Barra 1911 Part 1

Barra 1911 Part 1

The first “new” gun of ’21

By Dennis Adler

The shape of things to come is the shape of things that were, the Colt Model 1911. This is still the gun to beat when it comes to a timeless classic even in its latest tactical guise as a Barra CO2 version of the current Colt Combat Unit Rail model.

Why did I put “new” in quotes? Well, there’s nothing new about a blowback action 1911, even a modern tactical version like the Barra. Why then is the first new model for 2021 based on a design that was used for one of the very first blowback action CO2 models introduced seven years ago? The answer is that the 1911 is the most successful handgun of the 20th century; the fundamental design is literally 110 years old! If you think about it, there isn’t much from 1911 that is still around today in its original form. What else is memorable from 1911? The first bi-wing seaplane was put into service in 1911, and flying boats would become highly successful in commercial aviation by the 1930s. In 1911 GM introduced the Kettering electric starter on the Cadillac and hands and wrists have been thankful ever since. Crossword puzzles….OK, that’s one that really hasn’t changed too much, but when it comes to handguns a whole lot has changed since 1911 and continues to change, yet the 110 year-old Model 1911 design endures even in the age of polymer-framed Glocks and Sig Sauer M17s. Why? Because John M. Browning designed the most rugged, reliable, and easy to service handgun for the U.S. military in 1911, a gun so good it remained the standard issue sidearm from 1911 to 1985, that’s 74 years; through two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the early conflicts in the Middle East, and even since it was replaced (twice in a little over 30 years time), the 1911 has remained in use with some specialized military units and with law enforcement. In spite of newer, higher capacity, lighter weight handguns, the 1911 is still that good in 2021.

The design for the Barra is derived from the 2012 Colt M45A1 or CQBP that was adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps. Even though Spec Ops units are armed these days with Glocks and Sigs, the 1911 design is still being used in one form or another after 110 years.

Barra has now given us another reason to appreciate J.M. Browning’s design for the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co., with a modern tactical variation featuring ambidextrous thumb safeties, white dot combat sights, and a Picatinny accessory rail under the dustcover. Check the list of 100% authentic looking and functioning blowback action CO2 models with all three of those features and a self-contained CO2 BB magazine. I rest my case.

The Barra 1911    

This is a contemporary 1911 Rail Gun design that is closely copied from the 2012 Colt CQBP (Close Quarter Battle Pistol) adopted by the Marine Corps as the M45A1. The CQBP was a specialized version of the Colt XSE Series Rail Gun (currently the Colt Combat Unit Rail model). Most 1911 manufacturers today also offer at least one Rail Gun model and there have been a number of CO2 versions in the past several years. Currently, the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS is the only full feature blowback action model with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine, and has remained the best CO2 1911 Rail Gun since it was introduced. A few others are no longer made and some only imitate the Rail Gun design and use stick magazines and separate CO2 in the grip. But even the excellent TRS is not an exact copy of the Colt CQBP. The new Barra 1911 is, at least in regard to its physical design.

As close as anyone has yet come to making a blowback action CO2 model with self contained CO2 BB magazines and matching “tactical” features, the new Barra 1911 duplicates about 98 percent of the current Colt Combat Unit Rail model (top) which has a slightly more upswept beavertail, a longer trigger, and extended magwell. The CO2 model has a grip frame mounted lanyard loop like the M45A1 (CQBP).
The Novak-style white dot sight rear sight looks authentic but is fixed and not windage adjustable. The hammer is correctly styled and easy to manually cock or decock, and the raised palmswell of the grip safety follows the correct design from the .45 ACP Colt model. The ambidextrous thumb safeties are also correct, fully functional and not burdened with superfluous markings.

Rather than Desert Tan, the matte black Cerakote-like finish used for the Barra is based on the current Colt Combat Unit Rail, and the design of Barra is the closest of all current and past blowback action 1911 Rail Guns to the actual Colt configuration with an exact copy of the four channel accessory rail system, combat style white dot sights, correct style Delta hammer and solid trigger with a serrated shoe. It also has the correct size beavertail and palmswell grip safety. If the Barra 1911 were also offered in Desert Tan and had the distinctive G10 grips, it would be a perfect CO2 version of the Marine Corps CQBP, but as it is, in matte black, it is the closest to the current Colt Rail Gun. That .45 ACP model has a matte black DLC coated stainless steel frame, custom G10 grips, flat mainspring housing, 25 LPI checkering on the frontstrap (which the Barra does not have), front and rear angled slide serrations, undercut triggerguard and upswept beavertail safety, extended magwell (not found on the Barra) and Novak sights, which have been copied on the Barra 1911. What we are looking at is currently the closest to an actual Colt 1911 Rail Gun available as a blowback action CO2 model.

The new Barra is certainly the best looking and most authentic to the centerfire model 1911 to come along since the Sig Sauer “We The People” 1911. The four channel (slot) dustcover rail is identical to the design used on the Colt models, as are the deep, angled, front and rear slide serrations. What the gun needs is G10-style grips to seal the deal.

In Part 2 we begin a close examination of handling, and start velocity and accuracy tests.

As soon as the Barra is in stock a link to the new models will be added to this article.

One thought on “Barra 1911 Part 1

  1. Nice pistol, but I am probably in the minority about this type of 1911. I actually have a no longer in production Remington version of this pistol., and prefer the old WW2 Combat Vet 1911. It would be nice to see an airgun version of the Colt Classic pre series 70 looking 1911. How about a true 4 1/4 barrel Commander, and a blowback version of the Defender? Will be interesting to see how this version handles


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