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

Caliber: 9mm
Magazine Capacity: 8 rounds
Frame Material: Forged aluminum
Slide Finish: Duty
Grips: G10
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
MSRP: $2,012

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.

34 Responses to Gun Review: Dan Wesson Valkyrie 9mm 1911

  1. You have a typo in the last sentence of the first paragraph.

    You also have a typo in the price. It says $2012. That’s got to be a mistake. Two thousand dollars is a lot of money, especially for a 1911 that hasn’t even gone to the gunsmith to get it running properly yet.

    • Apparently you’ve not run a Dan Wesson 1911 before. They’re perfect out of the box and require nothing more than a loaded magazine to function forever. It appears a previous 1911 experience, potentially with a Kimber, has tainted your view of this perfect execution of the right hand of God (also known as the 1911) as given life by John Moses Browning, God rest his soul.

  2. 2 grand, and they can’t be bothered to put a safety on the right side…I swear someday I’m starting a company that builds exclusively lefthanded guns.

      • First, why would you want to alienate that market by deleting a $5 part?
        Every pistol i have is fully ambidexrious…and they are all great guns FN-FNX, VP40, PPS ect. Beyond being left handed, when the SHTF i can hand them to anyone and they can operate them without doing silly thumb over crap with a 2k+ pistol.

        • Many people, all right handed shooters I’m sure, prefer not to have a right sided safety on their concealed carry EDC because of the fear that it will get caught on clothing and disengage. There are probably more right handed 1911 shooters that prefer it this way than there are left handed 1911 shooters.
          Also, for the left handed shooter, the 1911 doesn’t require a thumb over, but an index finger release.

        • I just tried to release the saftey from my 1911 with my index finger and i’m calling complete BS on that one…almost impossible without massive manipulation of my grip. But you righties keep on telling us lefties how we should do things. Also, you’d have to be a pretty big dolt to have that saftey snag while drawing. Why don’t I have that problem with my ambi 1911??? I fail to see any distinct advantage this pistol has over my Smith E-series at a grand less anyhow. Maybe Dan Wesson should start putting his name on sneakers and charging 3x more than Nike for all you fanboys,seriously.
          “Yo! You bought new kicks and didn’t get the Dan Wesson $400 super airs? Do you even operate bro?”

        • Weird. Because I can do it quickly and easily with my left hand, and so can my 12 year old son who shoots left-handed. However neither of us can get our thumb around the beavertail safety.

        • I’ll just keep wearing my old Ruger high tops. Someday, they will be back in style, again.

        • “There are probably more right handed 1911 shooters that prefer it this way than there are left handed 1911 shooters.” — JWT

          Agreed completely.

          FWIW, Ed, most people don’t realize it but Dan Wesson has a full custom shop and does a bunch of custom work. While they do make models with ambi safeties, I know for sure they’d be more than happy to make you a Valkyrie with an ambi safety hand-fitted from the factory and I doubt it would even cost much. They accommodate most requests, and yours is an easy one.

    • There are two kinds of left-handed people.

      There are the whiny, entitled snowflake southpaws who demand specially designed tools to meet their special needs, and complain about the lack of selection. They are often seen at Best Buy, badgering the help about left-handed mouse pads.

      Then there are the lefties who acknowledge that they live in a right-handed world and realize that life is easier when you learn to use right-handed tools. From power saws to musical instruments to firearms, they learn to use them with their right hand. These people have more fun at gun ranges because they can shoot all their buddies’ guns, and vice-versa. They’re also less likely to get hit in the face with flying brass.

  3. I have 6 of the DW 1911’s never had an issue with any of them. For my money DW is up there with the best of them. I’ve shot Wilsons and own Ed Browns, they may be slightly better, but for the money I’ll take a DW any day.

  4. It can be found in the wild for $1700. Extremely nice, I found the Valkyrie after I bought my Guardian. Now I want the Valkyrie. Once bitten…

  5. This is not a 1911 bashing specifically(even though I’d love to). But if I pay $2G’s(or even $1.7G’s) for a pistol, which I would never do, it had better take out the trash, drive me to work, and entertain my grandson. Before that, it had better be 110% reliable. If you say you bought it, just because you like it, fine. But as a tool, it isn’t worth it.

  6. While we’re on the subject, what if the S does HTF? Let’s say the NoKo’s launch a minaturized nuke warhead, and detonate it for an EMP blast. This is probably the most likely SHTF scenario right now. The electronics go down, and we’re living in the 1620’s. This is a prolonged scenario, and would last at least a year or two. Would you rather have four(4) Kahr CT9’s or one(1) of the above DW’s? What happens if it gets lost, destroyed, stolen? What if you need to feed your family, and a pistol trade gets you a month’s worth of food? The DW is not going to get you any more than the Kahr, and you still have three(3) left. Again, you can justify any purchase by saying “I like it”. Trying to justify something as a worthwhile tool is different

    • Your scenario is a false dichotomy, but still an easy choice. From a guy that has owned several Kahrs, and carries a PM9 every day, I’d pick the Valkyrie over 4 CT9s any day of the week, especially, double especially, for any kind of prolonged SHTF scenario.
      Because it’s the tool that matters, and it’s a much better tool. It is more reliable (again, I’ve owned several Kahrs, and their quality control is spotty), it is more accurate, and it is much more accurate in fast fire. That last one is the key. I can draw and put accurate rounds down range faster with it than with 4 CT9s, and that’s what I need to do with a pistol. I’d much rather have one great tool over multiple mediocre tools.

      • I disagree. I just used Kahrs as an example. Let’s say a Ruger American. Even if the DW is better tool, and that’s debatable, it is only incrementally better. Let’s take the the $2G’s and buy three Glocks, or two Sigs. Same principle applies.Again, what happens if your DW gets lost , stolen or damaged? I’d rather have three “mediocre” Kahrs, two Glocks, or one Sig, than no DW. And, lest you think it is an artificial situation, it is not. Whether I can afford one DW or 50, I can still buy more of the others.
        Here’s a more likely scenario. Although Davidson’s didn’t have the specific DW mentioned, they did have the Valor with the same exact MSRP. For the lowest price dealer in my area, it is about $2040 out the door.For the same money(actually slightly less), I could buy a Sig 226 Legion 9mm AND a Ruger GP100. The Ruger will almost certainly shoot at least as accurately as the DW, and probably better, with more power. The Sig is a quality hi cap 9mm. Substitute many other quality handguns. The formula still works.
        And believe this, too. If I can, and the situation warrants, I’ll always carry more than one. I have carried four at one time.

        • JDC, using your thinking why would you buy 3 Kahr’s or a Sig and a Ruger when for the same money you could get 6 or 8 High Points and use them to trade for food? Hand guns are tools. I have made my living my entire life using tools, and I always purchased the best I could afford. That Wal Mart ratchet may fail when I need it most. I would much rather be under a car supported by heavy duty jack stands than the ones made from sheet steel just because I can get 4 pair of the sheet steel for less money.

          Nothing means more to me than my life, except the life of my family, and I will get and carry, the best, and most reliable tool I can afford to protect both.

      • BTW, JWT, if you carry the PM9, check out the Recluse holster. You might not want to use it all the time, but it works. If you don’t feel like putting it in your back pocket, they make fronts and cargos. They work great in a Carhartt jacket left inside pocket, also. I also have a non catalogued TS front on the way for the CT9.

        • Just leaving the range with my PM9, early, because it broke. Recoil spring continues to push through the front of the plug and outside of the frame.
          And I sold my 229 Legion last week because, even after a trip back to Sig, it wouldn’t make it past 300 rounds without choking.
          It’s not about price, it is about quality. Again, I’ll take the gun that works great when I need it to over 10 that won’t.

  7. I own a Dan Wesson and love it. It cost a lot less than this Valkyrie and I don’t plan on carrying it. Neither of the 2 guns I carry regularly cost me more than $500 because there is always the risk of it sitting in a lock-up somewhere if I have to use it.

    So this is a great gun but I’m not carrying something that would be, in essence, my most expensive handgun. I understand that there are plenty of folks with more money than me so I’m not complaining about the review; I liked the review and the gun.

    • I don’t really get that. If I use it in a shooting and it’s questionable enough that the gun is impounded for a while, that gun still saved my life so whatever I spent on it was worth it and I’m probably lawyering up and going bankrupt to do so anyway. If I go to trial, win or lose, the fate of my $1,750 gun instead of my $550 gun couldn’t mean less to me. But if my gun is going to be shown in photos all over the national media, I’d sure as heck rather it be a Dan Wesson than a Kel-Tec 😛 …if the shooting’s cut and dry the gun probably will not be retained by the police and, again, even if it is then it was worth it if it was the best tool for the job and it saved my life or that of family, etc etc. Doesn’t seem like the appropriate place to try to save a few bucks.

  8. There’s plenty to like about a high quality 1911. Not sure why they would make one this size with less magazine capacity than a Glock 26.

    Single stack magazines today are a compromise to allow for a skinnier, more concealable grip. This gun is darn near an inch and a half wide, which should allow room for a double stack 9mm magazine.

  9. $2000 for a 1911 seems a tad expensive by my tastes. As in, not gonna buy a $2,000 pistol when that amount will buy 2 or 3 other interesting pistols.

    getting a great gun at the 4-figures price point should be a given.

    Now I’d be really impressed with a great 1911 at the 3-figures price point!

  10. Most of the comments above treat a gun as an appliance. In other words, the cheapest thing that launches bullets reasonably accurately is all that is needed. But I’d be willing to venture those same people are not driving base models cars, which would be perfectly suited for getting them from point A to point B. No, instead, they spent a lot of extra dollars to get the vehicle they wanted, not just one that gets the job done.

    Purchasing a high-end pistol is no different. I’d be willing to venture that the pistols in the bottom 20% of the price range are suitable for launching bullets. However, some pistols, by design, can launch them WAY more accurately than others. And in my book, accuracy is one of the most important aspects of any firearm. Purchasing a Dan Wesson isn’t just about buying a pistol. It’s about buying an accurate pistol that is well built with tight tolerances. It’s about buying a pistol that was crafted, not built on an assembly line. It’s about owning something special. All of this leads to something called “pride of ownership.” I’d venture to guess that all of us have spent more money for an item than was required. But we do it because sometimes, we just want a quality item and the enjoyment it brings from owning and using it. I think that has a lot to do with why some people purchase Dan Wesson pistols.

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