Carrying concealed requires some forethought. Whether it’s choosing the right belt or the correct holster, everything must synchronize almost perfectly for you to regularly and comfortably wear a concealed handgun all day. Selecting the correct carry position or style goes a long way toward mating your physical characteristics with the ability to carry. Some might prefer IWB carry, but others are restrained to pocket or shoulder carry.

Of course, the most important factor in the selection process is the firearm. Large duty-sized pistols don’t generally work for concealed carry, so a lot of consideration is required to find the right carry tool. The 1911 has long been the choice of aficionados because of its constant state of readiness, natural pointability, and smooth and light trigger pull.

More than 10 years ago, Springfield Armory introduced its first EMP pistol to answer some concealed-carry concerns, and it was well received. It boasted a new short-action operating system along with a 3-inch barrel for easier concealability. Now, a decade later, Springfield has improved on the original EMP design by re-sculpting the weapon to provide a tool that’s even easier to conceal than the original. Similar to the recent EMP Lightweight Champion, the barrel is 4 inches long to provide a longer sight radius. This new pistol is the EMP Concealed Carry Contour, or CCC.

The EMP Reborn

Trying to conceal a mid-sized pistol can be problematic. That’s because the corner of the grip helps make the pistol print when worn under a shirt. You want to avoid printing so you can maintain the element of surprise. Springfield Armory’s solution was to basically lop off that corner to maximize concealability. It’s a good solution, but it also made the gun more controllable during fire.

Straight out of the case, the EMP CCC comes dressed to impress. It sports a stainless steel slide with a stainless, match-grade barrel, both of which contrast nicely with the black hardcoat anodized aluminum frame.

The grip slabs on the EMP CCC are made of G10, a popular choice among handgun and knife manufacturers for its non-slip qualities. To complement the grip texturng, the backstrap and frontstrap are adorned with Springfield’s comfortable Posi-Lock pattern.

With its 4-inch barrel, the EMP CCC has an overall length of 7.5 inches. That might seem a bit long for a carry pistol, but it’s generally easier to conceal the slide and barrel length than the grip of a pistol.

That’s where the “carry contour” comes into play. Springfield Armory beveled the mainspring house, which helps in several ways. Beside the aforementioned assist so the gun doesn’t print under a garment, the round butt fits nicely into your palm, allowing  for more control during fire and negating what some call “palm bite.” Additionally, the carry contour provides a more snag-free profile for quick draws from concealment.

With a height of 5.5 inches, the EMP CCC accepts nine-round magazines. Three are included with the pistol in the case. That’s a welcome addition, as many folks like to carry two magazines for reloads in addition to the one already in the pistol—especially with single-stack magazines that tend to be a bit limited in terms of capacity.

The EMP CCC also comes with an extremely nice fiber-optic front sight that greatly assists with more precise fire. The rear sight is a low-profile affair with white dots adjacent to each side of the sight window. And for left-handed shooters, the safety is an extended ambidextrous unit for easier reach and manipulation.

Tipping the scales at 30.5 ounces unloaded, the EMP CCC sits between all-steel 1911s and most of the popular compact polymer pistols. It has good weight in your hand and remains manageable throughout the day with an appropriate belt and holster rig.

Wright Leather

Because the EMP’s design aesthetics are intended to better facilitate concealed carry, I spent a lot of time carrying the gun in a fantastic holster made by Wright Leather Works. It’s an OWB model called the Predator.

This pancake-style holster is contoured to snug into the user’s body for solid concealment, and when coupled with Springfield’s newest offering, there was no printing whatsoever.

Although IWB holsters generally conceal pistols of this type effectively, you must upsize your pants and belt a couple of inches to allow for the additional bulk against your body. I didn’t find that type of holster necessary, as the Wright Leather Works Predator worked well with the scaled-down 1911 in preventing noticeable printing. Even under a slightly loose shirt, the EMP CCC gets lost in the fabric yet is still available instantly.

The pistol’s beveled grip makes a difference when you carry it under a shirt or jacket. As mentioned, you need a quality belt and holster to get the most out of this feature, and the Wright Leather Works Predator holster is a shining example.

A concealed-carry holster is not the place to skimp with money, as it will determine your comfort level and how well the pistol is concealed. The Predator comes with 1.75-inch slots and a reinforced mouth for easy one-handed reholstering. You can buy the base model for less than $100.

Making The Grade

No matter how good a pistol looks or handles, or even how well it carries, you eventually have to skin that smoke wagon and let bullets fly. The proof is in the shooting, especially when it comes to accuracy and reliability.

To test the EMP CCC’s capabilities, I used Sig Sauer’s 124-grain FMJs and Blazer’s 115-grain Brass FMJs for general plinking and to break the pistol in. To measure its accuracy, I used Sig Sauer’s 124-grain V-Crown JHPs, Federal Premium’s 147-grain +P HSTs and Speer’s 124-grain +P Gold Dots. This was a premium lineup of ammunition with a good assortment of weights and power factors.

The testing was done from a standing rest at 15 yards, and I appreciated the red fiber-optic front sight and the ease with which I could pick it up and aim downrange. That’s a top-drawer choice, and generally, fiber-optic sights are pretty tough to beat.

Overall, the EMP CCC’s accuracy was excellent. The Federal +P HST load got the gold star for accuracy, with its best five-shot group measuring just 1.13 inches, and the Sig Sauer 124-grain V-Crown JHPs took the prize for average group size at just 1.77 inches. The other two premium loads hovered right at 2 inches—not much difference, nor a bad performance.

Another aspect of the pistol that really stood out was how it handled while firing. The beveled grip settled right into my palm and felt more natural than other standard-cut 1911s. It allowed for better control and seemed to help with felt recoil. Though the gun is a rather compact 9mm, it still felt like a soft-shooting pistol.

Before I shot it the first time, I broke the gun down to lube it, just to make sure it ran like it should. Sure enough, the reliability was on point with all of the loads, from various weights to types including truncated rounds, ball ammunition and hollow points, even the +P variety. There was one failure to feed with the first magazine fired. But after that, everything else ran like a champ through the EMP CCC for 250 rounds, so I’ll give it leeway, because the pistol had not yet been broken in.

Smooth Operator

The EMP CCC was an extreme pleasure to shoot. The trigger broke cleanly at an average of 4.69 pounds. It had one of the most comfortable grips I’ve tried, and the texturing was spot-on for a secure grip. The balance was extremely good and quite neutral, and it acted as an extension of my hand.

Springfield’s EMP line of pistols has received many accolades through the years from discerning 1911 fans. It’s easy to see why.

The EMP Concealed Carry Contour is attractive with its two-tone look, it feels extremely good in your hand, and the accuracy exceeds expectations for a compact defensive weapon. In many ways, it has everything you need for a great concealed-carry experience, especially when the beveled mainspring housing comes into play.

That adds a dimension of extra concealability and a more snag-free draw, and the gun settles into your hand for better control. The texturing on the grip panels and the pistol is just right for a sure grip, and the sight arrangement is highly visible and great for precise shot placement. There’s
little to not like about this pistol.

I would suggest you try one if you’re in the market for a slim, lightweight 1911 in 9mm. I think you’ll find a tool with the right balance of features that would make this purchase absolutely worthwhile.

Springfield EMP CCC Specs

Caliber: 9mm
Barrel: 4 inches
OA Length: 7.5 inches
Weight: 20.5 ounces (empty)
Grips: G10
Sights: Fiber-optic front, two-dot rear
Action: SA
Finish: Matte black, stainless
Capacity: 9+1
MSRP: $1,220


Springfield EMP CCC Performance

Load Velocity Accuracy
Federal 147 HST +P 901 1.13
Sig Sauer 124 V-Crown JHP 1,060 1.25
Speer 124 Gold Dot +P 1,181 1.75

For more information, visit

This article is from the 2018 issue of “Concealed Carry Handguns” magazine. To order a copy, visit

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