Earlier this year, Springfield Armory released a new variant of its unique 1911, the Emissary. This new gun is a 9mm, commander-size gun with a 4.25-inch barrel. Like its stablemates in the Emissary barn, this latest edition has a lot to offer for the 1911 aficionado.
This and others in the Emissary series are striking in appearance. While the profile is unmistakably 1911, this one is an eye-catcher among its peers.
Chief among these features is an angular slide shape with a flat top that has 40 LPI serrations to fight glare. An approximate 45-degree bevel has three deep serrations between the muzzle end and ejection port. Similar serrations are sported on the vertical surface of the slide behind the ejection port.
Two-tone, black-on-stainless coloration finishes off this forged carbon steel slide, giving it a slick, futuristic appearance.
The toughness of the slide material is carried on into the forged, stainless steel frame, with brushed finish.
Contrasting black/grey, slim G10 grips and a matching mainspring housing, along with complementary checkering on the front strap, create plenty of grip while leaving room for petite hands to control recoil.
The flat profiles of the mainspring housing and grip panels are a thing I’ve long wished for, and Springfield finally delivered a stock gun that answers that prayer. My medium-size hands have total control and relative ease of reaching the slide lock and mag release, thanks to there being no typical bulge on these parts.
A squarish trigger guard is another riff off standard 1911 design. The roomy trigger guard complements the industrial look of the gun and offers plenty of room for a gloved finger.
The trigger itself is an artistic statement. It’s black with a vertical surface. I’m not sure of the material but it feels like polymer. What is for sure is its contribution to the aesthetic of the gun.
Also visible at first glance are the sights. Springfield chose their current white-line, U-notch rear and yellow-tritium front sight combo.
While the yellow and white is a little incongruent with the overall look, I can’t argue with their practical use. SA markets the Emissary as a defensive-minded gun and, for that purpose, the sights are great.
Not really matching the “Abrams tank from space” theme, which is my take on the look of the Emissary, is the hammer design. The skeletonized, stainless hammer has a rounded-loop shape, typical of many 1911s on the market.
Considering the effort put into the rest of the gun’s appearance, the hammer gives me thoughts of the design team having a Friday at 5 PM deadline and the rest of the gun was done by 4:30 PM except the hammer. It’s not bad; but a chance was missed there to continue the concept.
It’d be a sin to discuss the Emissary and not mention the heavy, bull barrel. It really makes the experience of handling and firing memorable. Its weight lends itself to recoil control and accuracy. At the muzzle end, the finely machined crown makes for a classy appearance in contrast to the dark slide.
As with any gun, particularly steel-frame ones, running one’s ammo of choice before carrying the gun for self-protection is advised. The sample Emissary I have did not care much for Sig Sauer brand hollow point rounds.
Otherwise, it cycled 115, 124, and 147 grain loads of Sig Sauer, Tulammo, Winchester, Hornady, and Federal brands just fine regardless of bullet type. It also ran fine with 95 grain defensive frangible I had on hand from a now-defunct manufacturer.
The Emissary is a joy to look at, a pleasure to shoot, and makes accuracy easy. Even in 9mm commander size, with two nine-round magazines, it’s heavy, so it’s not going to be at the top of my list for a defensive carry gun.
Assuming a secure home storage situation, it’s a perfect bedside gun, offering both artistic appeal and, after ammo testing, reliable protection capability.
MSRP for the 4.25-inch 9mm is $1,349.
SA Emissary Specifications
Barrel: 4.25″ Forged Stainless Steel, Match Grade, Fully Supported Ramp, Bull, 1:16
Slide: Forged Carbon Steel, Blued
Frame: Forged Stainless Steel
Sights: Front-Tritium/Luminescent; Rear-Tactical Rack U-Notch
Recoil System: Commander Length
Grips: Thin-Line G10, VZ Brand
Magazines: Two, 9-Round
Weight: 40 ounces
Length: 7.75 inches
Height: 5.25 inches
Read Next: Springfield Armory SA35 review.
Also check out Josh’s best 9mm handgun list.