Springfield Armory’s 911 .380 Handgun – By Pat Cascio

Without a doubt, Springfield Armory came late to the dance with a sub-compact .380 handgun. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t know the dance or came with a new and faster two-step dance. Under review today is the new 911 from Springfield Armory.

Back When I Carried a .380 Pistol

Many years ago, when I was a young private investigator back in the Windy City of Chicago, IL, I carried a Walther PPK/S .380 stainless steel pistol in a shoulder holster. It was very chic to say the least. Back then, the only ammo available was Full Metal Jack (FMJ), and it wasn’t known to be a manstopper round. It still isn’t, in my book. Before some time passed, I found myself carrying a snubbed nosed .357 Mag revolver. (Even back then, you could teach me a new trick, as hard-headed as I was as a young man.)

A .380 Caliber Handgun for Self Defense

Even today, I still don’t recommend any .380 ACP caliber handgun as a main handgun for self defense. Now, with that said, I can certainly see where sub-compact handguns chambered in .380 ACP have their place in a self-defense roll. This is because of their very compact size and the advent of improved bullets that are better at stopping the bad guy.

When I worked several undercover cases as a private investigator, I often carried nothing more than a little .25 ACP handgun loaded with FMJ ammo, because it was very easy to conceal. I’m sure glad I never had to use it though. So, small(er) caliber handguns do have their place for some uses.

Sub-Compact .380 ACP Handguns

Sub-compact .380 ACP handguns have been all the rage the past 8-10 years with the concealed carry crowd. It’s because they are not only easy to conceal and light-weight. Many are made out of a polymer substance for the frame. I carry a .380 ACP in an ankle holster as back-up to my main carry gun. So, you see, as I stated, these little sub-compact handguns do have their place in the world of self defense.

No Handgun Is Ideal For Self Defense

Let’s keep in mind that no handgun, no matter the caliber, is the ideal choice for self defense. We carry them because they are easier to carry than a high-powered rifle. Statistics prove that most handgun calibers don’t have a high rate of one-shot stops. This means that it takes more than one shot to stop an aggressive, deadly act from a bad actor. And, the smaller the caliber, the more shots it might have to take to stop a bad guy. That’s just common sense!

The 911 .380 ACP From Springfield Armory

I must admit that, I wasn’t going to review the new 911 .380 ACP handgun from Springfield Armory. However, I received quite a few requests from some long-time readers, so I requested a sample. I’m glad I did. You see, the 911 isn’t like so many poly-framed sub-compact .380 ACP handguns. Instead, it is a single-action pistol, similar in operation to a 1911 handgun. At first glance, it looks like a miniature 1911. It really does. The trigger is single-action, just like on a 1911. However, the trigger doesn’t slide back and forth like those on a genuine 1911; instead, it pivots. But it is a very short trigger pull, which makes for more accurate shooting.

Many of today’s sub-compact .380s are striker-fired, and as such the trigger pull is long and heavy, making your shots harder to keep on target. Not all sub-compact .380s are like this; however, many are. As most shooters know, the smaller the gun, the harder they are to shoot. Then, we have the itty-bitty sights on most sub-compact handguns. Some I can’t see with my aged eyes, because they are so small.

A Closer Look at Springfield’s 911

So, let’s take a close look at the Springfield 911. First of all, as already mentioned, it is chambered in .380 ACP and has a full-recoil spring/guide set-up. It also has very usable sights– front and read. (I’ll have more on this shortly.) The gun weighs in at 12.6 ounces, so it is a very light-weight piece to carry all day long. The slide is stainless steel, but some models come with a black Nitride coating. There is also a loaded chamber indicator. The barrel length is a mere 2.7 inches long. Its grips are super-slime G-10 with a nice pattern that will keep the gun in your hand under recoil. The frame is 7075 T6 anodized hard coat aluminum, and there is what Springfield calls their “Octo-Grip Texture” pattern on the front strap. It’s very nice, indeed and is also on the mainspring housing as well. There is an extended ambi-thumb safety. The gun comes with one 6-rd mag that is flush fitting and one 7-rd mag that is extended.

Trigger and Slide

I wanted to mention the trigger, as noted. It pivots and is manufactured by Hogue Grips, the world famous handgun grip maker. The pivoting trigger is made out of G-10. This material was once the domain of custom knife makers for handle material. It is almost bullet proof; it’s very tough stuff. To my knowledge, Hogue is the first to use this material for a trigger. We have a slightly extended grip frame, so the speed hammer doesn’t bite the web of the hand. The slide has CNC cut reverse angles on the sides at the rear of the slide/side that allows for a sure grip with chambering a round. And then there is the massive extractor that will extract the toughest empty cases as well as chambered loaded ammo.

The Sights

As to the sights, they are sights that can be seen by the shooter. They stand out, which is excellent! The front and rear sights are produced by Ameriglo Pro-Glo. They have green Tritium on the front sight inside of a yellow luminescent circle and a tactical rack U-notch rear sight with Tritium inside of it with white luminescent circles. These sights are extremely fast to pick-up under any and all lighting conditions. These are some of the best handgun sights I’ve ever used, period!

Safety and Mags

The ambi-safety snicked on/off with authority and were not sloppy in the least. Very nice job on this, Springfield! The two magazines that came with the gun– the 6-rd mag doesn’t give the shooter a full/firm grip on the gun. I see Pearce Grip coming out with a pinky catcher mag floor plate in short order. Now, the 7-rd extended mag, this is the mag to carry in the gun. It only extends the mag ever so slightly beneath the mag well, but it is just right for a much better grip on the 911. Until such time as someone like Pearce Grip comes out with a mag pinky catcher, I would carry the slightly extended 7-rd mag in the gun and reserve the 6-rd mag as my spare mag.

Trigger Pull

Trigger pull was right at 5-lbs, not sloppy in the least, but it takes a little work to get used to it because it pivots, unlike a trigger on a 1911 that slides back and forth. Still, this is one of the absolute best triggers I’ve used on a sub-compact .380 ACP handgun. The slide stop/release and magazine release were easy to reach and manipulate, too. What’s not to like here?

Ammo For Testing

I didn’t have a huge selection of .380 ACP ammo on-hand for testing, for the simple fact that my wife and I don’t shoot a lot of .380 handguns these days. However, I feel I had a fair selection of .380 ACP to give the 911 a good work out. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their new 60-gr HoneyBadger round, their 90-gr JHP, and 100-gr FMJ. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 90-gr JHP standard pressure round, 100-gr Hard Cast FN, and their 80-gr Barnes all-copper hollow point TAC-XP +P round. This was enough different types of ammo for a fair test. In all, I fired 300-rds through the little 911 without any malfunctions. The gun was inspected and lubed at the start of my shooting, too.

Accuracy Testing

Accuracy testing was conducted at 21-feet, and this is a fair distance for a sub-compact little gun like the 911, with a sleeping bag placed over the hood of my Jeep Wrangler and used as a rest. I was easily able to keep all shots inside of two inches or less with all the ammo. There was no clear winner, when it came to accuracy. If I did my job, the bullets went where I wanted them to go. What’s not to like here?

Test Results

It would be a toss-up as to which round I would carry in the 911 for self defense. I’m very partial to the new Black Hills 60-gr HoneyBadger round, because it doesn’t depend on expansion to do the job. The solid copper bullet design does the damage. Then we have the Buffalo Bore 80-gr Barnes all-copper hollow point TAC-XP that is rated +P. It’s a very outstanding round. However, I would restrict this hot +P round to self defense use only and not use it for practice. It will accelerate wear and tear on the little 911.

Yes, Springfield Armory is late to the sub-compact .380 ACP dance, but they didn’t rush right out and produce a sub-compact, like many makers did. Some are very much like the others that are produced by other makers. Instead, Springfield took their time and really did-up the 911 right, if you ask me. And, quality never comes inexpensive. Full retail is $599 on this little 911. And they are in very short supply for the very near future, too. But it will be well worth the wait, if you can’t find one right away.


  1. Following is my view of 380 ACP, for what it is worth. If anyone can point out where I am mistaken or missed something, I would appreciate them correcting me.

    1) The only sure stopping shot is a shot to the brain — and a 380 in full metal jacket will do as well for that as a 9mm or 45 ACP at 2-7 yards.
    FBI stats indicate most gunfights occur within 7 yards.

    The brain is just as big a target as the heart.

    2) Plus body armor is becoming increasingly common and the two 45 rounds to the center of mass may not work.

    3) Admittedly, however,Precise shots are difficult under stress and in dim, confusing lighting (e.g, dark alley partially illuminated by a streetlight 20 yards away.)
    Reason why you need a flashlight — and to make sure you can see the threat well enough to testify why he was a threat justifying deadly force. PLus the LED lights temporarily blind an attacker for a moment.

    4) So it seems to me the full size service pistols –in 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP — become significantly better than the 380 mainly at ranges greater than 7 yards. Plus the Glock is better even at shorter ranges because 15 rounds are better than 6.

    5) The thing that screws up this idea is a hostile attacker who is moving/ charging at you.
    The Tueller drill showed you can be stabbed before you can shoot if the hostile has a knife and is within 7 yards.

    6) One advantage heavier metal pistols like the Walther PPK have over light polymer pistols is less recoil –which aids accuracy. The longer magazine with the curved finger ledge is better because it gives a stronger grip to prevent the pistol rotating around the web of the hand on recoil.

    7) Plus James Bond shot a helicopter out of the sky from 500 yards away with a Walther PPK in 380 ..excuse me “9mm short”. (He tried using a Glock but threw it away in disgust after firing several rounds.)

    (starting at time 0:50 )

    Don’t know if he uses hollow point or FMJ.

  2. In the 70’s when I lived in Dayton Ohio there was an incident where two women were arguing on a bus and one pulled out her 380 and shot the other one point blank to her head. The bullet bounced off her forehead and she grabbed the gun and fired point blank at the other lady hitting her in the heart killing her. Kind of an under powered round.

    1. I’m pretty sure most handgun rounds would be considered “underpowered”. I’m aware of an incident in which a person was shot in the head with a .357 magnum with the same results. We carry handguns because shotguns and ARs/AKs are tough to carry all the time without people feeling threatened. They are especially tough to carry concealed effectively. That being said, as previously discussed, even a .22short can kill. It’s all about shot placement and we shouldn’t let the exception be the rule. For that matter, there are plenty of incidents where even a rifle bullet bounces off of a head. Like I said, exception, not the rule.

    2. I’m from the Dayton Area. Still live here. I remember the story you’re talking about but my memory is bad and I’m getting it mixed up with another story from the same era. It was about an old lady too. I thought she was on a bus and shot someone with a .22, but the damage was minor. I thought I remembered something about the ammo being old, not firing right, etc. Sound familiar?

  3. My Dad (retired DC cop) told me about a woman who had been shot in the forehead with a .22, and went on to beat her attacker senseless before being arrested by the responding cops who seeing a spot of blood on her forehead thought she had been struck during the fracas and didn’t send her to the hospital until she told them she’s been shot. The bullet lodged in between the hemispheres of the brain and did no significant damage.

  4. I carry a colt 1908 in .380 in the summer time as it’s easy to conceal and feel well armed. I shoot FMJ, It’s all about shot placement. Practice, practice, practice. Good thing I like shooting!
    My particular gun was made in 1913 back when guns were still built by hand, it’s difficult to find quality like that in a new made gun.

  5. no matter what platform or caliber you choose, mindset, skills, and actual training under defense scenarios are critical.

    Just buying a gun and sticking it in a drawer is no more than a good luck charm.

  6. 380 for me is emergency use only. I have a Kahr CT380 and it is a nice little pistol and so far reliable. I don’t carry it!

    As for 1911 If I’m going to buy another it will be like what I have, 45 or 10MM

    I’m sure some folks will love the idea of a 1911 in 380 and I did handle one at the NRA convention and it was kinda cool!

  7. Shooting under real stress is hundreds of times harder than at the range. Grouping when your heart is pounding out of your chest is very difficult.

    This being said, my issue with this kind of handgun is not about he caliber, it’s about the style. I personally refuse to cary a handgun with a 1911 style safety.

    I know, I know, I just said something bad about a 1911 and here that’s like calling someone’s baby ugly. Keep yours, enjoy it. I think they look awesome. The caliber rocks. I like them. But with microsecond between life and death my choice is something else.

    1. I’ve carried a Browning HP for years. The safety is only an issue when you are not intimately familiar with it. The action of flipping the safety off as part of the draw is about as natural as I can think of. I do it without even realizing it on the draw. However, when it came time to find a more concealable handgun, I looked into quite a few and ended up rejecting most of the striker fired guns just because the didn’t feel the same when drawing the weapon. I ended up settling on the Sig P938 because it felt so similar and used the same muscle memory as the Browning HP. I can easily switch back and forth between these firearms without any issues. I suspect I would have the same feeling about SA 911 in .380. You use what you are comfortable with.
      YouTube is filled with accidents of people changing up their weapons all the time and attempting to do speed draws. I gave up that bad habit a long time ago.

      1. Like I added, harsh is to strong a word. Every firearm has its flaws. M1A safety requires you to put your finger right next to the trigger, HK91 needs gorilla hands or angles to switch the safety, ar15 has its issues, myth and fact based. To date, I have yet to find the “perfect” handgun or rifle, because sometimes I forget that’s like buying the perfect hammer. Perfect for what.

  8. Does the 911 have a magazine disconnect? I will not carry a handgun that will not let me fire a round in the chamber if the mag is missing for whatever reason.

  9. Try a Sig 938 in 9mm. Hammer fired, etc. My little .380 is almost impossible to shoot and hit anything beyond a couple of yards due to all the mentioned problems as well as me.

  10. I got shot in the foot with a .380 once…. it tickled(lmao).
    Seriously, if you live in a duplex or apartment and are worried about a home invasion and about a wall-breach then a .380 would probably fit your needs. Punching a bullet through your wall and in to your neighbors home is not good.

  11. Just some food for thought.
    I work with a retired Air Force gunner (Pavehawk) who knows and understands guns pretty well.
    He had an incident several years back where as he and his family were unpacking groceries from the car and taking them into the house (in a residential neighborhood), a homeless guy that was transiting the area decided to attack them as they entered the house. My co-worker pulled his 380 auto and shot the guy dead center in the chest. It knocked the homeless guy down, but he got up and ran away. They caught the guy later as he went to an emergency room complaining of chest pain. The bullet did not pierce the skin but left a basketball sized bruise on his chest.
    It didn’t happen because of the 380 being under-powered. It happened because the homeless guy was wearing so many layers of jackets and shirts. It is the exact same issue our troops have been complaining about in the Middle East as the terrorists also tend to wear many layers of clothing, especially in the winter months. The 9mm issued to our troops is not effective under those conditions.
    A lot to take into consideration when dealing with a split second situation that could mean life or death.
    Maybe everyone should buy a Wildey .475 – Lol! Worked for Charles Bronson!

  12. Nice Review! I see it has revitalized the 380 as a mouse gun debate. I also worked as a PI and you cannot always carry a standard size handgun. Most of us have trouble carrying a standard size handgun is the summer anyway. I have carried a 380 at times for years and still do at times however there are now some 9mm handguns like the Glock 43 that are extremely reliable and pretty darn compact but not quite as small as some 380’s. There have been stories for years about this caliber or that, not working well in a shooting, so FMJ bullets might be advisable for these smaller caliber guns.

  13. Hmm, don’t know much about the SA 911 .380, nice article. Don’t know if I would consider getting one. Although I did pick a 1911 SA Range Officer compact 9 mm a few months ago, and have 200 rds though it. I like the feel and the way it shoots. It is 1/2 inch shorter length and height wise than my .45 commander and lighter in weight. Am considering putting a laser sight on it ( like my commander ), have been using a sticky holster ( IWB ), only one I have found that will work so far. Ran across a Kimber Micro 9mm with Crimson Trace mounted on it, really like what I saw, but already have something.

Comments are closed.