Some years back, I did a review of the (then new) Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP) 9mm handgun. It was quite a little powerhouse to be sure. However, the gun under review in this article is a different model: I elected to test the slightly bigger model – but it is still a small 1911, and perfectly-sized for the 9mm round.
For a lot of years, many 1911 makers produced some of their 1911 handguns in 9mm as well as .45 ACP – and a number of other calibers as well. I always wondered by the guns in 9mm weren’t reduced in size, to match the 9mm round. Well, their idea was simply to reduce the size from full-sized 5-inch Government model to the slightly smaller Commander and Officer sized guns – however, they were still big guns for the 9mm round. I’ve owned a good number of 1911s chambered in 9mm and there wasn’t anything “wrong” with them – other than that they were still too big, in my opinion.
Springfield did some engineering magic and reduced the size of several parts, and made them around 15% smaller, and this resulted in a 1911 that is very much reduced in many areas. The forged frame and slide along with the barrel, firing pin, firing pin spring, extractor, ejector, trigger, plunger tube, plunger tube assembly, grips and mags are all proprietary to the EMP line of 1911 – making them the smallest 1911s on the market. Yes, I know, that there are some smaller 1911 (types) of handguns that might be smaller, but they aren’t true 1911s – plain and simple. The New EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol) from Springfield comes in two sizes, one with a 3-inch barrel and the other in a 4-inch barrel. I tested the 4-inch barrel version for this article.
These two newest versions have a highly blue slide and brushed aluminum forged frames. The frame has a Cerakote finish that is very attractive. The barrel is a bull barrel – very heavy, that is match-grade, and has a supported ramp. The front sight is a red fiber optic type, very fast to pick up under combat conditions. The rear sights is a tactical rack version with two white dots. The recoil system is a flat wire full-length version. The wood grips are very nice looking to say the least, partially checkered and partially smooth. The gun comes with just one 10-round magazine – my only complaint. Empty, the gun only weighs 27.5 ounces.
The Ronin EMP version is one of the tightest 1911s that I’ve ever worked with. However, it is still easy enough to take down for cleaning. We have a G-10 match grade trigger, that breaks at 4.5-pounds. A combat style hammer, and a beavertail grip safety that is perfectly timed. The single-side grip safety snicks on/off with authority. A flat main spring housing is checkered. The grip’s front strap is smooth, and I applied a piece of skateboard tape to help keep the gun tightly in-hand under any weather conditions.
A word on the magazine: This pistol will not accpt those made for any other 9mm 1911 handguns. It will only accept the EMP magazines. The price for spares is only $25 each. Still, I would have liked to see this gun come with two mags instead of just one. The mags are made by Mec-Gar in Italy and they manufacture mags for many gun makers.
The blued slide had angled serrations on the rear (sides) of the slide for a sure grip when chambering a round. The grip safety, is perfectly fitted as well. The ejection port is flared and lowered to aid in sure ejections of spent brass, as well as any loaded rounds you want to clear from the pistol. The match-grade ramped barrel – once again, perfectly fitted – no movement at all. The nice-looking wood grips are thin grips and they feel great in the hand. The magazine release is standard length – a slightly extended one would be nice, even though it is easy enough to reach to eject the mag.
I carried this EMP in a black pancake holster from Craft Holsters for more than two weeks and the gun rode nice and high on my hip, and no one could spot that I was carrying with a jacket as my covering garment. I elected for the open top holster, instead of one with a suicide strap, for a faster draw. The holster was perfectly molded to fit the gun – I expected no less from Craft Holsters – they are producing some outstanding holsters are reasonable prices.
Many may scoff at a 9mm that “only” holds 10+1 rounds, especially with all the high capacity 9mm pistols in the world today. However, I cut my teeth on a 1911 handgun, and I can shoot them faster and much more accurately than any other handguns. Nothing wrong with high-capacity 9mm handguns, I own more than I should. I love my Glocks and other Springfield striker-fired handguns. Its just that, the single-action 1911 can be fired much faster and a lot more accurately in my hands than anything else. Just comes from my more than 55-years around firearms.
Like many students of the gun, I’m constantly playing the “what if” game – I’m sure many of you do it yourselves. You put yourself in different scenarios, and then you play it out in your mind, as to how you will respond – or if you should respond. Having worked in public and private law enforcement, I try to figure out how I will respond to certain scenarios. One is a hostage rescue among others. I would arm myself with a good ol’ 1911, with plenty of spare magazines and go and do what needed to be done. I’ve made a lifetime study of SWAT and hostage rescue and how I would respond.
There are several situations that come to mind, one is the terrorist attack on the hotel in Mumbai, India that lasted for several days. The head of their anti-terrorism team, was shot dead on the very first day of the incident – matter of fact, he was killed in the opening hours. I followed this attack on television as best I could. I saw a goodly number of the local police and the anti-terrorism team members carrying Lee Enfield, bolt-action rifles, and a variety of “ancient” type handguns. It is next to impossible to move from room-to-room with a long rifle. And let’s not forget there were attacks in several different areas of Mumbai…some of the military or police simply threw down their weapons and ran.
Many of the Mumbai terrorists were armed with AK-47s of some sort – no match or under-trained or not trained law enforcement or military with the wrong weapons. I would arm myself, with a good 1911 and start my building clearing routine. I know I would be outgunned. However, I also know I’m better trained. I just have all the confidence in the world with a 1911 in-hand.
My Shooting Tests
I had a decent selection of 9mm ammo from Black Hills Ammunition www.black-hills.com for testing this new gun. After it was inspected and lubed, I headed to the range with 115-gr FMJ, 115-gr JHP, 115-gr JHP+P and a very limited supply of 100-gr HoneyBadger +P. I had zero malfunction in my testing, and I put close to 200-rds down range – more than I shoot these days in the ammo drought. Every round of ammo is precious to me.
For accuracy testing, I placed a paper target out to 25-yards, a fair enough distance for self-defense use. No rounds were more than 3-inches – that is a 5-shot group. I fired the little EMP over a rolled-up sleeping bag, over a big boulder. I had one group that was 2.5-inches – and that was the115gr JHP load – I was hoping the HoneyBadger would do better – it as close though.
I did fire a few rounds of Blazer 9mmFMJ through the gun – this load isn’t always reliable in many 9mm handguns I’ve fired it through – failures to sully eject and or feed. But the little EMP Ronin had no problems with this ammo.
I took some pot shots are some big rocks out to 75-yards and I hit those rocks nearly every time. If I missed, it was my fault – not the gun’s fault. I also took aim at some fallen tree branches and hit them without any problems – again, out to 75-yards.
This gun is a keeper, and my wife gifted it to me for Christmas and she’ll be paying Springfield Armory for it. I couldn’t ask for a better present than that. Full retail on this gun is $899 and that is a bargain if you ask me. I’ve had some spendy 1911s over the years, that cost double what this gun sells for, and none were any better than this one – not in the least. I demand accuracy and reliability in any guns – if they don’t have it – I’m not interested in them. Check one out – if you can find it.