Wilson Combat 47D vs. Elite Tactical Magazine

The Wilson Combat 47D magazine has been the gold standard of 1911 magazines for as long as I can remember. When I bought my first 1911, everyone told me “ditch the factory mags and get some Wilsons” – which I did. They 47D has a great reputation for reliability and durability, and is nearly universally recommended for 1911s. So when Wilson introduced their Elite Tactical Magazine, I was left scratching my head a bit – why improve on a product that’s practically the industry standard for 1911 mags? Why should someone spend the additional 4 bucks to get the ETM mag instead of the 47D?

47D (left) & ETM (right)
47D (left) & ETM (right)

At the 10-8 1911 Armorer’s class, I asked the 10-8 guys about that, and why they’d recommend the Wilson Combat Elite Tactical Magazine over the 47D. Hilton was kind enough to break it down into a few different areas. Some of them are technical, but I’m really good at translating James May into Jeremy Clarkson.

  • Longer magazine body – the magazine tube on the ETM magazine is longer than the tube on the 47D by about an 1/8th of an inch. That additional length apparently makes the magazine more reliable when loaded with 8 rounds.
  • Better stock basepad – The ETM’s basepad is flared in addition to having the over-insertion stop on the front. Having personally seen some 47D magazines inserted too deep in guns, the additional benefit of the flared basepad is nice.
  • Moving the witness cuts to the back – on the 47D, the witness cuts are almost directly in the middle of the magazine. This weakens the magazine structure, making it more prone to flex than the Elite Tactical Magazine. On the ETM, the cuts are closer to the back of the mag, giving it a little bit of extra strength.

There are a few other things that I’ve noticed as well; for USPSA shooters, the ETM seats on a loaded chamber/in battery reload a lot easier than the 47D magazine. I’ve always had problems getting 47Ds to seat all the way with the slide forward unless I “hulk smash” my reloads. The ETM seats quite nicely without having to really pound it in using main force. Another nice touch on the Elite Tactical Magazine is the numbering on the witness holes. Counting to 8 is hard sometimes, so for us neanderthals Wilson Combat was kind enough to put numbers on the ETM so I know when I’m at 8 rounds. It may seem silly, but for those of us that have stood around for a good five minutes trying to put a ninth round in our eight round mags, it’s appreciated.

So the final verdict is pretty straightforward – if you’re looking for some new 1911 magazines, give the new Elite Tactical Magazine from Wilson Combat a look. Brownells even has them available in packs of 3! However, if you have a solid stock of 47D magazines already, there’s no need to throw them in the trash and upgrade to the Elite Tactical Magazine. While I’d recommend replacing your 47Ds as they wear out with ETMs, the 47D is still one of the best magazines on the market. It just has a little in house competition now.