I have been on a quest off and on for the last fifteen years to find information concerning a 1911 pattern Commander-sized .45 ACP that I got from a friend. He had acquired it in the process of one of his many convoluted trades and wanted to know if I knew anything about it. I had never heard of the company but really liked the superb fit and finish as well as the superior accuracy so I was willing to meet his price since he only wanted “name” firearms at the time. I have always been glad I made the decision, but spent the next fifteen years trying to find information and learning that there were quite a few more just like me that had no answers.
The firearm in question is, as mentioned, a Commander-size 1911 manufactured in stainless steel. All parts are fitted flawlessly and there is literally no lateral movement of any part at all. Accuracy with any load I have fed it is exceptional and functioning is problem free. The stamping on the slide reads “MP Express Pomona, CA. U.S.A.” on the right side and “MP Express .45 Caliber Match” on the right. The frame is marked with "MP Express Pomona, California" and the serial number. It was, and still is, in pristine condition though I occasionally use it as a carry piece and it is always kept loaded next to my bed.
Over the years I would occasionally think to do a search on the internet with the same results; others asking the same question and a few responding that they too had one but no information. I had fallen out of the habit of checking regularly until last weekend I realized that it had been probably two years since I last looked. Imagine my surprise when this time I got a positive hit. According to a member on a 1911 forum, he not only knew the history, he knew the situation intimately. He offered up quite an interesting story about an interesting gun. His post is below as he wrote, it with the exception that I took the liberty of cleaning up a little grammar and spelling:
Hello All. I have seen numerous inquiries throughout the net in regards to the MP Express 1911 .45. I am familiar with this gun as I grew up in my dad's business next door to where these were manufactured. Here I will try and set the record straight.
MP Express was started in a small machine shop in Pomona (California) at 343 Clark Ave., named Express Tool and Die. The owner of this business was Bob Kloss and his partner was Ted (last name he has forgotten). Bob and Ted were approached by a German fellow named Frank who had an interest in a quality Colt 1911 copy.
Bob and Ted agreed and Meister Products was started and the MP Express was born. This all began in about 1982. Bob and Ted were outstanding machinists and soon purchased a CNC milling machine and began manufacturing stainless steel slides for the weapons and selling the parts only. These slides fit so well on the original Colt frames, they became very popular. As the orders grew, so did the desire to manufacture their own weapon.
All of the parts manufactured for the MP Express were bought as raw forgings and machined to their own specs. Soon the first Commander version of the MP Express was completed. The serial number of this weapon is #1000. I was in my early 20's (and a new police officer at the time) and was privileged to be asked to help with the testing of the new weapon. It was kind of funny, looking back but Bob and Ted hired a young man named John Vega, about 19yrs old, and trained him how to assemble these guns. John was no newbie to the .45, since he had grown up in Ontario and taught everything from gunsmithing to reloading by his dad. John and Frank personally hand assembled every gun and test fired them with 3 rounds each. About a year after the Commander version was made the Government model was produced.
John got so good, I had him make me a Government model, which was engraved and issued a special serial number. At the time he was a member of a local gun club and won several awards for running combat fire. The gun sales began to grow.
It was a rumored that police agencies were using the guns and that isn't true. Even though the quality of the guns was impressive, many administrators with the police agencies were concerned with liability surrounding an unknown named weapon, that it never made it that far to my knowledge.
In about 1985 the company was devastated with the untimely death of Ted who died in his sleep unexpectedly. The company continued with the sales of parts far exceeding the complete weapons. Since they were so busy trying to fill the orders of parts, i.e.; magazines, slides, beaver tail safeties and adjustable trigger assemblies, the sales of the complete weapons stalled. Their only point of advertising was through the Shotgun News where contact was made with gun shops who became distributors of the parts.
In about 1988, Bob Kloss on his way home from work got a flat tire on the freeway. As he was trying to change the tire, he was struck by another vehicle and killed. Frank (the third partner) who was a master gunsmith had no knowledge of the manufacturing process and John who was up and coming in the company was unable to continue the manufacturing.
All of the parts they had in stock were sold and only about 400 completed weapons (Government and Commander models) were produced and sold. I was told that the family sold S/N 1000 for $40,000 which helped put Bob’s kids through school.
The company was closed and all the equipment was sold. I still have S/N 1001, a Commander model and the engraved Government model in my possession. My Commander model has never been fired outside the factory and I don’t think I'll ever sell it. On the other hand my Government model has over 10,000 rounds through it and still fires every time, and I’ve never had a jam. What a great gun! If you have a chance to own one of these historic weapons, don't pass it up.
The writer also said that John Vega was a fanatic about fit. He was known to spend hours going through manufactured parts to find the right combination that fit perfectly.
So my long quest has ended. I am extremely grateful to the writer for his knowledge as well as sharing this information with the world. This is truly a case of an incredible pistol with an incredible history. As to mine, it is serial numbered within the first one hundred guns made. My original price - $300, and it isn’t now, or will ever be, for sale. I’ve made dumb decisions in the past and disposed of interesting guns…I think I have learned that lesson with this one!
If you can't hit it with one, you probably can't with two either!
The biggest problem with a closed mind is that it never seems to come with a closed mouth.