10 Years in the Making: The 1911 EMP® 4"

Posted by Steve Horsman

Jan 16, 2016 12:00:00 AM


The latest addition to the Springfield Armory® 1911 family of firearms has had a long journey.

Back in 2006, Springfield Armory® introduced the 1911 EMP® (Enhanced Micro Pistol) in 9mm and .40SW calibers at the SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range. While there, I was able to test-fire some of the very first EMP® pistols ever made. I couldn't believe how accurately they both shot, but, for some reason, the 9mm model really stood out to me. The pistols were immediately a success in the gun world, and still are today.

10 Years in the Making

A decade later, Springfield is ready to release the next family member of the EMP®  line - the 1911 EMP® 4" Lightweight Champion™. So, what’s the big deal about one more inch of slide and barrel length?

My reply: A lot.

It's all about balance

That extra inch in length adds weight and moves the balance point of the gun forward. Not only does this make the gun point better, but with more weight out front, the gun also kicks and flips less. I like that!

More to hold

The four-inch frame is also taller than the original EMP®. This gives your hands more area to get a grip on and increases the length of the magazine. Adding one round to the original capacity, the 4" EMP® magazines carry 10 rounds in 9mm and 9 rounds in .40SW.

Trying it On for Size

When I had the chance to play with the new EMP® 4", I was really liking what I experienced. Besides the longer slide and barrel, here were my three favorite features:

  • A fiber-optic front sight with a two-dot, low-mount rear sight
  • A modern-looking, scalloped-out trigger (this is a very nice touch)
  • The new, front-strap checkering pattern (the people at Springfield Armory® outdid themselves on this one) is not the traditional, pyramid-shaped peaks we've grown to love, but dimples that slightly resemble a golf ball, but much deeper - the grip feels really good, not too aggressive and completely snag-proof

Great stuff.

Smooth and flat

The EMP® 4" pistol, from its smooth, snag-free edges to its slim profile, is a breeze to conceal. This new model continues the theme of the smooth-edged carry pistol that the gun is known for. 

Off-duty option 

Law-enforcement agencies nationwide are looking to 1911s for SWAT officers and on-duty uniformed patrols. I'm guessing this new 4" member of the EMP® series will be as well-received as the 3" model.

If I had been lucky enough to carry a 1911 as my primary duty gun, I definitely would have liked an EMP® as my off-duty gun. It has all the same controls and operates identically to its full-size counterpart, just in a smaller package. 


On the Range

One thing was obvious to me when I got the EMP® 4" out to the range - it has retained the crazy-good accuracy that all EMP® models are known for. I was shooting targets from 10 to 25 yards. At the 10-yard line, I could easily put round after round on top of each other. The groups were about four inches on the 25-yard target.

This is as good as I can shoot any pistol at 25 yards, standing, offhand.

I also fed several different types of hollow-point and FMJ 9mm ammo through it. As expected, the gun ran flawlessly.

Small 1911, Full-Size Capability

In the short time I spent with this pistol, it left a big impression on me. The EMP® 4" will be on my shortlist of guns to get in 2016.

For the 1911 aficionado that is looking for a smaller and slimmer pistol for concealed carry but doesn't want to give up full-size handling, this 4-inch EMP® 9mm may be the 1911 you have been waiting for.

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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 are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory®.