Emissary Springfield Armory

Tri-Top Triple-Threat!
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If I see an eye-catching classic Packard from the 1930s, I always look at it carefully. I’ll spend an inordinate amount of time admiring the finish, the fit of the panels, the elegant lines, the proud radiator shell — the works. Then, if I see another of exactly the same year and even the same color five minutes later, I’ll do it all over again. What do I do at a car show? I look at every single Packard, often again and again, then take one more look at each one as I walk away. You might do it with airplanes, sail boats or attractive women perhaps? Are we even allowed to say that any longer? What has the world come to?

So why then do people fail to understand a penchant for looking at, shooting and otherwise messing about with 1911 pistols? Like a Packard, they are not all alike (even the same model from a single maker). Each is at least slightly different — trigger pulls, fit, finish, etc. — or in some cases even hugely different. Show me a hundred 1911s and I’ll show you a hundred different guns, even if it’s the same production run of a single model from the same manufacturer. Each will likely have its own personality. Like those Packards.

“Oh, that’s just another 1911” simply doesn’t apply, unless the fellow mumbling under his breath suffers from an apocalyptic collapse of any sense of artistic longing or, dare I say it — common sense? We do what we do with guns because it’s fun, compelling; even intriguing in many cases. Why miss out on the subtle indulgence of pondering the particulars in those oh-so-familiar yet still undeniably unique lines from Mr. Browning’s imagination? Just say yes — don’t say no.

Other standard features include a skeletonized hammer for fast
lock times and a Tactical Rack U-Dot rear sight.

To Wit

I never tire of enjoying being exposed to Springfield Armory’s offerings. From polymer to steel, they’re often quite subtly innovative or even downright ground-breaking. Quality of construction is always top-tier and practicality of design is always mated with an artistic sensibility, keeping the final results pleasing to the senses but never losing contact with practical use.

The new 1911-style Emissary lives up to both the reputation of Springfield and to the origination of the name. “Emissary” comes from the Latin emissarius, which could mean a “scout” or “to send out.” Today’s meaning most often tends toward describing a person sent on a special mission, particularly a diplomatic one. I confess when I thought of that last, I laughed out loud, as drawing the Emissary in defense of a life might just indeed qualify as a diplomatic mission? It brings particular meaning to the saying “… speak softly and carry a big stick.” Diplomatically, of course.

According to Springfield Armory’s Mike Humphries, Media Relations Manager, “Springfield Armory brings the experience and skill sets of all its 1911 building skills to the development and design of every offering in that line. All of the skills built by decades of high-quality 1911 production — from Springfield Custom to production — go into every 1911 offered.” I think that experience is really showcased in the Emissary.

A tritium front sight comes standard on the business end, complementing
a rail for light/laser mounting while the 5" 1:16 bull barrel and full-length
guide rod ensure maximum accuracy and reliability.

A Solid Base

I’ve always found their sort of front-line defensive and target guns, like the Range Officer series and others, to be predictable, accurate and sound. The Emissary ramps up the technical/mechanical excellence with an artistic sensibility so important when urging a design to be all it can be.

Mike continued in his note to me, “The goal with the Emissary was to take the classic 1911 platform and give it a new style and look. But what’s really interesting is this look combines ultra-modern styling cues — like the grenade-pattern checkering and Tri-Top cut slide — along with a retro custom-vibe through the squared trigger guard and serrated sighting plane atop the slide.

I think the Emissary navigates two paths. On one hand, it’s a 1911 appealing to many polymer-framed pistol fans due to its edgy styling. But on the other hand, it’s also attractive to traditionalists who fondly recall the custom guns of the 1980s. The two-tone look and squared guard would have been right at home on the cover of American Handgunner in 1985. And that’s a good thing.

At its heart, the Emissary is, as Mike calls it, “A rock-solid defensive style 1911.” With the addition of the rail and the bold, “Tactical Rack U-Dot” sights (with a tritium front), heavy bushing-less barrel and excellent ergonomics, it’s not only a great shooter but eye-catching enough to cause a ruckus at the range.

The solid, flat-faced trigger resides in an oversized square trigger guard to fit gloved hands.

The Emissary is focused primarily on self-defense and doesn’t come
with a beveled magwell. It does come with two 8-round magazines standard.

Essential Details

The historically-rich two-tone look comes from a forged stainless steel frame and forged rust-blued slide. Forgings machine beautifully, while lending a strong underlying strength to things. The detailed machining highlights the talents of the people making the Emissary, offering a pairing of attractive attributes and real-world function. For instance, the bold “Grenade Pattern” texture machined into the front strap and rear flat (thank you!) mainspring housing extends across the VZ Slimline G10 grips too, teaming up to encourage an unbreakable grip on the gun. Wait until you try it.

The all-steel construction and 40-oz. heft means the Emissary relaxes into your grip soundly with just a hint of muzzle-heaviness causing the front sight to settle fast. A full 5″ bull match-grade barrel with a flush-fit crown means no separate bushing to fuss with and the full length guide rod captures the recoil spring when you take things down. Rifling is 1:16″ and if this gun is any indication, the combo of a match bull barrel and rifling rate is a great combo. Ours delivers reliable 1.25″ to 1.75″ groups at 25 yards, depending on ammo — simply amazing in a bone-stock factory produced 1911.

The skeletonized hammer keeps the action snappy and fast, and the long but flat synthetic trigger is light and extremely comfortable. If you haven’t tried a flat trigger, you have a treat in store. In the old days a squared trigger guard was to accommodate a finger-forward grip, but Springfield says the Emissary’s is to help contain a gloved shooting finger. It’d work fine for either use. The feature does make holster selection something you need to pay close attention to as they’ll be more limited than for standard designs.

The “Tri-Top” does a couple of things. First off, it looks great and the lightening cuts “texture” extending across the angle sort of flow into your palm if you reach over the slide top to rack it. The clearance also presents the flat front of the rear sight better to manage an emergency slide rack by hooking it on a belt or boot heel.

This 5-shot group at 25 yards from the Emissary was a satisfying 1.5" —
but if we sort of ignore the Roy-induced “flyer,” it’s suddenly 0.75" —
four shots into one ragged hole! Ammo was Black Hills 230 ball.

Shooting

What’s to say? The 3 lb., 3 oz. trigger pull (average of 10 tries) is as crisp as it sounds. The bold sights are easy to see and when I use my “good” glasses equipped with an old Merit Optical aperture system, I’m able to see a very clear sight picture. Groups at 25 yards seemed to favor around 1.50″ but I was pleased by several chasing 1″. There was a memorable one at 0.75″ if I closed my eyes to the one “flyer” 0.5″ away! Best groups were with Black Hills 230-grain ball but I had some excellent surprises using Armscor 230 ball too. It ate everything I put through it, including HP defensive ammo. The Emissary is a sterling shooter and makes anyone look better than they really are. Just watch that trigger press.

Call the Emissary a true “do-all” 1911. From home/personal defense, weekend competition, informal — or formal — target shooting, even small-game hunting, it’d handle it with aplomb. Keep in mind, as Mike Humphries told me, “The Emissary is still a production gun, despite its custom-style features. We gave it some really cool, custom-style upgrades you’d see from a small builder. But we’re able to do it with a production gun and commensurate pricing.” At $1,279, the performance, build quality and accuracy left me gob-smacked. If I’d handled this gun blindfolded I’d have guessed a $3,500 custom job.

A custom-milled forged slide features distinctive tri-top cuts with forward lightening
grooves and a flattened top strap with full-length 40 LPI serrations to diffuse glare.

Departing Feelings

I think Steve Kramer, VP of Marketing for Springfield Armory, said it best to me. “This new addition to the 1911 family of pistols at Springfield provides an excellent option for a defensive handgun — with an additional measure of refinement.”

Indeed.

There’s no need to compromise when you can stay within a budget — and still get the best, eh?

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