The Girsan High Power MC P35 PI – Watching the Detectives

Girsan MC P35 PI 9mm handgun

Some guns are just cool. Not every gun I own needs to have a specific purpose or be a top-of-the-line, ultra-modern firearm. Sometimes — arguably most of the time — guns can just be fun. That’s exactly what I thought when I saw the Girsan High Power MC P35 PI edition of their Hi-Power clone lineup.

I like Hi-Powers. They’re arguably my favorite old school handgun. 2022 was the year of the new Hi-Power (or High Power), and that’s where the Girsan High Powers caught my attention. This year’s SHOT Show introduced me to the MC P35 PI, and it was probably my favorite handgun of the show.

Right off the bat, it’s all classic Hi-Power. That means the gun has a magazine safety and magazines don’t fall freely from the gun. These are traditional Hi-Power quirks and are faithfully represented by the Girsan High Powers.

The Story Behind the High Power MC P35 PI

Why? Well, it was a compact variant of the Hi-Power, which is a fairly rare configuration. The Hi-Power, as produced by FN and Browning, was always a full-sized duty pistol. The barrel was 4.7 inches long, and that was it.

Until, that is, the Argentinians got involved in making Hi-Power clones. They made robust, well-made, and affordable Hi-Power clones as the FM series guns. Among those FM (not FN) guns was the Detective model. The Detective model of the Hi-Power features a 3.9-inch barrel with a full-sized Hi-Power frame.

The Girsan High Power MC P35 PI features logos and annoying legal warnings.

The Detective model seems to be a reference to the Colt Detective model. The Colt Detective Special was a smaller version of the Colt Police Positive Special. The FM Detective is simply a shorter version of the Hi-Power. The idea is that a detective needs a smaller gun than a beat police officer, something easier to carry in plain clothes.

The MC P35 PI is a gun I’m genuinely excited about.

Those FM guns were imported and sold fairly cheaply, but the Detective models have become collector’s items. In some cases, they sold for more than a grand. They were rare, and it turns out people liked the idea of a compact Hi-Power.

The Turkish firm Girsan made a smart business move and introduced a modern and very affordable compact version as their High Power MC P35 PI. PI stands for Private investigator, a clever way to reference the classic Detective model from the southern hemisphere.

The New Models of the MC P35 PI

Girsan has introduced several models of the MC P35 PI. For me, the classic version is more appealing. They all have 3.88-inch barrels. It’s designed to be a fun gun, and I didn’t mind working with the Hi-Power design’s old-school quirks.

The P35 PI model and its lack of plastic, rails, or optic cut just makes it cooler to me. When I pick this gun up, I want to feel like a gumshoe in the 1940s.

The safety is ambidextrous.

I’ve never owned a Girsan before, but I was impressed by this pistol. The finish is nice. Nothing feels cheap. The gun looks nice and feels good in the hand. It’s all Hi-Power…for better or worse. The shorter barrel makes for a nicely balanced gun, and even with the shorter barrel, it retains the smooth look and classic appearance of the Hi-Power.

The big grip and all metal frame make it easy to handle.

The John Moses Browning ergonomics are solid. It fits perfectly in your hand and inspires a high grip on the gun. The little beavertail is pretty standard for an old school-themed Hi-Power. Other models of the Girsan PI models have larger beavertails, but this one stays truer to the original.

The plastic grips here are fine. They keep the frame thin and they aren’t overly aggressive in their texture. I’m looking at replacing them with wood grips just for the cool factor. The manual safety is ambidextrous and clicks and pops surely. The MC P35 PI has a serrated hammer that’s easy to manually cock.

If you’ve handled a Hi-Power (or a High Power), you know what to expect here. The Girsan version is just a lighter, slightly smaller variant.

Playing Detective

I didn’t have the time to find a shoulder rig that would work with the MC P35 PI, but this gun practically begs for one. Or maybe that’s my imagination, and I just want to play detective? Either way, a slick leather rig would be the way to go for the MC P35 PI. One classic look deserves another, and it should be a Yanqui Slide of Jeff Cooper fame or a Miami Vice Galco Miami Classic.

This gun really needs a good leather holster.

For now, though, I have an open bottom Kydex holster that I had to make do for my range time. I started with some simple draw and fire drills. The pistol was cocked and locked. The big, full grip of the High Power ensured I had a good, secure grip as I drew.

That allowed for a good presentation and fast, accurate shots. My average time was about 1.3 seconds from a strong side concealment position. I love the gun for its classic simplicity, but with a red dot sight, I can do that in under a second.

Since it’s a Hi-Power clone, I had to try the classic Mozambique drill. An FBI Q target became my close-range victim, and felt the wrath of a quick double tap to the chest and a final headshot. This gun is very easy to control, and double taps are a snap.

Backing Off

The big three-dot sights were perfectly fine for range use. I continually drilled 4-inch circles at 10 yards with some speed. I backed it up to 25 yards, moved to a bigger IPSC target, and tested my times by firing three rounds from the draw. There honestly wasn’t a huge difference in the results. The range had increased, but the target is massive. I could land all three shots in 1.5 seconds. The High Power’s front sight is super-easy to track, and the recoil is fairly minimal.

Muzzle rise was minimal and this gun is very easy to shoot. It’s quite pleasant all around and surprisingly nice for a compact pistol. That all-metal frame certainly helps, as does the JMB design that lets you get your hand nice and high on the grip. The single-action trigger is better than I’d expect any Turkish trigger to be. It’s smooth and light with minimal takeup.

This gun was a ton of fun on the range.

I rested the gun on a table and tried some basic slow-fire practice at 25 yards. Punching smaller targets wasn’t too tough. The front sight covered up the smallest gongs, but if I could see it, I could hit it. On an FBI Q target, that resulted in chest shot groups no wider than my palm. That’s more than enough accuracy for me.

The Girsan High Power MC P35 PI certainly delivers in the reliability department as long as I used the included Mec-Gar magazine. I tried a KRD magazine, but it had tons of issues. I think I’ll stick to the Mec-Gars which tend to be abundant and pretty darned affordable.

From 1935 to 2024

I bought this gun thinking it would be a fun gun and nothing more. I didn’t expect much, so I was very pleasantly surprised.

The 15+1  High Power MC P35 PI would be a very effective weapon for concealed carry. It may be lacking in modularity, and admittedly, it’s a bit larger than something like a P365. Still, I might be purchasing the OPS Model for its optic-readiness.

The Girsan High Power MC P35 PI is tons of fun and a surprisingly good handgun.

Specifications: Girsan High Power MC P35 PI

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 15+1
Barrel length: 3.88″
Overall length: 6.25″
Weight: 1.6 lbs
MSRP: $585 (about $540 retail)

3 Responses

  1. Ok, I’ve already got a few guns waiting in the queue for serious range testing, and now I’m tempted by another…🤔

  2. Travis,

    While I like the old-school Hi-Power a lot, as a historic-but-still-functional firearm, if I’ve got to go 9mm, I think there are better choices. Just the mag-drop issue, alone, makes it a sub-optimal choice, IMHO (slows down reloads). Having said that, being able to get a good Hi-Power clone would still be cool, and this one and its other family members would be an interesting choice.

    Any overall info on quality issues and reliability on the Girsan pistols, in general? I’ve stayed away from Turkish firearms in general, due to reports of bad quality/reliability on earlier models, but lately they’ve been reviewed well. Any thoughts?

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