MEU (SOC) Pistol: The pistol made especially for Marine Expeditionary Unit

The MEU (SOC) pistol was specially designed for the Marine Marine expeditionary unit and was officially designated as the M45 MEUSOC. The MEU refers to

Eric Sof


MEU (SOC) pistol

The MEU (SOC) pistol was specially designed for the Marine Marine expeditionary unit and was officially designated as the M45 MEUSOC. The MEU refers to the Marine expeditionary unit, while SOC refers to special operations capable. It is a variant of the Colt M1911, a standard-issue sidearm for the USMC Force Recon since 1985. The MEU (SOC) pistol is a magazine-fed, recoil-operated, single-action, semiautomatic pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It is assigned NATO Stock Number 1005-01-370-7353.


The MEU (SOC) pistols were hand-selected standard government-issued Colt M1911A1s that were gutted, deburred, and prepared for additional use by the USMC Precision Weapon Section (PWS) in Quantico, Virginia.

Marine fires MEU (SOC) pistol
Marine fires MEU (SOC) pistol (Photo: XY)

They were then assembled with after-market grip safeties, a rounded hammer, ambidextrous thumb safeties, lighter triggers made by Videcki, improved high-visibility sights, accurized match-grade barrels made by Bar-Sto, Pachmayr rubber grips, front cocking-serrations, and improved stainless steel magazines made by Wilson Combat. The trigger-pull weight is between 4.5 and 5.0 pounds-force (20 and 22 newtons).

The pistol’s components are hand-fitted and are not interchangeable. The last four digits of the weapon’s serial number are stamped on the top of the barrel, on the right side of slide assembly, inside of the beavertail grip safety, on each side of the ambidextrous thumb safety, and on the inside face of the mainspring housing group.

The full list of modifications made to the standard Colt M1911A1 are:

  • ambidextrous thumb safeties
  • after-market grip safeties
  • Videcki light triggers
  • rounded hammer
  • accurized match-grade barrels
  • Pachmayr rubber grips
  • front cocking-serrations
  • Wilson Combat stainless steel magazines



In 2012, the Marine Corps awarded Colt a contract for up to 12,000 M45A1 pistols with an initial order of 4036 pistols. The Marine Corps issued the M45A1 to Force Reconnaissance companies, MARSOC, and Special Reaction Teams from the Provost Marshal’s Office.

The improved M45A1 CQBP features several changes to the original M1911A1 design. One feature is the dual recoil spring system that spreads out the recoil force of the .45 ACP round by lowering the peak force of the recoil pulse. It also has 3-dot tritium night sights, a 5-inch national match barrel, ambidextrous safety, Picatinny rail, and a desert tan Cerakote finish.

Colt M45a1 45 Acp
Colt M45A1 chambered in .45 ACP (Photo: XY)

In 2016, the USMC command stated that MARSOC had replaced the M45A1 with the Glock 19, largely from a logistic standpoint, not from a performance and reliability standpoint, as a result of other SOCOM branches using the Glock 19. As of March 2019, Force Recon and other units still use the M45A1, and some units have the Glock 19 or Beretta M9A1 as an alternative. The current M45A1 does not have a “USMC” roll mark on the slide for either Military or Civilian sales. Marine HQ requested Colt to stop marking the pistols as such.

All M45A1s are marked “COLT***M45A1” and have a darker, flat dark earth Ion Bond type finish referred to by Colt as “Decobond.” While not as corrosion resistant, it is far more durable of a finish. The M45A1 ships with Wilson Combat 47 7-round magazines and is a production-grade weapon, rolling off the same line as the commercial M45A1 with identical markings and parts. Colt also offers a custom shop civilian model to achieve higher accuracy, but the Marine issue model is the production-grade pistol.

Colt M45a1 Cqbp The Marsoc Pistol
Colt M45a1 CQBP – The MARSOC Pistol (Photo: XY)

Technical specifications

Country of origin:United States
Entered service:1985
Caliber:.45 ACP
Weight (empty):1.105 kg (2.44 lb)
Length:8.25 in (210 mm)
Barrel length:5.03 in (127 mm)
Muzzle velocity:830 ft/s (244 m/s)
Muzzle energy:500 Joules
Magazine capacity:7 rounds
Sighting range:50 m
Range of effective fire:70 m (maximum effective range)

Eric Sof

Eric Sof holds a master's degree in Political Science, specializing in International Peacekeeping Studies. He has over a decade of experience as a former member of an elite counterterrorism unit. Additionally, he is a firearms instructor and currently serves as a member of the SWAT unit.

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