Cool, Classic, and Cute in .380 ACP
Will Dabbs MD
Photos: Sarah Dabbs
John Moses Browning’s timeless 1911 pistol in all its countless variations stands in resplendent testimony to the man’s mechanical genius. The 1911 has been tweaked, twisted, and customized unlike any other handgun design in history. Now thanks to the good folks at Armscor, the classic Browning pistol has also been miniaturized and marketed in this country under the Rock Island Armory banner. As these guys make more 1911 handguns than anyone else on the planet, we can reasonably expect their new pocket pistol to be nicely executed.
Other companies have shrunk the 1911 before. These guns are typically small caliber defensive pistols optimized for pocket use. The Baby Rock, however, is really more like an almost-scale model.
The Rock Island Armory Baby Rock .380 is shown here alongside a
full-sized Rock Island Armory .45. That they share a great deal
of common DNA is obvious.
One of many nifty aspects of the Baby Rock design is it employs
the traditional 1911 trigger riding back on rails rather than pivots.
This feature allows a nice crisp familiar single action trigger pull.
“It is Cuter than Most”
Thus was the initial opinion of my favorite 17-year-old gun photographer when first she met the new Rock Island Armory Baby Rock .380 ACP 1911. My daughter Sarah does indeed enjoy extensive experience photographing guns and her observations pretty much mirrored my own. The new Baby Rock is downright adorable.
The morphology is sort of an arithmetic mean between the warhorse 1911 and the subsequent P35 Browning High Power. The safety, slide release, grip safety, and magazine catch are all classic 1911. The toe of the magazine well sports the tiniest forward flare akin to some Spanish Star variants. The extractor is externalized and the locking mechanism employs a fixed cam like the P35 rather than the swinging link of the 1911. Unlike some other .380 ACP 1911’s on the market, everything but the grips on the Baby Rock is cut from good old-fashioned ordnance steel.
The extractor on the Baby Rock is externalized like Browning’s
P35 High Power. The no snag steel sights, grip safety and ring
hammer are miniaturized versions of those found on serious
full-sized 1911 pistols.
The sights on the Baby Rock are steel and
indestructible no-snag combat kit.
The new Baby Rock .380 ACP 1911 pistol is an almost-scale model
of the venerable 1911 service automatic. As such, the Baby Rock
shrinks all that is good and wholesome about John Moses Browning’s
classic .45 down to pocket pistol dimensions.
The Baby Rock is an accurate rendition of an otherwise customized 1911. This means there are no-snag steel combat sights, a round commander-style hammer, pleasant grey Parkerizing and charging grooves on both the front and back of the slide. The two cute little box magazines hold seven rounds and incorporate indicator holes. True to the original design, the trigger presses straight back rather than pivots. In all respects the Baby Rock is a legitimate miniaturized 1911.
The effect of hefting the Baby Rock is weird, but it’s a good sort of weird. One would think a miniaturized scale version of the 1911 would get lost in your hand and feel unnatural. However, I have pretty big hands and the Baby Rock is dimensioned such that it looks properly proportioned yet remains comfortable.
Baby Rock is a steel gun feeling and behaving like a steel gun. After the first magazine the pistol ran reliably with everything I fed it. Round-nosed ball, truncated cone bullets and several different hollowpoint designs all performed swimmingly.
The steel frame gives the gun enough heft to be comfortable without seeming portly. This same attribute tames muzzle flip and civilizes follow up shots. Zipping through a magazine then dropping the empty for a combat reload is genuinely fun. Accuracy is about what you might expect for a short-barreled .380 ACP automatic. The Baby Rock easily kept them in a pie plate at any reasonable handgun ranges so long as I did my part. That lovely 1911 single action trigger translates perfectly to this scale and readily lends itself to precise target work within the limitations of the cartridge.
The new Baby Rock from Rock Island Armory is an almost-scale
model of the classic 1911 combat pistol. Here it’s shown alongside
a scratch-built scale wooden model of the German Me-262 jet
fighter, just for fun.
The diminutive 1911 .380ACP Baby Rock is functional and cute in
comparable measure. The gun is entirely cut from ordnance steel
and is a nicely miniaturized version of John Browning’s classic.
Despite its small stature the gun still runs well in my
moderately big hands.
What’s It Really Good For?
There are lots of lighter plastic options for launching .380 ACP cartridges taking up roughly the same sort of space. For the weight you could even find a new polymer wondergun with a long creepy trigger firing more serious 9mm rounds. What the Baby Rock does uniquely well, however, is turn a .380 ACP handgun into an effective combat platform replete with a nice crisp trigger, minimal recoil, and fast tactical reloads.
I just dropped the Baby Rock in my pocket and toted it au naturel. As it is single action I naturally left the chamber empty but it doesn’t take too much talent to charge a pistol on the draw stroke. The Baby Rock is an accurate, controllable, and effective .380 defensive gun which can even be carried in Condition 1 with a proper holster. While the gun fit my big hands nicely, ladies, kids and small-statured shooters who might desire the technical sophistication of a 1911 without all the recoil can now get there as well.
To play with the Baby Rock on the range is to taste all those old Browning pocket pistols of the early 20th century — only better. The Baby Rock looks cool, feels cool and shoots cool. It will serve admirably and well as a .380 ACP utility pocket gun but remains simultaneously just cute as can be.
These groups were rendered at 30 feet using the Baby Rock as it
was intended, firing at a steady cadence off-hand with a rapid
magazine change in between.