Review: Springfield 911 .380 ACP

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Reviews

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.

Springfield 911 .380 pistol, right quartering to

The Springfield 911 .380 pistol is an attractive handgun.

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.

The slide is very slim, easily concealed, but strong.

The slide is very slim, easily concealed, but strong.

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.

Springfield 911 .380 ACp pistol with accessories

The pistol is supplied with a full kit.

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.

Smith and Wesson snubnose .38 M442, Springfield 911, Baby rock .380 pistol

The SF 911 compared to the RIA Baby Rock .380 and the Smith and Wesson snubnose .38 M442, above. This is a compact 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.

bob Campbell shooting the Springfield 911 .380 ACP pistol

The 911 .380 ACP is controllable in rapid fire and more accurate than most would think.

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.

SLRule

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 Shooter’s 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.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (38)

  • Vic vapor

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    .
    Didn’t the Navy have guns smaller than 16 inchers.?
    Someone sends a magazine worth of 380 acp, no one is going to laugh and say ha ha, those aren’t 9mm.
    Springfield is trying real hard with that 911, to provide something a person will have with them.
    .

    Reply

  • Craven Hurst

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    Huggy, might want to look at the Springfield XDE. A da/sa that is easy to rack. Worked for my wife that had trouble with racking a slide. Hope this helps.

    Reply

  • Craven Hurst

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    Huggy, you might like to look at the Springfield XDE. My wife had trouble with racking a slide due to poor strength. She can easily rack and use my XDE. It is da/sa also. Hope this helps

    Reply

  • Eric Cartman

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    I have no claim to ballistic expertise, but I was shot by a 357 magnum at very close range. I would not want to be shot ever again by any caliber weapon at any speed, but I think making a big hole is better than a small hole. Over penetration can be a problem, but we need enough to reach the heart and other vital organs.

    For those reasons, I prefer something with a bit more power and making a larger, consistent, expanded hole. Maybe an expert marksman whose body does not pump adrenaline under duress will have steady hands and shoot accurately, but I am not risking the lives of my family on some macho standard I may not be able to attain. I intend to shoot with shaking hands, twitching eyes, and declining eye sight and still win by making multiple, big holes, or BFH, if you will. In short, the 380 can be fine for larger-than-life, macho “experts,” but I will defend my family with something larger.

    Reply

    • Bob Campbell

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      Well said

      Reply

  • Norman Witzler

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    The Ruger LCP loaded with Buffalo Bore flat points is like the Cricket from Men In Black.

    Reply

  • GTWoody

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    I’ll stick with my 380’s that can handle +P defense rounds, which with that load/bullet combo puts it right up there with the 9mm !!
    Springfield Armory are “sell outs” anyways !! They’ll NEVER get a penny of my hard earned money !!

    Reply

    • Eric Cartman

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      Could you explain why you say Springfield sold out, please? I may not buy from them ever, depending on the reason.

      Reply

    • Gerald Woodruff

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      Eric Cartman,…
      This goes back to last year involving the “IFMA” (IL Firearms Manufacturers Association) and SB-1657 and a “Carve-Out” just for Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms …. who are the PRIME FUNDERS of the IFMA.
      I cant remember ALL the specifics, but heres a link to help get you started ….

      http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2017/04/daniel-zimmerman/statement-from-springfield-armory-ceo-denny-reese-on-ifma-deal-illinois-anti-gun-legislation/

      Reply

    • Gerald Woodruff

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      They (SA and RRA) wanted “business” all to themselves and totally do away with competition, including driving out the smaller gun shops ,… with thier carve-out in yhe legislation.
      I am digging thru all the info about this and will provide you with the best link available as to ALL the ramifications of SB-1657 , and hopefully will have specific info for the “carve-out SA and RRA was wanting.

      Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      That is over a year old. A lot of information, and more importantly action has come out of Springfield since then. Springfield had hired a lobbyist who made a deal in Springfield’s name. Springfield rejected the deal as soon as it heard about it and has staunchly opposed anything similar both vocally and with a significant amount of funds. Unfortunately, people run with half truths. We are all to will to allow ourselves to be divided and thus easily conquered. I am all for calling out those who are wrong. Springfield immediately admitted its mistake in the lobbyist it hired and really stepped up to the plate since. Make your own decision, but do go off of 1-year old information that paints an incomplete picture. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

  • Sam

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    Kinda looks like the Sig P938, only the Sig shoots a far superior caliber: the 9mm. BTW: Colt made a less bulky and flatter .380 SA pistol: the Government Model, Mark IV, Series 80. But in .380, it is hard to beat the double-action Walther PPKS (think: “Bond, James Bond”).

    Reply

    • RKC

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      The Walther has a very poor reputation for reliability

      Reply

    • Sam

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      Never heard that before about the Walther. My PPKS has worked flawlessly for many years.

      Reply

  • Huggy

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    I’ve been looking for a suitable handgun for my fiance’ to own and carry, but with her having MS and greatly diminished grip strength, any pistol with a difficult trigger or recoil spring that is too stout to manipulate means she cannot rack the slide to load a chamber, release the slide via a slide release or squeeze a trigger if it takes more than a modicum of grip strength. It just is flat impossible.
    All that said, can anyone speak to how much physical dexterity it would possibly require to load a round into an empty chamber from a fully charged magazine or from slide lock, amd/or activate the slide release to load the chamber from a fully stoked magazine?
    Right now I have her carrying my Colt/Umarex (sp?) .22LR semi-auto, M1911A1 clone, with the hammer back, safety on, chamber empty and a loaded magazine inserted into the mag well.
    We’ve found that the recoil spring in this pistol is easy enough for her to manage, recoil is mild and she has 10 rounds at her disposal, along with 2 spare magazines as backup.
    And while having her armed with a “lowly” .22LR, it is NOT my first choice, it beats the alternative of using bad language, her handbag or trying to fight and/or run away from any immediate threat. Besides, with her having MS, running away isn’t an option, either.
    If anyone has first-hand personal knowledge about these particular traits in this pistol, I would be much obliged if you could tell us so we can make an informed decision.
    Thanks for any assistance the readers can render.

    Reply

    • Bob Campbell

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      Check the report on the Smith and Wesson Shield EZ .380
      It is much easier to use and fire.
      However– other than the chambering, if she is carrying a Colt .22 that seems a good answer. Why are you having her carry chamber empty? That makes no sense the dynamics of a defensive situation are such that real speed is needed. Failing to rack the slide quickly or having a short cycle would result in death or injury. What if she has one arm up and the attacker has her by the arm –she will never get off that all important first shot. A cocked and locked 1911 type, even if it is a .22, is a great all around shooter.

      Reply

    • Sam

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      Consider for your wife a S&W .22 LR “Kit Gun” double-action stainless steel revolver. Very easy to use, hardly any recoil in spite of being quite small, no slide to rack or magazine to mess with, quick into action when needed (just point and pull the trigger), and vastly more reliable than a .22 semi-auto pistol. Only drawbacks: holds only 6 rounds and the .22 isn’t the best fight stopper – but up close and personal it will take care of business.

      Reply

    • Chuck

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      If you and her have made the choice to conceal carry it’s critical that you Chamber a round regardless. The gun renders itself a useless defense vehicle with a round in the chamber. When you have 2 seconds to defend yourself, there is no time to access the situation your in, factor distance of the attacker and think through the scenario and “then” try and Chamber a load under extreme duress. I carry double action, stricken fire, loaded and 1 in the Chamber w/ safety off. I train that way.

      Reply

  • 70's Ops

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    Nahhh. We’re a 9mm family. All of us carry Canik TP9 derivatives. 18+1 solves any caliber issues. We do, however, have a Phoenix Raven.25 that’s just a fun little piece, and surprisingly accurate.
    I guess its all depending on if your going to shoot the gun, or carry the gun. I can see a .380 being fun to shoot, but I wouldn’t trust my life to it.
    Caliber is a bit “overdone” though. As I tell my wife, that .25 still puts a 1/4 inch, burning hole in whatever it hits. So empty it. That’s 6+1, 1/4 inch holes. Quite enough deterrent for most situations.

    As always
    Carry on

    Reply

    • Sam

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      You are quite right about the little .25. My wife once stopped an assault against her with a Colt Junior .25 she carried.

      Reply

    • 70's Ops

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      Absolutely Sam. I think too much credence is given to “the bigger the better”. Most attackers would be turned away by just the gunfire, regardless of caliber. Even the most stupid of assailants, doesn’t want to get shot. Plus the burning hole factor. Add in a little blood, and off they go, to whatever veterinarian they can get patched up at under the radar. Not all ne’er-do-wells are supermen maxxed out on the drug of the day. And it should be plain to see that they’re also not Einstein’s. Keep that .25 my friend.

      As always
      Carry on

      Reply

  • jay

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    Looks nice.If they offered this in a 9mm with double action I would wait in line for it.

    Reply

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