The MEU(SOC) pistol, officially designated Pistol, Caliber .45, MEU(SOC), is an air-cooled, magazine-fed, recoil-operated, single-action, semiautomatic handgun chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It is based on the original M1911 design by John Browning, and has been the standard-issue side arm for the Force Recon Element of the United States Marine Corps' Marine Expeditionary Units from 1985 to today. Its National Stock Number is 1005-01-370-7353.
In 2002, an article in American Handgunner Magazine stated that "Marine armorers from the Precision Weapons Section, MCBQ" are making 789 MEU (SOC) 1911's. The revised parts list included barrels, bushings, link pins, sear springs, ejectors, firing pin stops, mainspring housings and mainsprings, all from Nowlin Manufacturing. Slides were ordered from Springfield Armory, with front sight pins, beavertail safeties and recoil spring guides came from Ed Brown. Novak was contracted for rear sights, Wilson Combat provided extractors and mag release buttons, while King's Gun Works supplied ambidextrous thumb safeties.
A Marine operator may shoot as many as 80,000 rounds from this pistol during a training-cycle and subsequent deployment. However, it is more common for a Marine to return the pistol to the PWS at Quantico for a rebuild after 10,000 rounds have been fired. A rebuild entails discarding almost all of the gun's parts except for the frame, which prior to 2003 was a U.S. Government frame last manufactured in 1945. The frame is inspected and reused again if it is still within military specifications. There are frames in the USMC inventory that have had as many as 500,000 rounds fired through them.
The Officer In Command of the Precision Weapons Shop in 2001, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ken Davis, stated that the M1911 is "the only pistol that can stand up to this use".
However, as the U.S. Marine Corps began its process of hand selecting members from its Force Recon to be submitted to USSOCOM as Marine Corps Special Operations Command, Detachment One (MCSOCOM Det-1), the selection of a .45 ACP M1911A1-based pistol meant roughly 150 units would be needed, more quickly than the PWS could produce them, as PWS were already backlogged with producing DMRs, USMC SAM-Rs, and updating M40A1s to M40A3s, so DET-1 began the search for COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) surrogates to use.
Discovering that the Los Angeles Police Department was well pleased with their special Kimber-made M1911 pistols, a single source request was issued to Kimber Manufacturing for a similarly built pistol, despite the imminent release of their TLE/RLII models. Kimber shortly began producing a limited number of what would be later termed the Interim Close Quarters Battle pistol (ICQB). Maintaining the simple recoil assembly, 5-inch barrel (though using a stainless steel match grade barrel), and internal extractor, the ICQB is not much different from Browning's original design.
The final units as issued to MCSOCOM Det-1 are the Kimber ICQBs with SureFire Integrated Military Pistol Light (IMPL), Dawson Precision rail, Gemtech TRL Tactical Retention Lanyards based upon the jury-rigged telephone cord versions, modified Safariland 6004 holsters, Simonich G-10 Gunner Grips manufactured by Simonich Knives and Strider Knives replaced the original Pachmayr rubber grips, and Wilson Combat's '47D' 8-round magazines. Tritium Novak LoMount sights replaced the originals which were made in-house by the Marines.
The trigger-pull weight is specified at between 4.5 and 5.0 pounds of pressure.
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.