Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4
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As has been demonstrated time and again, the genius of John Moses Browning’s 1911 design knows no bounds. Which is why it’s still so popular with shooters and concealed carriers over a century later. One of the only drawbacks, though, is the size and weight of a full-size .45. That’s just more gun than most carriers are willing to tote on a daily basis. Hence the increased popularity of shorter-barrel guns in calibers as small as .380 ACP.

Their lighter weight and slightly slimmer profiles have made 9mm 1911-style guns uber-popular with concealed carriers. Which is why Springfield’s 911 EMP 4 Concealed Carry Contour 9MM (yes, that’s quite a mouthful) such an attractive package. Given that long moniker, we’ll just refer to it here as the EMP4.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

The EMP4’s two-tone design features a satin finish steel slide over matte black aluminum frame. That keeps the gun’s weight down for maximum concealed carry comfort. It’s about a half pound lighter than most standard .45 ACP 1911 pistols, but feels even lighter.

That frame’s also remarkably slim. While the slide measures just over an inch wide (the ambidextrous safeties add to that). the frame is a mere .92″ thick.

Another plus: Springfield packs the EMP4 with three nine-round magazines.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

The EMP4’s stainless steel slide has cleanly cut rear slide serrations and racks easily. Springfield went heavy on the branding on both sides, prominently engraving the gun’s model number, brand and caliber. That’s a bit much for our tastes, but most buyers won’t mind.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

They’ll probably forget all about that billboard-style slide up above when they wrap five fingers around the gun. The EMP4 features a deeply divoted G10 grip design. Those grip panels may look like a palm shredders, but, in fact, they’re quite comfortable and easy to shoot while providing a firm, sure grip, even when wet. The same pattern’s continued on the gun’s front strap and mainspring housing.

The pistol’s slim enough that even small-handed shooters will be able to reach the EMP4’s magazine release with little or no grip shifting and mags drop free as they should for quick reloads.

But what really makes the gun rest comfortably in the hand is the EMP4’s bobtail design which is both easy on the hand and reduces printing slightly more than a 1911’s traditional squared off design. That extended beavertail is a plus, too.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

The gun’s skeletonized aluminum trigger (the hammer’s skeletonized too, BTW) continues the pistol’s two-tone color scheme and looks good.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

We couldn’t get our hands on an official test model of the EMP4, so we borrowed one. Note that our gun’s front sight was missing the orange front fiber optic tube. Happily, that didn’t reduce the pistol’s accuracy at all. Springfield chose a two-dot Novak-style ramped battle sight for the aft end.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

The sight picture is excellent and easy to acquire, but the rear sight is sloped too much to reliably use to rack against a belt or other hard surface if you have to run the gun one-handed.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

The EMP4 we tested had a characteristically clean-breaking 1911-style trigger, This one touched off at just over five pounds with the quick re-set you’d expect.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

Springfield chose a bushingless match grade bull barrel for the EMP4 with a full-length guide rod.

We tested the EMP4 with a variety of range and personal defense loads. Our gun had been shot extensively before we got it and was in need of a good cleaning, but we intentionally shot it filthy. The result – nothing we did could make the gun gag. It reliably fed and ejected everything we put through it.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4" Concealed Carry Contour 9MM

And given its intended use as a concealed carry pistol, the EMP4 proved more than accurate enough at self-defense distances. Plus we coaxed a 2.5-inch five-shot group out of her while braced at 25 yards.

This isn’t an inexpensive gun. But with the…here goes…EMP 4″ Concealed Carry Contour 9mm (whew!), Springfield’s put together a very attractive concealed carry option for those who prefer a lighter weight pistol that lets them carry cocked and locked, with all the safety features an 1911 affords.

Specifications: Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4 9mm

Action: Single-Action
Caliber: 9mm
Slide: Stainless steel
Frame: Forged aluminum alloy, black hardcoat anodized
Grip Panels: Textured G-10
Front Sight: Fiber optic
Rear Sight: White Dot Low Profile Combat
Barrel Length: 4″ match grade bull barrel
Overall Length: 7.5″
Height: 5.5″
Slide Width: 0.92″
Grip Width: 1.15″
Weight: 30.5 oz. empty
Capacity: 9+1 Rounds
MSRP: $1,220 (retail is about $975)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * * * *
Some graybeards will object because a 1911 is supposed to be blued steel and cocobolo. Right? We beg to differ. The EMP4’s silver and black two-tone color scheme works well no matter what you’re wearing. But we could do without the billboard-sized branding on the slide.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
The EMP4’s slim profile and light weight make it an easy shooter and even easier to carry. Lefties will appreciate the fully ambidextrous thumb safety. The big plus, though, is that bobtail grip and rounded mainspring housing which feel just right in your hand (left or right).

Reliability: * * * * *
We shot this gun filthy dirty and experienced precisely zero problems with either range ammo of FMJ. You can (and probably should) rely on the EMP4 as an everyday carry gun.

Customize This: * * * *
Not quite as many as a standard government-size .45, but there are plenty of options out there should you want to make the sights, trigger, or grip your own.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
There are few semi-autos that carry as comfortably as JMB’s 1911, no matter what size or configuration you’re talking about. The EMP4 shaves about a half pound off the weight of a full-size .45 and gives you 9+1 rounds of 9mm deterrence. Plus it’s just plain fun to shoot. If you’re of the 1911 carry persuasion, the Springfield EMP4 is well worth your time and attention.

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  1. I’ve wanted the original EMP for years, and it is even on the California Roster (I doubt this one will make it because it will qualify as a “new” gun). It has an excellent reputation for reliability, is small. light, and accurate. I’ve just chocked on the price; even after all these years, you rarely see one for under $1100 , and then , not much under that.

  2. While I only own a .22 plinker, other calibers are attractive. The local shooting gallery rents guns, and that always presents a problem – what do I want next? We are fortunate the range has both regular 1911s available, and the regular old EMP3. Really like the EMP3 in 9mm, but it isn’t 1911 compatible in all respects. That just stops me from giving serious thought to buying the Springfield. But maybe compatibility isn’t a real “thing”. Which just keeps the decision to move up from .22 at bay. (plus, aren’t we boycotting Springfield…and Remington, and S&W, and….)

    So many interesting guns, so little money, and so little time.

  3. A very appealing conceald carry handgun. However, it is inconceivable that Springfield Armory would equip a concealed carry gun with those huge “gas pedal” safety levers!

    • It has a good trigger, which pretty much all striker fired poly guns lack. That, and it actually looks good, unlike Glocks.

      The better question would be “why a 1911 when Sigs exist?”

      • Oh it’s pretty, but 30+ ounces is not “light.” Nothing wrong with a few extra ounces if you like a small 1911, but its not small, and it’s not light compared to a polymer Kahr or many other choices.

        • He’s almost not wrong though.
          Glocks are pretty terrible. Mine goes bang every time, and probably always will. But it’s not the most comfortable gun to shoot, and the trigger is trash.

          Glocksuckers are as bad as 1911 fudds. Change my mind.

        • Comfort is highly relative. I’ve never owned a glock but when I put one in my hand and fired it, it fit like it was just meant to be there. Trigger’s not good but then again it’s a striker-fired DA.

  4. I would want to shoot a box of ammo or two with it. I have a Springfield 1911 made in the early 90s that I can shoot well. Just a bit heavy to CC all the time, mostly winter time CC.

    ..But the price point! Ugh!! This EMP looks very nice but would need to be super accurate out of the box for me to consider as a daily carry.

    Glock 19 Gen5 ..roughly $600 plus or minus.

    just sayin..

    • Yep. And a Mercedes C300 costs more than a Toyota Camry. Both will get you where you need to go.

      I got nothing against Glocks, or Toyotas. But sometimes there’s a reason things cost as much as they do.

      • So you’re comparing a Springfield pistol to a Mercedes car? What, do you have rocks in your head. That POS should be compared to a 1986 Ford F150. Lmfao.

        • Any auto comparisons would be imperfect.

          The EMP series has a lot of “standard” upgrades compared to their GI or even RO series.

    • Except for the short sight radius, inferior trigger, the bad ergonomics of a pocket pistol and worse recoil it’s much better because it has three more rounds. The P365 and EMP4/G-19 sized pistols are not substitutes. You carry them for different reasons.

      I got one to replace my BHP when it went out of production. It is an excellent carry gun if you prefer something larger for EDC.

  5. no mention of the emp’s “short action”….hmmm?
    the range officer champion has got the traditional action, it ain’t wearing stainless or the bob tail and can be had for close to half…
    another great 9mm 1911 carry gun.
    my 2 cents

    • “short action” refers to the fact that the pistol was designed shorter (front to back) than a .45ACP 1911.

      It was originally designed for the .45 Gap. When that sunk they made it for 9mm and .40 S&W. These pistols can’t be rechambered for 45 ACP.

      That’s why the grip is so nice!

  6. I have to keep reminding myself, that when all is said and done, basically, what we are talking about here are tools. Even after a righteous shoot, they impound ALL of the evidence. I’d just rather give up a used Glock, is all. It wouldn’t matter if it came back to me a year later with some new dings and scratches. I can’t say I’d feel the same way…no, I wouldn’t like that situation at all. -30-

  7. I wanted a 9mm EMP very badly. The companies actions in Ill. meant that I was hesitant, the attitude of their people wen I asked them about it at the NRA convention settled it. I hope they go bankrupt and lose the business.

  8. This is a sweet 9mm 1911. It fits my hand perfectly. It carrys and conceals well. Very accurate with 135gr HP handloads. Great looking and great shooting gun.

  9. Great carry piece (for the last 18 months), but it is like owning a BringMoreWallet.

    Parts are proprietary, and expensive. Expensive to buy, but probably good residual resale value, but how well it holds, shoots, carries! The Ultimate Shooting Machine /snark.

    The safety’s are rudder pedals, and I’ve swiped it off accidentally twice by coat or sleeve (Yaqui slide holster).

    Most comfortable grip of anything I’ve owned, and I wouldn’t look at another 1911 that isn’t bobcut. The usual great 1911 trigger. More accurate than it needs to be, more accurate than any other pistol I’ve owned (S&W Perf Center revolver excluded). Slide is glare-y and billboard, but that can be Ceracoted away.

    It would be a shame to scratch, damage, or lose it compared to a cheaper GlockHKWaltherSig, but then again, BMW’s are considered “aspirational” purchases as compared to a Beige Corolla.

  10. It looks pretty bad for a 1911 style handgun. The finish is questionable imo. Even with an MSRP that would be considered cheap in the 1911 universe, I would be expecting something better looking.

  11. Or buy a Kimber Micro 9 and get a better, smaller, lighter package for less money.
    Sure, you’ll only have 7+1 but it only takes 1 or 2, depending on shot placement.

  12. Has Springfield apologized sufficiently enough for their transgressions that I can buy one of these with a clear conscience?

  13. Nice gun but for that coin you can buy any number of high end 1911 pistols without the decisions of the company on your conscience.

  14. Love my EMP. The original 3″. It shoots lights out. The finish is great on mine and it has seen a thousand rounds easy. The trigicon sights are nice. It’s my dress up Sunday’s best gun. My workday gun is the LC9s.
    I have the G10 grips and they are a bit thicker than the cocobolo wood ones.
    I traded for it years ago before the shananegins(sp) , so I don’t have any attachment to S.A.

  15. I’ve heard that 17 internal parts were re-sized or re-dimensioned. So far I’ve replaced the sear, disconnector, and mag release, with standard-sized 1911 parts. Only the trigger hasn’t been changed as the stirrup is shorter than standard. My short trigger finger would love a shorter trigger though. The thumb safety was replaced with a Gunsite low mount safety to accommodate my short thumb as well. My point is so far standard sized 1911 parts have been fitted into my EMP4, only requiring final fit and stoning. Only the trigger has resisted replacement! A good, safe trigger job cut the trigger pull to 3 pounds with no creep or overtravel. Superb pistol indeed!

    • Alien Gear cloak tuck 3.5 IWB works great for me with this gun. It is my edc and has been for about a year. I love the gun and the holster!

  16. All my handguns shoot 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 inch groups with my handloads at 25 yards. The EMP4 shoots 6 inch plus groups at that distance with every load I have tried. What is wrong with this pistol? Nice looking gun, however I can’t get it to shoot. Any suggestions? Thank You.


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