hope_1

We would all be lucky to have a reputation as stellar as Dan Wesson revolvers do. Unfortunately, hope as gun owners did, DW didn’t manufacture any for many years. Except for only a few special runs, newly-manufactured Dan Wesson revolvers have been as rare as a unicorn since about 1998. And, I believe, altogether non-existent since about 2005. Thankfully CZ-USA, which has owned DW for a decade now, has decided to expand its product line and get back into the wheel gun game. The first revolver out of the gate is. . .

the 715, a stainless steel six gun chambered for .357 Magnum.

Dan Wesson revolvers were always unique in that their barrels were easily swappable without the services of a gunsmith. One frame could suit multiple uses, snubby to 10″ compensated hunting barrel with rail. The first question on many folks’ minds will be whether or not these new guns perform the same trick. Opening up the case answers that question:

case

Not only can the new 715 change out newly-made shoes (or hats, or whatever part the barrel equates to), but it will accept your entire collection of old DW barrels. It comes with the tools necessary to do the swap correctly — a barrel nut wrench and a shim, which you use like a spark plug gap gauge to set the proper space between forcing cone and cylinder.

shroud

Proper gappage, incidentally, looks like this:

forcing_cone

Part of the Dan Wesson revolver’s solid reputation was superb accuracy. In addition to the normal things like tight tolerances and precise machining, this unique barrel system is supposed to lead to improved accuracy as well. The barrel is “tensioned” by the shroud — torquing that nut down pulls the barrel forwards, keeping it under tension and really locking it solid.

muzzle

Cylinder alignment is important as well and, once again, in addition to the usual features like tight locking mechanisms and precisely fit parts, Dan Wesson adds some unique touches. The cylinder release latch is on the frame in front of the cylinder, rather than behind it. They claim that allows for a tighter lockup. Plus, that location keeps it out of the way of your thumb while shooting.

release

The detent is less like a little ball bearing and more like a stainless steel slab of a locking block.

crane

Machining is crisp and flawless everywhere.

Cylinder…

chambers

Hammer…

hammer_rear_sight

Frame, shroud…

vent_rib

Roll marks on good ol’ #28 here…

serial

Clockwork…

internals

internals_cocked

Gas pedal…

trigger

Clean casting and machining isn’t the end of the story, as the trigger is pretty nice from a functional perspective as well. The double action pull starts with a bit of take-up, and then it’s an extremely smooth and consistent 12.75 lbs. of pull all the way to the break. A set screw is located at the top, rear of the trigger guard allowing for tuning out overtravel. It was set just right from the factory.

cocked

As you can see in the photo above, in single action mode there isn’t much room for the trigger to move rearwards. It doesn’t need it. There is no take-up whatsoever and no perceptible creep. Pull with 4.5 lbs. of pressure and you’re rewarded with a clean, crisp break and the absolute bare minimum of overtravel. While it measured 4.5 lbs. on my trigger pull gauge, I would have guessed less, it’s so crisp and creep-free.

A transfer bar safety is employed to ensure that the hammer can’t contact the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled. This allows for safe, hammer-down carry with all six rounds loaded.

fpb

The standard front sight is a serrated black blade. It’s very easily swapped out for dozens of alternatives in varying heights, colors, fiber optics, etc. While it looks to be pinned in place in the photo below, it actually uses a dovetail on the rear of the sight blade to index over that pin, and is retained via a set screw in the front of the shroud (see muzzle photo above). A hex wrench for this is included in the case.

front_sight2

The large, target style rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. It is a nice slab of black steel.

rear_sight

A black rear sight like that is my preference, but I like the front to be visible with either a nice dot or a fiber optic. I’m not exactly old, but the black/black combo isn’t my best friend. Regardless, I was clanging my steel FBI Q target from 50 yards offhand with boring reliability. My first six attempts at it are in the video above, and all six found steel.

I mention all of this because, while significantly above average, my 25-yard groups would have been tighter with a different front sight.

target

My guess is that the blob of three holes would have been a blob of five holes, but I didn’t have the kit necessary to mount a scope or a laser to the 715 so I couldn’t really take my eyeball’s fudge factor out of the equation.

On The Range

Just a few days before I got my hands on the 715 here, I was shooting my late step grandfather’s S&W .38 Spl. Airweight. Newton probably would have guessed as much, but size and weight really do make a difference in felt recoil and controllability.

The 715, weighing in at 2 lbs., 14.8 oz., with a decent amount of that owing to the slab-sided barrel shroud, is a pussycat to shoot. Standard .357 Magnum loads felt like 9mm and, compared to the brutal little Airweight, shooting standard pressure .38 Spl. felt like an airsoft gun. They made some noise, but hardly moved the revolver.

right

The 715 was smooth, comfortable, and exceedingly accurate. Despite my issues with the black/black sights, I didn’t do a lot of missing with this thing. The excellent trigger and soft recoil made it easy to stay on target whether shooting single action or double action, two hands or one. The quality and attention paid to machining, fit, and finish are all apparent from behind the gun. Every aspect of its operation is smooth and easy, yet tight and solid at the same time.

rear1

Although much of the heyday of Dan Wesson revolvers was before my time — at least in terms of purchasing my own firearms — I’ve always had my eye on them based on little more than reputation, looks, and those swappable barrels. Over the last decade I spent many an hour trolling GunBroker looking for a Dan Wesson boxed set; revolver + a few barrels.

left

I’m happy to see that the 2015 revolvers are likely to continue DW’s good name. If the owner’s manual is anything to go by, the new line may not be limited to the 715 in .357/.38, either (and this is only the “small frame” manual):

other_models

Specifications: Dan Wesson 715

Caliber: .357 Magnum, .38 Special
Capacity: 6 rounds
Barrel Length: 6″
Overall Length: 11.65″ (As measured. The stat is not on the CZ-USA website yet.)
Height: 5.75″ (as measured)
Width At Cylinder: 1.49″ (as measured)
Weight: 46.8 oz (as measured)
MSRP: $1,168

Ratings (Out of Five Stars): 

Accuracy: * * * * *
Definitely more capable than I am. A solid choice for handgun hunting or home defense.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
I’m guessing the grip is made for Dan Wesson by Hogue. It’s nice.

Reliability: * * * * *
I didn’t exactly roll it in mud or drop it off my roof, but the 715 exudes quality, smoothness, and solidity. It ran flawlessly right out of the box.

Trigger: * * * * 
This is a truly top-notch trigger, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some room for improvement. It’s definitely tuned for overtravel, but it isn’t a custom revolver where everything is stoned and polished and the springs are tuned for light action, etc. The healthy hammer spring, though, should guarantee reliable ignition for hunting and defensive use no matter the primer.

Customization: * * * * *
Hard to find better in a revolver. Swapping grips is a given, but the 715 allows for easy barrel swaps and easy sight changes as well.

Overall: * * * * *
New boss, same as the old boss. In this case, that’s a good thing.

70 Responses to Gun Review: Dan Wesson 715 .357 Revolver

    • My buddy bought a Python the day he turned 21, still has it but he hasn’t fired it in years. First it was a wife who didn’t approve of firearms, now she’s his ex and took him for about everything she could and all his stuff- including the Python- is in storage. He still won’t sell it though.

      • I have a buddy with a very similar story. When his wife kicked him out(for working too much to buy her the things she wanted), all he got out with was his guns. Including his Python. He sold most of the guns(I bought a few), except his Python.

      • Au contraire! I have a Diamondback in .22 that is probably one of the best .22 wheelguns ever. I agree, however, that the Python was probably the pinnacle of American revolvers, especially ones that were factory tuned.

        I really liked the old DW’s (especially in .41 Mag., which I wish they’d also resurrect). Will be very curious to see if the new ones compare.

        • You would think they would, considering they are offering 32-20, which is not something I’d expect to see!

      • I’m with you on this. It is nostalgia. I remember having a Tootsie Roll for the first time in years. Not as good as I remember. I’ll stick with my S&W 28 over any Python. Not enough appeal that I’d buy one even if they brought them back.

      • I get excited every time we get in a Python, yet I’m still consistently disappointed by the triggers on them. Sorry to say, my S&W 586 trigger is better without question.

    • I have had friends that owned both the .357 python and the many barreled .357 Dan Wesson. Totally different animals. One is a Lotus the other a Peterbuilt. I would still pick the DW, because of the interchangeable barrels.
      I do so hope they make them in the USA. Something made in Turkey or Brasil, or even Italy, is just not the same, if it is a DW.

    • I own a 38+p Dan Wesson that my father gave to me on my 25 birthday but needs some work and I’m having trouble finding parts for it. I was hopping someone would know or lead me in the right direction pls. Thank you

      • I have several stainless Dan Wesson revolvers, no Colt revolvers. The DW is a great target revolver and hard to beat the barrels. I’ve spent a small fortune on extra barrels (remember that each barrel will require a sighting in). From the 44 to the .22 they are all great shooters. Double action is not a nice as a Smith, but with practice you can shoot very accuratly with DA. Thanks for the review.

  1. I’m really not much for revolvers. I have what I believe is an unusual aesthetic sense for gunners (I actually like the look of GLOCKs), but I can’t stand the way that a lot of revolvers have the grip swept so far back of the cylinder, like the old Colt SAA revolvers. I think that’s ugly. It might work well, but its ugly to me.
    This, by contrast, is a very appealing design. I like it.
    If they make this in .44 Mag, I think I will buy one. Or .41 Mag.

    • Dan Wesson did make .44 magnums in the past on a much larger frame. Still had interchangeable barrels, grips and sights. And when I say a larger frame, it was bigger than the Ruger Redhawk. much bigger than the S&W model 29.

  2. Oh wow … I really like the fact that you can manually adjust the barrel-cylinder gap to be as precise (and small) as possible. Throw in the fact that you can change the barrel length and I am in love. A four inch barrel might be nice for carry around town and an eight inch barrel (if there is such an option) would be nice for hunting. A six inch barrel might be a nice all-around choice for both home defense, carrying around town, and hunting.

  3. I’m gonna guess that the manual is reprinted from the original back in the day, when the model 715 was available in all those calibers. I have a Dan Wesson “Pistol Pac” from around 1978 with 2″, 4″, 6″, and 8″ barrels, two wood grips, and replacement front sights with a white or a red plastic insert all in a hard side lockable brief case. I eventually got a Pachmeyer rubber replacement grip that sucks up what little recoil there is plus offers an absolutely non-slip grip. I sincerely hope that CZ sees fit to bring back the .22LR version of this revolver. I also hope that they bring back the 12″ and 15″ barrels that came with scope mounts for hunting. I own some really nice firearms, but my DW is one of my most precious, and was always my “go to” gun when things went bump in the night, until I got my Glock 17. I like the ,357 more than the 9mm, but having triple the ammo available definitely tripped the scale over for me, and 9mm ammo has improved since the 1970’s (when I started shooting)

    • I think you’re probably correct in that the manual is just the same one as always, and that list of models on the back isn’t actually an allusion to future production plans. We can hope though, eh?

  4. Had the chance to buy a dan wesson at black sheep in Coeur d’alane back in the early 80’s.. But, I was young, dumb and had nothing on my mind but owning a S&W 586.

    • i had a chance to buy 2 dw revolvers at different times, im glad both times i did even though they are both the same. the price was awesome at $250 for one and $350 for the other both in great shape

      • You can find decent pistol paks for maybe $800 and up, especially if you don’t care if the case is incorrect or the buckle and patch are missing. I grabbed a very nice15-2 with 2,4,6, and 8 barrels in a .44 case with no buckle or patch and I paid $900 just 3 or 4 years ago.

  5. Oh, good God. I’ve been wanting to get my first wheelgun, and this might have to be my Xmas present…at that price, my Xmas present for the next 5 years.

  6. I acquired my DWs back in the early 1990s…a .445 SuperMag with unfluted cylinder, plus a complete set of barrels; a .22 Silhouette Model and a .38+P snubby. They are all excellent shooters. I’m delighted to hear that CZ is reviving the revolver line!

  7. Oh I want! A buddy of mine has a .357 DW that his dad bought back in the early 70’s. We often go shoot my .357 blackhawk and his DW and no matter how much work I have put into tuning my blackhawk it doesn’t come close to be as smooth as his DW. Also having a swing open cylinder is a lot nicer too lol.

  8. With the advancements in revolver technology in the last 10 years, why would Dan Wesson still make this a 6 cylinder revolver?

    I own a S&W Performance Center R8 and love it. Surely Dan Wesson could have stepped up its game to offer the 715 in a 7 cylinder model. Once it’s been proven that 7 or 8 shot .357 mag revolvers can be done, why would you ever regress to a 6-shot?

  9. I had a .22 DW pack in the early 80’s…… 4″, 6″, 8″. And stupidly traded it off. Stupendously accurate with the longer barrels.

  10. bought one of these back in 1978, could never get the frame – cylinder gap to stay set. was either too tight or too wide, accuracy and trigger did not compare to smith and wesson M19 or M27 that I owned.

  11. As someone who was abroad and buying revolvers during the heyday of the Dan Wesson revolver, I was hoping the resurrection would have overcome some of the important problems of the design that killed off the model and the company.
    My recollection of the single-action trigger action was that it was satisfactory, almost as good as the decent Colts and Smiths of the day, but that the double-action trigger was truly gruesome.
    Given that I shoot a lot of revolver, including in action pistol competition, and never, ever fire my revos single-action, learning that CZ had gotten a good, fast, smooth DA trigger would have been good. I didn’t read that here.
    The weight is staggering. It may make it comfy to shoot in a booth in a commercial range, but removes the gun from practical use. Maybe medium-game hunting is about all that’s left, a pretty narrow use range.
    The looks… well, looks are subjective, and I shot a Webley Mk VI in USPSA for years so maybe I shouldn’t opine, but the 715 is still awkward and clumsy-looking. Since a three-pound .357 is mostly a range toy, having some grace and eye appeal should be a necessity.
    Not mentioned is the trigger reach. Ruger does well in this regard. I am still in love with my first revo, a Smith 28, but the trigger is still too far away for my not-long finger even after 42 years of attachment.
    Looking at the pictures, the stretch on the 715 looks like a lot. I hope it isn’t- a long trigger reach is always a problem, a short trigger is fixable with grip changes.
    The sights seem dismal and cheap, as are the grips, leading to…
    The price. CZ’s success comes from being really good and cheap. The 715 isn’t both of those.

    • Oops, forgot one more criticism- why in the world introduce a new revolver without moonclip cuts? It would cost almost nothing and while I understand that there is a lot of anti-moonclip sentiment out there (which baffles me… you don’t have to use them!), it would enhance the gun’s performance significantly.

  12. Love CZ, love wheelguns…having a hard time getting over the size of this thing though, along with the location of the cylinder release – though I could probably get over it if they’d at least let us take advantage of the gun’s modularity by selling some alternative barrel configurations.

  13. I have one the old ones (.357 CTG)and love it. Beat up,dropped in the river, shot dirty, chunks missing out of the grip, most of the bluing is gone and still kills Hogs and Deer. Hell, I don’t even remember what model it is – fixed sights, 6 inch barrel but it’s a dead shot workhorse and never a hick-up.

  14. Seems like a quality firearm, but i got to ask what is forged vs. cast on the gun and are the internals MIM? Not a deal breaker if its cast with MIM, but was just wondering if the forging or other production processes drive the cost to be more than a quality ruger or smith and wesson revolver.

    • There’s a lot of what I think are investment cast parts here. At least the frame is investment cast. Not sure about the lockwork… I can’t be certain of the manufacturing process, other than I can tell by looking at some of the internal parts, trigger, etc that they aren’t machined from forgings. Could be sintered, MIM, cast…

      Dan Wesson revolvers have earned the reputation of being extremely stout. Holding up to thousands of rounds of the most powerful loadings on the market. Whatever they’re doing, it has not historically caused reliability issues. Sorry for the super long comment here, but this is copied-and-pasted from the old DW website and may be relevant today:

      All of our Dan Wesson design revolvers are
      constructed with the finest domestically
      produced investment castings available in
      America today. We purchase investment
      castings to minimize the amount of metal that
      needs to be removed to fit and assemble all
      the various components that make up our
      revolvers. This technique allows the grain of
      the metal to be preserved, and is a
      significant factor in the extreme strength of
      our revolvers.

      The alloys we use in our frame investment
      castings, as well as the omni-directional
      grain strength (as opposed to uni-directional
      grain strength in forged parts) make them the
      strongest revolver frames in existence today.
      That is why our frames are able to withstand
      the repeated pounding of SuperMag cartridge
      pressures, especially in the silhouette
      shooter crowd (some of the hottest loaders
      anywhere!), while forged frames are not. I
      have seen revolvers come in for service that
      have been run over by trucks or dropped from
      considerable heights needing only minor
      internal component replacement and/or
      polishing. Perhaps this also has something to
      do with the decision to go from forged to
      investment cast parts for the landing gear on
      the space shuttle.

      Please be assured that if forging the frame
      would make it truly stronger, the decision
      would have been made to go that route, but it
      just simply isn’t so. Please also be assured
      that if the ability to handle and control the
      increased pressures of hot loads in the large
      frame and SuperMag frame caliber models that
      we produce, and the ability to do so with a
      design that also produces a much more
      pleasurable, versatile and accurate revolver
      than anything else out there is your
      requirement, than I firmly believe that your
      choice is quite simple–a Dan Wesson Firearms
      revolver. There is a very large contingent of
      owners of the Dan Wesson design revolvers
      that would give hearty agreement to that
      statement.

    • I’m sure there’s plenty of investment cast parts in there – I have zero problem with this, look at how durable Ruger and Freedom Arms revolvers are. As far as I know CZ doesn’t use MIM so I wouldn’t worry about that.

  15. I bought a Dan Wesson model 15 .357 Magnum in Georgia in 1973. It was stolen some 15 years later. What a fantastic pistol. Extremely accurate. I ‘stoned’ the action and got it quite smooth – fantastic trigger after that. The interchangable barrels add flexibility. I miss that revolver; and I sure didn’t pay $1,168 for it in 1973!

    • Hey man, if you want to send me one for Christmas along with adapters for all of the guns that come through here, I’m totally down to use it! Otherwise, the $420 investment plus $60 for each grip insert is a bit out of the realm of possibility. Any pistol with a rail I’m able to put one of my LaserMax lasers on, which can completely take out the human element of aligning sights exactly the same over and over. Rested on a sandbag, using a laser to hit the same spot on the target, the actual POA is extremely consistent and most of the group deviation at that point is legitimately mechanical accuracy deviation due to the firearm and/or ammunition. But, it seems like most readers are more interested in knowing how well the provided sights can be aligned anyway. Meaning it wouldn’t make sense to show a mechanically-accurate gun as putting up incredibly tight groups (via Ransom Rest or laser) when the fact is you couldn’t do it in real life by using the actual sights on it. You’d have to do two separate accuracy tests… which I’ve actually done w/ laser and w/ sights in the past, and will continue to do any time I find a discrepancy between using the mechanical sights and the actual, mechanical accuracy of the gun. Unfortunately in the case of the DW here, I didn’t have the option for the laser and I know for sure that the sights that come with it inhibited my ability to shoot tight groups. Oddly enough, though, when out on the actual range and shooting offhand, it was a dang tack driver.

  16. Just brought 3.75″ barrel, 357 model 14 of this revolver for $440.00 + 35.00 for s/h = 475.00
    Love vintage revolvers from well known manufactures. Have Colt Detective 1978, 6 round 38 special, Ruger SP 101 SS 9mm last yr. made 1989 and a S & W .22 model 65.
    Have several modern Ruger pistols and revolvers, like them lots but can’t beat the classics for good looks and function.

    Might submit a review once Dan Wesson 14, 357 arrives, gets a good cleaning/lub job and some shooting of it on family rural property

  17. Have had 715 357 mag dw since the early 70’s. Best revolver I’ve ever owned. 2.5, 4 and 8 inch barrels. Flawless and exceptionally accurate. Hope to get some 3xtra bbls and new tool.
    Thanks for the update !!

  18. Yeyus! I truly believe! Since the 80s I have enjoyed the reliability of Dan Wessons and now have four SuperMags and assorted pistol packs with ALL the barrels along with many singles. The 357 SM is my most utilized cartridge, a 180gr. XTP at over 1800 FPS fixes most problems. The 7445 SM does’nt get used as often, mainly when I need kindling for my BBQ, now lets kickback and enjoy Marty Robbins singing “BIG IRON”. R

  19. Hi from Queensland Australia. Can anyone assist me I have a Dan Wesson Model 15 that has challenges in single action shooting. On being cocked the cylinder lock does not engage properly, allowing the cylinder to be rotated by hand. This results in the firing pin not aligning with the primer! No one in Australia has spare parts! Inquiries to “The States”( CZ -USA has supplies of this part and spring BUT “we are unable to ship outside the United States”.I hold the necessary Queensland police Service and Australian Border Force approvals to import the parts . All I need is to have a person buy and ship the part to Australia. Naturally at this stage all I ask is for a sympathetic email address so I can arrange details. Until then I can not shhot my beloved “Dan

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