Western Arms Premiums Two years after Western Arms introduced their Beretta M92FS Premium Edition models (commemorating their anniversary with Beretta) they have followed up with another set of premium edition series, but this time these models are based on their widely popular Colt M1911 line. Like the Beretta models the SCW M1911 premiums are limited production run and feature a special metallic-like finish.
Released in early 2004, the SCW Colt M1911 Premium Edition series come in three different models. There are Government and Combat Commander models with imitation nickel finish and a Government model with “gold” slide and frame accented with silver parts. This review covers both the “nickel” Government and Commander models. (I opted not to collect the gold model as I’m neither a pimp daddy nor a flamboyant movie villain.) The nickel models were released simultaneously while the gold model came out a little later.
The nickel premiums have a stunning, brilliant, mirror finish and come with two pairs of grips.
The Government/Commander are SCW models with the improved blowback, new hop-up design, transfer hammer system, etc. Note that these are from the first release of the SCW-improved models with the old 15-round magazines, and not the SCW Version 2 with the higher-capacity magazines and minor improvements.
The guns are packaged in the all too familiar “SCW” gray boxes that are delivered with WA’s line of SCW models (the gray box is becoming synonymous with the brown box). They come with a pair of antique-looking pewter grips installed, along with another pair of grips made of ABS imitation ivory. Other contents include the manual, bushing wrench, hop-up wrench and small bag of BBs.
The Grips The ABS plastic “ivory” grips come as a secondary pair. They have double diamond checkering with gold Colt medallions. Like many of WA’s 1911 single-stack pistols, the undersides of the grips have metal inserts to add more weight to the gun. Alone, the imitation ivory may not look that impressive. But once installed onto the gun the vanilla-colored grips really complement the bright and shiny finish and make the M1911 a much classier looking piece.
But what really make the premium models shine (I should say shine even more) are those metal grips. The pewter grips are very hefty (weighing 221g) and have fancy motif designs. They have a “stained” discoloration that lends a “worn” vintage appearance. The left panel is decorated with the American eagle bearing the American shield and in its claws are olive branch and arrows (symbolizing peace and war, respectively). The right panel has a galloping colt and another shield below it. And lastly beneath the shield there’s a ribbon with the inscription “vincit qui patitur,” which is Latin for “he who endures conquers.” The designs are raised off the surface, providing the shooter a steady firm grip.
If you look at the pewter grips of each premium model produced, you’ll notice the stains that create the distinctive discoloring vary on every model. A quick email to WA revealed that each grip is hand polished, creating a distinguished look for each gun. (But do note the grips of the gold model are not stained.) Normally when I buy an airsoft pistol with hokey plastic grips the first thing I do is replace them with wood. But these pewter grips are an exception; they are for keeps.
The difference in weight from the two pairs of grips is indeed noticeable. With the ABS “ivory” grips installed the Government weighs 760g while the Commander slightly trails at 731g. But once the pewter grips are mounted the weights are brought up to 902g for the Government and 873g for the Commander.
Make Mine Nickel The Government model is a MKIV Series 70 with a 5-inch barrel while the Commander is also a MKIV, but a Series 80 with a 4.25-inch barrel (markings on the slides are different.) The overall length of the Government is 8.5 inches while the Commander measures 7.75 inches. The Commander has a rounded hammer and the inner barrel is shorter by about 20mm. I noticed the grip safety of the Commander premium is the extended beavertail type, in contrast to the standard Commander’s short “stubby” style.
The ABS imitation nickel finish looks truly amazing. You can say that this is Western Arms’ “brilliant” opposite of Tanaka’s dark Midnight Blue. From a distance one would think this is genuine nickel and not plastic. The metallic-like surface has a highly polished mirror gloss and reflections can be seen clearly. The parts match the rest of the body but are not as reflective. Buffing is necessary as the surface tends to attract marks and smudges. The lustrous, seamless frames of the two pistols are slick and have uniform lines.
Overall quality of the premiums is on par with other WA pistols. All the trade markings are lightly engraved in all the right places, though it was difficult for me to photograph due to the highly reflective surface. Metal parts are: trigger, hammer, barrel, sights, mainspring housing, safety lever, slide release, bushing, grip safety, magazine release, recoil spring plug and some internals.
The trigger and hammer action proved to be smooth. Like the genuine M1911, the hammer has two positions: half and fully cocked. I find the M1911’s frame-mounted safety, which only can be engaged while the hammer is completely cocked, is the most uncomplicated and trouble-free safety device on any gun I’ve handled. Bringing the gun from SAFE to FIRE while drawing is ultra swift without difficulty. The grip is comfortable to hold and one only would need to apply natural pressure to the grip safety in order to fire the gun.
The front and rear sights of both guns are identical and finished in black, thankfully. I find the sights of the Colt M1911 .45 models to be quite fundamental and they are the least ergonomic feature of the gun. They are low profile and the rear square notch is too narrow for me to make a quick acquisition of the target. Plus the sights are based on old designs without any white dots or outlines, making shooting silhouettes difficult.
Both the Government and Commander have the same size grip, therefore the two use the same magazine. The magazine holds 15 rounds and has the same mirror-polished finish as the rest of the gun. It’s not a newly designed magazine as I believe it’s recycled from the older pre-SCW pistols. The magazine slaps into the gun with a clear and definite “click” and is housed securely without any “rattle.”
The hop up is located just below the entrance of the inner barrel and can be adjusted using the included hex wrench.
Performance For the chronograph results I used HFC134a gas and 0.2g BBs. The guns were fired in room temperature of 66º F and I also warmed up the magazines. Accuracy was achieved using 5-inch bulls-eye targets from 16 feet.
Accuracy wise both pistols showed impressive results. On average the pair produced 8-shot groupings of 2-inches to 2.25-inches, with the best 6-shot at 1.75-inches. The two exhibited quick and snappy blowback with a pronounced kick. Sound of the discharge was a fairly loud “pop.” The slides locked back solidly after the last round each and every time. The magazines churned out 50-55 shots with one charge.
Power is where the two guns differ, but only slightly. The Government produced an average of 242 FPS while the Commander delivered an average of 228 FPS. Due to the Commander having a slightly lighter slide I had expected the results to be similar, if not reversed, but this wasn’t the case. The power of the Government is pretty much on par with most of the gas blowback pistols of equivalent size, but the Commander came at a minor disappointment. The 1911 single-stackers certainly lack the “punch” of the double-stacked models.
Disassembly With the magazine removed, push the slide back until the small circular notch is aligned with the end of the slide release lever and hold the slide in place. From the right side of the frame push the axis of the release lever through to the left and lift it off the frame. Now let the slide run off the frame. Push the inner guide rod away from the barrel assembly and the rod and spring can be removed. If you want to remove the barrel assembly then use the bushing wrench and turn the bushing anticlockwise until it stops. Now lift the bushing off the slide. The whole barrel assembly then can be pulled out through the front of the slide.
Conclusion Classy and pricey, the SCW Colt Government/Commander Premium Edition series are geared towards staunch M1911 aficionados and not the average “skirmish grunts.” With the striking “nickel” finish and two pairs of superb grips the premium models exhibit Western Arms’ expertise in gas blowback pistol development. The SCW Colt M1911 series offer supreme quality, strong blowback and impressive accuracy. So if you’re looking for a special, elegant M1911 and price is not an issue, then these Colt “premies” may fit your style. Not to mention that these are limited production models that surely will gain high recognition and demand as time passes. I’ve had these premiums for a little over a year now and they still deliver the same impression as they did when I first got them.
External links: Links to external sites of interest.