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Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Handgun: Full Review

The mission of the Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary in .45 ACP is to blend form and function in a defensive pistol that's loaded with custom-grade features. Here's a full review.

Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Handgun: Full Review

(Michael Anschuetz photo)

Springfield Armory says its new 1911 Emissary has a special mission: to blend form and function in a defensive pistol loaded with custom-grade features. As such, it has the bells and whistles discerning defensive shooters demand with an air of custom refinement. All at a suggested retail price of $1,279. This new .45 ACP Model 1911 embodies the great versatility of John M. Browning’s crowning achievement. I can see it being used for duty and defense, action shooting, hunting, and plinking. You really can do just about anything with a good, solid, accurate Model 1911 like the new Emissary.

Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Handgun Left Side
The new Emissary’s distinctive styling includes a square trigger guard; a new texturing pattern on the grip’s frontstrap, mainspring housing, and grip panels; and a tri-top slide. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

Features

The 1911 Emissary weighs 40 ounces without a magazine and is 8.4 inches long, 5.25 inches tall (again without a magazine), and 1.26 inches thick at the thumb safety. By the way, the thumb safety is not ambidextrous. The slide is 0.92 inch thick, and the grip is 1.11 inches thick with a circumference of 5.25 inches. The pistol’s defining features are the tri-top slide, the 5.0-inch bushingless bull barrel (outside diameter of 0.699 inch at the muzzle), the recessed Tactical Rack U-notch rear sight, the integral accessories rail on the frame, the textured VZ thin-line G10 grip panels, the texturing on the forged stainless-steel frame, and the square trigger guard.

The forged, carbon-steel, hot salt blued slide has polished sides and four forward-angled cocking grooves at the rear and three up front. The front grooves are extra wide and are located on the angled flats that form the tri-top shape. The top flat has fine striations for light diffusion and glare reduction. The skeletonized hammer, grip and thumb safeties, slide stop, flat mainspring housing, and magazine catch button are matte black.

The rear sight has a 0.139-inch U-shaped notch that has a white outline. And as I said earlier, it’s recessed into the slide; it’s also a ledge type that allows racking the slide by pressing it against a solid surface. The dovetailed front sight is 0.144 inch thick and 0.172 inch tall, and it has a green tritium dot that’s surrounded by a luminescent yellow ring. The rear surface is forward-angled for a snag-free draw.


Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Handgun Sights
The Emissary’s sights consist of a white-outline, U-shaped rear and a tritium/luminescent front dot. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

The match-grade, stainless-steel, heavy barrel, as mentioned, is bushingless with a recessed muzzle crown. At 1:16, the twist rate is the standard for the .45 ACP. The chamber is throated and polished, and the feed-ramp is fully supported. A notch at the rear of the barrel hood serves as a visual loaded chamber indicator.

The pistol’s forged stainless-steel frame is finished in darker-than-usual matte gray, which I think contrasts nicely with the polished sides of the blued slide. It’s plenty of contrast, but not as much as with a lighter-colored natural stainless-steel frame, and I like the slightly subdued effect. The frame’s integral accessories rail has three cross-slots.

The G10 grip panels are held in place by hex-head screws. The blocky texturing on the grips is very similar in pattern to the texturing on the pistol’s grip frame frontstrap and the flat mainspring housing. Springfield calls it a grenade pattern. The bottom of the grip frame is beveled.


The solid Gen 2 Speed trigger has a striated surface. The finger piece is 0.21 inch wide, and the trigger pull of my sample pistol averaged 5 pounds, 7.9 ounces over 10 measurements with an RCBS trigger pull scale. There is a slight amount of take-up, which is expected with any Model 1911, but it breaks crisply and consistently.

The pistol’s high-sweep beavertail-style grip safety has a smooth memory bump (some call it a speedbump) that helps ensure a positive grip for proper function every time it’s gripped. The beavertail prevents hammerbite.




Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Handgun Muzzle Crown
The pistol has a bushingless, 5.0-inch, stainless-steel, match-grade heavy barrel with a recessed muzzle crown and a full-length recoil spring guide rod. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

All parts are precision fitted, and the fit and finish of my test gun are excellent. There’s absolutely no detectable wiggle between the slide and the frame, there’s no slop between the barrel hood and the slide, and the barrel doesn’t move at all when pressed on while in battery.

Because it does not have a barrel bushing, disassembling the Emissary is slightly different than a standard Model 1911 with a barrel bushing; however, the procedure is simple. Remove the magazine and make sure the pistol is unloaded. Align the disassembly notch in the left side of the slide with the slide stop. Push the slide stop shaft on the right side of the frame and remove the slide stop from the left side. Separate the slide assembly from the frame. Push the recoil spring assembly forward to expose a small pin-sized hole in the one-piece full-length guide rod. Insert the bent end of the small disassembly pin (or a bent paperclip) into the hole. Remove the recoil spring housing from the rear of the slide. Remove the barrel from the front of the slide. Reassemble in reverse order.

The Emissary comes in a soft zippered carry case that measures 10x7x1 inches. It also comes with a gun padlock, the disassembly pin, and two Mec-Gar magazines. The magazines are made in Italy and have chrome bodies, black polymer followers, and removable black polymer baseplates. They hold eight rounds of .45 ACP ammunition each.

Recommended


Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Handgun Stainless-Steel Frame
The .45 ACP Emissary’s forged stainless-steel frame has an integral accessories rail with three cross-slots. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

Performance

In my humble opinion, the Emissary shoots well—I would go so far as to say it shoots as good as it looks. I put it to the test by firing 10 different .45 ACP factory loads, ranging in bullet weight from 185 to 230 grains. All loads produced five-shot group averages of less than 3.00 inches at 25 yards. That’s for three, five-shot groups with each load.

The pistol’s tightest group average was 1.33 inches, and it came with Barnes 185-grain TAC-XP +P ammo. That load produced an average velocity of 899 fps, with a standard deviation of 39 fps and an extreme spread of 19 fps.

The second most accurate load was the SIG SAUER 230-grain FMJ load, averaging 1.61 inches for its three, five-shot groups.

This ammo produced an average velocity of 844 fps with an extreme spread of 30 fps and a standard deviation of 13 fps.

Third place in the accuracy department went to the Hornady Critical Defense 185-grain FTX loading. It averaged 2.05 inches and produced an average velocity of 1,008 fps with an extreme spread of 20 fps and a standard deviation of 14 fps.

Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Handgun Weight
The Emissary weighs 40 ounces without a magazine and measures 8.4 inches long, 5.25 inches tall, and 1.26 inches thick. It has a darker than usual matte gray stainless-steel frame and a blued slide with polished sides that gives it a unique two-tone effect. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

The load with the smallest extreme spread (16 fps) and standard deviation (9 fps) was the SIG SAUER 200-grain JHP. And at 2.13 inches, its average group accuracy was quite good, too. The shooting results are listed in the accompanying chart.

I also fired the Emissary offhand at steel plates and bouncing ball targets, and it proved to be comfortable to shoot and fast to put into action. Taking a page from Layne Simpson’s playbook, I fired the pistol right-side up, right-side down, and upside down, and it functioned perfectly.

During my shooting session with the new 1911 Emissary, I fired a total of 500 rounds, including the rounds fired for accuracy and velocity, without cleaning the pistol, and it proved to be 100 percent reliable. I didn’t experience a single hiccup of any kind.

I say the new Springfield 1911 Emissary accomplished its mission. It has eye-catching custom style. It provides the reliability you must have in a defensive pistol. And it shoots as good as it looks. It’s a fine .45.

Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Accuracy and Velocity Chart

Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Springfield Armory, springfield-armory.com
  • Type: Recoil-operated autoloader
  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Magazine Capacity: 8 rounds
  • Barrel: 5.0 in.
  • Overall Length: 8.4 in.
  • Width: 1.26 in.
  • Height: 5.25 in.
  • Weight, Empty: 40 oz.
  • Grips: G10
  • Finish: Blued slide with polished sides, gray frame
  • Sights: Tactical Rack white-outline U-notch rear, tritium/luminescent front
  • Trigger: 5.5-lb. pull (as tested)
  • Safety: Manual thumb safety; beavertail grip safety
  • MSRP: $1,279
Springfield Armory 1911 Emissary .45 ACP Handgun Trigger and Trigger Pull
The solid trigger has an unusual shape and vertical striations on the face. Our sample’s trigger pull was crisp and consistent, averaging 5.5 pounds over 10 measurements. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

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