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Wilson Combat SFX9 9mm 1911 Variant Pistol: Full Review

The newest Wilson Combat SFX9, SF standing for single frame, is a double-stack 9mm with an improved feed angle over the original 1911. Here's a full review.

Wilson Combat SFX9 9mm 1911 Variant Pistol: Full Review

(Mark Fingar photo)

Bill Wilson has been building and perfecting his own variations of the 1911 since 1977, so it makes sense that when it was time for a 1911 reimagining, Wilson was the one driving it. The SFX9 is the latest iteration of the Wilson X9 pistol that represents this evolution of the 1911. The X9 series is a single-action, hammer-fired semiauto, not unlike the 1911. What the X9 lacks are the vestigial remains of the original.

Just like human evolving away from tails, the X9 has evolved out of the grip safety, and we are better off without both. The grip safety is a remnant of the original 1911 specification requiring it due to mounted cavalry safety concerns. The last mounted cavalry charge was conducted by the 26th Cavalry Regiment at Morong, Philippines, on 16 January 1942, so the necessity of a grip safety on a self-defense pistol is a bit unnecessary. I wish other manufacturers would follow Wilson’s lead.

Wilson Combat SFX9 Slide Cutaway views
(Mark Fingar photos)

In conversations with Wilson, he mentioned that when he came up with the concept of the X9 series, he wanted it to be a double-stack 9mm, but he also knew that he was going to have to improve the feed angle. The feed angle in a traditional 1911 features an abrupt jump that can cause issues in certain guns with certain types of ammunition. The entirely new design of the X9 series brings the cartridge up higher, allowing an easier transition from magazine to chamber and increasing the reliability of the pistol.

Like everything that Wilson Combat does, the pistol is executed flawlessly and with great attention to detail. The pistol comes with a worklist from the factory, containing 45 items for the inspectors to sign off on. Bill personally designed the checklist and has been using one for as long as he can remember. It has evolved over the years, but it’s always been an important part of Wilson quality control. Another included paper shows the test group as well a list of gunsmiths (not assemblers) that worked on the pistol. Most importantly, there are boxes that read “overall job meets my approval” with the gunsmith’s initials. This end-to-end accountability is sorely lacking in most firearms, especially the pricey ones. Kudos to Wilson for holding the line.

Author Jeremy Stafford shooting Wilson Combat SFX9
(Mark Fingar photo)

The SF in the “SFX9” stands for “Single Frame” as opposed to the modular, or adjustable grip version of the EDC X9 pistol. The entire grip module in this case is machined from a solid block of 7075-T6 aluminum. The grip texture is Wilson’s proprietary X-Tac diamond pattern on the frontstrap and humped backstrap and a combination of X-Tac diamonds and Wilson’s “Sun-Ray” pattern on the sides.

The backstrap transitions to an ample but unobtrusive beavertail, while the frontstrap merges into an undercut triggerguard. Unlike its distant forebear, the plunger tube of the SFX is machined directly into the grip module, meaning that it will never come loose and need to be re-staked. For high-round count shooters, this is another worthwhile evolution.

Wilson Combat SFX9 Concealment Bullet Proof skeletonized hammer
Wilson Combat builds the SFX9 with their Concealment Bullet Proof skeletonized hammer. It fits snug with no lateral movement. (Mark Fingar photos)

The dustcover has a 1913-pattern accessory rail milled into it, but it’s not compatible with every light. The manual noted that a Streamlight TLR-1 would not work, but my new TLR-1 fits perfectly, so your mileage may vary. The magazine well has been generously beveled, making the SFX forgiving to reload. The machining and execution of the frame are, in short, amazing. The lines are crisp, and every edge is chamfered. I don’t know who programmed the CNC machine, but Bill should give them a raise. I don’t often wax poetic about machining, but it is the best I’ve ever seen on a production gun.

The controls, including the slide release lever and single-sided thumb safety are built to Wilson Bullet Proof standards, and they are as precisely machined as the frame. Both the slide release and the safety engage positively and precisely, with no gaps and no excess movement in either. The hammer is Wilson’s Concealment Bullet Proof skeletonized model and is fit with no lateral movement. The trigger features an overtravel adjustment screw that was pre-set at the factory. There was about 1/8 inch of take-up with about 1/16 inch of pre-travel before the sear engaged, and the hammer fell with 3 pounds, 12 ounces of pressure. It was clean with no overtravel. For those interested, the trigger reset was positive and short.

Wilson Combat SFX9 grip close-up
(Mark Fingar photo)

The slide is machined from stainless steel and finished in a smooth, black DLC. It is of the tri-top variety, meaning that the top edges are machined down to narrow the top of the slide from rear sight to front sight. The topmost portion is then machined with 30 LPI longitudinal grooves to reduce glare. At the muzzle end, there is a step milled into the slide, which is attractive and works for press checks.

Although an optics-ready SFX is available, my test sample was fitted with the Wilson Battlesights, a wide U-notch in the rear and a thin, fiber optic in the front. This is the perfect iron sight setup. Nestled in the slide is a stainless-steel, cone-shaped barrel that mates with the front of the slide. The 3.25-inch barrel has grooves milled into it longitudinally along the beefy sides as well as on the chamber area. I’m not sure that they provide any real stiffening or reliability enhancement, but it looks cool and lightens the gun a bit. The end of the muzzle features a flush-cut reverse crown, and as you’ll see later in the article, this gun can flat-out shoot.

Wilson Combat SFX9 grooves along sides of and chamber area of the barrel
Grooves are milled along the sides and on the chamber area of the barrel. This lightens it and gives it a unique appearance. (Mark Fingar photo)

Another evolution from the 1911 is the use of an external extractor instead of internal. This is a great choice, since the tension on an external extractor depends on a small spring that will last for tens of thousands of rounds. Internal extractors rely on the metallurgy and bend of the actual extractor to provide tension. They can wear out quickly and often need tuning. External is the way to go for a hard-use gun.

I’ve had the SFX for some time now, and I shoot it often. Even though the barrel is only 3.25 inches, it is one of the most accurate pistols I have shot. The test target from the factory shows a 15-yard group with a custom 125-grain Hornady load. I’m guessing a five-shot group, but since it’s one hole, it’s


impossible to tell. The best I can measure by eyeballing the center of the two outermost bullet holes would be a group of .25 inches. If you want to be a stickler and measure the outside edge, it’s just over a half inch.

Wilson's proprietary X-Tac diamond pattern
Wilson’s proprietary X-Tac diamond pattern makes up the grip texturing on the frontstrap and backstrap and is combined with their “Sun-Ray” pattern on the sides. (Mark Fingar photo)

During my testing of five five-round groups at 25 yards, I did several groups in the .8 range, center to center. The pistol comes with a 1.5-inch guarantee at 25 yards, and everything I shot for groups was well under that.

Excellence doesn’t come cheaply. While the Wilson SFX9 is priced at $2,995, there are hot-rodded striker guns in the same price range that don’t shoot anywhere as good. Value is a subjective metric. I have a SIG P320 that cost $600 that puts everything under 2.5 inches. Is the SFX9’s performance worth the extra $2,395? That’s something you must answer.

External screw to adjust trigger overtravel
Trigger overtravel is adjusted via an external screw. It came pre-set from the factory with about an 1/8 inch of take-up. (Mark Fingar photos)

But when Wilson said that he believes the SFX9 to be the best handling and best shooting pistol he’s ever shot, I agree with him. As a reviewer, I always try to find one or two things that the gunmaker can do better. In the case of the SFX9, I can’t do that.

Weilson performance chart

SFX9 Specifications

  • Type: Recoil-operated semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 9mm
  • Capacity: 15+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 3.25 in.
  • Overall Length: 6.75 in.
  • Width: 1.4 in.
  • Height: 5.25 in.
  • Weight: 27 oz.
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Trigger: 3 lbs., 12 oz.
  • Sights: WC battlesights, U-notch rear, red fiber-optic front
  • MSRP: $2,995
  • Manufacturer: Wilson Combat;
Wilson Combat Pinnacle Ammo
(Mark Fingar photos)

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