Throughout my testing of the Buy vs Build 1911 series, I have come to realize there are various levels of quality 1911 magazines. I treat my 1911 magazines like modern polymer magazines and will let them drop freely onto the concrete while jamming a fresh mag in and keeping the lead onslaught continuous for the paper target bad guys.
During the course of my testing, I have broken a number of magazines from various companies. After my 5th failure, I decided to go in a different direction and invest in some higher-end 1911 magazines. I was curious to see how they would perform compared to the economically priced options on the market. I hopped on GunMag Warehouse and picked up a half dozen of the Wilson Combat ETM Heavy Duty 1911 magazines that have upgraded springs and aluminum base plates. They are supposed to be the best mags on the market but are they? Let’s take a look at Wilson Combats ETM Heavy Duty magazines.
Wilson Combat’s ETM Heavy Duty magazines are touted to be the toughest 1911 magazines on the market. They come standard with aluminum base pads, and their ETM spring and follower system that’s designed to last despite high round count. Wilson Combat claims they will lock back under stressful conditions and high round usage. The most common failure I had with other magazines was the baseplate breaking off or the followers cracking and shooting out of the top of the magazine.
The ETM Heavy Duty magazines help solve this problem with the overall baseplate lock up. The tougher aluminum baseplates seem more rigid than the polymer baseplates. Wilson Combat’s ETM HD magazines are similar in overall build to their regular magazine with a slot cut to visually inspect the first 7 rounds a circle cutout for the 8th round. Having 8 rounds in the magazine is the perfect blend of capacity while keeping the amount of magazine bulk to a minimum.
When it comes to the ETM HD magazines, the real swan song is the overall reliability offered up from the MAX flat wire spring. Made of stainless steel, it’s corrosion resistant and is 25% stronger in feeding and lock up according to Wilson Combat’s website. I will include technical specs from their website below for you guys. MSRP on these is $45.95 but right now they may cost slightly higher online due to magazine shortages in the market.
Technical Specs (courtesy of Wilson Combat)
- Increases Reliability in ALL 1911 Pistols
- Aircraft Grade Certified Stainless Steel Tube Resists Corrosion
- The ETM has the Strongest Magazine Tube Yet Developed. Virtually Eliminating Feed Lip Cracking, Tube Spread and Cracking and General Fatigue
- .030″ Tube Walls – Thickest in the Industry
- Refined Radius for Each Bend in the Tube to Take Advantage of the Strength in the Stainless Steel
- Proprietary, Custom Designed Welding Process
- Proprietary Multi-Step Tumbling and Finishing Process Provides Smooth Follower Operation and Insertion into the Weapon
- Observation Slots Moved to the Rear of the Tube. Located Exactly Where They Need to be to Maintain the Structural Integrity.
- Innovative Follower Design With its Extended Skirt Ensures Stability in Operation. Minimizes Creep from the Tube when the Magazine is Empty
- Fiber-Fill Nylon Self-Lubricating Follower Provides Smooth Round Feeding
- Positive Slide-Lock After the Last Round has been Fired
- The ETM Seats and Locks in the Weapon with the Slide Down
- Removable Base Pad for Easy Maintenance and Versatility with Different Base Pad Options
- The Quality Control Behind the ETM Promises a Lifetime of Smooth and Reliable Operation
- No-Risk Service Policy
With ammo shortages plaguing most shooters around the country, I have decided to focus on beating the crap out of my test 1911s for the buy vs build series. I’ve shot both around 1,200 rounds (2,400 total) more through each since the last part and both are doing phenomenal. I was having weird issues before switching to the Wilson Combat ETM HD magazines. Thankfully, after making the switch I had zero issues for the rest of my testing. Both guns ran extremely well despite being dirty and abused.
During the last three range sessions, I shot roughly 1,600 rounds through the guns. I used the ETM HD magazines exclusively on concrete pads and sandy areas with gravel. Despite taking an absolute beating on the concrete and getting fine material inside the magazines, they ran 100% reliable with the last round locking to the rear every time. Probably one of my favorite features of the magazines are the open window side cuts in the magazine body. The window side cuts make checking your round count extremely quick. Even if you don’t have an exact round count, having that open window as a reference can give you a rough estimate of how much ammo is in your magazine.
So after almost 2,500 rounds through these ETM HD mags what do I think? I think Wilson Combat built their name on making some of the best parts for 1911s around. Honestly, these magazines are no exception to that claim. I had a number of other magazines explode and completely fail during my testing while these ETM HD magazines have been 100% reliable. They ran flawlessly despite me treating them like a red headed stepchild. If you carry a 1911 daily and want to have a reliable magazine to have in your carry gun, I would definitely recommend these magazines. I have really done everything possible to try and get these to fail. From putting the finest sand into the magazines to accidentally running one over with a truck when shooting around vehicles, these magazines worked through everything.
The only real issue I have with the magazines is the relatively high price of them compared to other 1911 magazines. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things with most SIG Sauer and B&T magazines costing that much, it’s not that expensive for quality magazines. I don’t see myself using other style magazines in the future other than these just because of how tough they’ve proven to be so far. Let me know what your favorite type of magazines for 1911s are in the comments below. If you have questions about magazines or firearms in general, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.
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