NRA’s Gun of the Week – Browning .380 ACP 1911

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I’ve been following the little Black Label .380 1911 for some time now, enthralled at the idea of a lighter daily carry 1911. While some may bemoan the caliber, I am perfectly confident in its ability to do what is needed, especially from a 4.250″ barrel which puts muzzle velocities at nearly 9mm levels.

The smaller size (rated at 85% of full-size handguns) is appealing for concealment and for ease of weapons manipulation (I like to drop slide-stops versus rack slides). From there, the $670 MSRP just sweetens the pot.

We’ve requested one for review. Hopefully Browning will give us the opportunity to do so and I can see if my gun lust is well-founded or if the execution is disappointing.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Griz

    I’ve read a lot of 1911 purists say “don’t drop the slide, rack it”, I’ve seen a lot of cracked slides and frames on 1911s. Is the jarring of dropping the slide stop that much more than racking the slide? I’ve shot several 1911s and I plan on getting one, but right now I’m addicted to hi-powers.

    • hikerguy

      I hear Hi-powers are addictive. 🙂

      • Mike

        Yes, I need therapy. Is there a High Power Anonymous meeting.
        Can we have a .22 High Power?

        • Anonymoose

          You mean a Lo-Power?

          • Dave

            Ha!

      • Griz

        Yes, started with a Bulgarian “clone” and I’m saving for an Argentine, and then the real deal.

        • Mike

          One FN High power, One Browning High power, two FEG High powers, looking for an Argentinian one. No, they are not addictive.

          • Griz

            I’m closer to recovery if I can admit they are addictive…

    • Phillip Cooper

      I never put much credence into this statement. If that were true, imagine what firing the weapon and having the normal functioning of the slide would do.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Harsher than, oh say, actually firing the gun? Please. I don’t know who these “purists” are, but if they’re really that worried about damaging a 1911 from using a standard method to charge it then they should just leave it unloaded and in a display case. A standard 1911 pistol is tool and, like all tools, parts wear out if you use it frequently, so if you want to treat it like a collectible then don’t use it so much. Avoiding +P ammo helps cut down on metal fatigue a lot more than not slingshotting the slide, as will replacing a worn out main spring that has become too light. If we’re talking about a pre-WWII pistol, then it should be fired infrequently, if not retired entirely, anyway. All modern manufactured 1911s should be correctly heat treated and are not going to even notice or care how you release the slide; just keep it properly lubricated and you won’t have to baby it.

      • Bill

        I never considered not using +P ammo in a steel 1911 – is there evidence that it tears the gun up?

        • ostiariusalpha

          Not any more than +P wears parts on any gun. If you shoot your 1911 a bunch, it will wear out; shoot +P, it will wear out faster. It’s not rocket science. On a worn gun, +P is more likely to develop larger cracks in the slide and frame than SAAMI standard .45, but any ammo can do it with a high enough round count.

    • TVOrZ6dw

      The original government manual states both methods as valid. If the slide is locked back, depress the slide stop. If the slide is forward, draw it back fully and release.

  • Edeco

    If they’d do a metal frame and officially sanction +P ammo I’d be all over it. Bonus points for a 5.5 inch long slide.

    • Duray

      It’s hard to “officially” approve something that doesn’t officially exist. .SAAMI doesn’t recognize a +P rating for 380.

      • ostiariusalpha

        By “officially sanction” Edeco means that Browning should put it in writing that the pistol is rated to fire +P ammunition, that’s as official as anyone needs. And +P doesn’t require a SAAMI classification to have an industry wide general understanding of pressure ranges involved, though it wouldn’t hurt.

        • Edeco

          Yep! Yeah, I mean, it might be uncomfortable for the mfgr, but not unheard of. And in a pretty big, pretty expensive, locking gun, I think not too much to ask.

  • TechnoTriticale

    re: …enthralled at the idea of a lighter daily carry 1911.

    Lighter than what? USGI 1911? Commander? Officer? Compact? Steel? Alloy? EMP?

    When you report on it, be sure to discuss what aftermarket accessories fit (esp. lasergrips, if any), and how easy it is to get any unique replacement parts.

    Browning does have that neat 1911-22, which in the black Regal model might be an economical practice companion.

    • Specs list it at around 1lb, so very light for a 1911.

    • kipy

      I’m pretty sure I read that the 22 and 380 are the same dimensions. I have a friend with the 22 version and it feels great in the hand.

  • John Smith

    Owning the .22lr version of this, I have to say shoot it before you buy it.
    I have small hands and even for me the .22 is a little too small. There have been time where I didn’t fully engage the grips safety due to its size. It is great for plinking, the range and training new shooters but I don’t think I would carry it. The .380 has the same physical dimensions as the .22 from what I have read.

    • Flintshooter

      I have the 1911-380. I did find that a change of my normal grip made the gun function.
      (Large hands)
      After that, it’s a hitter.
      Carry the gun daily and hardly know its on me.
      Inside or outside the waist.

  • Anonymoose

    Even with “equivalent velocities” you’re still limited to the lightest 9mm boolits.

    • ostiariusalpha

      The Xtreme Penetrator bullets from Lehigh seem to do a more than adequate job in a .380 cartridge.

      • Komrad

        weirdly enough, so do Hornady XTP JHP and other brands that use the XTP projectile
        no need for plus cross sections or solid machined copper or +p pressures
        just plain old JHP will penetrate to 12″ even out of a mouse gun

        • ostiariusalpha

          The Hornady XTP 90gr bullets perform pretty adequately in Hornady Custom .380, but they just barely make that 12″ (and often don’t) which is considered minimally acceptable penetration. At the same velocities, the Xtreme Penetrator bullets will do better than 16″, and with a more substantial wound cavity.

    • Edeco

      True. I’m somewhat incredulous of the idea of over expansion as an issue (I mean, hey if the energy gets delivered) but speeding up pills with such very low sd… might not be helpful.

    • Bill

      If this held 6 or 7 9mm I’d be on it like mildew. I like the idea of a shrunken 1911, where all the geometry remains the same, or a straight blowback, as opposed to a chopped 1911, with too-short barrels and too-radical feed angles.

      And here we go with size-efficiency again ;). It “looks” about the same size as a Kahr CW9

  • They need to come out with an extended threaded barrel for suppressor use. Most 380 ammo is subsonic and would be great suppressed. The problem is that most 380 pistols are blow back which suck shooting suppressed due to how loud they are. I have yet to see one of these in the wild but I’m considering ordering one and would have already if they had an extended barrel.

  • claymore

    I would love to try one.

  • Art out West

    A female coworker of mine recently bought one of these. She brought it by (parking lot outside work) for “show and tell” with her gun loving coworkers. It seems like a really nice gun. I like it a lot. Another coworker also recently bought a very similar Browning 1911 in .22lr.
    The .380 seems like a nice defensive “lady’s gun”. If I carry something that size and weight, then I expect it to be able to handle 9mm+P. When I carry a .380, it is my P3AT which weighs nothing. For a man, this gun should be in 9mm.

  • Tom of Toms

    I need someone to tell me if the ambi-safety can be replaced with a single-side safety from another Browning mini-1911.
    Anyone?

  • Don Ward

    Color me intrigued. Can’t wait to see the article which comes out of this if TFB gets its meat hooks on one.

  • Sulaco

    Handled one in the shop and it is a real hard gun to put down. Everyone comments on the slim feel and how it would disappear IWB carry. Price caused a few coughs…

  • WPZ

    Colt already built the .380 Government Model, which is of a better size for carry that this Browning. The Mustang is the cut-down compact version of this, but the GM version is pretty small and well-suited to a tiny, low-power cartridge like the .380.
    The Browning we saw at the local gun store was dull and crude-looking, and the trigger was pretty crunchy. Plus, of course, it’s huge for a .380. Not sure we get the idea.
    And, don’t forget, it’s chambered in .380.
    Go look at a 938. Vastly superior and has at least a little power.

    • Joe

      The Government Model is absolutely outstanding, a friend has one and it’s a joy to hold.
      That said, I thing the 1911-380 is more aesthetically pleasing with its proper 1911 dimensions.

  • If I’m going to shoot .380, I’m getting a pocket gun.

  • tony

    A 9mm will soon follow,
    typical marketing strategy

  • Mike

    Held the Rock Island version today, $420 I think. Very cute pistol, would love to own/shoot one. But there are lighter, smaller carry guns. So it did not come home with me.

    • Joe

      Rock Island has a 7/8ths 1911-380, with the proper proportions?

      • Mike

        It felt “right” and I am not a 1911 fan, but it is too big for a CCW. still carry a Glock 26

  • Theo Brinkman

    Here’s my question, as someone interested in a .380 scaled down 1911.

    Just how compatible are the various options coming on the market? Is there a real chance of a broad set of aftermarket accessories for them?

    What parts can be shared between the Browning 1911-380, the Rock Island Baby Rock, the new Llama Micromax, and any other versions coming out?

    They seem superficially similar, but I haven’t been able to handle any of them, much less break them down for comparison. Maybe you guys can do that?

  • nobody

    They need to make a 7/8 scale 2011 version, I’d be all over this with a 12-14 round magazine.

  • Anon. E Maus

    Locked breech and a light chambering, even with Carpal Tunnel this gun should be easy to cycle.
    Couple that with the longer barrel and with good modern defensive ammunition, and a weak or elderly person would be very well armed with one of these.

    I’ve heard stories of people who have defaulted on .22 caliber target pistols for defense in their old age because their rheumatism prevents them from reliably operating guns they used to rely on, with distressing results when home invasions happened.

    A gun like this would be very easy to operate and actually be capable of offering some quite potent firepower.

    Also, I’ll say that these would be very nice youth-guns.