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.
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 Loadeds 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 cant 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.
At the range we worried that the small size of the EMP would prevent us from settling the gun effectively on the bench. We neednt 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.