Knocking-Off the MEU(SOC) .45 [M1911 Customization Project]


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CmdrSlander
August 4, 2012, 04:49 AM
Knocking-Off the MEU(SOC) .45

a Project by CmdrSlander of Thehighroad.org
Definition of KNOCKOFF

A copy that sells for less than the original; broadly : a copy or imitation of someone or something popular

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Introduction:

I've always wanted to own a close approximation of the venerable MEU(SOC) .45 pistol. The MEU(SOC) .45 is a M1911 variant hand built from existing M1911 frames by Marine Corps armorers at Quantico. The MEU(SOC) .45 is one of the few M1911 variants still in use in the U.S. military, and, needless to say, since they have chosen to keep using it, they love it. As one marine said: "The only problem with the gun is that we don't have enough of them." and "[We have] 60, are allotted 110, and should have 300."

Truly replicating the MEU(SOC) .45 would call for the acquisition of the highest grade M1911 components as well as hours of laborious hand fitting. This of course requires a great deal of money and time. Where my gun hobby is concerned, I have little of either. Therefore, I have resolved to duplicate the appearance and handling of the pistol without truly replicating it. This will allow me to use cheaper components, etc. I intend to do all the work myself, and, as my gunsmithing experience is close to naught, 'Drop-in" is the order of the day. For my first post, I will create a 'MEU(SOC) shopping list', divided into two sections: "Core" (components without which the pistol will not resemble or handle like the MEU(SOC) .45) and "Additional" (components which are considered accessories, and which are not present on all MEU(SOC) .45s).

As the MEU(SOC) .45 is a custom built piece of equipment, there are many different configurations in the field. I have chosen the configuration pictured below as my guide, primarily because it is distinctive while not differing too far from the GI style M1911, which is my base gun for this build.

I intend for this thread to serve as a guide so that others may create a MEU(SOC) knockoff as well.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Meusoc86.gif
Figure 1: A MEU(SOC) .45 as configured for combat use in 2007 by Marine Mike Searson.

Part the First: Shopping List

Core:
The Base Gun: My base gun for this project is a RIA GI in 9mm (yes, the blasphemous 9mm, I prefer the cheap ammo cost and mild recoil of the 9, a .45 can also be used for this project, of course.) As a .45 ACP chambered M1911 would be more accurate for the project I will link to it: http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/21_876/products_id/411539079/Rock+Island+Armory+GI+M1911A1+Mil+Spec+.45 [Cost: $409] (Any Colt Series 70/GI Style Pistol can use the same parts and procedures as outlined in this guide)

http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/images/411539079.jpg
Figure 2: The Base Gun, on which the MEU(SOC) knockoff will be built.

Strider Gunner Grips: Searson's .45 has been outfitted with Strider Gunner grips. Pachmayr wraparound grips are often used as well and are now virtually standard. I prefer the Striders and will be using them for this project. http://vzgrips.com/gun-grips/1911-pistol-grips-1/gunner-grips/gunner-grips-army-green-g10 [Cost: $65]
http://vzgrips.com/img/Grip%20Pics/Gunner%20Grips/gun-rGreen-5_L.jpg
Figure 3: Stider/Simonich Grips in Green.

Drop in Beavertail Grip Safety: By Wilson Combat. Replicates the look of the Beavertail GS used on the MEU(SOC) .45. http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/product/38838 [Cost $32.58]
http://cdn1.cheaperthandirt.com/ctd_images/lgprod/38838.jpg
Figure 4: Wilson Combat Drop In Grip Safety. 'High Ride Beavertail.'

Alternate Style 'Ring' Hammer: Again, duplicates the look of the MEU(SOC) .45. http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/sid=53825/pid=27433/Product/1911-AUTO-HAMMERS?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&mc_id=10000&gdftrk=gdfV21820_a_7c187_a_7c3466_a_7c100004492_d_100004490_d_10575 [Cost: $25.99]
http://www.brownells.com/userdocs/skus/p_100004492_1.jpg
Figure 5: Ring style hammer as fielded on all MEU(SOC) .45s.

Extended Thumb Safety: By Wilson Combat. Note: Ambi Safety's are present on some MEU(SOC) .45s. http://www.midwayusa.com/product/670138/wilson-combat-extended-thumb-safety-1911-blue [Cost: $31.99]
http://media.midwayusa.com/productimages/440x330/primary/670/670138.jpg
Figure 6: Extended thumb safety, mono-dextrous.

Wilson Combat 8 Round Magazine: As issued with all MEU(SOC) .45s. http://www.midwayusa.com/product/644241/wilson-combat-magazine-with-base-pad-1911-government-commander-45-acp-8-round-stainless-steel [Cost $31.99] (if you have a 9mm M1911 like me: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/485473/wilson-combat-elite-tactical-magazine-etm-with-base-pad-1911-government-commander-9mm-luger-10-round-stainless-steel [Cost: $33.99])
http://media.midwayusa.com/productimages/440x330/primary/644/644241.jpg
Figure 7: Wilson Combat 8 Round Magazine, Stainless steel.

Total Cost for a 9mm M1911 for Core Components (excluding the pistol itself): Only $189.55 (.45 ACP 1911 owners subtract $2)
At the Core Level, you'll have made your pistol largely identical (superficially) to a combat ready MEU(SOC) .45. Not only is your pistol more useable, being better suited for duty, combat, range use, and carry than an unmodified GI pistol, it is a great conversation starter among gun enthusiasts, as you have an approximation of the only M1911 still in the hands of our armed forces.

Additional:
High Profile Sights: The real MEU(SOC) .45 uses custom made high profile sights fit to the GI dovetail, these sights are produced at Quantico and not available to the general public. These Fusion Firearms sights are a good alternative. Professional Gunsmithing and/or special tools will be required to fit these sights. Not all MEU(SOC) .45s wear high profile sights, though all those with replaced, aftermarket slides do. I will not be using these sights to save on gunsmithing costs. http://www.fusionfirearms.com/servlet/the-746/1911-Colt-white-dot/Detail [Cost: $29.95 + gunsmithing fees]
http://www.fusionfirearms.com/catalog/sight%20Set%20WD%2070%20Series%20DA%20Style-1.jpg
Figure 8: High profile, 3 dot sights for M1911's with GI sight cuts. Similar in both form and function to the custom sights used on the MEU(SOC) .45

Mainspring Housing with Lanyard Loop: True GI M1911s will have a lanyard loop already, however, the RIA does not. The Marines, of course consider a lanyard loop and lanyard critical, as the MEU conducts operations at sea, where a lost/dropped pistol would, of course, be impossible to recover. As a lowly civvie I may skip this component. http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/sid=30861/pid=12739/Product/1911-AUTO-LANYARD-LOOP-MAINSPRING-HOUSING [Cost: 48.99]
http://www.brownells.com/userdocs/skus/p_849000015_1.jpg
Figure 9: An arched MSH w/ lanyard loop as employed on Searson's .45. Some MEU(SOC) .45s use flat MSH, this is left to operator preference.

SureFire Weapon Light: Research indicates that the weapon light employed by Searson is no longer available, the closest approximation available to us at relatively low cost is the SureFire X300. I feel fairly safe in assuming that the marines have since upgraded from the light used in the 2007 photo of Searson's pistol, and a light very similar (though not marked with brand names) has appeared on more recent iterations of the MEU(SOC) .45. http://www.surefire.com/illumination/weaponlights/handgun/x300-led-weaponlight.html [Cost: $275]
http://www.surefire.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/350x250/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/X/3/X300.png
Figure 10: SureFire X300 weapon light.

SureFire Weapon Light Rail Adapter: Required to use any modern SureFire Weapon light on a railless M1911 pattern pistol. The MEU(SOC) .45 employs frames from WWII era M1911 pistols (no rails, obviously), so it is safe to assume that the Marines use this or a similar component to mount weapon lights. http://www.surefire.com/mr07-mounting-rail.html [Cost: $99.00]
http://www.surefire.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/350x250/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/M/R/MR07_xlarge_23518.png
Figure 11: The adapter required to use a weapon light on a traditional M1911. Attaches via modified slide stop assembly.

Gemtech Tactical Retention Lanyard: This is the EXACT lanyard used by the Marines. Its breakaway feature is recorded to have saved the life of one marine after his helicopter crashed in deep water off San Diego, Ca. His .45 became caught on a strut within the chopper, trapping him in the rapidly sinking craft. The breakaway feature engaged moments later, allowing him to escape. http://www.gem-tech.com/store/pc/Tactical-Retention-Lanyard-26p144.htm [Cost: $25]
http://www.gem-tech.com/store/pc/catalog/trl1_992_detail.jpg
Figure 12: The Gemtech TRL, with its, quite literally, lifesaving breakaway feature.

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I will begin ordering components for the pistol soon. Updating this thread as they arrive and are installed, with tips and instructions for installation. A range report will, of course, wrap up the thread. The pistol is likely to be completed by January, 2013 (components have to be ordered piecemeal as funds become available).

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Much the information in this post was derived from "Strong Men Armed" by Patrick A. Rogers.


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I like to thank the Marine Corps for having the guts to continue fielding the world's greatest combat pistol, 101 years later.

Marines + .45 Auto + M1911 = RUN FOR COVER, ENEMIES.

http://images.military.com/EQGpics/EQG_WSAM1911_1.jpg


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Until the components arrive, it is up to you to keep this thread alive with discussion, tips, etc.

If you enjoyed reading about "Knocking-Off the MEU(SOC) .45 [M1911 Customization Project]" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
txgunsuscg
August 4, 2012, 03:43 PM
That is a Surefire 3 volt 1911 light. I have a 6 volt and holster if you are interested (longer, sticks out in front of the barrel). But yes, the Marines have likely switched to something more along the lines of the Surefire X300. If cost is really a concern, I would look more toward a Streamlight, as they run around $125, versus the X300 at around $200+. I'll follow your progress with interest, as I personally think a MEU(SOC) clone is awesome. I'm thinking of painting my Rail Gun (yeah, I'll be one of those guys...)

BTW, I have a list of the actual components used on the MEU(SOC) conversions pulled off the FedBiz site if you want it. You are correct though, the bill for the parts would run almost as much as the gun, although you could skip on some of them you probably don't need (ie, barrel).

Greg528iT
August 4, 2012, 04:26 PM
Nice project. I'm surprised by the picture of the MEU(SOC) as it does appear to have the Wilson DROP in beaver tail. I can tell you from experience that they DO work. Only take a minimum of "fitting" errrr ensuring the tab that limits the trigger bow does not move. Mine was perfect out of the box, BUT my fitted replacement did need a little assistance. ANYWAY. surprised, cause I see it has the same issue I got rid of mine for, the poor looking fit as the increased opening for the frame tang just looks a little gross.
I'd have thought the armorers would have fitted the grip safetys, just surprised is all.

You are going for a replica / as seen, then you are on the right track. Good luck
I have a stainless Wilson drop in for cheap. ;)

Are you going to cera coat or other????

CmdrSlander
August 4, 2012, 09:11 PM
Nice project. I'm surprised by the picture of the MEU(SOC) as it does appear to have the Wilson DROP in beaver tail. I can tell you from experience that they DO work. Only take a minimum of "fitting" errrr ensuring the tab that limits the trigger bow does not move. Mine was perfect out of the box, BUT my fitted replacement did need a little assistance. ANYWAY. surprised, cause I see it has the same issue I got rid of mine for, the poor looking fit as the increased opening for the frame tang just looks a little gross.
I'd have thought the armorers would have fitted the grip safetys, just surprised is all.

You are going for a replica / as seen, then you are on the right track. Good luck
I have a stainless Wilson drop in for cheap. ;)

Are you going to cera coat or other????
No, keeping the natural blued/parkerized finish, as the marines do.

CmdrSlander
August 4, 2012, 09:26 PM
No, keeping the natural blued/parkerized finish, as the marines do.
Most MEU(SOC) .45s end up being worn down to nearly bare metal after a year or so in the field, and honestly, I wouldn't mind the knockoff (which has a much crappier finish than a 'proper' M1911) wearing down to a similar level.

Detritus
August 6, 2012, 12:24 AM
I'd have thought the armorers would have fitted the grip safetys, just surprised is all.

My initial thought is that some officer at Marine Corps HQ received a visit from the "Good Idea Fairy", and declared that since there was a product that allowed install of a beaver tail without cutting or reshaping the frame tangs, that no such cutting, shaping, or fitting would be allowed.

plus how pretty or ugly an in-use weapon is has never been a top priority for the marines, or any other service for that matter. :)

Quiet
August 6, 2012, 11:10 AM
Last month, the USMC awarded Colt with a $22.5 million contract to replace all the 1911s in use by MEU(SOC).

The replacement pistol is a modified Colt M-1911A1 Rail Gun and is being designated M45 CQBP.

The contract is for 4000 pistols to be delivered by 2017.


Colt M45 CQBP
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/xml/news/2012/07/marine-corps-marsoc-new-colt-45-caliber-pistols-071912/073012mc_Colt_pistol_800.JPG

CmdrSlander
August 6, 2012, 03:39 PM
Last month, the USMC awarded Colt with a $22.5 million contract to replace all the 1911s in use by MEU(SOC).

The replacement pistol is a modified Colt M-1911A1 Rail Gun and is being designated M45 CQBP.

The contract is for 4000 pistols to be delivered by 2017.


Colt M45 CQBP
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/xml/news/2012/07/marine-corps-marsoc-new-colt-45-caliber-pistols-071912/073012mc_Colt_pistol_800.JPG
Yes, I know. However, the MEU(SOC) .45 is still in use at the moment and even when it goes out of use, it will still be an interesting piece of military history to have knocked-off (replicated). The finished product will also be much more usable than the current GI config pistol I have so I would be making most of these mods anyway, the fact that I can get it to resemble a MEU(SOC) .45 is just icing on the proverbial cake.

Skylerbone
August 6, 2012, 04:21 PM
The unfitted beavertail is to provide for parts to freely exchange. As far as parts go, I would consider a different thumb safety, EGW makes an outstanding one and I would not recommend changing hammers without a gunsmith with your admittedly light skill set.

Best of luck on the project.

FMF Doc
August 6, 2012, 11:13 PM
The MEU(SOC) pistols that I shot had G10 like grips that were made of compressed canvass. It has the best grip with or without gloves when wet. Also, we were running Insight M6X/SU-238/PVS. With NVGs it was point and shoot durring VBSS missions.

cyclopsshooter
August 10, 2012, 01:09 AM
Tag- Now you got me thinking about it

Jon_L
August 12, 2012, 10:51 AM
Tag.

Mike Searson
November 16, 2012, 10:57 PM
Very cool. A couple of points, though...

That gun was built before 2007, I want to say 2004. Those were more or less the specs at the time. 2007 may have been when I re edited it and uploaded it to wiki.

The light is obviously antiquated. That 1911A1 had no rail, it was a Colt built in 1941 that a previous owner had polished to a high sheen and put pewter grips on it. I got a deal on it and used it for this build as it had the US Property Marks on it, so I black parked it and I think when I took that pic, I had yet to do the sights. The 1911s at that time still had no rail and that light was the actual USMC light from that time frame.

I typically build my own guns as close to the MEU(SOC) standards from my own years in the Corps (20-25 years ago) as that was literally the 1911A1 style that I learned how to shoot. The proper hammer should be an MGW ring hammer made from A2 tool steel. I prefer the Arched MSH...some guys like the flat, etc. Some of my personal builds are not exact, (I prefer double diamond hard wood checkered grips on my 1911s) but that one was pretty damn close to DET-1's pistols as of 2004. I do most of my projects like the OP, or what I call the Johnny Cash method...one piece at a time!

I would say that except for 2 GI pistols in my 1911 collection made in 1917, that my other 5 have about 90% of the characteristics that make the MEU (SOC) pistols. I have an article coming out in the next issue of RECOIL (yeah, I know...don't hate me, I wrote it months ago!) that should have some really good pics.

If you enjoyed reading about "Knocking-Off the MEU(SOC) .45 [M1911 Customization Project]" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!