Tisas Raider: Colt M45A1 USMC CQB Pistol Clone

In July 2012, the United States Marine Corps System Command announced that Colt Defense LLC of Hartford, Connecticut, was the winner of the new CQBP pistol contract. This announcement no doubt delighted the tried-and-true 1911 supporters in the military. Under the new contract, Colt was to deliver 4,000 samples initially and up to 12,000 samples in the following years. The Marine Colt pistol was designated the M45A1.

Colt M45A1 Pistols

Three versions of M45A1 were made. The first version is one that went to the military, stamped USMC on the slide and delivered in a cardboard box with two Wilson Combat 7-round magazines. An identical version coming off the same assembly line was sold to the civilian market. The only difference between this one and the one sold to the Marines was the USMC roll mark, which did not exist on the civilian model.

Colt M45A1 on the left and its clone, the Tisas Raider 1911.
This is the story of two guns: the Colt M45A1 on the left and its Tisas Clone the Raider 1911 on the right. Both are extremely well made 1911s reminiscent of the M45A1 issued to U.S. Marine Special Operations Group Expeditionary Forces in the 2012 to 2016 era.

The third version was the Colt Custom Shop edition, also known as the “Civilian” version. It is hand-fit, hand-tooled, and came with a snazzy green Pelican case and cleaning kit. All three versions have serial numbers ending in the “EGA” serial suffix (for the Corps’ iconic eagle, globe, and anchor insignia), the “U.S.” markings, and the small set of numbers and “CQBP” denoting the official description of “Close Quarters Battle Pistol.”

Originally, the Colt Custom Shop pistols had the Marine USMC roll marks on the slide, but the United States Marine Corps filed a cease and desist letter with Colt Manufacturing regarding the use of USMC on pistols that were not actually going to the Marines.

Some of the early Marine pistols began showing excess wear and 1,000 of these pistols (470 used and 530 unissued) were traded by the Marine Corps under warranty back to Colt in exchange for newer Ionbond-finished replacements. Colt released those original Marine Corps pistols to the public. The pistols were the first U.S.G.I. pistols to be offered on the civilian market since the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) stopped handgun sales over 50 years earlier.

The included factory letter affirmed that it was a genuine U.S.M.C. purchased pistol for combat use by its Special Operations units, including Force Recon. The letter also confirmed the features including Desert Tan Cerakote finish, under-barrel accessory rail, National Match grade barrel, forward and rear cocking serrations on the slide, long solid-aluminum trigger, extended ambidextrous thumb safety, extended beavertail grip safety, flat serrated mainspring housing with a lanyard loop, Novak 3-dot night sights, and desert camouflage G10 composite grips. The slide is correctly roll marked with the “USMC” marking that has been factory stuck with an “X” to signify it as being decommissioned from the U.S.M.C.

Just four short years after the M45A1s were initially issued to the Marines, on September 30, 2016, the USMC announced that all 1911-type pistols still used by its Special Operation units would be replaced by the Glock 19. How about that? That short resurrection of the M45A1 as the primary sidearm for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Marine Raiders and the Corps’ Force Reconnaissance Marines resulted in some fine hardware becoming available to those of us who appreciate fine shooting gear and others who have the resources and desire to collect unusual and limited issue guns.

Colt USMC M45A1 1911 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol
The Colt model released to the civilian market was shipped in a blue plastic container marked with the Colt logo. The actual military models were shipped in a cardboard box. Later models of the civilian M45A1 were shipped from the Colt Custom Shop in a green plastic container.

I owned a gun store when I acquired my “collector’s item” Colt. My interest was sparked by the fact that the pistols the Marines had returned to Colt somehow hit the auction sites where they were described as decommissioned USMC 1911 M45A1s. The initial bid prices were somewhat reasonable, but as collectors began what I can only describe as a “feeding frenzy,” the bid values started climbing. Meanwhile, the civilian version of the M45A1 coming out of Colt’s custom shop were being made available to retailers. This was the gun I bought.

These commercial models were engraved only with “Colt M45A1” with three stars in between the two words. This appeared on the left side of the slide. Otherwise, the commercial guns were exactly the same as the guns issued to the Marines.

I even received a factory letter to document mine, recognizing (as time went on) that the gun would have value as a collectible item. In large part, this was because — in a short period of time — these guns were to be taken off the market and thus would become scarce.

isas Raider is a faithful clone of the Colt M45A1
The Tisas Raider is a faithful clone of the Colt M45A1 in all areas that count. There is a slight difference in the airframe color due to the proprietary finish that was developed for the Colt guns.

The civilian model M45A1 I have matches the Marine model in every way that matters. It features a durable Decobond brown coating and an M1913-spec Picatinny rail for mounting lights, lasers, and other accessories. A dual recoil spring system reduces felt recoil while extending recoil spring life.

Genuine Novak tritium (front and rear) three-dot night sights provide a quick sight picture in type lighting. The grips are Desert Tan G10s. It has a Series 70 operating system. It was shipped with two 8-round extended magazines. I favor Colt’s 8-round flush fit magazines, so that’s what I use with my M45A1.

The thumb safety is ambidextrous, and the magazine release can be turned around to fit either side. The slide release, because it doubles as the takedown pin, is only on the left side. The trigger is solid aluminum, curved with a serrated front face.

Trigger guard assembly in the Tisas Raider .45 ACP semi-auto pistol
Tisas uses a forged frame and slide that is hardened before being machined. The Raider is built to last.

The hammer is bobbed, skeleton-type, colored to match the frame and slide. The slide has front and rear serrations. The trigger guard is rounded in front and undercut at the back. The gun weighs 38.3 ounces empty and has a 4.4-ounce trigger pull.

Tisas Raider

That’s the original. Now for the Tisas Raider that’s the real subject of this article. I can describe it in one word: Ditto. Seriously, it’s a clone of the Colt M45A1 with only minor differences. The first thing that catches your eye is the color is not quite the same. That Colt Decobond finish is evidently a proprietary color that’s a bit hard to duplicate. The finish on the Tisas gun is more of an FDE green, and the G10 grips match that green rather than the Colt’s brown.


The sights are almost identical, but the Tisas does not have night sights. And the slide doesn’t say, “Colt M45A1”, because it’s not a Colt M45A1. As far as everything else goes, Tisas nailed it. I started to say, “including operation.” However, my Tisas has operated flawlessly, while Colt has had a few — although not many — hiccups, such as failure to lock the slide back after the final round a few times and one or two failure-to-feed malfunctions.

Shooting either gun is a delight as far as sight picture, trigger pull, and accuracy. During a recent outing with a friend, I set up two sets of identical targets — one for him and one for me. Each of our target sheets had six, six-inch targets aligned in two rows the way the targets were oriented. The mission for each of us was to shoot the top row of targets with the Colt and the bottom row with the Tisas.

The first target in each row was shot with Winchester white box ball ammo. The middle target was shot with Winchester Silver Tip JHP ammo, and the last target was shot using Hornady Critical Defense. The targets were at 10 yards and shooting was done freehand, six rounds per target. The six rounds were determined by two things: the amount of each type of ammo available for the exercise and my magazine loading ability that day.

rear view of the Colt M45A1 and Tisas raider pistols
The author combined two different photos here to show you the Novak-styled sights that are on each gun. The Colt, which has night sights, is on the left and the Tisas on the right.

My first target with the Colt was somewhat disappointing. The shots were impacting low, and while within a three-inch grouping, they were just not up to my expectations. The second Colt target was much better. All six rounds went into one ragged hole. The third target was almost a spitting image of the second.

The Tisas performed well with all six rounds touching on all three targets. That was my showing. My buddy’s experience was similar, except he did a little better than I did on the first Colt target and his three targets with the clone were not one ragged hole, but they were all within a two-inch grouping.

Discussing our experience with the two guns, we agreed. The Colt price and availability might be prohibitive for some, but the very affordable Tisas clone with a retail price just over $600 provides the same shooting experience and features and workmanship to match the original.

Paper targets for test firing comparison of the Tisas Raider and Colt M45A1 1911 Series 70 pistols
This set of targets was shot by the author, freehand, at 10 yards. The top row was shot from the Colt and the bottom row from the Tisas. The first target on each row was shot with Winchester white box JHP ammo, the middle target was shot with Winchester Silver tip JHP, and the last target with Hornady Critical Defense. The author takes responsibility for the wider grouping on the first Colt target, but with a 3-inch maximum spread even that target is impressive.

Final Thoughts

The M45A1 clone is sold under the name “Raider.” The Raider is my third Tisas 1911. The first one is a replica of the U.S. Army M1911A1 used in WWII. The authenticity of this replica is nothing short of awesome, yet this gun retails for under $450. My second Tisas 1911 is a two-tone 9mm Bobtail Commander known as the Stingray. All three replicas are as well made as any firearm I’ve had the opportunity to evaluate, including handguns that are much more expensive.

The Colt M45A1 had merit in testing, but did not hold up to the rigors the USMC stress testing. The Tisas Raider on the other hand… How do you feel the Tisas will hold up over time? Share your answers in the comment section.

Source link: https://blog.cheaperthandirt.com/tisas-raider-colt-m45a1-usmc-cqb-pistol-clone/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tisas-raider-colt-m45a1-usmc-cqb-pistol-clone by David Freeman at blog.cheaperthandirt.com