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Springfield Armory EMP Compact 1911

Chambering a 1911 for 9mm cartridges is a radical move, but Springfield’s EMP is a solid, light, and accurate pistol for duty and off-duty carry.

April 01, 2007  |  by Paul Scarlata - Also by this author

Filling Your Hand

Because it was designed for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, Springfield's engineers were able to reduce the diameter and the front-to-rear dimensions of the EMP's grip frame by 0.25 and 0.125 of an inch, respectively. This might not sound like much, but when you pick up an EMP it is immediately evident. Even officers with small hands will have no trouble getting a secure grip on this compact pistol.

Other features that make the EMP a most shootable handgun are a match grade barrel with integral feed ramp, aluminum trigger with overtravel adjustment screw, a beavertail grip safety with palm swell, ambidextrous safety levers, a lowered and flared ejection port, checkered mainspring housing, and tritium night sights.

The magazines are made by the Italian firm of Mec-Gar and should be called the "niner/niner magazine," as they were designed from the ground up for the 9mm cartridge and hold nine rounds. They also feature a short finger rest extension, so even shooters with large hands can get a full, four-finger grip on the pistol.

Like all current production Springfield 1911 pistols, the EMP comes with the patented Integral Locking System. The ILS uses a small key to lock the mainspring, which prevents the hammer from being cocked and prevents the slide from being retracted.

A nice touch is the belt slide holster and dual magazine pouch that come with the pistol, both are very practical for concealed carry.

Range Time

In February, Debbie Williams of Springfield Armory was kind enough to provide me with an EMP to test for Police.

Accuracy testing was conducted from a rest, at a distance of 15 yards, the results of which are displayed on the chart below. While the pistol printed a bit to the left, this was easily rectified by drifting the rear sight. Other than that, I found the EMP's accuracy to be above par for this class of handgun. However, it showed a definite preference for lighter bullets, and groups got larger as bullet weight increased.

After chronographing the various loads, I belted on the holster and mag pouch that came with the EMP and ran it through a series of offhand drills at seven yards, firing the pistol with supported and unsupported grips. My friend Butch Simpson then repeated the process, firing a magazine each of the four brands of 9mm ammunition we had available. These "composite groups" were extremely tight and well centered. In fact, my target had 30 out of the 36 rounds expended inside of the X ring. No complaints here.

I experienced a total of one failure to feed with the first magazine of ammo I fired through the EMP. After that it ate up whatever I stuffed in the magazine and spat out the empty shells.

If you need a small, concealable pistol for duty or off-duty carry, the EMP may be just what you're looking for, especially if you like the 1911 design and you're not married to the .45 ACP cartridge. The EMP is one of the most practical launching platforms for 9mm rounds that I have seen in some time.

Paul Scarlata has served as an auxiliary police officer and is a frequent contributor to POLICE.

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