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Military Armament Corp. 1911 JSOC 45: Full Review

While 1911-style pistols are enjoying a resurgence across the board, it can be difficult for new entries to stand out in the crowd. The Military Armament Corporation (MAC) 1911 JSOC 45 got our attention for its retro look, full suite of features, and an unbelievable price. This may be the best buy in forty-fives.

Military Armament Corp. 1911 JSOC 45: Full Review

(Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

There’s an Old West adage that says, “God made man, Samuel Colt made them equal.” If that’s the case, John Browning should get credit for putting his thumb on the scales in favor of American service members. The 1911 pistol, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), the .30-caliber 1917 water-cooled and 1919 air-cooled machine guns, and the big .50 caliber M2 machine gun were all World War-era designs that remained in service with the U.S. military through the Vietnam War. Of those, the single-action, hammer-fired 1911 remained the standard service sidearm until 1985 — and beyond in specialized roles — and the “Ma Deuce” heavy machine gun is still shredding battlefields today. No need to even mention that Browning’s commercial offerings — including lever-action rifles and shotguns of all types — were crucial tools in taming the American West and keeping food on the table during times of historical hardship. There should be no doubt that one man gave the United States an undeniable advantage in firepower.

Its history of service and renowned performance in austere environments are reasons enough to justify modern interest in the 1911. However, it’s the all-metal construction and old-world aesthetic that make people fall in love with the platform.

mac-jsoc-45 Shooting 1
(Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

Overall, demand for 1911 pistols is probably greater now than it’s ever been, which is hard to fathom given the length and breadth of the modern handgun market compared to a century ago when Browning’s design was among the few functional semiautomatics extant. Heightened demand has yielded increased supply to the point that, today, most major gun manufacturers include a 1911 in their catalog. So how does one stand out in such a crowd?

For Military Armament Corporation (MAC), the answer is to lean into those qualities that make the 1911 great: Service, performance, and damn good looks.

The JSOC 45

For its entry into the 1911 market, MAC wanted to include a traditional military appearance without getting lost in the sea of early 1911A-series clones. So rather than taking inspiration from the World Wars — the 1911 won two of them, in case you hadn’t heard — MAC looked to the Cold War, and in particular the custom 1911 builds popular among elite U.S. Special Operations soldiers.

mac-jsoc-45 Left
(Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

With a heritage in home-brew ballistic solutions dating back to the MACV-SOG operators in Vietnam, Cold War commandos of the 1980s and 1990s demanded more from their sidearms than generations past. Those men were integral to the development of burgeoning combat pistol competitions, and their often-clandestine mission sets called for surgical precision. As a result, modifications such as tall and adjustable sights, enlarged magazine wells, beavertail grip safeties with memory pads, and even dustcover accessory rails came into vogue.

To MAC’s credit, the JSOC 45 captures the spirit and anti-communist zeal of yesteryear’s American fighting man, and renders that devotion and grit into a handgun of walnut and steel.

More For Less

Before delving into the features that commend the gun for review, I don’t want to bury the lead any further. Military Armament Corporation is a brand, and passion project, that falls under the purview of SDS Imports of Knoxville, Tennessee. The company is probably best known for bringing in the Turkish-made line of Tisas firearms — including many 1911-based models. Tisas products, and Turkish firearms in general, have been rising in the esteem of American shooters thanks to constantly improving quality and a willingness to meet the changing needs and tastes of American consumers — a feat some U.S. manufacturers still struggle with. So, when SDS decided to launch MAC and include a military inspired pistol, they included Tisas as the manufacturing partner.

mac-jsoc-45 Rear Sight
The LPA rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. (Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

That Tisas is making the MAC JSOC 45 is no secret. The guns are marked accordingly beneath the dustcover. The benefit, though, of utilizing Turkish rather than American manufacturing is significant cost savings — the JSOC 45 is priced at just $750. That cost seems impossibly low given the gun’s features, so let’s dive in.

First, the JSOC 45 is a full-size Government-pattern pistol chambered for .45 ACP. Both the frame and the slide are forged carbon steel components with a quench-polish-quench (QPQ) Tennifer finish. The manufacturing process yields durable metal parts while finish protects the exterior from wear and corrosion. The 5-inch barrel is 416R stainless steel and includes an 11-degree muzzle crown to protect the rifling.

Starting from the top, the rear sight is a fully-adjustable — windage and elevation — LPA sight in a Bomar-pattern dovetail and slide relief cut. It’s paired with a post front sight that includes a brass bead. I’m a big fan of brass and gold bead sights for their light gathering capability. These old-school night sights tend to be fast and precise. Compared to early 1911s, the ejection port is lowered and flare to reliably clear spent brass. Too, the extractor is in its usual internal location. Cocking serrations are tight and vertical at the rear of the slide. Engraving is minimal and tasteful; “MILITARY / ARMAMENT / CORPORATION” is stacked ahead of the cocking serrations on the left, and the MAC logo is just behind the right-side slide cuts.

mac-jsoc-45 Front Sight
A brass bead in the post front sight helps gather light and draw the eye forward. (Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

Moving down to the frame, I was surprised to see that both the frontstrap and the flat mainspring housing were checkered. You just don’t usually get frontstrap texturing at this price point. The 25-lines-per-inch (lpi) checkering is respectably clean and sharp. It’s also my favorite checkering pattern because I find it offers plenty of purchase for a firing grip without being overly abrasive. The Turkish walnut stocks bear the MAC logo and complement the frame with diamond-pattern checkering. Below the grip, the JSOC 45 includes an extended magazine well to speed reloads.

Recommended


For controls, the trigger is a three-hole skeletonized mid-length unit with a serrated face. The magazine release is enlarged for easy manipulation and checkered. The slide lock/release has a slightly enlarged ledge with lengthwise serrations. The knurled, skeletonized hammer is a good fit for the design, and the grip safety has an elongated beavertail and pronounced memory pad for sure activation. Finally, the manual thumb safety is an ambidextrous control.

mac-jsoc-45 Ambi Safety
Manual safeties include the extended beavertail grip saftey with memory pad and an ambidextrous thumb safety. (Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

Diving deeper into the pistol, the JSOC 45 is a traditional barrel bushing design, so disassembly and re-assembly follow the typical procedure. With regard to internals, the gun follows the Colt Series 70 design, which is my preference. Therefore, there are no extra parts or firing pin block, instead you get the cleanest 1911 trigger pull possible. Like many 1911 manufacturers, MAC utilizes a lightweight titanium firing pin as an added safety measure in case the gun is dropped.

Overall, the JSOC offers a classic, business-like appearance with a lot of functional upgrades to facilitate fast, precise shooting.

mac-jsoc-45 texture
You don't often see frontstrap checkering on sub-$1,000 pistols. It's a nice addition to the JSOC's checkered walnut stocks. (Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

At The Range

Good looks and an intriguing feature set mean nothing if the pistol doesn’t perform at the range, and it was my intent to get this pistol over 1,000 rounds before writing this review. Generally, if a gun is poorly made, 1,000 rounds of .45 ACP will reveal the weak spots — loose screws, uneven wear, etc. Too, most people won’t shoot more than a couple hundred rounds per range session, if that, so 1,000 rounds is a reasonable test of reliability for a recreational pistol.

mac-jsoc-45 Magwell
An extended magazine well is a nod to the modifications of Cold War operators and makes fast reloads a breeze. (Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

My first range trip was devoted to familiarizing myself with the new gun, ensuring the sights were aligned, and working through any break-in period the JSOC may require. SDS does not denote a specific break-in recommendation, but I tend to think most 1911s need a quick wipe and lube out of the box, followed by a couple hundred rounds of mixed ammo. Sure enough, the first 50 rounds fired flawlessly except for the last round of each magazine which failed to chamber. It didn’t matter what load I was using or which of the six magazines I had on hand, the last round always seems to get hung up. Then, on the seventh magazine of familiarization fire the last round chambered and I haven’t had an issue since. A total of 300 rounds of mixed ammunition were fired on the first day.

Some of my observations about the gun included that fact that its 39-ounce heft paired with the stocks and checkering firmly anchored the gun in my hands. Frankly, it was enjoyable to shoot, even with the stiff .45 ACP recoil. After shooting so many polymer-frame 9mms of late, it reminded why the all-metal Government 1911 is such a sweet pairing for the larger cartridge. The sights were dead on at 25 yards from the factory, which was nice, but I also like that they can be adjusted for specific loads and ranges if necessary. The fit of the gun is tight, but not overly so, and there really was no visible wear or loose components after the first shoot. The gun wiped clean and was ready to go again.

mac-jsoc-45 In Hand
The MAC 1911 JSOC is a full-size 1911, so it's hefty in the hand. That weight eats up the .45's recoil, though, making the gun a pleasant shooter. (Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

During my next range session, I conducted accuracy and velocity testing with four loads of .45 ACP ammunition: D&L 200-grain GSP, Armscor 230-grain FMJ, Hornady 185-grain HAP, and Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shok. Overall, the pistol showed very good accuracy for a defensive handgun as the averages for five, five-shot, 25-yard groups ranged from about 2.5 inches to 3 inches — it was a very consistent shooter. The full results are tabulated nearby, but unsurprisingly the premium ammunition slightly outperformed the bulk loads. The sights proved to be a nice, easy to use arrangement, suitable for both range work and defense. The trigger, too, aided accuracy with a consistent 4-pound, 8-ounce pull.

A couple events worth noting happed during the session. First, when I got to the D&L General Service Pistol (GSP) load, the gun began to exhibit some failure-to-chamber stoppages on the first rounds of the magazine. The 200-grain bullets in the GSP loads are an interesting combination of a round-nose solid with a wadcutter-type shoulder. My first instinct was that the shoulder was getting hung up on the frame when the slide was released. However, on further examination I noticed that the slide was moving a little sluggishly regardless of the ammo used or how full the magazine was. I quickly stripped the gun down, gave it a cursory wipe and a generous application of oil and reassembled. Problem solved. As testing continued, it became apparent that the gun prefers to run wet — even more than some other 1911s — although I suspect function will continue to improve as the parts really mate together.

mac-jsoc-45 Results

I also noticed at the end of the day that one of the set screws in the rear sight was begining to work itself loose. At this point I had about 700 rounds through the gun, so it wasn’t surprising. I retightened the screw, confirmed that zero hadn’t shifted — it hadn’t — and kept on trucking.

On a very positive note, I examined my brass piles at the end of each range session and took note of ejection patterns throughout my evaluation. The JSOC 45 exhibited excellent ejection with about 90 percent of the spend brass being tossed several feed to my right and just a bit forward. A 1911s extractor can quickly become its Achilles heel if not properly tuned. Symptoms of extractor issues include erratic ejection and hot brass to the face. I was pleased that, even at its price, the JSOC seems to have a well-tuned extractor.

Following accuracy testing, I continued to bring the JSOC 45 out to the range and fed it a steady diet of mixed ammunition until we passed the 1,000-round mark. The gun didn’t seem to have any particular ammunition preferences, and I was glad that it reliably fed everything from FMJs to JHPs. I made sure to keep it clean and well-lubed with brief services every 200 to 300 rounds and experienced no further stoppages. After 1,000 rounds, I gave the gun a deeper cleaning and checked for uneven wear or damage. The gun was spotless and looked nearly new after the cleaning.

mac-jsoc-45 Shooting 2
(Photo by Joe Kurtenbach)

Conclusion

Here’s the bottom line, the MAC JSOC 45 is an absolute steal at $750. It is a classic .45, through and through, with a cool retro-military aesthetic and a righteous feature set. In a lot of ways, this is the pinnacle of classic 1911 design. It has the right internals plus enhanced controls and sights, all while retaining the traditional lines and operation of Browning’s original.

If you are looking for a new range gun or are a first-time 1911 buyer, what are you waiting for? If you are in the market for a proven personal-defense pistol and you favor the .45, the MAC JSOC 45 has you covered, with a cool Delta Force vibe to boot. My one recommendation is, if you plan to carry the JSOC, take some of your savings from the purchase and have an experienced gunsmith perform a reliability tune on the gun. Honestly, I’d recommend this for any sub-$1,500 1911 just to ensure the critical elements are correctly fit for long years of hard use. Such services usually run $200 to $300 and provide both reliable operation and peace of mind.

MAC 1911 JSOC 45

  • Type: Single-action, semiautomatic pistol
  • Chambering: .45 ACP
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • Barrel: 5 in., stainless steel
  • Trigger: 4 lbs., 8 oz. (tested)
  • Material: Forged carbon steel (frame and slide)
  • Finish: QPQ Tennifer
  • Sights: Adj. LPA rear, post front w/ brass bead
  • Overall Length: 8.5 in.
  • Overall Height: 5.5 in.
  • Weight: 39 oz.
  • Price: $750
  • Contact: SDS Imports, sdsimports.com



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