The Colt MEU(SOC) Pistol

Right off the bat I need to say that the title of this post is likely incorrect. A tip of the hat to the late Dave Berryhill. What I have always called a MEU(SOC) pistol is a 1911 built up and tuned by the US Marine Corps Precision Weapons Section (PWS) at Quantico. This was built by Colt.

Colt M45a1 — The Biggest Service Pistol Failure in IS Military History

Do they still do it? And if so, is it there? I honestly don’t know. Why? Because at the end of the day a work gun is just a work gun. You get what they throw at you. Or what you can afford. If you are lucky. Some called this the M45A1. Some call it the CQB pistol. Others call it a Recon or MEU(SOC) pistol.

The image pictured here is likely the very last 45 caliber 1911 that was issued to any US Military Forces. At least standardized. But no more. I think. At least I think that is what I think. I don’t care to even search the subject out. Why the lukewarm interest?

Colt M45a1 — The Biggest Service Pistol Failure in IS Military History

The truth. I used to say we live in a Glock world. But in reality we live in a striker pistol world. Most of the people of the age to be in RECON or MEU(SOC) or Raiders likely were born after 1990. They grew up in a Glock world. And it came as no surprise to many that the M45 / CQB45 left many with lukewarm feelings.

Work guns need to work. But just as importantly, if they are 100% reliable with less maintenance or time invested chasing function, that leaves more time to do a myriad of other tasks that aren’t considered cool by Hollywood / Gun-Forum standards. But likely more important since military service…is…a…rifle…service.

11th MEU Member Shoots M45a1 Pistol. Notice the wear.

So back to this pistol. Look closely at the image. Is that gun abused? Is a RECON Marine not a “Gun Guy”? Or an armed professional? Of course he is. Those marks are just wear. But if you listen to the gun forums, a pistol in that shape is carried by Bozo The Clown.


Makes me wonder. Will DOD allow these last Colt 1911’s service pistols to be surplussed out to CMP? One can only hope. It would be neat to have one. Not for it’s reputation for function. That is nothing to brag about since it likely holds the dubious distinction as the shortest-lived service pistol is US Military History. Yes. From a procurement standpoint, this pistol is the biggest handgun failure for the US Military in over 100 years.

Buy it for its historical fact. Not its PR fiction.

The last 45.

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Marky Mark

Marky Mark

Writer at
Writer for Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Analysis of the Geo-political / Military Relationship in the Context of Strategic Goals.
Marky Mark

Latest posts by Marky Mark (see all)

  • Opening comment. There are few things uglier on the internet than a 1911 gun forum geek who is pissed off or offended than his pet pistol isn’t being used by people who actually get out from behind the computer and shoot a lot. For a living.

    So with that being said, we moderate the comments heavily on this website. Nobody has time for what has passed as standard fare on a gun forum. The ban hammer is out and ready to play.

    Contribute for the readers. Or ask questions of the writers.

    3 pages of crap comments isn’t the goal on this website. Save it for the schlock properties. You have been warned, so don’t act like a victim when you get banned for deviating.

    “Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

  • Al Lamano

    Just curious, why was it a failure? I consider myself a “1911 guy” just because I tend to shoot that platform the most consistently and quite frankly, it fits my hand/wrist the best.

    • I don’t think it lasted 3 years in service. DOD doesn’t buy infantry weapons for 3 years of service.


  • Bryce Mibeck

    I would love to purchase one through CMP, as you said, for the historical value. I agree it was a procurement failure. At the time they adopted it, I can recall being pleased they were transitioning back to a .45, since I am a .45 guy, and not really thinking much about the platform. Now, years later, having worked as an administrator and making procurement decisions, I see the wisdom of remaining with the 9mm, and the poor decision making in choice of platform.

    Having carried a striker pistol for 20+ out of my 36 years in law enforcement, I would never carry a 1911 on duty as my carry handgun, much as I like the pistol. I would have to retrain myself to adapt to the “cocked and locked” carry, and still would worry about negligent discharges.

    The agency I used to work for just had a negligent discharge with a 1911during range training, and, although the investigation is not completed, there was nearly universal agreement among all of us, including military veterans who had carried the 1911, that the single action nature of the pistol was part of what happened.

    • I carried a 1911 professionally for 12 years. I’m quite fond of the platform. But it’s time has come and gone.

      I personally would love to have CMP papered CQB, but the coin for such a thing? The juice isn’t worth for the squeeze since I already have 3 VERY nice 1911’s.


  • John Coleman Stewart

    Looks like muzzle blacking and holster wear, NBD. I would think the Cero-coat would not have worn like that, might be an application issue. I never had a 1911 that looked that good during my time in the Corps, so I can’t see an issue with a working gun. The Armory painted giant inventory numbers on the grips, which looked horrid, but insured they were in the corresponding slot in the pistol rack. I would think the bidding prices would be crazy, history is a great thing, if I wanted one, I would probably buy a new Colt of that model cheaper. Kimber and Springfield have a near same model as well. I prefer my pistol to be high round count, for CQB and as a last ditch weapon, so I carry Glocks and/or a HK VP9.

  • Mikial

    Some good insights, Marky.

    My wife and I both enjoy shooting our 1911s, and my very first pistol was a 1911 that I really had a lot of fun with. Over my various OCONUS contracts I’ve been issued and carried everything from High Powers to Glocks to Kimber 1911s ( as you said, “You get what they throw at you”), and my personal preference is for a striker fired pistol. And no, I was born WAAAAY before 1990, although I’m happy to say my wife was born after 1990 ;-). Interestingly enough, she prefers her Beretta 92, but I prefer my Glock or a Ruger American Pistol, although i have also carried an XD at times. And no matter which one I am carrying, the manual of arms is the same . . . . draw and fire. No safety or messing with a hammer or decocker. I think this is one reason why the military, law enforcement agencies and so many other people who rely on their gun in times of stress have gone to striker fired pistols.

    • John Coleman Stewart

      I’ve been looking at the Ruger American, tell me more about what you like about that particular pistol, I like Rugers, they make stout guns.

    • We agree on the agency move to striker guns.


  • captain shlushy

    I will take one.

    • I haven’t seen an actual MEUSOC or MEUSOC clone on the secondary market in over a decade.

      One of the issues is the same as the Colt SP1 / M16a1. They are featured like the latest and greatest, so they get left behind.

      But a surge in retro interest in the A1 M-16 foreshadows a renewed interest in the MEUSOC.

      One day, a MEUSOC pistol will command 10k or more. Count on it.