Bobtail Carry Contour EMP: Springfield’s CCW 9mm 1911 – Full Review.

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Springfield Armory is bringing out a new EMP for SHOT Show 2017, called the 4” Lightweight Champion Concealed Carry Contour Model. This new pistol is based on the EMP that was first introduced in 2007. The original EMP is a truly unique gun, as it solves a problem that had been around for about 80 years: How do you make a 9mm run reliably in a 1911 platform?

Springfield resolved this problem with a patented short-action design they call the Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP). The EMP has a frame/grip length that is 1/8” shorter than a traditional 1911, which solves several problems on its own. The magazine is designed specifically to accommodate the 9mm, as opposed to a standard 1911 magazine with a spacer added. The slide stroke and breech face are made for the reduced length case; these factors solve the reliability problem.

A bonus to this redesign: The shorter grip radius makes the gun more comfortable in the hand for most shooters, while also offering a more comfortable carrying experience with a smaller-proportioned pistol.

The new Concealed Carry Contour EMP 9mm from Springfield delivers all the advantages of the EMP platform in a package designed for enhanced CCW.

The improvements to the EMP platform have not stopped coming. In 2016, Springfield added a new model called the Lightweight Champion 4.0. This gun was way more than just a line extension; it was a major branch on the family tree. This gun was upsized, with a 4” barrel, longer grip, and different sights. These changes also facilitated a 9-round flush-fit magazine. I had a chance to review the gun last year, and liked it so much I bought it! The Lightweight Champion 4.0 was geared to compete in matches and see regular use, as opposed to the original EMP’s focus on concealed carry/personal defense. Ideally, you’re not having to fire your personal defense firearm regularly!

As easy to shoot well as it is to carry, this new EMP variant has a lot of potential.


  • Chambering: 9mm
  • Barrel: 4 inches
  • OA Length: 7.5 inches
  • Weight: 30.5 ounces
  • Grips: G-10
  • Sights: Fiber optic front, low-profile rear
  • Action: Single-action
  • Finish: Two-tone
  • Capacity: 9+1
  • MSRP: $1,220

Competition to Carry

Back to this new 2017 release: the EMP 4” Lightweight Champion Concealed Carry Contour Model. Springfield has taken an approach that improves on a sound concept by combining the best of both worlds: A gun that you can love to shoot as much as you enjoy carrying all day.

The longer four-inch, stainless steel, match-grade bull barrel has a fully supported feed ramp that keeps recoil in check nicely. The slide is made of forged stainless steel, and then finished with a deep satin finish. The aluminum alloy frame is anodized in a black hard coat. The front sight is a red fiber optic (with other colors of inserts included in the box). The steel rear sight is a low-profile, traditional notch design with a set screw to keep it secure in the dovetail. Black G-10 grip panels with checkering accent the black frame handsomely. The strap of the frame is textured, both in the front and rear, to match the G-10 grips; Springfield calls this Posi–Lock.


The new EMP comes with three nine-round magazines total, offering the buyer a lot of bang for the buck.

The frame still accepts the 9-round magazine flush but they have trimmed the frame via a bevel cut on the main spring housing. This greatly improves the carry comfort by removing the 90-degree angle that tends to dig into your tender side when the gun is holstered. The removal of the tail of the gun also reduces its print when carried concealed. I prefer this new frame, not only for the benefits when carrying, but also because I find that the reshaped contour fits the shape of my hand. This gun never “bit” my hand, as some tend to do.

Springfield deserves to be congratulated, as I have paid big bucks for guns that the manufacturers would have wrapped and shipped in toilet paper if they could have. I’m talking about the guns that make you feel like you climbed into a new car you just bought and found that it wouldn’t start because there was no gas in it. Not so with the EMP: included in the plastic hard-shell carrying case are some nice extras. I have tested guns that cost well over twice the price of this gun, yet only came with one magazine. The EMP guns come with three magazines in the box. You will also find a magazine carrier and belt holster, along with a small parts bag containing extra fiber optic inserts and the tools need to fully disassemble the pistol.

The Concealed Carry Contour EMP has a bushingless bull barrel that mates directly to the slide. It also features a guide rod.

The mainspring housing area of the pistol has an angled cut to minimize the pistol’s bulk and “print” during carry.

Finally, you get the paperwork: an operation and safety manual, a sheet with more guns to buy, and a 1911 loaded coupon that allows you to place one order for parts and accessories at a very nice discount.

Shooting the EMP 4.0 Carry Cut

I was eager to get to the range and try the Springfield EMP out. Unfortunately, as soon as the gun arrived the weather turned a bit arctic. I watched the weather, and managed to plan an outing to the range on a balmy 32° day.

The pistol comes with a holster as a standard part of the kit.

A dual magazine carrier is also included with the pistol.

By then my hype levels were nearing maximum, and I wanted to see if the gun would live up to all the expectations that I had for it. When I unboxed the pistol on the range, my friend who was with me picked it up and, unprompted, said “Wow! a gun that fits my hand.” There were other people present who were also equally impressed with the proportions and aesthetic of this gun.

Once I had promised each of them a turn on the gun, I was free to get my magazines loaded and decided to begin a warm-up drill by shooting some two and three-inch dots from 7 yards. The first thing that became apparent to me was that the gun tended to shoot low to my point of aim. This was easily corrected by aiming at the top of the dot versus the center of the dot. Now that I knew where the gun was hitting for me, I wanted to work some faster shots and incorporate reloads. These drills went flawlessly once I had adapted to the positioning of magazines within the included magazine carrier. I decided that I would probably go to one of my favorite holster makers when it was time for serious carry work; the gear supplied was more than adequate for the range, but I preferred a different set up for every day carry. Unless a tactical advantage is available, there’s no real reason to re-work your muscle memory when it comes to concealed carry.

The new EMP performed extremely well on the range for the author.

I must have lost track of time, because it seemed my friends were waiting for me to make good on their promised turns on the gun right away. I’m pretty sure I shot every bit of 100 rounds without even being conscious of how fast they had gone. I also had run the gun straight out of the box without cleaning, oiling, or otherwise servicing it, and there was not even a hint of malfunction. I decided to pass the pistol on to my range friends and give them a turn. As each person shot the gun I inquired what they noticed and liked about it. The comments about the gun consistently shooting a little low were universal. No one out of the group had any failure issues, which is remarkable because typically at least one shooter will fail to seat a magazine or accidentally bump a mag release. Most of the people said the gun felt more like shooting a .380 than a 9mm. I had one person ask me what the price on the gun was, and after I told him, he was interested in purchasing one when they become available.

My Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a 1911-style 9mm. pistol, the Carry Cut EMP is clearly the leader. Although it is not cheap by plastic pistol standards, it is an extreme bargain compared to 1911 custom guns. The only significant gripe that I have is that the sights tended to shoot low. I doubt very seriously that Springfield Armory will be getting this gun back from me; they will more than likely be receiving a check in its place. This gun will be available the first quarter of 2017. If you get a chance, you really need to check this pistol out!

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To purchase on, click this link:

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • I'am December 11, 2017, 11:55 pm

    Wow it looks as if the leftist anti gun crowd has found the website from all the putdowns and negative comments. Myself I like this firearm but I will have to see it in person at a store before I latch on to one. That kind of money is no problem for me.

  • BRASS December 11, 2017, 4:43 pm

    I’m far from an English major but, it is my understanding that the word ambidextrous is not supposed to be pronounced ambidextrious, as there is no i after the t. I find it annoying that many choose to arbitrarily change the spelling and/or pronunciation or some words with more than one syllable.

  • Zorro December 11, 2017, 7:51 am

    Another re-worked non seller in 1911 style NO ONE WANTS ANYMORE – Yawn… when are these manufacturers going to get it use some imagination, employ some real engineers, with some inovative NEW / FRESH designs instead of the same old garbage … Yuck and as always WAY overpriced …

  • Bryan Daniels March 7, 2017, 7:29 am

    Great review! Will definitely be looking to test this one out at the range asap…..just one thing, could you please do something about the before and after music? I love the info from your reviews but when you have the volume turned up to hear you talking then you get a blast of that nonsense.

  • Scott Wharem March 4, 2017, 9:22 am

    What surprises me is, no one has commented on this presenters lack of gun safety protocol throughout the entire presentation. He starts with a cocked and locked firearm and in the next few minutes, he transitions to an cocked and unlocked pistol and proceeds to wave it around at varying angles as well as passing through the sight line of the camera. At one point disengaging grip safety (unlocked) to demonstrate a feature that is so common on 1911s as to be totally unnecessary to the presentation. Based on this video, I wouldn’t be anywhere near a firing line with this gentleman.

    • Mike December 11, 2017, 7:59 pm

      It’s not a training video, its a gun review.
      Some people just look for something to criticize.

    • Sam November 27, 2018, 8:17 pm

      You’re upset because he pointed the gun at the camera? smh……..

  • Charles March 2, 2017, 10:46 pm

    I liked the written review, liked the video review but I really did not like the sudden , unecessary , loud blast of noise, music? At the beginning and then at the end!

  • WilliamDahl January 23, 2017, 1:09 pm

    Single stack 9mm M1911?

    How *quaint*…

    I’ll take the RIA double stack M1911 in the mid-size configuration with a .38 SUPER barrel added to it.

  • Ronald Mindham January 23, 2017, 11:44 am

    Where can i get a GRAND M 1, at a good price? Korean vet ??

  • DIYinSTL January 23, 2017, 9:03 am

    cretin, n. 1. a person suffering from cretinism. 2. a stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective person. 3. a person who fires a new gun without first cleaning and properly lubricating it.

  • ToddB January 23, 2017, 7:45 am

    Gee only $1200 for a single stack 9. Hey I like the idea somebody finally cut the action length on a 1911 so it works reliably with the shorter ammo, one would think somebody would have done it long ago. And now could use 40 or 357sig without all the jamming issues. But $1200 is a bit steep.

    • Edgar January 23, 2017, 2:46 pm

      I would buy one immediately in a 357 sig. Sadly the last time I contacted Springfield’s custom shop they replied that there were NO plans to offer a 357. I guess I will wait until some one re-chambers their 9mm barrel to 357 and see how it works. I love the EMP , but I need it in a 357.

      • Sckarekrow March 23, 2017, 7:43 pm


  • Gary Doane January 23, 2017, 7:25 am

    If it doesnt shoot to point if aim, it aint right.

  • Billybob January 23, 2017, 7:16 am

    Kinda like driving a 4 cylinder Dodge Viper instead of a V10 ! 1911 GSG 22lr. or 9mm instead of a 45acp !
    40 or a 10mm !

    • Sckarekrow March 23, 2017, 7:44 pm

      Another amateur with a opinion.

  • Billybob January 23, 2017, 6:53 am

    (you could buy 2 )Sig P938 Blackwood 9mm Pistol 938-9-BG-AMBI
    The P-11™
    Caliber 9x19mm Luger
    Weight Unloaded 14oz 400g
    Magazine Capacity 10 (12 optional)
    Overall Length 5.6” 142mm
    Barrel Length 3.1” 79mm
    Height 4.3” 109mm
    Width 1” 25mm
    Trigger Pull 9lbs 40N
    Standard/MetricThe semi-automatic P-11™ is the very first 9mm polymer pistol designed for concealed carry. With its ergonomic design, perceived recoil and practical accuracy, it’s a big pistol in a small package. Compact and lightweight, thanks to its locked breach, the P-11 also features a double action only firing mechanism that’s functioning surpasses all applicable SAAMI safety standards.
    MSRP: $347.27Manufacturer: Kimber America $1099.99
    Model: Onyx Ultra II
    SKU: 3200308
    Caliber: 9mm Luger
    Capacity: (1) 8 Round Magazine
    Barrel Length: 3\”
    Grips: Black Ball-Milled Micarta
    Weight: 25 oz

    • Commonwealth109 January 23, 2017, 8:18 am

      The P938 is a great concealed carry single action gun. Wouldn’t trade carrying one of mine for any Springfield!

    • David January 24, 2017, 12:14 am

      Street price for the EMP4 is going to be in the mid-$900’s. GAG already has it listed at that price. I’ve paid much more than that for quality 1911’s.

      Sig makes a fine gun, but comparing a tiny gun that guys like me can barely hold with 2 fingers, with a 3″ bbl and 8# trigger to the EMP4 with a more normal size grip, 4″ bbl, and 5# trigger is like comparing apples to lug nuts.

      As to the P-11, they aren’t even apples and lug nuts in the same solar system. You get what you pay for, and while Keltec is a fine gun on a budget, if you can get past their horrendous triggers and oft-reported quality issues, it doesn’t carry the Springfield’s (or Sig’s) water in the quality, fit & finish, and accuracy department. Nor is it a 1911.

      The last gun your list is a Kimber with a 3″ bbl and one less round than the EMP4 in the same street price range. Now I love Kimber and own a $1200 one, but again between these two I’d take the Springer any day unless I was specifically looking for a 3″ 1911.

      • Mark N. January 26, 2017, 1:56 am

        I pulled the trigger on a P238 some years ago (California doesn’t allow the 938), and although it measured 8 lbs, it didn’t feel all that heavy, particularly since there is no take-up in it whatsoever. And it is pocketable, while this nifty gun is not. Not that I’d pay the asking price for a .380. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be seeing the EMP4 here either, though we can buy the regular 3.1″ EMP. (There is a pending case seeking to overturn the microstamping law, which would allow many new guns in if the case is successful, but this being California, the DOJ will undoubtedly appeal, even if it is a frivolous one, simply to delay that day.)

  • Gearmaster January 16, 2017, 9:57 pm

    Hey Jon, in the paragraph above the specs, you talk about the EMP-4 Lightweight Champion that was released in 2016 as having changes to the original EMP that “facilitated a 9-round flush-fit magazine.” The Champion released last year has a 10-round magazine with a slam pad. I have one too and know this for sure! As you mentioned later, it is the new Contour with the 9-round flush fit magazine, and the original EMP-3 has a 9-rounder with slam pad. Thought you might want to know of the mistake so you could make the correction.

  • Mark N. January 15, 2017, 1:10 am

    Surprisingly enough, the regular 3″ EMP is on the California Roster, and I am a fan of small pistols, both in 9mm and .45, but the price has always kept me away.

  • Will Drider January 14, 2017, 2:18 pm

    They cut the butt, recessed the mag and left all those sharp edges up front. Well, maybe next year they will carry contour the rest.

    • Mark N. January 26, 2017, 1:58 am

      They do a carry melt on the 3″ gun. Surprised it isn’t found on this one also, but with a 4″ barrel, it isn’t likely to be pocketed. thus reducing the need for such (expensive) treatment,

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