March 19th, 2018

The 85% Scale 1911-380 — What Would J.M. Browning Think?

Browning 1911-390 Black lable .380 acp 1911 pistol

The classic John Moses Browning-designed Model 1911 pistol was created for the .45 ACP cartridge. Many believe the M1911 represents the pinnacle of .45 ACP pistol performance. The 1911 has served the nation in combat, and even today, full-size, hot-rod model 1911-type pistols dominate the top classes at action pistol shooting competitions (though typically shooting smaller caliber cartridges).

Which raises the question — does it make sense to shoot a down-sized .1911-type pistol with a smaller, lighter-recoiling cartridge? Browning, the company named after genius inventor J.M. Browning, thinks so. In 2014, Browning introduced an 85%-scale version of the 1911 that shoots the .380 ACP, another cartridge that Mr. Browning favored. What happens when the Model 1911 is reduced to 85 percent of its original size and paired with the .380 ACP cartridge?

WATCH: Check Out This Cool Animation to See How the 1911-380 Works:

This gun, with its polymer composite frame, is a LOT lighter than an all-steel 1911. The Browning 1911-380 tips the scales at a mere 17.5 ounces. Gun reviewers have praised Browning’s new 1911-380, saying that it functions great and fits well in the hand. NRA America’s 1st Freedom Editor Frank Winn states: “This is precisely where the [1911-380] Black Label .380 ACP excels so dramatically — as a transitional pistol. The 85-percent scaling caters to those with smaller hands and less grip strength. In every test we conducted, on paper, on steel (plates to 35 yards), and through defensive and competitive drills, the Black Label performed flawlessly.” Testers have praised the pointability and function of the down-sized 1911. It operates like a full-sized 1911*, and the “take-down” procedure is the same. This video shows the features of Browning’s 1911-380.

To be honest, we think this is sort of sacrilege. We like the full-size 1911 and we love the original .45 ACP cartridge. That classic fat round is accurate, easy-to-reload, and makes nice big holes in paper. One could also ask, if you want to shoot a .380 ACP, why not shoot it from another J.M. Browning design, the lovely little Model 1908. This beautiful design also served the U.S. Military, and it’s still one of the best-looking semi-auto pistols ever made. The NRA’s Frank Winn notes: “A revamped Browning design (based on the Colt M1903 “Pocket Hammerless”) became the M1908, the first mature, successful .380 ACP handgun. In 42 years of manufacture, several hundred thousand were sold.”

J.M. Browning 1908 Pocket Hammerless .380 ACP

So, much as we applaud innovation, we’ll stick to the original, full-size 1911. If we want to shoot the little .380 ACP cartridge, we’ll do so with J.M. Browning’s lovely little M1908, or another great .380 ACP pistol, the Sig P230/232. This editor owns a sweet Sig P230 in stainless. It is thin, handsome, durable, and easy to carry. It’s also an appreciating asset.


* The Browning 1911-380 has one main functional difference — it has a magazine disconnect. this means “with the magazine removed, the hammer won’t fall, even with all safeties disengaged”. LINK.

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April 8th, 2015

Engraved Colt Woodsman — Blued Beauty by J.M. Browning

With today’s plastic-framed Glocks and Keltecs, aesthetics have been sacrificed on the altar of functionality. Not so in the early 20th century — in that period, the best firearm designers created guns that looked as good as they worked. One example is the classic Colt Woodsman. This design came from the legendary John Moses Browning and was later refined by Colt before the pistol’s introduction in 1915. The Colt Woodsman’s frame design evolved over time in three distinct series: Series One 1915–1947, Series Two 1947–1955, and Series Three 1955–1977. Shown below is a stunning Carbonia-blued and engraved Third Series model with ivory grips.

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Accurateshooter.com john moses browning engraved colt woodsmand series three third NRA museum
Photo courtesy NRA Museum

Engraved Colt Woodsman from NRA Museum
In the NRA Museum’s Robert E. Petersen Gallery are many fine engraved arms. This Colt Woodsman .22 pistol is one of the Third Series guns that were made until 1977. Heavy barrels in either 4.5 or 6 inch lengths were offered in this variation. The Museum’s staff says: “We think the poised golden rattlesnake near the serial number is the [best] embellishment without putting down in any way the ivory grip panels or gold outline inlays.”

AccurateShooter NRA Museum Teddy RooseveltYou can see this lovely Colt and countless other fine firearms at the NRA Museum in Fairfax, Virginia. The Museum is open every day from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, and admission is free.

Now through April 20, 2015, the Museum hosts a Theodore Roosevelt exhibit: “The Trappings of an Icon”. This includes Roosevelt memorabilia on loan from Sagamore Hill National Historic Site.

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February 25th, 2015

Fabrique Nationale (FN) Featured on American Rifleman TV

Fabrique Nationale d'herstal FN Herstal TV NRATonight American Rifleman TV visits Herstal, Belgium, to examine the rich heritage of Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (FN Herstal), a company originally founded in 1889 to produce one gun — the Belgian Mauser. FN Herstal has now been producing firearms for more than 125 years, including iconic designs of John Moses Browning. FN Herstal’s firearms are now used by the armed forces of over 100 nations.

The FN Herstal episode (on the Outdoor Channel) is previewed in this video starting at 00:30. You may learn some surprising facts. Did you know that FN’s factories also produced bicycles, cars, trucks and motorcycles?

Preview Fabrique Nationale Episode on American Rifle Television

Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (aka FN Herstal) is a major firearms manufacturer located in Herstal, Belgium. This enterprise is currently the largest exporter of military small arms in Europe. Firearms manufactured by FN Herstal include the Browning Hi-Power pistol, Five-seven pistol, FAL rifle, FNC rifle, F2000 rifle, P90 submachine gun, M2 Browning machine gun, MAG machine gun, and Minimi machine gun.

History of Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal
FN Herstal originated in the small city of Herstal, near Liège. The Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (French for National Factory of Weapons of War) was established in 1889 to manufacture 150,000 Mauser Model 1889 rifles ordered by the Belgian Government. FN was co-founded by the major arms makers of the Liège region, with Henri Pieper of Anciens Etablissements Pieper being the driving force and the primary shareholder of the new company. In 1897 the company entered into a long-lasting relationship with American Gun Designer John Moses Browning.

Fabrique Nationale d'herstal FN Herstal TV NRA

American gun designer John Moses Browning did the preliminary design work for the Browning GP35 ‘High Power’ (sometimes written as Hi-Power) pistol, the GP standing for Grande Puissance or “high power” in French. However, the weapon was finalized by Dieudonné Saive and did not appear until nearly a decade after Browning’s death.

Fabrique Nationale d'herstal FN Herstal TV NRA

The American Connection — Winchester and Browning
FN Herstal is a subsidiary of the Belgian Herstal Group, which also owns U.S. Repeating Arms Company (Winchester) and Browning Arms Company. FN Herstal is the parent company of two United States entities: FN Manufacturing and FNH USA. FN Manufacturing in Columbia, SC, is the manufacturing branch of FN Herstal in the United States, producing firearms such as the M249 and M240 machine guns and M16 rifle, among others. FNH USA, located in McLean, VA, is the American sales and marketing branch of FN Herstal.

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