Colt 1911 Officer's Model - Wei E-Tech (WE)
Being a compact 1911, rather than a Mini-1911 (like Tokyo Marui's Detonics Combat Master), the WE 1911 Compact has a slightly shortened grip and magazine and a 4" barrel, but it has a number of other feature that distinguish it from true a 1911 Commander.
Half way between a Hi-Capa (feature wise, anyway) and a 1911, I was interested to see how this short barreled 1911 would perform against other compact 1911s and its bigger stable mate.
In the Box
The box was a bit of a surprise. In the past WE guns have always come in the most minimalist of boxes, but this one (like the bigger 1911A1 it arrived with) looks like it's trying to be a cross between a Western Arms SCW box (externally) and a TM 1911 box, internally.
The outside is all black with White writing, whilst inside the 1911A1 and the spare magazine sit on a black cloth base. The quality doesn't come close to either WA or TM, but it's quite nice to see them making an effort on presentation and it doesn't really matter that much.
Inside the box the gun is fitted with a magazine, whilst another sits in a separate space in the base.
There is a manual, printed in English, Spanish, Italian and German, but no BBs or tools
At first glance, this did appear to just be a shortened version of WE's 1911A1.
However, racking the slide, you immediately notice a cone barrel and a full length recoil rod, like a Hi-Capa. There is, of course, no barrel bushing either.
Otherwise, this is much like the WE 1911A1. The finish is plain but evenly applied and there are no markings of note on the gun.
Everything, except the grips, is metal, but not the high quality metal you find on aftermarket slides. That said, the gun feels solid in the hand and the coldness is something many will appreciate.
If you're after a smallish, all-metal 1911, the WE is really the only game in town unless you are willing spend a small fortune upgrading a Western Arms or Tokyo Marui compact 1911.
The Officer's Model is a pretty standard looking compact 1911.
The expected 1911 elements, like the grip safety, spurred hammer, sliding trigger and simple sights are present.
Only the the cone barrel (lifted from the WE Baby Hi-Capa) and lack of bushing distinguishes this from the full size 1911A1 on which it is based.
However, the grip is a little shorter (by around 1CM) and this requires a different magazine (I found, to my surprise, that the release valves are different on the two magazines, so this gun will not take the magazines from the full size I reviewed), which hold 13 BBs rather than the 15 of the larger gun.
Unusually for a compact 1911, the Officer's Model retains the lanyard ring of the 1911A1 on the bottom of the shortened mainspring cover.
The sights are the standard 'speed bump' front blade and simple notch rear sight from the 1911A1, with no adjustment.
Controls like the slide lock, thumb safety (for the right thumb only, so on the left side), grip safety, trigger and hammer all look to have been lifted directly from the WE 1911A1.
The trigger, slide lock lever, magazine release button, mainspring cover and hammer spur all feature, slightly industrial looking, chequering for a better purchase in wet conditions.
The finish of the slide and frame is WE's usual gunmetal grey paint, but it's evenly and smoothly applied. There are no markings on this example (I'm not sure if, like the 1911A1, variants exist with trademarks), except a tiny WE in a circle on the front of the left side of the trigger guard.
The barrel/chamber assembly is painted silver and the chamber is marked ".45 ACP".
The grips are shortened versions of the standard 1911A1 grips. Therefore they are brown plastic and neither terrible nor remarkable in appearance.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, I was only able to get 5 shots in a diameter a rather disappointing 70mm across.
This is pretty poor accuracy, but that's an A4 sheet of paper at 5m, so at that range, you're still going to be hitting a man sized target and 3 of the shots were well placed in the target centre.
It is possible that the pattern is the result of cooldown, with the 3 in the target centre being the first 3 and the lower shots being the later 3 as the power drops off.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
As you can see above, the BBs were rather scattered around with the Officers model, whereas the 1911A1's shots grouped into 3 clusters which might suggest I actually shifted my aim a fraction between shots.
At range (around 70ft), the Officer's Model performed reasonably, having no trouble hitting a postcard sized target repeatedly.
I had heard bad things about WE's 1911s, with regard to their gas performance. Expressions like 'gas hog' and 'terrible cool-down' were thrown around with casual abandon, but surely they couldn't be that bad.
Over 10 shots, the Officer's Model averaged 214 fps (using Propane gas) indoors (at 12C), which I'd estimate to equate to around 245 fps at 20C, not very impressive, but, as you can see before, the big problem was cooldown, rather than an out and out lack of power.
Given the gun's all metal construction, I decided maybe I was being a little harsh testing from cold, so I warmed the magazine for a couple of hours to room temperature.
Again, it was fairly cool (14C), but, although the overall figures were a little higher, but the general (downward) pattern was the same, for an average of 228 fps (or an estimated 253 at 20C),
Luckily, before I returned the gun I was able to test the gun again at 17C (it felt notably more comfortable) and observed the following.
Power was pretty much where I predicted (234 FPS), given the results at 14C, but the cooldown effect at the warmer temperature was lessened to a manageable level.
Gas consumption was hard to assess. The magazines are fitted with a 'silent fill' valve and clearly don't always take a full fill. Sometimes I could get 3 or 4 shots from a 'fill' (nothing vented after 10 seconds or so), but at others it would fire all 13 rounds without problem and lock back on empty.
Compared with the full sized WE 1911A1, the Officer's Model is a bit dull to shoot, too. The 1911A1 makes a loud crack and kicks in the hand when you shoot it, whereas the Officer's Model is more muted in both respects.
Trigger pull was just 505g (18 Oz), which is an impressively light pull for any GBB.
Take down of this cone barreled 1911 is much like any similar gun.
With the magazine out, slide the slide back until the round notch in the slide aligns with the slide lock protrusion and push the slide lock out of the frame from the right side.
The slide can then be slid forward off the frame.
With this done, the recoil rod and spring can be removed by pushing the bushing backwards in the slide to compress the spring and then withdrawing the rod forward, down and back out of the slide.
The barrel and chamber assembly can then be pushed forward out of the front of the slide.
The WE 1911 Officer's Model is a budget priced compact 1911 and the all metal construction will appeal to many.
However, this gun has some issues which make it less commendable than it's full sized 1911A1 stablemate.
Cooldown is significant, especially at cooler temperatures and at times this example failed to chamber BBs when cold (in warmer temperatures it worked faultlessly) and the power is disappointing, lagging 40-50 fps behind the full size 1911A1.
Equally, whether it is the silent fill valve or the smaller magazine, but the gun often failed (again in the cold) to fire all the BBs in the magazine when it appeared to be gassed as much as the bigger gun.
For this price for an all metal gun, it is not really bad (it's reassuring to say I can't remember when I last encountered a really bad airsoft pistol), but I cannot enthuse about the Officers Model the way I do about the full sized WE 1911A1.
If you accept it's a summer only, close quarters gun, you probably won't be too disappointed, but if you can live with a high quality ABS gun, Tokyo Marui's Detonics is a much better buy.
Weight : 870g (175g Magazine)
Realism : ***
Quality : ***
Power : ***
Accuracy : ***
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