I admit I greeted the news with great enthusiasm. In July, Colt Defense was awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract by the U.S. Marine Corps for up to 12,000 M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistols (CQBP), including logistical support. The new CQBP is a direct descendant of the stalwart Colt M1911 adopted by the U.S. military in 1911 and carried as the primary sidearm through all of the major conflicts and wars of the 20th century. The CQBP expands on a long history of the Marines rebuilding original government-issue 1911s, primarily for use by Force Recon and MARSOC units.
Nearly three decades after the .45 was replaced by a double-action 9mm, branches of our military have lately been reconsidering that decision. Contrary to what many believe, the single-action 1911 pistol is not only safe to carry in its proper cocked-and-locked mode, but its short trigger action makes it easy to shoot well. And the time spent trying to master the double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger can be eliminated. I had the opportunity to talk with a young Marine who had fought in Fallujah and was armed with an issued 9mm pistol. He told me, “Everyone I knew who used the gun thumb-cocked it so they didn’t have to push through the long first trigger.” If this is how the gun is being used across the board, then it makes sense to just use a singe-action-only pistol to begin with.
As the military seems to be moving full circle in regard to a fighting handgun, I can’t help but wonder if American law enforcement agencies will start to give the 1911 a serious look. With striker-fired pistols like the Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P being the overwhelming favorites of cops nationwide, I can’t help but think the 1911 would be a welcome addition to the cop arsenal.
I recently had the opportunity to work with what I saw as the “police version” of Colt’s new USMC pistol. With the exception of the all-black finish (the USMC version is Flat Dark Earth), the guns appear to be identical. Colt calls it the Rail Gun. This updated 1911 pistol is outfitted with new features designed for the law enforcement community.
The rail that is machined into the dust cover of the updated Colt Rail Gun offers the versatility of attaching tactical lights or laser sights, making it a tactical pistol easily adaptable to any military or law enforcement requirement. In the 21st century, any pistol not equipped with such a rail system will likely be a “non-starter” for most American LE men and women. The upswept beavertail grip safety with palm swell found on the new gun not only protects the hand from “slide bite” but also ensures users will positively depress the grip safety if a less than positive grip is obtained during a rapid draw and deployment.
To make the gun even more appealing to law enforcement agencies, the Rail Gun is equipped with a tactical-grade, ambidextrous safety lever, making it more easily adaptable to both right- and left-handed shooters. Colt opted to equip the Rail Gun with a set of Novak Low Mount Carry sights with three white dots. While I could certainly work with these sights, I would probably replace the front sight with a tritium bead and then paint the face orange or lime green to offer an even faster front sight acquisition. The hammer is a skeletonized version of the Commander style with an elongated spur and top serrations to offer the cocking thumb greater purchase. The dark wood, diamond-style grips offer a solid gripping surface, and while the frontstrap is not checkered, I did not find this to be a detriment. With the grips being checkered and the mainspring housing serrated, I found three of the four sides being textured enough to secure a solid grip.
The three-hole aluminum trigger has a serrated face that I feel helps hold my trigger finger in place. The lowered and flared ejection port helps throw empty cases well clear of the gun. The slide has a set of forward cocking serrations that I happen to like. To increase the gun’s accuracy, a National Match barrel is included, which further shows Colt’s commitment to quality. The gun also comes with two of Colt’s eight-round magazines. Add a forged-steel receiver, forged-steel slide, forged stainless steel barrel, forged-steel slide stop and a deep matte black finish and you have a gun that can go into harm’s way on the street or battlefield.