May 18, 2021
It seems like every year I have the pleasure of reviewing at least one 10mm Auto pistol. That’s the way it’s been for about the last five years. This year, the pistol is a Model 1911 from Dan Wesson. I’ve fired a few Dan Wesson 1911s in the past, but never one in 10mm until now. The company has had 10mm 1911s; I just haven’t had the opportunity to work with one. When I got a quick look at the long-slide Dan Wesson Bruin in 10mm Auto, I made a point of getting my request for one in as quickly as possible. I’m glad I did because after handling and shooting it, I can say it’s one of the nicest long-slide 10mm Model 1911s I’ve ever fired.
The company says this about the Bruin: “With more folks than ever choosing to hunt with a handgun and the continuing resurgence of the 10mm cartridge, we decided it was time to bring the heat. The Bruin was born to hunt.”
As you can see from the photos, the Bruin is a very fine-looking 1911. The slide has a flat top with a finely grooved, machined-in, 0.33-inch-wide rib. Alongside the rib on each side of the slide are angled flats that measure 0.45 inch across. The vertical sides of the slide are flat and completely smooth except for the grasping grooves and the word “Bruin” near the bottom of the left side just above where the slide stop resides in the frame. The slide’s finish is what Dan Wesson refers to as Duty Black. To my eye, it’s a satiny black.
The ejection port is lowered and contoured. Uniquely, the brass clearance relief at the rear portion of the port looks sort of like it’s been dished out. Obviously, form follows function here, but I think it’s good-looking as well as practical.
The slide has grasping grooves at the rear and at the front (five on each side up front and seven on each side at the rear). Each is 0.09 inch wide. The barrel bushing and recoil spring plug are contoured. The bushing is beveled around the perimeter, and the front end of the recoil spring plug is cut back at an angle. The bottom of the barrel bushing and the slide also are angled. And the slide’s dustcover/recoil spring tunnel relief cuts are done with a ball-end cutter.
The forged stainless-steel frame on my pistol is bronze in color. According to my contact at the company, it is molecularly bonded, similar to Melonite. Dan Wesson calls it Bronze Duty finish. I like the two-tone appearance, but if you want an all-black 10mm Bruin, Dan Wesson also offers it that way. (You can also get the all-black Bruin chambered for .45 ACP if you prefer.)
The frame’s frontstrap is checkered 25 lines per inch (lpi). Plus, the area where the top of the frontstrap meets the trigger guard is contoured to allow a high handhold. On the other side, the flat, checkered (25 lpi) mainspring housing is rounded at the bottom, but the checkering stops above the curve of the rounded corner. The magazine well is slightly beveled to make inserting the magazine easier.
The grooved manual thumb safety is extended and a bit larger than usual, but it’s not so large that it is obtrusive. The beavertail grip safety has a memory bump at the bottom for consistent engagement. The slide stop is grooved, and the extended magazine release is checkered. By the way, the barrel bushing, recoil spring plug, magazine release, slide stop, thumb safety, grip safety, mainspring housing all wear a satin black finish.
Inside, the frame is machined to accept the ramped barrel. (I’ll get to more about the barrel in a moment.) And a long, solid aluminum trigger with vertical grooves on the face and an overtravel adjustment screw is installed. My pistol’s trigger pull averaged 3 pounds, 8 ounces, with a variation of just 2 ounces over a series of 10 measurements with an RCBS trigger pull scale. It is very crisp and clean, which helps make it feel less than the scale registers.
The skeletonized hammer has a unique shape, and it has fine grooves on the flat where your thumb goes when cocking it manually. It, too, is finished in satiny black.
It’s been said that the barrel is the heart of every Model 1911, and the Bruin has optimal heart health, if you’ll excuse the pun. The stainless-steel barrel is 6.03 inches long. The muzzle end is slightly bigger in diameter than the rest of the tube, which helps ensure a good tight fit with the barrel bushing, and the muzzle itself has a full-diameter 11-degree crown. As I said earlier, the barrel is ramped, meaning the chamber is fully supported, and Dan Wesson marks the chamber with the word “Match.”
The fit of the slide to the frame and the barrel to the slide are excellent. There is no gap between the rails of the frame and the slide at the rear above the grip safety. I didn’t detect any wiggle between the slide and the frame, and the barrel locked up nice and tight, too.
The black grips are made of G10, and they are textured in an interesting pattern. Basically, it is several rows of squares contained in a curved area on each grip panel. It provides a good gripping surface where the fingers and hand press and is smooth in the other areas so that it doesn’t inhibit quick and easy hand positioning on the draw.
The rear sight is fully adjustable. Its face has fine horizontal striations, two tritium dots, and a 0.13-inch-wide square notch. It bears the Dan Wesson name, but it reminds me of the classic BoMar-type target sight except the corners have been angled off to prevent snagging. The whole unit has been recessed into the top of the slide.
The front sight features a green fiber-optic rod held in a sturdy steel housing that measures 0.14 inch thick and 0.18 inch tall. It incorporates a tritium cell that allows the sight to do double-duty. In daylight, the fiber optic gathers light and provides a glowing dot. As the light fades, the tritium cell inside provides the illumination to keep the front sight dot visible.
The Bruin comes with two steel magazines that hold eight rounds each. The magazines have rounded steel followers and rubber basepads, and the basepads are attached with two Phillips-head screws.
I’ve said it many times: The 10mm Auto cartridge is a round that has a cult following, although based on the number of new guns and factory loads introduced over the last several years, the cartridge is experiencing an upswing in popularity. Originally, when it was unveiled to the world in 1983, it was intended for duty use. It didn’t catch on there for a number of reasons, but it appealed to a select few handgunners for everything from home-defense to handgun hunting.
With that said, I fired 10 different 10mm Auto factory loads in the Bruin. Bullet weights ranged from 155 grains through 175 and 180 grains to 200 grains, and styles ranged from hollowpoints through jacketed softpoints to full metal jackets. The Bruin fed, fired, extracted, and ejected all types perfectly.
Velocity ranged from 1,084 fps to 1,313 fps, measured 12 feet from the muzzle, with Federal’s 180-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw (TBBC) JSP load churning up the highest and CCI’s Blazer 180-grain FMJ load producing the lowest. I fired the rounds over a sandbag rest, and recoil was not sharp whatsoever. I’m sure the pistol’s 43.9-ounce weight and 6.03-inch barrel combined to help tame the felt recoil and muzzle jump. Recoil values, as calculated with an online source, ranged from 4.5 ft-lbs to 9.4 ft-lbs. That’s not much more than typical recoil values for a .45 ACP Model 1911 weighing 39 ounces and wearing a 5.0-inch barrel, for which recoil usually runs between 4.5 and 7.2 ft-lbs. The Barnes VOR-TX 155-grain TAC-XP load produced the lowest recoil, and the HSM Bear Load 200-grain RNFP load produced the highest.
As for accuracy, I fired five, five-shot groups with each load at a distance of 25 yards from a sandbag benchrest. I then averaged those groups for each load and calculated the overall average accuracy for all loads. The overall average accuracy for all loads was 2.06 inches. The best load (Barnes’s VOR-TX 155-grain TAC-XP) averaged 1.55 inches. I don’t have to tell you 1.55 inches at 25 yards is extremely good. The complete results are listed in the accompanying chart.
Since this pistol is built to hunt, I moved the targets to 50 yards and fired three of the factory loads that are specifically designed for hunting. Those loads are Federal’s 180-grain TBBC JSP, HSM’s Bear Load 200-grain RNFP, and Federal’s brand-new Fusion 200-grain JSP (see the accompanying sidebar for more about this new offering), and their overall average for one five-round string each was 4.88 inches. That’s definitely good enough for dropping a deer or a black bear at that distance. Individually, the TBBC JSP loading’s group measured 4.38 inches, the Bear Load’s group measured 5.52 inches, and the Fusion load’s group measured 4.75 inches. Full disclosure: I mounted a Weaver 2X handgun scope with an old Leupold Model 1911 grip mount for shooting those 50-yard groups.
I will mention that for plinking, I like the Barnes 155-grain TAC-XP 10mm ammo because it is soft shooting and it’s accurate. For home-defense, I usually go with either the Winchester 175-grain Silvertip or the Hornady 155-grain XTP loadings. They are always good in the accuracy department, and their bullet styles have proven to be effective for defensive applications. For hunting, I’m going to try the new Fusion 200-grain JSP load at my next opportunity, but it’s nice to know I have the other two loads that have proven to be effective just in case.
After working with the long-slide 10mm Bruin, I’ve decided it is a great tool for hunting deer, hogs, and black bears. It also is a great choice for home defense and as a car gun. It’s probably a bit too long and heavy to be the most ideal personal-defense carry gun, unless you are the size of Paul Bunyan.
TYPE: Recoil-operated autoloader
CALIBER: 10mm Auto
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 8 rounds
BARREL: 6.03 in.
OVERALL LENGTH: 9.7 in.
WIDTH: 1.5 in.
HEIGHT: 5.8 in.
WEIGHT, EMPTY: 43.9 oz.
GRIPS: Checkered G10
FINISH: Bronze Duty frame, black Duty slide
SIGHTS: Fully adjustable tritium dots rear, tritium fiber-optic front
TRIGGER: 3.5-lb. pull (as tested)
SAFETY: Extended thumb safety, beavertail grip safety
MANUFACTURER: Dan Wesson; danwessonfirearms.com