Pistol Review : Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” Concealed Carry Contour 9mm

Walking around the 2017 SHOT Show, I had the pleasure of handling Springfield Armory’s new 1911 EMP-4 Concealed Carry Contour pistol. The EMP-4 Concealed Carry Contour is an evolution of Springfield Armories original 1911 EMP 4” Lightweight Champion. The EMP-4 Concealed Carry Contour is a Commander-sized 1911 that features a match grade 4 inch bull barrel as well as a bevel on the butt of the pistol that mitigates “printing” when carrying concealed. As soon as I got back to New Mexico, I requested and received one for testing.

Key Specs of the Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” Concealed Carry Contour pistol:

  • The Springfield Armory 1911 EMP – 4” is chambered in 9mm
  • The Pistol features a dual spring as well as a full length Guide Rod
  • The Springfield Armory 1911 EMP – 4” weighs 30.5 ounces with an empty magazine. For comparison a loaded Glock 19 weighs 30.18 ounces
  • The slide is composed of forged stainless steel and features a satin finish. The frame is made of forged Aluminum Alloy and is hardcoat anodized.
  • The barrel is a 4 inch stainless steel match grade bull barrel. It has a fully supported ramp and features a 1:16 inch left hand twist.
  • The pistol includes a fiber optic front sight and a “combat style” 2 dot rear sight.
  • Springfield includes 3, 9 round magazines with the 1911 EMP – 4” Concealed Carry Contour pistol

Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” Concealed Carry Contour pistol. Springfield includes 3, 9 round magazines.

The Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” has a 4 inch stainless steel match grade bull barrel.

The Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” Concealed Carry contour gets its name from the bevel cut on the grip. Note the checkering on the rear part of the grip.

Note the checkering on the front of the pistol. Well executed.

The Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” alongside a Glock 19. Very similar in size and weight.

Testing was done on some BLM land near my home in New Mexico. Prior to testing, the pistol was cleaned, then lightly oiled with M-Pro 7. Aided by Snap Caps dummy rounds, I spent 45 minutes dry firing the pistol. During my dry fire session, I found the Springfield Armory 1911 EMP to be well balanced, and the trigger was simply amazing.

The paper target I used for testing.

The BYOR stand and Dueling Plates from Grizzly Targets. This is an awesome setup.The Plates are 5 inches across.

For field testing, I was joined by a colleague and close friend Kevin Reed. Kevin is both a big fan and student of the 1911 platform. Since the Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” Concealed Carry Contour pistol features a match grade bull barrel, we held ourselves to a high accuracy standard during testing. Aside from some paper targets, field testing included a pair of Grizzly Targets, Dueling Plates.

Off-hand accuracy testing was done at 10 yards. The Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4”, was shot from 5 yards to 30 yards .

After setting up the targets, I stood 10 yards from the paper target and shot 1.5 to 2 inch groups with ease. Transitioning to the 5 inch Grizzly Dueling Plates, I had no problems getting first round hits out to 25 yards. After testing the practical accuracy of the Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” Concealed Carry Contour pistol, I shot some aggressive strings of fire. The 9mm chambering allowed for a soft recoil, which in turn allowed me to recover quickly and accurately get more bullets down range faster. During range testing, Kevin and I fired close to 200 rounds of ammunition. The ammunition tested was Federal RTP, polymer coated American Eagle/SYNTECH and some Blazer Brass. All ammunition was 115 grains. With the exception of 1 bad primer, that even my Glock 19 failed to fire, we didn’t have a single malfunction.

The following ammunition was used during testing. With the exception of a bad primer, the Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” functioned flawlessly.

I had no problems hitting this 5 inch steel target at 25 yards. I found the Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” to be very accurate.

Typical groups at 10 yards.

Range testing was done on a Saturday. On Sunday, I had a host of chores to do around my wooded property. Slipping the Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” pistol inside a leather Blackhawk IWB holster I went outside to work. I wore the pistol for several hours while I did chores and found that a Glock 19-sized 1911 is quite comfortable to carry concealed, and the bevel cut on the grip did mitigate printing.  When I placed the holster in an appendix carry position and sat down, I found that the butt of the pistol did not aggressively dig into my abdomen and was comfortable, even in a sitting position.

Final Thoughts

After 200 rounds and 8 hours with the Springfield Armory 1911 EMP 4” Concealed Carry Contour pistol, I came away with an extremely high opinion of the platform. The pistol was accurate, and I would have no problem popping someone’s grape at 25 yards, and 75 yard hits on an IPSC target would not be a problem. The pistol is comfortable to carry concealed, and ready to go right out of the box. Aside from being concealed, this pistol would make a fine duty weapon. Springfield did a very good job with this pistol and I would not hesitate to carry one. These pistols are perfect.

A big thanks to Grizzly Targets and Springfield Armory. Be sure to check out our YouTube Channel, TFBTV. As always tips, questions, comments and jokes are welcome in the comments below.

Thomas Gomez

Thomas Gomez currently resides in the mountains of central New Mexico. He has an M.B.A, an Ar-15/M16/M4 armorer certification from Specialized Armament Warehouse as well as a Glock armorer certification. Aside from writing for The Firearm Blog he works as a Clinical Analyst for a large Hospital. He spends his free time farming, ranching, hiking, fly-fishing and hunting in the beautiful forests and prairies of New Mexico. He can be reached at LOADTHATBIPOD@gmail.com


  • Mrninjatoes

    “Pop someone’s grape at 25 yards”?! Hillarious!

    • Thomas Gomez

      Well…I could if i had to! Hope this finds you well!

  • Rory Deubel

    Those grips look beautiful! Perfect? That’s a bold statement.

    • FightFireJay

      Perfect is a tall order indeed, but the texture is very grippy AND comfortable.

      • grislyatoms


  • RogUinta

    I like the idea that they’ve redesigned the 1911 around the 9×19 cartridge. I don’t like the idea that they’re charging over $1000 for it. Yes, yes, I understand it’s basically all new tooling as there are few (if any) components shared with the standard 1911, but still.

    • Thomas Gomez

      You should see what Wilson is charging for their Commander-sized 9mm. Hope this finds you well!

      • RogUinta

        But they’re Wilson Combat, Made In The USA(TM), assembled with solid gold tools by the finest craftsmen, and lubricated with the blood of virgin unicorns.


        I guess my gripe is that I can’t find a alloy framed, hammer-fired, single-stack 9mm with 9-10 round capacity for under a grand other than the Colt Defender 9mm. The SIG P225 maxes out at 8 rounds for some dumb reason. Other Officer-sized 1911s are in the same price range. I feel like CZ is missing a big opportunity here.

        • TexasJeeper

          What about the Ruger SR1911 9mm?

        • missourisam

          I sprung for a Ruger light weight commander pattern in .45 ACP. With an eight round clip, and one in the tube, I don’t feel under gunned, and the name of this weapon is consistency. After firing nine rounds I can pick up my brass in an eighteen inch circle, and it shoots target grade groups. I especially like the titanium insert in the feed ramp of the frame, as that has always been the weak point in an aluminum frame 1911 gun. Weighing ten ounces less than a government sized model, I expected rather sharp recoil. I was very surprised to find there was less felt recoil. And I sure didn’t pay two grand for my Ruger.

        • iksnilol

          What’s wrong with the CZ 2075 RAMI?

          10 shots, is hella small.

          • mig1nc

            Double stack, roughly similar in width to a Glock 26.

            Lots of people wish that CZ would make a single stack RAMI though. Including me.

            A 7+1 or 8+1 single stack RAMI would be my ideal gun.

            A Smith & Wesson 3rd gen 3913 TSW would be damn near ideal too, but they are out of production and parts are drying up with no warranty support anymore.

          • iksnilol

            I’m kinda wanting a Beretta Alleycat to be honest.

          • mig1nc

            Cool gun, but .32ACP?

          • iksnilol

            I’m an old school hustler and I dig the trey-deuce.

          • Marc

            Sig p239. 8+1 of 9mm. Love mines.

        • mindflayer

          Have you considered the Sig Sauer P938?

          • Robert Rivers

            938 is not in the same league.. I have 2 of em and the EMP.. I do like the 938 but like the EMP better

          • mindflayer

            How so? That EMP has been calling to me, but I last shot one years ago.

            Tell me how I’m going to spend my money. 🙂

    • Rory Deubel

      Rather than dealing with the 1911 platform, one could just buy the Browning Hi-Power and call it a day.

      • gunsandrockets

        Almost the same weight too, despite the aluminum EMP frame.

      • The Hi Power is a great classic pistol, but it is more expensive than this SA.

        • RogUinta

          Significantly wider, too. I have two BHPs – love them – but they do not conceal anywhere near as easily as a slim 1911. I’m sure the slimmer EMP conceals even better.

          • Robert Rivers

            Yep, this carries way better than a BHP..

  • TechnoTriticale

    The lingering question on the EMP4 is: why did they do it?

    They could have just done a bobbed EMP (what I guess we now have to call the EMP3). EMP3 is more than adequately accurate.

    The EMP4 grip appears to be yet-another unique geometry, for which no lasergrip is presently available (and which took years to get on the EMP3). No rail, and non-standard guide rod mean further limitations on getting a laser solution. EMP3 at least offered tritium night sights.

    Have they fixed the FTX feeding problem seen on the EMP3?

    At the price, including both ambi and left-side-only thumb safeties would have been a plus.

    • Thomas Gomez

      Hello. It has ambidextrous safeties. Hope this finds you well.

      • TechnoTriticale

        re: Hello. It has ambidextrous safeties. Hope this finds you well.

        Yes, and that’s the problem for those who don’t want it (e.g. carry style results in brushing against things causing the outside lever to take it out of safe).

        Yes, the thumb safety is probably one of the mostly-M1911-standard parts of the EMP3/4, but it’s generally considered to be a hand-fitted part (and buying parts from SA is always something of a challenge).

        • I’ve never had a problem with the ambi-thumb safety but if it’s a concern it’s easily changed to a single side thumb safety.

          • RogUinta

            Is that true with the EMP, though? I believe the EMP’s frame dimensions are different from the standard 1911. Would a standard 1911 safety fit?

          • As I understand it, the only proprietary parts on the EMP are the frame, slide, extractor, firing pin, firing pin spring, trigger, magazine, and stocks. Basically, everything else should fit a standard 1911-style pistol of the same barrel length and frame height.

          • FightFireJay

            The following parts are “standard”…
            Thumb safety
            Grip safety
            Sear/trigger spring
            And more…

        • FightFireJay

          So have a local gunsmith fit your favorite thumb safety.

          It’s not one of the 17 modified parts.

    • FightFireJay

      “At the price, including both ambi and left-side-only thumb safeties would have been a plus.”

      Does amy 1911 or other pistol company do that?

  • retfed

    I thought the reason the 1911 was The Best Pistol Ever Made By Man was . . . .45! You know, the bullet that throws you through the nearest plate glass window if it hits you in the toe! And here is someone asking you to pay over a grand for an obsolescent design that fires the worthless effeminate Europellet!
    And, it’s not really “similar in . . . weight” to the Glock. It weighs 30.5 ounces with an empty magazine, and the Glock weighs 30.18 ounces fully loaded. Put your 9+1 in the 1911, and you’re over 32 ounces. With six fewer rounds. Two ounces doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can be if you’re carrying it for 12 or 16 hours.
    It’s probably thinner than the Glock, though, and marginally easier to conceal. Thinness is one of the 1911’s best qualities.
    It looks like a nice gun. If I were in the market for a 9mm 1911, I’d give it a serious look. The price is reasonable, considering that if you buy a cheaper 1911, by the time you get it to work right, you will have spent as much as this one costs.

    • grislyatoms

      I was the same train of thought. See if you can rent one at the local gun range. I guarantee you’ll be pleased.

  • USMC03Vet

    I want to try the EMP 9mm. I keep hearing good things about them, but that price, Mang.

  • Marcus D.

    Not sure why .40 “requires” a steel frame. I have a commander sized 1911 in .45 with an aluminum frame (that actually weighs three ounces less than this gun).

  • Marcus D.

    Personally I would love one of these. I’ve been a fan (from afar due to $) of the EMP, and this looks like a great EDC. The weight is a bit much; my Kimber Pro Carry II weighs in at 27 oz empty, and that’s in .45. Is the weight due to the extra thick barrel?

    [Sadly, I can’t have one, as it won’t make it to the Roster unless the microstamp certification by Kamala Harris is overturned. (The California Supreme Court is considering the question, but I fear that they will look at whether the microstamp law is constitutional as opposed to whether the AG certification (that the technology was readily available to implement the law) was an abuse of discretion since in fact technology complying with the law does not in fact exist.)

    • John Zie

      Not this exact model but the EMP is on the CA not unsafe handgun roster available for purchase.

      • Marcus D.

        Yes, but it is only a 3″ barrel and it doesn’t have the contour cut. I have a Kahr with a 3 1/2″ barrel, and the recoil is, shall we say, “bright.” It takes some getting used to. True, the Kahr is only 16 oz. empty, but I suspect that the EMP 3 would have a lot of muzzle flip also despite its 10 oz additional weight. On the up side, however, I suspect that the price of the 3 may drop a hundred or more because of this new gun. If it got down to around $700 it would be well worth it.

  • iksnilol

    Y U no doublestack ?

  • Will

    Cheap guns are not good. Good guns are not cheap.
    So I’ve been told.

  • Silver Mesa Tactical

    “The pistol was accurate, and I would have no problem popping someone’s grape at 25 yards[…]”

    Real talk, apparently.

  • Tommy Ray

    hmmm, perfect

  • grislyatoms

    I am the “Kevin Reed” mentioned in the article. I was reluctant at first to try a 1911 in any caliber other than .45 ACP. I found this pistol to be light, pointable, and an absolute joy to carry and shoot. Thomas outshoots me, but I’m an old fart.
    I’ll say this…reluctant as I was about a 9mm 4″ barrel 1911, I bought the exact same model for myself. It is with me 24/7.

    • grislyatoms

      Fit, finish, all above par. Wary of anything but 5″ 1911’s and will not buy any 1911 shorter than 4″. Too many problems. Geometry and all. Could not be more pleased with my purchase of the 1911 Thomas and I tested.

  • Rick

    To retfed, I wanted to address a number of things in your “enlightened”

    I’d really like to hear your definition of “obsolete”. If
    you mean manufactured and sold by more companies than ever before, bought by
    vast numbers of people that know how to handle a pistol then yes the 1911 is

    Marginally more concealable than a Glock. Yep, marginally more
    concealable than a 2×4 in my pants…

    I’ve owned and carried 1911’s for over (well over)30 years.
    I haven’t had to have a 1911 gunsmithed to make it work since the 80’s.

    TechnoTriticale, I’ve had the ambi safety get brushed off
    maybe twice in 20 years of Every-damn-day carry…turned it into a Glock..oh my!

    On the EMP4- 4 in. barrel, yes. Commander frame, no. On an
    Officers frame, yes.

  • Robert Rivers

    I went hunting for and picked one of these up as soon as I saw it mentioned in reports from SHOT.. What a great gun.. Had been planning to switch my EDC from Glock 19 to Commander sized SIG Nightmare but the EMP is taking its place..