A good while back I talked about my Gun Heaven M92 replica pistol which I purchased from Milgear Finland. About a year ago I purchased another pistol replica from them, the WE M1911 MEU (link to the store page). They recently got them back in stock and I wanted to write a short review on the one I have been using for about a year now. It has been used extensively during the summer months of 2018 (winter makes GBB replicas just about useless here and our area lacks an indoor CQB area). To give a rough estimate, I have put about 500 to 800 rounds through it. I rarely use a pistol in the woodland areas due to distance and our rules allow the use of long guns in shorter range with single-shot fire. Nevertheless, I have carried it around and used it, especially with my Delta Force setups.
I have done some modifications to my replica and I will go through them in the post. These are not that extensive as I have found the overall quality of the replica to be good for the price range it is in and there has been no need as of yet to do any extensive modification work to it. What I have done, however, is changed the look towards the more old school M1911s that Delta Force used during the late 80s and early 90s.
The WE M1911 MEU comes with rubberized grips (as per the original real steel one), which are awesome but they do not go with the old school look that I am after. Wood grips are a must to get the older look for the replica. I swapped the original grips for wooden ones with a friend who was after some rubberized ones for his 1911 replica.
While the wooden grips are something that you will need, there are other small aesthetics that need to be changed as well. These require some crafting, as well as sourcing, since some parts might not be readily available. Wooden grips seem to be quite common, but depending on the manufacturer you might need to do some modding on them to make them fit. I had to do this with mine, but it only involved some sanding.
As for other parts, it can get a bit more tricky. The following I have gathered from different forums and Facebook groups, where people have built and showcased their own custom M1911 replicas from various different manufacturers. This is not by all means a complete list of parts that can be used. The idea once more is to get some interest in these things and show people the way they can go with their builds.
From what I have understood, Delta Force modified their 1911’s very heavily, with custom hammers, sights and magazine releases, just to name a few. We cannot have images of every operators personal pistol they used, so I would say that just about any M1911 modification that was available for the 1911 (especially for competitive shooters) are ‘good’ for the build. What I have seen used often by impressionists are the BO-MAR sights. They were not the only ones, naturally. Again, the important factor that I would look at here is the date of manufacture.
A few cosmetic things were more common, however, for most of the 1911’s. The slide, for example, in contrast to the MEU replica I have, did not have the front grooves on it. The WE MEU has no markings on the slide, which is good or bad, depending on your point of view. For those who want to engrave their own markings into the slide, having no markings is a good thing. On the other hand, the front grooves are not correct for the build and buying a new metal furnishing set for the 1911 with correct markings is an option. I have seen people using the Guarder Drop-In Metal kit with Colt’s MK IV/Series 70 markings for their builds, but I am unsure if these markings are correct. It has been reported, however, that depending on the manufacturer the ‘drop-in’ part might not be as drop-in as advertised, so keep this in mind. Guarder sets are mostly based of from the Marui replicas, so there can be some small differences in tolerances between parts for other manufacturer’s replicas. For safety, I would opt for no markings at all on the slide. The grooves on the front that are present on the WE MEU can be easily removed as well by a crafty crafter.
In addition, the magazine bump on the magazines were shaped a little bit different than the ones that come with the WE MEU. The WE MEU has the correct (for this model) Wilson type magazine bumps, while the Kimber style magazine bumps are the correct ones (especially for Operation Gothic Serpent era 1911’s). If you are going for even earlier than that, using regular 1911 magazines is also an option. Depending on your replica, of course.
As my Delta 1911 is geared more towards the early 1990s, I have gone with the MEU style look. Earlier M1911 models used by Delta do not have the MEU style magazines but are still modified with custom sights and other accessories. The WE MEU has a custom beavertail and hammer, which work great for an early 1990s Delta Force 1911 build. These types of hammers were not the only ones seeing use, as again, the sidearms were modified according to operator preferences. Round combat type hammers, as often seen on Hi-Capas, are also kosher for this type of build.
The guts of the WE MEU
So the externals are customizable, but what about the internals? WE has had a reputation of being either good or bad, and not so much in the middle. I have owned one WE replica before, their P226. It was an awesome replica and it performed well. On the internal side of that, I changed the hop rubber once and one valve on a magazine. Other than that, it performed flawlessly when I needed it.
The WE MEU is a strange beast, as it seems to be getting better in performance the more I use it. During the first few magazines I put through it, the cycling did not seem to work as good as I had come to expect. I bought 2 extra magazines, and the problems persisted on all of them. After some lubrication and use, they seem to work. Only one of them is showing signs of leaking (I always have some gas inside my magazines when I do not use them) during storage. I will need to replace a valve on it soon, if I cannot fix the seal by other means. Most likely it is caused by a faulty o-ring, and replacing that with a new one should be enough.
So far I have not seen the need to do any other internal modifications to the replica. What I would like to do is to make the cycling of the replica a bit better. Currently, when the gas is getting lower inside the magazine, the slide does not always lock back with an empty magazine. This can be due to the quite heavy slide the replica has and the small capacity of the magazines. It is necessary to note, that the replica is green gas operated and not Co2. My idea is to source another slide for the replica, which would have more era correct markings and at the same time, be a bit lighter. Whether this helps with the cycling process, remains to be seen.
As you might gather from my previous posts about airsoft replicas, I rarely update anything unless I absolutely need to. External mods are commonplace for me, but when it comes to internal modifications, I run mine straight out of the box, if at all possible. Once something breaks or does not function properly (or to my satisfaction) I dig deeper to make it work. I have the mindset that everything should work well, and take some kind of abuse. These are tools after all.
Overall, considering everything that I have discussed here, I still think that the WE MEU is an excellent base for an old school Delta build. While the replica has its problems (most manufacturers do), it is a rather solid performer. As said, mine has gotten better with use and the only problem that I currently would attempt to make better is the cycling. What has worked rather well for me so far is the use of stronger gas with the magazines. The gas chamber in the mags are rather small, this being a 1911 style replica. Keep this in mind when purchasing this replica.