Nope, that’s not a typo, I’m sure many believe I meant to type “1911” – such is not the case…this is Springfield Armory’s new 9mm sub-compact handgun, that looks much like a Model 1911. Albeit one that was washed and tossed in the dryer, and it shrunk down to a tiny size. Last year, Springfield came out with the 911 in .380 ACP, and it was an instant hit with concealed carriers all over the country. So, the folks at Springfield did some re-engineering, and produced a version in 9mm, and it is only ever-so-slightly-bigger than the .380 ACP version.
The older I get, the smarter, or wiser I get – at least I think I’m getting wiser. I’ve been packing handguns for almost 50 years, and as I age (not gracefully, I might add) I find I don’t want to pack any more weight on my hip, than I already carry. However, I still want to be adequately protected with whatever handgun I’m packing, and that also means carrying at least one spare magazine with whatever gun I’m carrying. I do pack a .380 ACP only as a back-up to whatever handgun I’m packing. I used to carry a .380 ACP as my one and only self-defense piece. But my personal belief is that, the .380 ACP just isn’t a real man stopper round – even with today’s modern bullets. So I consider the .380 ACP meant for back-up only. My main handgun is something in 9mm or bigger – simple as that.
Now, there are plenty of small, very small handguns in 9mm, as well as compact, and full-sized guns, and there is nothing wrong with carrying them. However, for me, I want “enough gun” to get the job done, without carrying too much weight on my belt. For a lot of years, I packed a full-sized 1911, then moved down to a “Commander-sized” 1911 as well as the “Officers-sized” 1911. I also packed quite a few full-sized 9mm handguns when working in private security, a private investigator or in law enforcement. But those days are behind me, and I don’t always feel the need to carry more gun that I believe I’ll need. I assess my threats, whenever I leave my house – most of the time, I leave a big gun at home, unless I’m going into a bad area, or a big city. If that is the case then I pack more handgun and extra ammo on my hip. I don’t plan on getting into a running gun battle with a biker gang, nor do I see myself chasing down a squad of terrorists, so I dress accordingly, when it comes to handguns.
There’s a lot to like in the Springfield 911, in 9mm, so best get to it. First of all, this little gun only weighs-in at 15.3-oz – we are talking a lightweight 9mm no matter how you look at it. There are several versions, and the one I requested has a brushed stainless steel slide – others have a stainless steel slide but it is coated in black Nitride for a stealth look. We have three dot night sights on the slide, and the front night sight is big and bold, easy to see in daylight as well as in low-light. In bright sunlight, the front sight glows bright green – very fast to pick-up. The front of the rear sight, is squared-off, so if need be, you can press the rear sight against your pants belt to cycle the slide and chamber a round, one-handed – excellent.
The recoil spring is made out of flat wire, so it fits in there perfectly, instead of a round recoil spring. The guide rod is full-length and captured. The gun comes with a slightly extended ambidextrous thumb safety, that snicks on/off with authority and is easy to manipulate. The slide has angled serrations on the rear, on each side of the slide for easy chambering of a round. The stainless steel barrel is 3-inches long, about as short as you want to go, for reliable functioning. The magazine release is easy to hit with the thumb as well.
The frame is anodized black aluminum, for a very stealthy look. The trigger is unique, and deserves special mention: I’ve been testing and reviewing knives for close to 30-years, and discovered the benefits of G-10 for handle scales, and I’ve said forever that, G-10 is about bulletproof – very tough stuff. Well, the trigger on the 911 is made by Hogue – the famous handgun grip maker and this trigger is made out of black G-10. Speaking of the trigger, the pull breaks right at 5.5 pounds on my sample – an outstanding trigger pull. However, unlike an original 1911, the trigger pivots on the 911, instead of sliding back and forth.
The height of the 911 is only 3.9-inches and overall length is 5.9-inches. The gun is only about 1-inch thick/wide. There is a beaver-tail on the frame, but it doesn’t move, it is part of the frame and it is there to protect the web of your shooting hand from hammer bite. The hammer is of the “combat” type, and nicely configured. The grips are ultra-thin and made out of G-10. On my sample the grips are nicely grooved for a sure hold under any weather circumstances, and they are black/white – the contrast in the colors is great. Other 911s come with black/green G-10 grips, also very eye-catching. The front of the grip and rear of the grip has what Springfield calls their “Octo-grip” texture pattern, and I like it – a lot!
The trigger guard isn’t quite “square” per se, but close to it, and it is large enough to get a gloved finger in there – nice touch. Many micro handguns have a trigger guard that is so small that it is difficult to get your trigger finger inside of it – without gloves, I kid you not.
Each 9mm 911 comes with two magazines, one of them is a flat base one, that holds 6 rounds that fits flush into the frame. The other one is a slightly extended 7-round magazine, that sticks out of the bottom of the frame, with a nice bumper pad on it. For my money, the 7-round magazine is the best one to use, and I ordered several spare 7-round magazines for use with this little gun. The magazines are also made in USA.
If you’re a 1911 fan like I am, the 911 will feel just like a 1911, only smaller – can’t ask for better than that, if you ask me. All the controls are familiar, too – even the slide release/slide stop. The slide stop/release is almost flush-fitting, and it takes a little effort to push it out, to break-down the gun for cleaning. But that is not a deal breaker.
On to testing this little self-defense pistol: I had a great selection of Black Hills Ammunition on hand for testing. Their HoneyBadger 100-gr +P load, that is a solid, fluted bullet, as well as their HoneyBadger 125-gr subsonic load – also a fluted solid bullet, 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ, 115-gr EXP (Xtra Power) hollow point, 124-gr JHP and their 115-gr Barnes Tac-XP +P load. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I only had their 147-gr JHP +P+ load and this hummer is hot, to say the least.
I had zero malfunctions of any type with the 911. While this little gun can handle +P ammo – but not on a steady basis – it was not designed to handle +P+ loads. I loaded one magazine with the Buffalo Bore 147-gr JHP +P+ load, and the gun functioned. This surprised me – because I’ve had some full-sized 9mm handguns that wouldn’t function with the hot +P+ loads. Why? The slide is moving back and forth fast, and oftentimes, the magazine spring isn’t strong enough to get the next round up there for the slide to pick-up an chamber. I was really impressed that this micro 9mm handled the +P+ stuff from Buffalo Bore. Then again, the magazine spring is very stout – very stout – so it got the next round up there for the slide to pick-up.
Since the 911 is a micro-compact handgun, with a 3-inch barrel, I limited my accuracy shooting to 15-yards, and I was not disappointed in the least. Needless to say, some of the hotter rounds let me know I was shooting something with some “umph” to them. But still, the 911 perked along just fine. The Buffalo Bore +P+ load – oh yeah, you knew you touched off a hot round. Now, if I did my part, I was keeping all the rounds hovering right around 2.5-inches, which not normally an easy task with a tiny pistol.
The overall winner in the accuracy department was the Black Hills 124-gr JHP load. It gave me a couple groups right at a touch over 2-inches – outstanding. But I couldn’t do that all the time. For my self-defense needs, I have the 911 stoked with the Black Hills 100-gr HoneyBadger load – even though it is a +P load, it didn’t recoil nearly as bad as some of the heavier non-+P loads. It was really pleasant to shoot this HoneyBadger load, and the other HoneyBadger 125-gr subsonic load was equally light recoiling. I just preferred the 100-gr +P HoneyBadger load – the gun just seems to function “smoother” with it – hard to explain but easy to feel, when shooting it.
In all my shooting, I put more than 300 rounds downrange, and once again, not a hint of a malfunction in the little 911. After I get a couple hundred more rounds through this gun, its going on my hip, and I’ll explain to the wife, that it is my Christmas Present – from myself.
Full-retail is $659 on this little gun, and it is a little spendy, but you are getting a lot of gun, in a little package. And keep in mind that this is a 9mm – not a .380 ACP or something even smaller. The 9mm is the most popular handgun round for self-defense – in the right bullet configuration. Springfield Armory, has not only hit a home run, they hit a grand-slam, right out of the ballpark.