I think I'm one of the few people on the ConcealedCarry.com team who carries a 1911 on a semi-regular basis. It's not a problem and I know the other guys own 1911s, but I'm one of the few folks who will trust my life to one on a regular basis. There is just something about the Browning creation, and genius if I'm being totally honest, that I love. And, the updated versions of this time-tested masterpiece are as flawless as one can expect from a self-defense weapon–most of the time.
Springfield Armory's EMP 4 in 9mm is one of those guns that I'd consider to be near-flawless. I've got countless rounds of ammunition through mine and can count the number of malfunctions on one hand. Come with me on this journey as I show you why I fell in love with this beauty, and why my wife claimed it as her own …
The serrated, skeletonized trigger breaks with a crisp, short pull to the rear with minimal take-up. And, being that 9mm isn't the hottest self-defense cartridge on the market, regaining sight picture with this 31 ounce gun and fiber optic front sight makes follow up shots a breeze.
Also available in .40 S&W for those of you who are of the opinion that you can't be a man unless your caliber starts with a “4,” the stainless slide, satin frame, and reddish Cocobolo grips makes this one of the most aesthetically pleasing guns I've ever had the pleasure of owning. Looks are, of course, an added bonus that always takes a back seat to functionality.
The barrel, as the name implies, is four inches long and is what I'd call a match grade, bull barrel that's accurate at all defensive distances and when pushed out to 25 yards–which is the maximum distance I've taken her. After firing countless thousands of rounds through this light-recoiling Springfield Armory EMP 4 Lightweight Champion 1911, I'm happy and quite pleased to say that a only a handful of malfunctions occurred. Those malfunctions, by the way, were due to a nasty, mucked-up firearm.
As a side note, it turns out Frog Lube isn't the best lubricant to shoot in extreme cold temperatures, and when used with a proper, high quality gun oil, she runs like Secretariat after rounding the last corner on the straightaway.
Lefty shooters will likely appreciate the fact that the safety is ambidextrous, but the ambi controls stop there, as it does with most 1911 pistols. Overall, this pistol feels like it belongs in my hand with controls exactly where they're supposed to be, and the grip's front strap “stippling” really helps it stay planted in my hand.
The overall grip width feels thinner on this single-stack aluminum-framed 1911 (.40 is carbon steel), and the three Mec-Gar, 10-round 9mm magazines are likely enough to have most bad guys re-think their life choices. Having 10-round magazines, by the way, is a perfect number while traveling through less-than-gun-friendly states because 10-rounders are, for some reason, the magic number in magazine-restricted states.
I know from experience, because I drove from my home in Pennsylvania to North Carolina, only stopping to take this very gun off my hip through Maryland. Then, once back in America (in Virginia), I strapped it back on my person, and kept on trucking. In my LAG Tactical Defender, IWB gun holster in the 4 o'clock position, I barely knew this beautiful 1911 was even there.
With an overall length of 7.5″ this $1179 pistol isn't the easiest gun to conceal on your person, but if you're like me and prefer the grip angle of a 1911, when carried cocked, locked, and ready to rock–the EMP4 Lightweight Champion is a solid option for your EDC gun.
In addition to the branding Springfield Armory slaps all over this otherwise gorgeous pistol, the only other thing I'm not fond of is the fact that take down requires the use of a little “L” shaped tool. If you misplace things at the rate I do, you could also use a paperclip (which I've done before). Take down is easy enough if you're used to the disassembly of a 1911, the only difference is to insert the “L” into the guide rod's hole with the slide locked to the rear. There is no barrel bushing to rotate, and the rest is pretty much self-explanatory. (I've detailed the process more, below)
Overall, this light-recoiling 1911 in 9mm is one of the most beautiful guns in my collection. It also just happens to run like a champ, which makes me question … is this what Springfield Armory had in mind when they named it Lightweight Champion? I guess we'll never know, but with an MSRP of $1179, and the ability to find them out in your local gun shop for cheaper than that, I'd say this is a solid choice for anyone in the market for a 9mm self-defense gun, with a 1911 profile. While I don't carry it anymore, it's good enough for my wife, and that's good enough for me.
Do you carry a 1911 for self-defense? Let us know in the comments below.
Here is the take down process, detailed in a few photos: