Nat­u­ral Se­lec­tion

Wil­son Com­bat’s EDC9 and the evo­lu­tion of the ven­er­a­ble 1911


Ear­lier this year, Wil­son Com­bat un­leashed a few new 1911 mod­els in 9mm. As a di­nosaur who still shoots and en­joys 1911s, I gave them a pass­ing glance. Af­ter all, ev­ery dis­ci­ple of John Moses Brown­ing’s great­est in­ven­tion knows that the only proper cham­ber­ing for the 1911 pis­tol is .45 ACP.

Yet, even the di­nosaurs had to evolve… or go ex­tinct. As time goes by, firearms evolve. There are many man­u­fac­tur­ers whose lines in­clude var­i­ous model num­bers fol­lowed by a dash and another num­ber de­not­ing the gen­er­a­tion, which means en­hance­ments were made and/or flaws were fixed.

Con­sider that the Colt Sin­gle Ac­tion Army re­volver at one time re­quired the shooter to use a screwdriver to re­move the cylin­der pin. This was re­placed by a push-pin and the only peo­ple who com­plain about it were not alive when this tran­si­tion took place. Long story short: Most firearms de­signs will evolve over time, of­ten for the better.

This has hap­pened with the 1911 plat­form more than most peo­ple think. There was the orig­i­nal 1911, fol­lowed by the 1911-A1 then dis­tin­guished by the Se­ries 70, Se­ries 80 and even Se­ries 90.

How­ever, there has been a lot more than that in a pis­tol that was as cus­tom­iz­a­ble as a Chevy small block en­gine was to gear­heads, and Wil­son Com­bat’s EDC9 Com­pact is run­ning with just about ev­ery­thing as mod­ern as you can get in a 1911 plus cham­ber­ing in a cal­iber that will seem like heresy to some: 9mm Para­bel­lum. The EDC9 Pro­fes­sional is one of a se­ries of four pis­tols put out by the com­pany that in­cor­po­rates its “En­hanced Re­li­a­bil­ity Sys­tem” (ERS).

“wil­son com­bat’s EDC9 pro­fes­sional is as mod­ern as it gets in a 1911, plus cham­ber­ing in a cal­iber that may seem like heresy to some.”

It all starts with a match-grade, 4-inch, stain­less steel cone-type bar­rel, which means that there is no bar­rel bush­ing. This is a fea­ture most shoot­ers be­yond the die-hard 1911 purists will like.

The bar­rel is fluted and has a flush-cut re­verse crown. The cham­ber is ex­ter­nally fluted as well, which gives an ex­tremely nice look to the pis­tol. More im­por­tant is that it is a sin­gle-lug de­sign, which en­hances slide velocity, re­duces cy­cling fric­tion, and im­proves re­li­a­bil­ity with re­gard to feed­ing dif­fer­ent

types of am­mu­ni­tion.

The ex­trac­tor is a spring-loaded ex­ter­nal type. Purists hate these, and ad­mit­tedly when they first started ap­pear­ing so did this au­thor. But ex­ter­nal ex­trac­tors have come a long way since then and a true stu­dent of the 1911, or any firearm for that mat­ter, should rec­og­nize that im­prove­ments such as these re­flect the evo­lu­tion of de­sign.

Wil­son went with a full-length guide rod on this one as well. This is yet another point that some 1911 con­nois­seurs loathe, but we like them and have them on most of our own 1911 pis­tols. In fact, the sole ex­cep­tion is a U.S. Prop­erty marked pis­tol built in 1917 for use in the first World War. Some­times you have to change with the times.

A low mass, Tri-top slide pro­file al­lows for re­duced muz­zle flip and en­hanced cy­cling. Ad­di­tion­ally, the slide is checkered fore and aft with the X-TAC treat­ment. Typ­i­cally we’re not fans of front cock­ing ser­ra­tions, but found them at­trac­tive and highly use­ful on the EDC9. Wil­son has ap­plied this treat­ment to the pis­tol’s front strap too, as well as on the bob­tail-style main­spring hous­ing.

The front sight is rugged, user-re­place­able and fiber op­tic. We have grown to find these su­pe­rior to Tritium sights in that they are us­able dur­ing the day and glow bright at night when used in con­junc­tion with ei­ther a hand­held or pis­tol-mounted high-in­ten­sity flash­light. The rear sights are ad­justable and we can hear the purists cry out again in an­guish, but the fact re­mains that ad­justable sights on 1911 pis­tols are far more ro­bust than they were in the 1940s and ’50s when the only

at the fore­front of mag­a­zine im­prove­ment for the .45 ACP mag­a­zine used in 1911s and these are the only ones the au­thor uses. How­ever, when the sin­gle-stack 9mm 1911 mag­a­zine was shown to be a point of fail­ure on 1911s cham­bered in this round, Bill Wil­son and his team de­signed a new one from the ground up.

Im­prov­ing the de­sign of the mag­a­zine shell was the first step, fol­lowed by re-de­sign­ing the fol­lower to pre­vent tip-down mis­feeds, and a new type of mu­sic wire springs to keep it all run­ning—a feat that could only be ac­com­plished by a shop with more than three decades ded­i­cated to the 1911 plat­form.

Real Pretty, But Does She Shoot?

Shoot­ing this pis­tol was like at­tain­ing Nir­vana. We found the mid-length trig­ger to break con­sis­tently at 3 ½ pounds. The full-sized grip frame feels com­fort­able and rock solid when you present from the hol­ster. Re­coil was vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent and the only draw­back to shoot­ing 9mm out of a 1911 was 47-year-old eyes not see­ing those big 0.455” di­am­e­ter holes open up on our tar­get at 25 yards. Wil­son was kind enough to send sev­eral types of their house-brand am­mu­ni­tion:

• 115-grain re­man­u­fac­tured us­ing Hor­nady’s HAP (Hor­nady Ac­tion Pis­tol) bul­lets • 115-grain +P Pin­na­cle us­ing Barnes TAC bul­lets

• 147-grain Bill Wil­son Sig­na­ture Match am­mu­ni­tion

Ev­ery round fed flaw­lessly and main­tained the ac­cu­racy we have come to ex­pect from shoot­ing a Wil­son Com­bat pis­tol. The rounds are loaded to max­i­mum over­all length to aid in feed­ing with a cus­tom 1911 in 9mm,

so per­for­mance with re­gard to feed­ing as well as safe pres­sure lev­els may not be the same for other types of 9mm pis­tols. This is es­pe­cially the case with com­pact 9mm pis­tols that use an un­sup­ported cham­ber.

Our ini­tial shots were hit­ting low and to the left, and once we re­al­ized this we cor­rected quickly and the ragged 9-shot strings let us know we were work­ing it prop­erly ev­ery time we dropped a mag­a­zine.

Ev­ery Pis­tol Needs a Light

Af­ter at­tend­ing sev­eral cour­ses ded­i­cated to low-light shoot­ing with LMS De­fense over the years, we learned some­thing. Night sights are al­most use­less at night and they can only be used dur­ing lim­ited hours if you need to iden­tify your tar­get.

In­stead of opt­ing for “night sights on ev­ery de­fen­sive pis­tol” we opted for a flash­light on ev­ery pis­tol, and the Wil­son Com­bat

EDC9 Pro­fes­sional sports that ever-im­por­tant rail on which to mount one.

We se­lected Stream­light’s TLR-1S be­cause it is rugged as well as af­ford­able and af­ter plunk­ing down more than $3,000 for the EDC9 Pro­fes­sional, your wal­let will ap­pre­ci­ate it. Vir­tu­ally in­de­struc­tible, the Stream­light TLR-1S Tac­ti­cal Light is lithium-pow­ered and boasts 300 lu­mens in a com­pact pack­age. It comes with a set of keys to adapt to al­most any rail sys­tem and it quickly and se­curely mounts to your hand­gun. Con­trols are am­bidex­trous and the switch al­lows sin­gle-handed op­er­a­tion.

This light has a strobe fea­ture which may be fun to an­noy your pets, but we never thought much of this fea­ture, per­son­ally.


Adding a flash­light to your hand­gun changes the hol­ster op­tions quite a bit and of­ten means go­ing the cus­tom or semi-cus­tom route, as well as mostly go­ing OWB. Well, the point of this pis­tol is sup­posed to be for ev­ery­day carry, and one of our tenets is to have a light mounted on ev­ery pis­tol we use for de­fen­sive work be­cause bad things mostly hap­pen at night.

The last time we checked, it was not 1873 and we were not fight­ing ban­di­tos with a pis­tol on each hip. Con­cealed means con­cealed in our neck of the woods, so we had to find a com­fort­able Iwb-type hol­ster that

could work with a mounted light. We found the an­swer to that prob­lem with Black­point Tac­ti­cal’s Mini Wing.

This hol­ster was de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with law en­force­ment of­fi­cers work­ing plain­clothes or un­der­cover. As men­tioned, there aren’t a whole lot of Iwb-type hol­sters on the mar­ket that can ac­com­mo­date a pis­tol with a mounted light in a com­fort­able man­ner.

The Mini WING solves this by us­ing as lit­tle ma­te­rial as pos­si­ble to safely se­cure the pis­tol while main­tain­ing com­fort. We car­ried the pis­tol with light at­tached in the Mini WING for a cou­ple of weeks with one no­table ex­cep­tion. Rather than us­ing the hol­ster’s belt mount­ing clips, we tried an af­ter­mar­ket ac­ces­sory called the Ulticlip.

Ulti­clips are af­ter­mar­ket ac­ces­sories that make you go, “Why haven’t I found these sooner?” The min­i­mal­ist pro­file com­pletely makes the ap­pear­ance of hol­ster loops van­ish, but it’s the re­ten­tion that im­presses. You could use these on

“the Wil­son com­bat edc9 shoots well, car­ries well, and runs like the finely tuned ma­chine that it is.”

your pants with­out a belt in many cases, es­pe­cially with a light­weight pis­tol. Sim­ply re­place your screw-on hol­ster loops or clips with a set of these and the bear-trap level of strength in the Ulticlip se­cures the clips to your belt like a steel clamp.

Fi­nal thoughts

The Wil­son Com­bat EDC9 Pro­fes­sional is prob­a­bly the great­est 1911 cham­bered in 9mm. It shoots well, car­ries well, and runs like the well-tuned ma­chine that it is. We found no fur­ther room for im­prove­ment. Times change and opin­ions change. Ad­vances in am­mu­ni­tion man­u­fac­tur­ing have proven the 9mm ev­ery bit the equal of a .40 S&W or a .45 ACP in al­most ev­ery shoot­ing sit­u­a­tion. Some of the top com­pet­i­tive shoot­ers are run­ning 1911s in 9mm and their num­bers in­crease ev­ery month. The

FBI is mov­ing back to the 9mm round af­ter 30 years be­cause of these changes as well.

If the mantra is evolve or go ex­tinct, we’ll go that route, too. It’s ob­vi­ously work­ing out for the 1911.

“the wil­son com­bat EDC9 Pro­fes­sional is prob­a­bly the great­est 1911 cham­bered in 9mm.”

Wil­son Com­bat’s EDC9 Pro­fes­sional is one of a se­ries of four pis­tols put out by the com­pany that in­cor­po­rates the “En­hanced Re­li­a­bil­ity Sys­tem” (ERS).

The EDC9’S slide is checkered fore and aft with the X-TAC treat­ment.

When the sin­gle-stack 9mm 1911 mag­a­zine was shown to be a point of fail­ure, Bill Wil­son and his team de­signed a new one.

We opt for a flash­light on ev­ery pis­tol and the Wil­son Com­bat EDC9 Pro­fes­sional sports that ever-im­por­tant rail on which to mount one.

The Mini WING uses as lit­tle ma­te­rial as pos­si­ble to safely se­cure the pis­tol while main­tain­ing com­fort.

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