Quality Doesn’t Come Cheap
By Massad Ayoob
It ain’t cheap, but it is nice! The 9mm EDC X9 from Wilson Combat takes the 1911 design
and tweaks it for everyday carry. It feeds from a modified Walther PPQ 15-round magazine.
The pistol next to my keyboard is an aluminum-framed 1911 with a fluted match grade barrel measuring 3.8″ from back of hood to the deeply crowned muzzle. The gun holds 15 rounds of 9mm Luger in its double-stack magazine with a 16th in the firing chamber. Grips are VZ G10 with an aggressive “starburst” pattern. Sights are fiber optic up front, U-notch BattleSight aft. It’s the Wilson EDC X9, with a pedigree encompassing two 1911 talents — Larry Vickers and Bill Wilson himself. There’s much buzz about it in the gunzines and on the gun-related internet. The buzz is justified.
The pistol features a 3.8″ barrel with a deeply dished muzzle as well as a fiber optic front sight.
Touch & Go
The trigger is one of the most endearing elements of the EDC X9. Perhaps because of the fat grip-frame, Wilson put in a short (1911A1-ish) solid trigger. This allowed my average-size adult male hand to contact the trigger at the distal joint of the index finger, the optimum contact point for exerting leverage. This makes the trigger feel lighter and more controllable than would fingertip or “finger pad” placement.
Weighing the sliding trigger from the center, my Lyman digital trigger pull gauge averaged 4.4 lbs., which is within the generally accepted standard for a defensive pistol. This made me comfortable wearing it for the concealed carry portion of the test.
I like to accuracy test with three different brands and three different bullet weights. With each group, two measurements were taken: All five hits, and then the best three of those, each set measured center to center of the farthest holes to the nearest 0.05″. The “best three” handheld by an experienced shooter from a solid bench rest will roughly equal what all five of the same rounds would do from the same gun at the same distance from a properly adjusted Ransom Rest.
Mas found the aggressive X-pattern checkering on the pistol to be a tad uncomfortable
when carried against bare skin. The PPQ magazine sports a new Wilson Combat baseplate.
Making It Count
For the 115-gr. load, I chose Wilson Combat’s own TAC load, comprising the all-copper Barnes hollowpoint bullet at 1,200 fps. This type of ammo performs quite well in laboratory tests, and recoil is quite mild. With the Wilson Combat TAC ammo, one errant shot brought the group to 2.25″ for all five shots. However, four of those had been in 1.35″, and the best three, in 1.20″. The second measurement tends to factor out unnoticed human error.
For a 124-gr. load, we went with the relatively new SIG brand in the V-Crown jacketed hollowpoint. It’s already proven itself to be very accurate, and it held true here. The SIG ammo delivered the best 5-shot group of the test, at 1.95″. The best three hits were in 1.15″.
In the popular 147-gr. subsonic category, we went with Remington-UMC jacketed truncated cone ammo, which is accurate enough I’ve seen it win pistol matches. It grouped five shots in 2.05″ on this day and won “best of test” in the best 3-shot group measurements, with a 0.9″ group.
Grouping is one element of accuracy, correlation of point of aim to point of impact is another. For me and the others on the test team, the EDC shot a bit left at 25 yards, to the order of 1.5″ to 2″ off-center. All my aiming with the test pistol had been done with the conventional post-in-notch sight picture. Experience told me to try it again, using the bright green fiber optic dot on the front sight as my index. Ta-Da! The pistol shot center.
To remove the grips, insert the included takedown tool into a hole in the butt.
The entire backstrap can then be lifted back and up, which releases the grips.
The “EDC” in this pistol’s name stands for Every Day Carry, and I took it at its word. I carried the test gun for six days from when I got dressed in the morning to when I undressed for bed. Depending on what else I was wearing, holsters were a Mitch Rosen belt scabbard for a Government Model and an IWB classic Milt Sparks Summer Special for a Colt Commander. Both held the EDC X9 secure and yielded it quickly to the drawing hand.
Half of one day was inside the waistband against bare skin beneath an untucked polo shirt. Why half a day? Because the grip cuts are so aggressive it felt as if the pistol was trying to take flesh and blood samples off me for DNA testing. With the shirt tucked in, the discomfort disappeared. It felt about like carrying a Lightweight Commander with a fatter grip so no surprise there.
I used the EDC X9 for the Pace-Setter at a class I taught in Texas where the staff demonstrates the qualification course before the students shoot it. To make a long story short, the EDC X9 ran fine. The soft recoil, the sweet trigger, the fast reloads afforded by the combination of the tapered-top magazine and the Wilson’s wide magazine feedway, and using the green dot instead of the post in notch sight silhouette all came together.
It can shoot! The EDC X9 showed a real preference for Remington-UMC’s 147-gr. subsonic load.
Perks & Quirks
The thumb safety was set up for right handers only. It’s up to the user, but I prefer ambidextrous and I’m sure it can be ordered from Wilson for an extra charge. It worked fine when thumbed down to off-safe, but some on the test team, including this arthritic old guy, found it difficult to push back up to the on-safe position. Some shooting time and dry-fire practice tends to break such things in nicely, however.
Many shooters don’t care for the 1911’s traditional grip safety. The problem is if you’re ever in court over something that happened with a gun in your hand, you don’t want opposing lawyers who are trying to paint you as negligent to have a sound bite as powerful as, “The defendant is so reckless he deactivates the safety devices on firearms!” The EDC X9 skirts the issue neatly: It doesn’t have a grip safety to begin with, but rather a smooth backstrap.
The EDC magazine bodies are from the Walther PPQ pistol, with Wilson Combat butt plates. Interestingly, my own PPQ magazines would not lock into the Wilson pistol, even when I swapped floorplates. The cut for the mag release button apparently has to be slightly different. Bill Wilson told me, “I picked the PPQ mag because, number one, it’s proven reliable, and number two, it’s the shortest 15-round 9mm magazine available. Starting out designing a new gun around a proven mag is a lot easier than trying to design a new gun and a new mag at the same time.”
“Pointability” is a subjective characteristic. I’m an old guy who’s been shooting conventional 1911’s since age 12, and those pistols seem to point naturally for me. The EDC X9, for some reason, tended to point low for me if my eye wasn’t on the sights and guiding the hand. Your mileage may vary, and it’s something you can test safely with the unloaded pistol in the gun shop before you lay your money down.
When you have a Wilson Combat, every shooter around you wants to give it a try. Reliability testing is like Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence: Everyone wants to do it for you, and you get a lot of rounds through it with other folks paying for much of the ammo. So it was with the EDC X9. In my weeks with the pistol it went through many hands: large and small, left and right, male and female. It fired hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of rounds. Over the course of this, it had zero malfunctions of any kind. It’s what we’ve come to expect from Wilson Combat, and it’s particularly gratifying to see in a compact 9mm 1911.
Wilson’s U-notched “BattleSight” sits at the rear of the slide, above the
Commander-style hammer and low-profile beavertail grip extension.
It Ain’t Cheap
At $2,895 MSRP, the EDC X9 is in the ballpark for boutique high-quality 1911’s. Yes, for this price you can buy four polymer 16-shot 9mm’s of equal reliability and maybe some ammo to boot. What you get with the Wilson is a much superior trigger, great “feel” and impressive accuracy.
And, let’s face it, there’s the prestige factor. Braggin’ rights. Luxury. For perspective, if you drive your SUV at the speed limit a $30,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee will get you where you’re going just as soon as a $180,000 Range Rover. But Range Rovers still sell.
Performance, pride of ownership and “purpose-built function” combine in the Wilson Combat EDC 9mm. I liked it.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index, Ph: (800) 955-4856.
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