I have the opportunity each month to try out a different handgun—either a brand new model or an established model that are new to me—and then write a first-blush review article about it. As a one-gun guy I train exclusively with my carry pistol, so getting to shoot and review other models on a regular basis allows me to become familiar with different platforms and, essentially, survey the landscape of handguns. I enjoy this shoot-and-review process and sometimes there are unexpected rewards.
One such reward is the rare opportunity to find a fatal flaw in a firearm and warn my fellow citizens about it. Sadly, when shooting the new Springfield Armory’s 911 subcompact pistol this week, I found one of these flaws and folks need to know about it.
“This will get someone killed.”
The Springfield 911 is a new model of subcompact, hammer-fired pistol that is chambered in .380 auto. It is of the same design and dimensions as the Sig Sauer P238 (in fact my friends at a local gun range found that the magazines are interchangeable between the two models—at least they fit perfectly and feed dummy ammo—no one has tried to fire the pistols with the mags exchanged).
The Springfield 911 feels pretty good in my hand (and hands) and delivers very little recoil when shooting it. Also nice, I was able to get amazing accuracy from this little pistol…when it actually fired.
The problem arose immediately in my first string of firing. After the third shot, I got a dead trigger. After a couple of futile trigger presses, I cleared it and tried again dry. Still dead. I thought perhaps an internal component broke and called the range officer over for a look. He saw what model I was shooting and said that he knew the problem: the safety had engaged. This was a problem he had seen with every individual who had rented the gun and tried to shoot it. “This will get someone killed,” he remarked as we were both aghast, discussing the failed-self-defense implications of this design flaw. He is right. This is truly a fatal flaw.
The issue occurs in one of two ways: When shooting two-handed, the mild recoil impulse causes the meaty part of your support-hand thumb to flick the left-side safety lever up enough to engage it. The other way happens when shooting one-handed; the same recoil impulse causes the base of your trigger finger to slightly engage the right-side safety lever. I experienced the failure shooting two-handed, but not one-handed. My range-officer friend experienced the failure when shooting one-handed; I’m guessing due to his particular hand size and shape and grip.
The reason the safety lever is so easily engaged may be due in part to its location and design, but the primary culprit is the ridiculously weak toggle strength. It takes almost no pressure to move the lever from one position to the next. If it had any stiffness at all things might go differently. As it is, this is a “safety” lever that will engage or disengage at the drop of a hat. Meaning: in the frantic moment when you’re trying to save your life, your trigger will go dead and you’ll be defenseless against your attackers.
Right now my informed recommendation is DO NOT BUY. Springfield Armory needs to immediately address this fatal flaw. I highly recommend Springfield implement an immediate recall of the pistol and redesign of the component.