WIL­SON COM­BAT EDC-9

HIT­TING THE “SWEET SPOT” OF PIS­TOL­CRAFT, WIL­SON COM­BAT STAYS TRUE TO ITS ROOTS BY FO­CUS­ING ON PER­FECT­ING THE 1911.

Gun World - - Contents - By Andy Mas­si­m­il­ian

Hit­ting the “sweet spot” of pis­tol­craft, Wil­son Com­bat stays true to its roots by fo­cus­ing on per­fect­ing the 1911.

With so many gun­mak­ers flood­ing the mar­ket with yet another plas­tic-framed, striker-fired pis­tol, Wil­son Com­bat stays true to its roots by fo­cus­ing in­stead on per­fect­ing the 1911.

Al­though the 1911 is prob­a­bly the most cus­tom­ized and im­proved pis­tol of all time, the de­sign has its vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. This be­came ap­par­ent to Bill Wil­son through decades of ex­pe­ri­ence with this iconic pis­tol as a

shooter, man­u­fac­turer and in­struc­tor.

Know­ing how even the best-made 1911s can fail from de­sign short­com­ings and faults of the end user, Wil­son in­cor­po­rated new fea­tures into the EDC-9 that make it well suited to those who want a tightly fit­ted,

ac­cu­rate and re­li­able 1911 for daily carry but don’t have the time or in­cli­na­tion to prop­erly in­spect, clean and lu­bri­cate it. And be­cause Bill Wil­son un­der­stands that in­tan­gi­bles such as pride of own­er­ship are as in­sep­a­ra­ble to a Wil­son Com­bat 1911 as high per­for­mance and crafts­man­ship, the de­sign and ex­e­cu­tion of these new fea­tures go be­yond the purely func­tional as­pects and give the EDC-9 a strik­ing look.

GUN DE­TAILS

The EDC-9 Pro­fes­sional is a lead­ing ex­am­ple of Wil­son Com­bat’s fo­cus on the finer de­tails of pis­tol­craft, both in form and func­tion. It starts with a strong foun­da­tion: a forged 4140 car­bon steel frame and forged 416R stain­less slide. Wil­son then fits the slide to the frame so there is no dis­cernible side-to-side move­ment. Wil­son pis­tols are made to re­tain this fit over their life­times, rather than build­ing them too tightly to func­tion eas­ily and then let­ting them break in to an ac­cept­able fit. Bill once told me that the steel he uses is so hard that if he fit them that tightly, they would prob­a­bly stay that way.

The EDC-9 Pro­fes­sional is a com­pact 1911, at 7.6 inches in over­all length and 5.6 inches in height. It is fed with a sin­gle-col­umn, 10-round mag­a­zine. The “Pro­fes­sional” des­ig­na­tion sig­ni­fies a full-sized grip and 4-inch bar­rel. Its weight of 39.6 ounces is more than a sim­i­larly sized Colt Com­man­der, but the Wil­son is more sub­stan­tial, with a Pi­catinny rail, larger mag­a­zine and flared steel mag well. Cus­tomers who want a lighter ver­sion can have the EDC-9 made with a type 7075 T6 alu­minum frame, which weighs about 28 ounces. (Cus­tomers can also or­der one with a stain­less frame.)

The mag­a­zine is Wil­son’s own and holds 10 rounds, com­pared to most oth­ers that hold nine. This mag is a third-gen­er­a­tion de­sign with im­proved springs and a fol­lower that pre­vents the bul­lets from nose-div­ing.

I have used these mags ex­ten­sively and con­sider them the best avail­able for a 9mm 1911—not only be­cause they work so well and hold more, but be­cause of the sen­si­ble de­sign fea­tures, such as a bumper pad and pol­ished stain­less steel con­struc­tion for eas­ier in­ser­tion, along with large num­bers with an easy-to-see cut­away win­dow to de­ter­mine how many rounds are loaded. It’s also the mag the Smith & Wes­son cus­tom shop in­cludes in its 9mm 1911.

Wil­son Com­bat pis­tols use ma­te­rial of unim­peach­able qual­ity, start­ing with forged, in­stead of cast, frames and slides; CNC-milled small parts (in­stead of MIM or stamped); flat re­coil springs made of chrome sil­i­con spring steel with a long life­span; and ex­trac­tors made of S7-hard­ened tool steel used on metal stamp­ing dies and the tip of con­crete break­ers. The bar­rel is made from 416R stain­less steel and is made over­sized so it can be fit­ted tightly to the slide for best ac­cu­racy. The fin­ish is Wil­son’s Ar­mor-Tuff, a two-fin­ish process with Cerakote ap­plied over a phos­phate fin­ish that is first ap­plied to the base metal.

Weight mat­ters with a carry pis­tol, and steel-framed 1911s are heavy by con­tem­po­rary stan­dards, so Wil­son shaved

ounces by trim­ming the slide into a tri­an­gu­lar pro­file on its top and ball end milling grooves on the bar­rel. The slide’s re­duced mass is also in­tended to im­prove func­tion.

EN­HANCED RE­LI­A­BIL­ITY SYS­TEM

The EDC-9 Pro­fes­sional is one of two new Wil­son Com­bat pis­tols made with a col­lec­tive called the En­hanced Re­li­a­bil­ity Sys­tem (ERS), which con­sists of a mod­i­fied frame, match-grade bar­rel, sim­pli­fied lock­ing sys­tem, ex­ter­nal ex­trac­tor and new sights. The ERS makes the 1911 more re­li­able un­der ad­verse con­di­tions, more user friendly, bet­ter suited for com­bat fire and less main­te­nance in­ten­sive than the orig­i­nal de­sign.

The 1911’s de­sign has been con­sid­er­ably im­proved over its 100-plus-year run, but it still has a lock­ing sys­tem that needs clean­ing and lu­bri­ca­tion much more fre­quently than con­tem­po­rary pis­tols.

In par­tic­u­lar, the lock­ing lugs that mate the bar­rel to the slide, as well as the slide rails, are fric­tion ar­eas that need proper lu­bri­ca­tion. With­out it, they will cy­cle slug­gishly or not at all. Just ask Bill, who has seen stu­dents, cus­tomers and les­s­ex­pe­ri­enced 1911 shoot­ers cre­ate prob­lems for them­selves as a re­sult of im­proper main­te­nance.

The EDC 9 ad­dresses these is­sues by elim­i­nat­ing the 1911’s twin lock­ing lugs in fa­vor of a much sim­pler sys­tem via which the top front of the bar­rel just ahead of the cham­ber locks with the rear of the slide’s ejec­tion port. This is a re­li­able sys­tem used on many pis­tols and is far eas­ier to clean than the in­ter­lock­ing lugs.

Another vul­ner­a­bil­ity con­sists of the fric­tional forces from the 1911’s slide-frame con­tact. Wil­son ad­dresses this is­sue by elim­i­nat­ing about 1⅜ inches of frame rail in the area of the mag­a­zine well. The shorter rail sur­face re­duces fric­tion and mit­i­gates the risk of a slug­gish slide when us­ing a gun oil that is too vis­cous in cold weather or as a re­sult of dirt buildup.

Some might won­der if trim­ming the slide rail re­duces ac­cu­racy; it doesn’t … for two rea­sons. First, slide-to-frame fit is a mi­nor por­tion of what makes a 1911 shoot ac­cu­rately, ac­cord­ing to Bill Wil­son (slide-to-bar­rel fit at the front and rear are much more im­por­tant). Sec­ond, the rails are re­moved mid­sec­tion, so the slide-frame tight­ness is main­tained when the slide is in bat­tery (when it mat­ters). A to­tally re­li­able ex­trac­tor is nec­es­sary for any com­bat pis­tol, and al­though the in­ter­nal de­sign of the 1911 works well, it tends to ac­cu­mu­late de­bris be­tween the ex­trac­tor and slide, thereby po­ten­tially af­fect­ing its func­tion. In­ter­nal ex­trac­tors also re­quire more ma­chin­ing to the slide and are more com­pli­cated to fit and re­place. A piv­ot­ing ex­ter­nal ex­trac­tor also works over a wider range of spring ten­sion and with more case rim thick­nesses than the in­ter­nal de­sign, ac­cord­ing to Bill. The re­cur­rent themes of re­duced user main­te­nance and in­creased me­chan­i­cal re­li­a­bil­ity per­me­ate this pis­tol’s de­sign.

The fi­nal el­e­ment of the ERS are sights de­signed for quick ac­qui­si­tion and sim­ple re­moval. Up front is a green fiberop­tic sight that can be eas­ily changed by re­mov­ing an Al­len­head screw, in­stead of drift­ing out of a dove­tail us­ing a sight push­ing tool (Wil­son sells a red fiber-op­tic and a tri­tium front sight for night fire).

At the rear is Wil­son’s new Tac­ti­cal Ad­justable Bat­tle­sight (TAB) that is click-ad­justable for el­e­va­tion us­ing a screw­driver and can be drifted by hand for windage by loos­en­ing two torx screws. This sight blade has a wide U notch and a flat, non­re­flec­tive fin­ish.

A cock­ing ledge fa­cil­i­tates rack­ing the slide by catch­ing the rear sight on a hol­ster or belt buckle should one hand be in­jured. Un­der­scor­ing how Wil­son Com­bat makes a pis­tol with the shooter in mind, the front sight sur­round­ing the green fil­a­ment and part of the rear sight blade have fine, 40-LPI (lines per inch) hor­i­zon­tal grooves to re­duce glare and make the sights eas­ier to align.

CUS­TOM SHOP DE­TAILS; EASY TAKE­DOWN FOR CLEAN­ING

Many de­tails on this pis­tol are strictly cus­tom shop en­hance­ments that blend the aes­thetic with the func­tional.

To cut glare and en­hance ap­pear­ance, there are fine, 40 lpi hor­i­zon­tal ser­ra­tions milled on the rear of the slide.

The slide stop pin sits in­side a coun­ter­sunk hole, in­stead of pro­trud­ing from the frame.

The bot­tom edges of the slide are cham­fered to break an oth­er­wise sharp edge.

The rear sight blade is held to the sight base with a steel

pin that is pre­vented from drift­ing out­ward from re­coil by a fine Allen-head screw on either side (many gun­mak­ers ig­nore this pin drift prob­lem or peen the ends of the pin, which of­ten fails to stop drift).

One of this pis­tol’s more un­usual as­pects is the X TAC-pat­terned grip­ping sur­face on the slide, main­spring hous­ing and front strap. Even the G10 grips show cus­tom shop qual­ity by us­ing Wil­son Com­bat medal­lions made of pewter, in­stead of plas­tic, plus a unique tex­ture in Wil­son’s own sun­burst pat­tern.

To speed reload­ing, the EDC-9 has a flared steel mag­a­zine well in­te­gral to the main­spring hous­ing that is rounded to re­duce the chance of the pis­tol’s butt print­ing un­der light­weight gar­ments. The slide top has been re-con­toured to re­duce weight and has 30-LPI ser­ra­tions.

The EDC-9 of­fers more en­hance­ments to the 1911—and no greater one to me than elim­i­nat­ing the bar­rel bush­ing that mates the muz­zle end of the bar­rel with the slide. In­stead of a par­tial-length guide rod and bush­ing, the EDC-9 uses a one-piece stain­less steel guide rod and a bar­rel flared at its end to en­sure a con­sis­tently tight fit to the slide (a crit­i­cal el­e­ment of ac­cu­racy).

Dis­as­sem­bly of the EDC-9 is eas­ier, quicker and with­out the very real haz­ard of a spring-ten­sioned guide rod plug be­ing ejected, as on a tra­di­tional 1911. As an added touch that no other maker I know of in­cludes in its 1911s, the EDC-9 has Wil­son’s Shok-Buff poly-fiber washer on the guide rod, which cush­ions the re­coil­ing slide and re­duces bat­ter­ing of the frame. It can also slightly re­duce per­ceived re­coil. I

rec­om­mend try­ing a prop­erly de­signed buf­fer; they are in­ex­pen­sive, easy to in­stall, ef­fec­tive and won’t hurt func­tion on most pis­tols.

RANGE TIME

I shot the EDC-9 Pro­fes­sional for ac­cu­racy from a Cald­well rest, fol­lowed by off­hand, in five load­ings made by Wil­son Com­bat, Black Hills and SIG Sauer. There were no mal­func­tions through­out more than 300 rounds.

The EDC-9 Pro­fes­sional has an ac­cu­racy guar­an­tee of five shots into a 1.5-inch group at 25 yards us­ing match ammo. This claim was val­i­dated with Winch­ester USA 115-grain FMJ prac­tice ammo. Be­cause this pis­tol’s ac­cu­racy was ob­vi­ous, and the EDC-9 is not in­tended for bullseye tar­get-shoot­ing, I dispensed with bench rest test­ing of all loads and fo­cused in­stead on prac­ti­cal use. If you’ve ever shot a Wil­son Com­bat, you can at­test to its ac­cu­racy.

More­over, the green fiber-op­tic front sight works best for its in­tended use as a com­bat sight. It is quickly ac­quired in day­light but doesn’t work as well for pre­ci­sion tar­get-shoot­ing. The TAB’s rear sight, with its nonglare fin­ish and large U notch, al­lowed me to eas­ily see and quickly align the front sight.

This pis­tol was very easy to man­age, even when shoot­ing with one hand, us­ing Black Hills 124-grain +P loads (which are not throt­tled down on ve­loc­ity as so many other brands are). The tex­ture on the G10 grips ce­mented my hold to the pis­tol as in­tended. I could ac­cess the mag re­lease, thanks to a groove milled into the G10 grip. Follow-through was easy, and the sights were rapidly reac­quired af­ter re­coil.

The trig­ger on my test pis­tol broke at 3 pounds, 11 ounces us­ing a Ly­man elec­tronic scale. It had slight creep and zero over­travel con­sis­tent with the fac­tory specs of 3.5 to 4.5 pounds.

Al­though the EDC-9 Pro­fes­sional is of­fered in one ba­sic de­sign, Wil­son Com­bat is a cus­tom shop and can make pis­tols to cus­tomers’ specs. My pref­er­ence would be to or­der the larger slide stop and safety levers and use a tri­tium front sight for night fire. The EDC-9 Pro­fes­sional is a cus­tom qual­ity pis­tol with parts, fit, ac­cu­racy, re­li­a­bil­ity and aes­thet­ics that are a given in a pis­tol in its price range. How­ever, what el­e­vates this pis­tol above its cus­tom shop 1911 peer group are Wil­son Com­bat’s many ad­di­tional en­gi­neer­ing en­hance­ments that make it a much bet­ter carry and com­bat pis­tol. GW

THE RE­CUR­RENT THEMES OF RE­DUCED USER MAIN­TE­NANCE AND IN­CREASED ME­CHAN­I­CAL RE­LI­A­BIL­ITY PER­ME­ATE

THIS PIS­TOL’S DE­SIGN.

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Bill Wil­son de­signed the X TAC slide pat­tern for shoot­ers who found sharp, pointed check­er­ing too abra­sive for their hands. It is unique to the Wil­son Com­bat line. (Photo: Steve Woods) The Bush­in­g­less de­sign on the Wil­son bar­rel (right) al­lows for a larger-di­am­e­ter bar­rel. The deep crown pro­tects the muz­zle from dam­age that would hurt ac­cu­racy. (Photo: Steve Woods)

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A spacer at the rear of the Wil­son mag (bot­tom) con­sis­tently po­si­tions the round with­out a gap be­tween car­tridge and mag­a­zine wall. (Photo: Andy Mas­si­m­il­ian)

The Wil­son mag on the

left elim­i­nates bul­let nose-dive com­pared to

the stan­dard mag on the right. (Photo: Andy

Mas­si­m­il­ian)

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There are no lugs milled on the bar­rel or the slide—as would be found on a tra­di­tional 1911. With the EDC-9, the bar­rel locks into the slide just ahead of the cham­ber with the top front of the slide’s ejec­tion port. Note that the flared pro­file of the muz­zle cen­ters the bar­rel in the slide with­out need for a sep­a­rate bush­ing. (Photo: Steve Woods)

Chang­ing the front

sight is eas­ier than work­ing with

dove­tail mount sights. Sim­ply use the sup­plied tool to un­screw the hex­head screw. (Photo: Steve

Woods)

A Wil­son Com­bat 10-round mag­a­zine next to the in­dus­try­s­tan­dard eight-round. Which is more func­tional? (Photo: Andy Mas­si­m­il­ian)

This field-stripped pis­tol shows sim­plic­ity of de­sign. Note the ful­l­length guide rod, flat re­coil spring and fluted bar­rel flared near the muz­zle to mate tightly with the slide. (Photo: Steve Woods)

The mag well is fluted

for eas­ier load­ing. (Photo: Steve Woods) A por­tion of the frame rail at the mag­a­zine well has been re­moved with­out af­fect­ing ac­cu­racy or re­li­a­bil­ity, ac­cord­ing to Wil­son Com­bat’s test­ing. Our own test­ing sup­ports this. (Photo: Steve Woods) THE EDC-9 PRO­FES­SIONAL

HAS AN AC­CU­RACY GUAR­AN­TEE OF FIVE SHOTS INTO A 1.5-INCH GROUP AT 25 YARDS US­ING MATCH

AMMO.

The rear sight has a cock­ing ledge and is el­e­va­tion-ad­justable with a screw­driver. Note the tri­an­gu­lar slide pro­file. (Photo: Steve Woods)

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