Browning 1911-380 Black Label 380 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

March 5th, 2015


Click pictures for a larger version.







Ambidextrous safety levers.





Beavertail grip safety.



Extended slide lock.





Eight-round steel magazine.







The Browning 1911-380 is a dandy pistol! There, we got that out of the way first thing. Let's also go ahead and discuss the price. While not the highest-priced 380 pistol on the market, it is priced higher than several other 380 auto pistols, so if you are looking for the cheapest 380 on the market today, this is not the pistol for you. My problem is, I never did want the cheapest of anything; be it a pistol, rifle, pickup truck, or piece of beef. The MSRP on this Browning is $669.00 US, as of the date of this review.

Instead of building a "me too" type of 380 pistol, Browning dug deep into the roots of the legendary John Browning, and built their pistol to fit the cartridge. John Browning invented the 380 ACP cartridge over 100 years ago, as well as the 1911 pistol. What the Browning company has now done is to marry the two, building a scaled-down 1911 style pistol, that fits the 380 cartridge perfectly.

Some of the smaller 380 pistols on the market today, while being very easy to conceal, are not as easy to operate and to fire accurately. The Browning 1911-380 is very user-friendly. The 380 ACP cartridge is as popular today as it has ever been, with more and more people choosing to carry a concealed weapon on a daily basis. While not as powerful as the popular 9x19mm and 45 ACP cartridges, the 380 has enough power to handle the task of quickly resolving a distasteful and violent social situation, if the shooter does his or her part; meaning to put the bullets into a vital spot. The Browning 1911-380 pistol makes placing the bullet where needed much easier to do than when using a subcompact 380 pistol, for most shooters. It handles well, fires easily, and has a real set of sights on it.

The Browning 1911-380 has just enough size and weight to make this one of, if not the most user-friendly 380 pistols ever built. It is not just the size that makes the 1911-380 so easy to shoot well, as Browning had their Beretta-built BDA double-stack 380 on the market for many years. The BDA was and still is a great pistol, but to me, the 1911-380 is easier to fire accurately and quickly, and fits the average human hand much better.

The Browning 1911-380 is not just a scaled-down 1911 in appearance only, but in function as well. Instead of operating as a blowback design, as do most other 380 pistols of this size, the Browning has a locked-breech recoil-operated system, like the full-size 1911. This allows the pistol to use a much-lighter recoil spring, which makes manually operating the slide slick and easy. The little Browning also disassembles like a full-size 1911.

The frame of the Browning is a combination of aluminum where it matters, and polymer in non-stressed parts, such as the grip. The barrel, bushing, slide, and operating controls are steel, with the exception of the aluminum trigger. This combination of materials keeps the Browning lightweight, yet durable.

Specifications for the 1911-380 are listed in the chart below. Weights are listed in ounces. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull scale. Height includes sights and magazine floor plate. Maximum width is measured across the extended ambidextrous safety levers.


Chambering 380 ACP
Weight with Empty Magazine 17.4 ounces
Trigger Pull 4 pounds
Barrel Length 4.35 inches
Barrel Diameter 0.468 inch
Overall Height 4.73 inches
Overall Length 7.45 inches
Grip Width 1.06 inches
Slide Width 0.78 inch
Maximum Width 1.18 inches
Trigger Reach 2.31 inches
Magazine Capacity 8
Magazines Supplied 1
Magazine Safety Yes
Thumb Safety Ambidextrous
Grip Safety Beavertail
Sights Rear adjustable for windage
Accessory Rail No
MSRP as of March 2015 $669.00 US

I fired the 1911-380 with every brand and type of 380 ACP ammunition available to me to check for reliable function. I fired several types of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (FPS), and were recorded ten feet from the muzzle of the little Browning. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. TAC-XP and DPX are Barnes hollowpoint homogenous copper bullets. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FP is a full metal jacket flat-point bullet.  PB is Cor-Bon Pow’RBall. HC is a hard-cast flat-nose lead bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature around the thirty-seven degree Fahrenheit mark, with sixty-two percent relative humidity.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Remington JHP 102 1056
Stryker FP 95 960
Atomic JHP 90 1034
Cor-Bon JHP 90 1038
Cor-Bon PB 70 1205
Cor-Bon DPX 80 1221
Handload JHP 88 1008
Buffalo Bore JHP 90 1125
Buffalo Bore FMJ 95 946
Buffalo Bore HC 100 1026
Buffalo Bore TAC-XP +P 80 1322
Buffalo Bore JHP +P 90 1251
Buffalo Bore FMJ +P 95 1113
Buffalo Bore HC +P 100 1168
CCI Blazer Brass FMJ 95 945

The Browning 1911-380 pistol functioned flawlessly with every type of ammo tested. Every cartridge fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. However, the raw data does not tell the whole tale. It is the ease with which this pistol performs that sets it apart from the masses. The slide is very easy to operate to chamber a cartridge. The magazine loads with very little effort. The trigger pull is a perfect single-action pull. There is no long, stacking trigger pull on this weapon; just a light, crisp, short trigger pull, like a 1911, because it IS a 1911. The grip is long enough to get every finger on the pistol for easy control. Even with Plus P ammo, the pistol is easy to fire, and easy to fire accurately. The Browning also conceals very easily and comfortably, with the slide being just a hair over three-quarters of an inch thick, yet having a barrel that is long enough to squeeze more velocity from a 380 cartridge. Browning also thoughtfully put an ambidextrous safety on this pistol for those of us who shoot with the left hand. With a manual safety, grip safety, and magazine safety, the little Browning is also mechanically safer to carry than are most 380 auto pistols.

The slim little Browning 1911-380 Black Label is more than just what is revealed in the specs and the data. It is a well-built, accurate, easy-to-shoot pistol that is a cut above most of its competition, and while the price is not cheap, it is a good value, being one of the best 380 pistols ever built. The Browning 1911-380 pistol is built right, and built in the USA.

Check out this and other Browning firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Browning dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Browning 1911-380 online, click on the Gun Genie at

To order quality 380 ACP ammunition, go to,,,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.







Black Label 1911-380 (left) compared to Browning's 1911-22 (right).





Black Label 1911-380 (left) compared to full-size 45 ACP Dan Wesson Heritage 1911 (right).





Black Label 1911-380 (left) compared to Ruger LCP 380 (right).