The 21st Century Colt 1911 Rail Gun Part 2

The 21st Century Colt 1911 Rail Gun Part 2 Part 1

Comparing the Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS with a .45 ACP Rail Gun

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By Dennis Adler

The Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS is a perfect match to this Taylor’s & Co. Model 1911 A1 FS Tactical Rail Gun. With all of the latest exterior features of a 21st century Rail Gun, the Swiss Arms model sets a new standard for authenticity of features. Never mind the name on the side of the slide, most modern 1911s manufactured in the U.S. bear their makers names on the slide, from Colt to Kimber and Wilson Combat, so this is perfectly up to spec.

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.

Comparing the Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS model to a .45 ACP Rail Gun, there is very little to distinguish it from the centerfire 1911 at left, other than the caliber markings on the TRS slide. Every minor detail has been duplicated from the serrated Delta-style hammer to the fine checkering on the flat mainspring housing.

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.

Manufacturers of 1911s generally put their logo on the slide, Taylor’s & Co. has a T inside a circle, as an example, the Swiss Arms 1911 has TRS stamped into the rear of its brushed alloy slide. Also note the fine detail in the magazine release, thumb safety, beavertail and palmswell grip safety. The checkered diamond pattern synthetic grips are a nice touch as well, with a very realistic wood grain tone.

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.

Swiss Arms models have Novak-style white dot combat sights. The Taylor’s Tactical Rail Gun is fitted with a green fiber optic front sight. Again note the fine detail in the Swiss Arms model and the absolute lack of any distracting verbiage. This is a very clean, realistic looking 1911 airgun.

Sizing up

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.

Realism also applies to how well the Swiss Arms models fit into holsters designed for 1911 Rail Guns like this Galco Fletch high ride belt model. (Holster courtesy Galco)

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.

The Swiss Arms SA 1911 Rail Gun models have dual recoil springs, one around the guide rod and a second around the barrel in traditional blowback action style. The barrel and guide rod are screwed together so further disassembly is not necessary for cleaning and minor applications of RWS air chamber lube as recommended.

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.)

Drawing from the Galco Fletch Rail Gun thumb break belt rig, the author goes into a three step draw, ready and fire sequence…
…that begins with the trigger finger outside of the triggerguard and the support hand forming a two-handed hold before raising the gun and pushing forward to the firing position in the Weaver stance.
The white dot sights are quick to align and the 4 pound, 15 ounce resistance skeletonized alloy trigger provides consistency for accurate shots at the optimum 21 foot range for blowback action CO2 air pistols.

Shots Downrange

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.

The Swiss Arms/Tanfoglio 27-round extended capacity magazine gives you nine more rounds than the standard 18-round magazine before reloading, and adds a very tactical look to either the Desert Tan CQBP style MRP or polished alloy TRS models.

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.

You have to feel pretty satisfied when you can almost overlap six out of 10 rounds from 21 feet. Best 5-shot group all overlapping measured 0.25 inches. Yep, this one is a keeper.

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.

21 thoughts on “The 21st Century Colt 1911 Rail Gun Part 2”

  1. The SA 1911 TRS box says this pistol has the BAX shooting system (hop up). Isn’t hop up exclusive to airsoft guns? Have you seen any evidence of hop up on this steel BB pistol?

  2. I don’t see it listed presently on the Pyramid site, but a few months back I picked up a blue Remington version . Same sights , safety , rail. Was a steal at around$80. Doesn’t look like it , but the Swiss fixed sight version pictured with stainless finish lacks the ambi safety. Too bad . There is a market for a standard series 70 1911 with ambi safety. I picked up a Swiss Arms 92 Beretta clone before the Beretta appeared and it is a pretty solid accurate pistol . My advise to companies offering 1911 clones . Offer something Colt doesn’t, especially if you make a decent product. Nice shooting Dennis

    • Yes, the Swiss Arms 92 Series CO2 model is an excellent air pistol. Not sure if the slide locks back on an empty magazine, I haven’t shot that one in some time. The Swiss Arms SA 1911 Rail Guns are very accurate at 21 feet so it makes my job easier!

        • I just compared the magazines for the Swiss Arms P92 and the Beretta M92A1. Dimensionally they are about the same with a height of about 4.75 inches from base plate to top of BB exit port on top. I tried to insert the Beretta mag in the Swiss Arms pistol and vice versa, but the mags wouldn’t go in. There are surface contour differences in the magazines that prevent them from being used interchangeably.

          • Yes there is a Colt Commander model first introduced in 1950 (pre-70 Series) which featured a shorter 4-1/4 inch barrel and slide. This was followed by the Lightweight Commander in 1970 and the Combat Commander (the Umarex Colt CO2 model’s namesake) in 1971. Commander models are still made to the present day, currently the Lightweight Commander and Combat Commander Model O.

        • No, different manufacturers, subtle differences make them incompatible. On the plus side, the Swiss Arms/Tanfoglio 1911 mags fit the Umarex Colt Commander, so you can load a 27 round magazine into the Commander. Very sharp looking!

          • Did Colt ever manufacture a 1911 version and call it the Colt Commander? Or is that name just one that Umarex chose to use for the air pistol?

          • Would like to see more magazine compatibility and cartridge compatibility among airgun models . Would also like to see parts like ambi safeties sold to allow personal customizations.

      • I’ve also got one of the earlier release all black metal Swiss Arms P92 blowback CO2 BB pistols. It’s a very good replica of the Beretta / Taurus 92, and the slide does lock back when the magazine is empty. My black Swiss Arms P92 shoots low below point of aim so I use a laser to adjust my aim.

        I’m shooting the SA 1911 TRS today. Very good accuracy between point of aim and point of impact! For a blowback pistol with fixed sights, it’s a great pleasure to actually hit the point of aim without having to resort to using a laser or some other technique to compensate.

        I have one word of caution for anyone buying the accessory magazine for the 1911 models. The Swiss Arms P1911 magazine packaging says it is for 0.177 caliber BBs, but the BB exit port on top of the magazine is 6 mm in diameter for airsoft. I’ve alerted Pyramyd Air about the problem. It’s probably a rare instance in which an airsoft magazine was put in the wrong packaging. If you buy a Swiss Arms 1911 accessory magazine for 0.177 BBs, inspect it as soon as possible to make sure it is indeed for 0.177 BBs and not for 6 mm airsoft BBs.

  3. Ambi safety and a rail, the Swiss Arms SA 1911 is now on my must have list. So what is your take on bilateral vs ambidextrous as an adjective? (pretty nice alliteration I must say)

    • I think everyone has settled on ambidextrous since it applies best to those who can use either hand to perform a function and a device that can be worked equally from one side or the other, but I like bilateral because it can also mean equal on both sides, and an ambidextrous safety certainly falls into that description. Personally, being right handed, I don’t use ambi safeties very often, but I do occasionally shot left handed in which case it is an asset. And from a purely tactical perspective, one should learn to shoot with their off hand as a backup, if for any reason the strong side hand is injured or otherwise engaged in a defensive action. And then there were folks like J. Henry FitzGerald who instructed lawmen to shoot with both hands. An ambidextrous safety is an advantage anyway you look at it, unilaterally or bilaterally

  4. Ok, thanks for straightening that out. One other question why isn’t there an archive available allowing article access, after all this time I feel it would be helpful for referencing particular air guns if you could title or gun search.

    • Well there is, after a fashion. If you look on the far right hand side of the column you will find a block that reads RECENT POSTS, and below that is a much longer block that reads CATEGORIES. If you scroll down that list and look for types of guns, makes of guns, or manufacturers, it will tell you how many articles there are, then click on that category and it will take you to those articles. For example the Category “Colt 1911” has 15 articles available. It isn’t as specific as an article by article archive list, but it makes searches a lot faster for a certain type of gun, brand of gun, or manufacturer.

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