offered original FN/Browning Hi Power, the MC P35 is the way to go.
I’ll be buying the test pistol EAA provided; I’m not sure it’s possible to have too many Hi Powers. Even though the pistol as we know it today was not singularly designed by John Browning, I believe the P-35, or Hi Power, is perhaps the most important one upon which he ever worked. It is quite possibly the most important pistol in history. Its double-stack magazine, pivoting trigger and linkless barrel have become the basis for all modern semi-automatic pistols. It was the original “Wondernine,” and the MC P35 from EAA is a reliable, accurate and affordable clone of one of the world’s greatest fighting handguns in the world.
Article by RICHARD MANN