In the crowded field of .380 ACP handguns, why would you pick the Springfield Armory 911 sub-compact over the GLOCK 42, a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, a CW380 from Kahr, one of Ruger’s LC versions? Why a 911 over a S&W Shield EZ, a Colt Mustang, a SIG SAUER P238, a Bersa Thunder, or traveling back in concept, a Walther PPK/S?
I’m not here to sell you a 911, but I am here to tell you this little pistol is worth considering if you’re in the market for an easy-to-carry (thus, likely to carry) 9mm Kurz. Only you can decide if it’s worth five mug shots of everyone’s favorite president, Ben Franklin. (Yes, I know).
The Big Open
The case provided with the Springfield 911 is a cardboard box with a carry handle, and the box is robust, suitable for range carry or storage. Inside the box is a carry pouch with a pocket holster. Also included were a lock and two magazines. The included holster works as well as most I’ve tried for jacket-pocket or trouser carry. It’s certainly enough to get started with.
In building the 911, Springfield Armory has eliminated many of the problems associated with smaller handguns carried for self defense. What the concealed-carrier wants is light weight, small form factors (height, length, and width), and enough capacity to stop a threat from continuing to be a threat. The choice of how much of each dimension the user wants and capacity are personal matters.
Where Does the Springfield 911 380 ACP Fit?
But the stats put the 911 Springfield in pretty small company. It is only 3.9 inches tall, 5.5 inches long, a skinny 1.1 inches wide across the ambidextrous thumb-safety levers, and it has a dry weight of 12.5 ounces. Loaded, it goes 15 ounces in weight. The slide itself is a mere 0.81 inches wide. The barrel is a 2.7-inch-long 416R-stainless-steel tube. My sample came with one 6-round flush-fitting magazine and one 7-round extended magazine. Both were stainless-steel boxes.
In comparison, Remington’s RM380 carry gun measures 5.27 in OAL; the Bersa Thunder goes 6 inches. The SIG SAUER P238 stands 3.9 inches tall. The M&P Shield EZ measures just under 5 inches tall. So that gives you a bracket size for the Springfield 911.
Some other important measurements for handfit include a frontstrap height of 1.75 inch and a backstrap height of 2.25 inch. The grip length will be enough for some folks to get three fingers on the handle. Others will get two and a half, and still others only two. You gotta shoot it yourself to find out.
Generally, the more fingers on the grip, the more you’ll like it and shoot it. Both grip faces have the company’s Octo-Grip texturing, which helped me hang onto the gun with 2.5 fingers.
The mainspring housing backstrap tang is elongated and could be referred to as a mini-beavertail. It’s designed to keep the slide from biting into the web of the hand. The PPK/S is notorious for this problem.
All in, the 911 is an everyday-carry pistol that will disappear into cargo pants pockets and hide easily in smaller ones.
At The Range
I tested the small gun for accuracy at 15 yards with Federal American Eagle 95-grain full-metal-jacket rounds, Fiocchi 90-grain jacketed hollowpoints, and Federal Premium 99-grain HSTs. Recoil was stiff with the Federal HST load, which comes as no surprise because it develops nearly 1000 fps. Most important, reliability was faultless with all three.
380 ACP Fiocchi 90-gr. JHP 380APHP
- Average Velocity: 923 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 170 ft.-lbs.
- Smallest Group: 2.0 in.
- Average Group: 3.0 in.
380 ACP Federal Premium HST 99-gr. JHP P380HST1S
- Average Velocity: 970 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 206 ft.-lbs.
- Smallest Group: 2.7 in.
- Average Group: 3.4 in.
I had no issues with the Springfield 911. Though smaller in stature, its fit and finish were as good as most 1911s I’ve shot from Ruger, Remington, Kimber, or Colt. The controls were positive and worked as designed. The trigger broke at 4.9 pounds with little take-up and no creep. Trigger reset inside the smallish trigger guard was easy to feel, and crisp. A cut at the top of the stainless-steel slide functions as a loaded-chamber indicator.
The 911’s magazine release, location of the safety, slide stop, and appearance are 1911-like, but operationally, the Springfield 911 isn’t a downsized 1911 .380 like the Baby Rock 1911.
For one, the 911 lacks a grip safety. Also, the aluminum frame-mounted safety lever (up for safe; down for fire, the latter of which exposes a red dot on the frame) does not stop the slide from moving. The ability to load the pistol while it is on safe is a plus.
The 911’s lock-up is also unlike a 1911’s; the .380 does away with both the barrel bushing and the swinging link of the full-size 1911. The pistol uses a cut-out in the lower barrel to unlock and lock.
The Springfield 911 features excellent night sights with an Ameriglo Pro-Glo front sight with a brilliant-green tritium insert surrounded by a yellow circle. The luminescent yellow ring allows for very fast pointing and accurate shooting at 3 to 7 yards, the range in which this handgun is designed to work. The rear sight features an open U notch that was likewise easy to see and use.
Accuracy off the bench ran 3 to 3.4 inches — good-enough groups for such a light handgun. As with the GLOCK 42 and SIG P238, I’d really like a laser for best accuracy. There are two so-equipped 911s that come from the factory with integrated green Viridian grip lasers. The model numbers are PG9109VG for the black-nitride finish and PG9109SVG for the stainless model.
The 911 pistol isn’t as easily broken down as a Shield. The Smith & Wesson Shield 380 EZ is unloaded and the slide locked to the rear to disassemble, same as the 911. But the Shield is then field-stripped by rotating a lever and running the slide forward.
With the 911, the pistol is unloaded, then the shooter retracts the slide enough for the cut out on the slide to allow the slide lock to be pressed from left to right to remove. The slide is then run forward. The recoil-spring guide is removed, and the barrel is removed. When the pistol is reassembled, the ejector must be pressed downward.
Worth the Money?
As mentioned, the 911 shooter can carry either a 7-round magazine with a finger extension or a flush-fit 6-round magazine. Of course, the 7-round magazine is easier to grasp, and the extended magazine offered more comfort and control during firing.
If I carried the pistol in the pocket, I’d choose the flush-fit magazine. If I carried the 911 in a holster, the finger-extension magazine is a better choice.
I liked the Springfield 911. It was reliable, exhibited enough control and accuracy so I would be comfortable carrying it, and I liked the sights.
Would I buy this gun again? Probably not. I’ve shot the 911 side by side with the Smith & Wesson Shield EZ, and I prefer the EZ. The latter is easier to rack (9 pounds) than the Springfield slide at 9.7 pounds, but both are much easier to operate than a PPK/S and some other pocket pistols. Also, because of the availability of green lasers on two other 911 models, I’d buy one of those ahead of the irons-only PG9109S.
And in the broader market view, there are some other .380s I’ve liked as much or more. Rock Island Armory’s Baby Rock is a bigger gun, thus more comfortable to shoot. The Ruger LCP-C Custom, Kimber’s Micro Carry Advocate, GLOCK’s 42 with a Viridian green laser on it, and the Ruger LCP-CT are four others that I’d put ahead of the 911 if it were my money doing the buying.
But that’s me. If you’re in the market for a smallish .380 ACP for concealed carry, you should rent or borrow and shoot the 911 to see how you like it. Or if you’re already the proud owner of a 911, comment below about what you like — and don’t like about it. At TTAG, we’re all friends, and friends don’t let friends carry sucky guns.
- Action: Semi-auto single action
- Weight Unloaded: 12.5 oz.
- Weight Loaded: 15 oz.
- Overall Length: 5.5 in.
- Overall Height: 3.9 in.
- Maximum Width: 1.1 in.
- Barrel: Length 2.7 in.
- Magazines: (1) 6-round flush, (1) 7-round extended
- Grip Circumference: 4.6 in.
- Slide: Brushed stainless steel
- Frame: Anodized 7075 T6 aluminum
- Grip Panels: G10 Hogue Thin Line
- Trigger Pull (Single Action): 5.0 lbs.
- Safety: Extended ambidextrous frame-mounted levers
- Front Sight: Ameriglo Pro-Glo tritium green/yellow
- Rear Sight: U-notch; tritium green/white single dot
- MSRP: $599 ($564 via Brownells)
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Reliability: * * * * *
Flawless feeding, extraction, and ejection. The “9-1-1” moniker suggests it be used to help you become your own first responder, and operationally, it is up to the task.
Ergonomics (carry): * * * * *
This is a concealable pistol that’s meant to be carried, either in a pocket with a sleeve or in a smallish holster. Some are smaller; many are bigger.
Ergonomics (shooting): * * * *
Well-textured G10 grips. Grip height will determine whether it’s a good fit for the individual hand. Higher-speed, heavier loads do impress the shooter in this very light handgun. Ambidextrous safety levers allow even-handed use by lefties or righties.
Model Choices: * * * * *
There’s a range of options here, but the laser-equipped models would likely perform better for most people.
Overall: * * * *
Though I wouldn’t buy it again for the reasons above, this is a fine handgun that may be exactly your cup of tea. Do try one out yourself. You might really like it.