1911 Ronin® EMP® Compact 9mm Pistol from Springfield Armory®

by Boge Quinn

August 9th, 2022

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Since its introduction as the U.S. Military's primary sidearm in 1911, John Browning's famous Model 1911 pistol has taken its place in the pantheon of historically-significant handguns, alongside Colt's Single Action Army ("Peacemaker") and Smith & Wesson's "Hand Ejector" revolver. Well over a hundred years into its history, the 1911 remains, in the opinions of many including myself, the finest semi-automatic pistol ever devised. Originally produced by Colt, the 1911 is today made by a great many manufacturers, in a great many variations, and its popularity seems secure for the foreseeable future because of its efficacy, its accuracy, its reliability, and, to be honest, its nostalgia. While more "modern" designs have surfaced, most of these still borrow heavily from the innovations perfected in the 1911 pistol, and the 1911 is still as relevant today as it was a century ago. 

Springfield Armory has long been established as one of the modern era's finest makers of 1911-style pistols. They offer a wide variety of 1911 pistols to cater to the wants and budgets of today's shooters, from the more basic designs to more fully featured and semi-custom pistols. Their 1911s have proven themselves time after time, and each model in their 1911 line represents a fine value when compared with similarly-appointed pistols from other makers.

In 2006, Springfield Armory introduced the EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol), a variation of the 1911 design, scaled down to suit the 9mm Luger cartridge. This was a brilliant idea, superbly executed by Springfield Armory: a smaller version of the grand old 1911 pistol sized to suit the smaller cartridge, perfect for concealed carry. Not content to just shorten the 1911's frame and slide, Springfield Armory redesigned their EMP from the ground up to truly complement the 9mm cartridge as a concealed-carry defensive pistol.  Springfield Armory's initial version of the EMP was quite impressive, and I was enamored with it from the start after handling and firing one at SHOT Show 2007 Media Day.

A couple of years back, Springfield Armory introduced their 1911 Ronin® pistol line. The 1911 Ronin was named for the wandering Samurai warriors of feudal Japan, who owed allegiance to no Lord or Master, which echoes the mindset of the American shooter: fiercely independent, and bound to Duty and Honor. The Ronin pistols are designed to offer everything the shooter needs, along with an attractive appearance, at an attractive price. The Ronin pistol is a full-sized, all-steel 1911, and is available in 9mm, 10mm, and 45 ACP chamberings. Made with a forged stainless steel frame and forged, blued carbon-steel side, the 1911 Ronin® is a very attractive, solidly-built, and competitively-priced addition to the Springfield Armory line.

In keeping with this, Springfield Armory recently decided to offer their EMP pistol as a companion to the 1911 Ronin line, and the 1911 Ronin® EMP® was born. As the latest version of the EMP, the 1911 Ronin EMP is a wonderfully attractive pistol, to my mind the best EMP to date. From a standpoint of both features and aesthetics, the 1911 Ronin EMP is a great companion and enhancement to the 1911 Ronin line, differing from its sister models mainly in size and weight. As were the former EMP models, the 1911 Ronin EMP is smaller in many dimensions than the full-size 1911 pistols. In addition to this, the 1911 Ronin EMP is much lighter in weight than its full-sized counterparts because the EMP's frame is forged from aluminum rather than stainless steel. This makes the 1911 Ronin EMP a full pound lighter in weight than the larger 1911 Ronin pistols. The following chart shows the dimensional differences between the 1911 Ronin EMP and the full-sized 1911 Ronin 10mm (a full review of the 1911 Ronin 10mm is coming soon):

Size Comparison - 1911 Ronin® EMP® 9mm vs 1911 Ronin® 10mm

  1911 Ronin® EMP® 9mm 1911 Ronin® 10mm
Barrel Length 3 Inches 5 Inches
Overall Length 6.6 Inches 8.6 Inches
Overall Height 4.8 Inches 5.5 Inches
Overall Thickness 1.276 Inches 1.286 Inches
Slide Thickness 0.920 Inch 0.923 Inch
Grip Thickness 1.145 Inches 1.129 Inches
Grip Length 1.978 Inches 2.059 Inches
Trigger Reach 2.730 Inches 2.849 Inches
Weight 24 Ounces 40 Ounces

As already mentioned, the 1911 Ronin EMP is constructed with a forged carbon steel side and a forged aluminum frame. The slide sports a very nice blued finish, while the frame is finished in Satin Aluminum Cerakote®. The overall effect is a very attractive two-tone silver & black, as seen on many custom guns costing far more than the EMP Ronin. Unlike the full-size 1911 Ronin pistols, which have angled slide serrations fore and aft, the shorter slide pf the EMP Ronin features angled cocking serrations at the rear of the slide only.

The 1911 Ronin EMP's barrel is forged from stainless steel, and can be had in either 3-Inch (as tested) or 4-Inch lengths, with the 4-Inch pistol having a correspondingly longer slide. The barrel is match-grade, rifled 1:16", with a fully-supported chamber; the chamber end of the barrel also features a witness hole as a loaded-chamber indicator. Aesthetically, the 4-Inch version resembles a slightly smaller Commander-sized pistol, while the 3-Inch version resembles a slightly smaller Officer's Model. The 4-Inch EMP Ronin is 1" longer and 3.5 ounces heavier than the 3-Inch version, and to me the 3-Inch just makes more sense, but the 4-Inch version is available at the same price for those who might prefer it.

Owing to the Ronin EMP's short barrel and recoil cycle, the recoil system is a more "modern" type, rather than the old familiar GI-type recoil spring & plunger system. The guide rod is full-length, with a dual captive recoil spring system; in spite of this, neither a tool nor a third hand is required to strip the pistol for cleaning and maintenance.

The Ronin EMP's sights are very nice, consisting of a dovetailed, drift-adjustable fiber-optic front and dovetailed, drift-adjustable Tactical Rack two-white-dot rear with set screw. In use, the front sight glows reddish-orange, framed by the two white dots of the rear sight in the familiar "three-dot" pattern.  Both front and rear sights are steel, with the rearward-facing surfaces of each serrated to reduce glare. The fiber-optic front sight does a great job of picking up ambient light, making the sight picture quick and easy to acquire for both initial and follow-up shots.

The controls are familiar to 1911 shooters, although a bit reduced in size to coordinate with the smaller overall size of the Ronin EMP: the magazine release button, slide stop, and thumb safety are stainless steel and grooved for easy purchase, with the thumb safety being an  extended right-hand-only unit. The grip safety is a scaled-down version made from stainless steel, with an upswept beavertail to prevent hammer bite, and a "memory bump" to facilitate operation with the shooter's thumb riding the safety; I tend to have some trouble with this on most 1911 pistols, so I tend to drop my thumb down when firing, but the Ronin EMP works either way. The mainspring housing is stainless steel, flat, and deeply checkered.

The hammer is a very nicely rendered skeletonized stainless steel part, which nestles beautifully into the upswept beavertail grip safety.

The trigger is skeletonized, lightweight aluminum, finished in black for an appealing contrast to the Satin Aluminum finish of the frame. The trigger action is very smooth, with a slight takeup followed by no discernible creep or overtravel, and measures an average of 3 Pounds, 1.7 Ounces on my Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge.

The grip panels are dark Rosewood with very attractive grain, and checkered in a diagonal half-checker pattern with Springfield Armory's "Crossed-Cannon" logo laser-engraved. The dark Rosewood contrasts beautifully against the Satin-Aluminum frame, adding an attractive custom visual touch to the pistol. Grip thickness is somewhat slimmer than standard 1911 grips, but not "too" thin - for my hands, just perfect.

Magazine capacity of the EMP Ronin is nine rounds, and one magazine is included with purchase. Additional magazines can be purchased at Springfield Armory's Online Store.

Specifications - 1911 Ronin® EMP® Compact 9mm Pistol from Springfield Armory®

Model # PX9123L
Caliber 9mm Luger
Slide Forged Carbon Steel, Blued
Frame Forged Aluminum Alloy, Satin Aluminum Cerakote®
Barrel 3" Forged Stainless Steel, Bull Profile, Match Grade, Fully Supported Ramp, 1:16" Twist
Recoil System Captive Recoil Spring w/ Full Length Guide Rod
Grip Safety Stainless Steel, Upswept Beavertail with Memory Bump
Thumb Safety Stainless Steel, Extended, Right-Hand
Trigger Skeletonized Aluminum, Black Finish
Trigger Pull 3 Pounds, 1.7 Ounces
Sights Fiber Optic Front, Tactical Rack White Dot Rear
Grips Thin Rosewood, Half-Checker Pattern with Laser-Engraved Logo
Overall Length 6.6 Inches
Overall Height 4.8 Inches
Weight 24 Ounces
Magazine Capacity 9 Rounds
Magazines Supplied 1
Accessories Included Box, Manual, Zippered Logo Gun Rug, Cable Lock
MSRP as of August 2022 $899.00 US

Shooting the 1911 Ronin EMP 9mm was a pleasure, with either "ball" type FMJ ammo or heavier-loaded hollowpoints. The pistol proved to be quite accurate at the moderate distances tested (from 15 feet to 25 yards), and ran 100% reliably with any and all ammunition I tried; there were zero bobbles or malfunctions of any kind using any type of ammo I tested. Although the 9mm Luger is a moderately-recoiling round at most, the Ronin EMP's light weight and short length did not make the pistol at all difficult to shoot, and follow-up shots were quick and accurate.

Carrying and concealing the 1911 Ronin EMP is a snap, on the belt or even in a pocket. For belt carry, a fine choice is the CID Slide Holster from Rob Leahy at Simply Rugged Holsters. The CID Slide is a compact, simple belt-slide holster, and is available in several colors, degrees of ornamentation, and types of leather, at a starting price of $50.00. For pocket carry, Simply Rugged's Pocket Protector leather holster is nothing short of perfect; it offers everything needed for effective pocket carry, and nothing more. The base Pocket Protector is built "suede-out" and designed to stay in the pocket on the draw; the Pocket Protector is also available in several exotic leathers for those wanting something a bit fancier in their pocket. The basic plain-Jane Pocket Protector is a holster I use every day, even if I have something larger on a belt or shoulder rig, and starts at only $35.00.

The 1911 Ronin EMP 9mm pistol is a wonderful solution for fanciers of the 1911 pistol who desire the 1911 manual of arms in a smaller, easier-to-carry size. It is small and light enough to be carried all day, every day, often in situations that might render carrying a full-size 1911 problematic. It is a truism that the best defensive sidearm is the one that you actually have on your person, and in that regard the 1911 Ronin EMP really stands out above the rest. Superbly crafted, small, lightweight, accurate, and reliable, Springfield Armory's 1911 Ronin EMP offers the best of several worlds, at a very attractive price.

Springfield Armory: www.springfield-armory.com
Springfield Armory Ronin EMP 9mm

To Order Springfield Armory® Products Online, Click on the GUN GENIE at Davidson's Gallery of Guns: www.galleryofguns.com.

To Find a Springfield Armory® Dealer Near You, Click on the DEALER FINDER at Lipsey's: www.lipseys.com.

Order Ammo Online at Lucky Gunner: www.luckygunner.com.

Super Vel Ammunition: www.supervelammunition.com.

Double Tap Ammo: www.doubletapammo.com.

Simply Rugged Holsters: www.simplyrugged.com.

Lyman Products: www.lymanproducts.com

Boge Quinn

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1911 Ronin EMP 9mm compared to full-size 1911 Ronin 10mm.












Simply Rugged CID Slide Holster.



Simply Rugged Pocket Protector Holster.