While both guns have serrations on their backstraps, only the Aegis II has a checkered frontstrap for better grip control. At the rear of the slide, there are four, wide vertical cuts on the Aegis II and nine thin serrations slanted rearward on the EMP. The Aegis II has a single thumb safety for right-handed shooters and has been dehorned for concealed-carry market.
I’ve always liked the extra purchase provided by checkering on the frontstrap of 1911s, but given the minimum recoil of the 9 mm, it would not be a necessity for me on either of these guns. I also like the wider slide serrations on the Aegis II but can’t personally justify a need for a bobbed hammer. I believe in having ambidextrous safeties for “just in case” scenarios, but I wouldn’t get into any serious arguments regarding their necessity on a concealed-carry pistol.
The wood grips on the Aegis II are remarkably thin, and when combined with the slightly longer grip frame, they feel a bit narrower and slightly longer than those on the EMP. The bases of the Kimber magazines have been drilled for bumper pads, although they are not provided, so the magazines fit flush with the bottom of the frame. With the 9 mm’s minimal recoil, the lack of a definitive home for the pinky finger does not pose a control problem. The Aegis II magazine holds eight rounds.
The difference in frame sizes may not be great, but the grip frame circumference of the Springfield EMP (left) has been shortened. On the other hand, the Aegis II has slightly thinner grip panels, allowing both pistols to handle and feel very similar.
Like the compact .45 ACPs, the mini 9 mms utilize double recoil springs and a guide rod. For someone as clumsy as I am, disassembling and cleaning these guns is akin to learning to juggle sharp objects, but these features are regarded as necessary on compact 1911s, and I am getting more proficient.The reliability summary for both guns is simple: no failures in either gun with any ammo. I was helping a friend who had invited some family and friends for a day at the range. Attendees included a mother and two sons who had never fired handguns before. In loading one of the compact nines, the oldest boy did not release the slide but rather eased it forward, resulting in the slide not going fully into battery. A light push on the back of the slide resolved the problem, and when the correct loading technique was demonstrated, it never happened again. This was the only problem encountered during any of the range sessions with both guns. Interestingly, the hand sizes of the mother and sons varied from small on the youngest boy to medium on the mother to rather large on the teenager. All were quite comfortable shooting the small-frame nines, and while their combined experience was quite limited, their shooting was much better than I expected and their verbal inputs were honest and reflected no personal agendas.
As a Gunsite instructor, II Ling New spends i | a lot of time on the range. Although she usually uses full-size, double-stack handguns In her classes, she found the 9 mm Springfield EMP to her liking.
At the other end of the expertise spectrum was Gunsite Academy instructor II Ling New. At something over 5 feet tall, New does not have large hands, and while she regularly utilizes full-size, double-stack pistols in her classes, she liked both compact nines and the enhanced controllability the smaller caliber provided in rapid fire. She preferred the smoother, shallow slide serrations of the EMP. Recognizing the enhanced control offered by the checkering on the frontstrap of the Kimber, she felt it was more than needed on the lower recoiling 9 mm, particularly in an extended practice or training scenario.
I did get some personal time with the compacts and was quite impressed. The usual snappy recoil of mini .45s is absent with the nines, and recovery time is much improved. Ammo fired included lots of Black Hills full metal jacket along with some Winchester and Federal jacketed hollow points.
Perhaps the best summary I can give is to say that I rate these guns so highly both have become candidates for the final gun on my concealed-carry license when it’s issued. Deciding which one will require more range time with both guns before making such an important decision. But that’s another story.