Comparing compact 9mm 1911's


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Jim PHL
March 22, 2013, 10:22 AM
I'm really loving my 1911's these days. I have 2 full-size .45's that I currently enjoy shooting more than any of my other guns. I'm looking at compact 9mm models just for a little variety. This won't be specifically for carry as I currently own a S&W 'Shield' 9mm for that, but of course any of my guns may be pressed into CC duty occasionally. I once owned a SA "Micro-Compact" in .45 and would not surprise myself by someday getting into another compact .45. I am also eyeing a .45 CCO for range and possible carry that may change - or at least delay - the new 9mm purchase, but for now I am considering the following guns. Please chime in if you have experience with any of the following and especially if you own more than one of them and can speak to direct comparison. (Again, for now, just wondering about 9mm versions of those which are offered in both 9mm and .45.):
Colt Defender
Springfield EMP
STI Guardian
STI Escort
Dan Wesson ECO ($!)

If you have another that fits the bill of course I'd love to hear about it. I'm not absolutely locked-in to any of the above (yet) and, honestly, all my homework may go out the window when I show up at my LGS with cash in my pocket and see what is actually on the shelf that day. (As of yesterday they did have a Colt CCO .45 and a Defender 9mm and EMP 9mm.)

Finally, we all know that 3" .45's are routinely trashed for lack of reliability, does anyone have any thoughts or experience on whether the same bugs that affect 3" .45 reliability apply to their 9mm counterparts?

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bannockburn
March 22, 2013, 10:49 AM
Jim PHL

You might want to add the Colt New Agent to your list. I have the TALO version which comes with the XS night sights. Makes for very quick aquisition of the sights on target.

Madcap_Magician
March 22, 2013, 11:02 AM
I think the Dan Wesson ECO is my hands-down choice. It is everything I wanted in an officer's size 9mm... round butt treatment, great finish and grips, and straight-8 sights.

The EMP would be a second choice, but I think the ECO is only about $300 more, and a round butt conversion + switch night sights would run me more than $300.

Still mostly a pipe dream at this point, since it would be four years before I could save the money for it.

berettaprofessor
March 22, 2013, 11:20 AM
I bought the EMP9 and absolutely love it, but it's the only one I have experience with. It would be the last gun I would sell.

9mmepiphany
March 22, 2013, 04:37 PM
Finally, we all know that 3" .45's are routinely trashed for lack of reliability, does anyone have any thoughts or experience on whether the same bugs that affect 3" .45 reliability apply to their 9mm counterparts?
Yes, but moreso and worst.

Running the short and narrower cartridge in the .45ACP length action just adds additional variations in feeding issues to the already existing timing issues. This is, of course, dependent on how hard you run your guns and your expectation of reliability.

Hilton Yam (10-8 Performance) is a recognized authority on keeping a 1911 running as a duty or competition gun and he worked at getting a 9mm 1911 to run well enough to replace his .45 1911 in training to give his elbows a break. He finally decided it was more practical to go with a M&P9.

Of the pistols you have listed, the only one that isn't built on a .45ACP sized frame is the Springfield EMP. It's action has actually been optimized to feed a 9x19mm length cartridge.

Mine has been reliable enough over a couple of thousand rounds for me to feel comfortable with it as a daily carry weapon...it is also a good value at around $1k

critter
March 22, 2013, 05:04 PM
I have a Colt New Agent and a Springfield XDs. Both those diminutive 45's are good shooters and both have been absolutely 100% reliable. Easy to carry and easy to conceal. I like them both a lot and carry one or the other often. Using 200 gr JHP's cuts down on the recoil recovery time a bit.

I also just got a SIG 938 which is proving to be a great little 9mm 1911 for carry. Easier to hide than the others and has been fully reliable and accurate so far. Seems to be a nice little gun.

docnyt
March 22, 2013, 05:34 PM
The EMP is easy to shoot, great ergonomics. Very accurate.

I've only had experience with the Spartan which is fairly similar. Nice fit and finish.

Only other 9 mm 1911 I've shot is a custom Fusion. A little stiff but it hasn't been broken in yet.

Overall the EMP is the best.

mesinge2
March 22, 2013, 05:41 PM
Personally, a 9mm Defender is high on my want list!

BB93YJ
March 22, 2013, 05:46 PM
Wish I'd kept my Detonics Combat Master Stainless, back in the early '80's:(

HKGuns
March 22, 2013, 10:46 PM
No such thing as a 9mm 1911 and in my humble opinion if you want a 1911 get 45ACP. There are plenty of other 9mm pistols out there.

Byrd666
March 22, 2013, 11:05 PM
I had an EMP in .40 until I had to sell it for a move. A even though I only had about 500 rounds down the pipe, I found it to be reliable with both ball and hollow point ammo. Accurate, as to expected from an SA weapon and without a hiccup of any sort. The pistol was comfortable and easy to use in all aspects. It pointed as natural as a full size 1911, just without the extra barrel length.

The only gripe I had about it, was the fact that it was only available in a duo tone finish.

Jim PHL
March 24, 2013, 04:04 PM
"No such thing as a 9mm 1911" Yes, actually, there is.

"and in my humble opinion if you want a 1911 get 45ACP". As I stated, I have a couple, and potentially a third on its' way. Just looking for a little variety.

"There are plenty of other 9mm pistols out there." I knew this already. I have several. Wanting to add another.

We have some nice parting gifts for you. Thanks for playing.

9mmepiphany
March 24, 2013, 04:20 PM
No such thing as a 9mm 1911
The Colt Commander was originally designed in 9mm to compete with the S&W M-39 for an Air Force contract

bigfatdave
March 24, 2013, 04:24 PM
I'm cheap, I went with RIA/Armscor for this purpose

cyclopsshooter
March 24, 2013, 04:29 PM
I'm not cheap, another vote for a look at the Sig 938

Ankeny
March 24, 2013, 07:55 PM
I had an EMP in 9mm, and I also had a 9mm Dan Wesson ECO. Both ran fine, but I went back to Commander sized guns because I shoot them better and at 6'4" they aren't that much harder to pack around. I have also given up on 9mm in 1911s in favor of 38 Lapua.

Jim PHL
March 24, 2013, 08:35 PM
Ankeny, how would those two compare to each other? ECO worth the additional $500?

farscott
March 25, 2013, 10:10 AM
STI offers a set of really cost-effective set of models in both .45 and 9x19, the STI Spartan III and Spartan IV. I believe these can be found for about $750 and are backed by STI's customer service. Both are set up as carry guns with Novak-like sights, a rowel hammer, and a decent grip safety as well as using the STI polymer trigger.

bigfatdave
March 25, 2013, 10:21 AM
STI's spartan line is made by Armscor, with some STI parts and QC

smalls
March 25, 2013, 11:43 AM
STI offers a set of really cost-effective set of models in both .45 and 9x19, the STI Spartan III and Spartan IV. I believe these can be found for about $750 and are backed by STI's customer service. Both are set up as carry guns with Novak-like sights, a rowel hammer, and a decent grip safety as well as using the STI polymer trigger.

A Spartan IV in 9mm is my daily carry gun, and I really like it, and I think its the best "value 1911" out there. But if I had the extra cash to spend when I bought mine, I would have opted for a Guardian for sure. Or a DW Eco!

Arp32
March 25, 2013, 11:58 AM
I handled a Dan Wesson Eco a few weeks ago and I was very impressed with the fit and finish. It was a very tight gun. There wasn't a thing on it I'd change or have added.

tarosean
March 25, 2013, 04:10 PM
Mine has been reliable enough over a couple of thousand rounds for me to feel comfortable with it as a daily carry weapon...it is also a good value at around $1k

Are you talking about the EMP?

It's peeked my interest, in 40 thou. Really my next one it will probably be between the EMP vs Defender vs. Shadow

9mmepiphany
March 25, 2013, 04:33 PM
I am. I shot a full magazine of .40 through an EMP and didn't have any desire to try a second one.

I don't think you gain anything in accuracy and you lose capacity

Quick Shot xMLx
March 25, 2013, 04:46 PM
I've been wanting an STI Guardian for a while now so I'm going to recommend it lol.

Jim PHL
March 25, 2013, 06:23 PM
Really liking the looks of the STI Guardian too, Quick Shot. Compact frame and "not quite" Commander slide and barrel. (3.9" vs. 4.25")

When anyone is responding about the Guardian, please be sure to clarify. If I have it correct the Dan Wesson Guardian is a "regular" commander size. ("Full-size" frame and 4.25" barrel.)

There are a lot more choices than I originally thought! The other STI's sound good mainly because I'm slightly aware of their great reputation combined with the fact that they're a couple of the few selling for under $1k! My favorite LGS has the Colt Defender at $950, the Colt CCO at $1k+ (.45, though) and the EMP 9mm, IIRC at $1150.

I've seen the STI Guardians at $1150 or-so and Dan Wesson Guardians in the $1500-$1800 range. (Too rich for my blood. I'd really be maxing the budget if I got into STI Guardian/EMP range.) The STI Escort looked good, too but I think they're also now selling for over $1k. Who would have thought a Colt would be looking like the bargain-priced option in any comparison!

Walkalong
March 25, 2013, 07:20 PM
Another EMP fan. Mine (http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=115220&stc=1&d=1265772620) runs like a Swiss watch. I have no experience with the other choices.

tarosean
March 26, 2013, 01:32 AM
For the EMP owners

Does it have the ILS? Is the MSH plastic and one of their proprietary parts?

GLI45
March 26, 2013, 11:00 PM
I have an STI Guardian in 9mm and it's been my primary carry for several years. I can't recommend it highly enough. Very reliable, eats any ammo I've fed it, and is amazingly accurate for a carry size (3.9" barrel) pistol. I've also shot it in IDPA and local league matches. My wife picked up an Escort a few months ago and loves it. At 3" and with the alloy frame it's about 10 ounces lighter than my Guardian. In 9mm both guns are very easy shooters.

Jim PHL
April 2, 2013, 06:23 PM
GL145 thanks for the reply. I kept forgetting that the STI Guardian has a steel frame. I think everything else on my list is aluminum-framed. That ECO is a sharp-looking gun and Dan Wesson has a great reputation these days. I'd love to have a matching pair in 9mm and .45!

Hagen442
April 2, 2013, 08:08 PM
My choice was the Colt New Agent in 9MM.
No Issues, Another Great Addition to the Colt Stable.

Jim PHL
April 3, 2013, 07:53 PM
A few people have mentioned the Agent. Does anyone have an Agent AND a Defender? The exterior differences are pretty obvious. (Thumb-safety, grip safety, color of finish and obviously the sites. Are they similar or same INSIDE?

I like the look of the blue/black finish of the Agent. (Looks like my new O1991.) I'm wondering what would be the difference between a TALO Agent with Novaks compared to a Defender?

floydster
April 4, 2013, 10:40 AM
Like Walk, I love my EMP--none finer, Spingfield designed this compact 1911 from the ground up--it's not a conversion like some others:)

JDR
April 5, 2013, 03:03 PM
"No such thing as a 9mm 1911"
I have a Springfield Loaded 9mm 1911 that is a great shooter, extremely accurate. So is my Browning Hi-Power, which is almost a 9mm 1911

r1derbike
April 13, 2013, 01:20 AM
Hmmm. That EMP would make a nice companion to my XD-S...

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