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Honest Review: Springfield EMP 1911



If you’ve ever taken a pistol course at Renaissance Firearms Instruction, you’ve likely heard me or one of our instructors tell students to “carry what you play with.” While that isn’t always meant to be taken literally, we say it to drive home the point that when it hits the fan your fingers are going to do what your fingers already know. If you practice with a gun where the safety goes one direction, then carry a gun where it goes the other, you’re going to have some problems. As far as fun goes, many of us like to shoot 9mm 1911s, as their time-honored ergonomics and all-metal design soak up recoil without the need for compensators or pansy target loads. However, carrying a 5-inch pistol in the waistband is less than ideal. This is where guns like the Springfield EMP, or Enhanced Micro Pistol, shine–and I had a chance to put one through its paces recently for an honest review.

The EMP featured in this article comes from an extensive line that includes a variety of trim packages, including the sought-after Ronin treatment, as well as a 4-inch model for those looking for a little more sight radius. Being that I wanted the smallest possible and wanted the Ambi-safety, the state-compliant model was the one for me. In this case, the “CA legal” version wasn’t missing any of the features that the other EMP models had. In fact, it came with more magazines and a safety that can be worked from either side of the gun. It’s considered California legal solely because it’s on the state’s DOJ list, so don’t think you’re missing out on anything if you decide that you like this one best too.

Springfield built this gun to be lightweight and comfortable to carry, starting with an aluminum alloy frame. It took things as far as to skeletonize both the trigger and hammer as well. Upon first handling the EMP, I noticed that it did indeed have some heft to it but it was situated further up and out, a result of the bull barrel. Although the use of this barrel profile generally makes things more accurate, in guns like the EMP its primary purpose is to reduce muzzle flip. Conventional cocobolo grips provide the lion’s share of control, but the EMP also sports a bit of checkering on the bottom half of the backstrap to help keep the pistol at hand.

As this EMP comes with a pair of tritium night sights already installed, nothing was keeping me from heading straight to the range after picking it up. Once I hung some paper I got a feel for the controls and went ahead and measured the trigger. Using a Lyman Digital Trigger Gauge, I found that it broke at an average weight of 4 lbs, 10oz. I consider this weight to be within the ideal range for a carry pistol and isn’t too far from what a standard full-sized 1911 comes in at either. The magazine release was about as standard as they come, but it did indeed take significant pressure to activate.

That’s a tough one for me because, on one hand, it’s advantageous as it’s less likely to be knocked loose during a struggle. On the other hand it makes stressful reloads as tough as Biden forming a coherent sentence. The good news is that it’s made from conventional 1911 parts, so with a $9 spring kit I can make it however I want should I decide to keep the gun. Next, I turned my attention to the Ambi-safety selector and I found it easy to flip on or off. It gave both tactile and audible confirmation when it was engaged or disengaged. All that was left was the slide release, which I was able to operate with either my left trigger finger or my right thumb.

Using Remington 124-grain Bonded Golden Sabre ammo, I tested the EMP for both accuracy and ease of use. Seven-yard groups were tighter than I would have expected for a micro pistol, with the best five-shotters measuring as small as 1.09”, certainly meeting my minute-of-scumbag (MOS) standard for a defensive tool. Follow-up shots were rapid, and I found landing double taps on an 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper took no effort at all.

I ended my day by taking apart the EMP, which required a little more effort than usual, as it was a bushingless system. The trade-off here is that they are easier to put back together, so no foul. Examining the internals, I was able to confirm that it was a standard 70 series 1911, just as God intended, which is why the trigger feels as good as it does. In fact, the only thing that felt better was the feeling of security I had as I drove home with it tucked into an IWB holster. For more information visit







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