Series Review: Dan Wesson 1911 Handguns

Dan Wesson Pointman

I have owned Dan Wesson 1911 handguns for many years. I have found the pistols to be high-end in every sense, save for the price.

The pistols have the fit and finish we call hand-fitted. All 1911 handguns demand some degree of hand fitting.

Inexpensive examples are often built with loose tolerances to expedite manufacture.

A quality 1911 will last longer with hand fitting, as good fit means that eccentric wear is less.

The pistol returns to battery in the same manner each time it is fired. This means the tight lockup results in less unnecessary wear.

A pistol that is hand-fitted with forged parts is well worth its price. Hand fit and hand polish are important components of the 1911 handgun.

The slide and frame of each Dan Wesson pistol slide together with a tight accuracy-promoting standard.

I have tested several of the all-steel five-inch barrel variants.

Known as the Government Model type, the five-inch barrel steel-frame pistol weighs about 40 ounces.

The balance and handling of this size handgun make for good control when firing the .45 ACP cartridge.

Recoil is manageable and parts wear is less with the Government Model.

Dan Wesson Heritage

Dan Wesson Heritage 1911

Among my favorite Dan Wesson types is the Heritage. The Heritage was introduced as an entry-level Dan Wesson.

That doesn’t mean it is a cheap gun, it is simply more affordable than some of the other Dan Wesson handguns — retail is still over $1000.

For most of us, the Heritage is more than enough 1911. Lockup is tight and it doesn’t rattle when shook like the original GI pistol.

The Heritage features good quality sights that are well-suited for personal defense and combat.

It is fine to collect GI guns, but if you are going to bet your life on a handgun, you need good sights. Shot placement is vital.

The Heritage reflects Dan Wesson’s commitment to quality, but it won’t break the bank.

You may want more features later, but if you want to get your feet wet with high-end 1911s, this is a good start.

Reliability will be as good as any other Dan Wesson, but the features are different.

Dan Wesson Pointman

Dan Wesson 1911 Adjustable Sights
A view of the adjustable sights on the Dan Wesson Pointman.

Keep in mind that the general relationship of entry-level and high-end remains, even when the name of the pistol may change.

A step-up from the Heritage is the Pointman. The simple rubber grips of the Heritage are replaced with high-quality checkered wooden grips.

The Pointman has been the flagship of the Dan Wesson line for some time. The Pointman features fully-adjustable rear sights.

They are rugged sights that leave behind any concern with the rigidity of the adjustable sight.

When you work with loadings from 160 to 250 grains in the .45 ACP pistol, the ability to sight the pistol in is important.

An all-around handgunner using a handgun for competition, hunting and general recreation will wish to have the pistol sighted in for the chosen load.

Even the same bullet weight will strike to a different point of impact at different velocity.

On the other hand, a service and defense pistol with fixed sights will probably we used with one load.

Most come sighted for the six o’clock hold and 230-grain loads. I really like the Pointman’s fully-adjustable sights.

I have test fired this handgun with a number of handloads and defense loads as well. Accuracy has been excellent.

Some of the loads will put five shots into two inches at 25 yards. A standout is the Hornady 185-grain XTP over Titegroup powder at 890 fps.

This is a super accurate loading in every pistol I have tried.

Dan Wesson Specialist

Dan Wesson Specialist

A quite different pistol from Dan Wesson is the Specialist. The Specialist features a checkered front strap. This is a big step up in handling.

This checkering helps when the hand is sweaty or cold. Coupled with the pistol’s heavily checkered grips, this makes for excellent handling.

The pistol features ledge-type rear sights with a tritium insert. This is the ideal setup for all-around service protection and home defense.

This pistol also features a light rail for mounting combat lights. Each of the Dan Wesson handguns features a crisp, consistent trigger action.

The slide-lock safety indents properly. The grip safety releases its hold on the trigger about halfway into compression.

The feed ramp is properly polished with the requisite 1/32nd-inch grp between the two parts of the feed ramp.

Conclusion: Dan Wesson 1911 Handguns

These are credible handguns with excellent performance and more than a little pride of ownership. 

What do you think of Dan Wesson 1911s? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (7)

  1. I was wondering if you can change out the front sight, I shoot IDPA and would have to change the front sight to a black post for cowboy action shooting in the Wild Bunch class.

  2. If they make a 1911 as fine as their revolvers then I might jus have to consider picking one up.
    My Dan Wesson .44 mags are, by far, my favorites of every weapon I own.

  3. These are superb firearms. I am not a professional shooter by any means, and therefore do not require such a firearm. The closest I can get to this caliber of firearm is my Kimber Target Eclipse II in 45. That said, if I have the money and the opportunity, yes I will buy one.

  4. How old was this article or how little research did the author do?
    The Vigil is the DW entry level gun and the Valor is, and has been for a long time, the “flagship” DW gun.

  5. I have the Dan Wesson commander classic bobtail. It’s a well put together 45, and it looks great.

  6. I have a Pointman and it was love at first sight. I saw it in the gun shop just window shopping and had to have it.

    Not only is it beautiful but also a joy to shoot and handle for all of the reasons you described. It always draws remarks when I pull it out of the bag at the range.

  7. Regarding the Dan Wesson line of 1911 handguns article… I own only one at this time it’s a Dan Wesson “VALOR” Model in 45acp with a rounded (bobbed) back grip corner & VZ Style G10 grips. I find this D.W. 1911 to be as fine as some full custom built 1911’s on the market today and all for a very reasonable price. Fit, finish, & operation all superb would highly recommend. Richard C. Brown Owner Of AMERICAN COMBAT

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