Springfield Armory has recently introduced one of the neatest, most compact, and useful .380 ACP handguns in the past decade. That is a bold statement, but this is a fine handgun sure to be enjoyed by many shooters. I normally include a spec sheet at the end of the report, but the size of the 911 is among the things that are most interesting, so I will discuss size first.
This .380 ACP pistol weighs a mere 12.6 ounces and is only 5.5 inches long. The 911 is a single-action pistol that operates like a 1911, with a few differences worth noting. Anyone carrying a 1911 9mm or .45 for personal defense will be able to instantly acclimate to the pistol but there are differences.
The 911 features a single-action trigger breaking at 6.1 pounds that is an advantage in easy shooting ability. (There have been reviews that were written by those who have not handled, and certainly not fired, the pistol that state the trigger action is lighter. Let’s get real and meet the author halfway with your own experience.) The pistol is supplied with a flush-fit six-round magazine and an extended seven-round magazine.
The pistol is a little easier to shoot well with the extended magazine. You must carry a gun that is concealable. For some, this is more difficult than for others, based on personal preference and body type. No one should have any trouble with the Springfield 911 and a properly designed holster. No gun disappears under a covering garment. You are really concealing from casual observation, not a frisk or the like.
The 9mm is a baseline for many of us so consider your choice before going to a smaller caliber. That being said, if the adversary is motivated by profit and doesn’t want to get shot, the .380 is as good a deterrent as any—as long as he sees “shoot” in your eyes.
Some will find the 911 a great carry gun, I find it a perfect backup pistol. Personal opinion cannot interfere with an honest evaluation. I like the Commander .45 better, but the 911 .380 has much merit. Springfield Armory has been producing credible concealed carry handguns alongside its full size and competition-grade pistols for decades. The XDS and EMP are among these.
The 911 .380 is smaller than the others and the company’s first .380 ACP pistol. The pistol looks like the SIG P238 and less like the RIA Baby Rock. Fit and finish are superior to the RIA gun and at least comparable to the SIG. The pistol has enjoyed considerable development, and I find things I like a great deal.
Small caliber handguns chambered in the .380 ACP caliber sometimes bite the web of the hand. The Walther PPK is notorious for this in early renditions. The .380 ACP may be a small caliber but it has plenty of momentum in pistols that weigh less than 20 ounces. The long grip tang of the Springfield 911 makes the slide cutting the web of the hand practically impossible.
There is no grip safety, so this isn’t a true 1911, but there is a thumb safety. The pistol may be carried hammer down on a loaded chamber or cocked and the safety on. This isn’t cocked-and-locked carry as the slide isn’t locked by the safety. The cocked mode should only be deployed with a holster. I do not normally recommend thumb cocking a single action pistol as the piece is drawn, but with a small automatic such as the 911, leverage is such that thumb cocking is easy.
Another difference in the safety compared to a 1911 pistol is that the slide may be moved with the safety on. This isn’t possible with the Colt 1903 and 1908 small pistols or the 1911. This means you may load the pistol with the safety on. The safety is slightly larger than competing small 1911 types, and I find it an improvement. The safety is ambidextrous.
The grips are G10 designs are from our premier grip maker, Hogue. They are very well done. The design makes for good abrasion and adhesion when firing. The front strap is also roughened to allow a good grasp.
The pistol borrows the loaded chamber indicator from the XD series. The pistol is offered in either black nitride or stainless slide types. The frame is anodized aluminum. The pistol features a full-length guide rod.
The barrel is only 2.7 inches long. It is good; the .380 ACP uses small amounts of fast burning powder. Velocity was reasonably high even compared to longer barreled .380 ACP handguns. Hornady’s Critical Defense broke at 890 fps, the 90-grain Hornady XPT, 901 fps.
It was fashionable when the new wave of ultra compact .380 pistols were introduced to show the pistol beside a Colt 1908 .380 ACP and point out that the new technology allowed a much smaller pistol chambering the same cartridge. This is true but the 1903 is an easy gun to shoot well that is effective as far as accuracy goes to 25 yards or so. The 911 is small but it has a single-action trigger and very good sights. These sights allow for good accuracy. With a short sight radius and light weight, small handguns need good sights. The 911 is supplied with night sights. Self-luminous tritium sights make for a 24-hour capability. I like these sights very much and think anyone deploying the handgun for personal defense will appreciate these sights.
I dry fired the piece to acclimate. My hands are average sized, and the pistol took a bit of finger wrapping and moving to get used to, but I would get a full firing grip with the extended magazine. Firing the pistol was interesting. A lightweight .380 doesn’t kick enough to hurt, but there was some momentum firing a 13-ounce pistol.
The surprising part was the accuracy potential experienced. The pistol comes on target quickly and naturally, due to the low bore axis and well-designed grip. It is important to concentrate on keeping the pistol properly aligned during firing. I fired 100 rounds of Fiocchi 95-grain FMJ as quickly as I could load the magazines. The magazines are easy to load and do not exhibit sharp edges. The pistol functioned well and was accurate enough to keep the shots in the X range at 5, 7, and 10 yards. I also fired from the retention position to test function. Function was excellent.
Moving to defense loads, I loaded the Hornady American Gunner loading. Loaded in an affordable 75-round box, the American Gunner load is affordable for a JHP. It fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. Firing for accuracy at 15 yards, several 2-inch 5-shot groups were fired from a standing barricade. This pistol provided excellent performance.
The primary advantage of the Springfield 911 is that it isn’t an inconvenience to carry. This means it should be with you when you need it. As for as firing and handling went, there were no shortcomings and complete attention to detail in the design was noted.
The drawback is the cartridge. I see comments by those who should know better, do not know better, or have some type of agenda that lob praise on the .380 ACP. This is misplaced. The .380 does not perform as well as the .38 Special or 9mm Luger—it cannot unless physics were reversed. It is not the baseline I recommend for personal defense.
So-called studies with dubious methodology and suspect sources have no validity. Professional gelatin testing shows the wound potential of a cartridge. The wound channel may be saved by doing a cast in gelatin and the neck, fissures, and final expansion are well preserved. The .380 ACP doesn’t equal the 9mm or .38 nor is it very close. The primary deficit comes in the form of expansion and penetration. Some loads are better than others. Some fragment in 3-4 inches of gelatin. This is dangerously short penetration. I have often stated that when a small caliber performs beyond expectation, it is because of good penetration. This means avoiding trick bullets and choosing a load with good penetration. The Hornady XTP, Hornady Critical Defense and Fiocchi 90-grain XTP load are viable choices.
The Springfield 911 is well made, accurate, reliable, and easy to handle well. It is a handgun that will always be with you. That seems to be what most concealed carry handgunners need. It is supplied with a neat carrying box, two magazines, zip-up bag, and pocket holster.
Would you carry a .380 as a primary or backup and why? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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