In 2006, Springfield introduced the EMP, which stands for Enhanced Micro Pistol. At first glace, the EMP, appeared to be a typical Springfield micro 1911 that has been re-chambered in 9mm. If this were the case, it would have been no different than pistols that have been offered by other manufacturers for several years. When Springfield designed the EMP, they did just the opposite. They took a 9mm cartridge and scaled down the 1911 frame and slide to fit the caliber. This required a completely new set of specifications for the frame, slide, barrel, extractor, firing pin and other parts. The result is one of the slickest little 9mm handguns on the market. After five years on the market, the demand for the EMP has continued.

Recently, I contacted Dave Williams at the Springfield Armory Custom Shop about building a custom EMP to show off the shop’s work. Springfield’s Custom Shop offers a full service “one-stop shop” for anyone with custom 1911 needs, regardless of manufacturer. Since the introduction of the XD and XDM, the Custom Shop has also become gurus in getting the best out of the polymer-frame Springfield pistols.

Gun Details

The stock 9mm EMP is a very attractive pistol that has a satin-finished stainless slide and a black anodized frame. The little gun weighs 27 ounces empty and is 5 inches in height and 6.5 inches in length. Standard features include an ambidextrous thumb safety, beavertail grip safety with a speed bump and Novak-style fixed sights with three-dot tritium inserts. The 3-inch bull barrel is also stainless and, like all alloy-frame pistols from Springfield, has a fully supported feed ramp. The full-length recoil spring guide rod uses a dual spring design to ensure reliability. While great out of the box, I knew that the Custom Shop could perform some magic and make the EMP even better. I was not disappointed.

I wanted the finished EMP to look significantly different than the stock pistol. First on the checklist was a basic reliability package. The reliability package optimizes the function of all of the components. Critical areas, such as the breech face, feed ramp and chamber are checked to ensure they are within proper tolerances. These areas are also polished to improve feeding. The extractor is re-cut, polished and re-tensioned. All of the bearing surfaces, such as the hammer, sear and trigger surfaces, are inspected for proper fit. It is to Springfield’s credit that very few problems are found when performing this package on the EMP. The quality of the production is that good.

Next, I requested some external modifications that were both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The EMP received a standard carry bevel to soften all the edges and small ball cuts were applied to the front of the slide. To improve the purchase on the pistol, I wanted to modify the smooth frontstrap. Dave suggested checkering the frontstrap and the mainspring housing in a diamond pattern. To allow a higher purchase, the frame was undercut at the base of the triggerguard. The muzzle was recessed and re-crowned, and a long solid match trigger was installed. After the trigger work, the EMP broke cleanly at 4.5 pounds with no overtravel. Black G10 grips rounded out the accessories. Finally, the top of the slide was flattened and serrated with 40 lines per inch.

I specifically requested Heinie’s excellent Straight 8 low-mount rear sight with tritium inserts and a tritium front sight post. In the past several years, I have found the flat plane of the Heinie rear sight is easier for my aging eyes to acquire. Dick makes some of the best sights available, with configurations available for most autopistols. Finally, I spoke to Dave about an appropriate finish that would best show off the shop’s work. We decided on an attractive satin gray Cerakote finish.

After picking up the pistol at my local dealer, I spent some time at my desk really examining the work. The satin gray finish would lead one to believe that the pistol is either all-stainless or satin nickel. It is a striking finish—very eye-catching. This is especially true since the majority of EMPs are two-tone, silver over black. The diamond checkering provides a positive gripping surface and a unique appearance.

Range Time

The EMP has a reputation for being both accurate and easy to shoot, and the Custom Shop model was no different. We ran three premium 9mm defensive loads through the chronograph. Remington’s 124-grain Golden Saber averaged 1,045 feet per second (fps) and Speer’s 124-grain Gold Dot averaged 1,078 fps. The last load we tested was Wilson Combat’s 9mm 124-grain XTP HP. This load smoked out of the EMP at 1,135 fps. From 15 yards, groups with all three loads were around an inch. I have no doubt that, in the right hands, the little pistol will shoot this good from 25 yards.

The frame length of the EMP allowed for a complete purchase with the shooting hand, aiding in accurate and timely follow-up shots. For fun, I engaged several car tires from 50 yards. With a little effort, I was able to keep most hits inside the diameter of the tire—similar to the dimensions of a person’s torso. Again, I was impressed with the accuracy of the little gun. It is just plain fun to shoot.

Final Notes

The popularity of the EMP series continues to increase and demand is generally greater than availability. And make no mistake; the EMP represents a serious personal defense pistol. It is thinner than the polymer wonders and therefore a far more comfortable fit, especially for those with small hands. In addition, the 1911 action/trigger system makes the EMP much easier to shoot than a double-action or striker-fired pistol. The exposed hammer and thumb safety provide visual indicators as to the condition of the pistol and this gives the user an added sense of security.

In the end, the EMP is one of those pistols that you can’t help but like. The more you handle it and shoot it, the more you like it. These feelings are multiplied when Dave Williams and the great Custom Shop crew have touched up the pistol. The only problem I have with this pistol is that I can’t keep it. See what Springfield has to offer at or call 800-680-6866.

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In 2006, Springfield introduced the EMP, which stands for Enhanced Micro Pistol. At first…