Range Time with the Ronin EMP 3” 9mm

By Michael Mills
Posted in #Guns
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Range Time with the Ronin EMP 3" 9mm

August 30th, 2023

5:16 runtime

There is just nothing like a 1911. This is true from the angles of the grip to the feel of that safety when it’s disengaged. And when you pull that trigger, you understand why so many people talk about the 1911 design.

range testing the ronin emp 3 inch
How does the Ronin EMP with the 3″ barrel shoot? That’s what the author set out to discover in this article.

But how might you update a design that is more than a century old, while still retaining the benefits of the original design? What might a modern shooter and CCW user want in their 1911? Combining modern manufacturing techniques with the performance of today’s 9mm ammo, Springfield Armory had given us the Ronin EMP in a 3” ultra-carriable configuration.

Features You Want and Need

When Springfield set out to make the EMP series, they did not just take a standard 1911 and stick in the 9mm cartridge. The Ronin EMP is re-designed around the 9mm cartridge to enhance and improve the reliability and performance of the 1911 platform for use with modern 9mm ammunition. It is also scaled down from the .45 ACP-sized gun to one designed around the 9mm round.

[Don’t miss Massad Ayoob’s article Is There a 9mm 1911 Problem?]

springfield armory ronin emp
The author’s Springfield Armory Ronin EMP 9mm pistol that he tested on the range is shown above.

With 11 proprietary parts, from a specifically designed frame to the firing pin and much in between, Springfield Armory produced an ultra-concealable 1911 with the utmost reliability and performance. When others may just rechamber a barrel retune the springs and stick in a 9mm magazine, Springfield set out to not necessarily re-design the 1911 as a whole but to specifically tailor it to the modern high-performance 9mm ammunition available today.

pistol with target
The author’s Ronin EMP shot very well with good accuracy and precision — especially for such a compact self-defense pistol.

The Ronin EMP boasts a 3” forged bull barrel that provides match-grade performance, tight lock-up and a beautifully finished look at the muzzle end. A lightweight forged aluminum frame gives you the strength you want, while providing a lighter package to carry around all day. And the classic looks of the 1911 are present with the Ronin EMP with its wood grips, blued slide and silver-Cerakoted frame.

Small Pistol, Big Performance

On the range, the 3” Ronin EMP feels bigger than it is. With the dual captive recoil spring and a re-designed grip radius, the recoil is easily managed to allow fast follow-up shots and extreme accuracy. The 9-round stainless steel magazines will not only give you the capacity you can be comfortable with, but the lifetime of service you would expect from such a durable and rust-resistant material.

shooting the handgun
The author found the red fiber optic front sight worked well with the Tactical Rack rear sight.

The Tactical Rack sights integrated into the pistol design give you an intuitive sight picture in the way of a white dot rear and fiber optic front. On the range, these sights are immediately identifiable, with the high-visibility front sight providing clear sight alignment and a solid sight picture.

When fast follow-up shots are needed, the crisp feel on break and reset of the Ronin EMP trigger is precisely what you would expect from a 1911. The skeletonized trigger design, with its linear grooves on the touch surface, provides a positive tactile engagement and a solid feel with each trigger pull.

Range Time

I tested a variety of ammunition in the Ronin EMP 3”, from basic PMC 115-gr 9mm to the following self-defense loads: Hornady American Gunner 125-gr. +P XTP hollow point, Atlanta Arms 115-gr. JHP, and Ammo Inc. 124-gr. JHP.

ammo used to test the ronin 3-inch
The author used four different loads to test the ammo. A special thanks to TrueShot Ammo for providing the ammunition.

All of this ammunition ran flawlessly through the match-grade barrel. It gave impressive accuracy with the high-performance ammunition performing best — not only in accuracy but in chronograph results as well. When firing the +P ammunition, the newly designed elements of the dual recoil spring and the re-designed grip radius shone through. The recoil felt consistent, and controllable and gave less muzzle rise than I would expect from a 3” design.

AmmunitionVelocityGroup Size
PMC 115-grain FMJ1,110 fps1 3/4″
Atlanta Arms 124-grain JHP1,069 fps1 3/8″
Hornady American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P1,161 fps1 1/16″
Ammo Inc 124-grain JHP1,011 fps1 1/4″
Accuracy testing was done at 15 yards seated using a table and Caldwell precision large shooting bag. Group sizes are from five-shot groups.

As you can see from the chronograph results above, not only did the 3” bull barrel hold its own on velocity, but the match-grade performance of the barrel was very noticeable. Even though these shots were all fired from a supported position, nearing a 1” group at 15 yards with a 3” barrel is something we can all be happy with. And although the self-defense ammo did perform better overall, the PMC Bronze held its own, bringing in an average of 1,110 feet per second velocity and a 1¾” group size.

[Be sure to also read Jeremy Tremp’s Ronin EMP Review.]

The Final Word

I found the pistol to be extremely comfortable in the hand. The wooden grips not only give that 1911 finished look, but the dual-texture design provides grip and comfort. The checkering on the backstrap of the mainspring housing gives an additional positive feeling of control with just enough grip to be aggressive yet not abrasive.

measuring accuracy performance on the target
Measuring accuracy and precision performance on the range is made easier using a grid target like this 12″ Peel and Stick Splatter Shot Reactive Target from Springfield Armory.

The smaller radius of the newly designed frame not only makes it easy to conceal the Ronin EMP 3”, but allows you to effortlessly manipulate the controls, from the safety to the slide release. All of the controls operated smoothly with just the right amount of resistance to give confidence in the pistol’s operation.

Concealment is just made easy with the design of the Ronin EMP. The 3” barrel and the smaller overall profile make it the perfect overall 1911 carry pistol for any occasion in my opinion.

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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 and videos 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.

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Michael Mills

Michael Mills

Michael Mills created www.tacticalconsiderations.com as a way to help spread good information, shed positive light on the gun community and to have fun. He has always loved teaching and helping others, especially when it comes to gun rights. This passion was further ingrained during his service in U.S. Army Special Operations, and he is a Use of Force Instructor, Defensive Tactics instructor, DEA Firearms Instructor and Police Academy instructor. He also has 15 years of law enforcement experience from patrol to supervision.

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