Review: The Springfield Armory Emissary

Springfield’s newest introductions have been exceptional firearms. The Hellcat high capacity 9mm is a compact powerhouse. The Ronin 1911 is an affordable old school pistol with good features, perhaps all we really need in a defensive 1911. The Springfield Emissary is Springfield’s newest. I am something of a gun crank and a 1911 fan.

The Emissary is a different pistol than the Ronin and it certainly doesn’t have the traditional 1911 appearance. The Emissary addresses issues with some of the upgraded 1911 handguns. There are no target features such as an adjustable rear sight or adjustable target type trigger. This is a capable and reliable personal defense and tactical handgun. In short it has my full endorsement. I am a shooter not a collector and this gun is made for shooters. 

The pistol is slightly more narrow than other 1911 handguns, a neat trick. The slide is a tri cut type with unobtrusive but effective forward cocking serrations. The front sight is a good mix of fluorescent material surrounding a tritium insert. The rear sight is a U Notch wedge type.

The U notch is very fast in rapid combat shooting. Long range accuracy is also quite good. The slide lock and magazine release are crisp and tight and work as designed. The slide lock safety indents sharply. I cannot tolerate a slide lock safety that doesn’t operate in a positive manner. It isn’t uncommon to find a mushy fit on 1911 handguns- and they are all not cheap guns either. The grip safety is a well designed beavertail that funnels the hand into a firing grip. Some of us allow the palm to cup and move from the grip safety especially with the thumbs forward grip. This safety is positive in operation. The grip safety releases its hold on the trigger about half way into compression. The slide is finished in a nice blue while the frame is stainless steel. The grips are G 10 and well designed with a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. The front strap features a different type of serration, a square type that offers and excellent hold on the front sweat. With the combination of G 10 grips and front strap treatment the pistol should never slip with cold, sweaty or wet hands. 

The pistol is supplied with two MecGar 8 round bumper pad magazines.  The trigger is a solid type with a slight indent in the center. Control is excellent. Trigger compression is just under five pounds. The pistol locks up firmly with locking lugs well fitted into the slide. The pistol uses a swinging link lockup in the traditional 1911 design. There is no barrel bushing, however. The Springfield Emissary uses a bull barrel. Full contact with the slide eliminates the barrel bushing’s role. This bull barrel offers excellent accuracy potential.

The pistol doesn’t use a positive firing pin block or drop safety. The Springfield uses a 9mm/.38 Super size firing pin and a heavy rating firing pin spring. This prevents the firing pin from running forward to the chambered cartridge and its primer if the pistol is dropped. There is also a light rail for mounting combat lights. I used the new Inforce Wild 2 combat light. With a startling 1000 lumens this light offers an excellent option for home defense and tactical use. (ordered from And finally- the Springfield Emissary 1911 .45 carries a lifetime warranty. 

The pistol checked out well but the proof is in the firing. I have burned up a lot of ammunition and made a sizeable pile of brass during the past few weeks. After all I was on a waiting list quite a while to obtain this pistol. I am not simply casually interested, the Emissary is a front line pistol. And front line qualified it is.

The pistol has been fired with a good mix of lead bullet handloads, FMJ, and hollow point loads. A good bit of my dwindling supply of Black Hills Ammunition 230 grain has been fired. The pistol clears leather and gets on target quickly. The combination of an excellent sight picture and a crisp trigger compression make for good practical accuracy. Hits in the 10 ring, quickly, are the rule to 7 yards with some shots straying to the 9 and 8 ring of the B 27 at 15 yards if I fire too quickly.

All manner of drills are aced with this pistol. As for bench rest accuracy, well, firing at small targets at known and unknown ranges is more interesting and more of a test of the handgun. Just the same the pistol will keep five rounds of Black Hills 230 grain FMJ or 230 grain JHP into 2.2 inches at a long 25 yards. I also used the Winchester USA Ready 230 grain FMJ with good results. I cannot find a load to break 2.0 inches. There have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject. The Emissary is a good piece to ride with. 

Springfield Emissary 1911 Specs:

Caliber                                                                                  45 ACP

Barrel                                                                                    5 inch Match 

Sights                                                                                   U-notch rear, tritium front

Grips                                                                                     VZ Grips Thin-Line G10

Magazines                             Two eight round 

Weight 39.5 ounces 

Length                                                                                  8.4 inches

Height                                                                                   5.25 inches

MSRP                                                                                    $1279