It’s less common these days to have 1911s built to an owner’s specifications. Ed Brown, Bill Wilson, Nighthawk and others now offer “factory custom” or high-end 1911s. The one-at-a-time hand-built and -tightened 1911 is no longer cost-effective. In that same vein, Springfield Armory introduced a 1911 that is elevated but not quite high-end … at least in price.

Springfield Emissary 1911 Details

The Springfield Emissary is a Government Model 1911 in size. It has a 5-inch barrel, steel frame and steel slide. The Emissary features a single-stack magazineA single-stack magazine holds all of its cartridges in one column and has a thinner frame. design with standard 1911 single-action trigger, slide lock safety and grip safety. This 1911 features a nicely blued, tri-cut slide and stainless-steel frame. And forward-cocking serrations are nicely cut into the angled slide. Its two-tone finishes are attractive when done well.

A closer view of the Springfield Emissary 1911's sights.

The Emissary’s combination of highly visible front sight and U-notch rear sight is excellent for personal defense.

The Emissary will fit 1911 holsters without gouging the leather. However, the holster must be cut for a rail gun. This 1911 includes a modern light rail to accommodate lasers and illumination. The sights are an excellent design for all-around defensive use. They are very fast on target but precise enough for use to 50 yards or more.

The front sight is a tritium dot with a self-luminous roundel surrounding the tritium. The rear sight features a semi-circular white outline under a wide U-notch. This makes for real speed in target acquisition. Springfield’s Emissary 1911 has a wedge-type sight that allows racking the slide on a heavy belt or boot heel. As a final touch, the grips are slim line. This Springfield 1911 measures about 2/16 inch thinner than most 1911s.

Emissary’s High-End Features

The Emissary’s frontstrap treatment in a pattern that could be called grenade style is a bold feature. And there is nothing sharp about it. Rather than cut into the frontstrap as is common on high-end, custom pistols, the pattern is forged into the frontstrap. And the grips match. This offers a very good balance of abrasion and adhesion for a firm firing grip that is never uncomfortable.

The slide lock safety is properly fitted with a sharp indent. The feed ramp is properly polished with the requisite 1/32-inch gap between the halves of the feed ramp. And the grip safety is a well-designed modern beavertail with memory bump. This helps shooters using the thumbs-forward grip keep the safety depressed.


Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel: 5-inch match
Sights: U-notch rear, tritium front
Grips: VZ grips thin-line G10
Magazines: Two eight-round
Weight: 39.5 ounces
Length: 8.4 inches
Height: 5.25 inches
MSRP: $1,279

The grip safety properly releases its grip on the trigger about halfway into compression. If you release the grip safety, it springs back and makes the pistol safe. It is intuitive and requires no thought to de-activate. The slide lock safety falls under the thumb easily and isn’t difficult to operate. One can properly carry the Springfield 1911 cocked and locked; hammer to the rear.

Another bold feature is a squared trigger guard. This may impact how the pistol fits certain holsters. But it will allow the shooter to use the finger-on-the-trigger-guard firing grip. The trigger breaks at a clean 5 pounds. Emissary is made drop-safe by a lightweight firing pin and heavy-duty firing pin spring.

A closer look at the wedge-type rear sight of the Springfield.

Machine work is flawless. The pistol features a wedge-type rear sight.

Springfield eliminated the barrel bushing in the Emissary 1911 for a bull barrel lockup. The barrel hood locks into the slide snugly, and the locking lugs roll into place with a snug fit. While normal, even wear is part of any machine, the less play in the lockup, the less eccentric wear. Springfield delivers the Emissary 1911 with two eight-round MecGar magazines.

Firing the Emissary

At this point I have fired several hundred rounds through the Springfield 1911. The Springfield Emissary comes on target quickly. Control is good. This firearm handles well after acclimating to the thinner grip and grenade-style handle treatment. The sights are good, and the trigger is ideal for personal defense.

I’ve tested handloads using hard-cast bullets, FMJFull Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullets are bullets that have no exposed lead on the nose or sides and do not deform as dramatically as hollow-point or bare-lead bullets. loads, JHPA jacketed hollow-point (JHP) is a hollow-point bullet that is also jacketed. This is done to reduce fouling in the action and barrel of the firearm and to provide more consistent bullet expansion. loads and +P loads. As for absolute accuracy, firing five-shot groups at 25 yards tells us something about the build quality. Some five-shot groups are as small as 2 inches with some around 3 inches. The Springfield Emissary is an outstanding pistol. You can spend a lot more money and not get an appreciably better handgun. A Commander-style Emissary with 4.25-inch barrel should be available soon. A 9mm version is currently shipping. MSRP $1,279


Springfield Armory: