Colt brought the “pocket” M1911 concept to the market with its .380 ACP Mustang in 1983. Two decades later, M1911 manufacturers Kimber, SIG Sauer and Springfield Armory joined in, making their own pocket-size, all-metal, hammer-fired, single-action, M1911-style .380 pistols. They soon took the concept one step further—making the pistol slightly larger and chambering it in 9 mm Luger. The result is about as compact as a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun can get.
In 2019, Springfield followed this formula and announced a 9 mm Luger version of its popular 911 .380, first introduced in 2017. In the larger chambering, the 911 gains less than half an inch in overall length and less than 3 ozs. in weight relative to its .380 counterpart. But increased power comes at a price, with the 9 mm Luger cartridge producing roughly twice as much recoil as the .380 ACP.
Hogue supplies both the stocks and trigger on the 911 in G10 laminate material. The aggressive checkering on the stock panels, combined with Springfield’s “Octo-grip” texturing on the frame’s frontstrap and the mainspring housing, make for a secure grip on the small pistol. An undercut trigger guard and extended beavertail frame allow for a high grip without any fear of hammer bite.
While at first glance the 911 follows the lines of the iconic 1911, mechanically the two designs are completely different. The 911 uses an external extractor and has no grip safety (the extended beavertail is a fixed part of the frame). The action is secured by the square, SIG-style barrel hood locking into the slide’s ejection port. Internally, the action is unlocked by a fixed cam that sits below the barrel’s chamber. The trigger is also a pivoting, instead of sliding, design.
Like its .380 ACP little brother, the 9 mm Luger 911 is supplied with two magazines, a flush-mounted six-rounder and an extended seven-round box. The extended magazine is not a baseplate attached to a standard magazine, but a full-metal magazine with a wrap-around Mag Xtension on the bottom. It adds 0.6″ to the height of the handgun and affords a full-handed grip for the average shooter.
For those trained on an M1911, the 911’s manual of arms will be familiar. The single-action trigger is made safe via bilateral thumb safeties for cocked-and-locked carry. Though lacking a grip safety, the 911 adds a few safety features to the traditional M1911 design. There is a loaded-chamber indicator atop the slide that provides both visual and tactile evidence that a cartridge is chambered. With the hammer cocked and the safety engaged, the slide can be retracted to load and unload the pistol, something that cannot be said of the standard M1911. With the hammer down, the safety locks the slide closed.
On the range we tested the 911 with two reduced-recoil loads designed for subcompact carry guns, Hornady’s Critical Defense Lite and SIG’s 365 V-Crown. We also tested Winchester’s full-power NATO-spec FMJ load, and the difference in recoil was noticeable. Don’t mistake the 9 mm 911 for its .380 counterpart; being such a small, light gun, there is significantly more recoil to manage, and a stiffer action spring means it takes more effort to rack the slide.
Gone are the days of subcompact pistols with minute, monochromatic sights. The 911 features excellent Ameriglo Pro-Glo tritium night sights, with three colored dots for daytime shooting and three illuminated dots for low-light use. The single-action trigger has a slight take-up before breaking at 5 lbs., 2 ozs., followed by a short reset. Five-shot groups for all three loads evaluated averaged less than 2″ at 7 yds., which is more than adequate for a firearm of this type.
As is the company’s habit, Springfield supplies the 9 mm 911 as a turnkey package. It comes in a soft case that includes a removable (and highly functional) pocket holster. We carried the 911 in this and also in a Springfield-branded Crossbreed Supertuck IWB holster. A comfortable pocket gun, the small pistol disappears in a hip holster.
Springfield Armory offers five versions of the 911 chambered in 9 mm Luger, with options including either a black-nitrided or stainless steel slide and barrel finish, as well as G10, rubber Hogue stocks or Crimson Trace laser grip options. For those comfortable with the M1911 manual of arms but looking for a pocket-size pistol in a chambering powerful enough for confident concealed carry, the 9 mm Luger version of Springfield’s 911 fits the bill.