Hot Defensive Handguns
From 2022 SHOT Show


Ayoob runs a Springfield Armory SA-35 through its paces during a class. He says its quality,
performance and value would appeal to both self-defense customers and sport shooters.
(Photo: Gail Pepin)

It wasn’t a “perfect storm,” but it was still an ugly one.

Turnout was low at the 2022 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. It was as if the usual attendees were thinking, “Okay, let me get this straight: tens of thousands of people under one roof? Every year people talked about catching the ‘SHOT Flu’ or ‘SHOT Show Crud’ before, and now we’re talking about doing it during a damn pandemic? Uh, no thanks!”

That sentiment was widespread, but not universal. Many gun manufacturers, ammo companies and accessory makers were already flat out in production and didn’t need to solicit any more business anyway. All those industry folks were concerned about putting their personnel in a place where “social distancing” would be difficult in the time of COVID. Several major exhibitors pulled out, and that fact was widely disseminated early on, which was another disincentive for dealers to attend.

That said, SHOT Show’s owner and sponsor — the intrepid NSSF — did a damn fine job of putting the show on anyway, and should be commended for it.

The industry has stubbornly pushed on with new introductions. Let’s take a look at the ones that seem most likely to draw customers to your place of business.

Standout Pistols

30 Super Carry. It’s been a while since a new cartridge for self-defense handguns was introduced. This year, Federal introduced the 30 Super Carry (as well as sister company Remington Ammunition) with both full metal jacket practice loads and jacketed hollowpoint self-defense rounds. The initial guns for them are Smith & Wessons from the company’s Shield series, followed swiftly by a 1911-format pistol from Nighthawk Custom.

The narrower diameter of the new 30 Super Carry round allows a couple of extra rounds compared to 9mm in the same platform. With a 100-grain jacketed hollowpoint at 1,250 feet per second, advocates of the new cartridge feel it’s close enough to 9mm, and sufficiently more powerful than .380 ACP, to establish popularity as a defensive round. There’s some skepticism about it already on the gun-related internet, but time will tell. Early reports speak of recoil and shooting characteristics similar to 9mm.

P-35 Resurrection. Springfield Armory began this movement in late 2021 with their introduction of a Browning Hi-Power clone. They couldn’t call it by that name because FN owns it, so it became the SA-35 in homage to the pistol’s military designation, P-35. The company ingeniously incorporated decades of custom gunsmith modifications of the old Browning into their new gun, curing virtually every ill that had ever plagued the original P-35. The original gun had a tiny, mushy thumb safety; the SA-35 has a big, positive one. The flat grips of the original fit most hands great, but the Craig Spegel-like grips on the Springfield interpretation fit the hand greater — an admittedly subjective judgment.

“When SIG introduced their P365 a few years ago, they created a new niche so attractive it’s now a leading sales category.”

American shooters hated the magazine-disconnector safety of the original, which got in the way of a good trigger pull due to the original design and kept empty magazines from falling free; Springfield simply eliminated it. P-35 aficionados in the past paid custom gunsmiths big bucks to smooth up the trigger pull; the out-of-the-box Springfield iteration had the nicest trigger pull since the short-lived Nighthawk version of the Browning … and MSRP is only $700.

Almost simultaneously came the Turkish Girsan interpretation of the Hi-Power (imported by EAA, the MCP35), which resembles the Browning Mark III down to the desirable ambi-thumb safety — which the SA-35 lacks.

Then, at SHOT 2022, FN America introduced the FN High Power! According to the company, it’s a “completely reimagined pistol … [that] carries forward the most iconic features of the original design, modernized for today’s sport shooter.”

Boasting a four-figure MSRP, the new iteration features improvements to its ergonomics and fire-control design, accuracy and increased magazine capacity (17 rounds). There’s still great interest in it on online forums.

FN America High Power FDE

Colt Python 3"


Wheelgun News

In revolver news, Colt’s “new Python” is now available with the super-rare 3″ barrel of the past. I’ll tell you right now, if you order at least one, it’s going to sell to one of us boomers who want the guns of our youth and will prize this super-rare one. Being a Python guy myself, I immediately ordered one. (I’m not the only one who’ll do that, hint, hint.)

A new lightweight six-shot pocket- size .38 Special snub-nose revolver joined us at SHOT Show. Kimber’s K6 series has at last been expanded to a lightweight aluminum-frame variation, the K6xs Carry. This new generation of the K6, all-steel until now, has a very smooth action and the 2022 aluminum version will be easier to carry in an ankle or pocket holster.

This revolver strikes me as “something new under the sun.” I can’t recall another six-shot lightweight .38 with a completely shrouded hammer (aka “hammerless”). Sales Tip: Remind potential customers, in this type of defensive handgun, the sixth shot, as opposed to the customary five, is a full 20% increase of in-gun firepower.

Micro Compact Niche Grows

When SIG introduced their P365 a few years ago, they created a new niche so attractive it’s now a leading sales category: A super small, polymer-frame striker-fired pistol with more 9mm cartridge capacity. (And, in February, SIG added a new caliber for the P365 platform — .380 ACP.)

The rest of the industry quickly followed with similar higher-capacity “micro-compacts.” For 2022, Savage jumped into the race with their Stance micro 9mm pistol.

Smith & Wesson has now done something similar in the hammer-fired market. Their new CSX pistol is single action for cocked-and-locked carry, and has an excellent ergonomic ambidextrous thumb safety. It comes with two magazines, one 10-round and one 12-round. I got an early one and was pleased with its controllability. At 25 yards, it consistently put five shots in 2.5″ with 124- and 147-grain 9mm ammo.

Before, the micro-compact single action 9mm market was dominated by single-stack pistols — such as the Kimber Micro and the SIG 938. Some customers like the idea of a manual safety, and a hammer they can ride with their thumb when holstering to reduce the likelihood of an unintentional discharge, a particular concern for those who practice the currently popular appendix carry.

The shape of the cocked-and-locked CSX also greatly reduces the concealed carry “bulge point” at the rear of the slide, which has the added benefit of a more snag-free draw from a pocket holster. At sub-20 oz. unloaded, the CSX has already generated a great deal of interest among concealed carriers.

Obviously, the above doesn’t cover everything new … but we tried to hit the high points. What would you add? Let the SI team know:

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