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Thread: MEU(SOC) Early Model by Western Arms (customized)

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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    MEU(SOC) Early Model by Western Arms (customized)

    History

    The MEU(SOC) pistol is a special gun created by USMC armorers for the men in the Marine Expenditionary Units, Special Operations Command, MEU(SOC). The Marines saw the need for a reliable .45 ACP pistol, to be used as a secondary weapon from the men of these elit units and since the USMC didn't want to spend any money in procurring new pistols, the Corps armorers were called to create them.

    The USMC armorers used existing 1911 frames the Corps had, and rebuild them to a level, which would make their men happy. Nothing fancy was done on the pistols, just basic work, which however resulted in some very reliable, tactical, no-frills pistols, which was what the men of MEU(SOC) were interested in. The first MEU(SOC) pistols were build on WWII frames, while other parts were procured from the open market.





    If you care to read more information about this pistol, please visit the following pages:

    http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/history/meusoc.htm

    http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/history/meu_1911.htm

    http://www.berryhillguns.com/meusoc.html

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...28/ai_n6040330

    This review presents to you this particular pistol, as it was initially created by the USMC armorers, and deployed to the MEUs. Later on, the USMC procured some more pistols from the market. These late pistols had basically the same design characteristics as the first ones, with some small differences, as far as some parts are concerned.

    Introduction

    Somewhere around mid-August 2005, our sponsor Airsoft Extreme send us some customized Airsoft pistols for this project. My friend and accomplice, Hawkmoon, was responsible for collecting these pistols and forwarding some of them to me, while he kept some others in USA, so that the tests could be split between me and him. On August 17th 2005, Hawkmoon mailed me a package, with two of the pistols. After exactly two months (and no thanks to the speed of the Greek Customs, but thanks to the Greek Police who issued me the Import License as fast as it could possibly be issued), the pistols finally arrived in my home, on the 18th of October!!!. One of them, the subject of this test, is the MEU(SOC) pistol, made by Western Arms (WA).

    Now for those who do not read the Internet forums or and do not follow the Airsoft news, WA has released two MEU(SOC) Models, the Early model (which we will present you here) and the late model. The first one, represents the first pistols build by USMC armorers, for the use of MEU(SOC), while the second one is the later model as adopted later by USMC. Both models are shown in the picture below.




    Description

    Here is what the standard grey WA box contained:



    There was the usual small bag of BBs, the plastic bushing wrench, one allen wrench for the adjustment of the hop-up, the usual Japanese documentation and of course the pistol. I first opened the box with the MEU, while driving from the Customs to my home (the height of the Cherokee doesn't allow people from other cars to look inside mine ) and I was speechless! I could not believe the authenticity of the gun. I had to look twice, to believe what I saw on the frame.



    What draw my attention where the inspection marks on the left side of the frame. A "P" near the mag release button and the "GHD" initials below the slide stop.



    In the front left corner of the trigger guard, the VP marks were shown!



    On the right side of the frame, the words "US PROPERTY", "M1911A1" and "U.S.ARMY" were visible! Finally a set of rubber, wrap-around grips (very similar to Pachmayr's) are installed on the pistol, just like the ones installed by USMC armorers. All these are consistent with military 1911 frames of the WWII era.



    Even the lanyard loop, specified and installed by the USMC is represented very accurately on this Airsoft pistol.



    So is the special safety that USMC used in these pistols, when they build them for MEU(SOC) personel.



    I think this is one of the most interesting aspects of the real MEU pistol, and it looks as if this is the only ambi safety that I would trust on my real pistols. They way its two parts mesh with each other is very interesting, via a modified hammer pin. This is a King's Gun Works safety, and it is accurately reproduced here.



    Accurate and authentic are also the sights used, which are of the normal, high fixed style sights. The rear one was fabricated by the USMC armorers themselves and it is one of the best fixed sights I've seen. In the newer MEU(SOC) models, they were replaced by Novak Low-Mounts, but these are correct for the older pistols. The front sight is a staked-on dual crimp Millet, which is very well reproduced here, but I find it very wide, for the notch of the rear sight. On a tactical pistol you want some more light to the sides of the front sight, to facilitate quick sight alignment.



    The beavertail safety is blended nicely with the frame and the serrated mainspring housing.



    Finally the pistol uses the standard recoil spring setup with a short guide rod, just like the Marines pistols. Say "attention to detail" again?



    OK, one thing that I thought would look a little more authentic on the pistol, was a set of real Pachmayr grips, so I searched in my grips box and found an old set I had. They were installed on the pistol very easily.



    Please note that our pistol has been customized by Airsoft Extreme to include a metal slide by Prime, with Kimber logo and Guarder 150% recoil and hammer springs. I am not sure how authentic the slide is, the pictures of MEU(SOC) pistols I've seen, showed a Springfield slides installed on them. However, the Kimber metallic slide, adds so much reality to the gun, that I am willing to forgive the inconsistency (if there is one).



    The magazine supplied with the pistol, is the standard, new WA magazine, which immitates Wilson Combat 8 rounder (47D), and has a capacity of 23 BBs.

    The frame of the pistol (and I assume the original plastic slide) are of a strange color. Even though from far, it looks like black, upon closer inspection, they are of a very dark grey hue, which I assume tries to immitate the parkerizing color. You can see the grey-ness, in the lanyard picture above. The whole pistol is covered with ... stealth colors, except the trigger, which is aluminum and shiny.

    The metallic slide that Airsoft Extreme has installed on our pistols, together with the quality of the original WA frame made this a very realistic 1911. I was really impressed by the quality, the authenticity and the feel of the pistol in my hands.

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

    [BREAK]

    Disassembly

    The pistol strips to its components, in the usual way. Remove the magazine and verify that there is no round in the chamber (OK, in an Airsoft pistol this is not very important, even if there is a BB in the chamber, it can't be fired without a magazine, but it's good to maintain the same habbits as with real pistols). Then pull the slide back until the disassembly notch is aligned with the top of the slide stop and push the slide stop out from the right side of the frame. As with all SCW pistols, removing the slide stop is a little more difficult than expected, due to the way the slide stop and the barrel link are interconnected.

    Pictures of the internals of a WA SCW Version 1 pistol, can be found in our Colt Lightweight Commander review.

    Shooting

    You can of course imagine, how anxious I was to test this pistol. However, firing it had to be postponed, since by the time I had it cleared from customs and went home, it was time to pick up the kids from the nursery school, so it was impossible to do any firing tests.

    So next morning, I set up my usual firing range (a cardboard box at 10 meters with the ammoman.com precision target) and started firing it. Some remarks:

    - The pistol has the same fine trigger, as all the other WA 1911s I've tried. Real gun manufacturers could learn a thing or two from WA on this front (just joking ).
    - This is the first WA pistol I tried, which had a decent thumb safety feel. Not only it worked as it should, but it felt like it should as well. Thank God! The safety also immitates very nicely the real, Kimber thumb safety, which was used on the real pistols.
    - The sights on the custom Kimber slide, even though they look military they are absolutely great for shooting. The USMC armorers have done a great job with the rear sight, while the Millett front one is quite nice, even though a little wide, as I mentioned above. Some filing of its sides is all that is needed. A touch of red paint in the front, will help anyone with aging eyes, like mine, to see the front sight better.

    So how did the MEU shoots?

    Originally, the pistol shoot quite good, but the groups were a little left and higher than the center of the target. Drifting the rear sight a bit, moved the Point of Impact (POI), to the center, but it was still firing too high, for my taste.

    So, I decided to do some more customizing work. With some epoxy putty, I created an extension for the front sight, which was glued when hardened, to the existing sight using Super Glue. After filing the extension to match the sight shape, I started shooting the pistol, and trimming the extension down, until the POI was more or less where I wanted it. A little higher than the Point of Aim (POA).

    Here is one of the latest groups shot with the pistol.



    Groups in that range are easy to obtain at distances of 8-10 meters. As you can see, the rear sight needs to be drifted a little more to the right, in order to perfectly center the groups. Also, while testing this pistol, I tried two different BB weights, the 0.20 gr and the 0.25 gr Marui. The pistol shot extremely high with the 0.20 BBs, while it shoots very near to POA with the 0.25 gr ones.

    Poor Man's Chrono Test

    The pistol performed very nicely in this test, penetrating both sides of a Coke can. It failed to penetrate the can's bootom, thus the speed is around 350-370 fps.


    Rating

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

    Overall: 25



    Overall

    A very authentic reproduction of the real, first-generation MEU(SOC) pistols, as they were produced by the USMC armorers. Very real looking and very nicely working. I do not know if the POA/POI problem was a peculiarity of the tested gun or not, but it's not something difficult to correct, so I guess it shouldn't bother anyone who will select this pistol as a training aid.


    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:

    http://www.airsoft-innovations.com

    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. Of course, this pistol featured a metallic slide and upgraded springs, so the usage of Green gas or propane in it, is possible, without risking any damage.

    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 13th September 2008 at 08:44.


  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Wow, impressive job they've done. Agreed, they should have used a different slide marking, but it is quite the looker for a toy.
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." - Jeff Cooper

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