When Size and Performance Meet Concealability

By Michael Mills
Posted in #Guns
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When Size and Performance Meet Concealability

July 30th, 2023

5:56 runtime

Surely the 1911 cannot be modernized, right? I mean, it’s been in service around the world for more than 100 years. The 1911 was the U.S. military handgun for decades and a favorite for civilians and law enforcement alike. The history of the 1911 has been tied to one thing in its 100 plus years of life, and that is the 45 caliber cartridge. But Springfield thought it was time to design a new version of the 1911 specifically for the modern ammunition of choice, the 9mm round.

ronin emp4
Is the Ronin EMP 4″ the ultimate 9mm 1911? That is just one of the questions the author examines in this article.

Now, it goes without saying that there are few things that feel as good as a 1911 does on the range. From the angles of the grip to the feel of the controls, it just has class. And when you pull that trigger, you understand why so many people love the 1911 design.

And for all the aforementioned reasons, using modern design techniques combined with the performance of today’s 9mm ammo, Springfield Armory had given us the Ronin EMP in a 4” configuration.

The Features You Want and Need

When Springfield set out to make the EMP series, they didn’t just take standard 1911 and employ the 9mm cartridge. For improved reliability and performance, the Ronin EMP is designed specifically around the 9mm. Springfield engineers designed 11 proprietary parts for the EMP, including the frame, magazines, firing pin and the slide to name just a few. Where others simply fit the smaller 9mm into a .45-sized pistol, Springfield set out to not necessarily re-design the 1911 as a whole but to specifically tailor it to modern 9mm ammunition available today. The result is a scaled-down 1911 designed specifically for the 9mm round.

springfield armory ronin emp4
Although it is designed as a defensive handgun, the Ronin EMP line of pistols are also quite eye-catching.

The Ronin EMP boasts a 4” forged bull barrel that provides match-grade performance, tight lock-up and a beautiful 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 keeping in line with classy 1911 styling, the Ronin EMP resembles the classics with wood grips, a blued slide and silver Cerakoted frame

Small Pistol, Big Performance

On the range, the 4” Ronin EMP shoots like a much larger gun. With the re-designed grip radius, recoil is easily managed so you can get fast follow-up shots. Also, the match-grade barrel will give the performance you expect. The 10-round stainless steel magazines give capacity you can be comfortable with and a lifetime of service which is to be expected from such a durable and rust-resistant material.

shooting ronin emp4 one handed
The author found the Ronin EMP had easily managed recoil with sights that were easy to pick up.

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. These sights are immediately identifiable on the range, with the high-viz front sight providing a clear sight alignment and sight picture.

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

testing the ronin emp
The author spent time on the range with the Ronin EMP 4″ and found that follow-up shots were fast and accurate.

I tested a variety of ammunition in the Ronin EMP 4”, 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. All of this ammunition ran flawlessly through the match-grade barrel and gave impressive accuracy.

ammo used in testing
Reliability is important in a defensive pistol. The author used four different loads to test function, accuracy and velocity.

The high-performance ammunition obviously performed particularly well, not only on accuracy but in chronograph results as well. When firing the +P ammunition, the dual recoil spring and the re-designed grip radius really shone through. The recoil felt consistent, controllable and gave less muzzle rise than I would expect from a 4” design.

AmmunitionVelocityGroup Size
Ammo Inc 124-grain JHP1,048 fps1.25″
Atlanta Arms 124-grain JHP1,048 fps1.50″
Hornady American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P1,226 fps1.25″
PMC 115-grain FMJ1,173 fps1.25″
Accuracy and chronograph testing was completed from 15 yards in the seated position using a table and Caldwell precision large shooting bag. All averages and group sizes are from five-shot groups. Abbreviations: FPS (feet per second), JHP (jacketed hollow point).

As you can see from the chronograph results, not only did the match-grade 4” bull barrel perform very well, but the ammunition accuracy was really close across the board. There did seem to be a pretty wide spread in the velocity between

group size during testing
One of the Ronin EMP’s impressive characteristics tested was accuracy. This is one of the five-shot groups the author shot.

The Definitive 1911 Carry Pistol?

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 provided 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. The smaller radius of the newly designed frame not only makes it easy to conceal the Ronin EMP 4”, 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 operation of the pistol.

And concealment is just made easy with the design of the Ronin EMP. The 4” barrel and the smaller overall profile make it the perfect overall 1911 carry pistol for any occasion.

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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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