Wilson Combat Tactical Special - Western Arms

Now here is a mystery for you.

This gun seems to be a very limited edition model from WA, from around 1997.

Smart 1911, like many other, except for special barrel.

It was lent to me for review, by Garry (from ArniesAirsoft Forum), who had posted on a number of forums, with no luck trying to identify exactly what it was.

In the Box

The box, itself, is not the familiar plain tan cardboard, but a glossy printed cardboard outer, featuring the Wilson Combat Supergrade ??? model with a photograph of this model on the lid. Only a small sticker on one end of the box identifies this as the Tactical Special Limited Edition.

Not your typical, modern, WA box.

Sticker identifies this rare model.

The box inner is a polystyrene bed (cut away to accomodate an extended a magazine, a bit like a Beretta M93R, which is fitted to the ???? model) and, along with the gun, there are two allen keys, a lot of paperwork (including a sheet for the parts unique to this model) and a small bag of BBs.

Not your typical, modern, WA box.

First Impressions

The basis of the Tactical Special is a fairly standard WA 1911, which is no bad thing.
Interestingly, I could not get the top of half of this gun to fit the bottom of my own 6" single stacker SVI (or vice versa), which suggests that there have been some changes since this model was produced, but only a very practised eye would be able to spot any significant changes.

Special heavyweight barrel, dominates design.

The finish, as you'd expect, is of a very high standard, with no seams, plenty of well rendered trademarks and an overall fit which is hard to fault.

The most unusual feature of the gun is the barrel front. There is no external bushing, as on on most 1911s, but no SVI style one, either.
Instead, the barrel features an extended section which tapers back into the slide to position the barrel.

Finish and markings very good, even by WA standards.

As with any newer 1911, this one feature a metal outer barrel, trigger ,hammer, safeties (grip and amibdextrous thumb), slide lock and sights.

Closer Look

Overall, most of this gun is pretty much like WA's other 1911s.

Wilson's Tactical Elite - See the similarities?

However, being based upon Wilson Combat's Tactical Elite model, it feature that unusual barrel arrangement - Wison explain,
Centered around the handfitted, stainless steel, heavy tapered cone barrel, the Tactical Elite delivers all the accuracy one could demand, combined with the rapid shot to shot recovery one would expect from a compensated pistol. But this pistol is not compensated!
While the hot gases from compensators can present a real hazard during a defensive situation and increase, muzzle flash, the Tactical Elite's unported, maximum weight barrel cannot.

The barrel.

Otherwise, this is familar WA Wilson Combat material. The magazine features a bumper (Actually rubber on this model, and much easier to get past to fill the magazine with gas than the later magazines), which is marked "WESTERN ARMS" on one side and "MADE IN JAPAN" on the other. There are attractive, but plastic, 'wood' grips, featuring the the Wilson medallions.

Slide markings are plentiful and excellently rendered.

On the left side of the slide is the wording "COLT MK IV"/"------SERIES 80------", with just two small proof marks on the trigger guard.
On the right side of the slide is "GOVERNMENT MODEL" (under the ejection port) and "Wilson Combat" (in a script font) followed by "SUPER GRADE" towards the front of the slide. The top of the chamber is marked "WILSON 45 ACP" and the right side of the frame is a riot of markings with "COLT'S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A." over the trigger and "U.S. PAT. followed by "5,476.087"/"5,477.843" towards the front of the dustcover. There is also a WA ASGK marking over the trigger.

Unmarked Bo-Mar sights.

The sights are familar Bo-Mar units (as seen on SV Infinities) and the front blade (unmarked, like the rear unit) is dovetailed in.

'Wood grips' and skeletonished hammer.

There are prominent racking grooves both front and rear on the slide and the grip features prominent, but fine, chequering on the front and back faces.

Very prominent magazine release button may pose holstering issues.

The magazine release is a very prominent button, in silver (quite similar to the one on KSC's M945) and there's a three hole trigger.
The hammer is a skeletonised unit.

The whole gun weighs about the same as a recent WA SCW 1911, so I presume that is made of the heavyweight material, it certainly looks like it.

More info

More info came in quite quickly : Charlie_Cloud got in touch to say :

You always come up with some interesting reviews!
The attached pic is the pistol on the box of the Ltd Tactical. The mag holds 20 in single stack formation, it will also accept standard R type WA mags. This is the Supergrade Combat Custom.
Usual WA quality, fit and finish. The box for the one I have, black slide silver frame has an aquamarine background to the picture of the gun, with a no 21800 in top right hand corner the red background was for the all black pistol.

Unmarked Bo-Mar sights.

Pistol has adjustable hop, via normal pre SCW allen key adjustment. Barrel stops short of the compensator

Don't have any info on numbers made, hard to get accurate info in my experience. Have only seen the one I have and an all black model in the last 2 years.

And Draco_1967 told me :

I have a Wilson that is in the same series as the Tactical Elite. It is actually the one featured on the outside of the box you have. It has the extended magazine(same size as the real 10-round magazines). I havn't been able to shoot it because the mag was leaking(heavily) when I received it. I have never seen another one like either of these. I think they were VERY limited "custom shop" deals.

I saw a while ago a similar series on the WA website. There were 3 models: one that looked like the compensated version that I have(long mag), one with a hybrid slide/barrel, and one that was just a standard bull barrel.

Shooting Impressions

The Wilson is quite old, but provided a brisk action with a sharp, rapid recoil (with Abbey gas) in cold conditions. I did find that stored in cold conditions, with my newer guns, it just refused to cycle completely, so I warmed the gun to room temperature before chrono testing, but they were carried out at cold temperatures.

Click on image for bigger version in separate window.

Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the Wilson proved accurate.

Of the 6 shots, 5 fell in a 5 CM (2 inch) diameter, which is good for a single stacker 1911, in my experience.

Over 10 shots, the Wilson Tactical Special averaged 260 fps (using Abbey Ultra gas) indoors (at around 15C, to reflect a pre-warmed gun at 10C).

Shot      FPS
1 268.0
2 269.2
3 264.1
4 264.2
5 259.0
6 259.6
7 257.7
8 256.0
9 254.4
10 253.2

Experience with other guns suggests this would equate to around 300fps at 20C.

Trigger pull took 900g (32 Oz), which is a medium weight pull for a GBB.

Take Down

Take down is fairly basic non-bushing 1911. With the magazine out, push back the slide and push the slide lock through the frame. With it out, slide the slide and barrel off of the frame.

Take down much like an SV Infinity, due to lack of bushing.

To take the top half apart, push the slide back and unscrew the front half of the recoil spring rod, pull it out of the front of the slide and remove the spring from the rear. Take the recoil spring bushing from the inside of the slide and then push the barrel and chamber assembly gently through the front of the slide.


Overall, the more I used this gun, the more I liked it.

Even by WA's high standards the trademarks are extensive and nicely rendered and the whole feel and finish is excellent.

Attractive, well made and unusual 1911.

The unusual barrel (just reintroduced on a Stealth Defense System Wilson - Basically a compact version of the Tactical Elite) makes the gun an interesting addition to any 1911 owner's collection.

I cannot find any definitive numbers for how many of these guns were made, but it seems as though it is a very rare example, but well worth searching out, if you like 1911s.

If you know anything more, or own one of these get in contact (drop the 0s before the

Weight : 810g

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

Real Steel link at World Guns
Tactical Elite at Wilson Combat

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