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Augee
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Posted: 12/6/2009 11:14:20 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/30/2010 10:19:36 AM EST by Augee]
There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about the 1911s currently in service with the United States Marine Corps, commonly referred to by enthusiasts as "MEU(SOC) 1911's." These pistols have always interested me, and they represent for many the paradigm of a no-bullshit combat pistol for use in real world gunfights. Many, including myself, have been influenced and inspired by them to either build replicas and/or integrate ideas from them into their own pistols (or in my case, both! ). Yet a lot of the information and speculation that floats around the internets is conflicting, confusing, or simply erroneous. I have been interested in the modern combat 1911 for quite some time now, and I've tried to research these pistols and de-conflict some of rumors about these pistols that have reached an almost semi-cult status amongst enthusiasts.

Before I begin, a couple of caveats:

a) I make no claim to "know it all" about these pistols, what follows is my interpretation based on my own limited research, most of which has been conducted on the internet, trying to get to the bottom of the "MEU(SOC) 1911." I can be wrong, I can freely admit to it, and do not mind it being pointed out, however, I have in the past had a bit of an academic streak, so conflicting opinions should be presented in an academic manner, preferably with evidence to back it up that is more substantial than "my cousin's brother's wife's mother's brother in law was a Force Recon Marine, and he said..." First hand knowledge is, of course, always appreciated, if it is provided by a reliable and knowledgeable source, but with the caution that the study of history is riddled with completely specious "eyewitness accounts."

b) I am not a Marine, I have never been a Marine, and most likely never will be a Marine, I have a little bit of professional exposure to them, but I am not a subject matter expert on the Marine Corps, and as such, my understanding of some of the inner workings of the Marine Corps with regards to their units and organization may be a little fuzzy or slightly inaccurate, especially considering the difficult to pin down (often even for active duty Marines themselves) Marine special operations components. Any errors or omissions I make in my descriptions, I encourage those who know better and who can offer clarification to do so. Again, not being a Marine, my interest is in the continued use of the 1911 nearly a century after its adoption as a front line combat pistol and the pistol itself, and therefore more equipment based, so I may be unclear on many of the details surrounding the units that use them.

c) This is about 1911 style pistols used by specialty combat units of the Marine Corps after the adoption of the M9 as the standard service pistol of the military, it is not about historical use of the M1911A1, pistols used in competitions, pistols used by Army Special Forces or other military units, personally built or preferred configurations of various operators from the Special Operations community, it is about issued pistols used by a very small fraction of Marine combat units.

d) This is a rough draft of what I hope will be a much better reference on these pistols, and it is being posted as much as a back-check to see if any more information might surface in an open forum, but most of what is posted comes from documented information that I'd like to eventually provide references for and that will have a good selection of photo references as well. Most of the information and references come from open sources. I do not personally have any "inside track" information or "know somebody that knows somebody."

Text UNDER photographs in italics are captions.

The MEU(SOC) .45

The MEU(SOC) .45 is probably the most commonly heard about and probably the most confusing of the 1911 style pistols used since the official adoption of the M9. It is commonly known by names such as "MEU(SOC) 1911, MEU(SOC) Pistol" as well, and these titles are also the name which is commonly affixed to all "modern-era" Marine Corps 1911s, whether it is appropriate or not. The question of nomenclature is a difficult one when applied to these weapons. Unlike other military-issue weapons, as far as I can tell, modern Marine Corps 1911s have not been given an official designation. I have not seen any official documentation that they have ever been issued either an "M" series number, or an MK or Mk. number. Nevertheless, they need to be called something, but what is the proper term? Originally when the Force Reconnaissance companies elected to keep the 1911 rather than transition to the M9, the pistols they were using were old USGI M1911-A1s, however, the pistols that the armorers at PWS would go on to build would be significantly different than the original M1911-A1, and needed to be differentiated.

By at least 1994, it seems that the Marines had settled on "Pistol, Caliber .45, MEU(SOC)" or "MEU(SOC) .45 Caliber Pistol" as their official unofficial name for the pistol, at least that is the name given in, and the way the pistol is referred to in TM 00526A-24&P/2, dated August 1994: ORGANIZATIONAL AND INTERMEDIATE MAINTENANCE MANUAL INCLUDING REPAIR PARTS LIST Pistol, Caliber .45, MEU(SOC). Thus, despite the debate over whether or not using "MEU(SOC)" or "MEU" to describe the pistol when the majority of the MEU(SOC) Marines *did not* carry a 1911 variant, to me the "MEU(SOC) .45" nomenclature seems to be most appropriate given that it is the name the Marines used themselves to describe the pistol in their own maintenance manual, and it is what I will use.

The MEU(SOC) .45s were originally USGI M1911-A1s rebuilt by the armorers at Precision Weapons Systems, PWS in Quantico, basically the Marine Corps' version of NSWC Crane and the AMU. When the military as a whole decided to transition to the M9 from the M1911-A1, the Force Reconnaissance companies that were attached to the Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) or MEU(SOC)s elected and fought to keep their 1911s rather than use the newfangled M9s. How long and how extensively PWS had been modifying the standard M1911-A1s for these units prior to this time, I am unsure of, though I'm certain they probably received some work and modifications.

It is important to note at this time too, what the MEU(SOC) .45 is. It is a sidearm designed to be a secondary weapon to a Force Recon Marine's M4A1 Carbine, the long gun being the real workhorse of the warfighter, whether issued an M9 or 1911 or none at all. Most of the questions I see asked are about the configuration of the MEU(SOC) .45, whether by the curious or by those wanting to build replicas, or just trying to get an idea of what a professional fighting pistol is. Unfortunately, for many people this becomes an extremely confusing question. The reason for this is that the MEU(SOC) .45 specs were evolutionary, and spanned over a period of roughly twenty years, and some of the specifications were gradually changed, based sometimes on the availability of parts and better parts being introduced to the market. The specs for the MEU(SOC) .45 drew largely on the availability of COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) parts as well, and the pistols were built individually by the armorers at PWS. Some people, however, tend to see these evolving specs and the availability of COTS parts a license for an "anything goes" attitude about what constitutes a MEU(SOC) .45 replica, having a free-for-all with parts and trying to call just about anything that wears a set of Pachmayr grips a "MEU(SOC)." Unfortunately, there actually seems to be a great deal of consistency in the way MEU(SOC) .45s were built if you realize that the pistols are the product of many many overhauls at different times while the specs were continuing to evolve. And while it is possible, probable even, that occaisionally, "non standard" parts were substituted off the shelf based on availability, the contention that no clear specifications existed for how the pistols should be configured and built is preposterous, particularly considering that several parts lists of varying dates have been published.

The only other concession to the point of view that any COTS part is acceptable is that due to the fact that the MEU(SOC) .45s were built by PWS, they were officially required to return to PWS for anything above operator level maintenance, however, for a deployed unit, shipping a pistol back to Quantico for repairs was not a very pleasing option, and there are reports that they have often bought bench stock and repair parts and conducted repairs out of the Brownell's catalog while downrange.

Nevertheless, for the "typical" MEU(SOC) .45, if there's not one single spec, there's a clear set of parameters for what is and what is not when talking about MEU(SOC) replicas, MEU(SOC)-ish, and MEU(SOC) inspired pistols, with the latter two being far more liberal descriptions.

I suspect, with little foundation, that the original MEU(SOC) .45s were little more than modified M1911-A1s rebuilt using some COTS parts and existing bench stock, and probably NM slides and barrels were used as well, and while there were still many pistols still floating around in inventories and ample bench stock available this probably sufficed. One way or another, some of the earliest seem to have been built using USGI slides with vertical cocking serrations. The pistols with vertical cocking serrations are probably among the earliest built and most rarely seen. Despite the popularity in replicas, even ones very very close to MEU(SOC) .45 specs, I have never seen any evidence to suggest vertical front cocking serrations on any of these pistols, and believe that if such animals exist they are extremely small in numbers and quite exceptional.

By the 1990's a consistent standard applies itself. For convenience, I will refer to them as "Variant 1." As a disclaimer, these variant designations are entirely my own, and are somewhat flexible, as features often cross between variants, but always consistently, i.e. a Variant 2 pistol could have been repaired at PWS long after it was built, and therefore exhibit some Variant 4 features. The Variant 1 pistols used then current Springfield Armory GI Milspec-style slides with slanted rear cocking serrations only and the crossed cannon logo behind the ejection port. Also, these earliest variants had ejection ports that were slightly lowered and not flared. Variant 1 seems to have been built using slides manufactured at least prior to 1987, I have not yet tried to determine the exact date that Springfield Armory moved the crossed cannon motif from behind the ejection port to forward of it, however a 1987 dated article on the Gunsite Service Pistol shows that Springfield Armory was already producing their slides with the forward crossed cannon logo and "modern" lowered and flared ejection port. This is no guarantee, however of the date the pistols themselves were built, only of when the slides were produced. The grip safety was the Clark grip safety, while the hammer was a Commander style ring hammer, with a circular hole in the center. I have heard second hand from different sources, some claiming that they were Colt Commander hammers, some that they were MGW hammers. Barrels were BarSto.

The sights on the early MEU(SOC) .45s were distinctive as well. The front sight being used at the time was a Millett stake on front with a custom rear sight to fit the standard dovetail designed by PWS, with a flat angled rear plane and a wide notch. Dave Berryhill has stated that the front sights used were the .224 height, making them fairly tall, high profile sights that could also be used for a secondary function of charging the pistol one handed. The thumb safety of choice was the King's 201A ambidextrous thumb safety, currently out of production, but still highly sought after as it did not use the more common Swenson style "tang" that needed to be captured under recessed grip panels, but an oversized hammer pin that fit into a dovetail on the right side safety.

The grips were the common and probably the most recognized feature of the MEU(SOC) .45, Pachmayr G45 rubber wraparound combat grips, and even the earliest ones appear to have used the medallion. The mainspring housing was a standard GI arched mainspring housing with the lanyard loop ground flat and serrated, while the trigger was a long, three hole aluminum match trigger. The Variant 1 was also the "type specimen" illustrated in the general arrangement drawings of the MEU(SOC) .45 TM. The Variant 1 set many of the basic specifications, and even in the 1994 dated TM, they list Brownell's as well as a "Wilson Gun Shop" of Berryville, AR as parts suppliers. Variant 1 also established the use of 18.5" recoil springs and Shok-Bufs. Most MEU(SOC) .45s seem to have checkered magazine release buttons as well, most likely original parts and/or available bench stock, and also very commonly display (when such details are visible) checkered slide stops, though serrated ones are not unusual.



Notice the taped down grip safety.








Variants 2 and 3 appear commonly seen and documented in photographs of MEU(SOC) .45s, and are similar to the Variant 1, however, they introduced the newer production Springfield Armory slide with the crossed cannon insignia forward on the slide above the dustcover and the modern lowered and flared ejection port style. The Variant 2 had rear cocking serrations only while the Variant 3 introduced the front cocking serrations in the matching narrow angled style of the rear serrations used today on the Springfield Armory Milspec pistols. Based on conversations with Dave Berryhill, he indicates that the MEU(SOC) .45s had standard GI ejectors and beveled magwells. Other than the slides, the Variant 2 and Variant 3 seem to have retained the features of the Variant 1.



A good photograph of "typical" examples of both Variants 2 and 3.



Variant 3's in service in a 2006 dated photograph.

The first really significant changes to the MEU(SOC) .45 specs come with the Variant 4 which introduces several departures from earlier variants. Most significantly, it introduces the Novak ultra low mount dovetail front and rear sights, replacing the staked on Millett front and PWS rear sight. It does not appear that Variant 4 had night sights installed as standard and used a .180 height front sight, part numbers LMC01 and DFS02-3.180 from Novak. The new slides with Novak cuts are again provided primarily from Springfield Armory, however, these slides now have the wide angled front and rear cocking serrations used on the Springfield Loaded. Variant 4 also introduces the Ed Brown Memory Groove grip safety to replace the Clark grip safety with the pronounced bump that has become common to ensure positive disengagement of the safety.







During the production of Variant 4, it also appears that the hammer was changed from the Colt Commander style ring hammer, to a Cylinder and Slide hammer with an elongated hole.



Here a photograph of a MEU(SOC) .45 shows the blackened barrel and Shok-Buf installed.

Variant 4 production also seems to be when PWS began sourcing slides and possibly a limited number of frames from Caspian, and Variant 4 is by far one of the most well documented variants, as several full parts lists exist listing specific vendors and part numbers.



In this photo you can see what may be a Caspian slide being used on a Variant 4 pistol, notice the different profile of the front cocking serrations, distinctive to the ones usually seen on both Variant 3 and Springfield slide Variant 4 pistols. The cocking serrations also do not appear to be the wider ones used on Springfield Armory slides, though one cannot dismiss the possibility that it may have been an updated Variant 1 or 2 slide with front cocking serrations milled in later. It can also be seen in service side by side with an earlier Variant 1 or 2 pistol.

According to Pat Rogers, the decision to switch to the Novak sights was as simple as the operators preferring them to other options available, including, it seems, the PWS sight. The tail end of Variant 4 production also coincides with the creation of MCSOCOM, and greater variation and demand for the MEU(SOC) .45 as the Marine Corps was reorganizing their force structure and creating the MSOBs. Furthermore, during Variant 4 production, King's Gunworks also ceased production of the 201A ambidextrous thumb safety.

A statement of work for COTS parts for MEU(SOC) .45 production dated at least after 27 SEP 2007 (the text references a document published that date) lists the components of the Variant 4 as:

Part Nomenclature Part Number Manufacturer
Grips 692-545-145 Pachmayer
Grip Safety 087-867-000 Ed Brown
Trigger CS181 Cylinder & Slide
Service Pack w/18.5 lbs recoil (spring set) 69141 Wolff
Front Sight Pin 080-519-025 Brownells
Shok Buff 965-002-004 Wilson Combat
Hammer, sear & disconnector CS271 Cylinder & Slide
Thumb Safety 201-A Kings
Slide PX4546 Springfield
Rear Sight PI5127M Springfield
Front Sight PI5017 Springfield
Rear Sight Set Screw 05535000 MSC
Mainspring Housing MSH LOOP Caspian
Extractor EXT 45 Caspian
Magazine Catch R91B Caspian
Grip Screw 080-569-004 Brownells
Grip Screw Bushing 080-568-004 Brownells
Hammer Strut 087-823-000 Ed Brown
Magazine Catch Lock CS130B Cylinder & Slide
Pin Kit Complete CS014 Cylinder & Slide

Interesting to see in this listing is the fact that sights are now Springfield Armory manufacture, what some have called "faux-vaks," rather than actual Novak sights (listed by part number on older spec sheets). I have not yet been able to verify whether those parts numbers correspond to black sights (like the Novaks specified), three dot sights, or night sights. Also, this list does not seem to specify the manufacture of the slide stop, nor the barrel, as well as some other small parts (Other documents show those parts to be Caspian and BarSto respectively).

The final and most current variant of the MEU(SOC) .45 appears to be the Variant 5, which seems to be almost identical to the Variant 4, however it now uses the Ed Brown Wide ambidextrous thumb safety as a replacement for the out of production King's 201A unit. The Ed Brown safety, however, is a Swenson style safety with the tang riding under the right grip panel, newer production examples of the Pachmayr wraparound grips now have the recess to allow for the use of the Swenson style safety from the factory and do not require modification of the stock grips, though older examples were not recessed for the Swenson style safety. Below is a 25 JUN 2009 dated parts list for the MEU(SOC) .45:

Part Nomenclature Manufacturer Part Number
Barrel W/link, pin & Bushing BAR-STO DBBL&P45
Front Sight Pin Brownells 080-519-025
Grip Screw Bushing Brownells 080-568-004
Grip Screw Brownells 080-569-004
Firing Pin Stop Caspian S2045B
Slide Stop Pin Caspian R111B
Manspring Housing Caspian R42FBL
Plunger Tube Caspian R121B
Magazine Catch Caspian R91B
Extractor Caspian S18457B
Pin Kit Complete Cylinder & Slide CS014
Magazine Catch Lock Cylinder & Slide CS130B
Ejector Cylinder & Slide CS136B
Trigger Cylinder & Slide CS181
Hammer, sear & disconnector Cylinder & Slide CS271B
Hammer Strut Ed Brown R823
Firing Pin Ed Brown R824
Grip Safety Ed Brown R867
Recoil Spring Plug Ed Brown R881-STD
Recoil Spring Guide Ed Brown R882-STD
Safety, Ambidextrous,Wide Ed Brown R892
Rear Sight Set Screw MSC 05535000
Front Sight Novak DFS02-3-180
Rear Sight Novak LMC01
Grips Pachmayer 692-545-145
Slide Springfield PX4546
Shok Buffer Wilson Combat 965-002-004
Magazine Wilson Combat 965-047-470
Service Pack (full spring set)w/18.5LBS Wolff 69141

Note that this Variant 5 parts list returns to and lists Novak part numbers for the front and rear sights. Also note that this parts list was attached to a RFI for "COTS receiver for use in building USMC MEU(SOC) .45 caliber pistols" dated 06 JUL 2009 with a suspense date of NLT 27 JUL, making this probably the most current parts list currently available for public consumption. It also came with a detailed PDF file including this image:



Which clearly describes an M1911-A1 frame without provisions for an integral rail and with a beveled magwell. Listed as an "interested vendor" is Caspian Arms of Wolcott, VT (surprise, surprise). It would see, at least as of this July, that the MEU(SOC) .45 was still a live project. The language of the RFI,seems to imply that MARSYSCOM (Marine Corps Systems Command) is considering the possibility of widespread use of commercially produced frames in the MEU(SOC) .45 program.

"This Request for Information (RFI) is the initiation of market research under Part 10 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and is not a request for Proposals (RFP). The Government does not intend to pay for any information furnished pursuant to this RFI.

The Program Manager for Infantry Weapons (PM IW), Marine Corps Systems Command is conducting a market survey to determine industry's capability to provide a COTS receiver for use in building USMC MEU(SOC) .45 caliber pistols. The proposed solution should possess the attributes listed in the attachments. This RFI is issued to allow industry the opportunity to review the narrative and provide any comments, questions, or feedback to Marine Corps Systems Command. Comments/Questions/Responses are due not later than 1400 EST on Monday, 27 July 2009. Electronic submissions are required. Interested sources should send all correspondence via email to xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. THE SUBMISSION OF THIS INFORMATION IS FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS A COMMITMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT TO PROCURE ANY ITEMS OR SERVICES. NO SOLICITATION DOCUMENT EXISTS FOR THIS EFFORT."
(emphasis in bold is mine)

However, it also seems to imply that this has not yet been done on a large scale and they have not even decided whether or not to do so, which would seem to make rumors of Caspian produced frames and integral rail dustcover frames that have been floating around dubious. That is not to say that such things have not been done or tried on a small, prototype basis, it does not seem to imply that MARSYSCOM has purchased any significant quantity of commercial frames before, nor that they are particularly interested in a railed frame version of the MEU(SOC) .45 (Springfield MC Operator, anyone?). Needless to say, it would seem that the incidence of commercially produced or railed frame pistols in combat service, if any, would be an extremely small percentage compared to the number currently in service utilizing USGI frames.

It would also seem that this request was very shortly thereafter followed by a request for 1,800 1911-style pistol slides, as well, however, that requested was not made for the MEU(SOC) .45, it was made for what may or may not be a different weapon system known as the "M45 Close Quarters Combat Pistol." I will go into more detail on this request on the section on the M45 CQC. The MEU(SOC) .45 is a very very interesting weapon in my opinion. While the Springfield Professional may be the most officially and scientifically tested modern service 1911-style pistol in existence, I would argue that the MEU(SOC) .45 is probably the most vetted service 1911 there is, given the high OPTEMPO of the units issued the pistol, and of the military in general these last few years, coupled with the fact that the vast majority of these pistols are built on frames manufactured in 1945 *at the latest* leads me to believe no part in the MEU(SOC) .45 is an accident, and while a person might not agree for personal reason about small details in their construction, and understanding that they are built as *general (to the units issued them) issue sidearms* and not as highly customized guns intended for a single user, I have no reason to believe that they have not been built to withstand the utmost of what a combat pistol should be expected to face in terms of durability, reliability, and longevity under harsh conditions and high round counts.

Ironically enough, and a good way to bookend the story of the MEU(SOC) .45, is this attachment to the same RFI, dated 16 JAN 2004 which, unlike the diagrams included in the RFI, seem to imply interest in an integral railed frame, but it also gives a good idea of what the Marines were looking for in the MEU(SOC) .45.

1. Must be able to adapt to current and future optical/elector-optical technologies via the Mil Standard 1913 rail.

2. Must be capable of eight (seven in magazine, one in chamber) well-aimed shots before magazine reload.

3. Must be capable of firing military system procured DODIC A475, 230 grain .45 caliber Service Ball ammunition.

4. Must be one-man portable for deployment and employment.

5. Must be easily adaptable for both daytime and nighttime operations.

6. Must allow for rapid removal and installation of optical/electro-optical sighting devices.

7. Must have a non-reflective finish on both the weapon and sighting device.

8. Must be capable of airborne insertion with parachutists and waterborne insertion, after waterproofing, with divers and small boat.

9. Must be impervious to 48 hours exposure to high salt content sea water and resistant to abrasion caused by normal use.

10. Must have an external magazine capacity of seven rounds.

11. Must incorporate a manual safety.

12. Must incorporate failure resistant hardened parts where possible throughout.

13. Must be capable of repair at organizational maintenance with few exceptions.

14. The weapon shall demonstrate the ability to meet or exceed mean rounds between stoppages of 300 rounds threshold , 900 rounds objective.

Service Use and Accessories

The Springfield Armory Professional

The Kimber Interim Close Quarters Battle pistol (ICQB)

The M45 Close Quarters Combat pistol

Clone Builder's Guide


more to come!

A couple of teasers:







~Augee
Callahan
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Posted: 12/6/2009 11:18:02 PM EST
Sweet, but on the second pic the grip safety isn't taped down. That operator is holding his tape switch to the grips
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Augee
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Posted: 12/6/2009 11:23:57 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/6/2009 11:24:35 PM EST by Augee]
Captions are for the photographs above them.

I'll make it more clear when I edit which lines of text are captions and which are body.

~Augee
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Posted: 12/7/2009 12:04:07 AM EST
In on 1. The field strip pic of the V.4 is very interesting, seems something be broken?
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mo98
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Posted: 12/7/2009 12:17:30 AM EST

Originally Posted By conman:
In on 1. The field strip pic of the V.4 is very interesting, seems something be broken?

Looks like the bottom lugs sheered off.
trp
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Posted: 12/7/2009 12:19:17 AM EST
In for the section on the Professional
BattlePack
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Posted: 12/7/2009 8:17:17 AM EST
MEU(SOC) 1911 threads kick ass. Somebody needs to link to pictures of them in use so I can save them.
GhostRing
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Posted: 12/7/2009 2:13:51 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/7/2009 2:20:45 PM EST by GhostRing]
Great post.
As much of my 1911 building adventures were inspired by the MEU (SOC), this thread makes me happy.

Another of Travis' pics:
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Posted: 12/7/2009 2:21:32 PM EST
Tag for later read.

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Posted: 12/7/2009 2:28:21 PM EST
Interesting post. Shock buffs? Now that surprises me.

Milo5
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Posted: 12/7/2009 2:33:04 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/7/2009 2:33:43 PM EST by Milo5]
I can offer some insight from an Army small arms repair point of view concerning small parts.
You use what is in the parts bin.
Late production replacement mainspring housings, safeties, slide stops, and magazine release catches were all serrated but there were still heaps of brand new earlier checkered parts still in the system and probably still are.

Consequently you are liable to find a mixture of checkered and serrated pieces on the pistols regardless of when they were built.

Now stuff like specific types of grip safeties, triggers, and special thumb safety levers, and special sights would come in in batches and be used on specific lots of guns being built at that time.
If the new parts proved some advantage over older styles of parts that were utilized, the newer parts could be fitted to an exsisting weapon platform.
This could be done during rebuild or on the request of the end user

I am sure the Marine Armorers follow the same procedures.
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Posted: 12/7/2009 2:47:20 PM EST
Bravo.
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Posted: 12/7/2009 3:25:28 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/8/2009 5:29:49 PM EST by Cavediver762]
Legendary Post

ETA: In on 1, and stickeh
"I really like pistols w/o forward slide serrations. It looks so much less cluttered and gimmicky." -fishngrits
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Posted: 12/8/2009 1:57:25 PM EST
This totally needs to be tacked, questions about the MEU come up pretty often. A complied information/photos thread is a pretty good idea at this point.
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artsohc
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Posted: 12/8/2009 2:55:08 PM EST
Originally Posted By satellite:
This totally needs to be tacked, questions about the MEU come up pretty often. A complied information/photos thread is a pretty good idea at this point.


Agree. If this thread continues to grow, tack please.
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callahan318
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Posted: 12/8/2009 3:24:33 PM EST
Tack this sucker!

Let's see some more!

GREAT THREAD!


Augee
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Posted: 12/8/2009 4:38:52 PM EST
Original post updated. The edited text is also included in this post so you do not have to go back up and re-read everything and will stay up for a couple of days until the next edit.

Additions and errata:

Text UNDER photographs in italics are captions.

Variant 1 seems to have been built using slides manufactured at least prior to 1987, I have not yet tried to determine the exact date that Springfield Armory moved the crossed cannon motif from behind the ejection port to forward of it, however a 1987 dated article on the Gunsite Service Pistol shows that Springfield Armory was already producing their slides with the forward crossed cannon logo and "modern" lowered and flared ejection port. This is no guarantee, however of the date the pistols themselves were built, only of when the slides were produced.



In this photo you can see what may be a Caspian slide being used on a Variant 4 pistol, notice the different profile of the front cocking serrations, distinctive to the ones usually seen on both Variant 3 and Springfield slide Variant 4 pistols. The cocking serrations also do not appear to be the wider ones used on Springfield Armory slides, though one cannot dismiss the possibility that it may have been an updated Variant 1 or 2 slide with front cocking serrations milled in later. It can also be seen in service side by side with an earlier Variant 1 or 2 pistol.

Text:

According to Pat Rogers, the decision to switch to the Novak sights was as simple as the operators preferring them to other options available, including, it seems, the PWS sight. The tail end of Variant 4 production also coincides with the creation of MCSOCOM, and greater variation and demand for the MEU(SOC) .45 as the Marine Corps was reorganizing their force structure and creating the MSOBs. Furthermore, during Variant 4 production, King's Gunworks also ceased production of the 201A ambidextrous thumb safety.

A statement of work for COTS parts for MEU(SOC) .45 production dated at least after 27 SEP 2007 (the text references a document published that date) lists the components of the Variant 4 as:

Part Nomenclature Part Number Manufacturer
Grips 692-545-145 Pachmayer
Grip Safety 087-867-000 Ed Brown
Trigger CS181 Cylinder & Slide
Service Pack w/18.5 lbs recoil (spring set) 69141 Wolff
Front Sight Pin 080-519-025 Brownells
Shok Buff 965-002-004 Wilson Combat
Hammer, sear & disconnector CS271 Cylinder & Slide
Thumb Safety 201-A Kings
Slide PX4546 Springfield
Rear Sight PI5127M Springfield
Front Sight PI5017 Springfield
Rear Sight Set Screw 05535000 MSC
Mainspring Housing MSH LOOP Caspian
Extractor EXT 45 Caspian
Magazine Catch R91B Caspian
Grip Screw 080-569-004 Brownells
Grip Screw Bushing 080-568-004 Brownells
Hammer Strut 087-823-000 Ed Brown
Magazine Catch Lock CS130B Cylinder & Slide
Pin Kit Complete CS014 Cylinder & Slide

Interesting to see in this listing is the fact that sights are now Springfield Armory manufacture, what some have called "faux-vaks," rather than actual Novak sights (listed by part number on older spec sheets). I have not yet been able to verify whether those parts numbers correspond to black sights (like the Novaks specified), three dot sights, or night sights. Also, this list does not seem to specify the manufacture of the slide stop, nor the barrel, as well as some other small parts (Other documents show those parts to be Caspian and BarSto respectively).

The final and most current variant of the MEU(SOC) .45 appears to be the Variant 5, which seems to be almost identical to the Variant 4, however it now uses the Ed Brown Wide ambidextrous thumb safety as a replacement for the out of production King's 201A unit. The Ed Brown safety, however, is a Swenson style safety with the tang riding under the right grip panel, however the grip specification does not appear to have been changed from the Pachmayr wraparound grips which do not have the recess to allow for the use of the Swenson style safety from the factory and require modification of the stock grips. Below is a 25 JUN 2009 dated parts list for the MEU(SOC) .45:

Part Nomenclature Manufacturer Part Number
Barrel W/link, pin & Bushing BAR-STO DBBL&P45
Front Sight Pin Brownells 080-519-025
Grip Screw Bushing Brownells 080-568-004
Grip Screw Brownells 080-569-004
Firing Pin Stop Caspian S2045B
Slide Stop Pin Caspian R111B
Manspring Housing Caspian R42FBL
Plunger Tube Caspian R121B
Magazine Catch Caspian R91B
Extractor Caspian S18457B
Pin Kit Complete Cylinder & Slide CS014
Magazine Catch Lock Cylinder & Slide CS130B
Ejector Cylinder & Slide CS136B
Trigger Cylinder & Slide CS181
Hammer, sear & disconnector Cylinder & Slide CS271B
Hammer Strut Ed Brown R823
Firing Pin Ed Brown R824
Grip Safety Ed Brown R867
Recoil Spring Plug Ed Brown R881-STD
Recoil Spring Guide Ed Brown R882-STD
Safety, Ambidextrous,Wide Ed Brown R892
Rear Sight Set Screw MSC 05535000
Front Sight Novak DFS02-3-180
Rear Sight Novak LMC01
Grips Pachmayer 692-545-145
Slide Springfield PX4546
Shok Buffer Wilson Combat 965-002-004
Magazine Wilson Combat 965-047-470
Service Pack (full spring set)w/18.5LBS Wolff 69141

Note that this Variant 5 parts list returns to and lists Novak part numbers for the front and rear sights. Also note that this parts list was attached to a RFI for "COTS receiver for use in building USMC MEU(SOC) .45 caliber pistols" dated 06 JUL 2009 with a suspense date of NLT 27 JUL, making this probably the most current parts list currently available for public consumption. It also came with a detailed PDF file including this image:



Which clearly describes an M1911-A1 frame without provisions for an integral rail and with a beveled magwell. Listed as an "interested vendor" is Caspian Arms of Wolcott, VT (surprise, surprise). It would see, at least as of this July, that the MEU(SOC) .45 was still a live project. The language of the RFI,seems to imply that MARSYSCOM (Marine Corps Systems Command) is considering the possibility of widespread use of commercially produced frames in the MEU(SOC) .45 program.

"This Request for Information (RFI) is the initiation of market research under Part 10 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and is not a request for Proposals (RFP). The Government does not intend to pay for any information furnished pursuant to this RFI.

The Program Manager for Infantry Weapons (PM IW), Marine Corps Systems Command is conducting a market survey to determine industry's capability to provide a COTS receiver for use in building USMC MEU(SOC) .45 caliber pistols. The proposed solution should possess the attributes listed in the attachments. This RFI is issued to allow industry the opportunity to review the narrative and provide any comments, questions, or feedback to Marine Corps Systems Command. Comments/Questions/Responses are due not later than 1400 EST on Monday, 27 July 2009. Electronic submissions are required. Interested sources should send all correspondence via email to xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. THE SUBMISSION OF THIS INFORMATION IS FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS A COMMITMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT TO PROCURE ANY ITEMS OR SERVICES. NO SOLICITATION DOCUMENT EXISTS FOR THIS EFFORT."
(emphasis in bold is mine)

However, it also seems to imply that this has not yet been done on a large scale and they have not even decided whether or not to do so, which would seem to make rumors of Caspian produced frames and integral rail dustcover frames that have been floating around dubious. That is not to say that such things have not been done or tried on a small, prototype basis, it does not seem to imply that MARSYSCOM has purchased any significant quantity of commercial frames before, nor that they are particularly interested in a railed frame version of the MEU(SOC) .45 (Springfield MC Operator, anyone?). Needless to say, it would seem that the incidence of commercially produced or railed frame pistols in combat service, if any, would be an extremely small percentage compared to the number currently in service utilizing USGI frames.

It would also seem that this request was very shortly thereafter followed by a request for 1,800 1911-style pistol slides, as well, however, that requested was not made for the MEU(SOC) .45, it was made for what may or may not be a different weapon system known as the "M45 Close Quarters Combat Pistol." I will go into more detail on this request on the section on the M45 CQC. The MEU(SOC) .45 is a very very interesting weapon in my opinion. While the Springfield Professional may be the most officially and scientifically tested modern service 1911-style pistol in existence, I would argue that the MEU(SOC) .45 is probably the most vetted service 1911 there is, given the high OPTEMPO of the units issued the pistol, and of the military in general these last few years, coupled with the fact that the vast majority of these pistols are built on frames manufactured in 1945 *at the latest* leads me to believe no part in the MEU(SOC) .45 is an accident, and while a person might not agree for personal reason about small details in their construction, and understanding that they are built as *general (to the units issued them) issue sidearms* and not as highly customized guns intended for a single user, I have no reason to believe that they have not been built to withstand the utmost of what a combat pistol should be expected to face in terms of durability, reliability, and longevity under harsh conditions and high round counts.

Ironically enough, and a good way to bookend the story of the MEU(SOC) .45, is this attachment to the same RFI, dated 16 JAN 2004 which, unlike the diagrams included in the RFI, seem to imply interest in an integral railed frame, but it also gives a good idea of what the Marines were looking for in the MEU(SOC) .45.

1. Must be able to adapt to current and future optical/elector-optical technologies via the Mil Standard 1913 rail.

2. Must be capable of eight (seven in magazine, one in chamber) well-aimed shots before magazine reload.

3. Must be capable of firing military system procured DODIC A475, 230 grain .45 caliber Service Ball ammunition.

4. Must be one-man portable for deployment and employment.

5. Must be easily adaptable for both daytime and nighttime operations.

6. Must allow for rapid removal and installation of optical/electro-optical sighting devices.

7. Must have a non-reflective finish on both the weapon and sighting device.

8. Must be capable of airborne insertion with parachutists and waterborne insertion, after waterproofing, with divers and small boat.

9. Must be impervious to 48 hours exposure to high salt content sea water and resistant to abrasion caused by normal use.

10. Must have an external magazine capacity of seven rounds.

11. Must incorporate a manual safety.

12. Must incorporate failure resistant hardened parts where possible throughout.

13. Must be capable of repair at organizational maintenance with few exceptions.

14. The weapon shall demonstrate the ability to meet or exceed mean rounds between stoppages of 300 rounds threshold , 900 rounds objective.
TXhellbilly
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Posted: 12/8/2009 6:54:51 PM EST
Thanks Augee, great help for a future build
Kimber Warrior will have to sufice for now
R0N
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Posted: 12/8/2009 7:00:12 PM EST
The Force dets that go out with MEUs now carry M9A1s.

Some of the MSOTs that got the old MEU-SOC 45s are also carrying M9s and M9A1.
In the real world off-campus, good marksmanship trumps good will.
Augee
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Posted: 12/8/2009 8:04:41 PM EST
R0N, I think that that fact you pointed out is a big reason for the "change" in nomenclature from "MEU(SOC) .45" to "M45 CQC," it's simply not that accurate of a term.

MSOBs seem to use both... side by side at times, too.

Nevertheless, with a very recent request for 1,800 new slides, I can't imagine that it's a dead program, eh?

~Augee

Winn
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Posted: 12/8/2009 8:47:03 PM EST

Originally Posted By GhostRing:

Great post.

... this thread makes me happy.




Poznai Sebia ... Know Yourself
GunnyG
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Any ideas on whose pistols these are, and where these pistols are being used? With all that bling, and the camo pattern, I want to point out that we are looking at the Phillipine Marines. Perhaps imitation is the sincerest form of flattery....


I did find the larger image that shows our Force Recon on Clark Air Base, doing some training with/for the Phillipino Marines, but I wouldn't say that those are definitively our pistols being used:

“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”
beep
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Posted: 12/13/2009 7:29:58 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/13/2009 7:30:22 AM EST by beep]
Great post. There is some great info there.
Otterstedt
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Posted: 12/13/2009 2:01:02 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/13/2009 2:03:30 PM EST by Otterstedt]
Originally Posted By GunnyG:

I did find the larger image that shows our Force Recon on Clark Air Base, doing some training with/for the Phillipino Marines, but I wouldn't say that those are definitively our pistols being used:

http://www.marines.mil/units/hqmc/PublishingImages/051018-M-9336C-004.jpg


I suppose it takes a great bit of audacity for me to criticize someone else's shooting technique, but look at the inconsistency in the grips. Note the thumb of the shooter in the top of the frame. EDIT And the guy next to him doesn't really seem to be using his left hand at all.
max229
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Posted: 12/13/2009 3:05:34 PM EST

Originally Posted By beep:
Great post. There is some great info there.

TAG for later reading.
mlin
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Posted: 12/13/2009 7:23:51 PM EST
Originally Posted By Augee:
The Ed Brown safety, however, is a Swenson style safety with the tang riding under the right grip panel, however the grip specification does not appear to have been changed from the Pachmayr wraparound grips which do not have the recess to allow for the use of the Swenson style safety from the factory and require modification of the stock grips.


Augee,

I just bought a Pachmayr wraparound grip and the current production has already incorporate the recess cut to accommodate Swenson style safety.


Mark

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