The Marines recently awarded Colt with a contract to supply new 1911s for use with the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) units, and it is apparent that of the handguns tested, a majority of them incurred critical damage to their frames and slides as well as other parts.
Colt sent the Marines 15 modified Rail Gun 1911s for evaluation early this year. Test pistols numbers 11, 12, 14 and 15 all showed “safety-critical” cracks and one failed completely. Samples 1-10 were not tested. The guns fired just 12,000 rounds (it is not clear whether they fired 12,000 rounds each or all together—either way this looks very bad). Despite these failures, the Marines selected Colt to manufacture future M-45s for service use.
If this proves to be as damning of Colt’s M-45 as it does on the surface, the news isn’t good. Some of the 1911s being phased out date back as early as 1945 and have had hundreds of thousands of rounds through them. Granted, they are being replaced because they’re no longer maintainable, but if their replacements suffer these types of failures after a fraction of the number of rounds, this could be a serious problem.
There is the possibility that these are a fluke, somehow the 1911s that Colt supplied for testing were flawed. While there are reports of similar consumer Colt 1911s with similar rails show cracks and damage, if this problem were somehow inherent to the design, the problem would be well-known by now. And the cracks are everywhere, not just the frames near the rails, but on the slides by the dust covers and even a ruptured spring plug caused by spring binding.
One of the main changes to the 1911 design brought by Colt to the M-45 is the addition of a two-piece dual-spring guide rod assembly, which could be the cause of all this damage. It is possible that there is a quick fix for this. Also, given the degree of damage done to the finish and end of the spring plug, the damage may have been caused by the trial; the Marines did not say what the evaluation process was—maybe, despite all this, Colt succeeded where Springfield did not.
Nevertheless it is upsetting that the Marines selected Colt with these kind of results. Colt had better have a solution ready up their sleeve or it may not be long before the Marines are forced to look for a replacement for their replacement. It’s either that, or with an individual price of $1,875, each M-45 comes with an extremely healthy supply of spare parts.
How many of you have 12,000 through Colt Rail Guns and similar Colt 1911s? Have you seen anything approaching this degree of damage to your handguns?