When it comes to options, Springfield Armory is leading the charge in listening to its customers and giving them choices. Whether the chambering, size or finish, Springfield seems to be full speed ahead on bringing products to the market that satisfy even the most discerning firearms owner.
The latest in size and chambering variants comes to us in the form of the Springfield Armory Emissary 1911 4.25” handgun in 9mm. The 9mm 4.25” Emissary comes with all the options you’ve come to love in the full-size Emissary line, but now in 9mm with the more compact barrel length of the 4.25” for those looking for a more compact, stylish defensive pistol.
If you’re not familiar with the Emissary, let’s get you up to speed. The Springfield Armory Emissary was originally offered in a full-size 5” model in .45 ACP, followed by a full-sized 9mm version along with a shorter 4.25” model in .45 ACP. Now, with the 9mm 4.25”, there is an appealing new option in the line.
As with all Springfield Armory 1911 pistols, this Emissary features a forged slide, frame and barrel for strength and durability. The slide is a custom milled “Tri-Top” design with forward lightening grooves and 40 LPI flat top serrations along the top. The serrations reduce glare off the top of the slide, making acquiring a good sight picture much easier.
Speaking of the sight picture, the Emissary features Springfield’s U-Dot sights made up of a tritium/luminescent front sight paired with a Tactical Rack U-Dot rear sight. That sighting system gives you a high-visibility dot for daylight shooting as well as a tritium insert for low light. Also, the rear sight is designed to allow for racking the slide one-handed against a hard surface or edge.
The slide features a deep hot salt bluing finish that gives off a nice dark shine, contrasting beautifully with the forged stainless-steel frame. Additionally, the controls of the Emissary are black, which makes them stand out nicely and matches up well with the aggressive styling approach of the pistol.
Keeping with the reliability and accuracy for which 1911’s are known, Springfield opted for a forged stainless steel match grade 4.25” heavy 9mm bull barrel. This bushingless barrel has a very stiff and heavy profile and interfaces directly with the slide at the muzzle rather than with a traditional bushing.
Keeping a tight grip on the pistol is made easy with the VZ thin-line G10 grips, featuring a grenade checkering pattern. The grips feature a nice white/grey coloration that matches perfectly with the pistol’s contrasty motif. That checkering pattern carries over to the frontstrap as well as the backstrap on the flat mainspring housing, ensuring a solid grip. A cool squared trigger guard encloses a solid-body flat-faced trigger that gives a cool retro-modern look to the Emissary.
I remember how the first time I got my hands on the Emissary, I was struck with the elegant, modern design of the pistol. The grenade texture on the grips and frame made it very comfortable and controllable. The use of contrasting black and stainless makes the pistol stand out from across the room. Best of all, the Springfield Armory Emissary shoots as well as it looks — and this one being a 9mm variant, it is lighter in recoil than a .45 version.
Before I hit the range, I took a drive down to True Shot Gun Club. They were kind enough to provide the ammunition for this review. I got a tour of their facility and met their team of hard-working individuals. It was like Santa’s toy shop for me, filled with ammo heading out the door to customers. They had pallets and pallets of ammo and a robot folding boxes, non-stop. I have definitely found my new ammo provider, as their selection of ammunition and prices are hard to beat.
It’s always a joy for me when I get to run a 1911. It’s a time-honored design that has proven its worth over more than a century. While many designs have come and gone, the 1911 is still going strong — as proven by the Emissary line.
Getting a proper grip on the pistol is easy, and it creates a good lock-up in the user’s hands via the VZ grip’s grenade-pattern texturing. Even in the 90-degree heat at the range that day when my hands were sweating, my grip on the pistol remained solid. The texture does a great job with aiding grip without shredding your hands during an extended range session.
I found that getting on target and staying on it is made simple with the U-Dot sights. The front sight is tritium and luminescent, creating a great point of aim in both bright sunlight or low-light situations. The luminescent green is very easy to rapidly acquire in full brightness, and the tritium insert is perfect for keeping your front sight in focus in low-light conditions. Shooting in the broad daylight of the Arizona sun, I really appreciated the flat-top’s sighting plane serrations. It reduced glare and acted as leading lines for my eyes to quickly align the front and rear sights when presenting the pistol to the target.
Being a steel firearm with a good amount of weight to it, the Emissary has very little muzzle flip. The slide has forward lightening cuts that reduce weight, allowing for a heavier bull barrel which makes for a very soft shooting and accurate pistol. The return to zero after recoil is near perfect, and easily manageable for rapid-fire with sustained accuracy.
The pistol comes with two stainless steel nine-round magazines for a 9+1 capacity. The stainless steel construction helps protect against rust, and the magazines have heavy-duty bumper pads to help in loading or reloading the pistol quickly. Another benefit of the bumper pads is that they can extend the life of your magazines if you drop them on the range after reloads.
After about 200 rounds through the Emissary, I was feeling quite comfortable with it. I understood the recoil, found the perfect grip pressure and determined where the trigger broke. Shooting all-metal firearms chambered in 9mm feels like cheating. They are very easy to control and, because of that, your accuracy can gain a boost. The 1911 is a smooth-operating pistol with one of the best triggers in the world, and this Emissary is no exception.
If you love the 1911 platform and want a more modern and extremely stylish take on the design, the Springfield Armory Emissary 4.25” 9mm is a great choice for you. Whether you are in the market for a defensive pistol or just a great range companion, this Emissary has features that will set it apart from the crowd.
The forged components will help ensure your Emissary will be in solid working order for many years to come. The sights will keep you on target in all lighting conditions, and the grenade texture grips will keep your hands on the pistol in all types of weather. The heavy bull barrel will ensure your shots go exactly where you intend, and the style will make sure all your friends at the range have gun envy.
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