Gone are the days of 9mm reliability woes in the 1911 platform. Wilson Combat has just released their next-generation magazine for 1911’s chambered in 9mm, and it is pretty impressive. Rather than regurgitate what the press release says, here are my thoughts after personally running a box of ammo and then some (a BOX, not just a box) through these magazines leading up to the release. In one sentence: I can’t make them fail.
A common problem with 9mm 1911’s, as anyone who shoots them frequently well knows, is that the correct recoil spring rate is sometimes too light to strip the top round of a fully-loaded magazine reliably if the nose is “sharp” at the front of a JHP cavity, the OAL is longer than “normal,” etc. I have found that the issue is largely resolved with a flatwire recoil spring, but even so, longer rounds with wide-cavity or flat-nosed bullets like the Barnes TAC-XP (Black Hills new production is the longest load I have on hand) will occasionally muck with the first round and cause a nose-down jam into the feedramp. Wilson completely redesigned the magazine tube to incorporate a slight “ramp” at the front edge that should prevent this type of jam from ever occurring. In testing, even when I stepped down to lighter conventional recoil springs instead of the ~12 lb flat spring that I typically run in my 5″ 9mm, I could not get rounds to cause a FTF malfunction of this sort (or any other sort). Moreover, Wilson also redesigned and thinned the spacer at the back of the magazine to provide more room for these longer or wide-nosed rounds to get started up the ramp in the first place.
Although that takes care of the beginning of a string of fire, the end of a string can have the opposite problem in 9mm 1911s with slide stops that aren’t quite fit properly or even those that are properly fit if the follower is just a little bit worn out. So Bill Wilson decided to incorporate a metal follower in these new magazines to prevent failures to lock back on empty. You certainly won’t wear this follower out! And it also has a last-round retention dimple to prevent any inertia feed issues that could happen (albeit rarely) without it on a slick metal follower.
These new ETM magazines also seat very easily on a closed slide, which is always a plus as long as it isn’t at the sacrifice of spring longevity. And based on the fact that Bill Wilson personally ran over 10,000 rounds throughout the development of these magazines—not including the thousands of rounds that Wilson’s pro shooters probably logged as well—I seriously doubt that spring longevity will be an issue. But if it ever is, Wilson’s no-risk service policy is hands-down one of the best guarantees in the industry, so you certainly shouldn’t ever worry about it.
The addition of numbers and a caliber designation on the 9mm feed tube is also something I welcome because although it would be kind of hard not to notice you were grabbing the wrong-caliber magazine, I like the markings on the .45 ETM magazines I have and I’m happy to see the same look on the next-gen 9mm version.
This last benefit is completely tangential to everything else, but I also found that the new follower design is a lot easier to disassemble and reassemble because it doesn’t take up as much space and it’s easier to rotate when it is going in or out at the bottom of the mag tube. Since the older ones required you to rotate the follower end-over-end to pull it out the bottom, a slimmer profile allows this one to do the same thing without as much prodding. If you’re wondering whether these magazines will run your favorite ammo, that’s much more a product of your feed ramp and extractor, but we have run the following through these magazines in the short time we’ve had them without any hitches at all:
- Barnes 115 grain TAC-XPD
- Black Hills 115 grain Barnes TAC-XP
- Federal American Eagle FMJ (assorted weights)
- Federal American Eagle Suppressor 124 grain FMJ
- Federal HST 124 grain JHP
- Federal HST 147 grain JHP
- Gold Dot 124 grain JHP
- Got Dot G2 147 grain
- Sig Sauer 115 grain FMJ
- Sig Sauer V-Crown 124 grain JHP
- Sig Sauer V-Crown 147 grain JHP
- Wilson Combat 95 grain Barnes TAC-XP
- Wilson Combat 115 grain HAP (reman)
- Wilson Combat 147 grain FMJ (reman)
There might even be a few more I am forgetting. I wanted to make sure that we tested these magazines from slide lock to slide lock with a variety of weights/lengths of ammunition from different manufacturers. If I had access to any more while the testing was going on, I would certainly have tested them too, but this is all I had. Plus, this list doesn’t really say anything about your gun except that it probably isn’t the magazine’s fault if a certain round here won’t work in your 9mm. I have a 38 Super barrel in addition to the 9mm one for the 1911 shown in these photos. In the past, I have swapped the barrel out to carry the gun because the longer length of the Super cartridge is statistically more reliable in the 1911 platform. All I’ll say is that if I do that in the future, it will be for ballistic or history-buff reasons instead of any potential reliability concerns I might have. For 9mm 1911 fans, Wilson Combat probably just made your day. HP
*Special thanks to Wilson Combat for a pre-release sample of these bad boys for review purposes.