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Review

SOCOM GEAR CQB ELITE vs. TOKYO MARUI M.E.U. PISTOL
  • Manufacturer 
     SOCOM GEAR / Tokyo Marui
  • Model 
     Wilson Combat CQB Elite / M.E.U. Pistol
  • Capacity 
     15+1 / 28+1
  • Weight 
     950g / 850 g
  • Power 
     290 fps / 300 fps
  • Power Source 
     HFC134a / Top Gas
  • Blowback 
     Yes
  • Hop-up 
     Adjustable
  • Shooting Mode 
     Semi
  • Construction 
     All metal / ABS and metal details

Pros

The strong sides for Tokyo Marui include high performance and accuracy with good overall finish and trusted quality.
The SOCOM GEAR offers heft and durability with its full metal construction, and includes two magazines and real grip panels for an affordable price.
 

Cons

The Tokyo Marui is a bit lightweight, and buying aftermarket metal parts would bump up the price significantly.
The SOCOM GEAR has heavy metal parts, but the fit of parts leaves room for improvement and affects accuracy and performance.
 

Verdict

There is no better pistol out of these, just a better pistol for you. It is a subjective decision and everyone should be able to choose the more suitable one for them after reading through this review.

 

The 1911 is a lot like heavy metal - it just doesn't seem to die! Whether that's a good thing or not of course depends on who you ask. We are living the latter half of 2008, and the venerable .45 caliber pistol from almost a hundred years back is still found in regular use and service worldwide. Whether you like the pistol or not, a certain John Moses must have done something right.

Based on J.M. Browning's short barrel recoil system, the 1911 introduced this Modus Operandi still found in almost every popular service pistol. With the barrel and slide locked together in battery, the cartridge is ignited when the trigger is pulled to let the hammer fall. The recoil force of the accelerating bullet causes the slide and barrel retreat together - still locked together to contain the high pressure within the chamber. The weight difference between the bullet vs. the slide and barrel causes the latter to move more slowly, so the bullet has time to exit the muzzle and let the pressure in the barrel drop. With the impulse-like inertia the barrel and slide continue to move rearward, and after a few millimeters of travel the rear of the barrel is cammed down via a link, allowing the slide to continue traveling rearward and extract the casing from the chamber.

While the 1911 was replaced by the Beretta M92FS as the US armed forces service pistol in the 80's, the old design continued to live in the use of civilian shooters, and improved custom models were developed for more demanding uses such as serious sport shooting and police and military special units. The amount of different "Tactical" variants of the 1911 probably runs in hundreds, and all of them introduce some kinds of improvements or "improvements" over the original design. We will now take a look at replicas of two such pistols: The M.E.U. Pistol and Wilson Combat CQB Elite.

VANITY OR JUST A DEMANDING LOOK?

Both pistols come packed in rather nice boxes. The Tokyo Marui M.E.U. Pistol box has a desert'ish color scheme as the current trend is, and the styrofoam insert is overlaid with a cloth featuring a digital desert camo pattern. As we expect from Tokyo Marui, the accessories are commendable and the package includes:

  • The pistol
  • One magazine
  • A complimentary bag of BBs
  • Barrel plug
  • Cleaning rod
  • Bushing wrench / loading aid tool
  • Manual, paper targets, latest catalog

    The loading aid tool allows you to hold the follower down when you fill the magazine, which is a handy feature if you're wearing gloves. The manual is in Japanese only with a very limited amount of English text, but the illustrations are very clear and show how to operate and maintain the pistol.

    These pistols are close relatives in practice. Tokyo Marui has Novak markings under licence.
    Both feature front cocking serrations and a solid recoil spring plug. Note possible threads for silencer adapter on the CQB Elite.

    The SOCOM GEAR Wilson Combat CQB Elite comes in a tough brown cardboard box with a glossy label with a strong Wilson Combat theme. This is not surprising, since the pistol is officially licenced from Wilson Combat. It is always refreshing to see Airsoft manufacturers affixing logos legally, and of course this couldn't be done without the open minds from the real weapon manufacturer as well. The styrofoam is covered with a black cloth in this case, and the packaging includes:

  • The pistol
  • Two magazines
  • A SOCOM GEAR user manual
  • A WE 1911 user manual

    The list may look short, but it is very much worth emphasizing that this pistol comes with two 15 round magazines. The WE manual is more detailed of the two and is written in English, Spanish, German and Italian, while the simplistic SG manual is in English only.

    The CQB Elite magwell is flared at the sides, while the M.E.U. Pistol has the edge angled at the rear as well.
    The M.E.U. comes with one 28 round magazine and a handy tool. The CQB Elite includes two 15 round magazines instead.

    MORE AESTHETICS AND DETAILS

    While these pistols are replicas of different models, they can be compared in terms of build quality and detailing. When you first pick up an Airsoft 1911, you'll quickly notice whether it has weight or not. The TM M.E.U. pistol is certainly not a featherweight handgun at 850 grams with a magazine, but you can tell a clear difference by hand when you compare it with the SG CQB Elite, which tips the scale to 960 grams. The M.E.U. has large metal weights hidden into the grip panels, while the CQB Elite has hollow grips so the balance accounts for this large difference in feel, even though 110 grams isn't that much of a difference as overall weight.

    What you most likely grabbed when comparing the weight was the grip. This round goes to SOCOM GEAR without a shadow of a doubt: The Tokyo Marui adaptation of rubber wraparound grips is plasticky and made from multiple pieces, although it does provide an adequate grip and looks good. SOCOM GEAR decided to use actual Wilson Combat grips, and they are possibly the nicest grip panels we've seen for the 1911 to this date. Embedded with Wilson's Eagle medallion, the grip panels are black polymer with a rather interesting pattern that not only looks great, but provides a good grip as well. The grooves between the ridges feature lines, not unlike altitude lines in a map.

    Other than the grips and weight, most points in external finesse goes to Tokyo Marui. Having apparently learned something after releasing their 1911 that looks like plastic even from a meter away, they have managed to create a rather nice matte finish for the M.E.U. Pistol, and it resembles the famous WA "Carbon Black" finish - although is not quite as grey. Tokyo Marui have only their own manufacturing markings and of course ASGK on the right side of the frame, but the sights have Novak's markings affixed under official licence. The sights lack any bright dots, which is good for target shooting but would be a nice addition for low light conditions. The front sight is serrated to prevent glare, and the sight picture is very sharp.

    The SOCOM GEAR CQB Elite is metal, but the finish is not quite as convincing with uneven-ness and casting marks. The stamped markings are quite nice actually, and only a small WE logo is found on the left side of the trigger guard, and "Made in Taiwan" is hidden below "Wilson Combat Berryville, AR U.S.A." on the right side of the frame. The sights feature three white dots in obvious places, which don't glow in the dark but do help when light is scarcely available. Unfortunately the finish of the sights is glossy with round corners, which makes for a less than optimal sight picture.

    The sight picture of the CQB Elite has white dots for speedy aiming, but lacks sharpness. The front sight can not be removed.
    The M.E.U. Pistol has an excellent sight picture, but limited low light capability. Both sights can be removed.

    THAT'S THE SHOW - HOW DO THEY GO?

    As much as we love to look and caress and fondle these small pieces of engineering, there certainly is no point for a skirmisher or practical shooter to overlook performance, no matter how good the "piece" may look. All the detailing in the world is not going to help you if you miss your target and have a cloud of BBs heading your way.

    The muzzle velocity was measured in an air-conditioned office using Top Gas and 0.2 gram BBs. The hop-up was set to provide a flat trajectory for both pistols, and the magazines were left for 30 minutes after charging the gas to stabilize the temperature. Surprisingly Tokyo Marui pulled the longer straw in this, peaking at 305 fps with an average velocity of 300 fps. The SOCOM GEAR produced a top velocity of 295 fps and settled down to 290 fps. In gaming use the difference is insignificant, and could be easily manipulated by slight tuning. For example the piston head seems to have a bit of a leak, which is known to affect velocity.

    Accuracy test strings were shot from eight meters off-hand, in the same conditions as the velocity test. After a couple of magazines worth of "running in", the barrels were cleaned in preparation for the actual test. Both pistols were used to shoot a string of five shots three times, and the best target was picked for the comparison. Neither pistol has a particularly good trigger pull: While it is light, some creep can be noticed and overtravel is not limited by any means. The M.E.U. Pistol produced an excellent 25 mm grouping from 8 meters, which is five star performance in our books. The average groupings of each pistol reflected the same as the tightest ones: Tokyo Marui wins by a clear margin. We tried to trace the cause for this, and the CQB Elite has a substantial amount of slack between the frame and slide, slide and bushing, bushing and outer barrel as well as outer and inner barrels. With this amount of slop it is no wonder that tighter groupings are not achieved, but even at this level the pistol is easily capable of hitting a man-sized target out to 25 meters (82 feet).

    The incredible 25 mm grouping with five shots from 8 meters with the Tokyo Marui M.E.U. Pistol.
    The tightest grouping produced by the SOCOM GEAR Wilson Combat CQB Elite was 45 mm.
    The battle is over, and both contenders are still standing strong in the ring. You be the judge which one won!

    VERDICT

    As implied in the summary in the beginning already, it is impossible to say "X is better". Both pistols have their strong points in different areas, and they are traded off for shortcomings in other areas. Both of these pistols will find their fans, and we hope that this review helps you to pick the one that won't disappoint you in areas that you value in an airsoft pistol.

    If you value a heavy weight and metallic clinks in a pistol right away, then picking the CQB Elite is quite clear. As a bonus it also comes with a rail for a laser or light, for those who wish to accessorize their pistol. With two magazines included, the CQB Elite offers a really good bang for the buck, and those real grip panels are a really nice detail as well.

    Tokyo Marui is a trusted brand and the M.E.U. Pistol didn't really surprise in a negative nor positive sense. It is immensely accurate with a high build quality and a trusted quality, but a bit light to hold and it does come at a price. The generous magazine capacity gives good firepower out of the box, so it is especially attractive to gamers. Metal kits released in the future will allow you to make it the ultimate pistol in terms of performance, durability and realism.

    Related products:

    Tokyo Marui M.E.U. Pistol

    28 round magazine for the M.E.U.

    SOCOM GEAR Wilson Combat CQB Elite

    15 round magazine for CQB Elite (Available soon)