Further Thoughts on the Wilson Combat SFT9

The SFT9 (Solid Frame “Trak”-pattern grip 9mm) was introduced in late 2022 and remains the most recent in the series of EDC X9 pistols Wilson Combat brought out a few years before. WC offers a smorgasbord of options to customers, even within the given model designations. The SFT9, for example, has a 4.25″ Commander-size and 5” Government length on the options list, along with shorter barrel variations. Commander size and longer have conventional John Moses Browning barrel bushings, while shorter models have coned barrels. Ambidextrous thumb safeties are an option, as are various sighting arrangements. They’ve recently introduced railed frame and optics-compatible variations.  The gun under discussion here is a Commander-length SFT9 with WC’s Battlesights, a big U-notch rear coupled with a fiber optic front, and single-side safety.

As a gun writer (and later, total disclosure here, a content provider for the Wilson Combat YouTube channel), I got to tour the factory, watch these things be made, and shoot the heck out of them, from the first EDC X9 onward. I also got to interview the people who designed and manufactured them. I was impressed enough that I bought the test gun instead of sending it back to WC.

Massad Ayoob and Guy Joubert with the WC SFT9
WC’s Guy Joubert, left, explains SFT9 features to Mas on the YouTube episode above. [Photo: Wilson Combat]
I have had that Wilson Combat SFT9 for over a year now. It has become one of my favorite personal carry guns and has logged a lot of miles with me on my own time. I say that because I don’t use it as a teaching gun. If the instructor does a demonstration with a $3,000 pistol, some students will get the impression, “Aw, it’s the gun that’s doing it!” when what the instructor needs to be showing is how the technique works, so my teaching guns run more to “readily affordable stock.”

I had shot all the earlier variations of the EDC X9, Bill Wilson’s vision of a modernized 1911 that would live up to its name, EDC for EveryDayCarry.  They all performed extremely well, but I didn’t feel a need for one. Over the decades I had accumulated many 1911s, among them three Wilsons I’d bought. The EDC series is built around the 16-shot 9mm concept, and I had enough of those, too, including two Wilson Beretta 92 Compacts, which reached that capacity with MecGar 15-round mags. Let me tell you what it was about the SFT9 that induced me to open my usually tight wallet and buy this one.

Wilson Combat SFT9 and Its Endearing Features

“T” is for “Trak,” a grip configuration that first appeared on WC’s Experior line of 1911s. The front and back straps of the frame are a “grenade grip” pattern, with a slightly shallower and more stylized treatment on the side panels, which are integral to the frame. (No grip screws to come loose!) The rising parts are wide enough apart that the flesh of the hand seems to flow into the valleys in between, helping to bond hand to gun and prevent the pistol from slipping in your grasp during recoil. A long day of shooting doesn’t chew up your hand the way so many stippling and checkering patterns can. The lack of removable grip panels makes the grip ultra-slim. This not only improves concealment but allows the finger to get deeper into the trigger, allowing an average-sized adult male hand like mine to work the trigger face with the distal joint instead of the pad. This gives so much leverage that the slightly more than four-pound trigger on my SFT9 feels almost like the 2.5-pound trigger on my Clark Custom .38 target pistol, which is so light I’d never think of carrying something like that on the street. This gives “target pistol results” with a 1911 pull that won’t be deemed “hair trigger” by the crime lab after you’ve been involved in a self-defense shooting.

Because the rising part of the Trak pattern is rounded to a flat top, it didn’t scrape my skin when carried against bare flesh inside the waistband beneath an untucked shirt.

Wilson Combat SFT9 in IWB Holster
In Milt Sparks Summer Special, under a shirt and against bare skin, the SFT9 proved comfortable for all-day wear. [Photo credit: Gail Pepin]
On a personal note, the slim grip frame gave me back something time, and arthritis robbed me of with regular 1911s. My thumb is twisted enough I can no longer do a proper mag release for a speedload and have to use my support hand thumb to hit the button…but on the SFT9, the grip shape and the Wilson-designed mag release button combine to allow me to do a proper mag dump with the firing hand thumb.

Mas Reloading the SFT9
The shape of SFT9’s grip and mag release allows Mas to do a proper speed reload even with the arthritis-compromised thumb. [Photo: Gail Pepin]
That grip configuration allows “more hand around the gun,” which also reduces recoil. For carry, I generally load my SFT9 with +P+ Winchester Ranger-T 9mm, which earned a tremendous track record for “stopping power” on the street. It launches a 127-grain JHP at 1250 foot-seconds out of a 4” barrel, only 100 fps slower than a .357 SIG – but in the SFT9, it still kicks like a 9mm, not a .357.

Shooting the SFT9
The Wilson Combat SFT9’s extremely mild recoil is seen here. Petite Gail Pepin is already back on target with brass from the last shot only inches from the ejection port. [Photo credit: Author]
Mine is Commander length, which has always been the best-balanced 1911 configuration for me, though, of course, that’s subjective. As a geezer who has been shooting (and cleaning!) 1911s since age 12, I appreciate the JMB bushing configuration to which I’ve long been habituated.

Speaking of which, the original GI reassembly method for re-inserting the slide stop dragged the inside edge of that part across the frame, creating the infamous “idiot scratch.” Look at the left side of the SFT9 in the photos: its configuration seems to make that well-nigh impossible.

If you’ve been taught to shoot a 1911 with your thumb on the safety, it may have at some time pulled the web of your hand away from the grip safety just enough to keep the gun from firing. No problem with any of these EDC series Wilson guns: there ain’t any grip safety.

Wilson Combat SFT9: Nothing’s Perfect

If there was one perfect pistol, we’d all be using it, and the others would be in museums. My two complaints with the SFT9 are the forward grasping grooves on the slide (there’s just no good reason to get the hand that close to the business end, in my opinion, but the public seems to want it) and the optional 18-round magazine. It’s hard as hell to get that 18th round in there, and when it’s finally in place, there’s no flex left in the magazine spring, and if the slide is forward during a tactical reload, that mag with all 18 just doesn’t want to lock in. For me, no problem: I carry it with the 15-round mag in place and a torpedo in the launch tube, cocked and locked, with 17 rounds in the spare 18-around magazine, and all is well.

Wilson Combat SFT9 with two magazines
The Wilson Combat SFT9 comes with 15-round mags (top), 10-round, and 18-round (below and in the gun) optional. [Photo credit: Author]


Championships have already been won with Wilson Combat SFT9 pistols (Concealed Carry Pistol division, International Defensive Pistol Association) in the hands of Masters like Austin Proulx and Guy Joubert). The reason for the $3100 starting price tag is that’s the cost of a 1911, which shoots that accurately and smoothly and runs that reliably. More than a year, lots of carry time, and “buckets o’ bullets” later, I haven’t regretted purchasing mine.

Massad "Mas" Ayoob is a well respected and widely regarded SME in the firearm world. He has been a writer, editor, and law enforcement columnist for decades, and has published thousands of articles and dozens of books on firearms, self-defense, use of force, and related topics. Mas, a veteran police officer, was the first to earn the title of Five Gun Master in the International Defensive Pistol Association. He served nearly 20 years as chair of the Firearms Committee of the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers and is also a longtime veteran of the Advisory Bard of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. A court-recognized expert witness in shooting cases since 1979, Ayoob founded the Lethal Force Institute in 1981 and served as its director until 2009. He continues to instruct through Massad Ayoob Group, http://massadayoobgroup.com.

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