Link to our Colt MARSOC M45A1 Review Part 1 and 2 to read about the M45A1 USMC 1911s accuracy and features
Since the news hit that Colt has won the contract to supply the USMC with the new 1911 pistol for MARSOC a lot of people have had a lot of questions regarding the rail gun. The pistol has been out since 09 and the only cosmetic difference between the USMC contract gun is the FDE finish, the Novak night sights and a lanyard loop and the size and the M45A1 is a true picatinny rail along with a dual recoil spring system on the USMC gun. The rail gun is stainless steel, frame and slide. The models with a dark finish are SS as well but with the extra coated finish. There are a few nice touches on the rail gun that colt does not advertise for some reason, so I will break it down for you.
The rail gun comes with colt’s National match barrel. The barrel is slightly over sized at the muzzle end for a tighter fit for the barrel bushing and then slightly relieved. The slide has been dehorned for better handling and carry. Under the trigger guard is relieved for a higher grip and the front of the trigger guard is milled flat for those who like to put a finger in that spot. The pistol comes standard with Novak low mount combat sights and a Smith and Alexander upswept beaver tail grip safety. The rail gun I own came with the excellent STI ambi safety ( which has always been my personal favorite) but now comes with what may be the wilson combat ambi safety. The barrel and throat and chamber have all the normal upgrades that most 1911 buyers have a gunsmith do. This is a lot of upgrades on a pistol that is not advertised as being semi-custom, but they are there despite Colt not talking about it. You can confirm this all by reading some of the recent gun rag articles on the rail gun if you do not want to take my word for it.
The rail gun submitted for the new Marine special ops pistol has drawn a lot of attention lately from 1911 hater and lovers alike. The 1911 was tested to destruction in some cases and pictures have leaked out showing some cracking. The rest of the story is not widely out at this point and the net being what it is, things have been taken out of context. The specs on testing show freezing the colt to 25 below for hours then heating to 100 degree then shooting and scraping ice off with knives. This is pretty harsh testing considering no service side arm would have anything like this happen or be shot that much. But to try to understand what happens when a rail gun is used hard and to soothe the current rail gun owners frazzled nerves I decided to do a 4,000 round test of my own over the weekend. My rail gun already had 10,000 rounds through it before I started the testing and I had an extra barrel ready to install anyway along with all the springs etc. So I decided I would use up whatever it had left to see what happened. I stopped at over 14,000 rounds through the gun when the USMC stopped at around 12,000.
I started off early in the morning and started shooting and loading mags as soon as they all run dry. I soon found out that I needed help with that so a friend got stuck loading mags for me to keep up the rate of fire and save time. With such a high rate of constant fire, it did not take long for me to burn myself on the gun. At times the gun got so hot to hold I had to place it in front of a large shop fan while reloading magazines
The gun would get so hot even the rear sight would be too hot to touch.
I did lube the gun every 300 rounds and I took the gun apart and wiped it off with a cotton towel. I did lube but I used no solvent or brush. This gave it a little time to cool down so I could hold it. By the time I had fired 2,000 rounds I had a few burns, blisters, and cuts myself. The web of my right hand is raw and my thumbs just plain hurt from loading. I am here to tell you–shooting this much non-stop is hard work. After a while I stopped trying to use training drills or shoot for group. I was so tired I just did not care. It truly is hard work and my ears still ring even with plugs in. The rear and front sight’s white dots became black from powder fouling covering them and my hands became filthy from the crud of so many fired rounds.
In all of this shooting I had three malfunctions. And I can tell you with 100 percent accuracy that it was mag related because it was the same mag, The culprit was a weak spring in a wilson combat 10 round magazine. Once I took it out of rotation I did not have another problem. The only other problem (other than burning myself) was the grip screws would loosen up. I expected this since i have seen it before and have never loctited them. I normally do not approach this amount of shooting in one setting so I live with re tightening the grip screws once a year when I think about it.
After I finished up I took a few pictures of the gun. These are pictures of the rail gun after the last 1,000 rounds shot through it.
As you can see in the picture, the surefire x300 is so coated I could not see the light when I tried it. I thought the batteries died or the light took too much abuse until I wiped it off and tested it again. The light never got loose and helped tame the recoil slightly. I do not find .45 ACP hard kicking, but after that many rounds, it starts to wear on you.
Eventually the 1911 was so dirty, nothing on it was clean to the touch. Wiping it off every 1000 rounds helped but it seemed like I was still not able to keep up with it. Slip2000 showed itself to be truly excellent oil with a little GM grease added around the barrel link for when it got hot enough to bake off the light oil.
With the exception of the one wilson 10 round mag, all of the mags worked perfect. I only used colt factory 8 round mags and wilson combat 8-7 and 10 round mags along with 5 shooting star mags. The shooting star mags worked fine much to my surprise for they have ever been a source of frustration for me in the past despite their rep. I have 5 of the wilson 10 rounders and all but the one worked perfect.
I did not do any accuracy testing after the fact because to be honest, I was tired and do not think I had the ability to shoot a decent group even if the gun could. Sorry about that, but you are free to try it at home with your 1911.
I took the gun apart and looked it over with a magnifying glass I used to use to inspect diamonds at a Pawn shop and could find no crack or problems. The gun was a lot looser than it was the day before, but is fine. It is not so loose to make me worry or even care and I have 1911s looser than it is now that shoot better than I could hope for. I tried to take a picture showing the inside but they are too blurry owing to my 89 dollar camera not having a setting for super close up.
Above is a picture of my improvised target stand to keep from ruining my normal stuff. It is completely eaten away from the amount of rounds through it. All 230 grain ball ammo.
Here is a target I used for the last 500 rounds. you can tell how tired I was by looking at the shots all over the target. He was dead already so I stopped caring. Getting those last rounds fired was a act akin to running through hell with gasoline underwear on.
For those of you with a rail gun or thinking of buying one, do not let the out of context pictures of cracked slides make you worry. I now have over 14,000 rounds total through my Colt and it is still working just like Colt meant it to. I do not advise abusing your personal 1911s to the point that I did. I some times part-time gunsmith 1911s locally and have enough Colt parts to build two 1911s except for stripped frames and slides so I can do this with little worry. I have already replaced the barrel and springs so it is back to normal and I can go back to CCWing it.
It was a tough day. I am just glad I do not have to clean up after myself!!