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EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35: A Turkish High Power Alternative 

The Girsan MC P 35, imported by EAA (European American Armory) beginning in 2021, is Turkey's version of John Browning's High Power. Here's a full review.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35: A Turkish High Power Alternative 

(Michael Anschuetz photo)

When FN ceased production of the Hi-Power Mark III, it signaled the end of the road for one of the most prevalent semiautomatic pistol designs of the 20th century. Though many changes and configurations were made since it entered production in November 1934, starting in the mid-1980s, it was overshadowed by the more affordable polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols that carried more than 13 rounds in the magazine. When Browning announced that Hi-Power models were being discontinued in 2018, the final suggested retail was $999 for a spur-hammer-type “Made in Belgium, Assembled in Portugal” gun with black-epoxy finish.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 Field Strip
(Michael Anschuetz photo)

SHOT Show 2022 changed the fortunes of the legendary P.35, though. Springfield Armory launched its SA-35 ($699) — sans magazine disconnect — with a price and feature set that was rumored to have postponed the launch of FN’s new American-made High Power ($1,269). Like (and unlike) the SA-35, the FN design is a heavily revised iteration of the original.

Beating both to the punch, European American Armory (EAA) began importing Girsan’s MC P35 from Turkey in 2021. The MC P35 is based on the Mark III with the addition of a ring-type hammer and three finish options. This year, EAA’s Paul Richter also revealed future models that will feature an accessory rail, fiber-optic sights, enlarged magwell, flat-trigger, a beavertail and unique G10 grips. Retail prices are $544 for a black example, and up to $567 for a tan or two-tone version. Today, the MC P35 is the least expensive P.35-type pistol you can buy.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 Right Side
The right side of the MC P35 reveals ambidextrous treatments such as an extended bilateral thumb safety and plastic stocks featuring a thumbshelf. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

A Brief History

John M. Browning agreed to work on the P.35 in 1922 at the urging of FN in response to a French request for a new service sidearm. Browning’s protégé, Dieudonné Saive, engineered a magazine around the 9mm Parabellum and made a prototype of a double-column arrangement. He presented it to Browning in 1923 who took it home to Ogden, Utah. Browning made two functioning prototype pistols. The challenge for Browning was to design a pistol that didn’t violate his patents already in use by Colt for making the Model 1911. He filed a patent on June 28 to protect the locked breech design.


France wanted the Grand Puissance, which translates to “High Power,” to offer a capacity of 10 or more rounds of 9mm. It was also to have an external hammer, manual safety and a magazine disconnect safety. But, despite positive response, the French declined FN’s offering after a series of tests in 1923. The pistol’s development was stalled when Browning died of a heart attack at FN in 1926. However, Saive continued work on the design and made several changes — including a reduction of capacity from 15 rounds to 13 — before it went into commercial production.


Belgium’s military adopted the pistol as the “P.35” with a tangent sight and slot for mounting a wood shoulder stock. Unfortunately, the German occupation of Belgium during World War II began on May 28, 1940. The FN factory in Liege fell under the control of Germans who forced production of the P.35 under the designation “Pistole 640(b).&rdquo

In June 1941, a P.35 was smuggled to Canada by a Chinese general to reverse engineer it without plans. John Inglis began manufacturing the Mk 1 and Mk 2 9mm H.P., or “High Power” in 1944.

Following World War II, the P.35 evolved in the manufacturing hands of several countries: Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, India and Israel. As a result, the P.35 and its High Power variants went on to serve military and police forces in more than 50 different nations spanning Australia to Zimbabwe. Ironically, the list of users even included France. The P.35 was carried into combat by Finnish soldiers during the Winter and Continuation Wars with Russia, and was used by special forces from Malaysia to Poland. It was also used throughout the wars in Africa during the 1980s.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 TriggerThe trigger leaves something to be desired. Guns & Ammo’s pair of test pistols produced an average pull range that exceeded 7 pounds. Creep and grit were also part of the experience. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

The Same, But Different

Various manufacturers altered Saive’s final design. Though FN continued manufacturing High Power pistols and parts in Belgium, FN moved assembly to Viana, Portugal, in 1980 for the benefits of a modern manufacturing facility and lower labor costs. Mark II High Powers were built until 1987, and the improved Mark III production began in January 1989.




My recent study of the MC P35 reveals that Girsan was largely faithful to Saive’s final design. The short-recoil operating system pioneered in the P.35 is now commonplace. It differs slightly from the M1911 in that recoil force pushes the P.35’s barrel and the slide rearward momentarily. A lug at the bottom of the barrel features a notched channel, and during recoil a horizontal bar slides into that channel and tilts the chamber and barrel downward, which allows the slide to continue rearward. At full recoil, the empty cartridge case is ejected from the chamber. The rearward motion of the slide resets the hammer and the return spring pushes the slide forward, which collects another cartridge to chamber. The barrel moves forward and locks up to make the gun ready to fire.

The internals of Girsan’s MC P35 follow the same recipe with few modifications. The pistol is easy to disassemble and maintain, and it doesn’t require the removal of a barrel bushing like Browning’s Model 1911.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 Mec-Gar MagazineThe MC P35 includes one, 15-round blued Mec-Gar magazine. Spares are readily available from mec-gar.com in 10-, 13- and 15-round varieties. $35 (Michael Anschuetz photo)

There are other features on the MC P35 that will be familiar to those who have handled continuations of the P.35. The MC P35 sports an external extractor, which was a feature added to High Power pistols in 1962 as a response to reliability concerns experienced with earlier models’ internal extractor design. The MC P35 also includes the original magazine disconnect, which means that the pistol will not fire when the magazine is absent. Tactically, some users loathe this feature for the fact that it disables the pistol and opt to have it removed by a gunsmith. Others view it as an attractive safety feature.

Recommended


Another enhancement that’s found its way to the Girsan is the beavertail and ring-type hammer. Original P.35 pistols with spur hammers were prone to injuring the web of the shooter’s hand with a high grip. Though EAA indicated that a model with a pronounced beavertail is forthcoming, the use of a ring hammer marginalizes the risk of hammer bite when shooting with a firm grip. Until the introduction of the ring hammer and extended beavertails, the High Power could discourage a high grip, especially for shooters with large hands.

Introduced on the High Power Mark II in 1982, the bilateral safety lever on the MC P35 features the same enlarged design. Also true to the Saive’s FN P.35 are the forward-leaning serrations at the rear of the slide; there are no front slide serrations. However, unlike the P.35 (but like Saive’s prototype mags), Girsan’s MC P35 ships with a 15-round metal mag made by Mec-Gar. Additional 10-, 13- and 15-round magazines can be ordered directly from Mec-Gar ($35, mec-gar.com).

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 Ramped Front SightThe ramped front sight and rear notch are dovetailed and drift adjustable. They wear white stripes, which are quick to align, though unusual in appearance. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

There are notable differences between the MC P35 and the original P.35, as well as modern clones. The flat, checkered wood stocks have been substituted with plastic grips. The style of grip emulates the plastic grips with built-in  thumb rests that first appeared on the Mark II. There is molded checkering below the rests. This continued the attempt during the 1980s to make the High Power more appealing to both left- and right-handed shooters.

Visually, the MC P35 stands apart from the plain black and bright two-tone models that were available at the end of the Mark III era. Girsan offers the MC P35 with the modern touch of surface treatments to protect the steel frame and slide. Of course, the MC P35 is available in the original blued finish ($544), but it can also be had with your choice of Dark Earth or two-tone silver-and-black surface finishes ($567). As of this writing, all three introductory models wear a matte finish and black polymer grips, but we’ve seen a prototype with ball-dimpled and serrated G10 grips that look excellent on a black gun.

The MC P35 comes with a dovetailed rear sight and front blade. The dovetail on the base of the long front sight is contoured to match the rounded profile of the top of the slide, which is a nice detail. There are recessed vertical slots on the left and right side of the black notch rear sights, and these slots are filled with white paint. There’s a similar painted line that runs up the spine of the front sight. It’s an effective arrangement and rather more advanced than the austere blued metal humps you may remember. However, I think a set of night sights or a fiber-optic dot front and U-notch rear would be more aesthetically pleasing.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 Two-ToneFor a few extra dollars, the two-tone MC P35 wears an attractive black slide and a silver-finished frame. $567 (Michael Anschuetz photo)

Every MC P35 has a 4.7-inch stainless-steel barrel with “9MM” marked on the chamber. Unlike the new FN High Power with a lowered ejection port, the Girsan remains faithful to the original ejection port.

“MC P35” is marked on the right side of the slide and “GIRSAN” appears on the left. EAA and its import marks are stamped on the left side of the frame, while the serial number occupies the right front of the pistol’s frame.

The Girsan MC P35 measures 7.8-inches long and 5.1-inches in height. The slide measures just .90-inches wide, but the widest point on the pistol is at the polymer grip’s thumb shelf. That distance measures 1.4 inches. Weight is listed at 1.8 pounds, but G&A’s two test guns scaled at 2 pounds, 3 ounces, with empty mags.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 Brad Fitzpatrick Shooting(Michael Anschuetz photo)

At the Range

During the evaluation, I had two EAA Girsan MC P35 samples on-hand to test, one with the two-tone color scheme and another with the Dark Earth surface finish. Having two pistols for testing was beneficial because there’s always the chance that a single gun will perform exceptionally well or poorly. With two guns I compared performance from different 9mm loads, and the result painted a clear picture of what you can expect.

The overall finish of both pistols was very good. Both had even surface treatments, and both presented good slide-to-frame fit. I’d say that it’s an improvement versus most striker-fired polymer guns. Controls were easy to operate, but the round magazine release button’s position near the leading edge of the thumb shelf meant that I had to rotate the gun to drop the mag. This gun comes with a slide stop that is large enough to reach and function properly, which was refreshing considering that many new carry guns have miniaturized slide stops that are difficult to manipulate.

The single-action trigger displayed a gritty feel, was somewhat heavy, and measured an average of 7.8-pounds for the one gun and an even 7 ­pounds for the Dark Earth model. I don’t doubt, though, that the wear induced by regular use could smooth and lighten the trigger some.

A less-than-ideal trigger didn’t seem to impede my ability to extract the MC P35’s accuracy potential, though. Both test guns managed to produce five-shots groups that measured just more than 1 inch at 25-yards, and both pistols managed average groups less than 21/2-inches for a five-shot spread using multiple factory loads. A smoother trigger and finer sights would improve these pistols’ accuracy potential immensely, but the out-of-the-box accuracy was on par with (or even better) than most competing striker-fired pistols with similar-length barrels.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 Accuracy Chart Dark Earth

However, these sights were not designed for group shooting at the bench. In fact, they worked just fine in developing a rapid sight picture and placing accurate shots on multiple targets quickly. After accuracy testing, I ran the pistols through Failure and Shoot-and-Move drills. Both guns prevailed. I also ran them through G&A Editor Eric Poole’s Typewriter Drill, which involves loading magazines with ammo from various manufacturers and grain weights to determine how well the pistol operates when firing an array of loads at different muzzle velocities. Neither pistol exhibited any issues with this drill either. In fact, neither gun produced a single malfunction during the entire test! The slide even locked back every time the magazine ran empty. Based on my experience with these two test guns, reliability was outstanding. It should be noted, though, that if you like your pistol to launch empty magazines to the ground at the press of a button, the MC P35 won’t oblige. I had to manually remove the magazine when it was time to reload. This could be great if you prefer tactical reloads and want to retain the magazine, but it doesn’t lend itself to the speed reload technique. Removing the magazine disconnect safety might solve this issue, which could void the original owner’s warranty.

EAA Imports the Girsan MC P35 Accuracy Chart Two-Tone

Parting Thoughts

There’s nothing like the feel of a P.35 High Power. The steel frame offers weight, which balances well and makes recoil more manageable. Is the MC P35 an everyday carry gun? Probably not, especially if you prefer inside-the-waistband holsters and live in a warm climate. This pistol requires a strict dress code to avoid printing and maintain concealment. However, with a cover garment and an outside-the-waistband holster, this gun wears comfortably and offers the accuracy, capacity and reliability you need from a personal defense pistol. I could argue both sides. Decades of military service and use by police agencies proved that this design can be depended on.

My generation was born at the tail end of a pivotal era in pistol design. When I was young, there were still plenty of police officers carrying blued revolvers. It was a time when polymers were more often associated with making trashcans and Tupperware. I don’t begrudge polymer-frame pistols, but I welcome the resurgance of steel-framed classics. There are several reasons to carry a compact 9mm, but the High Power is still a worthy option for those who like the heft. EAA’s MC P­35 proves the design can offer great value, too.

EAA Girsan MC P35 Specifications

  • Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 9mm
  • Capacity: 15 rds.
  • Barrel: 4.7 in.
  • Overall Length: 7.8 in.
  • Width: 1.4 in.
  • Height: 5.1 in
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 3 oz. (tested)
  • Finish: Matte blue; matte Dark Earth (tested); matte two-tone (silver/black) (tested)
  • Sights: Notch, dovetailed (rear); ramped blade (front)
  • Trigger: 7 lbs., 7 oz. (tested)
  • MSRP: $567 (tested)
  • Importer: European American Arms Corp., 321-639-4842, eaacorp.com
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