Below is a detailed background story on the 1911 MEU written by R.E Brown for “American Handgunner” in 2004
“This pistol is the same one some friend/acquaintance/annoyance has probably told you he knows most certainly, positively, and absolutely does not exist–a current issue US military single stack 1911.45 ACP automatic pistol. But it does exist. The Marines issue a 45 automatic to their MEU(SOC) personnel.
The Marine Corps Expeditionary Unit (The MEU) is an expeditionary intervention force capable of combat operations in virtually any environment. Each MEU is deployed aboard Navy ships as part of the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and may be a member of a carrier task force. A MEU normally consists of a Battalion Landing Team. the Ground Combat Element (reinforced battalion), a composite aircraft squadron (the Air Combat Element) and a service support group (the Combat Service Support Element). This unit comprises approximately 2,100 Marine force projection personnel. We are talking about the tip of one of America’s swords.
The involved 6-month pre-deployment training process for each MEU culminates in a formal “special operations capable” (SOC) evaluation and qualification test prior to its 6-month sea deployment. Scenarios for special operations capable Marines include, but are not limited to: In-Extremis Hostage Recovery, Seizure/Recovery of Offshore Energy Facilities. Specialized Demolition Operations, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, Seizure/Recovery of Selected Personnel or Material, Counter Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Visit, Board. Search and Seizure of Vessels. Not simple missions and not for those being faint of heart or less than highly motivated, well trained, well equipped and well-lead. But hey, they’re Marines.
The MEU(SOC) 1911 .45 Auto is the pistol these especially qualified SOC Marines carry. Why? Well, the official answer goes like, “The M1911A1 was chosen for this role … because of its inherent reliability and lethality …”
As envisioned in the mid 1980s, the intent of the pistol was to provide direct action platoons in the MEU Reconnaissauce company a secondary or backup weapon possessing more “knockdown” power than the M9 Beretta 9mm, and which was more accurate than the standard issue, and fairly old, 1911. The solution was to take the existing stocks of 1911s and armory-upgrade them to do the job.
Each MEU(SOC) 1911 .45 Automatic pistol is hand-built by specially trained armorers in the Precision Weapons Section, Quantico, Virginia. Essentially, each of these pistols is a custom-built, combat grade, fixed sight .45 automatic–and “that guy” said it didn’t happen anymore. The frames for the MEU(SOC) pistols are taken from the existing stocks of retired Marine 1911 pistols. The slides, and all the other parts, are a different matter. The Marines procure a more durable “hard” commercial slide as well as everything else from current manufacturers via open purchase or military contract. The beavertail grip safety, grips, hammers and triggers, etc. are quality after market items.
Although the specific parts and the manufactures of those parts have changed over the years (resulting in the pistol evolving slightly), the armorers know what works, and what doesn’t.
While the specific parts of the pistols may have changed slightly since the fist pistols were built, the overall configuration of the pistol has basically remained the same:
* Marine flame
* Hard slides with cocking serrations
* A fixed rear sight and stepped front sight, bath black
* Match grade barrel and bushing, fitted
* Competition ambidextrous thumb safety
* Wide beavertail grip safety
* Wraparound rubber grips
* Competition lightweight trigger
* Competition commander-style hammer
* Match grade sear and disconnector
* High quality small parts
* All parts hand fitted to frame and slide
* Parkerized finish
Some of you may be thinking, “That’s really not a lot of custom work. Why didn’t they do this, or do that, or add this to the pistol?” The list is, simply put, all the Marines feel they need. As one seasoned senior enlisted told me, “It’s not a fancy pistol. It’s a weapon you give a Marine to go kill people.”
Aside from safety and reliability, each pistol must fire a 4″ X 4″ group at 25 yards. The Corps decided it was the largest group they would accept from a pistol of this grade. While not what many might think is gilt-edged accuracy, it is certainly more than adequate. At 25 yards, the front sight on the pistol takes up approximately a 4″ swath on the chest of a target. So, if you can hold that group–and these Marines are trained to do so–its plenty good enough for the way these pistols are employed.
The newer pistol has Novak sights, an Ed Brown Memory Groove grip safety and a Wilson Combat barrel. The older pistol has a BARSTO barrel, a Wilson Combat grip safety and high profile fixed sights that you might not readily recognize. The older pistol’s sights are a Marine armory special. They include a standard Millett front and an “in-house” Marine-made rear. The rear sight is high, has anti-glare serrations on the slightly undercut top half and an adjustment/lock-down screw in the base of the sight notch. Having looked through these sights several times, it’s my opinion these Marine sights are simple, easy to acquire and quite effective.
Ammo selection is simple for deployment. It is code DODIC A475, by TZZ, Winchester, and other manufactures. And, to go along with that amino, the magazines are Wilson Combat 8-round stainless steel, the recoil springs are rated at 20 pounds and the recoil spring guides are fitted with Shock-Buff recoil buffers.
You should keep in mind the MEU(SOC) 1911 is NOT a primary weapon. The recon Marine who is issued one of these pistols has an M-4A1 carbine as a primary weapon. The 1911 is a secondary weapon and when/if the situation dictated, the Marine would transition to the pistol.
How long does one of these pistols stay in the field? The ideal time of use is two MEU(SOC) deployments (including work-ups), which would equate to approximately 30,000 rounds fired. However, the average use is about 8,000 to 10,000 rounds between rebuilds. As durable as the old 1911 might be, it cannot be said these pistols are indestructible.
Anything can be broken–which is what the armorers hinted at–but overall there seems to be only a few parts and operational items needing attention on what might be considered a regular basis. The most replaced part on these pistols is the ambidextrous safety. The part does not usually break; most often it loosens at the connection point between the two halves becomes sloppy. This does not necessarily seem to be the fault of the part, but may in fact be due to the method of training. During training, the user is required to “safe” the weapon many times during drills. Also, the sear and disconnector occasionally need work, and this may be a result of the same intense training.
So far, the Marine Corps has experienced exceptional success with the MEU(SOC) 1911s. Since the program started, there have been approximately 2,000 of these pistols built/refurbished. There are currently 500 pistols in the fleet and the total requirement has now risen to approximately 1,100 pistols. And, indeed, at least the frames are getting old. Are they serviceable? Absolutely–every time they leave the armory. But are they wearing out? Indeed.
Many of you may have or know of a 1911 built in 1913 still working great with no problems. But I doubt many 1911s have experienced steady use with the Marine Corps for the past 50 years and have not suffered accordingly. While it is unquestionable the MEU(SOC) pistols still perform, they are now reaching a point in their lifecycle where cracked frames and other true “failures” occur. Further, this program is not cheap for the Corps, as any of you who have priced custom-built 1911s will readily understand. So the loss of a MEU(SOC) pistol is a bit of a setback to the Corps and the taxpayer, and it does occasionally happen.
There is presently an effort to improve on this pistol, which includes the addition of a rail on the receiver. Concurrently pursuant to that goal, there is a selection program underway at this time to replace the existing pistol with a commercial gun, factory-built to the new specifications. In the meantime, these pistols are in service with the Corps all over the world, in all kinds of environments, day and night, in cold rain or intense shine. Just like the Marine who carries it.
A very special thanks to Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, VA, IMEP; Camp Pendleton, CA, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company and the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company Armory. Camp Pendleton, CA.”
And now the WE 1911 MEU(SOC)
The WE 1911 MEU is a full metal construction. It has many nice details and is a very solid construction. It is very clear WE put a lot of effort into making this replica a very fine weapon. The most obvious feature on this replica is that it is painted in a tan* colour. It is only the slide and the lower frame that is in tan colour, the rest of the parts is in black except the trigger that is silver coloured. The paint job is very nice and the paint seems strong as well. This is quite unique and it does make the gun stick out from the crowd. The gun has engraved markings on the side of the rail, “Professional CAL.45” on the left side and “U.S Marine MEU SOC” together with the Marine Corps logo on the right side.
The engravings are crisp and clear. On the lower frame you find a small “WE” logo on the trigger guard and “Made in Taiwan WETTI AWSS” in the right side of the lower frame. If you have sharp eyes you can find yet another engraving and that is on the rear sight. It says “Novak’s Pat.######” The number is very hard to see but they are there. The lower frame features an integrated 20mm standard Picatinny rail for attachment of lights or lasers. The trigger replicates the Wilson Combat 3 hole custom trigger. The grip features a very nice rubberized diamond patterned non slip texture. The rubberized grip even goes around on the front of the grip.
A very nice touch is the Marine Corps logo in a copper finish on both sides of the grip. The hammer is a match grade skeleton hammer that replicated the Chip McCormick Easy Fit Hammer. The grip safety replicates a Wilson Combat grip safety. The magazine is a single stack magazine made mostly of metal. The only plastic parts on the magazine are the top and bottom. The loading of the magazine is made very simple. Just compress the magazine spring and pour the BB’s thru a hole in the front of the magazine. (*available in black finish as well)
External build and finish
The finish of the gun leaves absolutely nothing more to wish for. It is absolutely top notch. Materials used seem to be of a good quality and the assembly is also very good. This particular model is painted instead of anodized and the paint job is very good. Details on the gun are nice and sharp. So on the external finish there is absolutely no complaints.
Cocking the gun gives you a very solid feeling with a nice metallic sound. Even if you choose to pull the hammer by hand it has a nice tone to it. The safety kicks in with a crisp snap no matter if you use the left or right side lever. The magazine sits fairly tight in the grip without any very disturbing wobble .The gun gives you a very robust and solid feeling.
However, there are one thing that definitely could be made better and that is the fit between the slide and frame. The slide can be lifted up from the frame about 1 mm at the front. This then gives you less precision and perhaps in the long run more wear on the slide. It is not a very big issue but perhaps something that should be looked at. The sights on the 1911 MEU are Non adjustable like the real 1911 MEU.
Internal build, finish and takedown
. The take down of the gun is really simple and you have to remove the slide to adjust the HopUp. To field strip the pistol you go like this. 1. Remove the magazine. 2. Slide the slide to the position just before it is locked in the rear position. 3. Push the slide lock out from the frame from the right side. 4. When the slide lock is removed just push the slide forward and it comes off the frame. Now you can access all the areas that might need maintenance.
When it comes to the finish of the internal parts there is not much more to wish for. All parts do their job and they look as good as needed.
Operating the gun is very simple and a pure joy. Everything is very smooth and works flawlessly. The WE 1911 MEU is featuring the same operations as a real 1911. This means that the grip safety needs to be pressed before the trigger can be pulled. The hammer has to be pulled before the safety can be engaged. This makes sense since it is an Single Action pistol. Single action means that the trigger only can be used to release the hammer while on a Double Action pistol the trigger also can be used to pull the hammer.
Another feature is that if you cock the pistol while having the grip safety pressed and the trigger pulled the hammer won’t fall. The hammer stays pulled even when the slide is released. You have to release the trigger and pull it again before the hammer will fall. As described before the magazine is really easy to put BB’s in. Just compress the magazine spring and pour BB’s thru a small hole in the front of the magazine.
Accuracy: 10 bbs whithin 10cm at 15 meters
Overall performance: Very good and stable
Making a conclusion is quite easy. As I was writing this review and handled the gun I got more and more fond of it. It has a fantastic feel and solid performance. The weight is good and the size is perfect. The quality and finish is absolutely amazing and it gives you a very robust feeling. If you are looking for a good 1911 replica to complete your outfit or a good CQB room cleaner pistol or a good secondary or even a wall hanger this gun is up for it. If you buy a WE 1911 MEU you wont be disappointed. This is a true Kick Ass Product
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