Dave Barham reveals the new full metal, full blow-back, CO2-powered Lee Enfield M1911 A1 pistol in 4.5mm steel BB format in this test and review.

Part of the ‘Brothers in Arms’ series of replica iconic 20th Century guns produced by Lee-Enfield (Guns) Ltd, this rather weighty pistol is being distributed by those lovely chaps at The Shooting Party.

credit: Archant

A Bit Of History
The M1911 was designed by John Browning for Colt in 1911 and it served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985. For our CO2-powered, steel BB-firing version we have replicated the M1911 A1 variant, adopted as the standard in 1924. The M1911 was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the other conflicts such as ‘The Bay of Pigs’ and the sectarian violence in Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s. It is probably the most readily recognised pistol in the world, and although the US government only procured around 2.7 million of them, it is estimated that more than 10 million have been produced worldwide. 

credit: Archant

Loading Time
Immediately in front of the grip, you’ll find a small, round button which releases the drop-out mag’ once pressed. With the mag’ out you then use the key supplied to undo the large screw at the base of the mag’, which then allows you to insert a 12g CO2 canister. It’s the usual retightening of said screw that pierces the CO2 cannister and holds it in place.

Now it’s time to load the 17-round steel BB magazine. Although it’s easy to do, it can also be a bit tricky until you get used to it. You have to slide the metal bar down to compress the spring, before placing the BBs into the small gap that this operation creates. There’s no locking mechanism, so you need strong fingernails to do this because you have to keep the spring pulled down whilst loading. It gets easier the more you do it, but it still takes its toll on your nails! With the mag’ loaded you simply slot it back into place, and it rams home with a very satisfying ‘click’.

credit: Archant

Realistic Features
This pistol is packed full of great features. Apart from its full metal action and slide, weighing in at 950g (3.1lbs) it is exactly the same weight and dimensions as the original. It has a manual safety lever on the left-hand side with a second ‘palm grip’ safety for added security. This basically means that you have to be holding the pistol ready to shoot it with the safety lever turned off and the ‘palm grip’ lever depressed (by the action of you holding the pistol) in order for it to fire.

The full blow-back action is great, and it gives you a great kick as it operates – something that really does add to the fun factor when shooting this pistol. Let’s make it clear, it’s a fixed-sight, BB pistol, and it’s designed for plinking, not target shooting, so this massive kick is well received. I also like the fact that the top slide remains open when the last BB is fired, telling you that it’s time to reload. 

credit: Archant

I love this pistol. It’s meaty, well made and very realistic. It kicks like a mule and the semi-auto ‘shoot it as quickly as you can pull the trigger’ makes for great back garden plinking fun. As far as pull weight goes, it’s around a pound, which is really quite light. My daughters had no problem shooting it, and they both had as much fun as I did with it.
I also like that it comes well-packed in a sturdy box with a whole heap of instructions. They even supply a small bottle of lubricating oil with a set of instructions on how and when to use it.

If you like knocking a tin can down the range, then this is one of the most fun ways you’ll ever have of doing it. 

Model:            M1911 A1    
Manufacturer:        Lee Enfield                        
Type:            CO2-powered blow-back        
Power Source:        12g CO2 cartridge        
Calibre:        4.5mm BB only            
Shot Count:        On test, 60 shots per CO2 cartridge                                 
Sights:            Fixed front and rear        
Magazine Capacity:    17-shot steel BB only        
Weight:        3.1lbs                
Length:        225mm            
Barrel Length:        130mm            
Velocity:        325fps (rough guide)
Trigger:        Single-stage    
Price:             £129
Website:         www.shootingparty.uk