It is always exciting when Springfield Armory comes out with a new M1911 handgun. They never cease to amaze me, with the new and improved 1911s they are able to produce. It was with great anticipation, that I waited for the new Emissary. Unfortunately, Springfield closed down for two weeks, for inventory – and that was right at the time I placed my request for a sample of the Emissary. It was a long, long two week wait, for my sample to get shipped. Was it worth the wait? You know it was!
The Model 1911 has been around since, well…1911 – and the design shows no signs or becoming obsolete in any way, shape or form. If anything, this grand old gun design is more popular now, than it ever was. I can’t begin to count the different companies producing a M1911 – just a guesstimate, but I believe we probably have 50 or 60 different companies producing a 1911 in some form. In the Philippines alone, I believe there are at least 3 companies manufacturing 1911s, and my information says that the Philippines, produces more 1911s than any place else. And, to be sure, they are turning out some very good 1911s, at some competitive prices.
Back in the mid-1980s, I had an early M1911 from Springfield Armory – it was a Plain Jane model – basically a mil-spec version – nothing fancy about it at all. However, that gun just wouldn’t function out of the box – it had feeding problems, with all of the ammo I tired. Having been trained as a military armorer – one of my various MOSes, I knew how to make a 1911 run. In short order, I had that Springfield up and running like a champ. Over the years, I’ve owned almost all of the various 1911 models that Springfield has made – only a few I didn’t own – too expensive for my blood. However, they were all great guns.
Recently, I received the Springfield “Ronin Operator” model, and to me, it was the end all, do all 1911 I fell in love with it immediately – it’s a great Commander-sized, lightweight carry gun. I didn’t need any more 1911s. Well, I was wrong. When I received a press release on the new Emissary, I told my wife, I had to get one – even after I said I had “enough” handguns – and I do.
The Emissary .45 ACP is a full-sized, Government Model, that means it has a 5-inch barrel/slide and it is manufactured out of all-steel…it’s a heavy gun that comes in at 40-ounces unloaded. The slide is a bit different, in that, it has a triangle-type profile instead of rounded – I like it a lot. We have a front night sight that glows green during the daylight, and the rear is the new Springfield “U” shape white outline – not a night sight. The top of the slide is serrated, to reduce any daytime glare that can plays havoc with your sighting the gun. On either side of the slide – fore and aft, there are several deep and aggressive serrations, and you can get a great grip on these serrations when you need to chamber a round, to confirm a chambered round (“press check”), or unload the pistol. The slide is forged blue carbon steel and finished in a high luster blue.
The barrel is worth note, in that, it is a match-grade heavy bull barrel, for the utmost accuracy you can squeeze out of it, and it is made out of stainless steel. There is no barrel bushing – not needed with the bull barrel – the barrel locks up tight as tight can be, when you chamber a round. Of course, there is a full-length guide rod. This does make disassembly a little more difficult for maintenance. However, it only adds a few more seconds to disassembling the gun.
We have a speed (combat) hammer, ad I like this design a lot. The forged frame is made out of stainless steel, with a nice subdued non-reflective finish on it, for easy maintenance. The front of the slide has a Picatinny rail – part of the slide – for mounting lights and/or lasers on it.
The trigger guard is squared off – ala’ the 1970s design that was so popular – I could do without this – but it’s there. On the left side is a single-sided manual thumb safety. That works for me, as I’ve never had use for an ambidextrous safety on a 1911. The front strap on the gun is checkered – very aggressively – I like it – to the extreme. The flat backstrap is blued steel – not plastic, contrary to the cheapening trend in the industry of the past several years. And it has the same squared-off checkering as the front strap does. The thin grip panels are made out of G10, and made by VZ grips. Their checkering is the same as the front and rear strap – you get a great grip on this gun under any conditions. Some might not like the aggressive checkering, but I love it.
The trigger is different, in that it is a flat-faced design, and quite honestly, when I first tried several firearms with a flat-faced trigger, I was determined not to like them – I was wrong and that is hard to admit. The very top and bottom of the trigger has a slight curve to it – ever so slight. The trigger pull broke at 4.25-pounds – absolutely perfect for street or combat carry in my humble opinion.
The inside bottom of the magazine well is slightly beveled for faster reloads, again, another nice touch. Many gunsmiths would charge $50 to $100 to bevel the magazine well. The grip safety – it is a combat (beavertail) design – and has a “hump” on the bottom, that allows you to fully depress it and it protects the web of your hand from hammer bite, and it is made out of blued steel as well. BTW, it is expertly fitted – just a hint of side-to-side movement. The magazine release is blued steel, and not extended – that is the one thing I would change…although with the thin grips, it is easy to reach the magazine to depress it. However, I’m still going to add a slightly extended magazine release.
The manual thumb safety is a combat design – oversized, but not too oversized – it’s just perfect for me. And, there is zero play when the thumb safety is on-safe or off-safe. This was positively expert-fitted like no other – easy to snick on or off with your thumb. The slide release – not oversized – but fitted as it should be – and made out of blued steel.
There is zero movement when pressing down on the slide – as well as zero slide movement, from side-to-side or up and down – again, Springfield did an outstanding job fitting the slide and the barrel. I’ve owned a couple of big-name 1911s from some well-known custom makers, and they were not as perfectly fitted as this gun is – and BTW, they cost about twice what this gun retails for.
There is just a lot to like about this Emissary model. I’ve had several full-sized 1911s with a Picatinny rail as part of the dust cover. However, that added weight on the top end, just didn’t make the gun balance like I thought it would. However, on the Emissary, with the triangular-profile slide – reduced a little bit of weight, and the gun balances perfectly – like it should. Go figure – just removing a little bit of weight from the slide, makes the gun feel great. But I probably won’t even put a laser or light on it, though.
My local FFL dealer, offered to buy this Emissary before I even had a chance to do the paperwork to get it. He hadn’t heard about this Springfield Armory model before he saw my sample. Needless to say, this sample is not for sale, nor will it be going back to Springfield – I’ll find a way to pay for it!
My Shooting Tests
As everyone knows, we are in the worse ammo drought in history in this country, and ammo is hard to come by, and when you do find some, prices are usually double or triple what they should be – supply and demand. I’ve been restricting the amount of ammo I use in gun tests, because it is so hard to come by, and my ammo locker is getting low. From Black Hills Ammunition www.black-hills.com I had their .45 ACP with 230-grain FMJ, 200-gr Lead Semi-wad cutter, 230-grain JHP, 185-grain Barnes Tac-XP +P, and their 230-grain JHP +P – I also recently purchased some Sellier & Bellot 230-grain JHP ammo for my own use and for testing in .45 ACP chambered handguns.
After inspecting and lubing the Emissary, I ran several magazines of ammo through it, to test for functioning – no problems at all – even the Black Hills 200-grain Lead Semi-wad cutter fed and functioned without any problems. When I decided to do some accuracy testing, I used a padded rifle rest over a big rock, and the target was at 25 yards. Without a whole lot of effort, I was getting 5-shot groups, under three inches. When I hunkered down, I was getting groups – all the holes touching – that means, the groups were right there at 2-inches – that is outstanding accuracy.
One group was down just a hair under 2-inches, and that was the Black Hills 200-grain Lead Semi-wadcutter load – and I know I can bring those groups down even smaller with more practice. Before I knew it, I had expended over 150 rounds of ammo – something I hadn’t planned on doing. But when you have an accurate handgun, the shooting is just that much more fun. The Sellier & Bellot groups were right up there as well…good ammo, but even that was expensive every time I pulled the trigger – ugh! I need to get some more Black Hills 135-grain HoneyBadger ammo – this is my preferred load for self-defense these days, and I didn’t want to burn up the small supply that I had on-hand.
From Craft Holsters, I had their tactical thigh holster – this is a ballistic Nylon number, and the gun rode perfectly on my right thigh when hiking. I also had one of their leather belt holsters – and with the squared off trigger guard, it was a super tight fit, however, I wet the holster and molded it to the gun – great fit – and the gun rides high and tight on my right hip.
The Emissary retails for $1,279 these days, and they are hard to come by. So I expect the prices to stay a little bit high for a while. However, this gun is easily worth a thousand dollars more than that if you ask me…it is “that” good!