Firearms

Girsan MC 35 PI 9mm: Worthy of the Hi-Power Name?

Girsan MC P35 PI 9mm semi-auto pistol, right profile

A few years ago, FN chose to discontinue the long serving High Power, most often called the Browning Hi-Power. This was a result of lagging sales in a pistol that had become more and more expensive to manufacture. Shortly afterward, Springfield introduced the excellent SA 35 pistol, a close clone of the original. Girsan of Turkey also offers a Hi-Power clone. The Girsan MC 35 pistol has been well received and is competitive to say the least with any Hi-Power pistol including the original.

The Browning Hi-Power, introduced in 1935, was the first high-capacity 9mm pistol. A double-column magazine, single-action trigger, and sturdy construction are hallmarks of the Hi-Power. The pistol went on to be adopted by the armed services of more than 100 nations. It also fought in many wars often — on both sides.

Girsan MC 35 PI 9mm semi-auto handgun in the cocked and locked hammer/safety position
Properly carried ‘cocked and locked’ there is nothing faster to an accurate first shot.

The pistol is still in use by allies and adversaries. Good work has been done with the Hi-Power in military use and by special teams. The fictional Reddington carries a Hi-Power in the Blacklist and noted NYPD detective Frank Serpico carried a Browning Hi-Power 9mm.

The Girsan Hi-Power is faithful to the original in most models, but there are also improved models with a straight trigger, light rail, and other features. Let’s look at one of the most interesting Hi-Power types.

While FN experimented with various Hi-Power models, including an aluminum frame version, most Hi-Power pistols were the usual five-inch barrel, steel-frame version. For some time, FM of Argentina offered a mix of clones of the FN pistol. Some were close copies, but most did away with the Hi-Power’s stepped slide in favor of a straight, non-contoured slide. This slide may have been stronger or simply easier to manufacture. FM pistols were generally serviceable and well made handguns.

MC 35 PI Features

Girsan has introduced a special short slide version of its Hi-Power called the PI. The PI is a neat-sized handgun, well balanced, and suitable for concealed carry.

The pistol features a full-size frame holding the new MecGar 15-round magazine, versus the original Browning 13-round magazine. The pistol features a 3.85-inch barrel. The weight is a nicely balanced 1.6 pounds. The pistol is listed in several versions including a black model that looks all business. My example features a Titanium finish slide.

Girsan MC 35 PI 9mm semi-automatic handgun, left profile
A short Hi-Power pistol is a nice handling piece.

The pistol is a MKII Hi-Power in the particulars, featuring an ambidextrous safety and high-visibility Novak type three dot sights. The safety is positive in operation featuring a sharp indent. The original Hi-Power safety is too small for easy manipulation and right-hand only. The MK II Hi-Power solved those problems.

The grips are a G10 type with plenty of abrasion and adhesion. The MC 35 is delivered with the original magazine safety. This prevents the pistol from firing when the magazine is removed. This safety is criticized in some quarters, praised in a few, and many feel neutral. I think that the magazine safety may serve a purpose for some of us.

The original Hi-Power magazine safety was easily removed. By contrast, the MK II procedure is more involved and may result in a failure to fire and a need to replace the trigger spring. That said, the removal of the magazine safety usually results in a lighter trigger action.

Girsan MC 35 PI depicting the engaged safety with the hammer down
Note the Girsan MC 35’s extended safety lever. Hi-Power pistols offer the odd option of placing the safety on with the hammer down (single action).

I chose to leave the grip safety intact and deal with the 7-pound trigger action. Keep a firm grip, press the trigger straight to the rear, and you’ll have a hit. The pistol is delivered with a single magazine, par for the course these days. I collected a good supply of ammunition and headed to the range.

Test Gun Specs

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 15+1 rounds
Barrel length: 3.88 inches
Overall length: 6.25 inches
Weight: 1.6 pounds

Range Test

Since the 1935-era High Power models like lubrication, I heavily lubricated the pistol for a break-in run. As many of you know, there is really nothing like Ballistol. I fired Fiocchi Range Dynamics ammunition in both 115- and 147-grain weight. If you are used to polymer-frame pistols the first impression is that the MC 35 is a light kicker — a very light kicker. Part of this sensation is from weight and balance and part from the recoil spring setup.

Paper silhouette target showing results from rapidly firing the Girsan MC 35 PI handgun
Rapid fire and control are good.

This is a controllable pistol. I managed the trigger well, although it took some acclimation. I recommend a 400-round dry fire regimen spread out over several days to achieve good control over the trigger. There is no other way. A better way is more dry fire!

The pistol is fast on target and fast to get good hits. I fired at man-sized targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards getting good hits in the X-ring. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. The Fiocchi loads were accurate and clean burning. The 147-grain load produced notably less recoil. After two range sessions and more dry fire, I felt confident to try a benchrest at 15 yards. Results were good to very good.

Fiocchi 124-grain FMJ and Fiocchi 147-grain JHP Defense Dynamics loads were used. Accuracy was good with each load averaging 1.9 to 2.2 inches. The pistol is clearly accurate, reliable, and well suited to defense. Carried cocked and locked, the PI 9mm is fast to an accurate first shot.

Holster Selection

In a proper holster, the pistol is concealable. I obtained a Galco Tuck-N-Go holster. Suitable to be carried under a tucked-in shirt or inside the waistband, this is a well-designed holster. I own in several variants of the holster. The Tuck-N-Go offers a balance of security and speed, and rides comfortably when properly adjusted. I ordered an example for the 1911 Commander, and it was a perfect fit for the Girsan MC 35 PI.

Girsan MC 35 in a Galco Tuck-N-Go leather holster
Galco’s Tuck-N-Go offers good concealment.

Ammunition Selection

Ammunition selection is serious business, and ammunition for personal defense must be carefully considered. The more I explore the benefits of solid copper projectiles, the more I am impressed. Among the brands I have tested with excellent results is G9 Defense. I was able to put several of its loads to the test. Reliability was good without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject in firing the 80-grain load in both standard pressure and +P variants. Let’s look at some of the information supplied by the makers of G9 9mm ammunition.

This category of bullets is characterized by solid metal projectiles with flutes or grooves along their surface that do not expand upon impact. Instead, the design aims to inflict damage through fluid transfer, utilizing the Venturi effect — a phenomenon where the flow of a fluid speeds up as it passes through a narrow space, resulting in a decrease in pressure and an increase in velocity of the fluid.

When these bullets hit a target, the design of the flutes force liquified tissue to accelerate and be directed into surrounding tissue with high velocity, causing more extensive damage. This is significantly more effective at transferring destructive energy than any traditional hollow point, full metal jacket, frangible, or tumble-upon-impact projectile.

G9 9mm 80-grain ballistic gelatin results, profile view showing the entire wound channel
Note the extensive damage in a gelatin block from this fast moving projectile.

The efficiency of these bullets in causing damage depends on several factors:

  1. Surface Area: The amount of liquified tissue that can be directed into surrounding areas impacts the level of damage. A bullet with a larger frontal area can transfer more tissue.
  2. Projectile Design: The design of the bullet’s flutes affects concentration and the angle the fluid transfer is directed. Enhanced flute designs result in more damage by focusing the liquid more tightly and propelling it away from the bullet at high speeds. This sets D9’s designs apart from similar appearing rounds on the market.
  3. Projectile Velocity: Faster bullets create faster cast-off, increasing the extent of the damage. Velocity’s effect on wound volume is less drastic than velocity’s effect on penetration depth.

Comparison of Reliability Against Hollow Points

Reliability and Consistency

  • Hollow Point: Achieve expansion in human targets only 60–70% of the time, with a notable failure rate influenced by obstacles such as clothing fibers and bone. Optimal performance is limited to a velocity range of 900–1,100 fps, with increased failures noted outside this range due to fragmentation and jacket separation.
  • Shape Charge: Displays exceptional reliability with less than 5% deviation in penetration and wound dimensions. Changes in velocity cannot reduce reliability, because the projectile does not need to change shape to function. Through clothing and bone, the projectile remains undegraded.

Barrier Performance

  • Hollow Point: Experience a broad range of effectiveness reduction, typically 20–30% after encountering light domestic barriers, with a dramatic capability decrease (>90%) when facing heavy barriers. Against heavy barriers, a 30% deflection rate and over 60% failure rate are observed.
  • Shape Charge: Show minimal degradation in effectiveness (~8% average across all manufacturers, <5% for G9 designs) against light barriers and maintain their course without deviation through heavy barriers, highlighting their superior barrier penetration capabilities. Deflection in glass and other hard barriers is greatly reduced.

I don’t have an argument with the claims made by the company — testing bears out the claims. I will let the ammunition and results obtained in testing be their own advocate. I deploy a broad range of expanding ammunition for different chores. Based on predicted performance, the D9 loads offer a good choice in today’s world.

You make the call. Is the Girsan MC 35 PI worthy of being called a Hi-Power? Share your review in the Comment section.

  • G9 9mm 80-grain ballistic gelatin results, end view
  • belt hook on the Galco Tuck-N-Go holster with a gun inserted
  • Girsan MC P35 PI 9mm semi-automatic handgun, left profile, black
  • Paper silhouette target showing results from rapidly firing the Girsan MC 35 PI handgun
  • G10 grips on the Girsan MC 35 PI 9mm pistol, right profile
  • G9 9mm 80-grain ballistic gelatin results, profile view showing the entire wound channel
  • handgun 3-dot sight picture
  • Girsan MC P35 PI, black, right profile
  • Girsan MC 35 PI 9mm semi-auto handgun in the cocked and locked hammer/safety position
  • MC P35 PI Girsan 9mm, black, quartering away, right
  • Girsan MC 35 PI 9mm semi-automatic handgun, left profile
  • Girsan MC P35 PI 9mm semi-auto pistol, right profile
  • Girsan MC 35 in a Galco Tuck-N-Go leather holster
  • Girsan MC 35 PI depicting the engaged safety with the hammer down

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. Gary b. Might fit may not. If it functions on the original high power I would not attempt to fit it to a mc 35.

  2. Question; I have an original FN Hi Power with a conversion kit to the 41 AE caliber. Does anyone know if the Girsan MC 35 is capable to utilizing the conversion kit? I know the 41 AE is a rare cartridge but it is really cool to shoot (and own) and I was wondering if would be worth the effort to utilize a Girsan version of it.

  3. I purchased the Girsan P35 PI-Ops, which is cerakote silver. It has the extended beavertail, Pic rail and flat face trigger. I had previously also purchased a full-size Girsan P35 that is excellent. The PI Ops is a awesome pistol and easy to maintain 2-inch groups at 20 yards. The silver model has a optics cut slide but so far I have not put a dot on it. A 7-pound single-action trigger is more equivalent to a 3-pound striker-fired pistol. Removing the magazine disconnect takes about 5 min and reduces the pull by a pound and takes out the little gritty hesitation. The PI shoots well and carry’s well. I use an IWB Urban carry lock leather at roughly the 12 o’clock. Sixteen rounds ready to go cocked and locked.

  4. Kanik Su Kidd

    Thanks for reading!

    The only reliable means of testing ammunition is gelatin testing. This is an established basis of comparison.
    As for actual shootings unfortunately the so called stopping power studies have been unfortunately either plagued by poor methods of collection or flights of imagination. Their validity is zero. The best we can hope for is good shot placement. Gelatin results are the most relevant means of testing.
    Having investigated shootings in which the person shot seemed unimpressed with solid hits and the next never took another breath after a single hit I find real world shootings a mix of interesting data useful primarily for comparing tactics.
    Bob

  5. Talyn

    Yep, should have been magazine safety.

    Removing the magazine safety often brings the trigger action down a pound or more.

    Thanks for the good catch!

  6. Doug

    This is a Hi Power clone and that is the normal t7 pounrigger action for such guns.

    A 7 pound single action trigger is sometimes more useful than a 6 pound striker fired DAO-
    But it isnt for everyone.

    Bob

  7. I guess the line of Girsan MC 35 PI 9mm is still evolving. My PI OPS with steel frame and straight trigger has NO magazine disconnect. I picked it up last week from FFL.

  8. “The MC 35 is delivered with the original magazine safety. This prevents the pistol from firing when the magazine is removed.” Magazine Safety; is that an oxymoron?

    Definition includes: ‘pointedly foolish’, and I agree.

  9. Seems like a good choice but I stopped reading at ” the 7 lb trigger pull ” . I’ll pass on that thanks .

  10. I have always loved Browning Hi-powers. I purchased a “T”model with the round hammer at the J C Penney store in Fairbanks, AK in 1976 for $175. Ah the good old days… Re: fluted solid copper projectiles. These perform remarkably well in jello tests but how are they doing in the real-world? I would suggest an article about this topic.

  11. “I chose to leave the grip safety intact and deal with the 7-pound trigger action.”

    I don’t know what the article’s author is thinking but the Hi-Power, Girsan variant or not, doesn’t & never has had a “grip” safety.

  12. I have the “PI OPS” and it comes with the mag disconnect among other things. Very happy with the pistol, no hiccups to date.

  13. I have the “PI OPS” and it comes with the mag disconnect among other things. Very happy with the pistol, no hiccups to date.

  14. Hi Bob, I enjoy your reviews and can comment on this particular 1911 Commander like pistol, as I purchased one earlier this yr. ASAP, when I got home I proceeded to field strip it just to ensure there would be no unpleasant surprises. Like HP’s, removing the slide was no problem. However, removing the recoil spring/guide rod was an extremely tight fit and next to impossible w/o having a vise to lock the slide in so as to have both hands free to extract the spring. Immediately went back to gun store owner whom I have known for 30yrs. Even after he fiddled w/it for more time than necessary, he said it was easier to push the spring to the rear rather than pull it forward but it still was way too difficult a take down for a duty/combat pistol. In short, I returned it and go my money back. I do not know if there was the same problem w/other pistols as this was the only one in stock. But while it is an impressive gun as you have pointed out, if I can’t disassemble it w/my eyes closed, then it doesn’t pass the test. Will appreciate your comments.

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