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Springfield EMP Review

Our Springfield EMP review will cover the Springfield Armory EMP 4, which is a four-inch version of the popular Springfield EMP. 

The regular Springfield EMP is a three-inch variant. 

So the barrel’s a little bit shorter. Besides that, there aren’t a lot of differences between the two handguns. 

Springfield 1911 EMP left

The Springfield EMP is classified as a 1911. 

What makes it different than almost all other 1911’s out there is that it’s explicitly designed to take 9mm and .40 Smith and Wesson length cartridges. 

The 1911 is designed around the .45 ACP and .38 super round. 

Those rounds are much longer than .40 Smith and Wesson and 9mm. 

Springfield calls the EMP 4 a short action 1911. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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The benefit of scaling this gun down is that you reduce the unnecessary weight in the size you get from designing a firearm shooting nine-millimeter around a .45 ACP cartridge.

The Springfield EMP 4 was introduced in 2016, and that’s what we’ll be covering in the Springfield EMP review.


The Springfield EMP 4 is designed for concealed carrying. 

It could be used for some sort of OWB use or just any use you may have for a nine-millimeter firearm. 

It could be great for carrying around your property or even used for open carry. 

That said, it’s designed to excel for concealed carry. 

The gun has a slim profile. 

Despite having a reasonably long grip, the thin profile sets this apart from the other 9mms. 

This would make an excellent gun for OWB to carry under a jacket. The gun can also work well for many IWB applications.

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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The gun does weigh a fairly hefty thirty-one ounces unloaded. 

While thirty-one ounces unloaded may not sound a lot, remember that’s still around six ounces more than your typical polymer-framed nine-millimeter handgun, with almost twice the capacity.

I would only suggest using this gun if you’re wearing a holster with a belt. 

This is not a gun you would pocket carry or use for some other niche carry method. 

I’d stick with IWB or OWB carry for this Springfield EMP 4.


Springfield EMP is, essentially, a scaled-down 1911. So all the features are going to be 1911 centric. 

The gun has a nine-round capacity. If you’re looking for a higher capacity gun with similar 1911 style features checkout our Staccato P review.

Springfield 1911 EMP with magazine 2

It uses true single stack magazines, which seems outdated in our current sphere with guns like the Sig P365 and Springfield Armory Hellcat. 

That said, if you want 1911, this will be a great option if you’re a fan of 9mm.

One thing that makes this gun unique in the 1911 world is that it does not have a barrel bushing. 

It uses a full-length guide rod and has a bull barrel. 

The bull barrel helps add some weight to the front of the gun and helps tame recoil. It’s a nice feature of a gun of this size. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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The only downside is it does add more weight for concealed carry.


The magwell on the Springfield EMP 4 is nothing to write home about. 

Springfield 1911 EMP magwell side top

There’s a slight bevel on three sides of the magwell, the two sides and the rear. That said, that bevel is almost nothing. 

This is not a gun that is easy to speed reload. 

The magazine is very narrow, and the magwell is narrow as well. 

I can get a decent speed reload with this gun. That said, it’s going to take a little more time than your standard double-stack gun.

Springfield 1911 EMP magwell side

You’re not only going to have a bevel on the magwell of most double stacks, but you’re also going to have a bevel on the top of the magazine that helps guide it in. 

This single stack magazine is not forgiving when trying to reload quickly. It would’ve been nice to see Springfield put more of a bevel on the bottom of this magwell.


The grip on this gun is fantastic. It’s just a scaled-down 1911. 

Springfield 1911 EMP grip

The gun has removable side stocks, like any other 1911, although you will not use standard 1911 grips. 

The gun has a removable mainspring housing or what we’ll call the backstrap for this review. 

It’s the portion that sits under the grip safety. 

That said, I don’t know how many options you’re going to have to replace it, considering it’s designed specifically for the EMP 4 and not 1911’s in general. That said, the grip is very ergonomic. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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So I don’t see a need to switch out the mainspring housing on this gun.


Like the 1911, the Springfield EMP 4 does have a beavertail safety. 

Springfield 1911 EMP beavertail

The beavertail safety is very ergonomic, well designed, and well-rounded. I find it very comfortable to use in the hands. However, some beavertails have sharp edges. 

The Springfield EMP 4 is a very ergonomic beavertail, and there’s nothing I can complain about.


Texturing on the EMP 4, in my opinion, is excellent. It’s a little more on the aggressive side, but it’s not so aggressive you can’t carry it against bare skin. 

Springfield 1911 EMP backstrap

The front strap and the mainspring housing of the gun, also known as the backstrap, have a nice texturing that mimics the texturing on the G10 grips. 

Springfield 1911 EMP frontstrap

The G10 grips feel slightly more aggressive than the front and back strap texturing. 

That said, it was the same pattern, and I’m thrilled with it. 

It does a great job of allowing you to control the firearm effectively.

Overall Feel

One thing unique about this Springfield EMP is its bobtail at the bottom of the grip. 

The bobtail is an area where they’ve rounded the very back bottom portion of the grip. In my opinion, it feels great in hand and just really works to make this gun feel ergonomic. 

It’s something I like on a grip of this size. 

The nice thing about this grip, too, is it’s plenty long. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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My hands usually fit right at the bottom of a Glock 19, and the Springfield EMP 4 has just enough room at the bottom that I could fit another pinky down there. 

So somebody with huge hands will not have an issue shooting this gun well.


The sights on this gun are where things start to fall apart in this EMP review. 

Springfield 1911 EMP sight picture

My biggest complaint in this Sprinkler EMP review is the sights. The sights on this gun are dovetailed into the slide and could be easily replaced. 

That said, the factory sights are good enough that you’re not going to want to change them, meaning they’re metal and of decent quality. 

The front sight is fiber optic, and the rear sight is a standard square notch sight with two white dots painted on the side. 

I don’t care for the white dots. And in my opinion, the notch at the rear is a little wide and the front sight. 

The width of the front sight will make it hard to shoot this gun accurately at a distance. 

You want to have a little more air between the front sight blade and the rear sight. This space makes it easier to see changes in the front sight and get a good sight picture. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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Like I said earlier, this is my biggest complaint in the Springfield EMP 4 review.

Aftermarket Sights

The good news is you can replace these sights with aftermarket sights. 

Harrison Custom, Dawson Precision, and Heinie all make sights for the Springfield EMP 4. 

So if you’re like me and don’t care for the sights in the Springfield EMP 4, then you have options. But realize that will come at an added cost and just the pain in the butt to replace them. 

For a gun that costs what this gun does from the factory, I would rather see it come with a decent set of sights.

Red Dot Options

There are no red dot options from the factory for the Springfield EMP when writing this article. 

That said, you could have this gun milled for a small mini optic, like the Trijicon RMRcc or the Holosun 407K. 

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So the option is there if you’re willing to send the gun off and have it milled.


Controls on a firearm are essential, and the 1911 is no exception. 

The controls on the Springfield EMP 4, while being 1911-like, are slightly different due to the scaled-down design of the gun.


The Springfield EMP 4 has two external safeties. 

It has both grip safety and the thumb safety. We’ll start with the grip safety. The grip safety is just your standard 1911 grip safety, like we discussed above in the beavertail section of this Springfield EMP review. 

The beavertail is well-rounded, and I have complaints. 

With some beavertail safeties, I have trouble disengaging them when trying to fire the gun. However, I have not had any issues with the Springfield EMP in this regard. 

Springfield 1911 EMP safety left

Springfield did an excellent job of executing this great grip safety, in my opinion. 

That said, I would check in the gun store before purchasing if you tend to have this issue with 1911’s. Everybody’s hands are sized slightly differently, so what works for me may not work for you.

Thumb Safety

The thumb safety on the EMP 4 is an ambidextrous design. 

Springfield 1911 EMP safety right

This is another area where Springfield knocked it out of the park in this Springfield EMP Review. 

It’s not as beveled on the edges as I would like, so there are some slightly sharp edges. That said, you have to look for them. 

When I’m using the safety, you don’t feel those edges. 

It sits a little farther forward to me than most 1911 safeties. 

Springfield 1911 EMP safety off left

So there’s no discomfort in the web of my hand when using this. Another thing to note is when I have my trigger finger touching the side of the ejection port, the safety will still disengage without hitting my trigger finger knuckle. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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So that’s good to know that there’s plenty of clearance around the safety. 

When I say it’s ambidextrous, it is completely ambidextrous, meaning it’s identical or near-identical on each side. So it works just as well for a left-handed user as it does for a right-handed user.

Magazine Release

Again, the magazine release on the Springfield EMP is your standard 1911 magazine release, but it’s a little closer than what you may be used to. 

Springfield 1911 EMP magazine release

That’s good, as it’s easy to reach without breaking the grip. 

At least for me, that wears medium to large size gloves. If you have small hands, you may break your grip to reach it. 

Springfield added a slight cutout in the grips right before the magazine release. 

This decreases the amount of material to overcome to reach the magazine release. It’s an outstanding feature and was well thought out on Springfield’s part.

Slide Stop

If you’re a 1911 fan, but you don’t like using the Vickers method of dropping the slide, then the Springfield EMP might be for you. 

Springfield 1911 EMP slide stop

One nice thing about having the Springfield EMP scale down is that I can reach the slide stop by slightly breaking my grip. 

I can drop the slide without breaking my grip, but I get a little more of a purchase on it when I just slightly rotate the gun in my hand. 

I’m thrilled that I can reach this, as with most 1911’s, I can only reach the slide stop with my off-hand.

The Vickers method of dropping the slide is to use your support hand thumb to drop the slide versus using your firing hand thumb. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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That method is very reliable, but it’s also slightly slower than using your right hand, or primary hand thumb, to drop the slide. 

One thing nice in the Springfield EMP review is that lefthanded shooters will be able to use their trigger finger to drop the slide stop if they’re willing to break their grip slightly. 

Not all guns can do this, but it’s relatively easy to do on the Springfield EMP 4. So if you’re a lefthanded user who wants that capability, this may be an excellent gun for you.

Overall Ergonomics

Overall, the ergonomics of this gun are excellent. 

The safeties all meld nicely, and the grip itself is comfortable while also having a good amount of traction to control the gun during recoil, even if your hands are sweaty. 

No complaints when it comes to the ergonomics on the Springfield EMP4.


The trigger on the Springfield EMP4 is a standard 1911 trigger. 

It’s single action only. So you’re likely going to be carrying this gun locked and cocked, or without a round in the chamber and the safety and hammer down. 

Springfield 1911 EMP trigger

I suggest not carrying this gun unless you’re comfortable carrying it locked and cocked. 

That said, carrying this gun locked and cocked, the trigger is pretty much your standard 1911 trigger. 

It’s an excellent trigger, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Initially, the trigger has a little bit of taking up. 

That take-up is excellent, as it just gives you a little bit of comfort, knowing that the trigger’s not a hair-trigger. 

This is a 1911 trigger designed around carrying and not competition. Once you feel the take-up, let out, you’re going to hit a wall. 

From that wall, you have just the slightest bit of creep before the hammer breaks. 

Once that hammer breaks, the trigger has a clean but slight overtravel. 

It resets halfway into the take-up. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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From there, you have a little bit of takeup before you get back to that wall and feel the creep again. 

It’s a clean 1911 trigger, and I have no complaints, but it’s not going to win any awards either. I’d say it’s on par for a 1911 at this price point.


Unfortunately, there’s not a massive aftermarket for the EMP series. So that’s going to be a significant ding in this review. 

There aren’t a ton of holster options out there or grip options. 

You’re pretty much going to be stuck with what comes on the gun, minus the sights. Even the sights aren’t going to have many options for this gun. 

The good news is, this gun doesn’t need any aftermarket upgrades, in my opinion, besides sights. 

Holster selection’s going to be the only thing you’re limited on. 

This gun is done well out of the box, and my biggest two complaints are a beveled magwell and the sights. 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to use an aftermarket part to fix the beveled magwell, and the sights are easily fixed with aftermarket options.


Disassembling the Springfield EMP for cleaning is a bit of a pain if you’re used to most polymer striker-fired guns. The 1911 is a little bit more complicated takedown. That said, it’s still not that hard to disassemble the Springfield EMP.

Springfield 1911 EMP bull barrel

We will show you how to disassemble the Springfield EMP in this Springfield EMP review. 

To disassemble the Springfield EMP, you want to take the magazine out of the gun, rack the slide a couple of times to ensure there is nothing in the chamber, and then pull the slide back and visually inspect the chamber and magazine while to make sure the gun is clear. 

Once you’ve done that, lock the slide to the rear and recheck the gun. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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We want to make sure this gun is unloaded. 

After that, you’re going to drop the slide release and let it ride forward just a little bit until you see the slide release sitting in a half-moon round area of the slide that is right behind the area where you lock the slide into place. 

Springfield 1911 EMP stripped

Once it’s there, you will press the take-down pin from the right side of a gun. 

That pin will quickly press out, and you pull it entirely out of the gun, removing it.

After that, you can take the slide off the gun. 

From there, it’s straightforward to take out the barrel and recoil spring assembly. Once you’ve done that, you can clean the gun and then reverse the steps to reassemble the firearm.


Aesthetically, the EMP 4 is a beautiful firearm, in my opinion. 

The only downside is there’s a lot of badging on the slide. That said, Springfield did a pretty good job of making that badging attractive. 

Springfield 1911 EMP right front

For the amount of badging on the slide, it’s probably one of the most attractive guns out there. 

My particular example is the stainless slide with the black frame. 

In my opinion, it’s just a classic great look that still has a bit of modern flair. The lines of this gun are stunning. 

It’s one of my favorite-looking guns in my collection.


Shooting the Springfield EMP4 was a bit surprising to me. The recoil impulse is slightly more than I expected. 

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory EMP
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This gun weighs in at thirty-one ounces unloaded. 

With that, I expected a little bit softer recoil. That said, you do get the advantage of the excellent 1911 trigger, which makes this gun very accurate. 

The ergonomics and texture are superb. 

So the little bit of added recoil isn’t a problem, in my opinion. If you’re somebody with smaller hands, this gun might also work exceptionally well for you.

Final Thoughts Springfield EMP Review

The Springfield EMP clocks in at $1,200 MSRP. 

I picked this one up just a little bit over a thousand, with a couple of mags, because Springfield was running a rebate special. 

I feel this gun is a pretty good value for what you get at that price point. Is it exceptional value? 

No, but the Springfield EMP is a solid value contender. 

I think you’ll be pleased with this gun if you’re looking for a reasonably priced 1911 format gun that’s just a little bit different from the other 1911’s on the market.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our Springfield EMP review. 

Please leave your comments below, so we know what you think about the Springfield EMP.

5 Replies to “Springfield EMP Review”

  1. The Taurus G3 continues the proven polymer-frame profile now in a full-frame configuration, with generous stippling patches across the grip for maximum control and retention in any shooting condition, an ergonomic palm swell and side-frame Memory Pads that provide quick, positive hand positioning. The frame has an integrated Picatinny rail. A manual safety and slide release lever are optimally positioned above the thumb for easy manipulation. A refined element of the G3 is the 6-lb. trigger, designed with a smooth take-up and a surprisingly crisp, clean break exceeding that of typical striker-fired pistol trigger performance. A short reset promotes quick, controlled follow-up shots.

  2. Leland Higaki says:

    I caught a lucky break on GunBroker, on a pre-owned EMP4 CCC that I believe was unfired, for $625, shipping included! Anyways, I absolutely love it. Unfortunately, being a reyired gunsmith, I just couldn’t live with factory parts! Also, wanted to point out a few errors in the review, that I think potential buyers might like to know.
    Magazines correction: EMP4 has both a 10-rd mag w/bumper pad and the 9-rd flush-fitting mag. Mine came with a 9-rd mag and 2 10-rd mags
    Grip correction: The EMP4 will take any standard, full-size 1911 grips; the EMP4 grip screw spacing is identical to the standard 1911. The only modification you will have to do is trim the rear lower corner, to accommodate the Bobtail mainspring housing, or you can get grips already set-up for use with pistols with a Bobtail. The Ed Brown grip set fit my EMP4 perfectly.
    Red dot options correction: As far as red dots go, the EMP4 has the same rear sight dovetail as the other Springfield Armory 1911’s. So you can use a standard 1911 dovetail insert, that can attach a red dot mounting plate. I cannot remember who makes the insert. I’ve done this myself, installing a FastFire 3 on my EMP4
    Controls correction: The EMP4 disconnector, hammer, hammer spring (mainspring), sear, sear spring, trigger, thumb safety, beavertail, mag release are in fact standard 1911 parts. I have replaced the above factory parts and installed a Cylinder & Slide UltraLight II hammer/trigger kit (I also had a Nighthawk DTS hammer/sear module in it for a while as well. I have also replaced the slide stop to a serrated one, the mag release to a RDIH/BH Spring Solutions ambidextrous mag release. All parts replaced were ordered online, using parts listed for full-size 1911’s.

    1. L. Palmer says:

      Thank you for your corrections. Sheds a new and more favorable light on the gun. Always good to know what is really going on.

  3. A Johnson says:

    Just wanted to let you know that Smith & Alexander do make a really nice 1 piece beveled mag well for the EMP in both stainless and blued. I installed one on my 9mm EMP about 3 years ago. It’s a nice piece and really makes for speedy reloads. If you had a way for me to upload a picture, I could show you mine. It’s been a great EDC gun BUT only after I sent it back to be fixed because it kept failing to feed and kept not firing after the hammer dropped. It was evidently a common problem due to too light of a firing pin. Also, they replaced the entire slide because it was striking the primer way off center. It hasn’t hiccuped once since they fixed the poor QC issue on the slide and replaced the firing pin with the newer heavy one.

  4. Russell Kim Lockhart says:

    You guys dive deep into the mechanics of the EMP4, me, I just like me EMP4 because it is an engineered from the bottom up for the 9mm on a 1911 platform. That’s what makes it unique, most 1911 9 mm are just retooled on 1911 v80 45 acp frame. This gun was designed for the 9mm. I own a kimber, a Ruger, and S&W 1911s in 9mm and like this EMP 4 ccc the most. The fit and finish is exceptional and it points and shoots like a dream. No creep, perfectly weight balanced and very little recoil. If you are in the market for a 9mm and not a fan of the striker fired trigger, you just might fall in love with this pistol

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