An emissary is defined as someone sent on a special mission, usually as a representative of another person or group of people. Springfield’s Emissary has been tasked with the special mission of bridging defensive and custom pistols. The Emissary 1911 from Springfield Armory is a bold and capable addition to their lineup.

About the Springfield Emissary

The Emissary is not a revolutionary pistol. However, it is an evolutionary pistol that combines past, present and futuristic features into one seamless package. The result is a custom-styled yet elegant 1911 gun at an affordable price point.

The Emissary is constructed of forged steel throughout; no polymer anywhere. The frame is matte-finished stainless steel, while the nicely blued slide features brightly polished flats. Traditionally blued components are not rust resistant, so make sure the slide is wiped down after handling. It is also recommended to field strip and clean the Emissary after exposure to inclement weather.

The Emissary pistol has been equipped with all the current “de rigueur” features found on updated 1911/2011 pistols these days. This handgun includes a laser/light accessory rail, and Springfield’s U-notch sight system is one of the best on the market for day or night shooting.

Springfield’s Emissary features a skeletonized hammer, extended thumb safety and squared trigger guard. Three stainless steel eight-round magazines were included.


Weight: 40 ounces
Overall length:
8.4 inches
Barrel length:
5 inches
5.25 inches

Innovative Feature Upgrades

Three of the Emissary’s features are innovations on a previous design. One of these upgraded features is the Tri-Top slide assembly. With forward lightening grooves and a flattened plus serrated top strap, this design improvement diffuses light and reduces glare. The Tri-Top slide imparts a subtle forward-thinking; modern look without distracting from the styling traditions of the 1911.

Another new feature is the Emissary’s solid-body, flat-faced trigger. The trigger curves slightly at the top and the bottom, limiting the possible range of positions for the trigger finger. It is a great compromise for shooters who favor curved or flat triggers. The trigger pull is extremely crisp at 4 pounds, 6 ounces, with just enough slack for a bit of additional safety.

The final innovation is that of the grip system. A “grenade” pattern — so called because it is a variation on the WWII “pineapple” style fragmentation grenade — covers the front strap, rear strap and the slim VZ Grips G10 grenade grip panels. The VZ panels are rendered in a black and gray color, while the front strap is left in matte stainless steel. The grenade pattern backstrap/mainspring housing is a contrasting black. The new pattern is moderately aggressive but not so aggressive as to be uncomfortable while shooting.

Shooting the Emissary 1911

I tested the Emissary with a friend at his outdoor range. The Emissary is a magnificent shooter! We did most of our testing with SIG Sauer’s 230-grain FMJ Elite Ball ammunition. SIG Sauer Elite Ball ammo isn’t a lightweight target load. It exits the muzzle of a full-sized .45 at 830 feet per second, delivering 352 foot-pounds of energy. Two World Wars and numerous police engagements have proven its effectiveness. However, when fired from the 40-ounce Emissary, it’s very pleasant to shoot.

I also fired eight rounds of Liberty Ammunition’s new Overwatch defensive ammo. The .45 Overwatch load features what I call the Grand Canyon of hollow-point bullets. The weight of the Overwatch bullet is but 105 grains, with a velocity of 1,600 feet per second and delivering a whopping 597 foot-pounds of energy. I am sure the impact will be explosive in clay block testing.

While felt recoil from the Overwatch ammo was about the same as the SIG FMJ Elite Load, the muzzle blast was more pronounced. It was not distracting, however. All test rounds cycled flawlessly.

My best group at 30 feet using the SIG ammo would have been better if I had stopped after the first six rounds, which hit square in the middle of the orange X-ring of the B-27 silhouette. Two rounds had slipped into the 9 ring at 9 o’clock. This opened up the 1-inch group to 3 inches. My friend’s best group with the same ammo and distance was 2 inches. My best group with the Liberty Overwatch was five shots into 3 inches at the same distance, while the other group was somewhat larger.

Who Should Buy a Springfield Emissary Handgun?

Like I said, the Emissary is a superb 1911. The only thing I might change about it is the square trigger guard to a traditional rounded one, which is simply a matter of personal aesthetics. I would also add an extended slide-release lever.

The Emissary is not a one-off handgun. Springfield currently offers four models. There are both .45 ACP and 9mm versions of the tested full-size pistol with the same caliber choices available in a shorter barreled Commander size. The MSRP is the same $1,378 regardless of weapon size or caliber.


Springfield Armory:
SIG Sauer:
Liberty Ammunition: