You’re probably wondering what I’m doing blowing through about 50,000 rounds for three posts. I recently concluded 25,000 rounds with an SIG M17 and 15,000 rounds through a SIG P365. Today we’re looking at what 15,000 rounds though a Colt M45A1 Marine Pistol looks like and what to expect when you put that much lead through a 1911.
The first thing that needs to be addressed; the M45A1 initially got a bad rap for reports of the slide cracking after only a few thousand rounds. This was, like so many of these situations, only seen in a small number of guns and corrected immediately. The pistol I have has had no such problems.
So let’s go over the negatives first because this will be the shortest part. The gun has a large grip circumference and a smooth front strap. That makes it hard to hold onto when I’m sweaty or hot. Likewise, in extreme cold. These are things that I would normally change, but I didn’t want to alter an original Colt.
The next criticism I have is also a plus for the gun in that it’s a full-steel, full-size pistol. This baby is heavy and it takes some getting used to on the hip. It is several ounces heavier than most 1911’s I have and with a Surefire X300U-A (the as-issued light for the USMC version) it’s something of a boat anchor.
Nevertheless, the weight helps accuracy and I’d say that if you do it right, it can be comfortably carried regularly. A good holster really helps in this department.
The next point involves the holsters themselves. I will be covering custom holsters like those from my friends at BlackPoint Tactical in an upcoming article and the reason I mention that is because you really need to look into a custom option for this gun.
There are many holsters available for rail-framed 1911’s, but this rail is lower and has some different dimensions than, say, a SIG 1911. The lights get positioned lower, leading to a situation where the gun and light won’t fit in a holster shared by other 1911’s.
I’ve been able to get away with using the same holsters for many of my 1911’s over the years, but you really do need a dedicated one for this gun. It’s very close to, but not the same as the rest. I have a military Safariland holster for it that’s the same one issued to the USMC, but it is not the light-bearing model.
At 15,000 rounds, the gun has seen primarily factory ammo, although it has also seen a goodly number of handloads in 200 and 230gr. During my time withe the M45A1 I haven’t had a single problem. It’s never jammed, failed to feed, or hung up on an odd bullet shape.
The gun ships with Wilson Combat magazines, so that tells you all you really need to know about the pistol’s reliability. I’ve only shot it with Wilson mags and I use them in all my 1911’s. The only minor magazine-related problem I’ve seen was that the release itself was very stiff when I first got the gun, but it has worn in just fine.
The pistol was never be all that tight fitting. Many 1911s out the are so tight that it can be a problem when the gun heats up or gets dirty. This is built as a fighting pistol and it has a an appropriate amount of rattle that you just have to live with. This doesn’t impact accuracy or reliability.
The finish is what Colt calls Decobond and it has held up pretty well given the amount of use. The earlier versions of this gun has a Cerakote finish which ran into some issues, and it was a slightly different shade as well.
The Decobond finish on my gun is bit textured and takes on a chalkiness when fired a great deal, especially at the muzzle. That’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it makes the pistol is a little more difficult to clean. It has smoothed out slightly with use, but hasn’t worn off on any of the corners or from the holster.
Now that we’ve covered reliability and wear, how about accuracy? The good news is that there is no news. The gun is just as accurate now as it was out of the box. It has routinely been able to put five shots into a 1.5-2-inch space at 25 meters, and I believe this is about as good as most good 1911s get. The National Match barrel definitely helps in this department.
The M45A1’s trigger pull has also smoothed out and become even better with time. I see this in many 1911 pistols including ones I’ve gunsmithed myself.
The pull is still on the stiff side at about 5 lbs, but it’s very crisp and is one of the nicest feeling triggers I’ve felt on a military pistol. I really enjoy it and it makes the gun feel great when shooting for accuracy, especially on paper.
After many thousands of rounds, my impression of the M45A1 is very positive. I like that Colt made a great and reliable product here and that it has continued to function with no issues over a large number of rounds.
I wish it was just a tad lighter and easier to carry, but I guess we all want something. I like this gun for what it is and the place in history it briefly occupied as an official USMC 1911 variant.