Concealed Carry

Carrying an Expensive Handgun: Wilson Combat EDC X9

Wilson Combat EDC X9 pistol atop several boxes of ammunition

A common discussion among experienced handgunners with a safe full of handguns is the carry of an expensive handgun versus a more affordable, but utilitarian, pistol. As an example one shooter may have a Gold Cup in the safe but carries a Glock 19.

We all have safe queens we do not carry on a regular basis. Then there is the BBQ gun that we may carry when surrounded by friends. Many a blue steel stag-gripped Colt lies in the gun safe, while a Glock or SIG rides with us on our daily rounds. As long as the carry gun is reliable that seems OK, but I like to carry the most capable handgun I am able to master. There are many reasons folks carry an inexpensive handgun, and it isn’t all related to economy.

Wilson Combat EDC X9 pistol atop several boxes of ammunition
This is a handsome handgun that delivers excellent accuracy.

I hope you are not simply cheap. Most of the cheap firearms that malfunctioned during my training classes were purchased by shooters who could have afforded a better gun; they were just penny pinchers. I have seen a tired old Llama fire its last round in class and more than a few bargain basement revolvers lock up. When your life is on the line, I believe the investment should not be taken lightly.

One fear is that the police may take the handgun during the course of an investigation. In my experience, if the case is clear, the handgun is returned quickly—if it is taken at all. If you have a bad shooting on your hands, the loss of a handgun is the least of your concerns. Just the same, I do not think I would carry the Colt 1911 that grandfather carried up Hamburger Hill. When all things are considered I do not think that the difference between a $500 gun and a $1,000 is worth a thought.

As for myself, my carry guns include a SIG P220R .45, Colt Series 70 with stag grips, and custom 1911 .45 with original Bomar sights. When boon docking or hiking, I carry a Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum or Ruger SR1911 10mm. The 1911 with Bomar sights was built by a good friend and mentor now passed. I doubt he would want me to file it away for the children, although one will get it some day.

Wilson Combat EDC X9 in a brown leather holster
The pistol was carried in a Davis Leather Company Gunsite holster.

Reliability is the baseline, and these handguns have served well without a single malfunction during their service life. The Colt 1911 is practically an extension of my arm, and a very good handgun overall. This brings us to the subject of this report, and a handgun that gives one pause as to spending upwards of $3,000 or more on a handgun.

I recall my friend Trevor telling me he spent a months pay for a Colt 1911A1 in South Africa, and Lawrence of Arabia and his brother did much the same over 100 years ago. As a young man, that first Colt represented a considerable part of my life savings. But the Wilson Combat pistol represents a lot of work and sacrifice.

The Wilson Combat EDC X9 is a new handgun that has much to recommend. The pistol is an extraordinary offering and well worth its price. It would be different if there were anything to fault but there isn’t. The pistol is well turned out. The fit, finish and detail work, and lockup are excellent.

The EDC X9 is a 1911, but it is quite different from many other 1911 handguns. There is no grip safety or barrel bushing. The pistol is a 9mm handgun with a 14-round magazine. The fit of the barrel to the slide, and the slide to the frame, is excellent. The ramped barrel also gives the shooter a margin of safety.

Disassembled Wilson Combat EDC X9 pistol
The pistol disassembles easily with a minimum of parts.

The pistol features Wilson Combat battle sights, among the most advanced available. The front sight features a fiber optic insert. The controls, slide lock, magazine catch, and slide lock safety are crisp in operation. There is absolutely no slop in the operation of the safety.

The pistol is aggressively textured in the new X pattern. Since fewer shooters use a jackhammer than a computer these days, the grip treatment is ideal and offers excellent abrasion and adhesion when firing. The grip is more comfortable than most 1911 handguns and fits the hand better than any high-capacity handgun I am aware of.

The slide is forged steel and the frame aluminum. The pistol is chambered for America’s most popular caliber the 9mm Luger. The 9mm is a true high power cartridge with enough velocity to ensure bullet penetration and expansion. The 9mm doesn’t have the wound potential of the .45 ACP, but it is accurate and controllable. The 9mm is an affordable cartridge to purchase and even more economical to handload.

The pistol has a lower bore axis than most 1911 handguns, making it a joy to fire. There is simply little leverage for the muzzle to flip. Forward cocking serrations and an external extractor are modern touches. The pistol’s short take up trigger breaks at a very clean 3.0 pounds. I have never experienced a cleaner trigger.

Muzzle crown on a pistol
The muzzle crown is very well cut.

Among the two-dozen or so loadings I have tested in this remarkable pistol, the combination of a Hornady 124-grain XTP over enough Titegroup for 1,100 fps has proven useful and accurate. The pistol is accurate enough to confirm or deny certain assumptions concerning the 9mm Luger cartridge.

The heavy and slow 147-grain bullet may be accurate at long range, but at 25 yards, the 124-grain XTP is more than accurate enough for any chore and noticeably more accurate than the 115-grain bullet. With the most accurate loads, the pistol has printed several 1.5-inch, 25-yard groups, and a few 5-shot groups even smaller.

With quality ammunition, few loads have edged over the 2-inch mark. The Fiocchi 124-grain Extrema posted a 1.3-inch group at the last range session. Even the affordable CCI Blazer loads are quite accurate, at about 2.1 inches for a 25-yard group. That is exceptional.

The Hornady American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P has given excellent results and would be the carry load at present. The Wilson Combat sights, barrel, and trigger make for a great combination. This pistol is as highly developed a 1911 as we are likely to find. In combat drills, the grip frame and light weight make for a handgun that is fast from leather—I can recall no livelier handgun. Bill Wilson has been perfecting the 1911 for 40 years, and I have been testing many handguns over the same period. The pistol is at least as accurate as the SIG P210 but handles faster, is more compact, and makes for a viable defensive handgun.

If I owned the EDC X9 would I carry it? That is what the piece is for, and there is really nothing else quite like it. For those lucky enough to own such a handgun, carry it—and most of all, fire it often.

Do you carry an expensive gun or own a safe queen? Which model? Share your answers in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (34)

  1. I have the EDC X9, along with a couple more Wilson’s, a Baer, several Colt 1911’s, and many more pistols and revolvers.

    My current EDC is the EDC X9. Though I have several pistols that cost more; the features the EDC X9 offers make it the right choice for me.
    I’ll always carry the best gun that I can afford for the protection of my family and me. If not; what the hell am I saving them for?

    I get the feeling that many of y’all would be happier on a “cheap guns R us forum.”

  2. Some people say high end 1911’s aren’t worth the money, I couldn’t disagree more. Without going on a rant I’ll just say I own five Wilson Combat pistols, including the X9 and the X9S which I carry. I own a lot of nice quality firearms. When you buy cheap things that’s usually what you get. Bill Wilson has been building superb high end 1911’s since 1977 and is the oldest custom gun maker in the country. His pistol (gun) smiths are the most experienced and best in the business. I feel sorry for those of you who never have anything good to say about high quality custom made expensive firearms. Bill Wilson’s pistols will out shoot, out perform, out last the majority of the all the cheap pistols most people are always bragging about. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. If you haven’t experienced owning or shooting a custom hand built 1911 you are missing out on one of life’s little pleasures. I’m a gun guy, I own lots of guns, some quite expensive, some above average. All are of good quality and not cheap. Instead of bashing high end expensive firearms why don’t you treat yourself and buy one or two for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

  3. I know it isn’t as expressive as a Wilson, but I EDC my Colt King Cobra (new production). I’m a tow truck diver, and the muzzle has a decent scuff now from helping an old lady broken down on the side of the freeway. My company also owns a few junk yards that i work at as well. It was all well and good until I got soaked with battery acid one day and now my Colt has “character”. I’m actually pretty upset about that part, less so about the muzzle.

  4. Beautiful gun but the price is not worth it.You are paying for many things not really needed for self defence.As the bikers say Chrome won’t get you home and fancy paint won’t win the race.

  5. I own the WC EDC X9 and carry it when i am not dressed in my shop/gravel pit clothes. My G17 accompanies me in the grease & dirt. I love the X9, it is the nicest shooting pistol I own with it’s light trigger and awesome weight distribution. There are some things I don’t like but are easily changed. The first issue is the ambi safety. I am a righty and carry OWB with a Milt Sparks leather holster, it’s beautiful! Problem is that the safety is often in the fire position when I check it. My arm or some other object easily moves the outside safety lever. The rear battle site is hard to see in shadows or dark areas. The other issue is that the finish has worn off the slide, frame, slide stop and safety. These are minor issues and easily dealt with. As for the slide & frame,WC said to use cold blue solution. For now I’m keeping all areas protected with Lucas gun oil.
    The X9 is reliable, accurate & nice to shoot. I am always proud to carry it and will every chance I can.

  6. I also live in Florida and wear light but loose clothing year round. I have an M&P 9mm Shield and a Springfield RO Elite Champion .45, 1911, which has just a 4″ barrel and weighs 30 oz. I wear them appendix carry IWB. Both are comfortable to wear but I carry the 1911 more often because I can draw it quicker and shoot it just as well as the Shield, if not better. Gotta love those fiber optic sights.

  7. I’ve carried a G27 for a number of years as my EDC. Then a Kimber Ultra Carry II. I finally saved and bit the bullet (so to speak) and purchased a WC EDC X9. It is now my EDC and no safe queen. I have no reservations about taking it wherever I need to go. I’d rather rely upon a weapon I trust in a tactical situation and come out breathing. Yeah, I may have it taken for evidence, but better that than my life.

  8. Hell no! There ain’t no way I’m gonna carry my Clark Custom .45 Meltdown with the Damascus slide everyday. I simply can’t afford to replace it. I wish I could because the green laser is kinda wasted on it since I’m not carrying it daily. These Performance Center M&P Shields are just too good and easy to conceal and I can buy 8 of them for what the Clark cost. O.K. they won’t shoot that tight group at 50 ft. but what bad guy is going to try to rob you from that far away? You never know the outcome of an armed encounter and I don’t want some LEO adding my Favorite Pistol to his collection because I was in the wrong County when I had to Draw it. I’d rather risk the Shield than the Custom 1911 any day.

  9. With modern day CNC production equipment & processes, any assembly-line pistol costing over $800 is simply a ripoff…period.

    1. Wilson Combat, Ed Brown and Les Baer pistols are NOT assembly line guns. That is the difference. They are a breed apart.

    2. LMAO! You keep on thinking that, buddy. Proof that their marketing campaigns are working well.

      While I’ll admit that (some) of those brands that you mentioned are a couple levels of quality above your typical firearm, they’re ALL still assembly line guns…they just have a better process and attention to detail than most.

      Unless a gun is hand-chambered, fitted, lapped, polished, engraved, signed or stamped with a makers mark, and one of 100 or less made, it’s not worth what companies like Wilson Combat charge.

  10. I am a big 1911 fan and own 4 a colt a kimber a nighthawk grp and a rock island gi a2 hc. I dont carry none of them first of all they are big cumbersom and heavy. So no mater what some peoplea opinion is about carring an expensive wepon is there is many good guns out there that dont cost as mutch as some of my 1911s but are jist as good or better. For my dayli carry i use an s&w mp9 ots an awsome gun cost me 500 bucks and i have never had an issue with it or missfires even when dirty. I would rather carry my mp9 than my other guns and save the rest for the range where i can enjoy them.

    1. The great Fitz Fitzgerald wrote than many a man has lost his life for the sake of a few ounces of comfort. I am 60 years old and have carried the steel frame Government Model for 40 years. It isn’t about the weight but the holster and the proper choice. The Commander .45 is a reasonable choice.

  11. Okay, first, I am a Wilson fan. Own a Tactical Carry currently, but I never carry it. But I wouldn’t call her a “safe queen” since she goes to the range regularly. Why not carry it? Too big. Living in Florida, I don’t get to wear heavy cover garments often, so my “big” gun is a S&W Shield that I feel well protected with. But I don’t carry it because it’s cheap, nor would I shy away from a more expensive gun because of the price, but the EDC X9 is still a big gun compared to the Shield so I don’t have it on my list.

    That said, if I thought a Commander was an acceptable carry gun, I’d definitely have the EDC X9 on my very short list.

    1. Compared to my usual carry guns the EDC is quite light.
      The Commander is among the best all around defensive handguns ever made, in my opinion, in .45 caliber.

  12. I’ve been shooting for 61 years and have tried a lot of guns. I prefer to carry a gun that is reliable and easily concealed. Unless you plan a gun battle in a distance of 25 yards or more, I like my S&W Shield or my Springfield. Both are easy to carry in a belt or ankle holster. For bullseye competitive shooting, I always shot a S&W 6” K-38 with custom fitted grips. How’s that for dating myself?

    1. When special teams were first formed the 6 inch K 38 was a standard for many. Cannot fault it on accuracy.

  13. OF course this article is to sell this particular weapon, this is after all a for profit business site.
    As an informative venue it tells of a weapon of interest even tho I would never purchase new and only at a distress sale, advertising, like art in George Orwells writing. Is propaganda, and as when proaganda is read and heard. If you have a discerning mind, you take with a grain of salt.
    B’S tho on how easily ones weapon can be returned in most municipalities one either needs legal help or know the cops.
    A lawyer to prove legal ownership and your right of return will gladly take your $1000+ so you can say to his authority buddies”Please may have my gun back.”

    1. If this article is to sell this particular weapon, why hasn’t CTD ever carried it? ~Dave Dolbee

    2. Great article on a classic firearm. The 1911 will continue evolve but remain a style I prefer. I carry a Sig C3 and I live in Florida. As to getting your sidearm back after a shooting. In my county and surrounding counties if you are in the right and not charged with a crime there is no need to hold your firearm as there is no need for evidence. The state or county has no rights to your firearms and must return them at no cost to you and without the need for an attorney. I’m a retired LEO and have taken and returned many firearms in the course of my official duties. If I take your firearm I must give you a property receipt and safeguard your property returning it in the same condition I took it or I’m liable and must compensate you for damages. My .02.

    3. Thanks for reading and thanks for your reasoned and intelligent reply. Like yourself I value my life and carry the Commander .45 often. the SIG C3 is in a class all its own.

      Bob Campbell

  14. This article is a sales pitch for an overly priced firearm. I carry a Glock 36 daily. IMO it’s the smallest, lightest, thinnest option Glock offers in .45acp. To me, it was the brainchild of the later Glock 42 and 43 single stacks but in large bore. Many have overlooked this offering scoffing at the 6+1 payload which surmounts to a revolver BUT fast delivering and quick reloading.

    My other option, mostly for walking in the bush or that off occasion I’m open carrying I opt for my Colt Gold Cup 1911 which is the smoothest most accurate handgun I’ve ever owned.

  15. I went through several carry sidearms over the years. Got rid of them for various reasons, weight, size, unreliability. I settled on a G19. It’s little bigger than I was used to, but reliability is the only consideration. As for accuracy, I am more than happy. Will it shoot a tight group? You bet…but I tend to practice like I would be shooting. It still puts them in there. I feel like lots of fancy features and hours of hand finishing are good for revolvers and showing off at the range. I need something thay goes bang every time, and that’s about it.

  16. I am certain many folks have successfully protected themselves with any number of differently priced, types, models, and calibers of handguns. Unless there are real time statistics to show that more people survive using more expensive guns than less expensive ones, I am questioning the purpose of the article except to highlight this particular firearm.

  17. I’m sure this is a top notch gun but for retired individuals, This is cost prohibitive. I carry a Walther PPS which fits my lifestyle and wallet well. I wish we could all afford this but…

  18. If you can afford a $3000 carry gun and want to spend the money, feel free. However, beyond a certain price you reach a point of sharp diminishing returns in terms of actual performance.

    For example, with $3000 you could buy two good-condition H&K P7s with money left over for practice ammo. I can tell you from experience that a P7 will make clover-leaf groups with cheap target ammo shooting off-hand at typical self-defense distances.

    Does this pistol perform twice as well as a P7, or five times as well as a Glock 19?

    1. Adam,
      The P7 is an odd ball compared to this modern 9mm. First, the P7- and I own one- heats up in front of the trigger guard in less than 100 rounds during practice sessions. Second, it is a low capacity firearm which means much much less to me but it is what it is. the P7 isn’t in production and spare parts are problematical. The P7 is not rated for +P loads. The EDC will digest +P+ loads with great accuracy. If you make the case for two custom grade Browning High Power handguns over the EDC— I am with you!

  19. I had a Wilson Combat .45, beautiful gun black frame with a satin finished stainless slide, bright parts, ambi safeties, the works. Just under $4,000.00. Wouldn’t shoot Winchester T-Series 230gr or Federal HSTs 230gr reliably. Called their support and was told they were not on the preferred ammo list. Told them for the price that gun should shoot any commercially available SD ammo from a reputable manufacturer, and I want mine to shoot those two. Sent the gun back to them and they put a weaker spring in it which then caused continuous slide slam on the frame. Then I noticed that they had ground down the feed ramp some, but didn’t tell me about it. So I bought a stock spring from them, installed it, and my ammo ran fine. Logically they must have put the weaker spring in on purpose to eventually damage the gun because they don’t like people using ammo they don’t approve (i.e. sell), and since there’s no warranty, I would’ve been screwed. I’ve heard of people with other problems with their guns on the forums, too.

    Bottom line-beautiful guns, but I wouldn’t trust my life with one. A nice cheap PC Shield, with an aftermarket Apex trigger kit and an aftermarket guide rod/springs kit and I’ve got a PORTED accurate, VERY RELIABLE WITH THE AMMO I USE gun. And saved thousands.

    Oh and about the police giving your gun right back after a “good” shooting? Never gonna happen, the gun is evidence and will be held for years until all criminal and civil issues have been settled.

    1. There is no good reason for the police/prosecutors to keep the gun for long periods because they don’t do it to themselves. In an officer involved shooting, the officer’s gun is taken into evidence. It is then taken to the lab where it is shot and the bullet and cartridge case is then placed into evidence and kept. The gun then goes to the department armorer to inspect to make sure it is within factory spec, no broken or modified parts which might make it “dangerous”. It is then returned to the officer for duty. This occurs whether it’s a department issue OR a personally owned gun that the officer is carrying. And, this usually all happens within 3 days to a week.

  20. I carry my most reliable, concealable pistol—in my case that is a Taurus revolver in 357 magnum. I am almost 70 years old, and I don’t “collect” anything I don’t use. I bought a Ruger American pistol for carry, but I found that I could not trust it, and went back to my 357 revolver.

  21. Hate to say this, but a good gun stays a good gun. A bit over 45 years ago i paid too much for a pistol, but even with the scratches and wear of serious use for that long it still looks good and always works. Yes, it is a member of the 1911 family and came from Colt– brand new– but to call this EDC X9 a member of the 1911 family is like calling a Ballester Molina a 1911 when it is actually something kind of like a 1911 but not quite up to that standard.

    It may be a great little gun, but it is NOT a 1911 family gun.

  22. I carry a Rock Island instead of a high-end gun as my personal defensive weapon.

    If I ever have to use it for its primary purpose it will be seized and kept in a police evidence locker until the investigation is completed. There are many stories of firearms returned to owners in very poor condition.

    Why would I risk that with a $2K gun? Instead I have a Rock Island on my hip and another just like it at home as a backup. Together they both cost less than the Wilson Combat EDC.

  23. I carry a Glock 29 10MM, not the most expensive but certainly not the cheapest handgun on the market. It is heavier than most people would prefer, but as a Marine Vietnam vet I can appreciate the value in making sure any aggressor is rapidly and efficiently nullified in case they have help. I also purchased a Taurus Millennium 9MM for my wife, it is lightweight holds 12 rounds is very accurate at 25 yards and after several hundred rounds has proven to be as reliable as any gun costing two or three times as much. I own a SCCY 9MM which I carry as a backup in an ankle carry position and again it is not an expensive gun but has proven very reliable. The closest thing to a “Safe Queen” that I own is a Ruger P90 in 45 Caliber that stays in a table top safe next to my bed and only sees action occasionally at the range to keep it loosened up should it be necessary to break it out when things go bump in the night. It is possible to buy a gun that is extremely reliable and dependable for not a lot of money and for those who feel that you must break the bank on that gun or you will most certainly die I can only respond by saying the cost of a gun doesn’t necessarily equate to the value of the gun and anything built with quality parts by skilled people will when properly maintained prove just as reliable whether it costs $200.00 or $2000.00… Many times you are only paying for a name and a name won’t save your life.

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