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Springfield Armory Browning Hi Power SA-35

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Post by mikemyers 3/5/2022, 8:20 pm

First topic message reminder :

I know it's not a Bullseye gun, but for something enjoyable to shoot 9mm, any thoughts on this gun?



It's very affordable, and Springfield has a pretty good name.  This fellow loves it.  But the targets he shot at were not very far away.....
I sort of wanted one, from long ago, but I kept talking myself out of any idea of buying one.  

You guys have any opinion on it?

(If I go to the range with my 22, 38, or 45 guns, every range visit feels "important".  With my Black Powder gun, I can just relax and shoot.  I thoroughly enjoy my revolvers, for the same reason, I'm not feeling "competitive" when I shoot them.  That's what I thought my Taurus PT92-AFS would be like, but I don't enjoy shooting it - the trigger feels all wrong to me, even after I've sort of gotten used to it.  I think I should sell it, and replace it with the SA-35, which has a more exciting history.)
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Post by Sc0 5/8/2022, 10:27 pm

Best I can think of is possibly the barrel heats up and is binding with the slide, more lubrication? Slide going back to full lockup after chambering a round? Maybe not impossible, maybe galling due to poor heat treating?

Mute point now, hopefully Springfield Armory will figure it out for you.

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Post by mikemyers 5/9/2022, 1:31 am

I plan to call Springfield later today, and tell them to replace the gun.  Who knows what else has been damaged by all this.  It's been happening over and over since I bought it, and it's now back with them yet again.  Who knows what might break in the future, when it won't be covered by any warranty, because of all this?  

I'm now thinking of it as a "lemon".  My enthusiasm has vanished.  I wrote an email to both Springfield, and the store where I bought the gun.  I think my best bet is to simply return the gun, and get my money back.
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Post by mikemyers 5/15/2022, 6:46 pm

JIMPGOV wrote:......ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE; THE TRIGGER IS HORRIBLE. UPON EXAMINATION I CAN SEE THE SEAR AND HAMMER ARE BOTH COMPLETELY PARKERIZED. ......
Suggestion - if you haven't already fixed it,  call Springfield Customer Support.  The trigger in my gun is excellent, and most reports say very good things about the trigger.   Give them a call, describe the issue, and they will probably send you a FedEx return label.

I had, and have, my own issues, but they re-assured me they will take care of them.

-mike
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Post by mikemyers 6/10/2022, 9:10 pm

Talk about frustrating.   I called Springfield Customer Support yesterday, to find out the status of my gun.  The first two things I learned, were that the technicians could not find any problem, and that they had fired roughly 30 rounds.  They apparently never read my write-up of how to get the problem to appear.

I told the support person that I did not want that gun back, as I'm not going to go through this whole process for a third time.  I told him that I know it has a problem, I know a way to get the problem to appear (shoot a lot of rounds until the grouping opens up, then continue to shoot and see it get worse, and then put a finger in the end of the barrel and feel how it wobbles around as if there was no barrel bushing.

The support fellow asked what I would like them to do, and I told him that I was almost sorry I bought the gun at all, and they could replace it with a Springfield 1911 Target Match gun - but not only did he not want to do that, I didn't really want that gun anyway.  So I told him what I wanted them to do, was replace this gun with a new replacement.  I almost said, either that, or refund my money.  Bottom line, he agreed that Springfield would replace my gun with a new SA-35.  I am to call him back in a week, and if it's not yet ready, the following week.

It bothers me that I will never know what the problem was, because they never tried to do what I said would cause the problem to show up.  To me, either the barrel or the frame is defective - either the barrel is shrinking, which is impossible, or the frame is opening up, which might happen if there was a crack in the frame.  Nobody has offered any other possible explanation.

I might call the shop I bought it from, and complain - I paid extra $$ to get it sooner, but as of today, I still don't have a working gun.  It's not "their" fault, but I think they should refund me the amount I paid over and above the factory selling price.  Maybe Monday.  ....or, I'll just write it off as an "experience".  :-(    ......I still do want the gun, but I never expected all this trouble.
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Post by mikemyers 10/15/2022, 8:32 am

I posted this topic in March, and it's now October.  After two trips back to Springfield, they were unable to find any issue with the gun - but they never followed my way to show the problem - I loaded one magazine at a time with 5 rounds, and shot at a target 15 yards away, and repeated this perhaps six or more times.  First target was fine.  By the third magazine, the holes started to cover the entire target.  After a few more magazines, the holes were splattered all over the backing board - at which time the barrel was quite loose inside of what where the barrel bushing would have been, if the gun had one.  Set the gun down, and let it cool off, and I was back to the beginning, and the same thing would happen again.

The gun made two trips back to Springfield, but they couldn't find anything wrong - but they never followed my description of what to do, to show the problem.  Apparently after a few rounds, the gun was still working fine, so they returned it to me with a target to show how well it worked.

The last time I sent the gun back, in a rather p*ssed off mood, I told them the gun was defective, and I either wanted my money back, or a replacement gun, or if necessary, credit towards another Springfield gun, perhaps the 1911 "loaded target".  They agreed to replace the gun, but they didn't have enough parts to build me a replacement.  After a long time, I took off on a two-month visit to India, returning in mid September, and they still didn't have enough parts to assemble a gun.  Eventually, they got the parts, and a few weeks ago, they sent me a new SA-35.

I still haven't had a chance to get to the range, and for the next month, since my garage space is unavailable (building renovation) I won't have my car for a month or so, which means no range visits.

If I had it to do over again, I would not have bought the gun, let alone pay extra to get one "now" because they were so hard to find.  The magazine reviews since then have been very positive, so who knows - maybe I'll eventually be happy with it.  

One thing is for certain - I may never buy another new gun from Springfield.  That they took half a year to replace it doesn't bother me as much as that they never tested it the way I described, to get it HOT, at which point it malfunctioned obviously.  Who knows, maybe they didn't have enough ammo available.  Maybe none of the techs who got to test it out knew what they were doing.  That's all in the past, and it no longer matters to me.  By the end of November I should be able to shoot it, and I expect it will be fine.  


I do have a question to ask here though.  Maybe I contributed to this problem.  I called Springfield long ago, and asked if they thought I should start shooting it right out of the box, or disassemble it, and do a clean and lube.  They said to shoot it without the disassemble.  Perhaps they left some machining crud in the gun, and that broke something?  This time I'll do it my way, with a clean and lube before using it.  Which way is better, and why?
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Post by WesG 10/15/2022, 11:31 am

I pulled out both of my HP's to check. My 70's 9mm has what feels like a a couple thou' clearance at the bushing, and at the lug to frame. My 'Made in Belgium, Assembled in Portugal' .40 is quite a bit looser than that. I can rotate the barrel a noticeable amount when the slide is racked.

As far as heat, and thermal expansion, you'd probably not be able to tell without precision measuring instruments on parts this size. And I think those clearances wouldn't increase enough to matter until it was too hot to hold onto. FWIW, the barrel should expand to a *tighter* fit in the slide and frame.

I've heard of someone having trouble with a cracked frame before. I don't remember if it was you from this thread 6 months ago, or somewhere else. There again, the amount of heat from firing isn't going to warp it into a pretzel. If the crack is opening up from firing, it's likely it's extending and would continue shooting poorly, or to a different POI, after cooling down. And I think the issue would have to be the slide, since it's what holds the sights and barrel in alignment.

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Post by mikemyers 10/15/2022, 11:56 am

If the barrel got hot, it would expand, and decrease any clearance.
If the slide got hot, it would expand, and increase the clearance.

When the gun got hot, the barrel wasn't just a "loose" fit in the slide, it wobbled all over.  
I asked Dave Salyer if he agreed the slide was the most likely culprit, but he couldn't agree.

In my mind, the only thing that would explain what was happening was the slide getting bigger, and to me that meant a crack in the slide.
....but I'm not qualified to give anything more than my best guess.  I'm anxious to try out the new gun - I guess I can wait a few more weeks.
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Post by WesG 10/15/2022, 12:06 pm

Is the bushing a separate part pressed in? I think it is in mine. Likely the only way to manufacture it. If the slide expanded because of a crack, the bushing would likely fall out?

All my guns start out shooting poorly at 50 yds when they're cold and clean. They seem to improve a lot once they're warmed up and fouled a bit at 25 yds, but go bad again with more heat and fouling.

Somebody suggested it might be nerves, that settle for a bit, and then fatigue setting in. Fools ..... ;-)

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Post by mikemyers 10/15/2022, 12:11 pm

As far as I know, there is no "bushing".

Nerves?  I was using a rest.  Maybe my rest got restless?

I almost wish I could borrow it back, and let someone much smarter than I am, try it out and maybe figure out the problem.
....but I think I'd rather forget about it as a defective gun, and not waste any more time on it, other than to warn others here.
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Post by WesG 10/15/2022, 1:55 pm

I have a 'restless rest' ... a shaky hand. Wasn't there a Who song about that?

The ring on the front of the slide. Mine are a bit more obvious, I think. I haven't stripped one in awhile, but I think it's visible from inside. It's the only simple/practical way to bore the slide for the breech end of the barrel, and 'shrink' it back down for the muzzle. Just not removable like a 1911.

He got rid of the spring plug as well, by making the whole thing captured in the slide. Much better design for a service pistol. I also prefer the grip and trigger geometry.

The only issue I've found with my 9mm is the bore is .357+, so it leads like a M ... mad dog ... with .356 cast bullets. And rds loaded with 358's won't chamber ???? Talk about a 'match grade' barrel ...

When Springfield brought that out, my first thought was a cheap project gun to play with. Plan was to start by converting it to a removable bushing to tighten it up. Maybe someday, when I can walk out the backdoor into my shop.

I had a 'problem' years ago with a service rifle that wouldn't hold a zero. I figured the barrel was getting hot during a prone rapid string, and somehow warping when it cooled off before slow prone. First few shots would be out in the 9 ring, always in the same place and so close together it couldn't be me. Finally went to a bench to duplicate the results, and shot tiny groups in the X-ring no matter what I did. Should have never doubted Krieger.

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Post by mikemyers 10/16/2022, 6:34 pm

I got a chance to really look over my replacement SA-35, and noticed the front sight wasn't installed properly.  One side is higher than the other.  I think I'm going to leave it as-is for now, and see how well it shoots in about 3 weeks, when I get my garage back.  I no longer think Springfield "builds" guns; they just have someone assemble guns, without really caring about what they are doing.

Here's a video from someone with the same problem, but much worse than mine:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRb7jQNcpFU

Actually, this video leads to several videos, for a step-by-step documentary of how he fixed his gun.

Here are photos of my own front sight:

Springfield Armory Browning Hi Power SA-35 - Page 2 Img_6414
Springfield Armory Browning Hi Power SA-35 - Page 2 Img_6413

If the front sight goes into a dovetail in the slide, I don't understand how they managed to get I tilted.  At least I now know how to fix it myself, but I shouldn't have to.
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Post by -TT- 10/16/2022, 7:56 pm

It's not tilted, it's just driven slightly over center to the right. The curve would be slightly proud of the barrel if you drifted it left a few thou. I don't think it's a defect btw, and I wouldn't try to "fix" it.
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Post by mikemyers 10/17/2022, 7:35 am

-TT- wrote:It's not tilted, it's just driven slightly over center to the right. The curve would be slightly proud of the barrel if you drifted it left a few thou. I don't think it's a defect btw, and I wouldn't try to "fix" it.
I don't plan to do anything until after I get to shoot the gun, on a rest, and see how well it does.
Did you watch the video I linked to?

I would think they would put the front sight in, perfectly aligned and centered, and then adjust the rear sight as needed to align with the front sight.  

(I think the assembler just quickly put the parts in place, and never noticed the "mistake".)
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Post by mikemyers 1/14/2023, 11:32 am

Thoroughly Disgusted.

This is my email to Springfield:

Dear Kody,


As I noted below, I wasn’t able to get back to the range until December.  The gun looked great, and I was anxious to shoot it.  


However, over the course of much of December, neither I nor anyone at my range was able to shoot it.  The trigger pull (8 pounds) was much too high, and I thought that was the problem. Then over the past two weeks, I found that nothing I could do, even shooting with the gun locked into a rest, could get it to shoot well.


I took it to my local gunsmith several days ago - he told me that while he had oiled it, it was never going to work properly because the parts in it are wrong.  After he oiled it, the gun was, and still is, a 7 pound trigger pull.


Nobody (including the fellow who won our recent Bullseye Match) can shoot this gun with any accuracy.   I assumed this was due to the trigger pull, but on an expensive gun rest, with the front of the gun locked in a “vee”, the grouping is awful.  There is no “group”.  I attached a copy of my test target, and the Springfield test target for the previous SA-35 that had a different problem.






As I mentioned to Drew on the phone, I just bought a Springfield 1911 9mm.  It will be delivered next week on Tuesday.  I need to return this gun and get a refund, or get it fixed so it shoots the way it should. 


I am attaching my test target from yesterday.  The top hole was shot at “center hold”.  The other 9 holes were shot at sub-6-o’clock hold -  I was using 115 grain Magtech ammo which the magazine reviews recommended.


Please send me a mailing label so I can return this gun.  If Springfield can fix it and send me a test target, you can return it.  Or, please refund my purchase price.


Again, thank you for your support.  I appreciate all you’ve done for me, but I can’t say much for the guys in the shop.  

M


My test target - the 9 holes at the bottom were shot from a rest at 15 yards:

Springfield Armory Browning Hi Power SA-35 - Page 2 Img_6612


......and this is a close-up view of the Springfield test target from my first SA-35, taken at 10 yards:
Springfield Armory Browning Hi Power SA-35 - Page 2 Img_6614


At least the bottom target shows that some Springfield SA-35 guns are capable of shooting well, but the two that they have sent me are not.

The first one likely had a cracked slide.

The replacement with an 8# trigger pull and probably incorrect parts is worthless.

I'm tempted to use much stronger language, but I will refrain.

I have already bought a 1911 9mm Range Officer Target.  If Springfield replaces my gun with one that works, and if they send me a target to prove it, I can turn around and sell it.  Or better yet, if they just give me a refund.
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Post by spursnguns 1/16/2023, 1:13 pm

Hello mikemyers,

Please confirm....

   Your mass-produced service-grade pistol, which comes with no accuracy guarantee, is shooting a ten ring size (approximate) group at fifteen yards with no ammunition testing or adjustment.

Jim
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Post by mikemyers 1/16/2023, 1:22 pm

spursnguns wrote:Hello mikemyers,

Please confirm....

   Your mass-produced service-grade pistol, which come with no accuracy guarantee, is shooting a ten ring size (approximate) group at fifteen yards with no ammunition testing or adjustment.

Jim
Absolutely NOT.  Did you look at my target I posted?  And that target was on a rest.

The other target was at 10 yards, and it was shot at Springfield, on their rest.  All I know is what you see on the target.  Do I trust it?  No comment.

I reached my tech support advisor at Springfield.  He sent me a mailing label to return the gun to "the mothership".  
I told him I want the gun made right, with the correct trigger pull, and a test target to prove it.

I ought to sell the gun when I get it back.  If the 9mm 1911 works for me, I'm not sure why I still want an SA-35.
I can't sell it the way it is now.  After they make it right.....    then I feel comfortable with selling it.
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Post by mikemyers 1/16/2023, 1:30 pm

This is from one of the numerous test sites:

https://www.handgunsmag.com/editorial/springfield-armory-sa-35-hi-power/461269
Springfield Armory Browning Hi Power SA-35 - Page 2 Scree111
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Post by mikemyers 1/16/2023, 8:33 pm

Good news:  I called my tech at Springfield, and as soon as he was aware of my issues with my SA-35, he sent me a pre-paid label to return it.  He told me they would make it right.  

Before they return it, I want them to measure the trigger pull, and if it's over five pounds, I'll tell them not to send it until they fix that.  I also want them to send me a "test target" for the gun BEFORE shipping it.

Bad News:  I went to Johnson Firearms in Miami (my FFL) to pick up my new 9mm Range Officer Target, and before leaving, I asked them tech person what he's heard about the new (not so new now) SA-35.  He told me Springfield needs to get their act together, as people are having a lot of problems with that gun.  

Magazine articles are very positive, but maybe it's all "vaporware".  The product they are selling needs to meet the desires of consumers, at least as much, if not more, than the magazine writers.

Now that I've got the 9mm 1911, the "pressure" is off.  They can keep it as long as they need to, until they get it right.  Until now, it's been like an "itch" someplace where I can't scratch.  It's just so irritating.  Maybe when I get it back, with the assurance it works as it should, and a target to prove it, I'll put it up for sale here in the forums, un-fired.  (....and all of this is a shame, as I think it should be a fine gun.  Week after week they couldn't build a gun for me, because they were missing parts - maybe the tech guy found some parts that he made fit, and that's what they sent me?????)  My gunsmith (who didn't disassemble it) said it needed a lot of parts.
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Post by Texasref 1/18/2023, 6:23 am

I got one last year for my birthday this year.
Not had a lick of problems. I might have gotten one late enough in production to have the kinks worked out.

I agree that the trigger could be smoother, but the pull weight on mine is really no big deal.
So far I really like mine.

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Post by mikemyers 2/11/2023, 7:56 am

A positive update.  After this return to Springfield, after several previous returns, I think they finally corrected my SA-35.

It came back feeling perfect - trigger pressure was 6 pounds, but as I kept dry firing it went down to 5 pounds, as requested.  Three tech persons at Springfield test fired it, with three different brands of ammo, and they sent me all three test targets.

They "tuned the trigger" which the gun really needed, with an 8 pound trigger pull before.
They replaced the front sight - the previous one didn't look like the correct sight.
They replaced the barrel - no explanation for why.

They returned it to me in the proper hard-plastic carry case, replacing the cloth case I returned it to them in.


I haven't had a chance to test it at my range - this will happen early next week.  But it feels perfect in my hands, so I expect it will really work properly now.

No idea what to do with it.  I've already bought a Springfield 9mm Range Officer Target in Stainless, which Dave Salyer has just worked his magic on.  Dave suggested for 9mm, I should not put my rail and Ultradot on top of the slide, so I'll shoot it with the iron sights.  Dave has already shipped this gun back to me, and I'll have it in four days.

Part of me wants to sell the SA-35 immediately, as the new frame serial number hasn't yet been registered, and the full "lifetime" warranty should pass on to whoever I sell it to.  But on the other hand, in my hand, it feels perfect in every way.  It "fits" me, it's light in my hands, and a lot of people seem to think that the latest Browning design is preferable to the previous 1911 design.  After finally getting what I wanted, it would be a shame for me to sell it, knowing it now ought to be "perfect".

Springfield Armory Browning Hi Power SA-35 - Page 2 Img_6715


But, then I think about Jim, and all the guns he has, and the thought of selling it doesn't make sense.


Texasref, you wrote:
"I agree that the trigger could be smoother, but the pull weight on mine is really no big deal."


I think Springfield has a wonderful design, and is still capable of doing good work, but they have either not enough time, or not enough skilled workers, to get you a perfect gun.  You can't fix it, or get it fixed, as that will void your warranty.  But you can tell them about this discussion, and that you want your gun to have an equally smooth trigger.  You should get what you paid for.  


I think Springfield makes two kinds of SA-35, the magazine version, and the general release version.  Guns for magazines are finished perfectly - the rest of us get the ones they build and ship in a hurry, because the waiting list is so long.  You are entitled the the same quality gun as they send out for magazine reviews, and if you are insistent and persistent enough, they do have the ability to correct your issues.  My opinion, for whatever it's worth....

Did you measure your trigger pull?  Should be between 4.5 and 6 pounds.  I insisted on 5 pounds, or I would return it again, and they did it.  Call the Springfield Customer Service phone number, 1 800 680-6866, and tell them you need to send it back so it works like it should.  Springfield has the ability, but I guess they have a bunch of gun assemblers who just put it together and ship it.  They can, and will, and did make the gun right, if you insist.
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Post by mikemyers 3/30/2023, 8:58 pm

While I haven't shot it very much over the past month (or any other gun, for that matter), I did discover something about the SA-35 that is worth posting here.

I've been trying to shoot my other guns with one hand, and always gave up because of pain in my shoulder.  Now that I've got this gun back, and all I've been doing (and will continue to do for another week) is dry-firing.

The SA-35 is small, short, and light (1 pound, 15.8 oz).  On a whim, I decided to try to shoot it one-handed, and found that was easy, with no nasty after-effects.  So, I added a new program to my dry-fire phone app, and set it up to give me a ten second "rest" period, than a buzzer for a 15-second "work" period to take one shot, then back to rest, then work, and so on.  It is currently set for 5 cycles, which if I use it at the range will be enough to take 5 slow fire shots one-handed.

I can add on another 5 cycles, or more, so I can dry fire for longer sessions.  I'm just aiming at a white wall.

I found the gun was too "slippery" in my hands though, so I put skateboard tape on the front and back strap.  I'm very tempted to buy a set of VZ grips for it, as the grips I have are too "slippery".

If I was a little smarter, and not so stupid stubborn, I would already have the gun in a for-sale post.  But I keep telling (kidding?) myself that if I keep at it, and now follow this routine, maybe I can learn to shoot one of my 22 bullseye guns one handed.  I'm also going to Physical Therapy twice a week, both to improve "balance" and to strengthen my hand(s).

An unexpected bonus is that with a one hand grip, the gun is further away from me, and it's easier to line up the open sights.  I expected the opposite.

In my mind, I think of the SA-35 as a training tool.  It ain't never gonna be a proper bullseye gun.

Springfield Armory Browning Hi Power SA-35 - Page 2 Img_6826
mikemyers
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Post by mikemyers 5/18/2023, 2:10 pm

To finish up this post, here is how it worked out.
  
I finally got to shoot my SA-35 at the range, on a B-8, shooting from a rest, with the target 15 yards from me.  
I got a 2" group.  Much better than what I expected, and infinitely from the junk guns Springfield had been sending me.
I guess I finally got them to listen to me.
This was with Magtech 115 grain ammo.

An hour or so later, it was close to 90 degrees, and I just wanted to go home.  I set up another target and fired 20 rounds at it, off-hand.  (This was two-handed - but since this gun is very light, I can also shoot it one handed.)  I expect to do that tomorrow.

As people at the range reminded, the Hi Power guns are "combat guns", not "target guns".  
Light, lots of rounds, looks great, easy to work on, but NOT a bullseye gun.

If any of you are foolish to buy an SA-35, it seems like the gun has a lifetime warranty, and you can keep returning it to Springfield at their expense until them make it right, even if they have to replace the entire gun, like they did for me.

Oh, and I flat out LOVE the VZ grips I bought for it!!!!!!

Oh, and one very important conclusion - if you buy a product, from a reputable company, and it doesn't work as it should, stand your ground and keep pushing until they make it right for you, even if it goes on for a very, very long time.


My thoughts - Springfield is a great company, but they had incompetent people building these guns.  I still think they had two assembly lines, one for reviews and magazines, and another for everyone else.  The tech support people at Springfield were great, but I felt the guys assembling the guns they repeatedly sent me didn't know or understand anything.  I had similar problems with Nikon - also at their expense, a relative's camera went back and forth repeatedly until they eventually got the repair right.  I could use much harsher language, but won't.


And I'm certainly not upset at Springfield - this SA-35 and my new 1911 Springfield Range Officer 9mm are both wonderful, and as good as I expected them to be.


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