Colt 1911 M.E.U. (Early Version) - Western Arms

The U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit (M.E.U) is "a powerful, mobile force deployable from self-contained floating sea bases, uniquely equipped and forward-deployed to respond to any threat, protect any American or ally, or squash any menace at any place in the world, often within hours. With its complement of fully-integrated air and ground forces, working closely with its Navy brethren, the MEU is a powerful, expertly-trained, and superbly-equipped force that has proven itself time and again in recent years.", according their own website.

What's interesting, in the context of WA's new 1911 M.E.U., is that part of that unique equipment is a bespoke 1911 sidearm.

Nice replica of the MEU's uniquely modified sidearm.

Basically, the US Navy's armourers modify standard 1911s to 'combat accuratise' them (This website explains the mods pretty well) and there have been a number of variations on the theme over the years.

Western Arms have, recently, released the MEU in early and late model and the MAR(SOC) with the 'wafer' style grips. These releases were in response to what they describe as 'Explosive demand in Japan'.

In the Box

In its familiar grey, with white lettering, box, this early model MEU looks pretty much like most recent 1911s, except for its attractive Pachmayr replica grips.

In the box, the MEU looks fairly ordinary.

With the gun is the usual array of accessories; a 1911 bushing wrench, some BBs, an Allen key and the usual collection of paperwork.

First Impressions

The gun is descried by WA as black, but it is actually grey. Not the battleship grey of guns with the parkerised finish, but something between that and black. In some photos here it looks slightly blue, but this is an effect of the light and it does not look this way in reality.

It's not a fancy pistol. It's a weapon you give a Marine to go kill people.

This is the early model MEU 1911, so features a number of features unusual to this gun, described, thus, by WA :

The other notable differences between early and late model MEUs are the lack of cocking serrations to front of slide on this model, the ring, rather than skeletonised,hammer and standardish 1911 rear sights rather than the Novaks on the later guns.

WA's promotional shots feature Pachmayr logos on grips.

The grips are Pachmayr in appearance and feel, but clearly, between the publicity shots and production, Pachmayr complained as the production guns lack the Pachmayr medallions, shown on WA's website. However, the grips look and feel excellent and the metal inserts are common to the real steel Pachmayrs, not merely a weight gaining exercise.

Wilson Mags, Pachmayr grips, target trigger, high foresight.

All the parts you would normally expect to be metal (sights, trigger, slide lock, outer barrel, safeties and hammer) are and the frame and slide are the heavyweight ABS/Metal dust mix material seen on most WAs these days.

Overall, this gun has a modern, tactical look for a 1911, which is as you would expect.

Closer Look

If you are looking for a modern style, military 1911, then look no further than the MEU.

Unlike the Strayer Voigt race guns and Wilson Combat civilian models, the MEU is a no-nonsense, no-frills 1911, designed for use by soldiers in combat situations.

Skeletonised trigger, but smooth grip safety. Sights are black, without markings.

To this end it's quite plain and lacking in chrome. The chamber, barrel and bushing, for instance, are black, rather than silver and, on this gun, the rear site is a fixed notch in black.

Black chamber just states the round type.

Markings are few, but well rendered. On the left side of the slide are the words "MODEL 1911-A1"/"CAL .45", whilst the right side is bare.
The left side of the frame is marked "G.H.D" close to the mag release and with a "P" below the trigger guard.
The right side of the frame is marked "UNITED STATES PROPERTY" and "1911-A1 US ARMY" and the chamber is simply stamped with "45 ACP". There is a small ASGK mark over the right side grip an "55" on the trigger guard.

Rear cocking serrations only on early MEU.

Sadly, for airsofters, the Marines specifed Wilson mags. I am sure these are supremely reliable in operation in real steel form, but in WA airsoft form, they are a bugger to fill with gas... The baseplate is marked "WILSON COMBAT", which is upside down on the right hand side. Being an SCW2 model, the magazines are double stacking with plastic jaws. I have not had any great problems with these magazines (a couple failed to feed reliably for the first few cycles, but soon settled down), but some report ongoing feed issues on some guns.
The full size magazine holds 24 rounds.

Grips are Pachmayr replicas. Note target style trigger.

Controls such as the thumb safeties, grip safety and slide lock are painted to match the frame and the trigger is a 3 hole silver competition unit, fitted with a travel adjustment hex nut, accessible through a small hole in the face of the trigger, which features ridges for a secure grip.

Like all 1911s, the MEU fits the hand well.

A nice feature of the MEU for skirmishers is the inbuilt lanyard ring, attached to the base of the flat and grooved, rather than chequered, mainspring cover, at the rear of the grip, behind the mag well.

Black bushing and slightly extended barrelLanyard ring built in.

The rubbery Pachmayr replica grips lack any markings or medallions and have a strip of rubber that extends around the front face of the grip to join the two panels (Like Hogue finger grips, but chequered rather than grooved). They feel softer than the real steel Pachmayrs I have owned, but look good and feel comfortable. However, I doubt they will prove as long lasting as real Pachmayrs, so a trip to eBay might be worthwhile to get some real steel ones.

Shooting Impressions

The MEU is pretty much like any other recent SCW system 1911 to shoot. Accurate, reasonably hard kicking and fast cycling.

Click on image for bigger version in separate window.

Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the MEU produced a best 5 grouping of 3.5 CMs (1.4 inches).

The shots were grouped in the centre area of the target in 3, closely grouped, pairs.

Over 10 shots, the M.E.U. averaged 242 fps (using 134a gas and .2g Excel BBs) indoors (at 21C). This would equate to around 300fps with Abbey Ultra or Propane gas.

Shot      FPS
1 250.6
2 242.1
3 242.0
4 239.8
5 240.2
6 247.2
7 237.2
8 239.6
9 245.1
10 238.9

Trigger pull was 815g (29 Oz), which is a medium weight pull for a GBB.

Take Down

Take down of this gun will be familiar to anyone who has field stripped a 1911, real or airsoft.

Standard 1911 take down process.

With the magazine out, the slide should be moved back until the slide lock can be pushed out of the frame. The slide and barrel can then be slid off of the front of the frame.

The barrel bushing should be rotated 45 degrees anti-clockwise, it can then be removed. The recoil plug and spring must be removed from the barrel/slide and then the barrel and chamber can be drawn out through the front of the slide.


The MEU grew on me.

When I first received 11 WAs and a TM gun to review from Elite Airsoft this sank to the very bottom of my review list. It looked dull and had a Wilson mag.

However, once out of the box, its virtues began to become clear.

Modern, military style 1911 - Ideal for a modern US loadout.

The grips are nice (I like real Pachmayrs) and the hight front sight, dark grey/black colour scheme and general purposefulness makes this look and feel like the kind of 1911 that would serve a Marine well.

That WA have got that feeling over in an airsoft gun, speaks volumes for the appeal of the MEUs.

Weight : 900g (220g magazine)

Realism : ****
Quality : *****
Power : ****
Accuracy : ****

Real Steel link at World Guns

Excellent article on MEU 1911s

Buy this gun from Elite Airsoft.

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