Image: AR15.comInterchangeable handgun barrels and grip frames are really nothing new. Decades before SIG SAUER launched the P250/P320, Dan Wesson sold eponymous revolvers that could morph from a medium-frame snubnose to a vent-rib metallic silhouette cannon with the turn of a few strategically-placed screws and bushings. Sadly, these fine revolvers have been out of production for several years . . .

As a budding young shooter in the early 1980s, Dan Wesson handguns were the epitome of cool. Before The Age Of Glocks, Dan Wesson ‘Pistol Packs’ like this one were everything you could ask for in accurate, reliable firepower. Remember: this was just before the dawn of the ‘Wondernine,’ when most 9mm semi-automatics were hopelessly unreliable by today’s standards, and even the best of them often choked on the few 9mm hollowpoints of the day. In 1982, if you wanted a sturdy handgun that reliably fired hollowpoints, you wanted a revolver.

The Dan Wesson Model 15-2 .357 Magnum was introduced in 1975, and is perhaps the ‘Classic’ Dan Wesson revolver. Its rugged frame could swap barrel lengths and grip styles at will, and the gun built an excellent reputation for accuracy and reliability. Later Dan Wesson designs got larger and larger to accomodate more and more powerful and exotic revolver cartridges like the .357 Maximum and .445 Supermag, but the Model 15-2 was everything that a Dan Wesson sixgun should be. Dan Wesson himself died in 1978, but the Model 15-2 remained in some form of production until 2008.

In the 1980s, manufacturers started to develop semiautos which could function reliably with improved hollowpoint ammunition and police departments transitioned to these designs through the rest of the 1980s just as the crack cocaine crime wave crested. Tens of thousands of LEOs traded in their used Colt Troopers, Ruger Security-Sixes, and S&W 686s for Glocks and Berettas and 5906s, and and the bottom fell out of the medium-frame revolver market. Why spend north of $500 for a Dan Wesson, when you could pick up a used Security-Six for less than $200?

The Dan Wesson company went through a reorganization in 1983, and production moved to a new Massachusetts facility in 1992. The brand was sold entirely in 1996, and production was moved to New York. The first New York Dan Wesson revolvers shipped the next year, and in 1999 the first Dan Wesson 1911 hit the market.

The 1911 proved to be the death of the Dan Wesson revolver. CZ purchased what was left of the Dan Wesson enterprise in 2005, and fans hoped that CZ would revive production of the revolver line. But this would not be the case. CZ scaled down revolver production until 2008, and finally stopped altogether.

TTAG’s own Tim McNabb cornered CZ two years ago and asked them: “Is Dan Wesson Coming Back?” CZ’s answer was a cautious but unambiguous ‘yes.’

Hearts quickened, and fans even noticed that a Dan Wesson revolver was listed in the CZ-USA catalog from 2012. A few promising production guns were released, but the 2012 production run must have been vanishingly small. Revolvers are no longer listed in the catalog or on the CZ-USA website; they’re only referred to in the historical past tense.

So, after two years, where are the Model 15-2s, and why do we hear the sound of crickets chirping? If you’re not going to bring Dan Wesson revolvers back, just say so. Dan Wesson might make nice 1911s, but 1911s are about as unique as ARs these days so don’t expect me to get too excited about another one.

54 Responses to Hey CZ: Where Are Our Dan Wesson Revolvers?

  1. I had a Dan Wesson back in the day, just before they went belly up.
    Had a tough time selling it.
    I always gravitate towards the odd stuff.

    • What is this thing you speak of, “sell”?

      Guns must be like nuclear fuel, you get enough of it together in one place and pieces start flying off. I guess I just haven’t reached critical mass… yet.

  2. I had one of these in the late 70’s great gun, but I sold it to buy a CZ clone. In hindsight I wish I had kept the DW.

  3. They need to advertise. Last time the revolvers were sold through CZ I never saw one single ad in any gun magazine. And no one was reviewing them. They need to change that.

    They were also the first ones to come out with a stretch frame revolver for their .445 and .414 Supermags as well as their .357 Maximum.

    If they ever make them again they need to make deals with Hornady, Buffalo Bore and maybe Double Tap and Underwood as well. Because those revolvers are no good if you can’t buy ammunition for them.

    But they can’t expect to just make a couple of revolvers and have people buy them in droves if they don’t supply samples for review in the popualr gun rags and on Youtube (Hickock45/Gunblast/Jerry Miculek/etc) and they definitely need to advertise.

  4. I bought a .357 Pistol Pac in the late 1970’s and a .44 mag Pistol Pac in the early 1980’s. I have several other guns and although the .357 was my “go to” gun for everything from hunting to self protection. It now rests quietly in the safe. But I’ll never sell it. It is the most accurate centerfire handgun I own. I’ve thought about selling the .44 mag, it is too darn heavy to carry in any kind of holster for any length of time, and certainly too big to carry concealed, so it;s strictly a target/hunting gun. Not exactly useful, but still fun to shoot. All that weight makes full power .44 rounds easily handlable and it makes a really nice LOUD bang when fired, and some days, that is all I need to make me smile.

    • Oh yeah, I’d be one HAPPY camper if I was to come across a really nice .22LR Pistol Pac. Weren’t many made, and they are hard to find.

      • Just wondering I have a 22lr pistol pack all barrells tool belt buckle patch nothing missing never been shot what would it be worth

        • Karen, id be interested if you still have the Dan Wesson 22. Pack

          Rich. Keller.

    • I picked up a .357 mag with a 6 inch barrel in near mint for $500 recently. Love it. I want the .44 mag so badly. The revolver is everything I wanted my Smith to be but better. I envy you.

    • friends, check out EWK arms for DW accessories. they have cheap barrels, barrel shrouds, and what not. Make your own pistol pack.

      Eric at EWK is awesome.

  5. Dan Wesson never had good quality control over it revolvers like Ruger or Smith Wession had over there revolvers they where all very pricey compare to Ruger or Smith Wession. Other issue being these days take good skilled pricey labor make revolvers take more time make them than does semi auto one reasons not seeing Colt firearms make any of there revolvers last one they made had come from there custom shop which made Python to pricey for normal guys to aford. Can not forget for some time Smith Wession stop make revolvers becuase semi auto where selling more than there revolvers even now want Smith Wession new revolver gone pay more than you would for most new semi autos. So not suprise that Cz put off make Dan Wesson revolvers cost effort make them would be worth it.

    • I beg to differ, when Dan Wesson was still running the company, the quality was excellent. Then when he died and the family sold the company, quality went downhill. Dan Wesson revolvers were THE gun to use in metallic silhouette shooting because of the accuracy of the barrels under tension of the end nut. I can see the difference between my early .357 and my later .44. One of the later owners did upgrade the production machinery and quality came back up for a while, but again slipped before CZ acquired Dan Wesson. Revolvers demand highly accurate machining to assure the cylinder is concentric and true to the barrel. But production machines eventually wear and that causes tolerances to increase. Takes money to keep everything tip-top, and Dan Wesson’s various owners seldom had the money to reinvest in the business.

      • I’ve owned a 357. Inch since the late 1970’s
        I own dozens of guns, but none better

        Looking for a 44 mag and 22

        rk

  6. Where are the Dan Wesson Revolvers?

    Hell, where are your semi-autos, CZ? I rarely see one in a gun shop! Or at a gun show!

    • That’s what I thought first. Why is CZ talking about new products when we can’t buy the products they already (supposedly) make. I’d love to get my hands on a P07 and grab some 19-round mags.

      • For one thing, CZ’s come in small waves. But they still sell really, really well.

        But to your average gun buyer/Joe Schmo, CZ is still kind of an unknown. People know Glocks, Ruger, Smith, Colt, etc. But many don’t know much if anythig about CZ.

        What your average local gun store (this includes shows) isn’t really a good indication of what it out there all over the country. I’ll walk into an LGS is see 15 Glocks, a bunch of Springfields, Rugers, Smiths, etc. But only one or two CZs. If that. Local shops stock what people know and see in movies. And what sells.

        CZ’s sell and sell a lot. But they’re not as well known as most manufacturers.

        I’d bet most people still think that Czechoslovakia is a country.

        • Clearly some asswipe will have to shoot a bunch of people with one OR make a movie prominently featuring them. THEN suddenly people will know about them.

          Whoops, did I just accidentally compare anti-gun movie producers to anti-gun mass shooters?

          More seriously, if someone asks me what I carry and I tell them, and they RECOGNIZE the name, I know they are pretty serious gun people.

        • And I wouldn’t be surprised if many people think CZ stands for CZechoslovakia or even just plain CZech.

          Anyhow, nothing you’ve said is wrong; the question is how to get more of these fine pieces of Czechnology out there.

        • Up til the last 10 years, if I said “CZ” all but the real gun people said “motorcycle”…

        • Jack Flag, I work at a gun store and we can’t even order any CZ pistols except for the P07. We go through multiple distributors who all list CZs but haven’t had any non P07s in stock for almost 3 years.

      • I held either a P09 or a P07 once… something they did to the grip ruined the CZ-75 perfect pointer for my hands (I use a CZ-75 for EDC–I can pick one of three somewhat different ones in fact, but they all have that classic grip).

        Your Mileage May Vary of course (and this gun did not have the changeable backstraps, so I want to handle one that does, someday–maybe that will win me over to Moravian polymer as opposed to Moravian steel), and I wish you the best of luck finding what you are looking for.

    • Well glory be! I went to the LGS last night and instead of TWO CZs in the case they had FIVE of them, including a RAMI.

      I have been thinking about a RAMI of late, but the last one I tested stovepiped within ten rounds. Could have been dirty (it was a range rental), but I am not sure. Anyhow, the range says they are getting a bunch of CZs in, maybe (if one is a RAMI) I can shoot it before it cruds up from lack of cleaning.

  7. Hell, I just wish there were more diversity in current revolver production across the industry. 1911s take just as much skill to do right, and there are plenty of companies currently going to those lengths. As much as I hate the zombie marketing, I keep holding out hope that Rick’s Python in The Walking Dead will help to spur more consumer demand for something other than shooting appliances. (Not that there’s anything wrong with shooting appliances, mind you. I’d just like to see more Maseratis and Cobras in the stables along with all the Accords and Camrys.)

    To be fair, S&W does offer quite a lineup. I just can’t stand the damn lock on 99% of them.

    • As much as I admire the Python I doubt I’d be willing to pay what it would cost even in new production. On the other hand I’d take out a loan for a .454 Anaconda in the 8″ stainless variety.

      I suppose my best bet along those lines now is an S&W .460, shoots .45Colt, .454 and .460S&W magnums.

  8. I prosecuted a domestic violence case once where the defendant struck his girlfriend in the head so hard that the grips came off. I don’t know if was a testimony to the quality of the Dan Wesson or the victim’s head.

  9. !5-2 packs are pretty easy to find still. I picked up 2 last year for well under a grand apiece. One is probably 80 – 85%, but unoriginal box and no buckle/patch. The other was LNIB with every barrel length in both vent rib and VH along with 8 (!!) sets of grips and a whole bag of sight inserts.

  10. I’m afraid that I’d have to argue the 1911 over the big bore revolver was the go to gun before the wonder 9 crazy. While it’s true that the majority of police were using revolvers they were not generally above .38spc and only rarely above .357 mag. There were a few issue .41 magnums, generally among western state highway patrol outfits. That being said there was no dearth of reliable 9mm semi’s even in the 70’s, there was simply no desire for them. Given that reliable and popular 9mm pistols such as the Luger and Walther P-38 had been around for decades before the 70’s and the Browning High Power was certainly available, reliable and still a formidable handgun. I’d have to argue that a lack of respect for the round and the relative lack of capacity in most designs over the 1911s capacity made them unlikely choices for the sort of progressive thinking shooter who wanted something better than the issue service revolver. Besides that there was the Dirty Harry effect going strong, the lack of a perceived need at the departmental level for more firepower and an aversion to the cost of replacing the revolver, including training costs and logistics issues.

    Just as the Dirty Harry effect and actual on the street performance were mitigating towards the magnum revolver offerings or at least .45 ACP, the 9mm was simply unattractive in it’s ball ammunition format. If limited to the lighter ball ammunition I’d still argue a 38.spc with hot hollow points is a better choice than the 9mm, however with the plethora of reliably feeding aggressive hollow points in either souped up velocity or retained heavy end bullet mass in 9mm it’s impossible to reconcile the low capacity and slow reloading .38 revolver against the performance of the modern 9.

    Not that a competent shot is poorly armed even today with a duty sized revolver in .38, appropriately loaded, it’s just impossible to compete with 15 or 18 rounds and rapid reloads of a ballistically similar and highly reliable 9mm platform.

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it took the development of the higher capacity highly hollow point reliable 9s to bring about the change but just as much it took ammo development to milk all that was possible out of the cartridge given its poor performance as a light ball load.

    One could still make an argument for the .357mag revolver Vs the 9mm auto even at the higher capacity options for some defensive applications, such as longer range, through cover or where defensive concerns might included thick skinned predators as well as human threats.

    Before the flaming starts I actually carry defensive pistols in .38spc, 9mm and .45ACP. Any of these with appropriate ammo is more than up to the task of incapacitating a human with reasonable shot placement and the 9mm of the 70’s and early 80’s was simply not the performer that modern 9mm loadings. If restricted to ball only I’d dismiss the 9mm and .38 entirely and carry either .357Mag or .45ACP as in my opinion neither 9mm ball nor .38spc ball has terminal performance I find acceptable.

    • You’re absolutely right that improved ammunition was a big part of the 9mm’s rise as a defensive cartridge. 9mm FMJ is not a round you want to depend upon to end a fight quickly, but most pre-1980 9mm pistols could only function reliably with FMJ. The SIG P225 and Beretta M92 were usually good with hollowpoints, but those two were only introduced in 1975. Browning Hi-Powers were hit or miss with HP reliability.

      Those early 9mm hollowpoints weren’t terribly impressive, either. There were no Golden Sabers, Black Talons or Critical Defense rounds back then.

    • A lot of the 9mm handguns I saw in my youth were single stack guns like the P38 and the S&W mod 39. 9 rounds of 9mm fmj or 8 rounds of .45 acp fmj? Pretty easy choice to make.

      Add to that you could go into any country general store or gun store and find .38, .357 or .45 but 9mm was rare and a little pricier than the others. I know that in KY in the 70’s it was easier to find .38 S&W and .32 S&W and .32 S&W long than it was to find 9mm. I kept my eye open cause my uncle would let me shoot his luger or p38 if I found shells for it.

      • How times have changed. Now the only truly ubiquitous handgun rounds out there are .45, 40, 9mm and 22LR (I mean, pre ammo shortage); the others are trickier to find.

  11. There are two guns I kick myself for selling in the early 90’s. The first was a police turn in S&W Model 28 Highway Patrolman in .357. The second was a Stainless Dan Wesson in .41 Magnum. I don’t remember what I got for the S&W, for the Dan Wesson I traded it for a Lee Enfield SMLE Mk III and matching serial number bayonet, an FN 49 in 8mm with bayonet (with 3k rounds of Egyptian ammo) and a Chinese Type 53 Carbine (the Chinese licensed Mosin M1944) with a tin of surplus Bulgarian ammo.

    I came out ahead on that trade but I miss that revolver. Shot more than a few hogs with it.

  12. Never heard of these before, but I like the idea. Especially since when I asked Ruger how much it would cost to swap an SP101 barrel, they quoted me about the same price I paid for the gun in the first place.

    Here’s an only slightly related thought, what about an 8 or so shot .300blk revolver with a 6″ or longer barrel? There’s no market need for it, I know, but I think it would be neat to the point that I would buy one. I’m still thinking hard about a S&W 8 shot .357, but I’d have to work hard on the reloads to qualify with it as a duty weapon.

    • Need DG to wade in on this. But I recall a revolver chambered in .221 swift?. Bottleneck rifle rounds with tapered cases don’t work well in revolver chambers. At least that seems to be my fuzzy memory of it. Can’t recall enough facts from my gray matter at the moment but it seems the set up has reliability issues.

  13. Dan wessons were wonderful revolvers.Shooting Times tested a model 15-2 against a Python with multiple loads several years back. The Dan Wesson out performed the Colt across the board.

  14. I have a Dan Wesson .357 w/six in barrel. Bought it in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. Seriously accurate, first time I tried and did a lot of reloading and still have the gun. Depressed that I did not buy a pistol pack but will be checking out EWK for accessories. My house was robbed twice and this was the gun my wife kept by the bed when I had to travel and she knew how to use it. Also, had a problem with it and CZ fixed it.

  15. I still have my .22 ,best trigger on any gun I own ,great shooter. I sold my 8 inch heavy barrel SS .44 mag last year for a pretty penny to a collector . That gun was great as well dropped many a whitetail,soft shooter what with bring just under 4 pounds……

  16. Whatever happened to those big slab sided Dan Wesson PPC revolvers? I want one of those more than a mint nickel python.

  17. I bought one of these in the 1970s. First .357 Mag I ever owned. Fine gun unless you shot it. Had the habit of coming apart after a few full magnum loads. Had to keep a set of tools on hand at every range session. Sold it. Don’t want another one.

    • I’ve had a dozen 15-2s over the last 35 years or so, and none of them “came apart”, and I had one that I fired thousands of full magnum loads through it, to the point the forcing cone was severely eroded from all the flame on it. A $25 barrel tube, and it was good as new. My total problems with all 12 of them (10 of them were sold, purely for financial reasons) was a broken hand spring. That’s it. I wish I could say that about any other make and model of revolver…such as Taurus and Colt.

  18. “Its rugged frame could swap barrel lengths and grip styles at will[.]”

    Yeah? I’d really like to see that! And afterward, I’d like to see it jump up off the table and shoot someone all by itself, too!

    *snicker*

    [/sarc]

  19. “Interchangeable handgun barrels and grip frames are really nothing new.” In business from 1876 to 1916, Merwin, Hulbert, and Co. or Merwin Hulbert was an American firearms designer and marketer based in New York City. They sold a number of 3-barrel sets for their revolvers. And the Smith & Wesson Model of 1891 single action top-break revolver (.38S&W)could be ordered with an extra barrel and single-shot target “cylinder” in .22LR.

  20. Don’t know about the quality issues they might have had. I currently have a .357 blue pistol pack, a SS .357 6″ a blued .44 mag a .357 Maximum and a .22 with several barrels. They are all the most accurate of the revolvers I own with the fit and finish very nice on all. The pistol pack I had rebuled by a pro because the blueing bewteen the machined parts and the cast frame never match. The SS is still my carry gun in the woods being nice sized and accurate it goes with me on all my wilderness travel. The .44 is a bit worn as it was a silhouette pistol for years and received a lot of use. The .375 Maximum is the last purchase and its a great hunting pistol which I use from time to time. I reload so ammo is not a big issue.

  21. Have a Dan Wesson .357 Mag 8″ barrel. Started looking for a 6 inch barrel in all the places posted on line and then decided to write DanWesson.com. An individual by the name of Shelley responded and confirmed full barrel assembly’s were available and for sale, as well as barrel tools with gauge. Prices quoted were less than used barrels selling on the intranet.

  22. I still use my 15-2 ;6 inch barrel,in c/f competions and use 148grain wadcutters and 3.1grain Winchester red dot,never failed me in club comp’s. bought it in 1974.Yeahhhh!!

  23. ccdwguy briefly mentioned that CZ fixed a problem with his revolver.
    Does anyone else have experience with CZ making repairs?
    I have a DW that is seriously misbehaving. It misfires at least as often as it fires.
    The primer strikes are sometimes off center (timing issue, right?), but also some are on center.
    I suppose I could try different ammo, but there are other problems as well.
    Should I trust my DW to CZ, who seems to be scared to make the pistols now, or try to find a reputable local gunsmith?

    • Mr. Gross, the screw for your grip may be too tight.Back off a turn or so on grip screw and see if this fixes your problem, if it does you may consider a small washer . For more info go to Dan Wesson Forum website.

      • Thanks for your reply.

        I have found that this screw can be overtightened, in particular the grip with finger grooves seems to have the hole bored too deep. When this screw is too tight, the gun will not allow the hammer enough movement to fire. I think your washer suggestion would work for this grip. The traditional grip does not have this problem.

        I read somewhere that a screw on the side of the gun can be loose and affect the timing. This screw was loose, and the timing seems to be improved after I tightened it. I assessed the timing by putting some drag on the cylinder with a finger while slowly pulling the hammer. The cylinder was locked by the locking bolt/lug for each chamber. The cylinder does have a small amount of play when locked, though. I don’t know how tight it should be. I have not yet taken it to the range, and it does need to be cleaned.

        Do you have any advice about the cylinder lock-up or service from CZ, in case I still have problems?

  24. dan Wesson 357 Magnum 6 inch barrel pristine condition want to sellserial number 12340 looks as it’s never been shot nowhere tall bluing is perfect not a scratch on it

    • im interested in your dan wesson if you still have it.i am bad with computers. so if u can please call me about you dan wesson. thanks 917 359 6664

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *