The SA-35 is a faithful yet modern version of the historic P35 pistol first designed by John Moses Browning. Much like a 1911, it’s beautifully designed and reliable and stands the test of time in terms of features and capacity. In its stock configuration, it’s accurate, ergonomic, and classic looking. But if you know me by now, I am always looking at ways to enhance my shooting experience with the latest and greatest parts available.
Apex Tactical, known for its high-quality parts spanning multiple platforms, released a flared magwell and extra-capacity magazines for the SA-35. I’ll be honest, if there were one thing I thought could have made the SA-35 a slam dunk, it would have been a basepad for the magazine. Well, now my wish has been granted, and boy is it a good one.
Igniting the Fire
I’d like to mention an interesting bit of history on Randy the owner of Apex Tactical. Before Apex was known for making parts, Randy was a pistolsmith. In the mid-90s, Randy began working on P35 pistols and saw a need for a magwell, but at that time, what was currently available on the market left a lot to be desired. He shelved his ideas of a magwell until the SA-35 came around and re-ignited his interest in the platform.
The Apex Low-Profile Magwell, machined from billet steel, is everything you would expect from a company known for innovation and uncompromising quality. They didn’t just slap something together and ship it out the door. The magwell is well thought-out, well-fitted to the pistol, and it looks beautiful. A small amount of work is required when installing the magwell on your SA-35, but it took me no longer than five minutes with a file and a few armorer tools on my bench.
The beveled magwell and the lanyard attachment hole running through the frame made the SA-35 the perfect candidate for the Apex Magwell design. The lanyard hole running through the frame allows a perfect anchor point for the Magwell to attach, without requiring welding or cutting. There are then side supports that create a rock-solid attachment to the left and right sides of the frame.
By sliding the magwell into place and tapping it with a soft hammer, you can see indents on the magwell’s “fitting tabs.” you then simply file those tabs down to where the marks are on the metal. Once you have removed enough of the fitting tab, you are able to tap the magwell into place with a soft hammer. Once in place, you tap in the 5mm split pin to hold it all together. After installation, it looks as if the Apex Magwell was a factory option. The lines and finish blend perfectly into the frame of the SA-35.
You will notice that the entry contours do not match the Springfield SA-35’s frame bevels. This is on purpose. The Apex Magwell is designed to serve as a sacrificial impact surface, helping preserve your frame from impacts from the magazine’s feed lips during mag insertions. Secondly, this allows for the optimal alignment of the magazine when it is being inserted into the pistol. But there is one thing to be aware of — the addition of the magwell means you can no longer use the original mags as they are now a tad too short. This takes us to the second part of my review.
Remember I said I wanted a basepad system for the SA-35? Well, Apex delivered with its new SA-35 Magazine Basepads. Apex designed these two new magazine basepads to go with the Apex Magwell — a 17- and a 19-round version. Yes, you are not only getting an extended basepad, but also a capacity bump! The black anodized aluminum basepads have integrated grasping grooves machined into them for a positive grip and ease of extraction.
Because the Magwell adds about ¼” to the pistol grip length, Apex needed to find a magazine that could accommodate the extra length. Apex eventually landed on customizing a commercially available Mec-Gar magazine that was similar enough to the P35 magazine dimensions. Apex was able to reform the magazine to their specs, thus creating the perfect magazine for the magwell extension while also retaining the reliability and consistency of the Mec-Gar product.
Keep in mind that since the Apex Magwell is installed, you can no longer use the factory magazines as they are now too short. But, I think it’s a small price to pay once you experience it all in action. The new magazines look stellar in the gun — it really makes the SA-35 stand out even more, with a classic yet modern feel.
Coming to Grips
The third part of this Apex SA-35 trifecta is the magwell-cut LOK grips. Featuring a palm swell design, and available in gray/black or dark red/black, these two-tone grips are machined from G10 and cut to accept the Apex Magwell.
I cannot say enough good things about these grips, as I think they make the pistol feel like it was meant for me. The grips contour perfectly into my hands, and the G10 material gives ample texture to grip onto. The grip stays thinner towards the top so you can easily access the magazine release, which is a well-thought-out design. For width reference, the stock grips measure 1.332” in thickness, while the palm swell grips measure 1.550” at the peak of the grip.
On the range, the upgraded SA-35 felt as good as it looks. The new LOK Grips and the Apex Magwell were extremely comfortable in my hands. I felt as if I was able to control the pistol much easier than before. The very first thing I noticed was how simple and smooth the magazine insertion was. The positive click of the magazine locking into place without disappearing into the pistol was great.
With the LOK Grips’ palm swell, the pistol molds into your hands as if it was a custom design personal to the user. Getting a grip and controlling the SA-35 was a breeze. The Apex Magwell worked beautifully in conjunction with the new grips. I always thought the SA-35 has a fairly short grip for a full-size pistol, so the magwell is a welcome addition for me, creating an anchor point for my pinky and the meat of my palm to rest on.
The extra-capacity magazines ran flawlessly. Loading was easy, not overly tight like some magazines I’ve encountered. The magazines perfectly fed every time with no malfunctions during my testing. When reloading, the magazines dropped with ease thanks to the baseplate’s added weight on the bottom.
Let’s be honest, we don’t always want our mags dropping depending on what surface they will be landing on, so having an extended magazine helps keep a nice grip for easily removing and stowing the mag on your person. Also, a big shout out to 1776 USA Ammo for the ammunition used in this review (to see a review of their ammunition, click here). The lead-free nature of the ammo makes it a much cleaner experience at the range.
As far as those buttery-smooth reloads that I mentioned earlier? You will be excited when you hit slide lock because it means you get to utilize that beautifully designed magwell to quickly feed your SA-35. Reloading with the Apex Low-Profile Magwell is effortless and fun, making your range time all that much more enjoyable.
Ultimately the Apex Low-Profile Magwell, extra-capacity magazines and LOK Grips all work together perfectly to improve your shooting experience with the venerable SA-35. You won’t be disappointed with these upgrades.
Check out the products at the links below, and while you’re at it give their Hellcat parts a look too. The quality is exceptional! (To see Jeremy’s review of the Apex Tactical Hellcat and Hellcat Pro parts, click here.) MSRP for the magwell is $200. The magazines come in at $65 for the 17-rounder and $75 for the 19 rounder, and the LOK Grips are $80.
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