The sun was fast approaching the western horizon, and time was running short. The detritus of spent shells littered the ground like lifeless husks awaiting their resurrection. It was the fifth of such days.
Despite the confusion and ambiguity of today’s world, heroes still wear white hats, and a Wilson Combat 1911 pistol is still everything a gunslinger needs in a cold, cruel world.
When shooters talk among themselves, Wilson Combat is synonymous with 1911s; and for most of us, a 1911 pistol equates to a picture of a long and elegant pistol dispensing justice via .45 ACP rounds through its 5-inch barrel.
But, the times are changing, and just as there are no settlers left on the high plains and the last of the real cowboys have moved to old Mexico, the venerable 1911 has had to adapt to a new world, as well. Hence, a new pistol—the EDC X9—is heading to market from Wilson Combat. It might just redefine the 1911 in these modern times.
After its slow shuffle out of the spotlight in the 1990s, the 9mm round is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence this past year or two. When high-capacity magazines were banned from production in 1994 and magazines were then limited to just 10 rounds, it made a lot of shooters do some new calculus: If I am limited to just 10 rounds, then why not make them the biggest rounds that can be reasonably carried in a defensive pistol?
This led folks back to the .45 ACP and other calibers such as .40 S&W and .357 SIG. But when the ban expired in 2004, and “wondernines” were available again, high-capacity 9mm pistols found new life.
The EDC X9 is a remarkable concealed-carry tool that, in its splendor, lives up to the promise of its design. It is one of the very best firearms I’ve ever handled.
More recently, the 9mm caliber has gotten an extra boost from reports that were distributed showing that newly designed 9mm hollow points were performing substantially better than those made decades ago.
This conclusion has seen many agencies, including the FBI, to rethink their positions once again. As a result, they have started the transition back to issuing 9mm pistols for duty.
About the same time, Wilson Combat started producing more and more 9mm 1911s. This was, in part, due to the reported performance of modern 9mm loads. But it was also because Bill Wilson recognized the benefits of less recoil and more control for quicker defensive shooting for those shooters who were disinclined to deal with the heavier thump of the .45 ACP.
However, in making standard 9mm 1911s—and Wilson pistols are anything but standard—they had the same disadvantage as their .45 ACP siblings: fire power. Single-stack 1911s could house between eight to nine rounds with one in the chamber; this was significantly fewer than most modern, double-stack 9mm pistols. Wilson Combat decided to address this issue head on. The result is its latest 9mm offering—the fantastic EDC X9.
The Wilson Combat Approach
While there have been attempts in the past to come up with a top-tier, double-stack 1911, most have always seemed to fall short of the mark. Whether there were issues with frames being outsourced to other manufactures, width or problems with accuracy or reliability, the high-capacity 9mm 1911 has never really gotten its stride … until now.
Wilson Combat cleared the table and set out to design its own concept of a concealable, high-capacity 9mm 1911. And to make sure it would perform as desired, the company kept all the planning and production in house. This includes probably the most important component that makes the system viable: The new X-Frame is machined from T6-7075 aluminum by Wilson Combat professionals, themselves.
The availability of 15 rounds in a standard-sized 1911 and the flawless execution to make it work accurately, reliably and with a style all its own make it a true masterpiece.
Because of the space required for the 15-round magazines, special care had to be taken to ensure exact tolerances were met to make it all work. For instance, the grips are not the standard screw-on variety. Extremely tight rails are machined into the grip to allow the ultra-thin, friction-fit grip panels to slide into place.
Another example of Wilson Combat going the extra mile is the collaboration with Mec-Gar to design a magazine that was optimized for the EDC X9. Mec-Gar builds a large number of “factory” magazines for some of the best-name gun companies in the business, so it was more than up to the task of building a magazine to the exact specification of Wilson Combat designers.
Similar to other high-capacity 9mm pistols with a cocked-and-locked safety (CZ75B and Browning Hi-Power), there is no grip safety worked into this design. There is a robust thumb safety that is easily engaged and provides exceptional feedback during manipulation. Other than that, the rest is up to the shooter.
The specifications and all the extras built into the EDC X9 are legion and far too numerous to cover here, but some truly significant aspects are worth mentioning. More-comprehensive information about others is detailed on Wilson Combat’s website.
The first feature I found most impactful on my review was the Enhanced Reliability System. Borrowing from the single-stack EDC 9, this system was incorporated into the EDC X9 to ensure absolute reliability with ammunition of varying weight and power (more about this later.)
The EDC X9 has all the professional features you could want in a fighting 1911—and then some. From the X-Tac treatment done at the front and rear of the slide for great grip traction, user-adjustable Tactical Battlesights with a fiber-optic front insert, excellent texturing with the X-TAC front strap, the G-10 Starburst Grips and on to the numerous Wilson Combat Bulletproof parts, this pistol was designed to be the ultimate fighting tool for concealed-carry operators.
… the new X-Frame is machined from T6-7075 aluminum by Wilson Combat professionals, themselves.
Small, but significant, touches that impact the EDC X9’s performance and durability include the reversed-crown barrel to guard against dings that could affect accuracy. Wilson’s own pivoting external extractor is made of impact-resistant S7 steel. S7 is made for severe impacts and is used by some of the world’s top sword makers, as well as for heavy impact punches. Because of the pivoting system and the excellent steel used for the extractor, it is much more reliable and does not require as much maintenance.
Another thing I noticed was the high chamfering conducted on both sides of the slide. While maintaining a close fit at the ends of the slide, material was removed from the bottom to help reduce overall friction and to further enhance the reliability mentioned earlier.
Necessity of Form and Function
But rather than recite every factoid about the EDC X9, the most important thing I’d like to convey about the pistol is the experience I had while testing and using it. The beauty and appeal of a 1911 are its character, its natural pointability and its high-speed, low-drag mode of operation when it is employed.
It is difficult to describe the EDC X9’s outstanding ergonomics and comfort. The grip has more of an oval shape to it, rather than rectangular. With the edges and corners seemingly melted off, the pistol just settles naturally into the hand, while the tasteful texturing makes sure it stays there during use.
Even better: Despite the increased capacity of the grip, the width of the EDC X9 is just 1.4 inches, the same as a single-stack Colt Commander. So, the extra rounds add absolutely no concern with regard to concealed carry—or, for that matter, handling. To promote a high hold on the EDC X9, the frame also has an undercut relief cut just behind the trigger guard, allowing the user to get deeper into the grip without sacrificing comfort.
One aspect that helps bring everything together is the trigger pull. The sample I received broke like a glass rod at just a 3.90-pound average. It is certainly not for the faint hearted, but it brings the EDC X9 that much closer to being the ultimate concealed fighting weapon.
The EDC X9 Goes to Work
In the case of a 1911, beauty follows function in my opinion. I say this because very few get the 1911 just right, and when it comes to a defensive pistol on which lives might depend, the pistol does have to be just right. While I had no reservations about the Wilson EDC X9 up front, there is a certain sense of satisfaction derived from knowing how good a weapon is by having tested it yourself.
While I appreciate the style and concept of a 1911, I am not so experienced with the platform that I have the requisite etiquette and light touch for what some might consider “reasonable” testing. I do understand that standard 1911 pistols need regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure proper performance, but this is not a standard 1911. It is a $2,895 Wilson Combat 1911 built from the ground up, and I expected more than just proper performance commensurate with the amount of upkeep.
Starting off using ball ammunition from SIG Sauer, Blazer and Federal Premium, the EDC X9 hit the ground running without even a hitch in its step.
So, once the pistol was examined and lubricated out of the box, over the course of five range sessions, I shot more than 950 rounds of 14 different brands and loads of ammunition through it while checking for reliability. Nine of those were measured for velocity and accuracy because they were premium loads. Call it a ham-handed approach, but I wanted to see the EDC X9 at work … and boy, did it work!
Starting off using ball ammunition from SIG Sauer, Blazer and Federal Premium, the EDC X9 hit the ground running without even a hitch in its step. Besides being accurate for running drills with the 300 rounds of 115-grain ball ammunition, all the loads fed without fail, with no break-in period needed. Everything was going just as expected.
During the next few sessions at the range, the accuracy numbers were acquired, and some general shooting took place to test the EDC X9’s handling during fire. Groups were shot at 15 yards from a bag rest; again, the results were more than impressive.
Several manufacturers, including Wilson Combat, supported the effort and are listed on the accompanying table. This provided a great foundation for some of the most extensive accuracy testing I have done on a single review pistol.
|Doubletap Ammunition 77–grain lead-free JHP||1,445||2.23||1.25|
|Wilson Combat Pinnacle 115-grain Tac-XP +P||1,065||1.19||0.77|
|Doubletap Ammunition 115-grain +P TAC-XP||1,191||2.09||1.45|
|Federal Premium 124-grain HST||1,135||1.65||1.19|
|SIG Sauer 124-grain Elite V-Crown||1,139||1.52||1.25|
|Colt National Match (by Doubletap Ammo) 124-grain FMJ||1,055||1.81||1.5|
|Speer 124-grain+P Gold Dot||1,178||1.38||1.19|
|Wilson Combat Pinnacle 124-grain +P XTP||1,130||1.38||1.25|
|Doubletap Ammunition 124-grain +P JHP||1,244||1.42||1|
|SIG Sauer 147-grain Elite V-Crown||971||1.63||1.44|
|Wilson Combat Pinnacle 147-grain XTP Subsonic||1,018||2.08||1.81|
Notes: Bullet weight was measured in grains; velocity was measured in feet per second 15 feet from the muzzle by a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chronograph. Accuracy was measured in inches for three five-shot groups at 15 yards.
On the whole, the EDC X9 seemed to consistently prefer 124-grain ammunition from the various makers, although the single best five-shot group was obtained with Wilson Combat’s 115-grain TAC-XP +P loads. Somehow, the planets aligned perfectly for one group, and the result was a spread of just .77 inch.
This number weighed heavily in the calculation, also making its average group size the best of the batch at 1.19 inches. Because this group was the exception, rather than the rule, for this shooter, it’s worth noting that there was a tie for the second-smallest average group size of 1.38 inches. Those were shot with Wilson Combat’s 124-grain XTP +P load and Speer’s 124-grain +P Gold Dot offering. Second place for the single best group size was shot with Doubletap Ammunition’s 124-grain +P JHP load at 1 inch. Notice a trend?
And, the best part of this entire exercise was the absolute reliability of the EDC X9. With more than 950 rounds of all the various loads mentioned in this article, there was not a single malfunction—despite the fact that I did not clean the pistol from the very first shot. To me, that’s excellent craftsmanship and precision execution in a newly designed firearm built from scratch.
End of a Day and a New Beginning
As the last rays of the sun skimmed over the mountain tops, I stared at the burnt umber and aureate hues as they ornamented the sky while I was left with not only observations, but considerations, as well. It’s one thing to test and remark about excellent craftsmanship and performance in a firearm. It’s another thing altogether to sacrifice money earned during our finite time on Earth to get the very best.
With more than 950 rounds of all the various loads mentioned in this article, there was not a single malfunction—despite the fact that I did not clean the pistol from the very first shot.
The EDC X9 is a remarkable concealed-carry tool that, in its splendor, lives up to the promise of its design. It is one of the very best firearms I’ve ever handled. The availability of 15 rounds in a standard-sized 1911 and the flawless execution to make it work accurately, reliably and with a style all its own make it a true masterpiece. It is well worth the investment and energy to have this pistol on your side to safeguard your life.
And, if you’re wondering whether these observations are faithful and true to their core, ask anyone who has ever fired or owned one.
Or, you can just take my word for it … because I just bought a Wilson Combat EDC X9 of my very own.
BARREL: 4 inches
OVERALL LENGTH: 7.4 inches
WEIGHT: 29.09 ounces (empty magazine)
WIDTH: 1.4 inches
HEIGHT: 5.25 inches
STOCK/GRIPS: Starburst G10
SIGHTS: Battlesights, fiber-optic front
CAPACITY: 15 rounds
MSRP: $2,895 (base price)
Wilson Combat & Scattergun Technologies
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the August 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.