If you’re thinking about a sub-compact, and you’re a 1911 fan, Springfield’s 911 9mm deserves your consideration.
Several sub-compact handguns modeled on the 1911 have arrived recently. Colt re-released their Mustang in .380, and there’s SIG’s P238, and Kimber’s Micro, both in .380. Springfield’s 911 in .380 joined the bunch last year. Now, SIG, Kimber, and Springfield also have 9mm models and they are all very good.
The Springfield brings a similar feature set to the SIG and the Kimber but does it for significantly less money without skimping on quality. Its all-metal construction sets it apart from many other sub-compacts.
The 911 — “nine-one-one” — is a sub-compact single-action semi-automatic pistol. It’s just 5.9″ long and 3.9″ tall and weighs less than a pound at 15.3 ounces, about a third the weight of a full-size 1911. The barrel is just 3″ long.
The frame is aluminum and the slide comes in stainless steel or with a black nitride finish. Its included magazines hold 6 and 7 rounds. It ships with a soft case, trigger lock, and a pocket holster.
What About Kimber & Sig?
Kimber upgraded their .380 Micro to 9mm, and then SIG upped the P238 to the P938. As with the .380 guns, Springfield’s 911 in 9mm is very similar.
The 911 weighs a little less than either the SIG or the Kimber, and it’s about $100 less, too. The 911’s trigger guard is squared off compared to the rounded guard on the others and offers more room for gloved fingers. The guns are all so similar, though, that the magazines are all interchangeable.
Kimber and SIG offer many more finish options — in fact, SIG even has one in their LEGION class of handguns. With time, I expect to see more options for the 911.
Included with the soft case are two magazines. One is a flush-fitting 6-round mag, and the other has an extension for 7-rounds. I have large hands and the extension allows me to get all three fingers on the grip. The magazines are stainless steel.
Extra magazines are just $24 each, which is a big deal compared with $40 and $50 for Kimber’s and SIG’s magazines, respectively. Although, Kimber does sell a 3-pack for just $70, and they have an 8-round extended mag in a 3-pack for $74, so that’s something to consider.
The slide is machined from 416 steel and comes in stainless or with a nitride finish. It tapers from bottom to top, which may account for some of the weight savings.
It’s got rear serrations that are adequate for charging. The extractor is external and stands as a black stripe on the stainless slide. The model name and brand name are machined nicely. There’s also a Springfield Armory brand in the top of the flat slide.
On top of the slide is also a loaded chamber indicator lever. There’s a carry cut at the front.
Takedown (My Only Gripe)
I don’t know if my hands are just the wrong size or if the slide needs more serrations but takedown of this gun is troublesome. The recoil spring is pretty stiff and using one hand to pull the slide back as you would on a 1911 is very difficult. Or maybe it’s because the takedown pin barely protrudes from the right side of the frame. Whatever it is, I have to use a tool to push the pin through. Maybe it’ll break in with use.
After that, it’s pretty standard. Just push the slide forward off the frame. Make sure that you don’t push the ejector tab down into the grip. You’ll have a lot of trouble if you do.
Also, take care not to push the safety lever upward past normal safe position. If you do, the springloaded detent may go flying.
It’s got a flat recoil spring and there is no barrel bushing. The guide rod has a cap that keeps the spring in place so reassembly is simple and straight forward.
Align the slide on the frame and push down the ejector that sticks up behind the slide with your fingertip until it clears the slide. Realign the slide so you can push the takedown pin through. See the video below for a demonstration
The 911’s 3″-inch barrel is made of 416R stainless steel. It’s broach rifled with a 1:16 twist.
Compared with a 1911, it lacks a barrel link. Instead, there’s a slot machined into the barrel where the takedown pin goes in and the barrel pivots when fired.
The trigger itself is surprising because it’s machined from lightweight G10. It even has lightening recesses on the sides, and the front is aggressively textured with grip striations.
The trigger pivots, unlike the 1911’s sliding trigger. On average, my unit consistently breaks at 7 pounds. It’s got a short takeup and a very short and crisp reset. There is extremely little play side to side.
7075 T6 aluminum is both strong and rigid. It makes a lightweight frame for the 911. Its rigidity also makes the recoil a little sharp, but it’s worth it for its weight savings over steel.
The back and front straps are textured with Springfield’s “octo-grip” stippling and it’s effective. The trigger guard is a large squared-off opening with room for slim gloves, and it’s undercut a little bit.
The magazine release button is steel and can be mounted on either side, but ships on the left side. The thumb safety is ambidextrous. It’s slim, but easy to manipulate with your thumb. There is no grip safety. The beavertail is adequately sized and doesn’t snag when carrying in your pocket.
The grip angle is similar to a 1911 and it points well. The scales are slim and don’t fill your hand as well as a larger gun — of course, it’s a sub-compact gun. But the slim grips keep it under 1″ thick. Rubber grips are available as well as Viridian laser grips.
Although they are slim, the Hogue G10 grips are very effective. The laminated G10 has channels machined diagonally across them with fine ridges between each channel.
At first, I thought the grips were too aggressively textured. Then I was shooting it outdoors on a cold day — the kind of day when your hands get dry and hard — and switched to another gun with less aggressive grips and I realized that those channeled G10 grips are effective.
With Pro-Glo tritium and luminescent front sight and white outlined tritium night rear sight, target acquisition is fast in bright light and low light. The rear is a U-notch and it’s got enough of a ledge that you could probably rack it on a cornered surface. Both are adjustable for windage.
Fit & Finish
The build quality on the 911 is good. The fit of all pins and buttons is tight and refined. The matte anodized finish on the frame is flawless and uniform. The G10 is all well done. Unlike a 1911 with a barrel bushing, the hole in the front of the slide for the barrel doesn’t fit tightly nor concentrically around the barrel.
The only flaw I find is that the machining for the name “911” needed one more pass down the middle to remove excess material, but I’m nit-picking. The only other thing I don’t like is the design of the takedown pin. It should have a ledge for a fingernail or a case rim to help pull it from the slide.
For a lightweight, tiny gun the 911 shoots well. Its rigid frame gives it snap with each shot, but it’s very manageable. I consistently shoot about 3″ groups at 7 yards with this gun, and I’m sure it shoots better than me. Knocking down plates at ten yards is easy.
The all-metal construction gives the 911 a solid feel in your hand. Even though it’s light and the recoil flips it a bit, it seems to come back on target easily and points naturally.
The trigger is crisp with a short and distinct reset. That makes it clear when it’s ready to fire again.
I’ve put more than 300 rounds through the 911 and have had one failure to feed. It was with flat-nose ammo. The rest of that box shot just fine, though.
I found that Winchester’s Train and Defend 147-grain low-recoil bullets were especially accurate and comfortable to shoot, which isn’t surprising. SIG’s M17 124-grain +P ammo shot well. My worst groups were with Aguila’s 124-grain FMJs.
A pocket holster is included with the 911, and I’ve been using that for concealed carry. The gun is slim and sits well in my front pocket. The holster is pretty good, too, and the pocket hook lets it draw smoothly from the pocket. I’ve been carrying it with the extended 7-round magazine and haven’t had any issues with the larger mag snagging or protruding. I’m interested to try those 8-round Kimber mags with it.
This gun is intended to be “cocked and locked.” The holster completely covers the trigger and all the way back to the rear sights. It’s cutaway so you can get a full grip up to the trigger guard before drawing. The end is open so it doesn’t get packed with pocket lint. The holster is amorphous enough that it doesn’t print too badly, either. Other slimmer holsters are out there, but the included one isn’t bad.
The Feel of Steel
If you’re looking for a pocket gun, the 911 should be on your list. It’s small and light and shoots well. There are other guns with more capacity and lighter weight, but they likely have composite frames. The 911 has a solid feel like a 1911, and fans of those venerable guns would probably like many things about carrying this all-metal firearm. It handles all kinds of ammo well, and the included pocket holster is pretty good.
Springfield’s 911 9mm is a solidly built gun. It’s well-made with high-quality materials and designed well. Its MSRP starts at $555 for rubber grips, $580 for the G10 grips shown here, and $763 with the Veridian grip laser and it is available now.
- Caliber: 9mm
- Color: Black frame, stainless or black nitride slide
- Barrel: 3″, 416R Stainless Steel, broach rifled, 1:16 twist
- Slide: 416 brushed stainless steel or black nitride finish
- Recoil system: Full-length guide rod with flat wire spring
- Frame: 7075 T6 anodized hard-coat aluminum
- Grips: G10
- Trigger: G10, 7lb pull weight
- Magazines: 6-round flush-fitting, 7-round extended
- Sights: Pro-Glo tritium and luminescent front, white outlined tritium night sight rear
- Weight: 15.3 ounces
- Length: 5.9″
- Height: 3.9″
- MSRP: $580