FIRST REVIEW: Springfield-Armory 911 .380 Sub-Compact

3
201
FIRST REVIEW: Springfield-Armory 911 .380 Sub-Compact

Springfield Armory recently introduced a very small, lightweight, short-barreled .380-caliber pistol with an enhanced G10 pivoting single-action trigger with 1911-styling for concealed carry. It is called the 911 .380 ACP and Springfield Armory promotes it as “the ideal carry pistol or backup gun.” I was anxious for Springfield to send me this new sub-compact pistol for Testing & Evaluation, so I could see how this pistol is different than the plethora of other similar pistols currently in the market.

I want to decide for myself the key features, benefits, how this gun performed, and what makes it stand out. My experiences tell me that most sub-3 Inch, short-barreled, lightweight, pocket-type pistols are challenging to control and grip, not pleasant to shoot, not that comfortable, and difficult to shoot accurately, compared to full-size and some slightly-heavier compact guns.

Was this sub-compact gun an exception? While most small, sub-compact pocket guns are very concealable, manufacturers design them for up-close self-defense, point-shooting distances, unlike full-size guns.

So how do I rate the 911 .380 ACP relative to the 21 Concealed Carry guns that I rank in my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection?” This review of the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP is my report and opinion about this new sub-compact model for concealed carry.

Is it a viable candidate for your Every Day Carry (EDC) pistol, pocket concealed carry pistol, or backup gun (BUG?)

Springfield-Armory 911 .380 ACP - Black Nitride Option - Green and Black Grips
Springfield-Armory 911 .380 ACP – Black Nitride Option – Green and Black Grips

Initially, I want to present to you the 911 .380’s specifications and features. Next, I want to show you some quality holsters I found for the 911. Then, I give you my short list of my ten criteria for selecting ANY handgun. I have other criteria and considerations in my book, but space prevents presenting them here.

So, this is my brief look and report on the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP with just a few of my considerations to help you. Next, I present a chart comparing some sub-compact .380 pistols to the new 911. Then, I include a link to my website, so you can download and print the free Concealed Carry Drill target. Last, I Rate the pistol on each of my ten criteria, give you my recommendation or not, and conclude with my opinions and suggestions. Hope this saves you some time and helps you.

Springfield 911 .380 ACP- SPECS and FEATURES

Holsters for the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP
Holsters for the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP

Holsters for the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP

Holsters for 911 .380 (left to right): Included Springfield Pocket; Blackpoint Tactical Custom OWB; Kramer Leather Pocket

Like any handgun, this new pistol needs quality holsters for your preferred carry methods. Since Springfield Armory just introduced the 911, there are limited holsters specifically for this gun model currently. However, Springfield includes a pocket holster attached by velcro to the soft case that comes with the gun which is a nice touch. Also, some of the holsters for guns with almost identical dimensions might fit it, e.g., my Sig P238 holster fits it.

So, I asked some of my contacts, and they have custom-manufactured the two holsters shown above especially for this 911 .380 pistol. I appreciate that they were able to make some very nice holsters available that are custom fit, all-day comfortable, conceal well, have good retention and easy access. If I were to buy this single-action subcompact .380 pistol, I would use it for concealed carry and carry it mostly Pocket Carry as a Backup Gun (BUG) and sometimes Outside-the-Waistband (OWB.) Depending on my type of activity, cover garment, weather, etc., I also might wear it some Inside-the-Waistband (IWB).

The above two holsters are high-quality, fine custom Pocket and OWB holsters for this 911 .380 subcompact pistol. They are quality made by Kramer Handgun Leather (Pocket) and Blackpoint Tactical (OWB.)

Kramer Handgun Leather makes quality leather holsters, and I found their custom Pocket holster to fit the 911 just right. Kramer constructs this holster using fine leather with a special backing and small wing that help prevent the holster from shifting in the pocket. It disguises the shape of the gun very well and is comfortable. I did not even realize I was wearing it after several hours in my pocket.

Blackpoint Tactical has a quality and comfortable Standard Kydex OWB holster to fit the 911. They offer many color options for the front and back of the holster, as well as options for cant, loop sizes, and types. This holster has a sweat guard, metal loops, retention adjustment screws, and is designed to have a total curve for a more natural curve to fit the body.

NOTE: At first trial, my Sig P238 and Ruger LCP II .380s both fit these holsters reasonably well, though not custom fits, so I am not certain I would use them for other guns until further safety testing.

Criteria and Considerations for Reviewing the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP

Here are just ten of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the 911. In addition to my criteria, other subjective features may be appealing for some. For example, a specific style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, added extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion.

I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want a pistol to meet ALL of my criteria. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my ten criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.

Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.

Springfield Armory 911 380 Comparison

Above are eight competing .380 sub-compact pistols, so you can see how the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP compares. Note that the first six .380s in the comparison chart all have pretty close to the same physical dimensions, capacity, and weight, but prices vary considerably from the lowest being $349 to highest MSRP being $651. They can all be found being sold for less than their MSRP so be sure to shop for the best market price.

So, accuracy, reliability, trigger press, trigger characteristics, grip and overall ergonomics, felt recoil, and personal preferences are important for differentiating among them. These features are so very personal. And really you can’t go wrong with any on this chart. I own five of them and appreciate them all. Interestingly, Smith-Wesson has just announced the M&P .380 Shield EZ M2.0 pistol with a Grip Safety which they tout as having an EZ slide to rack. It holds eight rounds, is 1.05″ wide, weighs 18.5 ounces, and has an MSRP of $399. They are sending me one to review, so I’ll share its performance, features, and details soon.

Target Hits for the Springfield 911 .380 with My Concealed Carry Drill.
Target Hits for the Springfield 911 .380 with My Concealed Carry Drill.

Range Test of the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP for each of my Ten Criteria.

The thirteen hits shown above are the results of my standard Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill. I use my Concealed Carry Drill challenge often which I have based on the 3-3-3 Rule. This rule postulates that most self-defense encounters occur at three yards or Less; with three rounds fired on average, and the encounter lasts three seconds.

It is over that quickly.

For my Concealed Carry Drill, intentionally there are not bullseyes, zones, or numbered areas to aim at, but five circle targets of varying sizes, to test your accuracy and precision from rapid fire point shooting from the draw and up close. My Concealed Carry Drill is as follows:

Col. Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill

1. Shoot it at the typical up-close Self-Defense Distance of 3 yards
2. Draw and Rapid Fire 15 Shots Total
3. Put 3 Hits Each on 5 Circle Targets (Circles have varying sizes: 4.5″, 3.5″, 3.0″, and 2.5″)
4. Goal: 80% Hits (at least 12 of 15 shots fired Hit inside 5 Circles- line hit counts as Hit)
5. Goal: Complete in 20 Seconds.

Download, Print, and Share My Concealed Carry Drill & Targets

You can have my Concealed Carry Drill for FREE for your practice. Permission to Download, Print, and share “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” is granted when my website address and copyright are included and kept on it. You can Download and Print “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and targets by clicking on that Link at my website’s Home Page at:

www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com

The photo above are my actual thirteen rapid-fire targets hits from the draw and a mag change with the 911 using my Concealed Carry Drill, at the self-defense distance of three yards, and with the five circle targets. Note that two of my fifteen shots hit within the 4.5″ circle target at the top of the bottom circle, but did not count because I was trying to get them in the above 2.5″ circle target which already had its three hits. Those two hits in the larger circle did not count. I was rushing so much due to my mag change that I missed the small 2.5″ circle target. But I did get a hit there.

This drill was more difficult than I expected for this new, small and very lightweight .380 pistol. The mag change was a “killer.” However, I did get thirteen hits that counted out of the fifteen shots I fired, and I did (barely) meet the 20-Seconds Goal and the 80% to pass.

I really like this 911 .380 pistol, and it did not seem like such a small gun but handled like a larger gun. But, this was a challenge for me. I hope you might use my drill as your warm-up Concealed Carry Drill. It is available for download from my website. Below are my evaluations, opinions, and ratings for each of my ten criteria.

At the range to test and evaluate the 911, I shot about 200 rounds of various FMJ and JHP .380 ammo. I shot 100 rounds of Sig Sauer FMJ 100 grain and 20 rounds of Sig Sauer JHP V-Crown 90 grain, which Sig Sauer was nice enough to provide. I bought some other rounds so I could see the 911 performance with various loads, types, and brands. I bought 50 rounds of Blazer Brass FMJ 95 grain and 50 rounds of Aguila JHP 90 grain to test the 911. I shot targets at close-up distances of 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards. You should know that Springfield Armory is not paying me for my review or opinions nor for my ammo, so I am not on their payroll for any reason.

One caveat to recognize is that ANY gun should be “broken-in” with about 400-500 rounds or so fired for a better evaluation of its performance. So recognize that I did not shoot that many rounds. Remember, the gold standard is for you to actually shoot and handle the gun yourself to learn your accuracy with it and things about it like I did.

Let me say up front that for me for ANY gun, ACCURACY and RELIABILITY are most important. Closely related to that is the handgun’s trigger, so I focused on it and its characteristics and control. I used my Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge and averaged readings to measure the press. See results below. Additional factors considered were fit and comfort to my hand and fingers, gun weight, felt recoil, gun width and height for easy concealability, caliber, capacity, safety features, and appearance. Overall length was not a major criterion, except for its relationship to sight radius and reduction of felt recoil. The cost was not a factor.

Here’s what I discovered after shooting and hands-on handling of the 911 .380 pistol.

1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10

The accuracy and reliability were very good for me at close distances of 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards. My rapid-fire groups were all about 2.5 to 3.0 inches or so for the first time I ever fired this single-action pistol drawing from the holster. I was surprised that such a small and lightweight gun with a short barrel could handle so well, and be so accurate. Shot placement was a breeze and the recoil was so very easy to handle. I used my usual Modified-Isosceles Standing Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot rapid fire after my draw using mostly point shooting. This gun made me look good, for an aging codger with Mr. McGoo eyesight. This gun was reliable without any malfunctions or stoppages.

911 .380 Pistol with Soft Caser-2 Mags-Quality Sig Sauer & Aguila Ammo
911 .380 Pistol with Soft Caser-2 Mags-Quality Sig Sauer & Aguila Ammo

2. Trigger Press – Score: 8

The trigger press after shooting the first 100 rounds averaged 6.8 pounds, with eight readings by my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was a little heavier than the specified 5-pound press by Springfield, but this is a brand new pistol which is not “broken in” yet. Although for my desired press range, I do prefer somewhere between a 4 and 6-pound press for a single-action carry gun. This was not that distracting at all for my accuracy and was acceptable, but I was hoping for closer to the 5-pound press specified. But, without a doubt, I could tell the trigger’s crispness, short reset, and minimal takeup. I expect that after more break-in time, the press will get better and approach the 5-pound or so press.

3. Trigger – Score: 10

The trigger had a short travel distance, a very identifiable reset, and was smooth, so I could get off quick follow-up shots easily, and keep on target easier. My shots were consistent each time and I liked the short reset. The trigger’s reset was definitely tactile, audible, and identifiable. It has a quality and durable G10 Hogue trigger shoe. I like a single-action trigger, and this gun shoots well.

4. Barrel Length – Score: 9

The 911’s 2.70-inch stainless steel barrel was easily concealable and nice for pocket concealed carry with this .380 pistol. It is a small and lightweight gun with its aluminum frame, so the recoil was slightly noticeable, but no control problem at all. This short-barreled gun was manageable, and I had no concerns. To help with control, I could almost get all my three strong-hand fingers on the grip with the flush mag. I did have pinky dangle, but no problem at all with the extended mag. The short sight radius was not a distraction. The barrel has a stainless steel finish and looks great.

Excellent Sights: Pro-Glo Green Tritium Front Sights with Yellow Luminescent Ring & Green Tritium Rear Sights
Excellent Sights: Pro-Glo Green Tritium Front Sights with Yellow Luminescent Ring & Green Tritium Rear Sights

5. Sights – Score: 10

The Ameriglo Pro-Glo Green Tritium/Yellow Luminescent Ring Front and Green Tritium with Two White Rings U-Notch Rear Steel Sights were standard, excellent and helped my older eyes with front sight acquisition. I like these green night sights because I am color blind and can see green very well, versus the red color. These Tritium sights really helped and stood out for me. The rear black Tactical-Rack Serrated white-dot sights worked fine, and the slide serrations were nice. The rear sight has a flat shelf with edges to help with one-handed racking and malfunctions. Great included night sights. There are two Viridian laser sight options.

6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 10

The weight of the gun is only 12.6 ounces empty, and this is certainly very lightweight with its aluminum frame. So, there was some felt recoil. But, this .380 is manageable for concealed carry and nice for a pocket pistol or backup gun (BUG.). Some like a slightly heavier gun for better recoil control, comfort, and accuracy, but this is personal preference.

7. Caliber – Score: 8

The .380 caliber is fine for me for a backup gun (BUG), and a pocket gun that is small and easy to conceal. This gun works for that and my wife liked this small and lightweight gun for tradeoff with her Sig P238 .380 for occasional purse carry. But, I prefer the 9mm caliber, used with appropriate ammo with the right ballistics for primary concealed carry. The .380 911 is a nice lightweight & quality carry gun that I would pocket carry. The felt recoil is tolerable & controllable. As you can see from my previous comparison Chart #2, it is very comparable in dimensions to some other .380s.

Choose the highest caliber handgun that you can COMFORTABLY and RELIABLY shoot AND make fast, ACCURATE followup shots with, for your purpose. This applies to concealed carry, self-defense, home defense, and even competition. You want a gun that you like, can control, and WILL carry and not leave at home if carrying concealed. This .380 would not be left at home. A very personal and individualistic choice!

8. Capacity – Score: 8

Capacity is a concern of mine for any handgun, especially one for concealed carry purposes. While there were two magazines included, six and seven rounders, a third was not included. There was a nice 6-round flush mag for carry, but all my fingers could not grasp it 100% solidly. It did work, however, and there was also a nice 7-rounder extended mag which allowed my fingers to grip the gun solidly. Only six rounds on the flush-fit mag is not ideal for ME for carry, but acceptable carrying an extra mag. Recognize the tradeoffs and sacrifices for your concealed carry gun, but again this will probably be your BUG or pocket pistol, and maybe six rounds will work.

Springfield 911 .380-LOADED CHAMBER INDICATOR

9. Ergonomics – Score: 9

Overall, the ergonomics of the 911 subcompact were very good. It looks great! I like the way it feels in my hands, and the high-quality G10 thinline grips helped my grip. My grip was very comfortable. The 911’s lightweight, overall small size, and rounded corners really help its concealability. I could easily reach and control the ambidextrous safeties. And its low bore axis also helped my control. This is a reliable gun, and I did not have any malfunctions at all. The slide lock lever and mag release button were all easy to locate and operate quickly. I liked the Loaded Chamber Indicator. ALL mags did drop freely and quickly. The ergonomic features helped with my felt recoil and muzzle flip. The width of the 911 was not specified in the factory specifications that I found online, but I measured it, and it is very close to the Sig Sauer P238 in .380. The dimensions were almost identical, as you can see from my previous Comparison Chart. It measured just slightly more than 1.10 inches. This width was just right for my medium-sized hands. The 911 width was identical in many ways to my Sig Sauer P238.

10. Miscellaneous – Score: 10

As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed, cleaned, and re-assembled the 911 before I shot it. I did not have to press the trigger to disassemble. Remember, to first remove the mag and do your safety check. It was very easy and quick to take apart.

TWO CAUTIONS to help you relate to field stripping for cleaning, like with the similar Sig P238.

  1. Be certain and depress the ejector down only far enough to provide clearance for the slide. If you press it down too far, it will be a problem.
  2. Do NOT engage the Manual Safety when the slide is off the frame of the pistol because it will cause the Safety Detent Plunger to separate from the frame.

The price of the gun is reasonable for the quality and features you get. It does come with a very nice soft case with a pocket holster velcroed inside, owner’s manual, cable lock, cleaning brush, and two mags. It does not include other things like some have, e.g., a mag pouch or the third mag. There are several very nice features for this quality subcompact, single-action gun. There is not a magazine disconnect safety, so it will fire with the mag out. There is a Lifetime Warranty.

911 Review

Total Points = 92 out of 100 Possible.

I certainly RECOMMEND this 911 .380 pistol for consideration as a concealed carry pocket gun and a backup gun (BUG.) The 911 is a very nice Pocket Pistol and has 1911-style controls, similar to a full-size 1911. Its reliability, lightweight 13 ounces, narrow width, quality build, its smooth, crisp single-action trigger, the slim profile for concealed carry, controllable recoil, and comfortable grip are excellent. I really liked its snag-free profile, the beavertail grip, the brightness of the front sight, and its low felt recoil. In addition to the included pocket holster, there are several fine custom holsters available for the gun. The 911 fit my wife’s dainty hands nicely, like her P238.

I hope this review of the Springfield Armory 911 .380 ACP subcompact pistol has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire and shooting only about 200 rounds or so of ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you, and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (download my Concealed Carry Drill on my website), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always!

Continued success!

Contacts:

Springfield-Armory
1-800-680-6866
Geneseo, IL 61254

Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown 9mm JHP-FMJ ammo
1-603-610-3000
Newington, NH 03801

Kramer Handgun Leather
1-253-564-6651
1-800-510-2666
Tacoma, WA 98411

BlackPoint Tactical Holsters
1-770-752-8592
Alpharetta, GA 30004

Photos by Springfield-Armory and Author as Marked.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.

© 2018 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected]