Colt M45A1 CQBP
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Full disclosure, I am a Colt fanatic. So if my pictures of the Colt M45A1 Close Quarters Battle Pistol (CQBP) look like they were shot through rose colored sunglasses (I live in Miami), don’t be surprised. It took me a long time to finally get a review gun from Colt, and I am absolutely enamored with this pistol. If you didn’t know this already, the United States Marine Corps contracted Colt Defense in 2012 to build just over 4,000 of these guns for their Special Forces units. It was the first time since the end of WWII that Colt had supplied new 1911 pistols to the US Government, and for Colt fanatics like me, the news was like a homecoming. Prior to this deal, the Special Operations had been using the 1911, but they had to be rebuilt from guns that were retired upon adoption of the Beretta M9. The old guns had gotten tired, and Colt was the winner among several manufacturers to supply the new guns. The contract is ongoing, so a lot more than 4,000 guns will be shipped to the Marines. The good news for us is that the civilian version is the exact same gun, and they are finally starting to reliably show up in the market. The MSRP on the Colt CQBP is $2,149, and you can find them for slightly less if you look around.
The M45M1A is built on a stainless steel frame and slide, which has been covered with a Desert Tan Cerakote. It was raining for my first outing with the gun, but I have tried to keep the pics as close to the color in person as possible. A lot of online pics I noticed show the gun as too light colored. I shot this gun the first time at SHOT Show Media Day of 2013, and I remember that I had a peeve on it that the front of the muzzle gets really dirty when you shoot it a lot, so I was really pleased when the carbon rubbed right off without even any solvent. Why am I talking about colors and keeping the finish nice before the performance lol? Because most civilians who buy this gun are going to treat it as a collectible. As a collectible, Colt is shooting these guns at the factory, and though mine didn’t come with one, they are supposed to come with a test target. Don’t be afraid to shoot your M45A1 Colt. It cleans up perfect.
The firing system on the gun is the Series 80 design from Colt, which features an internal firing pin safety. A lot of people have complained that the triggers on the Series 80s are spongy, but I didn’t experience that on my test gun. It snaps crisp and clean, at just under 6 lbs. The reset is a fairly standard 1/10th of the inch or so for a 1911, and it is a little scratchy, but with a noticeable feel and sound of a click. The gun failed zero times out of just over 300 rounds using everything from standard roundball to flat point to pointy Hornady carry bullets, to hollow points of several types.
You would think that that this would mean that the gun is somewhat sloppy and rattly. It isn’t. In fact when you shake the gun there is no movement in it whatsoever. And in accuracy tests, I proved out the original USMC specification of under a 4″ spread of 5 shots at 25 yards over several brands of ammo. The USMC requirement said an “unsupported firing position,” so that is how I shot my tests. Ultimately a gun is only as accurate as you can fire it. And though an offhand test is much more subjective than a bench rested test, it does give you a good idea of how the gun performs in the field. I am not an accomplished pistol shooter, and I was able to ding 12×18 steel plates at 50 yards with every single shot, and about half the shots I hit the swinger in the middle. Oh, and that was with one hand. I am a retired SASS shooter.
With a progressive reloading press, a lot of free time and a barrel of money I’m sure that you could get this gun shooting into a fraction of what I tested it at. Since the Marines adopted the gun, it has received nothing but high praise from the Quantico gunsmiths that used to build the old M45s from spare parts. Do yourself a favor though. If you have all three of those things (press, time, money), buy a second one of these guns to put away and not shoot a lot. These guns are going to be extremely collectible, and the consumer serial numbers are still in the 2000s.
The Colt M45A1 CQBP comes with Novac style 3 dot night sights. The original guns apparently used actual Novac brand sights, but my test gun has Trijicons. This is of course a rail gun, and the rail is machined into the frame, not bolted on. Each gun comes with two Wilson Combat 7 round mags, and they have the extended pads on the bottom to protect your palm from getting hurt by the lanyard loop that sticks out of the bottom of the gun. The ambidextrous manual safety is surprisingly crisp and positive. I don’t know if this gun was sent to other reviewers before me, but in my experience most 1911 safeties take some break in time, whereas this one did not. The barrel is stainless, and marked “COLT 45 AUTO NM,” for National Match. All of the parts are meticulously Cerakoted, and after firing the gun a great deal, there is very little finish that gets lost. Some 1911s are hard to field strip. This one was not.
Please see the pictures for details of my brief first outing with what is probably the most exciting Colt for me since the 901. I am not a Colt fanatic for no reason. Sam Colt may have died in 1862, long before the famous and groundbreaking 1973 Peacemaker, but his company pioneered the commercial firearms business through the last 100 years plus. Everyone wants to talk about John Browning John Browning John Browning with it comes to 1911s, but there are a lot of great inventions that never go anywhere because nobody buys them. It was Colt that made the 1911 an American firearm staple, and that goes for the AR-15 as well by the way. Inventions are great, but sound production, good marketing, and grabbing military contracts like this are what have given Colt, and the 1911, such longevity.
Rarely if ever will you buy a Colt and have it disappoint you as a functional firearm and collectible that will only go up in value. This USMC contract may have been 22 million, but in modern corporate terms, that is a drop in the bucket. From a lesser name and a less historical gun that size contract wouldn’t have even made a blip. And don’t get me wrong. This 1911 is a great gun, and from a performance perspective, I don’t think you can do much better for this kind of money. But as a Colt fanatic and accumulator (which is different from collector), more than anything the USMC contract gave us all a great reason to go out and buy another Colt. I am going to try to buy this test gun from Colt, and if you can get your hands on one (there are currently only 4 on GunsAmerica), get this M45A1 CQBP while you still can at under MSRP.