Review: Dan Wesson Specialist Commander .45 ACP

Review: Dan Wesson Specialist Commander .45 ACP
The Dan Wesson Specialist Commander comes with a 4.25-inch, match-grade barrel; a stainless-steel bushing; a long, solid aluminum trigger; a combat-type rear sight with a single tritium dot; a post front sight with one tritium dot; and G10 grip panels.

The Dan Wesson Specialist Commander is a very nice Model 1911. It starts out as a full set of stainless-steel forgings: frame, slide, and barrel. Then the frame is handfitted to the slide by the company's top-notch gunsmiths. Once they are mated, the match barrel gets installed in the slide and fitted. Then the three major parts (barrel, slide, and frame) stay together through the remainder of the build process.

The Dan Wesson Specialist Commander 1911 has a match-grade 4.25-inch barrel. You can have the pistol chambered for .45 ACP or 9mm and with a black finish or with a satin stainless finish. My test sample is .45 ACP with the black finish.

The chamber of the barrel on my .45 ACP pistol is throated and polished, and the barrel-bushing-to-slide fit is nice and tight. In fact, it's so snug that I couldn't dismantle it without using a bushing wrench. The barrel's muzzle is precision crowned, and the recoil spring guide assembly is the standard style. The barrel bushing and recoil spring guide rod plug are finished in natural stainless.

There are nine rear grasping grooves on the slide, and each measures 0.075 inch wide. The slide's ejection port is flared and lowered. The slide has a Clark-style serrated rib milled into its top, which is executed perfectly and lines up exactly with the barrel hood cut.


The sights have Trijicon tritium dots, one at the rear and one up front. I really like the sights because I find a single dot in the rear paired with a single dot up front to be a lot faster to align than the typical three-dot system.

The frame is made of blackened stainless steel. The frontstrap and flat mainspring housing have flawlessly executed 25-lines-per-inch checkering. The frame has an integral accessory rail with three cross-slots. And the magazine release is extended and checkered.

The slide stop shaft is shortened to be slightly below flush with the frame on the right side, and the hole for the slide stop shaft is beveled- a nice touch.

The magazine well funnel at the bottom of the mainspring housing makes reloads fast and snag-free. Other details include a slightly extended ambidextrous thumb safety, a beavertail grip safety with smooth speed bump, and a uniquely shaped skeletonized hammer.

According to my RCBS trigger pull scale, the trigger on my Specialist Commander measured a consistent 4 pounds, 12 ounces with absolutely zero variation from pull to pull for five measurements. Obviously, that's as consistent as you can get.

NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups fired with the pistol mounted in a Ransom Rest. Velocity is the average of five rounds measured 12 feet from the gun's muzzle.

The pistol's aluminum trigger fingerpiece is solid, and it's what is referred to as a long trigger. In addition, the face has horizontal striations going all the way up. And the trigger has an overtravel adjustment screw.

The black-and-tan grip panels are made of G10 and are attached to the pistol via black hex-head screws. The surface treatment on the Specialist Commander's grips enhances the pistol's gripability.

The stainless-steel magazines hold eight rounds. They have flat followers and numbered witness holes, and the removable polymer baseplates do double-duty as bumper pads. The pistol comes with two magazines.

After shooting the pistol for velocity with five factory loads from a benchrest, I removed the grip panels and mounted the pistol in my Ransom Rest and fired three, five-shot groups with each of the five loads for accuracy at 25 yards. The pistol proved to be pleasingly accurate with all five of the loads. Overall average accuracy at 25 yards was 2.67 inches. Its best average accuracy measured 2.00 inches. Like I said earlier, it's a very nice 1911.


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