Perfection achieved? It comes at a price, but for this reviewer the answer is yes.
There is a debate among shooters and armed citizens as to the best features for an everyday carry, self-protection firearm. It’s played out on internet forums and at gun shop counters, and involves everything from chambering and capacity, to size, construction material and manufacturer. And that is not even getting into the smaller areas of interest, like sights, safeties and trigger mechanisms.
For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that 9 mm Luger is the best cartridge for a personal-defense pistol—because it is, and even if its not, it is certainly the most popular these days (that’s just a fact). It’s also a fair assumption that M1911-style semi-automatic pistols and polymer-frame, double-stack compacts, a la the Glock 19, are the preferred “fighting pistol” platforms—guns that ride the line between holster/duty use and concealment pieces. The former is renowned for its ergonomic excellence and it’s single-action trigger pull. The latter is the embodiment of utility and reliability, and boasts a higher onboard capacity. Micro-compacts such as the M&P Shield and Glock 43 are also extremely popular and practical, but fall more into the hideout gun category—very concealable, and reliable as a tool of last resort, but ultimately a topic for another day.
So what if you could have both? All the handling qualities of the 1911, plus the capacity and reliability of the Glock? Well, then you’d have Wilson Combat’s EDC X9, truly the best of both worlds.
The EDC X9 was born of necessity and inspired by a couple less-than-common handguns. Bill Wilson knew that his company needed to have an entrant in the high-capacity 9 mm carry market, but he had no intention of designing another polymer-frame Wonder Nine. And why should he? Wilson Combat enjoys a rabid following who crave high-end, custom-grade firearms built on metal frames—the 1911, of course, being the core of Wilson’s business. To make the leap from single stack 1911s to a double-column 9 mm, Bill says he found inspiration in Browning’s BDM—a ‘90s-vintage, American-made Hi-Power-esque pistol with easily accessible internals—and the compact, single-stack Astra A70—also a ‘90s design, from the declining Spanish manufacturer, which looks like a SIG/Browning hybrid.
Similarities aside, the EDC X9 is all Wilson Combat—a true original. Sporting a 4” barrel, a 15-round magazine, overall dimensions of 5.25” tall by 7.4” long, and an unloaded weight of about 29 ozs., the EDC X9 is every bit the melding of a Commander-size 1911 and a Glock 19. The barrel has ball-cut flutes running its length, and the upper half of the barrel gradually bells out in the final half inch before the muzzle. Adding to the aesthetics, the slide is topped with 30-LPI serrations running between the elevation-adjustable rear sight and the fiber-optic front. Wilson’s X-Tac texturing is applied at the front and rear of the slide for cocking serrations, and that pattern is also carried into the frame’s front strap and mainspring housing, giving the EDC X9 a very unified appearance. Returning briefly to the slide assembly, the pistol uses an external extractor, a full-length guide rod, and a flat recoil spring that rides between the guide rod’s polymer buffer and reverse plug that resides just below the muzzle.
One of the design cues Wilson took from the Browning BDM was its relatively unobtrusive frame. Made from aluminum alloy, the EDC X9’s frame is strong but relatively slim, and is able to accommodate the mainspring apparatus and a double-column magazine without being any wider than a traditional, single-stack 1911’s grip.
This feat is also aided by the use of G10 grip panels which feature a Wilson Combat medallion and the company’s signature starburst texture pattern.
Overall, the EDC X9 feels excellent in hand, and that feeling can be further refined—ordered custom from Wilson, the EDC X9 can be had with one of two sizes of mainspring housing, and the choice of three trigger lengths to truly fit the gun to the shooter.
In terms of controls, the standard EDC X9 is set up for right handed shooters with the manual thumb safety, magazine release and slide stop all on the left side of the pistol. Disassembling the gun does not follow the typical 1911 process. Instead, the slide is retracted under spring tension until its takedown notch aligns with the slide stop’s internal lug. At this point the slide stop can be removed and the entire slide assembly can move forward, off the frame, and the recoil spring assembly and barrel can be removed. Further, the frame design is quite clever in that, after carefully lowering the hammer, a 1/8” punch can be inserted into a port beneath the butt of the gun. Upward pressure will open the mainspring housing, allowing the stock panels to be removed and providing access to all the internal components for cleaning and inspection.
On the range, the EDC X9 is nothing short of a delight. The gun runs flawlessly as you would expect from a Wilson, and the workmanship is so tight and clean that rapid-fire strings quickly take on the rhythmic cycle and reliable function of a sewing machine. Testing proved the gun was mechanically more accurate than its human shooter, providing some of the best offhand groups I’ve ever shot—1.5” five-shot groups at 15 yards were the norm, and Wilson guarantees the gun is capable of 1.5” groups at 25. More impressive than its accuracy, though, was its handling.
All the things I love about shooting 1911s—including riding the thumb safety as God and Col. Cooper intended—I felt with the EDC X9. And even more so, because instead of .45 slugs I was shooting 9 mm, and plenty of it thanks to the magazine.
I don’t know that there will ever be a perfect carry gun, and with a price of just under $3K, the EDC X9 is not even going to come close for a lot of folks. Still, given its quality, features, and operation, for those with the means, the Wilson Combat EDC X9 comes as close to perfection as I’ve ever experienced.
Wilson Combat EDC X9
Available Calibers: 9mm
Magazine Capacity: 15 rounds
Barrel Length: 4”
Overall Length: 7.4”
Sight Radius: 5.6”
Weight Empty: 29.09 oz
Weight Loaded: 35.04 oz
Accuracy Guarantee: 1.5” at 25 yds.
Base Price: $2,895
Chris A. Carter is a lifelong shooter who got hooked on firearms as a Boy Scout earning the Rifle Shooting merit badge at summer camp. Chris hails from the Midwest, is an NRA-certified instructor, and has a keen interest in introducing new shooters to the various disciplines, and showing them that shooting is a fun activity, as well as a life-saving skill.