Colt 1911 MEU - Tokyo Marui
Whilst Tokyo Marui’s 1911A1 is undoubtedly one of the best GBBs currently around, many airsofters hankered after a more modern style 1911 to go with their ubiquitous Armalites, so there was a degree of excitement amongst many when Marui announced they were releasing a version of the 1911 deployed with the US Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Based on stock 1911A1s, but extensively refurbished, modified and match tuned for accuracy and performance, the MEU provides excellent stopping power for Special Forces who feel the H&K MK23 is too big and the standard 9mm sidearms too ineffectual.
American Handgunner magazine summarised the MEU’s transformation from GI sidearm to precision Special Forces tool thus;
“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. 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…. Aside from safety and reliability, each pistol must fire a 4" X 4" group at 25 yards”
In the Box
The Tokyo Marui MEU comes packaged very like their 1911A1, with a desert pattern ‘digital’ camouflage cloth insert on which the MEU and magazine rest.
The box lid, too, features this camouflage design along with lots of technical detail (in English) on the real MEU, although there are few images of the 1911 itself on the packaging.
Whilst it lacks the freshness that the original 1911A1 packaging had, it’s good to see that Tokyo Marui are maintaining the standard of presentation.
As well as the gun and magazine, there's a small box, masquerading as .45 ammo, in which a red barrel plug, a plastic bushing wrench and a small bag of .2g BBs can be found.
Whilst Western Arms produced an early and late version MEU, Tokyo Marui’s is much closer in specification to the Late version, featuring sloping forward cocking serrations, a skeletonised hammer, 3 hole competition trigger, ‘rubberised’ grips (aping the original’s Pachmayr grips) and Novak combat sights.
The gun looks well made and excellently finished and has a decent, if not remarkable heft to it. The look is modern and, at first sight, the Pachmayr-like grips look good.
All the safeties, the hammer, rear sight, trigger, magazine release, bushing and plug and the slide lock are metal, as is the mainspring housing.
The gun features a dark grey (it’s not really black) finish all over (except for the magazine and trigger) which is cool, and realistic, but rather dull – This is no show pony. As with the 1911A1, there are no seam marks visible on the MEU, but at over £100 that is to be expected, in my view.
Markings are sharp and appropriately deep, but not very exciting or accurate.
The slide features the wording “PROFESSIONAL CAL .45” on the side, whilst the chamber is marked “NW7125 .45 ACP”.
The right side of the frame is marked “ASGK TOKYO MARUI CUSTOM”/”MADE IN JAPAN”/”CRG 1368”, just above the trigger, with “CAL .45” on the right side dust cover.
The Pachmayr look-alike grips, which wrap around the front of the grip and feature heavy chequering on all 3 surfaces, certainly look cool and features some Tokyo Marui “Pro-grip” markings and a gold medallion in a similar style to genuine Pachmayrs, but are disappointingly plasticky in feel and nothing like real Pachmayr Signature grips – a quick look around on eBay will almost certainly yield some real ones at a good price and will be a good investment. At the base of the grip there is a simple lanyard loop.
The vertically grooved mainspring housing is flat, rather than curved like the 1911A1’s.
The Novak sights on the TM MEU are interesting as they feature Novak trademarks (as does the box), suggesting Novak have licensed the trademarks. Like the real MEU, they are lacking in white dots and so a little hard to see against dark backgrounds. The high front sight is dovetailed in and easy to see even over a silencer, which I’m sure many owners will soon fit, I think TM missed a trick by not including a threaded barrel.
The barrel is a simple black tube affair (like a stock 1911A1’s) secured with a very tight fitting bush on the front of the slide. Fortunately, Tokyo Marui include a plastic bush spanner in the small box, marked as .45 ACP ball ammo, along with a small bag of BBs and a red barrel plug.
The Buffer on the brushed silver magazine thankfully doesn’t restrict gassing (as it does on some KSC and WA guns) and the magazine holds the same 27 BBs as the 1911A1 in a double stack. I found no trouble emptying a full magazine on a fill of propane, but I got few more shots from it at a brisk 10C or so.
The ambidextrous, extended thumb safeties would seem good for left handers, but somehow don’t feel that well placed. I can’t really explain why, but I never found the safeties on this gun easy to use with either hand, despite having tested many 1911 based airsoft pistols over the years.
The hammer is skeletonised for lightness and features some effective serrations on the spur to make cocking a simple task.
Below that there is an extended beaver-tail grip safety, much longer in its rearward extension than the standard 1911A1’s.
The silver, 3 hole competition style trigger features vertical grooves to provide a secure grip and delivers a smooth and precise pull. There is also a small hole in the trigger’s face, allowing for overtravel adjustment and the parts diagram suggests this works.
The TM MEU proved very accurate, even though the dark target centre was hard to see unmarked sights against in the gloom of my garage ‘range’.
At 5m, the MEU put all 6 .25g BBs into the centre of the target, with the best 5 in a cluster just 22mm in diameter. The best 4 were closer than 20mm, which puts the MEU into the best 5 results I’ve ever achieved and this was done with just one magazine of familiarisation and fps testing.
Accuracy at 70ft or so was, as expected of Tokyo Marui, good and consistent, with a postcard sized target being easy to hit time after time and BBs taking a flat trajectory without me needing to touch the familiar wheel adjusted hop-up.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
Talking of FPS the power was good too.
Over 10 shots, the TM MEU averaged 268 fps (using propane gas) indoors (at 11C), which is likely to equate to around 300-310fps at 20C.
This suggests that the latest TM gas system is more efficient than of old at cold temperatures, something skirmishers in more northerly locations will appreciate.
The kick is enough to be felt, subjectively better than the Marui SIG P226 or a Hi-Capa, although as seems the case with most TM guns, it’s no match for a Western Arms 1911 in this respect. The positive side of this, of course, is that less is demanded of the shooter to ensure the barrel stays on target.
Trigger pull was 520g (18 Oz), which is a light weight pull for a GBB, although not as light as the TM 1911A1 I tested.
Take down is typical Colt 1911 and just like TM's very similar 1911A1 model.
After removing the magazine, move to the front of the slide and depress the chequered button, under the barrel. With this depressed, uopen the bushing with a quarter turn anti-clockwise.
Slide the slide back until it locks. Then remove the slide lock (push it through the frame from the side opposite where it locks the slide) and let the slide and inner barrel slide off the frame. Once off, the barrel/chamber assembly can be removed from the front of the slide.
I am an unashamed fan of Tokyo Marui’s 1911A1 and was expecting to find the MEU a little disappointing in comparison, if only by failing to better it, but the MEU’s performance left me very impressed and the quality is on a par with the 1911A1, without doubt.
Many will find the more modern design more in tune with their loadouts and, as with the seemingly never ending Western Arms variants, I can see many buying the MEU to go with their 1911A1 (and maybe the pocket Detonics too).
Whilst the (currently unavailable) Western Arms MEUs are undoubtedly more accurate replicas of the MEU 1911s, the Tokyo Marui MEU is a close enough replica to appeal to all but the most purist (and the aftermarket will undoubtedly provide more accurate kits) and it delivers the performance and reliability that one has come to associate with Tokyo Marui’s latest GBBs.
The fact that the MEU is selling for £110 in most UK retailers, whereas stocks of the Marui 1911A1 are usually around £90, may be down to the weakening Pound, but if not, it’s hard to really see why there would be such a discrepancy in price.
Value for money aside, if you want a modern style 1911 GBB, the basis for a full metal gun (with plenty of premium features, such as the trigger, beaver tail and extended ambidextrous safeties, already included) or just a good all round skirmish GBB, I would have no hesitation in recommending the MEU.
Weight : 870g (200g magazine)
Realism : ****
Quality : ****
Power : *****
Accuracy : *****
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