By Greg Chabot
Photos by Sasha Steadman
The EMP line by Springfield Armory takes the 1911 one step further with the Contour Carry model.
This line is designed for concealed carry without sacrificing the quality and reliability of its bigger brother. Springfield Armory engineers took the time to redesigned nine separate components to ensure the EMP line will give shooters a reliable weapon they can trust their lives to in deadly encounters.
I was recently given the chance to test the EMP Contour Carry in 9mm and walked away very impressed. For concealed carry, the first priority is comfort. If a weapon and holster combination is not comfortable, you won’t carry it. The EMP contour addresses those issues by rounding (Bobbing) the heel of the frame. Doing so cuts down on printing, and depending on carry method, digging into the body. This feature is usually found on semi-custom guns. I give Springfield a thumbs-up for adding this to a production gun. I found this weapon to be one of the most comfortable guns I have ever carried.
The weapon arrived in a small plastic lockable case with three, nine-round magazines. The manual was well-written, and the field-stripping procedures were easy to understand. Slide to frame fit was tight with no play. The action on the EMP was very smooth due to use of a flat wire for a recoil spring. While manually cycling the EMP, it felt like the slide was riding on ball-bearings. The EMP comes with a red fiber-optic front sight and Novak style rear sight. Sample weapon also had extra red and green sight inserts. The forged stainless-steel slide comes in a satin finish with no sharp edges or machining marks. The frame is forged aluminum with a black hard coat anodized finish.
Before the initial range session, the weapon was field stripped and lubed with Seal-1 CLP. The EMP Contour is of the bushingless design with a full-length guide rod and reverse plug. The weapon ships with a takedown tool or one can use a paperclip. I found takedown was very easy and didn’t take much more effort than a GI style 1911. I know some complain of having to use tools to field strip a weapon. In reality, most of us do not field strip our weapons in the “field,” so that is a moot point. If you do not have a paperclip or the takedown tool, you can still break the weapon down. Save yourself a headache and read the manual that comes with this weapon.
The bull barrel is fully ramped and supported for reliable feeding; lock-up was tight with no slop. The plunger tube is properly staked with no evidence of shortcuts taken in assembly – it’s a testament to Springfield’s commitment to producing a quality product.
The trigger is a non-adjustable pre-series 80 type. The take-up was smooth with a very clean break at 5 ¾ pounds. The EMP comes equipped with an extended ambi-safety, with plenty of real estate for those who ride the safety. Unloaded weight was 30.5 ounces, which made the EMP very easy to carry for 12-hour days. Weight was equal to similar sized polymer bullet-hoses. Holster used for testing was a Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe I’ve used over the years. The proprietary magazines were of high quality and dropped free when released.
For testing, I did my standard of mixed ammo of various weights with some +P mixed in. Steel targets were used during testing. Burpees and other exercises were done to induce stress throughout testing.
The first thing I noticed about this weapon was the grip. The Posi-lock grip was very aggressive but easy on the hands. This aided in control of the weapon shooting rapid fire. Acquisition of the front sight was very fast with the red fiber-optic insert. The trigger on the test gun broke like a glass rod, producing consistent first round hits on the target.
Recoil was very mild due to the bull barrel and flat-wire recoil spring. I have found flat-wire recoil springs really smooth out the cycling of a 1911. I have installed flat wires on my personal 1911s with no regrets. They last longer and reduce recoil in my opinion. Another thumbs-up to Springfield Armory, for thinking outside the box.
I shot various drills with the EMP and found it to be dead-on if I did my part. This weapon performed very well shooting Mozambique drills, with the smooth action and Posi-lock grip contributing to accuracy and control. Dozier and El Pres drills were also shot with excellent results at combat ranges with mixed ammo. During some low light shooting my eyes had no issue picking up the front sight. I can’t praise the Posi-lock grip enough.
Wearing gloves and under induced stress, I had no issues drawing or presenting the weapon or maintaining control while moving towards my target. To put the Posi-lock grip to the test. I proceeded to coat my hands with a combination of mineral and baby oil to simulate blood. Starting at the pelvic girdle of the target, I proceeded to do a mag dump. I reloaded and did the same to the center mass and the brain housing group. My hands were very slick which made mag changes challenging. I fired 27 rounds total with 27 hits on the steel while on the move. The EMP stayed in my hand with no changes in accuracy. The EMP was also dropped into sand numerous times without malfunctioning. Eight-hundred total rounds were fired with zero malfunctions to report. Upon field stripping for cleaning, no unusual wear was found. The lock-up and slide to frame fit were just as tight as when I first opened the box. Cleaning went very quickly due to the coating on the frame and use of stainless steel on the slide and barrel.
I thoroughly enjoyed carrying this weapon. With the Crossbreed Supertuck, it literally disappeared under my shirt. The “Bobbed” (rounded) heel and slim profile of the 1911 really helped to conceal this weapon. Printing in public was not an issue while carrying this weapon. I wore everything from thin t-shirts to jackets with no issues with printing while bending and performing everyday tasks. I really liked how the EMP 4 did not dig into my side while driving or sitting for long periods. Most times I forgot I was wearing it. For folks who prefer appendix carry, this weapon would be an excellent choice with the proper holster.
Ways to improve this weapon: I would like to see the option to order the EMP 4 Contour Carry with Night Sights and strong side only safety and maybe an offering in .45 ACP. These suggestions are my personal preferences for a carry 1911.
In closing, I found the EMP 4 Contour Carry to be an excellent choice for a self-defense weapon. It performed flawlessly, carried well, and if I did my part consistently, hit the target. After shooting this weapon and carrying it, I have full confidence in it and would trust my life to it in a deadly situation. I would not hesitate to recommend this weapon to a friend looking for a concealed carry 1911 style handgun. The EMP 4 Contour Carry is also available in .40 S&W.
Big thanks to The Gun Closet.
Greg Chabot is an Iraq Combat Veteran freelancer, writing from New Hampshire.