Colt M45CQB United States Marine Corps 45 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 24th, 2013


Click pictures for a larger version.





Superb set of Trijicon/Novak tritium night sights.



Ambidextrous thumb safety.





1913 Picatinny accessory rail.



Slide lock (top), magazine latch (bottom).



Textured G10 grips.



Lanyard attachment.



Pistol comes with two 7-shot magazines.



Upswept beavertail grip safety.



Series 80 firing pin safety prevents the weapon from discharging if dropped.





In July of 2012, I was very pleased to learn that the United States Marine Corps had selected Colt to manufacture their new Close Quarters Battle Pistol. Marine Corps System Command (MARCORSYSCOM) awarded the contract to Colt Defense, LLC. On July 18, 2012 for an indefinite quantity/indefinite delivery order for the new pistols, to be issued to Force Recon and Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command units.

I first had the opportunity to handle and shoot a couple of these pistols at Gunsite in Arizona a few months ago. Part of the accompanying video is a brief introduction of the pistol by Michael Guerra of Colt. The two pistols that were at Gunsite had many rounds put through them by several writers, and everyone who fired the Colts seemed well-pleased with them. Finally, after months of waiting, (seems like national defense takes priority over me) I have a sample gun here to wring out for function and accuracy testing.

For many years, the USMC has been hand-building 1911 pistols for use by these units, but this contract will gain the Corps a new pistol that is ready for battle, right out of the box. Built primarily from stainless steel and wearing a tan Cerakote finish to reduce glare, the pistols are very much like Coltís commercial rail gun, with the exception of the rail being changed on the USMC pistol to a 1913 Picatinny spec. The pistols also wear an excellent set of Novak Trijicon tritium night sights, a long lightweight trigger, and an extended-style ambidextrous thumb safety. The grips are made of textured G10 material, with oversized grip screws. O-rings are used underneath the grip panels, around the grip screw bushings, to help keep the screws from loosening. Behind the trigger guard the frame is relieved as is done on Coltís XSE pistols. The steel mainspring housing has a lanyard loop at the bottom. The grip safety is the high upswept beavertail style with a bump for positive deactivation as the weapon is grasped. Slide serrations are placed front and rear. The barrel, bushing, and recoil spring plug are not Cerakote finished, but are natural brushed stainless. The chamber is throated to feed modern hollowpoint ammunition. The M45CQB pistol uses a dual recoil spring system, as is found on Coltís Delta Elite 10mm pistol.

Critical specifications for the M45CQB pistol are listed in the chart below. The weights are listed in ounces, and linear measurements in inches. The grip and frame widths were measured at their widest points. The maximum width is measured across the grip panels, and includes the ambidextrous thumb safety. The height includes the sights. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance. The weight includes the empty seven-round magazine. Length is measured from the muzzle to the tip of the beavertail grip safety.

Weight 42.4 oz.
Height 5.45"
Length 8.73"
Slide Width 0.925"
Maximum Grip Width 1.295"
Frame Width 0.76"
Maximum Width 1.38"
Trigger Pull 2.75 lbs.
Trigger Reach 2.80"
Barrel Length 5.02"
Magazine Capacity 7 rounds
Magazines Supplied 2

I tested for velocity with my chronograph set at ten feet from the muzzle, and an air temperature of forty-three degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of sixty-two percent. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea level. Velocities are listed in the chart below. FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint. DPX is an homogenous copper hollowpoint bullet. Glaser is a specialty pre-fragmented core inside a copper alloy jacket. PB is PowíRBall. LWSC is a cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. UHD is Remington Ultimate Home Defense hollowpoint ammunition. NPA is National Police Ammunition frangible bullet ammo. HCL is a hard-cast lead bullet. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore HCL 255 998
Buffalo Bore JHP 230 1001
Buffalo Bore FMJ 230 1002
Buffalo Bore JHP 185 1144
Cor-Bon JHP 200 1086
Cor-Bon JHP 165 1120
Cor-Bon JHP 230 995
Cor-Bon DPX 185 1151
Cor-Bon PB 165 1190
Cor-Bon Glaser 145 1209
Stryker FMJ 230 809
Atomic HP 230 946
Remington FMJ 230 807
Remington UHD 230 808
NPA Frangible 140 1149
Handload LWSC 200 997
WCC 1911 Ball FMJ 230 799

The USMC specified that these new pistols be accurate, and Colt delivered. The M45 has a match-grade barrel, and it is very well-fitted to the slide, as is the slide to the frame. For accuracy testing, I secured the M45 into my Ransom Master Series machine rest, and fired for accuracy at a distance of twenty-five yards, firing five-shot groups with several different types of ammunition. Accuracy varied, depending upon the ammunition tested, but the average of the five-shot groups fired with each type of ammunition measured from well under an inch to the largest group fired of the day, which stretched out to three inches. Most everything measured between one and one-half to two and one-half inches, with a couple of Buffalo Bore loads doing very well, as did my handload which consists of Rim Rock 200 grain LWSC bullets loaded over charges of 5.4 grains of Titegroup powder. I really like the Buffalo Bore 230 JHP load. This is the same hollowpoint bullet that Remington loads into their Ultimate Home Defense load, but the Buffalo Bore bullet leaves the muzzle running almost 200 feet-per-second (FPS) faster. The 230 grain hollowpoint at just over 1000 FPS is a dandy 45 ACP load, suitable for either fighting or hunting.

Reliability was perfect, right out of the box. The Colt fed, fired, and ejected every cartridge without fail. The Colt never failed to go fully into battery. The Colt never failed to lock open on an empty magazine. The Colt never failed. The trigger pull on the test gun is absolutely wonderful. Releasing crisply at two and three-quarters pounds, every time. The sights are easy to see, day or night. The beavertail grip safety places the hand high, making this Colt very comfortable to shoot, even with the Plus P ammunition tested. Most of the loads listed above are Plus P rated high performance loads, and the Colt handled them with ease. The dual recoil springs will handle any 45 ACP ammunition on the market, without beating up the weapon or the shooter. Being left-handed, I also appreciate the extended ambidextrous thumb safety levers.

A full-sized 1911 is an excellent fighting pistol, and to carry one concealed requires a good holster. Shown here is the excellent Summer Classic from Barranti Leather. This holster is built like the excellent holsters made famous by Milt Sparks and Bruce Nelson many years ago, but Mike Barranti makes his with a belt loop that swivels, allowing the holster to function at any angle. The rough-out leather keeps the holster perfectly positioned, and the reinforced mouth makes re-holstering the weapon easy to do one-handed. In the Summer Classic, the M45 carries well, and conceals well. Barranti does this classic design up right. The holster is well-crafted, looks great, and carries the big Colt comfortably.

This new M45CQB pistol is also available through the Colt Custom Shop to civilians. This version is just like the Marine Corps pistol, but it comes with a compact Otis cleaning kit, and is packed into a Pelican Storm Case.

I am delighted to see that some United States Marine Corps units are carrying an American-made pistol, chambered for the 45 ACP cartridge, and built by an American icon. Colt has been in the 1911 business for over one hundred years now, and hopefully soon, all of our fighting men and women will once again be carrying a real fighting pistol into combat.

Check out the extensive line of Colt firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Colt dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

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To order quality holsters for a 1911 pistol, go to,,, and

To order quality ammunition online, go to,,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



M45CQB pistol comes with two magazines, instructions, cable lock, and Otis cleaning kit, packed into a Pelican Storm Case.





Excellent Otis compact cleaning kit.







Barranti Summer Classic concealment holster.



Accuracy testing was done with the aid of a Ransom Master Series machine rest.



25-yard accuracy shows both the best and worst groups fired.