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TESTED: The Springfield Armory Emissary .45 ACP 4.25-Inch 1911

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My love affair with 1911s began the day my father showed me his WWII Springfield. It was worn, a little nicked up, but it felt like magic in my hands. From that day on, I have had a passion for these classic guns. Fast forward a bit, and I now have the glorious opportunity to shoot and review many of these great guns. For example, the Springfield Armory Emissary 1911 comes immediately to mind.

The Springfield Armory Emissary 4.25-Inch 1911

I felt like I had come full circle recently when I was tasked to write a piece on a new pistol from the good folks at Springfield. One of the newest additions to their popular 1911 line is the Emissary 4.25”.

Bridging The Gap

The gun is built on the solid Springfield DNA. In Springfield’s words, “Tasked with a special mission, the Emissary bridges defensive and custom pistols, delivering a bold and capable addition to the Springfield Armory family of 1911s.”

The gun is built on a durable foundation of forged steel in its barrel, slide, and frame. It offers a defensive pistol with an air of custom refinement. The pistol has a beautiful two-tone finish with a blued carbon steel slide and a stainless steel frame with a squared triggerguard.

A “Tri-Top” cut to the slide gives the pistol custom-grade styling. Additionally, a heavy-profile bull barrel delivers maximum accuracy and reduces felt recoil.

The gun comes with Springfield Armory’s U-Dot sights, including a tritium front sight for low-light conditions. While a little skeptical to begin with, I have come to like this sight design. The hammer is skeletonized to improve lock times. When I say skeletonized, I mean it is one of the thinnest hammers I have seen.

The tri-cut slide hosts the company’s U-Dot sights.

Just as with the full-size gun, Springfield included the popular Gen 2 Speed Trigger with its simplified and streamlined design. It is a solid, flat trigger with good texturing on the face. On the bench, the trigger broke at a comfortable 4.5 pounds with very little creep.

As you would expect, the gun comes with a heavy-profile bull barrel designed for maximum accuracy and reduced muzzle flip. To help with strength and durability, the barrel features a fully supported feed ramp.

Grip texture-wise, the Emissary is wrapped in a grenade pattern textured for firm control in any condition. The slim line grips are machined from G10, while the mainspring housing and front strap are machined to match.

Holstering the Emissary

Springfield sent me an Emissary to test drive and get a better feel for the gun. The only glaring challenge right out of the box was securing a holster. While the square triggerguard has a cool 80s retro feel to it, it made holster selection a challenge.

The Springfield Emissary fit in the 5JR Express holster like a glove.

Springfield came through again after visiting with them and provided a Mitch Rosen 5JR Express leather holster for the gun. It was beautiful and well-made. Springfield knows holsters will be a challenge for a while, and they actually have the 5JR available on their website.

Range Workout

Now rigged up, it was time to hit the range. A little pre-shooting lube up and test shots to see what my point-of-impact would be, and we were off to the races.

Trying to talk about muzzle rise on this gun is a moot point because it barely exists. The thought would be that because Springfield shaved three-quarters of an inch off their full-size gun that this model would be jumpier. It is simply not the case. This, combined with a nice trigger and its short take up, let me really put the pedal to the metal.

Mag after mag of focused speed shooting produced a grey fist-sized impact zone on my freshly painted targets. I will be honest and say it took me a minute to get accustomed to the lack of movement on the gun. It is, after all, a Commander-size 1911 running 230-grain ball ammo.

I believe the fact that the gun still has some heft to it, even in this smaller package, allows it to soak up a lot of the recoil. The trigger mixed with a heavy barrel made accuracy a simple task.

The sights were easy to pick up and clear. In addition, the grooves cut into the top of the slide are much more than cosmetic. They help break up any reflection from the sun or lights when you are pointed in. It is ingenious and works very well.

Running Drills

I ran a number of drills from concealed using the 5JR holster and found it to be a good combo. Yes, Kydex has its place in our world, but I believe that a 1911 and leather go together like Captain and Tennille. It may be dated a bit, but you still like it.

The holster was snug, as you would expect. But even by the end of this range session, it was starting to run smoother.

As with any gun that shoots this tight, I felt obliged to shoot it at distances it wasn’t intended for. For better or worse, the range I was on maxed out at 100 yards. Even at that distance, though, I was still able to punch center mass on a two-thirds-size IDPA steel silhouette with little effort.

The author runs some drills with the 1911.

This has absolutely no application in the real world. However, it is a good way to test trigger control and the overall accuracy of a gun. And yes, it is fun.

The Numbers

When business turned to groups on paper, the gun continued to shine. I ran three flavors of ammo that day. Hornady 185-grain XTP, Winchester 230-grain White Box, and American Eagle 230-grain Syntech.

Out of the ammo for that day, the Hornady 185-grain took the top prize with a group of 1.5 inches. In fact, all three flavors did well! Function-wise, the gun performed flawlessly.

While I can’t say that a few days of shooting on the range are a true test of durability, they are a solid indicator. With good ammunition, good magazines, and proper lubrication, this gun has the bones to be almost unstoppable.

I mention lubrication because it is essential for a 1911 to run. From watching it happen in countless classes and in other training, the biggest cause for 1911 malfunctions is the lack of lubrication. At which point the shooters blame the gun, which they neglected to maintain. That rant is for another article.

The Springfield Emissary is a Nice Handling 1911

In the operational category, the gun was nice to shoot. There are no sharp edges on it anywhere, and it was easy in and out of the holster. I carried the Emissary as my EDC for a couple of weeks and found it to be comfortable.

Wrapped in a grenade pattern, the grip provides firm control in any condition.

I was able to carry outside the waistband because we are in the dead of winter here in Arizona. This means I can at least wear a light jacket and not look out of place. It comes in at a touch over 38 ounces, which means you know it is there.

The holster is well-made and holds its shape perfectly, and does not flex or flop. This is one reason why I like leather. It simply feels better against your body.

As a rule, I carry two extra magazines when my EDC is a 1911. The Emissary has an 8+1 capacity, which is about average for a 1911. To some, this is a sign that the gun has a relatively low capacity. Many of these naysayers, however, carry micro blasters with the same capacity or less.

Regardless of the pistol you carry, it is important to have at least one extra mag.

Parting Shots

When the day came that I had to pack the Emissary up and ship it back to Springfield, I reflected on everything I had experienced with the gun. First off, it was a pleasure to shoot. It ran without issue, was accurate, and was comfortable to carry.

The Emissary 4.25” is more than a simple marketing gimmick by Springfield to create matching sets of 1911s. This gun stands on its own and would serve you well as an EDC pistol.

If you are like me and appreciate the 1911 for all that it brings to the table, then you should take a look at the Emissary 4.25”.

For more information, visit Springfield-Armory.com.

The Springfield Armory Emissary.

Springfield Emissary 4.25” 1911

Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel: 4.25 inches
Overall Length: 7.73 inches
Weight: 38.6 ounces (empty)
Sights: U-Dot
Grips: VZ G10 Thinline
Action: SA
Finish: Two-tone
Capacity: 8+1
MSRP: $1,349


American Eagle 230 Syntech 830 1.75
Hornady 185 XTP 970 1.50
Winchester 230 White Box  835     2.00

Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) and accuracy in inches for best 5-shot groups from 25 yards.

This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World June/July 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email [email protected].

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