July 15, 2013

Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol 9mm, $1253

Our test producty, the Springfield Armory EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol), $1253, sprang from the Browning 1911 design. Chambered for shooter-friendly 9mm ammunition, it offers single-action fire and a thumb-operated safety to simplify operation. Matching short slides to the proper-strength recoil spring can be challenging, and this gun utilized a two-spring plunger-style guide-rod system that seems to be the answer to providing the proper balance of compression and rebound.

To test for accuracy, we fired from a sandbag rest at targets placed 15 yards downrange. We also tried firing three-shot rapid-fire strings at a Hoffners ABC16 target from a distance of 5 yards. This target displays a humanoid silhouette surrounded by six auxiliary aiming points.

We performed the following drill in order to learn more about the fast-action handling of our test pistol:

The shooter began by facing the target, holding the gun with both hands level. Upon start signal we engaged the chest area A-zone with two shots and followed up with a third shot to the B-zone head area. We recorded elapsed time and accuracy over the course of eight three-shot strings.

The purpose of this test was to determine if there were any aspects or features of each gun that prevented us from shooting aggressively. For this exercise we chose Black Hills remanufactured 115-grain JHP rounds. This ammunition was also fired from the bench, as well as Hornady 124-grain JHP/XTP rounds and 147-grain JHP Match Subsonic ammunition from Atlanta Arms and Ammo. It may come as a surprise that such small guns can be fired reliably with light recoiling ammunition, but we did not suffer any malfunctions with any of our guns during our tests.

Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol 9mm

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Of the quartet, the Springfield Armory EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol) was Our Pick. Designed for “short-action pistol cartridges,” or 9mm in this case, the EMP is a scaled-down 1911, beginning with shortening the grip front to back. Short of checkering on the front strap and a magazine guide, the EMP came with every custom 1911 option we could think of. This included a belt holster (shown) and matching dual mag-azine pouch. If these features do not justify the manufacturer’s suggested price tag of $1253, keep in mind that when we fired it from support, we printed sub-1-inch groups at 15 yards with three different types of ammunition.

The EMP cut the smallest overall profile in our test. The alloy frame and steel slide were coated with a matte finish, black frame and satin stainless slide. Thin, fancy wood grips were applied as well as ambidextrous thumb-operated safeties.

The EMP included all of the Springfield Armory Loaded’s features, such as ventilated aluminum trigger adjustable for overtravel, skeletonized hammer, memory groove grip safety, night sights, and checkered mainspring housing. The EMP utilized a bushingless bull barrel system, lowered and flared ejection port and beveled magazine well.

What the operator can’t see was that along with shrinking the grip frame front to back, as many as fifteen different parts had to be scaled down to accommodate the change in size. Accordingly, the manufacturer refers to the EMP as being chambered for "short-action pistol cartridges."

The Enhanced Micro Pistol arrived in a lockable plastic pistol case and two stainless-steel 9-round magazines produced by Mec-Gar of Italy. The base pad of each magazine added a final contour to the front strap and provided an impact point for seating the magazine.

There was also a form-fit holster and dual magazine pouch made of plastic. Each unit included accessory rails along the edges for storing a light or other accessory. The EMP was not fit with a rail for mounting a light.

We found an inscription on the belt side of the magazine carrier that read, "1911 EMP 9mm/40 S&W." According to Springfield Armory a .40 S&W EMP is in the works. Unlike our experience with the bulkier XD pistol pack, the supplied holster proved to be a very good match for the little 1911, holding it smartly to our side. Made in Israel, both the magazine pouch and the holster were tension adjustable.

Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol 9mm

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Springfield beveled all four sides of the magazine well, creating a somewhat oval shape when compared to typical single-stack pistols. We think this helped us load magazines slightly faster.

At the range we worried that the small size of the EMP would prevent us from settling the gun effectively on the bench. We needn’t have worried. The Springfield was the only pistol to land sub-1-inch groups with each test ammunition.

In terms of power, the EMP finished second to the Para Ordnance Hawg 9 firing the Hornady ammunition, which proved to be the most powerful of our test munitions.

When handling the gun, we learned the small grip made it easier to quickly find the magazine release. We had expected the necessary reduction in size of the magazine well to hamper reloading, but Springfield beveled all four sides of the well, creating a slightly oval shape. This helped us insert a fresh magazine. Once the mag was in place, we were able to free the slide using the release lever or by pulling back the slide.

In our action test we discovered that pointing the gun and releasing the safety could be accomplished very quickly. We thought the EMP trigger was the most refined among our test pistols and reset was very fast. These characteristics let us shoot very aggressively and set the fastest times of our tests. Elapsed time ranged from 1.64 seconds to 1.86 seconds. In the A-zone only one shot struck left of center. Two shots were high of the B-zone but hit below the scalp line, and one shot found the lower jaw of the silhouette.

Overall, we felt that the EMP offered a fresh angle on 1911 ergonomics. For those with large hands, it initially felt small and perhaps lacked the traditional willingness to point that 1911s are famous for. But when nestled in the palm, control during rapid fire was reassuring. For the shooter with small hands, the EMP should offer unparalleled ergonomics.

Comments (20)

I shot competitively with my Kimber Ultra CDP against this Micro 9. It was not much of a test; the Kimber is a superior firearm. Once we shot against each other, we traded guns and repeated the competition with the same results..the Kimber on top. The price is about the same, so if you're in the market you should give the Kimber a test drive before you commit.

Posted by: Corespray | August 19, 2010 1:59 PM    Report this comment

EMP is a fine piece. Bought mine for under 1000 bucks a couple of years ago. Shop around for a good price

Posted by: ELMO O. F | July 24, 2010 5:02 AM    Report this comment

I second the comment about price comparisons. I'll stick to my hipoint 9mm for $180. Very accurate, very reliable. 1 misdeed (10th round) in 1,000 rounds.
Also have carbine with red dot sight & scope. Waiting for .45 carbine they already do the pistol. My "shooter" is the kel-tec pmr 30, 30 round mag .22 mag pistol (on order). Who says amer.
mfrs can't make good inexpensive guns!
Now if KELTEC would only make a BULLPUP 12 or 16 gauge!!!

Posted by: longarm45 | July 22, 2010 4:48 AM    Report this comment

Gun Tests rocks! You need to consider a formal evaluation of any product with respect to your needs and likes; don't blindly follow based on the authors' opinions. Yes, sometimes a particular gun may do well this time and not the next, but that's because they buy a different gun for each test. I think much of the grading wrt warranty coverage has to do with how they are treated when they call.

I have an EMP 40 and love it. The .40 is much heavier than the 9mm as it uses steel.

As far as price goes, if you think these guys are too expensive, they're right up there with reputable 1911's in .45 ACP.

Posted by: PVB | July 15, 2010 7:43 PM    Report this comment

Nice looking, seems to shoot well, but imo way over priced.

Posted by: 106345 | July 15, 2010 1:52 PM    Report this comment

Nice writeup on the SA Micro.

I'll stick with my Colt New Ranger for a micro 1911. Same familiar .45 power with the smaller imprint. Pricey new, but I've seen some competitively priced pre-owned in the classifieds.

I have a full sized 1911 S&W and a compact S&W M&P, all .45 cal. I guess I just like the big bang.

Posted by: dbrawner | July 15, 2010 1:01 PM    Report this comment

I'd like to see how this compares to the Kimber .45 Ultra Carry... I thinking of that with the Crimson laser grips

Posted by: logisnews | January 26, 2010 6:46 PM    Report this comment

Great website.

Posted by: reigendo | August 7, 2009 9:21 AM    Report this comment

As someone with large hands and a fairly beefy web twixt thumb and forefinger, I can appreciate a generous beavertail. In fact, I've installed extended beavertails on all my 1911's, both .45 and .38 Super.


Posted by: Lee W | August 2, 2009 6:36 PM    Report this comment

i find the longer barrels kimber pro carry,glock32. tend to keep the grip from printing, for those of us carrying a spare tire around.

Posted by: aztimberwolf | August 2, 2009 6:22 PM    Report this comment

Well I appreciate your position Robert. In fact I do have a 9mm I carry pretty often, but it is a pocket pistol. If I carry in a holster/on a belt it is a Kimber Pro CDP. Plenty small, light, surprisingly accurate and still a .45. Maybe one day when I get older I'll carry a nine. Maybe I am just trying to hang on to the last vestage of a lost youth! HA!

Posted by: Markbo | July 31, 2009 5:15 PM    Report this comment

Totally agree with Roberts comment that shot placement is the key. I shot my SA XD9 at the range next to a guy with a 1911 45 and he was all over the place; I assume better accuracy is related to comfort with the smaller Springfields - who'd "win" in a shoot-out? Other issue is portability, as it makes it more likely that you'll want to carry it. Best way to win a gun fight is to have a gun... Really appreciate these reports!

Posted by: TopGun | July 31, 2009 4:42 PM    Report this comment

To answer your question Markbo, this is a scaled down version of the 1911 made to shoot a smaller cal. You would settle for a 9mm to carry a smaller framed pistol, common practice these days. When I was younger I carried a full sized 1911 .45 cal. Colt everyday, not the most comfortable situation. Know that I am older, and a better shot, a smaller gun is much easier to carry and conceal and I don't feel under gunned with a .38 cal. or 9mm. Shot placement is the most important variable.

Posted by: Robert J | July 31, 2009 8:00 AM    Report this comment

Well it certainly has the most upswept beavertail I've ever seen. But if you're going to carry a 1911, and I have no doubt this is a very good one, why settle for a 9mm?

Posted by: Markbo | July 30, 2009 7:25 PM    Report this comment

Nicely stated, Lee. I agree.

Posted by: Steve S | July 30, 2009 4:47 PM    Report this comment

80% to 90% of the time I agree with Gun Tests and their assessments. The other 10% to 20% I am right and they are wrong. Ahem. This little gun is wonderful. I am saving to purchase the .45 micro in this version (slightly larger frame)

Posted by: Tim C | July 30, 2009 2:33 PM    Report this comment

Thiis is an awesome little gun. I just wish all of us in Kalifornia could get the 40SW version.
I am a gunsmith and am trying to get a slide and barrel from SA in 40 for my 9.

Posted by: pilotsel | July 30, 2009 12:08 PM    Report this comment

As a long time subscriber also, I second Lee's comments.

Posted by: BARRY C | July 30, 2009 11:04 AM    Report this comment

That's not how this site works, Scott. What they do is feature a single gun each week from the archives of Gun Tests Magazine. This gun is from the Feb 1, 2007 issue. If you would like to read the entire report on all three guns, you may subscribe to Gun Tests, which will not only provide you with the magazine, but give you full access to the entire archive of back issues on the website. I've been a subscriber for years, and I find that Gun Tests is the Consumer Reports of the gun press, more informative and more useful than American Rifleman, Guns & Ammo, Guns, and Shooting Times put together. Just my humble opinion. I'm not an employee, investor, or connected in any other way with Gun Tests, just a happy customer.


Posted by: Lee W | July 30, 2009 10:23 AM    Report this comment

you didn't say anything about the other three pistols that you used to compair

Posted by: scott r | July 30, 2009 9:13 AM    Report this comment

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