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  #1  
Old 10-10-2019, 02:25 PM
Harrish Harrish is offline
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A 1911 Fan Must Have ~ the Browning 1911-380

As a 1911 fan and daily-carrier, when Browning first introduced the 1911-380 and 1911-22 a few years back I was intrigued. I wasn’t sure if these were practical guns or more of a novelty. I did a little research and read any of the reviews I could about them, but the price seemed a little much for something that may be nothing more than a novelty for me. There is no question that Browning sells quality firearms, which is why Browning's are generally on the more expensive side compared to similar models from other manufacturers. For the premium you pay for a Browning firearm there is no doubt you can expect to get a gun that is very nicely machined, fit and finished.

Over the last few months I have started see what I consider to be very good deals on many of the Browning 1911 variants in both .22lr and .380 auto. When I saw I could pick up a 1911-22 for around $350, I decided it was finally time to see if one of these mini 1911 were worth adding to my collection. So, I ordered the 1911-22 pictured below. It is the Compact version of the 1911-22 with the 3.6” barrel. Mine originally came with a standard non-threaded barrel. I contacted Browning’s parts department and found out I could buy a threaded barrel directly from them for around $150 delivered. While I have many 22lr hosts for my several 22lr suppressors, I couldn’t resist being able to see how well the Browning do with a suppressor attached. Let’s just say it did well enough to inspire me to order one of the .380 auto versions of Browning’s 1911 series of pistols for around $100 more than I paid for the 22lr version.


My First Browning 1911 Purchase; a 1911-22 Compact Variant




Turned out to be one of the quieter and more accurate 22lr suppressor hosts I own




Though scaled-down to 85% of the size of the original 1911, other than the polymer-frame, the .380 version of Browning’s 1911 series is a true clone of a John Moses Browning’s iconic 1911 45acp pistol down to the internal extractor and leaf spring in the trigger system. I was very impressed that Browning stayed true to the original design because I know they could have easily cut corners and simplified the manufacturing process by using an external extractor or a simplified trigger system; but, they didn’t.

Like the 22lr model, the .380 1911 is available in two barrel lengths; the Compact has a 3.6” barrel and the Full-Size has a 4.25” barrel. I decided to go with the Full-Size model in .380.


The Browning 1911-380 Full-Size Variant that I Purchased




Though the grip of the Browning 1911 is 85% smaller than JMB’s 1911 grip, it feels great in my hand. The grip angle is 100% the same as the original, so points and handles just as naturally as its big brother. Those with smaller hands may even find that the lighter and more svelte Browning 1911 handle feels better in their hand than the original. At 18 ounces, the 1911-380 weighs about half of the typical full-sized 1911 45acp. (The .22lr version weighs a scant 11 ounces).

I suspect had Browning made these diminutive 1911s out of all steel parts (frame, grip safety, thumb safety, mainspring housing) it would probably weigh close to 30 ounces. Part of me wishes they did make an all steel version. While I have no doubt the polymer frame and the cast, MIM, and aluminum small parts are of good quality and can handle whatever stress they endure during firing; but, the 1911 purist side of me would love an all steel version. One can always dream.

Like most modern 1911 .45acp magazines, the 1911-380 magazine holds 8 rounds; though, in this case, the rounds are .380 auto. The pistol comes with two magazines from the factory. Which is a good thing because factory replacement mags are pricey with an MSRP of $45.99. Fortunately, it seems they can easily be found online in the twenty-dollar range. I paid $22 each for the few spare mags I bought when I ordered my pistol online.

The official Browning webstore not only sells spare magazines for their 1911 pistols, they have a few solid holster options, including a nice leather IWB holster, and a compact kydex OWB holster with a Tek-Loc adapter to attach the holster to your belt. I actually ordered the leather IWB holster and can attest it is a very well-made quality unit. I even had Tucker Gunleather make me one of their excellent DC-2 Holsters for it. I’m partial to the Tucker DC-2 or Cover-Up Plus for all my carry guns because it is the only IWB holster I know that is easily adjustable for BOTH Cant and Height. Most IWB holsters are only adjustable for either Cant OR Height, or neither like the Browning holster on the right in the picture below. Fortunately for me, whoever designed the Browning holster built a little bit of cant into the design, and it fits me well.


The Tucker Gunleather DC-2 IWB Holster and the Browning Factory IWB Holster




The one thing they don’t offer in the Browning webstore are replacement sights for the 1911 series of pistols. Unfortunately, no one else seems to offer replacement sights for these pistols either. The factory sights that come on the gun are actually quite nice. They are modern, all steel, three-dot combat sights. The rear sight even has a tactical ledge so you can rack the slide on any surface with an angle in case one of your hands should suddenly become unavailable. Both the front and rear sights are inserted into the slide via the dovetails that are machined into the slide; which makes sight removal and installation fairly simple. The problem is three-dot sights don’t work well for me. There are two dots too many. I personally prefer a blacked out rear sight and a fiber optic front sight on my defensive pistols. I will even settle for a tritium front sight, or a set of Straight 8s. I will never understand how the firearms industry settled on the three-dot set up as the industry standard. Bottom-line, if you like 3-dot sights, you will be very happy with the factory sights. If you prefer night sights, there is even a 1911-380 model that comes with 3-dot tritium night sights installed.

The one concern I had before shooting the 1911-380, was the same concern I have with all .380 auto pistols; what kind of recoil experience would I be in for? Straight blowback .380 pistols usually have very harsh recoil (Walther PPK), while locked-breech .380 pistols have fairly mild recoil (Glock 42). In my .380 experience, the difference between blowback and locked-breech operation is so pronounced that it’s hard to believe I’m shooting two guns in the same caliber. Since the 1911 fires from a locked-breech, and the Browning is a 1911 clone, I was hoping the recoil would be fairly tame. For me, the equation below is always true:

Less Recoil = Faster & More Accurate Follow-Up Shots

Not only did I find the recoil of the 1911-380 to be mild, it was surprisingly mild! Right after I picked up the pistol from my local FFL dealer, I took it out of the box and bag it came in, field-stripped, cleaned and lubed it in exactly the same way I clean and lube all of my 1911 pistols. I reassembled the pistol, grabbed two 50 round boxes of Remington UMC 95gr FMJ and one 25 round box of Hornady Critical Defense 95gr, and headed to the range.


I loaded up the 1911-380 magazine for the first the time and proceeded to fire the group below with the Remington UMC 95gr FMJ ammo




With a smile on my face I ejected the magazine and reloaded it with the Hornaday Critical Defense 95gr ammo and fired my second group with the Browning 1911-380




I very easily could have packed my bag after firing the first 16 rounds from the mini .380 1911 and been very satisfied with the performance of the pistol. But I continued to shoot all 125 rounds of ammo I brought with me. The super mild recoil combined with the excellent ergonomics of the 1911 design makes the 1911-380 an absolute joy to shoot. It is incredibly easy to shoot nice groups with this gun within 10 yards. All 125 rounds fired flawlessly and without incident.

I’m not a fan of very tiny guns, and fortunately the 1911-380 is not a tiny gun. In my experience, the tiny pocket .380 autos currently available on the market are unpleasant to shoot, difficult to manipulate because the controls are so small, and hard to shoot consistently well from shot to shot. As a result, they don’t make good range guns because they are not that much fun to practice with. That’s why I personally have no interest in owning a defensive pistol any smaller in size than the 1911-380.

Simply, the Browning 1911-380 is a lot of fun to shoot, it is easy to shoot well, and I know I can consistently hit what I am aiming at from shot to shot, no matter how quickly I have to pull the trigger. While I generally don’t like to carry a gun chambered in a round smaller than a 9mm, in certain situations sometimes it’s just necessary. In those situations, I would not hesitate to strap on my 1911-380 and head out the door.

I would recommend owning the Browning 1911-380 to anyone, but if you are a 1911 fan, it’s a must have. Given the good deals I see out there right now on the many variants Browning makes, definitely pick one up.



Last edited by Harrish; 10-10-2019 at 03:33 PM.
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  #2  
Old 10-10-2019, 06:21 PM
Jacobconroy75 Jacobconroy75 is offline
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Awesome. I love the suppressed .22. Might have to pick up one of them.

Does the slide lock open on the last shot?
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  #3  
Old 10-10-2019, 08:31 PM
SA1911MS SA1911MS is offline
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We have three....my wife picked up the first 1911-22...that came into our LGS....the Black Label...and when Browning announced the 1911-380....she was the first to pick one up at the same LGS....it was a match to the 22 Black Label......when the Pro series were released....I bought one for her Xmas present.....and it is now her everyday/never leave home without...CCW....the two 380s have functioned flawlessly....the 22 almost...depends on the brand of ammo....

oh BTW.....she opined.... its much easier to carry concealed than her SA Loaded....

Last edited by SA1911MS; 10-11-2019 at 12:19 PM.
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  #4  
Old 10-11-2019, 09:12 AM
Harrish Harrish is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacobconroy75 View Post
Awesome. I love the suppressed .22. Might have to pick up one of them.

Does the slide lock open on the last shot?
Sure does. Every single time.
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  #5  
Old 10-11-2019, 10:58 AM
cavelamb cavelamb is offline
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My Browning 1911-22 is one of the A1 variety - all metal frame.
It has been perfectly reliable and the accuracy surprised me.
So far, at least.
It's tempting to try to find one in the commander length.
But they aren't exactly inexpensive!


Photo was at 10 yards...
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  #6  
Old 10-11-2019, 11:18 AM
markm markm is offline
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I really wanted one of the 380's just for the novelty but the plastic frame talked me out of it. I have a couple of their 22's, one I bought by mistake, when they first came out I bought one and then later at a show I saw the commander length and bought one of those only to come home and find that's the one I had already.
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:32 AM
Harrish Harrish is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavelamb View Post
My Browning 1911-22 is one of the A1 variety - all metal frame.
It has been perfectly reliable and the accuracy surprised me.
So far, at least.
It's tempting to try to find one in the commander length.
But they aren't exactly inexpensive!
A1 variety with metal frame? They made it with a metal frame? Is it steel? Aluminum? Can you post pics? Did they make the .380 with a steel or aluminum frame as well?

Ok I just looked on GB. It seems they have an alloy frame and are only made in 22lr.

Last edited by Harrish; 10-11-2019 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 10-11-2019, 01:11 PM
Jacobconroy75 Jacobconroy75 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harrish View Post
Sure does. Every single time.
Cool. I only ask because my Kimber .22 conversion does not lock the slide back, which only lets me see how much I flinch each time I pull on an empty chamber.
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Old 10-11-2019, 02:49 PM
ejr10mm ejr10mm is offline
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I had the 22 version. I ended up selling it to fund another purchase. I think my turnbull edition ruger mk4. Anyways, it was a neat little gun. Never gave me an issue.
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Old 10-11-2019, 04:56 PM
Harrish Harrish is offline
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Originally Posted by ejr10mm View Post
I had the 22 version. I ended up selling it to fund another purchase. I think my turnbull edition ruger mk4. Anyways, it was a neat little gun. Never gave me an issue.
I have Volquartsen 22lr pistols. I will keep the 1911-22 as well. Outstanding little host, and very quiet.

The Turnbull Ruger is very nice looking for sure.
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  #11  
Old 10-12-2019, 04:40 AM
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Johnny handgun Johnny handgun is offline
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I had to have one when they first offered the 22 compact. I love full size Commanders and this is the shrunk down erosion, visually perfect.

Here is what I did not thing through. I get horrible hammer bite from full size standard a1 1911’s. First shot through the little Browning revealed even worse hammer bite. It is un-shootable for me if I use the desired grip. I readjusted my grip and thanks to the lack of recoil it was still shootable. I'm not even sure that a glove would help due to the pinching. I do not have a fat hand but that particular part of my hand is meaty.

I would be better off if my pistol had the beavertail grip safety and hammer of the 380. I just can’t justify the money of the 380 because I have 2 great Colt Mustangs, one a lightweight. They shoot great with really manageable recoil and great accuracy. I also have the Sig 938 that is similar to the Browning and fires the more powerful yet less expensive 9mm rather than the more expensive and less powerful 380. If the Browning was in 9mm it would be a must have.

Bottom line for me is I love my 22 and I won’t sell it because it is just to cool.
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:38 AM
OldBuzzard OldBuzzard is offline
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Thanks for the review. I've been contemplating the .380 for quite some time.
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Old 10-12-2019, 12:43 PM
USMM guy USMM guy is offline
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Sounds pretty good.

If I did not have a couple of the old Colt Government model 380s and a 1908 Pocket hammerless, I would likely get one. We will see going forward.
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Old 10-13-2019, 07:47 AM
Ruger45LC Ruger45LC is offline
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I've known that these exist but strangely I've never really considered one, but now my curiosity has been aroused. They seem like good guns, a bit pricey depending on the variant. I may pick one up.
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Old 10-24-2019, 10:09 AM
Xhair Xhair is offline
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Nice write-up and have looked at the Browning more than once. I too would love to have a 1911 in 380 acp, but I want it with a 4" barrel in a full size version. I feel this would allow access to a wide range of after market parts. Currently I have four 380s from Smith, Ruger, and Walther and while I shoot them occasionally, none strike my fancy enough to make it to the range on a regular basis. While I need another 380 like I need another hole in my head, I just keep hoping a full size will hit the market.
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Old 11-11-2019, 12:40 PM
Harrish Harrish is offline
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About an hour ago I got my Browning 1911-380 Slide back from Ford's Custom. The factory finish is terrible. It's a very thin black finish that just wears off. Looks like spray paint.

I couldn't live with that. So I had the slide done in Matte Hard Chrome by Ford's. I sent it in 3 weeks ago and voila! Right back on the frame where it belongs. Ford's, as always, did a beautiful job! I don't have Hard Chrome done by anyone else.

I also couldn't stand the plastic guide rod. The Glock ones never bothered me, maybe because it was part of a whole guide rod assembly, but the browning one had to go! I came across this ALL STEEL full length guide rod from ZR Tactical Solutions for the Browning 1911 series. It also comes with an Aluminum Spring Cap that replaces the plastic OEM part:

https://www.zrtacticalsolutions.com/...gth-guide-rod/

I bought the Compact ZR Tactical Solutions all STEEL Guide Rod for my Browning Compact 1911-22 and it worked beautifully. So I'm confident the full length one will work just as well for my full length 380-1911 (4.25").

I also went with the Tucker Gunleather Deep Carry 2 (DC-2) for an IWB Holster. Unlike just about every other IWB holster out there, the Tucker DC-2 is adjustable for BOTH Cant and Height! I have them for all my carry guns and LOVE This holster! Their Cover Up and Cover Up Plus are great options too if you want an all leather holster that functions just like the DC-2.

My Browning 380 with Matte Chrome Slide by Ford's Custom:




ZR Tactical Solutions Full-Length Guide Rod for the Browning 1911 Series with Full Length Slide (4.25"):






Finally my Tucker Gunleather DC-2 IWB Holster and my Gunner's Custom Holster Mag Carrier




I'm carrying it today for the heck of it. Here is what it weighs loaded with Hornaday Critical Defense .380 95 gr.


Last edited by Harrish; 11-11-2019 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 07:07 PM
exhog exhog is offline
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Browning .380

Loved the gun 3 years ago, but it was a jamomatic, and after 2 tries the factory couldn’t fix it. When it ran, it was a great shooter. Couldn’t trust it, and traded it for a G19, just for those special gun fights. Have since gone commander and full size in .45 and never looked back.
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:49 PM
nchristie nchristie is offline
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I agree COMPLETELY. I bought rather “full-size” 380 with the poly my frame, CDR hammer, beaver tail, flat MSH, no rail. LOVE it. Bought an OWB leather holster from Dave Bullard and its canted right, fits perfectly, and disappears on my belt. Offside dual mag pouch too.

Liked it SO much I bought a .22 “compact” - aluminum frame, standard hammer, arched MSH, etc. Fun to shoot but hammer bite. SO - bought the CDR hammer, beaver tail, and flat MSH. Threaded bbl too.

Did some tuning and polishing to get to 4 lbs trigger and pretty crisp.

Not crazy any the sights but may look into changing them - or may just deal with it. The steel slide 380 could probably be machined for decent sights, but the alloy 22 slide has a pinned in breech block so machining the slide could be tricky.

Like the original poster said, if you like 1911’s, you GOTTA get at least one of these. Heck, I may buy another!

CDNN is having a sale, and Browning is offering a rebate!!
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Old 12-04-2019, 08:16 PM
Harrish Harrish is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nchristie View Post
I agree COMPLETELY. I bought rather “full-size” 380 with the poly my frame, CDR hammer, beaver tail, flat MSH, no rail. LOVE it. Bought an OWB leather holster from Dave Bullard and its canted right, fits perfectly, and disappears on my belt. Offside dual mag pouch too.

Liked it SO much I bought a .22 “compact” - aluminum frame, standard hammer, arched MSH, etc. Fun to shoot but hammer bite. SO - bought the CDR hammer, beaver tail, and flat MSH. Threaded bbl too.

Did some tuning and polishing to get to 4 lbs trigger and pretty crisp.

Not crazy any the sights but may look into changing them - or may just deal with it. The steel slide 380 could probably be machined for decent sights, but the alloy 22 slide has a pinned in breech block so machining the slide could be tricky.

Like the original poster said, if you like 1911’s, you GOTTA get at least one of these. Heck, I may buy another!

CDNN is having a sale, and Browning is offering a rebate!!

Great minds think alike! We both had pretty much the exact same experience. But my 22lr has the three do sights and a poly frame. Great host!
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