Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 2

Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 2 Part 1 Part 3

From John Moses Browning’s first design to the original

Model 1911 the future was already written

By Dennis Adler

A somewhat modern Cerakote-like finish on the Swiss Arms 1911A1 isn’t quite right, but then again neither is the big Swiss Arms logo on the slide, but if you look at the balance of the pistol it is about as close to a c.1924 Model 1911A1 (Transitional Model) as an air pistol can get. The 1911A1 is shown with an original lanyard and a World War Supply reproduction of the Model JT&L 1917 military holster, leather belt and dual magazine pouch for the Model 1911.

Swiss Arms introduced its 1911A1 (which they simply refer to as a 1911 even though it is the early 1911A1 configuration) several years ago, but it has not received the degree of attention the Swiss Arms 1911 Rail Guns get because they are the more popular 1911 variants. Swiss Arms, which licenses its name to the 1911 line (and I’ll explain why shortly), is a very old company, but you might not recognize it until you know that prior to 2000, Swiss Arms was Sig Arms, and is now part of a larger conglomerate that includes independently operated Sig Sauer GmbH, Mauser, J.P. Sauer & Sohn GmbH, Sig Sauer, Inc. (in the U.S.) and Swiss Arms, among other companies. The Swiss Arms name on a 1911 air pistol is equivalent to the Sig Sauer name on a 1911, and Sig Sauer makes some of the finest centerfire 1911 models in the world (over 20 different models) including the new “We the People”1911 in .45 ACP and new blowback action .177 caliber version, which we will be unveiling in Airgun Experience next week!

Pictured is a very fine original WWI era 1911 with the same holster, belt and magazine pouch combination. Note that the pre-1911A1 design has the earlier trigger design and flat mainspring housing, but the same style hammer and thumb safety as the early 1911A1 version. The new style (smaller) trigger and arched mainspring housing are defining characteristics of the 1911A1. Early in production the original style 1911 thumb safety (pictured) was changed to the longer design seen on most 1911A1 models. The short thumb safety (as used on the Swiss Arms model) is also correct for a 1911A1; these are often referred to as “Transitional Model” 1911A1 pistols.

Swiss or Sig – an excellent 1911

Product branding means there has to be some level of quality that justifies the maker’s name and involvement, thus Colt’s name on the Peacemakers and 1911s, Beretta’s and Walther’s name on a variety of models, Sig Sauer’s on CO2 pistols and rifles, and the Swiss Arms name on this 1911A1. Most of the current 1911 CO2 models are of later (Series 70, Series 80) designs, while some measure of effort has been expended to give this 1911 a look that is closer to earlier Colt pistols from the pre-WWII era. The Swiss Arms model really has only one significant issue and that’s the modern finish (and of course the Swiss Arms name on the slide). Even a black Army finish, as used by Colt’s for 1917-1918 military models, would have been closer.

The Swiss Arms model has the correct size 1911A1 trigger, 1911 spur hammer, and small thumb safety. The fully operating grip safety does protrude slightly further from the back of the grip than centerfire models of the period.

The finely checkered arched mainspring housing, grip safety contour, lanyard loop, slide and frame design, (as seen from the rear), are finely duplicated from the original 1911A1 model. The rear sight is just slightly higher than original pistols.

As for working features, the disassembly follows general 1911 field stripping, (after removing the magazine, clearing the gun and making certain it is empty), by depressing the recoil spring plug and rotating the barrel bushing 90 degrees counterclockwise (on the CO2 model) and removing it. The recoil spring on a centerfire (or rimfire) pistol is under great pressure and you have to maintain pressure on the recoil spring plug and let the plug and spring come forward slowly. This isn’t an issue with the CO2 model, which also has a secondary large coil spring around the barrel (like a traditional blowback action pistol). The slide is then pushed back to align the disassembly slot with the frame and slide stop. Push the slide stop pin from the right side and remove the entire slide stop from the left. Invert the gun and pull the slide off the frame. This is as far as the CO2 model goes, but is more than ample for any type of cleaning.

One part too many…the CO2 model has two recoil springs. One on the guide rod attached to the barrel (where it should be) plus an additional blowback action large coil spring that fits over the barrel inside the slide and is held in place by the barrel bushing. The Swiss Arms fieldstrips almost the same as an actual .45 ACP model 1911.

Full features include a slide that locks back on an empty magazine. The barrel on the Swiss Arms model has the same finish as the frame and slide.

Working the action

The Swiss Arms model has the early spur hammer design so it is a very easy pistol to manually cock. The slide locks back on an empty magazine and the slide release is identical to .45 ACP models. The original short thumb safety clicks on and off with ease, but the most important of all is that the grip safety is 100 percent operational and like a centerfire (or rimfire) 1911 must be fully depressed for the pistol to fire. Trigger shape and size is also very close to a centerfire 1911A1. Rack the slide and this pistol is ready to be put on safe (cocked and locked) or fire.

Swiss Arms has done the Colt legend proud with a great deal of attention to detail. Unfortunately the warning on the right side of the slide takes the eye away from the superb lines of the gun.

The CO2 model measures up closely to 1911A1 specs with an overall length of 8.5 inches, height of 5-1/2 inches from the top of the slide to the base of the magazine well. You can add another ¼-inch for the lanyard loop. Overall width, including grips and slide release, is 1-1/2 inches (slide width is 0.875 inches). A Model 1911A1 weighs 39 ounces, the Swiss Arms CO2 model tips the scale at a still hefty 32 ounces.

Superb also defines the size of the pistol which is a perfect fit in all military holsters of the WWI and WWII era like this Tanker shoulder holster from World War Supply. On Saturday we’ll look at other holsters that work with the Swiss Arms model.

Saturday in the Part 3 conclusion, sighting, velocity and accuracy, as well as holsters and magazine pouches.

10 thoughts on “Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 2

  1. This seems to be almost identical to the Tanfoglio Witness 1911 aside from the markings. I have a pair of the Swiss Arms rail guns as I couldn’t resist the different finishes they have. They both shoot very well once broken in.


  2. Comes pretty close, but still not there. Wonder how hard it would be to strip the finish from the slide, refinish and make a stencil to apply correct 1911 markings. Re the Sig , We thePeople, does it use a co2 mag , and does the safety function as a true ambi safety?



      • The description on the website is a little confusing . States drop co2 into magazine and load17 rounds, but the picture of the spare mags which are below are stick magazines. Then it states for Spartan, Max Michel and We the People 1911. ?


        • The “We the People” is a new generation of Sig Sauer 1911s and does not use stick magazines, so the cat is out of the bag. I’ll have a full review beginning next Tuesday. This is one terrific looking blowback action CO2 model.


          • Looks like Sig is listening , and getting serious with their airgun line.If it truly gets 340 fps with Steel bbs that would make it the lead dog on the sled. With Dust Devils that would bump to 350 plus . Not bad


  3. Here is the limited Umarex Colt Combat Vet with weathered finish. The closest yet. A pistol like the SwissArms with these markings is long overdue as a standard model . There patently was one about 2 years ago , only sold in Europe.



  4. I have just obtained the Swiss arms 1911 and would recommend the use of a Presto gun blue pen to remove unwanted markings. Its not a total removal but stands up to cursory inspection and adds to the realism. I also obtained Fobus holsters for the gun and spare magazine which fit them like a glove and are an inexpensive accessory.The dealer said they would be unable to obtain further supplies of this pistol which would be a shame for english realistic airgun enthusiasts if true.


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