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Battle of the 4.25” 1911 Pistols — Garrison vs. Emissary

Editor’s Note: Today’s article pits two Springfield Armory 1911 pistols against each other: Garrison vs. Emissary. Dan Abraham gives you his thoughts in this article and video to help you identify which is the best pistol for your needs. The firearms used in this article were provided to the author by Springfield Armory.

The Springfield Armory Garrison (below) and Emissary (above). Both are excellent 1911 pistols with different feature sets that will appeal to different shooters.

Springfield Armory has an extremely large inventory of 1911 handguns, offering a 1911 to fit practically every personal preference possible.

There are full-size to compact 1911 pistols. Several of their 1911s are chambered in 9mm, with many others chambered in — of course — .45 ACP. They even have a 1911 Ronin chambered in 10mm.


Garrison vs Emissary testing on shooting range 45 ACP pistol handgun metal target
When comparing a pair of pistols, feature lists are only one consideration. Time on the range is also important. The author had both 1911 handguns on the range to test accuracy and reliability.

As far as configurations go, Springfield Armory has everything from the traditional Mil-Spec 1911 to the new 1911 TRP models with all of the modern features that shooters enjoy. Their 1911 line of pistols are priced from the working man’s budget to the executive’s budget with their Professional Model, with everything else in between available.

What this basically means is, if you love 1911 handguns like I do, you will certainly find the perfect one for you in the vast Springfield Armory line of 1911’s.

The Versus

The two 1911 pistols I am comparing today are the Garrison and the Emissary. These specific variants are newer 1911 releases that were based on the existing models.


Garrison vs Emissary shooting steel in the snow at an outdoor range
Even in harsh, cold weather, both of the Springfield Armory 1911 pistols performed well.

The 1911 Garrison has been around for a while; however, the guns were originally offered with a 5” barrel. In early 2024, Springfield released a new 1911 Garrison with a 4.25” barrel chambered in either 9mm or .45 ACP.

Fans of the 1911 Garrison requested a shorter Garrison with a 4.25” barrel to meet their concealed carry needs. Whether your preference is stainless steel or hot salt blued, the 1911 Garrison line of pistols enjoy a fine reputation for both beauty and performance.


Garrison vs Emissary 1911 grip safety grips
Visually, the two guns are obviously different offerings. Each has a unique feel as well.

The 1911 Emissary is a gorgeous two-tone pistol with many modern features that shooters enjoy. In March of 2024, Springfield released another 1911 Emissary with the same modern features, but finished completely in Cerakote black. [Don’t know what Cerakote is? Check out our article on gun finishes.]

The 1911 Emissary is chambered in 9mm or .45 ACP. It is also available with a 5” or 4.25” barrel, which expands the 1911 Emissary line to eight pistols available.


Garrison vs Emissary accessory rail
The original M1911 and M1911A1 pistols were designed before accessory rails on handguns were developed. The Emissary (left) has one while the Garrison retains the classic styling.

The 1911 Emissary “Black” that I own is chambered in .45 ACP and has a 4.25” barrel. It just makes sense to compare the 1911 Garrison 4.25” with the 1911 Emissary “Black” 4.25”. Both of these 1911 pistols are chambered in .45 ACP so let’s get to this Garrison vs. Emissary comparison.

Garrison 4.25”

The 1911 Garrison is available in stainless steel or hot salt blued. The stainless steel 1911 Garrison has a polished finish on the flats of the slide and the frame, with silver matte accents throughout the rounded parts. It has traditional wood grips with the Springfield Armory Crossed-Cannon logo.


Garrison vs Emissary M1911 pistol semi-automatic pistol accuracy and precision military equipment
With its stainless steel finish, the author’s Springfield Armory 1911 is a sharp looking pistol with an excellent track record.

It ships with one seven-round magazine and has Novak-style three-dot sights. The skeletonized single-action trigger breaks just shy of four pounds.

Internally, the 1911 Garrison uses a traditional G.I.-style guide rod and barrel bushing. It disassembles like a standard traditional 1911, which is quite familiar to the 1911 enthusiast.

The 1911 Garrison is not only a showoff piece, but it performs incredibly well at the range. Few might expect a beautiful 1911 handgun that could look so nice and perform so smoothly, but could be purchased for under a grand. 

1911 Emissary 4.25” “Black”

The Cerakote black 1911 Emissary ships with two eight-round Mec-Gar magazines and has G-10 grips that mimic the checkering on the flat mainspring housing and the front strap for a consistent grip texture all around.


Garrison vs Emissary M1911 pistol Springfield Armory best firearms weapons in United States of America
The all-black Emissary is a tough looking pistol, and it has the excellent performance to back up that visage.

The Emissary has a five-slot Picatinny rail on the dust cover to add a light, and the top strap of the slide is angle-cut in a style Springfield calls a Tri-Top slide. The Tri-Top cut slide gives the pistol custom-grade styling with the benefit of forward slide serrations.

It has a 4.25” bushingless bull barrel and utilizes a full-length guide rod. The single-action trigger is a solid body flat-faced trigger that breaks just under 4 lbs. Springfield Armory uses the U-notch rear sight and a tritium front sight that we know from the Hellcat and Echelon pistols.


Garrison vs Emissary SWAT police department law enforcement handguns duty weapon duty pistol armed conflict hunting
Suitable for all kinds of shooting — duty carry, personal protection, home defense and pure recreation — the Emissary is an excellent choice at a reasonable price.

The 1911 Emissary’s MSRP is $1,378. If you are looking for a 1911 that shoots like a dream with modern features, the 1911 Emissary would be an excellent choice.

Comparison 

Let’s start with the magazines. The 1911 Garrison ships with one seven-round magazine, and the 1911 Emissary ships with two eight-round Mec-Gar magazines.


Garrison vs Emissary comparison corrosion ergonomics physics weapon design firearm components
When comparing these two pistols, there are no wrong answers. Both handguns offer an excellent feature set and performance. It’s just a matter of picking the one that is best for you.

The grips are very different. The 1911 Emissary has thin G-10 grips with texture like that of the pistol’s frontstrap and mainspring housing. The 1911 Garrison has sharp-looking wood grips, with 20 line-per-inch checkering on the mainspring housing and a smooth front strap. Chalk up another Emissary advantage for me due to the consistent grip texturing.

The Garrison uses a G.I.-style guide rod, as the Emissary has a bull barrel and a full-length guide. The disassembly for the Emissary includes a couple additional steps, therefore I am giving the advantage to the Garrison due to the common 1911 disassembly process that most shooters find simple.

[Ed. note: Don’t miss our guide on 1911 disassembly.]

The triggers are different, with the Garrison’s skeletonized curved trigger and the Emissary’s full-body flat trigger. Both work well, so I am calling the trigger comparison a draw.


Garrison vs Emissary sights combat self defense personal protection CCW concealed carry defensive handgun
Sights are one of the clear differences in this Garrison vs Emissary match-up. The Emissary (left) is fitted with the popular U-Dot sights while the Garrison has traditional three-dot sights.

The 1911 Emissary has a modern sight picture with the U-notch rear sight and a tritium front sight. The 1911 Garrison uses Novak-style three-dot sights. Although both sets of sights will get you on target, I am personally going with the Emissary’s sight picture over the Garrison’s.

Both of these 1911 handguns are gorgeous, however the striking slide on the stainless steel Garrison is like love at first sight for me.

The accuracy with both of these 1911’s is first class. I love the Emissary’s bull barrel that decreases the .45 ACP’s perceived recoil substantially. The 1911 Garrison also shoots smooth as silk. Therefore, I am calling the shooting impressions a draw because both certainly get the job done. 

Conclusion

Can we all agree that a buyer cannot make a bad choice with either of these 1911’s? There is however one other point that needs to be mentioned. The MSRP on the 1911 Garrison is $917, while the MSRP on the 1911 Emissary is $1,378. The difference is $461 in favor of the Garrison.

I prefer to state my thoughts this way. If I was looking to find the finest 1911 possible for under a grand, it’s simple — the Garrison all day long. However, if I had a few more bucks to work with, the 1911 Emissary would be the perfect choice. Like I mentioned, you can’t go wrong either way.

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