After my review of the Dan Wesson Bruin, an upsized 10mm longslide 1911, I was certainly interested in seeing what else Dan Wesson had in their lineup. What I got was the same level of quality, but the opposite end of the size spectrum. The Valkyrie is a slim 9mm built to carry discreetly wile still letting you eat up rounds with minimal recoil.
The Valkyrie is a slightly non-traditional single stack 1911. Chambered in 9mm, the pistol has a 4.25-inch commander-sized slide on a shortened officer’s aluminum frame.
The 4 1/4-inch barrel is flush cut into the bushing with a reverse crown. The overall finish is that of a working gun; solid black, with only the lightest satin shine on it. Dan Wesson calls it their ‘duty finish’, which is in reality a ceramic coating baked into the steel slide and aluminum of the frame.
Those with smaller hands will appreciate the Valkyrie’s trigger. Instead of the traditional solid long trigger, this one is medium sized, slightly shorter, with a smooth, curved face. After a bit of pre-travel, the trigger breaks cleanly at 4.5 pounds without creep or catches. Most people will like that, but I find it a tad on the heavy side. Reset is fairly short, audible, and feels great. You certainly won’t be waiting for it to catch up with you in fast fire situations.
The Valkyrie sights are excellent, perfect for this type of gun. They’re very similar to my favorite Heine Straight 8’s, with a tritium-filled front dot and a ledge with a single tritium dot on the rear. The front sight doesn’t quite fill up the space in the rear notch, giving me good accuracy, but also a little room to see my target. The rear sight ledge allows for racking the slide on a belt, a shoe, or even on teeth (I swear I’ve only done that once.)
The right side of the slide is left completely unadorned, with only the wide and deep serrations marking it. The left side of the slide is discretely marked only the guns’ name in small script above the slide lock. The frame is marked with the manufacturer and city in small letters under the rear cocking serrations, and the relatively large serial number under it.
All in all, the lack of brand markings on the gun allows its overall shape to take center stage. And that shape is a pleasing one. This pistol includes a carry cut milled into the front of the slide that slims the gun down a bit, giving the pistol a pronounced nose which also helps match the slide length, at least in appearance, to the short officer’s handle.
The Valkyrie’s ball and carry cuts really help mask the discrepancy in geometry that results from the commander slide on the officer frame giving the gun a professional, balanced look.
On the hip, sitting in my El Paso Saddlery Summer Cruiser IWB holster, the gun absolutely disappears under a T-shirt. Weighing in at just a couple of ounces less than my STI Duty One 4.0 or a Colt Lightweight Commander, it’s nothing to keep the Valkyrie on our hip all day long. There are no sharp edges to catch or rub. The gun is simply comfortable to carry. Just as important, it’s quick and sure on the draw.
I’ve always felt like the 1911 was the most “pointable” gun ever made, and even with the shortened officer’s frame. The Valkyrie is certainly no exception. The grip, short as it is, is very well done. It’s slightly undercut, with 25 LPI checkering included both front and back.
The solid G10 grips are an interesting pattern that also work well to hold my hands in place. I was a little surprised to find no thumb cut for the magazine release, as I find that helpful for leading my thumb into the safety. The slide stop and safety line up well, with great placement, and fall in a nice parallel line.
The safety is serrated and wide enough to give my thumb great placement for a high grip, really helping to lock my hand down on the gun.
But that safety was also stiff to maneuver. Even after applying some lubrication, it was initially slow to come off, and difficult to get back on. The slow release eventually worked itself out though use, but the difficulty in placing the gun back on safe never really did.
Even after 500 rounds of firing and manipulating the safety hundred times, I still couldn’t simply push up with my firing hand thumb to put the safety back on. It always required a change in grip or the help of my left hand. Neither the slide lock/slide release nor the magazine release ever had that problem, functioning smoothly and easily each time, right out of the box.
My first and only significant concern with the Valkyrie occurred when I removed the gun from the case to inspect it for the first time. It looked great with the slide locked open. All of the internals were polished, bright and clean. Maybe a little too clean. When I depressed the slide lock/release, the slide moved forward a bit, but stopped before it got into battery. I did this a couple of times with the same result.
With a little shake, the gun would then move fully into battery, but I could definitely feel a few hang-ups. The gun was valley-of-bones dry. No lubrication, no packing grease, nothing. So I disassembled it and sprayed it liberally with RemOil and set it down to wait a couple of hours before I head to the range, the new Range at Austin.
Considering the overall quality of the build, I wasn’t surprised with the Valkyrie’s accuracy. What did surprise me was its consistency. Firing off a bag at 25 yards, I averaged 1.5″ five round groups for 30 rounds with Cap Arms 115gr FMJ target ammunition, and the same 1.5″ five-round group with Winchester Defender 124gr +P rounds. None of the 12 groups were under 1.10 inches and none were larger than 1.7. Let’s hear it for consistent shooting (and very consistent factory rounds). 1.5″ groups from a bag is fine shooting for a lightweight carry gun.
Getting back to my home range, I could stretch the little legs of the gun a little better. Drawing and firing single hand with the Valkyrie is quick an easy. In all of my draws, including the ones that got some of my T-shirt in them, the grip safety never failed to disengage, and a good, high grip on the gun with my thumb resting on the thumb safety also disengaged the safety 100% of the time.
I bring that up because some guns, like the Colt M45A1 issued to the Marines, sometimes fail to disengage for me with a single-hand high grip. That’s a failure of execution, not design, and Dan Wesson gets it right. Even though it’s a 1911, this is a light gun, and recoil in fast fire could be an issue. I was a little concerned that the shortened officer’s handle would impact my draw and fast fire.
That concern was put to rest pretty quickly during a series of drills. Setting up an eight-inch target at 10 yards, I didn’t have much of a problem keeping my draw and strike time at or under 1.5 seconds. My split times were a little slower than usual, but the Valkyrie is a very easy gun to shoot.
I ran more than a few different rounds through this gun over the course of four days. Other than those listed for the accuracy portion, I also fed it Winchester’s Ranger 124gr and 147gr rounds along with Ruger’s 80gr ARX ammo and several boxes of Cap Arms 147gr FMJs. After the first couple of mags, I never had any issue of any type with gun, using the either the supplied magazines or Wilson Combat magazines. Yet another blow to the myth of the unreliable 1911.
Opening the gun up, I found quality throughout. No surprises there. I was a little disappointed that the Dan Wesson flat spring set-up they claim will run 15,000 rounds without replacement wasn’t included, but as it is, the gun is ultra reliable and runs well. While not a fan of the officer-sized frame, I’ve now found two that I like; the Wilson Combat X-Tax Compact and now the Valkyrie. That’s a pretty impressive pair all in all. Dan Wesson has created a fine carry gun that looks good, is more than adequately accurate, and carries easy all day long.
Specifications: Dan Wesson Valkyrie
Magazine Capacity: 8 rounds
Frame Material: Forged aluminum
Slide Finish: Duty
Overall Length: 8 in
Barrel Length: 4.25
Height: 5 in
Width: 1.45 in
Weight: 28.8 oz
Trigger: Single action
Front Sight: Fixed night sight
Rear Sight: Night sight, tactical
Safety: Manual thumb safety, grip safety
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
It’s a 1911, so the basic lines are there. The carry cuts and ball cut really add to the overall look of the gun and take away from the otherwise unbalanced look of a commander-length slide on an officer-sized frame. There are a lot of classic touches here, like the hammer and the polished bushing. The finish is smooth and well done, but a little on the dull side.
Reliability * * * * 1/2
This is another instance where I hate to take anything off for something that’s almost certainly due to a dry gun. But, as I’ve said before, there is perfect, and there is not perfect. The bottom line is that after I lubed it up a bit, and I’d have no qualms betting my life on the Valkyrie’s reliability.
Accuracy * * * *
Grouping at 1.5 inches all the way around is better than average. No, you probably won’t win any bullseye competitions with this gun, but considering a 4.25-inch slide and a lightweight aluminum frame, that’s impressive.
Overall * * * *
A great single stack carry gun that disappears on your hip. As a lightweight gun, it has a little more snap to it, but handles recoil well overall, returning those great sights right back on target. The Valkyrie is winner and appropriately priced. A star off for good, but not exceptional accuracy, a well-executed but fairly boring finish, and some minor reliability issues out of the box.