Just when I would have sworn I’ve seen every variation of the model 1911 that can possibly be made, along came the Springfield Armory Emissary. It’s one of those eye-catching treatments that immediately gets your attention and has you wondering what it would be like to hold it and shoot it.
It wasn’t too long ago since it was introduced to the market — in the 1911-appropriate chambering in .45 ACP, as a full-sized model. Now, Springfield has not only released the shorter version of the gun in .45 ACP, but also introduced the pistol chambered for the very popular 9mm cartridge.
While the traditional chambering of .45 ACP is iconic — and many will say the only way to build a 1911 — I see more new 1911’s at the range chambered for 9mm. Younger shooters, or those with less hand and arm strength, tend to prefer the reduced recoil impulse that the 9mm produces from the heavy gun; particularly those that have only been familiar with polymer-framed 9mm handguns. As I overheard one IDPA shooter tell another at a match, the 9mm 1911 is, “almost like cheating”.
The Emissary 9mm is a full-sized 1911 that has a 5” match grade bull barrel, featuring a bushingless design. That barrel is forged stainless steel, and tapered to a precision fit with the slide. Beneath it sits a full-length guide rod that not only aids the accuracy of the gun but adds additional balance to the muzzle.
Interestingly, the 9mm version Emissary weighs more than the .45 ACP — tipping the scale at a full 44 ounces. This is most likely due to the smaller bore, which leaves more material in the barrel. The frame is also forged stainless steel, and the slide is nicely blued forged carbon steel. Other dimensions are typical of the full-sized 1911 pistol.
Where it gets interesting — besides the aesthetics of the gun — is the practical function of the checkering pattern. It reminds me of a pineapple grenade — and it provides a fantastic grip for the shooter. The deep cuts of the squared pattern in the front and back straps really dig into the skin for non-slip shooting, but without the almost painful experience that some aggressive checkering can have.
The G10 grip panels carry that pattern around the sides of the grip. I found this gun to be locked in place while shooting as if my hands were a vise.
The trigger guard is squared off and oversized. This should accommodate a gloved hand nicely. Inside that square guard is a polymer trigger that is flat, with the exception of gentle curves at the top and bottom. Those curves may help the shooter index the trigger — but I think they just look great.
And boy does it shoot! Maybe it is the excellent Springfield U-Dot sights, which might be the best sights I’ve ever seen on a 1911 — but I found myself immediately dialed-in with this pistol and was able to shoot tight consistent groups, no matter what ammo I used.
The Emissary 9mm slips nicely into a gap that is often unfilled, between the entry-level or budget-friendly 1911, and those top-shelf models that can cost several thousand dollars. And with a $1,349 price tag, this is a gun that is affordable while featuring high quality throughout.
The attractive two-tone look of the gun, combined with the interesting shape and cuts of the slide and the grenade-like grip panels, are bound to have people staring. And if the looks of this pistol do not get their attention — that tight group you just shot probably will!
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