My Custom Carry EMP

By Chad Thompson
Posted in #Guns
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My Custom Carry EMP

October 22nd, 2020

5 minute read

The desire of man to personalize his possessions is as old as time. This applies to everything from hairstyles to paint colors to features on items that we carry with us on a daily basis. One need only look at a brochure for muscle-car paint options to confirm this is true.

The author had the excellent Springfield Armory EMP custom-tuned to his exact specifications.

This impulse rarely has anything to do with the item not offering the right fit or function, but rather is often just driven by a human desire to make an item “ours.” For these reasons, in our realm of concealed carry adherents, gunsmiths offer services for anything from personalized grips to different sights to no-holds-barred options on handguns.

When I obtained my 9mm Springfield Armory EMP pistol, I absolutely loved it from the very beginning. This little pistol had all the features I wanted on a carry pistol: It ran like a Swiss watch and shot like a laser, even at distances these pistols aren’t intended to shoot. I was then, and remain today, absolutely impressed with the world’s smallest 1911-style carry pistol. The gun came with night sights, three magazines, and a holster and mag pouch.

The stock EMP ran like a Swiss watch and shot like a laser right out of the box.

After shooting a few hundred rounds to make sure it worked with all the ammo I tried, I began to carry it just as it came from the factory. For quite a while my EMP remained untouched, with the exception of the ammo it consumed regularly, and sat on my hip daily.

Making It Mine

Alas, I’m not immune to the desire to personalize my belongings. I decided I wanted to have certain things done to my EMP to make it a little more “mine,” as it were. I wanted to tune the action to suit me and add a few things to the pistol just to individualize it for me personally.

I’m a big believer that trigger/action jobs are completely up to the individual shooter and are also open to interpretation. I personally like a crisp 3-lb. trigger with a short reset in a carry pistol, but some aren’t comfortable with that — and that’s fine. As I said, I think it’s a personal choice dependent upon the person carrying the gun.

Chad selected a flared magwell that did not add any length to the EMP’s frame.

I also wanted to flatten the top of the slide. For me at least, the flattened slide makes sight acquisition from the draw much faster. I have this flat plane in my peripheral vision on the way out to full extension that enables me to see the sight picture faster than a rounded slide top does.

I decided also I would undercut the frame at the bottom of the trigger guard to enable me to get an even higher grip on the pistol, checker the frontstrap to improve my grip, and that I would add a bolt-on magwell to the frame.

Some of the work (action only) I did myself, but for the majority of the work I asked Rich Dettlehouser of Canyon Creek Customs to do it for me. Rich is a good dude and a great gunsmith out of Illinois, although to my knowledge he isn’t taking on any work currently. He has made quite a name for himself for the work he has done on EMP handguns.  He did everything I asked for here and it was all done perfectly.

He also had the top of the slide flattened to help him pick up the sights more quickly.

More with Less

Now, I understand that an extended magwell doesn’t make a huge amount of difference for reloading on a small carry pistol such as the EMP, but the type of magwell I decided to go with has more than one purpose. I went with the magwell that does NOT add any length or bulk to the frame itself. One of the biggest reasons I love this pistol is the size of the gun. With that in mind, I didn’t intend to nullify the thing I loved most about the pistol by adding length and size to the pistol, taking away its concealability by making the grip longer.

I went with a Richard Heinie XX Magwell that requires the frame to be cut off at the bottom and the magwell then attached to the frame in the place of the former material that comprised the frame bottom. This method doesn’t add any length to the frame, and the forward portion of the mag well then gives the shooter a little “ledge” for the pinky finger to rest on. As a result, it works in conjunction with the checkering to keep a good firm high grip on the pistol. Lastly, that forward portion of the magwell prevents the hand from sliding down the grip while shooting the gun. I don’t believe that Heine still offers it, though.

 The last thing I wanted Rich to do was modify one of the three magazines that I carry in the pistol, to make it flat on the bottom so that it did not stick out of the frame when being carried. I only wanted the one that was in the gun to be flat and unobtrusive because the additional mags work in conjunction with the magwell. By having a base that was protruding ever so slightly, they assist in a faster and more secure magazine seating.

Chad carries the custom EMP in a Milt Sparks Summer Special inside-the-waistband holster.

Finishing Touches

Once all of the work was completed and the frame refinished, I bought a set of beautiful wooden custom grips from Raasco Grips to finish out the project. Paired with the Milt Sparks Summer Special it rides in, this is my ideal carry gun for everyday use. To each their own but in my humble opinion, it just doesn’t get any better than the world’s smallest 1911 by Springfield Armory, known as the Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP). And with this one, I have it exactly the way I want it.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

Chad Thompson

Chad Thompson

Chad has been a law enforcement officer for 32 years, working at the local, State and Federal levels — including one year internationally in Kosovo, the former republic of Yugoslavia. He has been a Firearms Instructor since 1991 and is currently the Senior Firearms Instructor for North Carolina at the N.C. Justice Academy as well as a Sheriff's Deputy for the Sampson County (North Carolina) Sheriffs Office. He is a pro shooter, currently shooting for Deep River Customs, and has won and placed in the top tier of numerous USPSA level II matches since beginning his pistol shooting career. He enjoys shooting sports and outdoor activities, including duck hunting and other types of wingshooting.

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