Review any serious list of combat handguns and you will find John Moses Browning’s fingerprints all over the design. That is common knowledge. However, Browning did not stop at designing many of the world’s greatest handguns. For instance, did you know he also designed the .380 ACP cartridge?
Long debated, some consider the .380 ACP too small. In addition, their criticism is well founded. Correction, it was well founded at one time. Advancements in bullet design, powder performance and ballistics have made the .380 a viable self-defense choice. The smaller size platforms are easier to conceal and lighter to carry. This adds up to additional comfort. After all, the biggest handgun in the world is useless if you do not have it when you need it or you are constantly fidgeting with it to find a comfortable carry position. Why not just get a business card that reads, “Have Gun, Will Travel.” Fans of Old Westerns will get the Paladin reference.
This article started out by extolling John Browning for his creation of the .380 ACP cartridge and many of the world’s top handguns including the venerable 1911 pistol. After over a century of use and several of the world’s worst conflicts, the 1911 still stands tall and remains on the battlefield today. Back at the home front, saying a disparaging word about the 1911 at will earn you a bloody nose, at least not in the literal sense, but you may find yourself a social outcast.
Taking all of this into account, is it any wonder that the innovative minds at Browning would be the ones to bring together these two innovations over a century later and offer the 1911-380? This is peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese—the perfect combination we always knew existed, but never truly put together on the same plate. Browning’s 1911-380 offers the reliability and feel of a larger 1911 with the size and comfort of a .380.
The lines were long at the Winchester booth that actually housed the 1911-380 at Media Day 2015, which is a good indicator of the popularity amongst gun writers. The 1911-380 is 85 percent of the size of the original 1911 45 ACP model. It’s ideal for concealed carry duty, and for fitting a wider variety of shooters. To 1911 enthusiasts, authenticity matters. That fact is indisputable and was not lost on Browning’s engineers in the creation of the 1911-380.
The 1911-380 is the only authentically designed, full-featured 1911-style handgun currently available and chambered in .380 ACP. Browning did not compromise on size either. The 1911-380 is not the smallest .380. In fact, picking it up at the range, I quickly noted it is not even as small as many of the .380s. While still compact, the slide and barrel are longer than many offerings in the .380 ACP class to enhance accuracy and function—and it worked. Those considering the 1911-380 for concealed carry need not worry. Browning kept the weight down to a scant three to five ounces more than competing subcompact models on the market today.
From the grave and more than a century after John Browning initially designed the platform and the cartridge, jaw-dropping designs are still being crafted from his innovation.