The .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol will be fielded to elite Marines in force reconnaissance and Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. According to Marine Corps Times, the current requirement calls for around 4,000 pistols, but the contract could ultimately be worth up to $22.5 million for the successful manufacturer.
The M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistol is modeled after earlier versions of the semi-automatic 1911 pistol used since the 1980s by Force Reconnaissance units—the MEU (SOC) pistol—short for Marine Expeditionary Unit (special operations capable). For years, the precision weapons section at Quantico, VA's Weapons Training Battalion has hand-assembled its .45 ACP 1911s.
Military.com reported last year the decision to outsource to a single gun maker reflects an effort to take the manufacturing burden off internal gunsmiths and to instead tap a commercial gun maker to provide a similar pistol.
The new model will be "more accurate and more reliable than just the standard 1911," and will include a Picatinny rail for mounting weaponlights and other features, said Charles Clark III, who oversees infantry weapons requirements at the Corps' Combat Development and Integration office at Quantico.
Companies known to have submitted 1911s for consideration include Springfield Armory of Geneseo, IL, Colt Defense of Hartford, CT, and Karl Lippard Designs of Colorado Springs, CO. Manufacturers declining to submit pistols for consideration included Smith & Wesson of Springfield, MA, and Kimber America of Elmsford, NY.
According to reports, Colt's prototypes feature a desert-color Cercoat finish, eliminating glare and making the pistol less identifiable at distance. It is equipped with a Novak sight mounted on a Picatinny rail.
Springfield Armory reportedly supplied the Corps at least six prototypes of its Full-Sized MC Operator PX9105ML pistol for evaluation. It features tritium night sights and was previously sold to the Corps in small quantities.