The "New" Wonder 9s?

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The Staccato 2011 series marries double-stack 9mm with a 1911-like platform along with judicious use
of polymer and steel or aluminum depending on the model.

I guess it’s been a minute or two since the original “Wonder 9” sensation. The introduction of the original GLOCK 17 back in 1982 kicked off a revolution, encouraging countless law enforcement agencies, militaries and civilians to consider (and often adopt) a member of the Plastic Fantastic Club.

In fairness, it was a variety of features, notably different than the core set of revolver benefits, that encouraged the en-masse switch. Polymer frames meant (for the most part and assuming reasonable basic maintenance) no more rust. They also translated to lighter carry weight overall. Many offered double-stack magazine designs, suddenly making double-digit on-board round counts the norm. In those days, it was a rare wheelgun or 1911 indeed that packed 15 or more rounds in the same reload. Cost was also a driving factor. Easy-to-produce actions and polymer molded frames meant cheaper production costs, which translated to more affordable MSRPs in the local store.

Soul Torture

Arguably, this whole movement represented progress, and for years, my primary handgun picks for everyday use and carry fell somewhere in the Polymer Wonder crowd. I carried GLOCKSs, Smith & Wesson M&Ps, SIGs (I did stick to the all-metal P22X family until the P320 Compact Carry got my attention) and the like.

But as effective and practical as these guns were, it always hurt my soul not to be carrying a 1911. You see, I fell into the classic tradeoff dilemma.

EAA's Girsan 2311 family offers the double stack 1911 platform in a variety of calibers.

Capacity vs. Elegance

I’ve always liked the 1911 platform. I’ll try not to go all Fan Boi on you here, but for me, the overall slim feel of the 1911, combined with an elegant trigger system design, made this an easier gun for me to shoot well. And when carrying for defensive use, “shooting well” translates to confidence.

The single-action trigger weight is a big plus, but an equally important factor is the “straight back” (no hinge) trigger motion. Those two things combined make it a lot easier to fire a shot without torquing the muzzle off-target. Add in a manual thumb safety and that extra layer of a grip safety, and the 1911 is a comforting gun to carry around.

So, all else being equal, the 1911 is at the top of my list. The problem is the “all else being equal” part.

The nagging factor tugging at my decision process was always capacity. Sure, 7-9 rounds should be plenty for the “average” self-defense use. Sure, one can carry as many spare magazines as you want. But things (for me, anyway) got too tempting when looking at two options side-by-side. I could carry a 1911 with lower capacity, or a SIG/GLOCK/S&W or whatever with double the onboard capacity. Why wouldn’t I want that? I’ve never heard anyone who survived a defensive encounter complain about having ammo left over.

Enter another option.

Springfield Armory has entered the market with its 1911 DS Prodigy series.

The “New” Wonder 9s

It’s been somewhere over 25 years since the folks at STI popularized the idea of a “ground up” 1911-type pistol designed for high-capacity 9mm use. Originally aimed at the competition market, it didn’t take too long to catch on for duty and operations use. Now primarily known as Staccato 2011, the company has equipped somewhere over 1,600 agencies with pistols from their double-stack 9mm 2011 platform. Add to that countless individual owners, and it’s clear the design is here to stay. With the double-stack design and smaller cartridge dimensions of the 9mm compared to the .45 ACP, a standard capacity of 17 or more rounds is common.

As for that tradeoff between the 1911 platform and capacity, I’d consider the problem solved. You can have both.

You can always tell when something is a hit when the market embraces the idea. Now, we have a crop of “new” Wonder 9s. In recent months, we’ve looked at similar designs like the Springfield Armory Prodigy and EAA Witness 2311. We hope to look at others on the market, like the Watchtower Apache.

Big names are getting into the combination polymer and metal doublestack 1911 market, so I think we can safely say we’ve got a new crop of Wonder 9s.

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