New Gun Review: EMP 4” Lightweight Champion

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Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=emp%20champion

Read more at Springfield Armory: http://www.springfield-armory.com/products/1911-emp-4-lightweight-champion-9mm/

Read more about the EMP family: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/enhanced-micro-pistol-emp-springfield-armory/

A Bold New 9mm

It is the season of force realignment, during which we look at our existing gear and weigh it against the new options out there. Those of us with guns in a class of their own will be fighting the urge to say “This is enough.” Well, “enough” wasn’t enough for the EMP! Springfield looked at the gun and said “Let’s give them more!” More rounds (9 vs 10), more barrel (3″ vs 4″), more sights (tritium vs fiber) and more ways to enjoy the gun (competition)! Meet the EMP Champion.

An EMP with slightly more. More barrel. More capacity. More texturing.

An EMP with slightly more. More barrel. More capacity. More texturing.

Well-Suited

This new gun is well-suited for both serious purposes and shooting sports. This pistol is so IDPA-ready that all you have to add to the mix is ammunition and a concealment garment. The fiber optic sight will allow you to find your target quickly, and with three 10-round magazines you will find yourself on a level round-count playing field.

The EMP Champion is smooth in all the places it needs to be to prevent a snag, but sticky on the front strap and rear mainspring housing to assure a firm purchase. The 4-inch barrel is, in my judgment, just about the best unadulterated length possible for a belt holster carry in 9mm. This is one gun that I would recommend for serious use with no second thoughts.

The front strap of the original EMP is smooth.

The front strap of the original EMP is smooth.

The new Champion has dimples.

The new Champion has dimples.

The EMP Champion comes in a lockable case, as one would expect. It also comes with a fiber optic front sight- mine had the red fiber inserted out of the box. Also included in the purchase is a bag containing replacement fiber rods- one red, and one green. This is a nice bonus, as these tend to require replacement at some point. Holsters love to eat fiber inserts.

The Specs

How well do you know the ins-and-outs of the EMP platform? It really is a fantastic concept that Springfield Armory has been able to produce exceptionally well. The crux is this–instead of taking a 1911 and trying to force other calibers into the .45 ACP sized frame, they built a 1911-like gun, from the ground up, around the new cartridges.

For a full run down, check out this write-up: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/enhanced-micro-pistol-emp-springfield-armory/

Caliber:9mm EMP 4”9mm EMP
Magazines:3-10 Round SS with base pad3-9 Round SS with base pad
Barrel:4” Stainless Steel Match Grade3” Stainless Steel Match Grade
Trigger:Aluminum Match GradeAluminum Match Grade
Grips:Thinline CocoboloThinline Cocobolo or Grey G-10
Frame:Anodized Forged Aluminum AlloyAnodized Forged Aluminum Alloy
Slide:Satin Finish Stainless SteelSatin Finish Stainless Steel
Length7.5”5”
Height5.5”6.6”
Weight w/Magazine31.OZ27. OZ
Front SightFiber OpticTritium Post
Rear SightsLow Profile BlackCombat Low Profile Tritium
The fiber optic front sight.

The fiber optic front sight.

On the range

When I finally had the opportunity to get the new EMP Champion the range, it was a pleasure to shoot. The fiber-optic front sight allowed for quick target acquisition, and the full-size 10 round magazines were an added bonus. The trigger broke consistently at 5 pounds, but was not rough or gritty. In fact, for a production gun, it exceeded my expectations.

The Springfield Armory Champion seemed to be a very soft-shooting gun, which is always nice. I wanted to get a comparison to its little brother with a shorter barrel, since we sometimes have a habit of wanting to believe that the new product is better when we have something fresh in our hands. With this in mind, I decided that a head-to-head trial would be appropriate. It helped that I happened to have a standard-length EMP in my inventory, allowing me to compare the guns side-by-side.

After firing both, I perceived some increased rise in the muzzle of the smaller gun, which was to be expected. However, I don’t believe that this was actually due to the length of the barrel; the Champion has scallops on the front of the magazine well, making the gun a little easier to hold onto.

The two EMP grips together highlights the extra length on the Champion.

The two EMP grips together highlights the extra length on the Champion.

And the extra barrel makes it that much more controllable.

And the extra barrel makes it that much more controllable.

I was also quite interested in determining the velocity of the rounds, considering the additional inch of barrel. I chronographed three different loads, and did find a slight but consistent difference. With range practice ammunition, there was about a 3% increase in muzzle velocity over the standard-length EMP. The increase in velocity when firing self-defense ammunition was not as pronounced, measuring between 1% and 2% based on the brand. I attribute this to the faster-burning powder in these rounds.

The Champion maintains the EMP's reputation for accuracy.

The Champion maintains the EMP’s reputation for accuracy.

The Champion tended to shoot a little low for me, but its accuracy was well within acceptable tolerances for this platform, with all the ammunition tested.

Of course, when considering a weapon for personal defense, 100% reliability is the real deal-breaker. As such, I threw everything I could at this gun. I often find myself with a cornucopia of assorted rounds from all sorts of different brands, and on this occasion I had brought that ammo salad along with me. I fed no less than 15 different kinds of 9mm through the EMP Champion without a single hiccup, which was impressive coming from a stock 9mm 1911 style gun.

Will it Live up to its Promise

In my opinion, this gun really shines in several key areas. Competition is often centered around 10 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, and the new Champion has the potential to literally earn its name in competition. I truly believe that this gun could end up being the one you carry around all week, and then compete with on the weekends. Both concealed carry and competition demand 100% reliability, and the EMP Champion delivered this for me right out of the box. As I’ve already mentioned, I own an EMP and a 9mm, but as soon as they become available for purchase I will most likely own a Champion too.

Prices for these new EMPs are hovering between $900 and $1,000.

Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=emp%20champion

Read more at Springfield Armory: http://www.springfield-armory.com/products/1911-emp-4-lightweight-champion-9mm/

Read more about the EMP family: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/enhanced-micro-pistol-emp-springfield-armory/

The outside of the EMP's case.

The outside of the EMP’s case.

What's in the box.

What’s in the box.

For those who want to hit the range on day one, Springfield includes a holster and an ammo holder in the box.

For those who want to hit the range on day one, Springfield includes a holster and an ammo holder in the box.

Rear dots.

Rear dots.

From the business end.

From the business end.

Ambidextrous controls.

Ambidextrous controls.

The EMP's clean lines still echo the 1911 family tree.

The EMP’s clean lines still echo the 1911 family tree.

With the 4" gun, there's more to hold onto.

With the 4″ gun, there’s more to hold onto.

And that means more control.

And that means more control.

The gun comes with three magazines. For those looking for a complete package, that is a huge benefit.

The gun comes with three magazines. For those looking for a complete package, that is a huge benefit.

Ten round mags with slight bumpers.

Ten round mags with slight bumpers.

The trigger breaks at 5 pounds.

The trigger breaks at 5 pounds.

Testing speeds.

Testing speeds.

EMP 30
EMP 28

With additional material in the barrel, slide, and frame, you expect a modest increase in wieght, but the Champion is still light enough to carry with no problems.

With additional material in the barrel, slide, and frame, you expect a modest increase in wieght, but the Champion is still light enough to carry with no problems.

17.50 Ounces.

1.75 Pounds, empty.

The case itself is well built and lockable. Not a safe, but a great option for secure storage.

The case itself is well built and lockable. Not a safe, but a great option for secure storage.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • mike July 7, 2017, 10:14 pm

    Its a bull barrel gun.. If u ever owned one then you know they are all garbage.. Cant take it apart to clean it and slide wears instead of bushing. Nice looking but poor design.

  • Ed January 18, 2017, 7:26 am

    I have a 1911 range officer that has had 1000’s of rounds thurough with no problem. I only clean it when it gets to nasty to use shame on me!

  • Rod Combs August 6, 2016, 11:27 am

    Just bought a New Springfield EMP this gun is to cool. Springfield is the way to go !!

  • Jim W March 30, 2016, 11:14 pm

    Does the new EMP4 breakdown the same as the EMP, ie that stupid/goffy plastic”dual-recoil capture tool” ??

  • David McDaniel March 21, 2016, 10:19 pm

    I have a EMP I like. Does this new 4 inch version sell in California? If so, I would like one of these also.

    Thank you

    David

  • Cyrus March 21, 2016, 1:21 pm

    Please correct me if I’m wrong but once you get into $900 – $1000 dollars range for this pistol you can buy a SIG, HK or Glock. That would be my choice!

    • Fred C March 21, 2016, 6:11 pm

      I guess it comes down to personal preference with respect to the 1911 platform. I have a couple of Glocks, but I prefer the 1911.

  • Fred C March 21, 2016, 12:03 pm

    I just picked up the EMP4 a few days ago. After the first 250 rounds, the ejector is backing out of the frame. So it is going back to Springfield Armory. The ejector is glued in not pinned. If this were an isolated incident, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I bought the 9mm EMP 3″ model last year and had exactly the same problem. Again, it required me to send it back within days of getting it. The EMP4 also has some other fit/finish issues that I am asking them to correct. This is pretty frustrating considering the cost of these pistols.

  • Mr James March 21, 2016, 9:13 am

    “Sweet” looking fully equipped! 10 round wood handled 1911. This 9mm got everything I need for a fun day of practice, Full time work horse to boot. This is (manufacturing supply and retail” meeting this Nations growing interest in pistol operation at a practical level. One can only hope the others take notice and follow. Nice work on the story too!.

  • Panzer March 21, 2016, 9:05 am

    Not sure the 4″ EMP would be for me. I have the 3″ EMP and have shot 3000 rounds through it using all sorts of ammo. It has been 100% reliable, except for one failure to feed, plus it does not cycle aluminum cased ammo very well. For me, the EMP is almost too big and heavy to carry (about 31oz. loaded) inside the waistband (live in Illinois – must avoid scaring Moms Demand Action types). I wish Springfield Armory would come out with a smaller 9mm or .380 similar to Kimber’s Micro Carry 380 or Micro 9. I would get a Kimber, but you pay big $$ for a gun that only has a 1 year guarantee vs. Springfield’s lifetime guarantee.

  • John R. March 21, 2016, 5:42 am

    Does Springfield have any future plans to release this in .40?

    • Tim H January 19, 2017, 10:43 pm

      Also currently offered in .40. Heavier and frame of steel, check it out!!

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