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[Review] Springfield 1911 EMP 9mm: When Nothing Else Will Do

Really love 1911s…the look, grip angle, trigger pull, and controls?

But know a full-size Government .45 ACP version is a little difficult to concealed carry?

Springfield 1911 EMP 9mm
Springfield 1911 EMP 9mm

Enter…the tiny-boi Officer’s sized 1911s with 3″ barrels.

Today we’ll go over Springfield Armory’s 1911 EMP (enhanced micro pistol) chambered in 9mm. By the end, you’ll know if this could be for you.

Springfield 1911 EMP 9mm Size
Springfield 1911 EMP 9mm Size

But…if you’re triggered by 9mm vs .45 ACP debates…you might want to skip this.

Otherwise…let’s get started first with an extra-sassy video review:

If you enjoyed that, please consider subscribing to our YouTube Channel. New stuff every week!

Now let’s get on with the written article where we go a little more in-depth.

Table of Contents


Fit & Feel

The EMP is over $1000 so I expect it to be a cut above standard 1911s.

EMP with Bull Barrel
EMP with Bull Barrel

I wasn’t disappointed.

The two-tone version with wooden grips is a beauty to behold. No discolorations or machining cuts I could see.

And although it’s sub-compact with an aluminum frame (27 oz)…it feels super solid in your hands.

EMP Checkering
EMP Un-Checkering

The grip is only slightly grippy so it won’t snag, and the front magazine well is completely un-checkered.

Springfield 1911 EMP 9mm
Springfield 1911 EMP Rear Checking

However the rear magazine well is nicely checkered at probably 30 LPI.

I have slightly smaller hands and have no problem with a Glock 43 Sig P365…so the grip size was perfect for me.

But John in our video thought it was a little small. If you have meaty hands you might want to test it out “in-hand.”

EMP Grip
EMP Grip

You also get an ambidextrous safety.

EMP Ambi Safety
EMP Ambi Safety

And if you’re a stickler for the ejector and firing pin matching with the slide…it does a great job there too.

Slide is well fitted for a factory gun and it should smooth out even more with a bunch of rounds.

Trigger is a good 5.5 lb with some take-up, nice wall, and clean break.

EMP Adjustable Trigger
EMP Adjustable Trigger

There’s also an adjustable post-travel screw that helps somewhat…but it’s not mind-blowing. Reset is very strong.

Magazine release is not ambidextrous and is a little small and hard to press…which is actually what I’d like in a carry gun. Mag ejection is super strong.

Slide release lever is in the standard 1911 place…which for me means I can’t reach it well all the time.

EMP Slide Release & Mags
EMP Slide Release & Mags

But I’m already used to either using my weakside thumb or sling-shotting the slide.

Now…how does it shoot?


Sub-compact guns aren’t very fun to shoot.

But sub-compact guns with a nice aluminum frame AND in 9mm are a blast.

Shooting the Springfield EMP
Shooting the Springfield EMP

It’s snappier than a full-sized gun.

But with some heft at 27 oz (compared to 30 oz of a loaded Glock 19)…the EMP is super controllable and it’s easy to shoot through a bunch of mags.

Quick mag segue…these mags from Mec-Gar feel really nice and you get three of them in the box.

EMP Slide Release & Mags
EMP Slide Release & Mags

We got some nice dirt and dust into them during our shoot and they kept going.


With 3″ of barrel…even a bull one…you’re not looking at laser like accuracy at 25 yards.

EMP Slide Release
EMP Bull Barrel & Dummy Round

We kept most of our shooting to CCW distances but still managed to hit a 100 yard IPSC torso sized plate around 30-40%.

It’s a standard 3-dot sight system.

EMP Front Sight
EMP Front Sight

And I’m glad it comes factory installed with night sights.

EMP Rear Sights
EMP Rear Sights

We did the majority of our shooting with some dry steel cased ammo that jams up my other pistols and PCCs.

9mm Steel Cased Ammo
9mm Steel Cased Ammo

100% reliability.

Then we did some 7 yard accuracy tests with plinking ammo and hollowpoints while standing and at a quick pace.

EMP Tested Plinking Ammo
EMP Tested Plinking Ammo

Here are the results…

EMP Groups
EMP Groups

Way under minute of bad guy.

And I’m glad that the Winchester hollowpoints fared the best.

Check out our favorite plinking and self defense rounds in Best 9mm Ammo.


Smaller framed 1911s have the reputation of being unreliable.

I’m really glad the EMP was 100% reliable with all 500 various rounds and mags we fed it.

For a true carry gun I’d run it to the 1000 round count without malfunctions. But it’s well on its way.

Upgrades & Accessories

Oh yes…I love upgrades. But for a carry gun I wouldn’t do anything to the gun itself…and not that it needs anything.

If it’s more of a fun gun…I’d point you to my 1911 gunsmithing series:

Otherwise…there’s still a great option for lights with the Streamlight TLR-6.

EMP with Streamlight TLR-6
EMP with Streamlight TLR-6

This nifty light and laser combo clamps onto the trigger guard and frame to give you 100 lumens of light.


Not the brightest comparatively but should be enough for close target verification.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

However, your holster selection is going to be much more limited.

If you’re looking for a nice laser without changing holsters…check out the Crimson Trace Master Series Red Lasergrip.

 Crimson Trace EMP, Activation Button
Crimson Trace EMP, Activation Button

It costs a pretty penny and slightly swells your grips, but gives you easy access to a laser with your middle finger.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Now how about mags? I recommend going with the original…

at GunMag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing


You can’t forget holsters…especially if the EMP is likely going to be your CCW gun!

EMP Holsters
EMP Holsters (Top Down: Aliengear, Crossbreed, Hidden Hybrid)

We tested a couple of our go-to holster brands (Best Concealed Carry Holsters).

Our favorite was the Hidden Hybrid Holster appendix carry model. It took a little while to adjust retention of the gun, but worked great afterwards.

Our normal go-to Crossbreed brand had a weird peculiarity with its new Reckoning model…it almost all the time disengaged the thumb safety when we holsters.

Not cool with a single-action gun!

We still love Crossbreed’s other offerings…but it looks like the Reckoning holster for a small 1911 is a no-go.

at Crossbreed

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Another favorite is the Aliengear Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB which is normally carried in the 4 or 5 o’clock position.

John didn’t care too much for it based on his personal preference/pants selection, but I like the rubbery material and price.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing


  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Forged Aluminum Alloy Frame, Forged Stainless Steel Slide
  • Single-Action, Ambi-Safety, Grip Safety
  • 3″ Stainless Steel Match Grade, Fully Supported Ramp, Bull
  • 9+1 Capacity
  • Low Profile Combat, 3 – Dot Tritium
  • Overall Length: 6.6″
  • Height: 5″
  • Weight: 27 oz

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

No failures of any kind in 500 rounds…most of it with crappy steel-cased ammo. Mags worked well too even with drops into fine dirt.

Accuracy: 4.5/5

For its purpose, it did great. Shoots way better than me with about 1-2 MOA groups at 7 yards with defensive ammo. Even with adrenaline it’s minute of bad guy.

Ergonomics: 5/5

Great 1911 controls and I like the ambi-safety. My complaint of the mag release is personal. Thoughtful checkering and just enough slide serrations.

Looks: 5/5

Love the bi-tone color and wooden grips. I wouldn’t change anything about it.

Customization: 4/5

It’s an un-railed 1911…but that doesn’t stop it from lights and lasers nowadays. You can also swap out the grips or sights for something different…but I don’t see the need to. Internals can be completely changed…but why for a CCW gun?

Bang for the Buck: 3.5/5

You could spend half the money for a reliable sub-compact CCW gun. But would it look and feel as nice as a well-built 1911?

Overall Rating: 4.5/5


The Springfield EMP in 9mm is a reliable and beautiful 3″ 1911 but may be eclipsed by other CCW options for it’s capacity, weight, and high price. However the weight and caliber make it soft-shooting and fun at the range.

But regardless…you can tell I like the Springfield EMP. So much so that I bought it after this test.

It’s familiar to 1911 lovers but in a smaller, lighter, and cuter package.

 Crimson Trace EMP, Activation
Crimson Trace EMP, Activation

Plus it’s been 100% reliable and in the end that matters the most. AND it’s California Compliant on the roster.

What do you think of the EMP? Check out more of our favorite Concealed Carry Guns (By Caliber).

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13 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    Love your work, your reviews seem more practical than others. After following you for a few years, I have come to trust your opinions so much that I check your reviews before I make any purchases now. Loved my EMP 4 CC but it is a little larger than I want to carry. After reading this, my EMP 3 is on the way. BTW, I found it on gun.com and since I had never heard of them before, I found an article where you recommended them.

    August 22, 2020 2:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bruce W

    I started CCW with an EMP. Im a 1911 fan and this was an easy transition.
    Nice gun to shoot, and used it at my first IDPA matches.

    But the ambi thumb safety kept digging into my side.
    I ended up going with a M&P Shield instead. Much smoother to carry. But not as much fun to shoot.

    Use a Stealth Gear Ventcore holster for both. Like it.

    August 8, 2019 3:46 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have put a little over 1k rounds through my EMP and never had any issues. It's a pricy gun, but a blast to shoot. Vedder and Stealthgearusa are two more options for those looking for kydex holsters.

    August 7, 2019 12:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I'm always a tad confused with reviews that are less than 1,000 rounds. Seems more like a first impression. You can drill 500 rounds in 2 hours and not have the slightest perception of what the pistol will do with further use. I'd move the decimal one to the right and aim for a 5,000 round review. I'm totally cool with first impressions, but the review of 1 days worth of shooting doesn't do much to indicate the lifetime ownership experience of the pistol.

    This is clearly not a range gun, this is a gun designed for carry and use in a life or death situation. That means it will go through training, drills, etc and have lots of rounds on it during its duty time. 500 rounds should not count as a review though I appreciate the honesty. And I understand first impressions, they are important and interesting too. I also understand the cost associated with 5,000 rounds vs 500.

    This is well written and deeply considered article. I'm not so concerned with torture testing (throwing it in a creek and firing it, etc) as I am with general wear on the pistol, parts breakages, failure etc within a 5,000 round count. This is where range toys and real guns get seperated.

    Springfield makes some great feeling products but very few of them have been through the ringer, and none of them currently see military or police use that I'm aware of except the XD and they don't even make that, they just import it.

    August 7, 2019 8:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Rick D

      Well said sir...well said!!! I bought my EMP in 2010 and I do love it. I have put 2720 rounds thru her and have had 3 stove pipes and 4 FTF. SO I POLISHED the feed ramp and so far so good...

      May 8, 2021 11:55 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim M.

    I'd like to see it "torture tested" in dirt and submerged before I even think about dropping $1200! A little too "Gucci" priced for me!

    August 7, 2019 4:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Marcus Aurelius Tarkus

    When I first saw the product suffix "EMP", I thought: "Electro-Magnetic Pulse."

    Is this thing really a ray gun?

    August 6, 2019 5:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      My thoughts initially too. This one is only in the 20 watt range due to its small size.

      August 6, 2019 7:04 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Pastor David

    I have the EMP 4” and absolutely agree with everything you reported.

    August 6, 2019 5:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Woohoo, thanks David!

      August 6, 2019 7:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bill Geiger

      I also have the EMP4 and it is my favorite 9mm gun, and I am a Glock fan. It is so easy to carry and shoot. I would still choose the 4" over the 3" for obvious reasons, but can see there is a niche fore this 3"er. Take down was different at first, but it is simple as pie now that I get it. I have NEVER had a jam, FTF, FTE, but I always use brass cased ammo (my ranges requirement) so I cannot speak for it's ability to use steel case ammo. Lastly, it is absolutely a gorgeous gun. Great review, as usual!

      August 8, 2019 3:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    armed citizen

    Why don't you review the Taurus G2C? Double stack 12 round mags at an affordable price $180-250. I can't understand why you have not done a review on this great defensive pistol at a most affordable price for the most common American citizen. With all these mass shootings a law abiding American needs all the firepower they can get!!!!!

    August 6, 2019 5:20 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      It's on the list!

      August 6, 2019 5:38 pm