A Little Bigger is Better by Paul Scarlata

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A Little Bigger is Better by Paul Scarlata: Springfield’s EMP Lightweight Concealed Carry Compact 1911-style 9mmP

There can be no denying the popularity of the 1911 pistol. Since its introduction, it has set the standard by which all other combat handguns are judged. It has many positive aspects, but for those who carry a pistol all day, it presents a significant problem: size.

A full-sized, steel-frame 1911 is at least 216mm long and, when unloaded, tips the scales at over 1kg. That is quite a chunk of metal to lug around on your belt or conceal under a jacket all day. Despite this, there is a hard core of shooters who would never think of carrying anything but 1911.

The primary reason for the 1911’s inconvenient dimensions and weight is the cartridge it was designed to fire. The .45ACP is a large round, hence the immutable laws of physics require a pistol of a certain size to launch it from. Over the years, a number of manufacturers have offered compact 1911 pistols but the process of compacting involved little more than hacking off sections of the slide and barrel, and shortening the grip frame. While this resulted in a shorter, lighter pistol it came at the cost of ergonomics, reliability and magazine capacity.

Springfield Armory of Geneseo, Illinois, United States, is presently marketing one of the most complete lines of standard, compact, sub-compact and Micro 1911s, has responded to requests for a more compact 1911. Several years ago, it released the Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP) which was radically re-engineered specifically for concealed carry.

To achieve this, Springfield’s en- gineers had to discard that sacred icon of ‘1911dom’: the .45 ACP cartridge, and chamber their new pistol in 9mm Parabellum. While we can all hear the wails of protest and gnashing of teeth out there, pay it no attention. Despite what the big-bullet crowd persists in believing, when loaded with high performance, hollow-point bullets, modern 9mm ammo no longer has to take a back seat to its larger calibre cousins when it comes to terminal performance. And it provides the added benefits of lower recoil and higher magazine capacity.

Then, Springfield redesigned no fewer than 15 different components to produce the EMP, among which are a shorter slide, extractor, firing-pin, firing-pin spring, frame, trigger-bow, trigger mechanism, plunger tube and its spring. They gave the pistol a three-inch barrel and shortened the stainless steel slide accordingly, reducing its overall length to 6.6 inches (15.8cm). The frame is made of black anodized alloy which pared the EMP’s unloaded weight to a mere 27 ounces (765g) – about the same as many snub-nosed revolvers.

Read the full article in the April issue of Magnum.

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