A 1911 With Custom Looks, Production Price

Springfield Armory’s new 1911 Emissary 9mm looks great and shoots better.

A 1911 With Custom Looks, Production Price

It was just too, too easy — so I decided to quit.

That is, I decided to quit shooting the Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary semi-automatic chambered in 9mm at 5 yards off hand because there was simply no challenge to pegging five-shot groups at an inch and under.

So, I backed up to 10 yards. My groups got a bit larger, but not terribly so, and a couple of hundred rounds later I knew that Springfield had hit another home run with this newest version of the 1911 pistol. Accurate and extremely functional, the Emissary felt great in my hand and sported a first-rate trigger, plus sights that really put me on target fast.

Based in Geneseo, Illinois, Springfield Armory introduced its Emissary line of 1911s in July 2021 with the 1911 Emissary .45 ACP featuring a 5-inch barrel. Since then, the Emissary line has grown to include my review 1911 Emissary in 9mm, also featuring a 5-inch barrel, plus the Commander-style 1911 Emissary 4.25-inch available in both 9mm and .45 ACP.

I ran over 200 rounds of 9mm ammunition through my test and evaluation Emissary, including two range rounds — Federal Premium’s American Eagle Syntech firing a 115-grain synthetic-coated bullet and Remington UMC loaded with a 115-grain full-metal jacket bullet — and one self- defense option — Federal’s new Punch and its 124-grain jacketed hollow point load. 

During my time with the pistol, I experienced zero ammunition-based malfunctions and the Emissary always went back into battery. My maintenance on this semi-auto amounted to a couple drops of oil into the slide areas before I shot the Emissary and wiping down the frame and slide a few times to clear off the dust.   

Accuracy Potential

Among the features that really helped make the Emissary a first-rate shooting experience: The front of the trigger is serrated. It’s a subtle feature and might not even be noticed when a potential customer is simply holding and examining the pistol at the counter.

Yet, when shooting the Emissary, those serrations were a real help for my trigger control. Those tiny cuts in the trigger face provided a very tactile interface between trigger and my finger pad, alerting me to good or problematic placements of my finger pad.

The Emissary trigger itself had just the slightest take-up before it hit the wall, and then broke at a very crisp 2 pounds, 9 ounces, according to my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge.

The Emissary’s accuracy potential was further enhanced by the pistol’s sights. The rear sight’s U-Notch, outlined in white, came up to my eyes very easily and made the front post’s green tritium dot extremely visible.

With a poly-framed pistol, 9mm recoil can be fairly snappy with noticeable muzzle rise.  But the Emissary’s recoil was minimal and was mitigated by its heavier bull-barrel, which also aided in the pistol’s accuracy. An overall unloaded weight of 44 ounces helped absorb a good deal of potential rise and recoil, too.

The Emissary’s accuracy was revealed in: a 0.9-inch, five-shot group fired at 10 yards offhand with Federal’s Punch self-defense ammunition; 14 shots of the red-tipped American Eagle Syntech fired steadily, and including a magazine change, that scored 1.7-inches; and, a 0.6-inch group of five at 5 yards courtesy of the Emissary and Remington UMC.

I also tried out the Emissary at 15 yards shooting from a rest, and fired off three, three-shot groups using the Punch self defense. My groups scored 0.60-inches, 0.60-inches  and 0.08-inches.

Of course, I fired larger groups at all these distances. Yet, anytime I did my part as the shooter, the Emissary and all three brands of ammunition were on the bullseye — or the bad guy, depending on the targets I was using.

The Look

In developing the Emissary line, Springfield’s goal was to create a workhorse 1911 with the looks and styling of a more custom firearm. Think of the potential customer base for the Emissary this way: people who would love a more custom-looking 1911 but don’t want to lay out the $4K on a custom build.  

For the custom look, the Emissary features a forged stainless-steel frame and forged carbon steel slide, with the slide finished a shiny black and the frame silver colored. The squared trigger guard provided ample room for my index finger, even when wearing gloves.

Springfield terms the Emissary’s grip pattern the “grenade” style, and it’s reminiscent of the segmented surface on a World War Two-era pineapple-style grenade. But the pattern is not just cosmetic. The grenade-pattern grips, front and backstrap provided a very solid hold, much better than the shallow stippling so common on many poly-framed pistols. The extended beavertail only enhanced my hold on the firearm.

The Emissary’s “Tri-Top” styling of the slide adds to the custom look, with the top sides of the slide beveled. The flattened top strap is finished with 40-lines-per-inch serrations to diffuse bright light and reduce glare, too.

The Emissary is sold with two high-quality stainless steel magazines with base pads. This model also features an integrated Picatinny accessory rail, ready to accept a light, laser or combination unit.

The skeletonized hammer adds a bit more to the custom look.

9mm Advantages 

Traditionally, the 1911 has been chambered in .45 ACP, so much so that “a .45” has commonly referred to a 1911. But that tradition has changed over the last couple decades, with numerous 1911s being offered in .380 Auto, 9mm and 10mm calibers.

The 9mm is of course a hugely popular chambering, especially for concealed carry pistols. But why a 1911 in 9mm? And who might be buying these pistols?

Actually, Springfield has been making and very successfully selling 1911s chambered in 9mm for a good number of years now.

“Springfield has seen strong demand for its 1911 pistols, in both 9mm and .45, from a wide range of customers,” notes Mike Humphries, the media relations manager for Springfield Armory. “Our 1911 line covers traditional models like the Garrison to more modern variations such as the micro-size EMP. In general, it appears that a lot of shooters appreciate the combination of the 1911's shooting characteristics with the lower recoil and more affordable costs of 9mm ammo compared to .45 ACP ammunition.”

As Humphries added, Springfield’s 9mm 1911 pistols also feature an increased ammunition capacity compared to the company’s more traditional .45 ACP models. With the Emissary 9mm, for example, the pistol’s 9+1 capacity means an extra round versus the Emissary in .45 ACP, a point sales staff should make when showing the pistol to potential customers.

Springfield Armory also can and will help the independent FFL move Springfield products in a variety of other ways.

“We do have multiple point-of-purchase items available that are branded ‘Springfield Armory,’” says Drew Herbst, Springfield’s events program manager. “We do offer Emissary-specific videos to dealers who utilize our Springfield Television program, but, at this time, do not have any specific Emissary signage or brochures.”

Springfield will provide in-store and Zoom-style training to sales staff upon request. And, the gunmaker is open to possible co-op advertising with its dealers. Contact Springfield directly to discuss co-op possibilities.

Retail sales staff can also earn credit towards Springfield firearms and gear through the company’s “Velocity Rewards” program, with staff earning a certain amount of credit for every Springfield firearm sold, including the Emissary. For more information on this program, visit wwww.springfieldrewards.com. 

Springfield sells directly to FFLs as well as through all of the major shooting sports distributors. 

As far as Springfield’s larger marketing efforts for the Emissary line of semi-autos, Humphries noted that the pistols have received many positive reviews in both print and digital platforms and continue to garner additional press. The smart sales staffer may want to put together several links to these online reviews and offer to email them to potential customers. 

“The Emissary offers a combination of eye-catching styling along with near custom-grade features at a price more like a production gun,” Humphries says. “From its Tri-Top slide and heavy bull barrel to its excellent U-Dot sights to the stylish squared trigger guard and two-tone finish, this is a pistol that both looks great and shoots very, very well.”


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