Welcome to my first blog post in well over a year. Since my last post, I’ve changed jobs and moved half-way across the country… now calling the Lone Star State home. Needless to say, it’s been very busy and blogging has taken a back seat. However, this weekend I’ve found something to write home about (as the expression goes).
As many of you know, I hold the 1911 platform in high regard. While it’s well over 100 years old at this point, I find its balance, action, and characteristics to be ideal for what I want in a range gun. Admittedly, I’ve become a little more discriminating in terms of what I look for in a 1911. Tight bushing fit, no movement in the barrel hood, tight but smooth slide to frame fit, and a crisp trigger at or below 4 lbs. is pretty much mandatory for me at this point. For a couple years I’ve read people wax poetic about Dan Wesson 1911s and I finally made the plunge with a brand new Dan Wesson Specialist.
Dan Wesson used to make revolvers with interchangable barrels, but that Dan Wesson is no more. Instead, what exists today is a Dan Wesson that is a subsidiary of CZ USA. Dan Wesson 1911s are known for having very precise tolearnces and excellent tool steel parts. While the product line starts with the “plane Jane” Heritage around $1,100 and runs up to the popular Valor around $1,500, all Dan Wesson 1911s use the same quality parts and receive the same level of fit and finish. They have, in many circles, been compared favorably with Ed Brown pistols (which is no small thing). There is a well-known ‘smith who pitted a number of 1911s against one another in multiple Ransom rest tests, and the Valor ran just as well (and in some cases better) than products from Ed Brown, Les Baer, and the Springfield Custom Shop. While that’s not an exhaustive respresentation of 1911 peformance, having a pist0l that can be had brand new for under $1,500 with all tool steel parts that will run with the “big dogs” is quite impressive.
Back to the Specialist. It is a full size 1911 with a Clark style rib on the slide, ball cuts in the front, fixed “straight eight” style ledge sights (with tritium inserts), VZ G10 grips, an Ed Brown style magwell (it might even be a Ed Brown part), ambidextrous thumb safety, and yes… a rail. Some 1911 purists abhor the rail, calling it an unnecessary pimple on the otherwise clean lines of John Moses Browning’s most well-known design. However, find one “modern” designed handgun in today’s world without a rail. Tough, eh? Well, may reasoning for a rail isn’t for mounting a taser/laser/radar/sonar capable device, but more because I like the slightly different balance and weight the rail provides. Silly, but true. Anyway, I’ve had the Specialist down to the individual parts as I replaced the standard trigger with a Greider short solid trigger (something I do with all my 1911s), and I can tell you this pistol is quality. The frame and slide mate together with absolutely no movement between the two, but they glide together as smooth as glass. The small parts are all very well finsihed, high quality tool steel. The trigger break is crisp and clean with no creep, set right above 4 lbs. There is absolutely no movement in the barrel hood, and the frame/bushing/barrel fit is tight… but not ridiculously so. I’ve heard Dan Wesson pistols described as being fit “just right,” and based on this example I believe it. In fact, besides changing the trigger I don’t know that there is much more I’ll do with this pistol.
I haven’t had this to the range yet, but will post updates once I do. Based on my initial observations, this is better finished and higher quality than my S&W PC1911, and that’s saying something. Will this translate into down range performance? We shall see… stay tuned!