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Pistol, Caliber .45, MEU(SOC)
MEU(SOC) pistol with SureFire weapon light, Gemtech lanyard, and Strider Gunner Grips
Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin  United States
Service history
Used by United States Marine Corps
Wars Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan
Production history
Designer Trained Weapons Training Battalion armorers[1] at the Rifle Team Equipment Shop[2]/USMC Precision Weapons Shop[3]
Designed 1986[4]
Weight 2.437 lb (1,105 g) empty, w/ magazine (FM 23–35, 1940)
Length 8.25 in (210 mm)[2]
Barrel length 5.03 in (127 mm)

Cartridge .45 ACP
Action Recoil-operated, closed bolt
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Muzzle velocity 830 ft/s[2] (244 m/s)
Effective range 70 meters [2] (maximum effective range)
Feed system 7 rounds (standard-capacity magazine)

The MEU(SOC) pistol, officially designated the M45 MEUSOC,[5] is a magazine-fed, recoil-operated, single-action, semiautomatic pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It is based on the original M1911 design by John Browning, and has been the standard-issue side arm for the Force Recon Element of the United States Marine Corps' Marine Expeditionary Units since 1985. Its National Stock Number is 1005-01-370-7353.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

In the late 1980s, USMC Colonel Robert Young laid out a series of specifications and improvements to make Browning's design ready for 21st century combat, many of which have been included in MEU(SOC) pistol designs.[6][7]

A Marine fires the MEU(SOC) pistol

In 2002, an article in American Handgunner stated that "Marine armorers from the Precision Weapons Section, MCBQ" are making 789 MEU (SOC) 1911's. The revised parts list included barrels, bushings, link pins, sear springs, ejectors, firing pin stops, mainspring housings and mainsprings, all from Nowlin Manufacturing.[8] Slides were ordered from Springfield Armory, with front sight pins, beavertail safeties and recoil spring guides from Ed Brown. Novak was contracted for rear sights, Wilson Combat provided extractors and mag release buttons, while King's Gun Works supplied ambidextrous thumb safeties.[8]

A Marine operator may shoot as many as 80,000 rounds from this pistol during a training-cycle and subsequent deployment.[9] However, it is more common for a Marine to return the pistol to the PWS at Quantico for a rebuild after 10,000 rounds have been fired.[10] A rebuild entails discarding almost all of the gun's parts except for the frame, which prior to 2003 was a U.S. Government frame last manufactured in 1945.[9] The frame is inspected and reused if it is still within military specifications.[9][10] There are frames in the USMC inventory that have had as many as 500,000 rounds fired through them.[9]

The Officer In Command of the Precision Weapons Shop in 2001, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ken Davis, stated that the M1911 is "the only pistol that can stand up to this use".[9]

However, as the U.S. Marine Corps began its process of hand selecting members from its Force Recon to be submitted to USSOCOM as Marine Corps Special Operations Command, Detachment One (MCSOCOM Det-1), the selection of a .45 ACP M1911A1-based pistol meant roughly 150 units would be needed, more quickly than the PWS could produce them, as PWS were already backlogged with producing DMRs, USMC SAM-Rs, and updating M40A1s to M40A3s, so DET-1 began the search for COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) surrogates to use.[11]

ICQB Pistol[edit | edit source]

Discovering that the Los Angeles Police Department was pleased with their special Kimber-made M1911 pistols, a single source request was issued to Kimber Manufacturing for a similarly built pistol, despite the imminent release of their TLE/RLII models.[11] Kimber shortly began producing a limited number of what would be later termed the Interim Close Quarters Battle pistol (ICQB). Maintaining the simple recoil assembly, 5-inch barrel (though using a stainless steel match grade barrel), and internal extractor, the ICQB is not much different from Browning's original design.[10]

The final units as issued to MCSOCOM Det-1 are the Kimber ICQBs with SureFire Integrated Military Pistol Light (IMPL), Dawson Precision rail, Gemtech TRL Tactical Retention Lanyards based upon the jury-rigged telephone cord versions, modified Safariland 6004 holsters, Simonich G-10 Gunner Grips manufactured by Simonich Knives and Strider Knives replaced the original Pachmayr rubber grips, and Wilson Combat's '47D' 8-round magazines.[9][11] Tritium Novak LoMount sights replaced the originals which were made in-house by the Marines.[9][11]

A source request was sent out to Springfield Armoury and the Springfield Operator, based on the FBI's TRP pistol was built.[12]

Replacement[edit | edit source]

Marine using a MEU(SOC) pistol in Iraq

Due to wear and tear of the MEU(SOC) pistols and increasing numbers of Marine personnel in Marine Force Recon and MARSOC, the U.S. Marines are looking commercially for replacements. Marine Corps Systems Command announced February 17, 2005, that it was going to purchase 150 Springfield Armory Professional Model pistols for use as MEU(SOC) pistols.[13] This is the same pistol used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation SWAT and Hostage Rescue Teams; however, it had previously been rejected for adoption as the ICQB. Despite the planned purchase of the commercial pistols, Marine Corps Systems Command has continued to solicit parts to build additional MEU(SOC) pistols.[14] In 2010, requirements were once more issued for an off-the-shelf system to replace the custom-built pistols. Three pistols were offered to the USMC as a replacement for current M45 Pistols. Colt offered a modified version of their O1980RG (Rail Gun) pistol, which is derived from their existing XSE line of 1911-style pistols with a desert sand-colored surface treatment and Novak night sights. Springfield Armory entered a variant of the full-sized Loaded MC Operator M1911A1 pistol with a military-standard 1913 rail, tritium night sights and finished with a two-tone black slide with an olive-drab green frame. The third entry from Karl Lippard Designs, a Colorado Springs-based arms maker, was called the Close Quarter Battle Pistol: an M1911A1-style pistol, built using S7 tool steel and a large number of proprietary components including accessory rail, grip safety, and sights.

On July 20, 2012, the Colt 1911 Rail Gun was selected and won a contract to initially deliver 4,000 pistols for MARSOC and MEU (SOC) forces.[15] The pistol was redesignated the M45A1 Close Quarter Battle Pistol (CQBP) and up to 12,000 will be delivered.[16] The Colt design is considered an upgrade of the previous pistol, not an entirely new design.[17]

Specifications[edit | edit source]

The original pistols were hand-selected standard government issued Colt M1911A1s that were gutted, deburred, and prepared for additional use by the USMC Precision Weapon Section (PWS) in Quantico, VA.[7] They were then assembled with after-market grip safeties, a rounded hammer, ambidextrous thumb safeties, lighter triggers made by Videcki, improved high-visibility sights, accurized match-grade barrels made by Bar-Sto, Pachmayr rubber grips, front cocking-serrations, and improved stainless steel magazines made by Wilson Combat.[1][2][7][11]

The trigger-pull weight is specified at between 4.5 and 5.0 pounds-force (20 and 22 newtons).[2]

The pistol's components are hand-fitted and are not interchangeable.[2] The last four digits of the weapon's serial number are stamped on the top of the barrel, on the right-side of slide assembly, inside of the beavertail grip safety, on each side of the ambidextrous thumb safety, and on the inside face of the mainspring housing group.[2]

The improved M45A1 CQBP features several changes to the original M1911A1 design. One feature is the dual recoil spring system that spreads out the recoil force of the .45 ACP round by lowering the peak force of the recoil pulse. It also has 3-dot tritium night sights, a 5 inch national match barrel, ambidextrous safety, picatinny rail, and a desert tan finish.[18]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Oliva, Mark (5 August 2002). "Some MEU's Still Carry Proven M1911 .45's". Stars and Stripes European and Pacific Edition. Stars and Stripes. http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/history/meu_1911.htm. Retrieved 4 March 2007. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 TM 00526A-24&P/2 U.S. MARINE CORPS TECHNICAL MANUAL ORGANIZATIONAL AND INTERMEDIATE MAINTENANCE MANUAL INCLUDING REPAIR PARTS LIST PISTOL, CALIBER .45, MEU(SOC). Washington, DC: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. 31 August 1994. p. 122. 
  3. The MEU .45: the 1911 soldiers on. Retrieved on September 19, 2008.
  4. Olive-drab.com's M1911 M1911A1 Pistol. Retrieved on September 19, 2008.
  5. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=df43476377acd40c0f409faa2ceffc9d&_cview=1&cck=1&au=&ck=
  6. Johnston, Gary Paul (2004). "One Good Pistol". pp. 62–67. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Clancy, Tom (1996). Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. Berkeley, California: Berkeley Trade. pp. 64, 79–80. ISBN 978-0-425-15454-0. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hopkins, Cameron (03/01/2002). "Semper FI 1911 - Industry Insider". http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BTT/is_200411/ai_82533214. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Rogers, Patrick A (1 May 2001). "Strong Men Armed: The Marine Corps 1st Force Reconnaissance Company Part III Section 2". p. 47. http://www.forcerecon.com/strongmenarmed3.htm. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Brown, R.E. (1 July 2004). "MEU 1911 .45: the Legend Lives in the Hands of Today's Marines". http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BTT/is_170_28/ai_n6040330/pg_2. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Rogers, Patrick A.(2003)"Marines New SOCOM Pistol", SWAT Magazine, December 2003, 52-57
  12. Campbell, Robert K. (2011). Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to the 1911. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-4402-1434-9. 
  13. Federal Business Opportuntities: SPECIAL NOTICE -- 10 -- MEU(SOC) 45 caliber pistols
  14. Federal Business Opportuntities: SOURCES SOUGHT -- 10 -- MEUSOC .45 PISTOL
  15. http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2011/01/marine-marsoc-pistol-45cal-012511w/
  16. Colt Defense LLC Announces Award of Marine Corps M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistol (CQBP) Contract - Colt press release, July 20, 2012
  17. Why the Marines adopted the M45 Colt 1911 - The Firearm Blog.com
  18. M45A1: A New Colt .45 for the 21st Century - Defensemedianetwork.com, May 26, 2013

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