In this age of polymer framed, striker fired guns, can the case be made for a hand fit pistol that holds less ammunition?

Well, yes. Of course it does. Otherwise I wouldn’t be making this blog post, would I? But that comes with a caveat. It’s only as good as it’s operator is skilled. Polymer framed striker guns have made the inroads into police use because they are resistant to many of the travails that cops seem to put their guns through. I remember when my department had a department-wide recall to deal with a striker issue caused by non-toxic ammo. We found everything from bird feathers to fingernail clippings in the striker channels and those guns continued to run just fine. Striker guns tolerate amateurs much more readily than do hand-fit 1911’s.

1911’s, even ones as finely built as the Dan Wesson Specialist, are not built for the common denominator. They are built for professionals that are on top of the LE food chain. They are built for Specialists. You wouldn’t take a couple of violin lessons and then just jump on a Stradivarius, you wouldn’t have the requisite skill to bring out the nuance of the instrument. Would it sound better than banging away on a drug store fiddle? Sure, but it still wouldn’t be any good. Varying shades of bad are still bad. Likewise, just jumping on a Dan Wesson Specialist without having attained a level of proficiency first might yield better results than slapping the trigger on your Yeet Cannon, but it still wouldn’t be what you were hoping for. Remember, a $1,500 dollar trigger doesn’t matter if you have a buck fifty trigger press.

But what if you’re not only a shooter of some skill, but also a shooter with exquisite taste and an appreciation for excellence? Then stop messing around with trying to make lesser production guns work and take a look at the Dan Wesson Specialist. It’s built from the ground up to be an heirloom quality pistol that’s also fit for duty. Let me start with some of the tangibles, things that simply aren’t up for argument. The Specialist trigger is hand fit and is one of the best production triggers on the market. It’s better than most custom 1911s, breaking at 3.5 pounds even, with very little pre-travel, no creep, and no over-travel. This is important when discussing any 1911, because the trigger is what matters. What many people don’t realize is that the 1911 is the only trigger that moves straight to the rear. There’s no hinge, no bar, nothing to get in the way of a perfect press, straight to the rear. This means that the shooter is far less likely to influence the muzzle of the pistol as they press, leading to tremendous accuracy gains. A 3.5-pound trigger in a 1911 is better than a 3.5-pound trigger in a striker gun, that’s a fact.

I’m not sure if the locking lugs on the Specialist’s barrel are hand lapped, but they sure fit like they are. My model is a commander sized pistol with a 4.25-inch Bull Barrel. When in-battery, the barrel locks up so tightly that there is no perceptible movement when pressing down on the barrel hood. This is rare for any “production” 1911, and is even spotty on many custom guns that I’ve seen lately. This lock-up is another reason that the Specialist is so accurate, it consistently locks in the same position every time, there’s no “slop” that can cause round to round variation.

Two of the other controls that most 1911 makers tend to struggle with are the grips safety and the thumb safety. Often times, the grips safeties are installed with such generous tolerances, that they move sloppily in their channel. This can often be seen on Cerakoted guns as there are uneven wear spots on the grip safety. Not an issue on the specialist. The grip safety moves exactly as it should, with no wiggle due to sloppy tolerances. The ambi-thumb safety is also expertly installed, clicking on and off positively. The other point I want to mention about the thumb safety is that it is blended into the frame, so that there is no edge to dig into the inside of shooters thumb during high round count training evolutions. In fact, you can’t feel it at all, just as it should be.

What about some of the more subjective things? While I’m not usually a “fit and finish” type of guy, when it is as well executed as the Specialist is, it needs to be recognized. Every edge is subtly knocked down except for where it needs to be aggressive. The trigger guard is undercut and the front strap checkered. The magazine well is blended perfectly and even the finish of the pistol (a proprietary coating called “Duty Black”) is expertly applied. The frame and slide are forged from Stainless Steel, not cast, and a Picatinny style rail is milled in the dust cover. The G10 Operator II stocks from VZ top it off, and are not only attractive, they anchor the hand in place.

So, with all this being said, how does it shoot? From a rest at 25 yards, the worst group I got with quality ammunition was a hair over 2 inches. I had several groups with the new Norma Hexagon 124 grain load and the SIG Match Elite 147 grain load shoot under an inch. This is with an iron-sighted gun at 25 yards from a sandbag rest. These aren’t imaginary groups, I’ve been in the business long enough to have several articles published where I struggle to keep 3-4 inch groups. This gun is just that good. I will never tell anyone that ammunition capacity isn’t important. That being said, the vast majority of Police shootings are over in 3-5 rounds, depending on the source. With 11 rounds on board, I don’t feel outgunned with the Specialist on my hip. This gun is not for everyone, especially every cop. But if you are a dedicated Professional looking to step up your game, the Dan Wesson Specialist is where you need to be looking.  

Written by Jeremy Stafford @jestafford

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2 Responses

  1. James

    I am in the market for a full size railed 1911 and the DW Specialist is the one I will be getting. I have looked at other less expensive guns, but you can not beat what you get in a DW for the price.

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