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Thread: Wilson Combat FBI Trial Pistol by Western Arms

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    29th May 2004
    Athens, Greece, Earth
    Posts liked by others
    Blog Entries

    Wilson Combat FBI Trial Pistol by Western Arms


    The Western Arms (WA) Wilson Combat (WC) FBI Trial pistol, immitates the 1911 that was submitted by Wilson Combat in the 1996 FBI trials. I am not sure if a real version of this pistol ever existed, and if it did, if it had the characteristics replicated in the WA's gun, but for sure this replica left me speechless, when I first opened its package. The pistol arrived in the well-known grey/black box that all WA SCW pistols come into, from the friendly firm of Guns And Guys in Hong Kong. The owner, Peter Chan is a very nice guy and he will go to the extreme to satisfy his customers. Here is what came to me:

    Inside the box was the pistol, the familiar by now bushing wrench (why they bother shipping one of these, I do not know. The bushing is usually quite easy to turn by hand), two small allen wrenches for adjusting the hop-up (and I do not know what else), a small bag of BBs, the traditional WA manual (in Japanese) and a two page safety leaflet in English.

    Needless to say, I didn't bother looking at anything else but the pistol. A few days ago, I had tested the WA Lightweight Commander, which is a first-generation WA 1911. This one is a second-generation one, and the difference is amazing. Have a look at some of the details:

    The pistol is basically made of heavy-weight plastic, both the slide and the frame. It comes with a very nice set of grips, immitating the real Wilson Combat grips, but made of ... metal (so that the weight of the pistol is very realistic). You immediately notice the Wilson medallions in the middle of the grip panels.

    The front strap of the frame is fully-checkered, at what appears to be 30-lpi. And yes, the pistol even features the ugly WC slide stop, which I hate!! There is an aluminum, three-hole trigger, while the lower side of the trigger guard is also checkered at something like 40 lpi.

    At the bottom of the frame, there is a very well-shaped mag well. The mag well attaches to the mainspring housing by a couple of hooks, which pass over the manspring housing pin. Since this is a non very solid attachement, WA has thoughtfully installed a small allen screw at the rear of the well, which can be tightened up, to create leverage and properly mate the magwell to the bottom of the frame.

    This wierd enscryption is on the left side of the slide.

    while the right side of the frame feature full WC identification marks.

    Moving to the slide, you will notice the three dot Novak sights (not the Wilson Pyramid ones, but the original Novaks), with the front one not contoured to the curvature of the slide, something I also hate on a custom pistol costing 2,000$, but I can forgive on an Airsoft replica. You will also notice that the pistol has the standard guide rod setup, which is fine by me. The barrel bushing is neatly inscribed "Wilson".

    The pistol comes with a very nice ambidextrous safety, and a very nicely fitted beavertail, with memory pad. Front and rear cocking serrations, a lowered and flared ejection port and a black barrel chamber complete the distinctive characteristics of the slide.

    Here is another look at the impressive grips and the front strap checkering.

    The pistol comes equipped with an immitation of the 47D WC magazine. This is a new-generation magazine, which even though is as slim as the standard single-column magazines of the first-generation pistols, it now allows a staggered pattern so it can take more BBs, 23 vs 15 of the standard single column mags. One thing you should be aware about these magazines, is that the filling valve is too recessed inside the magazine pad, so unless your gas canister has an extra long nozzle, you will have a hard time filling them with gas. More about the magazine later.

    Overall, the quality of this pistol is amazing. If you didn't know and someone put this gun in your hand, you would need to rack the slide and feel how light the recoil spring is, to understand that this is not a real Wilson Combat. Oh yes, the Japanese need to know how to provide a better feel in the operation of the thumb safety. The way it works now, is OK but it's far from the real thing. It's securely on and off, but it just doesn't feel like real.

    In the next page, you can read how to disassemble the pistol and our shooting tests results.


    The pistol strips into its components in the usual 1911 way. However, be prepared for some frustration. The slide stop in the late WA pistols has a slotted sleave on its shaft, which makes it very difficult to remove it, the first few times. I had to use a plastic punch to push the edge of the slide stop, from the right side of the pistol, in order to remove it. One thing I noticed is that after you have the slide stop out a few millimeters (so that it has cleared the slide notch), it is easier to remove it, if you let the slide move all the way forward. With this minor problem noted, here are the main pistol parts.

    The recoil spring plug, even though it is the traditional closed one in the front, it is actually working as a reverse plug, with a lip around its rear end. I assume WA does that so that the spring tension is not pushing against the barrel bushing, which can cause the plastic slide to break.

    So, in order to remove the recoil spring, you have to push the recoil spring guide forward and remove the whole assembly from the rear of the slide. Then you can rotate the barrel bushing anticlockwise (as you look at the muzzle) to remove the bushing and the barrel, from the front of the slide.

    Here you can see the pistol stripped in depth. Please note that, the outer barrel is matted to the inner barrel in a very nice way, and also there is a second spring over the inner barrel. I assume that this second spring plays some role at the blow-back characteristics of the pistol.

    Reassembly, is as we say, the reverse procedure.


    All shooting is done at 10 m distance, using the ammoman.com bullseye target.

    The pistol was first shot the afternoon it arrived to me. It was a relatively warm afternoon, but nothing too extreme, to affect the way the pistol works.

    Since I could not fill the Wilson magazine with gas, due to the deeply seated filling valve, I used the magazine which came with the Lightweight Commander, for this test.

    I fired two 5-shot groups, checking the target after each group. The first target was shot with the pistol aimed at the center of the bullseye target, and as you can see printed a little high, which means that the pistol is set up for 6 o'clock hold.

    After I adjusted my aim to the foot of the black area of the target, I proceeded to fire the second 5-shot group, which is shown below, in the x-ring.

    As you can see, this is a 1" group, fired at 10 m from a rested position. This is the smallest group I've ever achieved with an Airsoft pistol! The very smooth and light trigger is a great help in shooting this pistol accurately, even from an off-hand position.

    Using the pistol in IPSC-style drills, is -in a word- a pleasure. The lightness of the thumb safety all but disappears, during the "heat" of the shooting time, and the well-known shape in my hands felt so nice, that I thought I was shooting my real .45. The significant weight of the pistol contributes to the impression, that you are shooting the real thing. And of course the minimal recoil makes you feel like a pro, since you can make follow-up shots very quickly.

    Poor Man's Chrono Test

    The test showed that this pistol is the most powerful from the ones I've tested so far. The BB went right through the Coke can, which indicates a speed between 350-370 fps. The bottom of the can was not penetrated.

    Some remarks:

    - Our sponsor Airsoft Extreme was kind enough to send us a customized WA Wilson Combat Professional model. So a comparison between a standard second generation WA 1911 and a modified one, will be possible. The report on the customized Professional will be published some time next week, since at the moment, the pistol is stuck in the Greek Customs, who required an Import License for it to be allowed in the country. When they opened up the box, they thought this was a real gun, I wish I was there to see their expressions!
    - The tiny screw that properly sits the magazine well to the bottom of the frame, does not inspire much confidense to me. I plan to replace it with some larger allen screw, and secure it in place with some purple Loctite.

    Magazine problem

    I was frustrated by the filling valve being so deep in the base pad, and since I didn't want to wait for an adaptor to be ordered from abroad, I decided to modifythe magazine to accept the standard-length gas canister nozzle.

    I decided to file the base pad enough, to allow my propane adapter stem, to reach the valve. The problem with this, is that there is not a lot of space left for filing, since the magazine spring enters the base pad, and the thickness of the pad at that area is maybe one or two millimeters. Still, I was prepared to loose some magazine capacity (one or two BBs less), in return for using my propane adaptor to fill the mag with gas.

    So, before filing the base pad, I put some epoxy putty at the recess of the base pad where the mag spring fits. When the putty had dried, I filed the base pad enough to allow my propane adaptor to reach the valve. Of course, I also ordered another magazine and an extension tube, so that I can have some more M-1911 compatible magazines to use with the WC and the Lightweight Commander.

    Here you can see some pictures of the trimmed magazine pad.

    As members possibly remember, Bill Wilson was kind enough to send me two of his magazines, some years ago, to try them out. Unfortunatelly, they never worked properly in my .45 ACP 1911, so I ended up giving them to a friend of mine. He tells me that they are the most reliable magazines he has ever tried. Go figure, but, it seems that my bad luck with these magazines continues in the Airsoft world. Why on earth did they install the filling valve so deeply in the pad, I do not know. The extension tube will obviously rectify the problem, but why should you be forced to carry another small thing, with the gas canister and the pistol (a small thing which can easily be lost), is beyong my comprehension.

    Anyway, this problem is easily solved, so it didn't reduce the pleasure from the usage of this excellent pistol.

    Note on Gas

    With all Western Arms pistols, you are supposed to use the HFC 134A gas. Using Green gas in them, will cause problems, premature wear etc. HFC 134A is giving slightly less performance (lower BB speed), when compared to Green Gas. Green Gas should not be used in unaltered pistols made in Japan, like the WA ones.

    With the above warning noted, I have to admit that I am testing all pistols using ... propane. Green Gas is in reality propane, with a little silicone oil added, to lubricate the pistols. So instead of paying for Green Gas, I bought a canister of propane, like the ones sold in US for the camping stoves, or flame torches, and a special valve adaptor, which allows me to use the much cheaper propane instead of Green Gas. In this site, you can read more on this issue:


    The reason I am ignoring the manufacturer's recommendation, as far as gas is concerned, is two-fold. First, I want to have consistent environment for all the tests (some of the pistols we'll test here use HFC 134A, some use Green Gas), and second it's plain difficult to find HFC 134A in Greece. Also, I plan to upgrade all the standard pistols (like this one) so that it is safe to use Green Gas (and thus propane) with them.


    Accuracy: 5
    Upgradeability: 4
    Training Capability: 5
    Realism: 5
    Quality: 5
    Power: 3

    Overall: 27
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    Last edited by John; 13th September 2008 at 09:45.

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