When I heard Wilson Combat was releasing a new double stack 9mm it piqued my interest. Known for their 1911s it was something outside the norm. This isn’t the first time they’ve stepped outside that box though. In 2009 they announced the Spec-Ops 9, a polymer framed 1911-ish pistol, which was ultimately discontinued several years later. There were some issues with it, like not locking back on the last round and the cost of the magazines.
Their other step outside the box was partnering with Beretta and offering the 92G Brigadier Tactical, a double stack aluminum framed 9mm. After seeing so many glowing reports come across 1911 forums I decided to get one and fell in love, with nearly all of it. In my hands the Brigadier Tactical feels like it was made custom just for me. At the end of the day though it’s still a DA/SA (double action/single action) pistol. This means the first shot is in double action and around 7 pounds, while the following shots are single action and around 3.5 pounds. Though many prefer this trigger style I do not. I have invested significant time and effort into becoming proficient with it but a nice single action only (SAO) pistol is still my first love.
When I dream of my perfect ‘everything’ (carry, training, competition) pistol it would have a Beretta grip style double stack aluminum railed frame, 1911 style trigger and safety controls, a 15 round capacity, a 4″ or 4.25″ barrel, be single action only and 5.25″ tall with a magwell. You can get close but nothing existed that could really bring it all together like it was done on purpose and not a custom hack job.
I like to think that because I wished so hard and for so long that the universe brought the pistol into existence. The only other explanation is someone else realized the market was lacking in the exact area. I would posit that what Wilson Combat learned from the Spec-Ops 9 and 92G Brigadier Tactical inspired the EDC X9.
To make it clear, I’m pretty far from a Wilson Combat fan-boy. I’ve never pulled any punches in my reviews of them. To put it candidly, they charge a premium price so I don’t think it’s unfair to expect premium performance. To continue the candidness, when a company works so hard building ‘the brand’ it makes me skeptical. Historically speaking companies who have done so at some point let greed get the best of them and start producing inferior products while still charging the premium price. They get away with it because it’s no longer about having a quality product it’s about showing off the brand. Take Nike for example.
I say all that because I want my next statement to be taken for full value. The EDC X9 is the next true evolution of the 1911. *Pause for emphasis* There are some designs that have tried to accomplish this, most notably the 2011, but they’ve always appeared to me as a poor adaptation. This isn’t to say the 2011 isn’t a capable platform but not many would consider it sexy. Essentially a whole new design was needed to bring form and function together. In a world of endless new polymer pistols it’s not hard to see why there aren’t a lot of companies trying to take the “obsolete” 1911 to it’s next generation.
Now, I wouldn’t have made such a bold statement if I wasn’t ready to explain my position:
Grip profile: The original/standard straight grip profile of the 1911 is not particularly ergonomic. This was realized long ago in the mid-1920s with the 1911A1 and the addition of the arched mainspring housing.
You also see this in John Moses Browning design of the Browning Hi Power. Nearly all contemporary pistols sold today offer a curved backstrap profile of some sort and in addition many now also offer interchangeable backstraps of different sizes.
The EDC X9 can be ordered with either a small or large backstrap and a short, medium, or long trigger. Online they’ve included a little chart to help in ordering the correct size.
Wilson sells additional backstraps for $99. Considering most pistols with interchangeable backstraps come with all the sizes available some may complain at the price, but these are aluminum not polymer.
No grip safety: This is another logical change. While I’ve never had a problem engaging a properly setup grip safety on a 1911 there are those that do. In today’s day and age there’s simply no reason for a grip safety anymore.
Double stack: This is a logical evolution, more ammunition on tap is better. The X9 magazines (made by Mec-Gar) hold 15 rounds. Putting it on par with nearly every other double stack compact 9mm.
With thin but strong G10 grips, a small backstrap and short trigger, shooters with small hands can get a comfortable grip with proper trigger finger engagement. My Dan Wesson CCO sporting standard VZ Grips is 1.3″ wide. The EDC X9 measures 1.3″ wide as well. It doesn’t look like they should be the same but the calipers don’t lie.
Live fire with the X9 is pure joy. The frontstrap and backstrap is done with Wilson’s X-Tac pattern and I was surprised at how grippy it is. It has a very different feel than traditional 1911 checkering but that’s not a bad thing. I think it suits the X9 design well whereas I don’t think checkering would. The G10 grips are very aggressive but at no point uncomfortably so.
Accurate rapid fire was simple. There was no fighting the gun. Line up the sights, break the shot, gun recoils, the front sight drops right into the exact same place it was, break the next shot. I was running it side-by-side with my P226 SAO Legion which just broke 6,000 rounds. I’m pretty in tune with the P226 and found I was shooting the X9 faster (verified by a timer) and just as accurately. Considering the X9 costs over twice as much as my P226 I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect an increase in performance. I can’t say I’m disappointed.
In true 1911 style the X9 has a beautiful trigger. It breaks consistently right at 3 pounds 8 ounces. The reset as you would expect is nice and short. Basically, it’s a perfect trigger. And that’s coming from a self acknowledged ‘trigger snob’.
Up to this point all my work with the X9 has been at traditional shooting drill distances. I was anxious to see what it could do from a rest at 25 yards using match ammo. The X9 comes with Wilson’s guarantee that it will shoot 1.5″ groups at 25 yards. Which really isn’t too spectacular. My Beretta 92G, Walther PPQ, Dan Wesson CCO, all shoot 5-shot 1.5″ groups or less. My P226 has proven the most accurate in my hands, repeatedly shooting sub-1″ groups at 25 yards. If the X9 can’t get close to an inch I’ll pretty disappointed.
I busted out the Atlanta Arms – Elite – 115 grain JHP and it produced the group below-
The 5-shot group of 1.36″ itself isn’t bad, but that flyer really tanked it. Without the flyer it shrinks to 0.68″. Now that’s more like it! Considering it’s a compact pistol with a 4″ barrel I don’t think a person can reasonably expect any better results.
In all my shooting the only stoppage/malfunction I had was ammo related. Using Browning’s 115 grain FMJ I encountered a round that would not load. I tried it twice and each time it shut down the X9. Below is a quick cellphone picture I took at the range.
It required a significant amount of force to rack the slide and eject the round. I was initially worried I wasn’t going to be able to clear it. Thankfully once I put my back into it, it released. Pictured below is the offending round on the right and a regular one on the left.
What did Wilson Combat miss? A flat trigger. In a 1911 style trigger system is where they really shine. But that’s easily fixed by purchasing a long trigger and having it cut down and refinished.
The other issue I noticed after live fire was the right side mag release cutout in the grips. Due to my support hand grip my pointer finger rubbed the cutout and gave me a blister every time I shot it. This would be easily remedied by sanding the cutout edges down.
What about other calibers? I would speculate that the EDC X9 will only be available in 9mm for a long time, if not forever. While his company does produce a lot of .45 1911s Bill Wilson isn’t shy about making his preference for 9mm known. After the market reaches a saturation point with the X9 and sales slow down then perhaps they’ll offer an X45. Maybe they’ll even make a fullsize one day.
To wrap it up I’d say the only thing not to like about the EDC X9 is the price. Starting at $2,895 they don’t come cheap. I’m sad to see this pistol go but I’m grateful to my friend Jollyroger1 for loaning it to me. As Ferris said during his day off “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”