The 21st Century Colt 1911 Rail Gun Part 2 Part 1
Comparing the Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS with a .45 ACP Rail Gun
By Dennis Adler
There is nothing in this visual comparison between the Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS and the imported Taylor’s & Company 1911 A1 FS Tactical, to indicate that one of them is a blowback action CO2 air pistol and the other a .45 ACP tactical firearm. Swiss Arms has built the best looking contemporary CO2 Model 1911 thus far, accurately duplicating all of the modern updates that have been applied (externally) to the venerable Model 1911.
One of the first updates to the 1911 and 1911A1 was the ambidextrous thumb safety invented by Southern California gunsmith Armand Swenson in the late 1960s. The ambidextrous safety is perhaps Swenson’s most famous invention, but his work on improving the model 1911 for lawmen and competitive shooters, (changing barrel and slide lengths, building custom triggers and hammers, and making internal modifications to improve accuracy and function), was so profound that it came to be known as “Swensonizing” a 1911. The Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS is pretty Swensonized.
Compared to the Taylor’s & Co. 1911 A1 FS, the Swiss Arms TRS has the same dovetailed front and rear white dot target sights, skeletonized trigger and hammer, dustcover accessory rail, flat mainspring housing, palmswell grip safety with upswept beavertail and improved slide design with forward serrations. On the Swiss Arms models the front slide serrations duplicate the designs used on tactical and competition guns. On cartridge-firing models, however, they are there for more than looks, providing a tactical assist if you need to press-check the chamber for a loaded round. Even wearing a leather tactical glove, the forward serrations quickly earn their keep by allowing one to push the slide back just slightly from the front. This is especially beneficial on models with heavy duty recoil springs that work against the slide. We’ll take the sharp looks of the Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS, and leave the heavy recoil springs to the .45 ACP models.
When you get into the finer details of tactical models like the Taylor’s 1911 A1 FS or Colt CQBP, the Swiss Arms model once again excels with excellent fine checkering on the flat mainspring housing and detail contouring on the palmswell. The serrated Delta-style hammer and fine serrations on the ambidextrous thumb safeties also speak to the attention to detail that Swiss Arms has put into these guns, especially the TRS which looks like it is ready to tackle an IDPA match.
Let’s start with measuring the Swiss Arms model against the .45 ACP Taylor’s & Co. A1 FS Tactical. Being a full size model the A1 FS tips the scale at an even 40 oz. empty (2.5 pounds), which is about the same as the comparably-sized Colt Rail Gun. Overall length (to the back edge of the upswept beavertail) is 8.56 inches; height with extended magazine base pads is 5.5 inches, and width (including the ample G10 grips) 1.18 inches. It is a hand-filling sidearm that points naturally and offers excellent sighting capability. The Swiss Arms TRS weighs in a little lighter at 32.1 ounces empty (2.1 pounds), has an overall length of 8.6 inches (to the back edge of the upswept beavertail), a height from the base of the magazine to the top of the rear sight of 5.25 inches, and a width of 1.20 inches. Slide width is 0.875 inches on both guns, and width with the ambidextrous thumb safeties is 1.26 inches on both the A1 FS and TRS; in other words, almost 1:1 in every detail.
Handling and operation
One of the key advantages to extended length ambidextrous thumb safeties is ease of use with either hand, making the gun suitable for left-handed operators or for handling with the off-side hand in an emergency. There are also ambidextrous shooters who are equally adept with either hand. On the A1 FS the ease with which the safeties can be operated is moderate (some felt resistance) and there is an audible click with engagement and disengagement. On the Swiss Arms TRS operation is light (mild resistance) and there is a lightly felt and audible click with engagement and disengagement. Hammer resistance on a de-cocked gun (safety off) is moderately heavy with the .45 ACP A1 FS and light with the .177 caliber TRS, but still offering a full length of draw and a solid click when cocked. Slide effort on the 1911 A1 FS is heavy due to the recoil spring and full length guide rod design. Resistance with the CO2 model is lighter, as would be expected, however, the Swiss Arms MRP and TRS use a dual recoil spring design, one tightly wound spring around the guide rod and a second larger spring around the barrel to further assist the gun’s brisk blowback action.
Last is trigger pull. The Taylor’s & Co. guns (9mm and .45 ACP) have an average trigger pull of 5 pounds 5 ounces, with only 0.187 inches of take up, zero stacking, a crisp break and short reset. The Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS pulls at an average of 4 pounds, 15 ounces with 0.187 inches of take up, very light stacking, a crisp break and short reset. Add the full length dustcover accessory rail and easily acquired fixed white dot sights and there is nothing more you can ask for in a 1911 Rail Gun understudy. (Yes, adjustable rear combat sights would be a nice finishing touch, but at 21 feet not a necessity for this gun.)
The shooting test was done with both Swiss Arms Rail Gun models which handled exactly the same. The chronograph test was shot with the TRS as was the final indoor 21 foot accuracy test. Firing Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs average velocity for the TRS was 300 fps. It is factory rated at 314 fps. The chronograph test recorded a high of 312 fps, a low of 300 fps and a standard deviation of just 3 fps for six rounds.
Firing using a two-handed hold and Weaver stance, the TRS delivered a best 10 rounds measuring 1.48 inches in the 10 ring and red bullseye, with a best five shots at 0.25 inches! I think that just raised the bar for a blowback action Model 1911. Of the two Swiss Arms SA 1911 models, my personal favorite is the TRS with its highly realistic brushed alloy slide. The Desert Tan MRP will have greater appeal to military airgun enthusiasts who now have what is by far the closest thing to a .45 ACP Model 1911 CQBP than any other airgun manufacturer has produced.
A Word About Safety
Blowback action models provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. All arguns, in general, look like guns, but those based on real cartridge-firing models even more so. It is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.