Colt 1911 XSE Rail Gun Accuracy Test

Could this be the next Marine Corps fighting .45? I’ve had my Colt XSE Rail gun for a while now, but hadn’t really put it through it’s paces in any

Colt Rail Gun and Galco IWB

meaningful way.  I’ve not even cracked 1000 rounds on it, which is partly because my time has really been consumed by shooting revolvers so far in 2011, and looks to stay that way as well.  But the Colt deserved a good workout, so off we went to West Coast Armory in Bellevue, Washington with a bunch of Remington 185 grain semi-wadcutter match ammo.

The Colt has the following features:

  • Aluminum trigger
  • 1913 accessory rail
  • Novak 3-dot sights (more on that in a bit)
  • Extended ambidextrous thumb safety
  • Wood stocks
  • One 7-round and one 8-round magazine

For magazines, I bought three of my usual Chip McCormick 8 round magazines with basepads, and the holster is a Galco Triton IWB.  For the review, I figured I’d warm up at 25 yards.  I try to do more and more shooting at longer ranges the closer I get to Bianchi Cup, as it’s good to practice at 25+ and out.

Target from Pistol-Training.Com

You know, 25 yards is a long way away.  For the warm-up, I fired 25 shots at the 8 inch circle of the Pistol-Training.Com target.  Each magazine was fired as a single, continuous string of fire.  A side note – when using 8 round 1911 mags, it’s really easy to break your training down into blocks of 25 rounds.  Take three mags, and top off the first one: 9+8+8=25.  After 25 rounds, the target was pulled back in to check the damage.  The goal here was to keep all 25 rounds in the 8 inch circle at the center, which would all be “10’s” on a Bianchi Cup target.

Looks like we have a “mission accomplished” for Goal

25 rounds at 25 yards

Number 1 with the XSE.  I was shading my groups a bit to the right during this drill, and I think that’s in part because at 25 yards, the front sight obscured the entire 8 inch circle of the target.  However, the Novak sights actually provide a pretty good sight picture; I’d like a wider rear notch than they have, but I’d also like a billion dollars and a unicorn.  The Novaks provide a fast enough and accurate enough sight picture to get the job done should I need to engage at 25 yards.

10 yards

The next drill shrank the distance from 25 yards down to 10 yards for the Colt, but I also shrank the target area from an 8 inch circle down to the 3×5 box in the head of the target.  Please note, if you’re doing this at an indoor range such as West Coast Armory, make sure that the target is hung so that the head box is at an angle where your rounds will not strike the ceiling.  They tend to frown on that, and it makes you a bad person for shooting the range up.

The drill at 10 yards was otherwise the same – 25 rounds, each magazine fired as a continuous string.  I was starting to get bored, because the 5 pound trigger on the Colt has good take-up with a good reset, and at 10 yards it was really not difficult to punch big .45 holes in the Pistol-Training.Com target.  The goal was all 25 shots in the head box, and we get to put a second “mission accomplished” tag on this post.  That one flier kind of annoys me, otherwise we could have gotten all 25 rounds in the

25 shots at 10 yards

same hole at 10 yards.  At 10 yards, I noticed that gun is in fact shooting to the right just a little bit.  This isn’t really a big deal unless I plan on using this gun for bulls-eye competition (hint: I don’t).  By now, I’d fired a box of ammo for accuracy, and kind of wondered what I was I going to do next to test the accuracy.  Then I noticed the little dot on the Pistol-Training.Com target and thought “Hey, maybe I can stick all my rounds in one hole in that dot at 10 yards”.  So I figured I’d shoot one magazine at that dot and see what happened.

8 rounds at 10 yards

Well, that was pretty straightforward, actually.  8 shots, 8 hits in a 2 inch circle at 10 yards.  The Colt 1911 XSE Rail Gun can certainly do one thing, and that’s shoot.  Colt has submitted this pistol to the US Marine Corps for consideration as the new MARSOC M45 pistol, and the only other current serious entry is a pistol from Springfield Armory.

After the accuracy drills, I did still have a bunch of ammo left.  That ammo was consumed on the FAST Drill (3 reps), drawing from the Galco holster and pressing out to the head or the body area of the target, and most importantly reloading the gun over and over again.  That single stack magazine well is not an easy target to hit without an additional opening on it, and my fastest reload was only 1.99 seconds.  Drawing from the concealed Galco holster from under a tactical sweater-vest (a la Mike Mers from AAC) the I could get two hits in the 8 inch area of the target in under 1.7 seconds.  Two hits to the head were consistently around 2.2 seconds (which needs to be faster), but for not having run the gun hard until yesterday, I was pretty pleased with how it performed.  I would recommend this gun whole heartedly to anyone looking for a 1911 with a rail though; Colt’s re-entry into the civilian market with their 1911s seems to be going pretty well.  I’m going to keep running this gun and see how it performs in upcoming weeks – if I’m not shooting a revolver, I’ll probably be shooting my Colt.


  1. Leave it to Colt to add what looks like the Nazi Eagle Emblem. Oh I’m sorry, they reversed the emblem and made it look a little abstract.

    This is sad. So many of our troops died fighting Nazis and carrying 1911s. Now 60 years later, Colt is stamping the Nazi Emblem on the slide.

    Shame on Colt.

  2. I love the 1911 for the military over the 9mm. I just wonder why after 100 years that the capacity was never increased for Military use. That is my only Con for the 1911 in Military operations. The 1911 has many Pro’s going for it.

    1. The army was wanting a Double Action since the 50’s. By the time the military upgraded, double stack DA 9mm’s were the big thing.

      In Short, the next handgun the Army spent money on would have been nothing like a 1911 anyway.

    2. And many minuses for a general issue sidearm.

      The reason Uncle Sam went to empty chamber carry was because of the rates of NDs with 1911s. Despite the fact that the gun was SPECIFICALLY designed to be safe while bouncing on teh end of a lanyard with teh hammer cocked and teh safety off during a cavalry action, enough stupid troops managed to pop one off whle carrying it locked and cocked, the Army got very skittish about that mode for general service. (Keep in mind how MANY 1911s were issued for WWI — ISTR reading that they tried to get a pistol, preferrably a 1911, into a holster on the side of EVERY soldier deployed to France. . . that’s a LOT of ND opportunities!)

      Dissassembly, maintenance (not “user” so much as the impact on armorers and depots), etc. — these also make a general issue of the 1911 to “almost all troops who may need a handgun” a poor choice in 2011, and make something like an XD45 a much better choice.

  3. Great shooting. I’d be way more tempted to buy the gun if it didn’t have the rail on it. I believe a rail on a 1911 is a sacrilege.

  4. Please excuse my ignorance as it comes without a rail also! Sorry for jumping the gun.

    1. I tend to like the rail on the XSE. A fighting pistol, whether it’s for LE, military, or home defense should really have an accessory rail on it. Guns need lights in the dark, and so the trend towards railed 1911s makes perfect sense to me.

  5. Yes it does make sense but I just can’t get past it sticking out there on a 1911. Of course my XD and SR9 both have them so it must not bother me too much.

  6. Did the ambi safety take any skin off your hands?

    I have thicker hands and every ambi safety 1911 that I’ve shot has turned them to pulp.

    1. No, this ambi safety did not damage my hands. However, I’ve also never had that particular issue with ambi safeties before.

  7. Sorry if I missed this detail but have you had the opportunity to run some hollow point ammo through it?

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