I’ve been searching for the right pistol for taking pigs and deer and the occasional trip into town for a little over a year. The most obvious choice: some flavor of 10mm. I’ve tried — and passed on — a safe-full of guns so far. Oddly enough, I hadn’t sampled anything in the Dan Wesson line. (In fact, I hadn’t shot any Dan Wesson guns since the pistol packs of yesteryear.) When CZ offered TTAG the Dan Wesson Bruin for review, I jumped right on it.

Out of the box, the Bruin’s a good-looking gun. In fact, it’s aesthetically unique; the slide has an angled cut up from under the muzzle that gives the gun a distinctive outline. It looks great but it’s a pain to reassemble.

[The recoil spring plug is also up-cut. The plug is long and heavy. There’s one and only one way to fit the plug into the slide’s recess. It takes a bit of turning with the spring to get it set-up right, and then a few cycles back and forth with the empty gun to get it seated just so.]

The Bruin’s slide includes two sets of cocking serrations, front and rear. They’re wide and deep and enable ideal hand placement. That said, the front cuts are completely unnecessary in a firearm primarily made for hunting, and they detract from the pistol’s otherwise clean look.

The rest of the Bruin’s 9.7-inch long slide is minimally marked; the model name in discreet script sits in front of the rear cocking serrations. The 10mm Bruin is available with a black slide and controls and a bronze colored frame, or dressed all in Dan Wesson’s very black Duty Finish. Both models are fitted with simple but functional G10 grips. If you’d like a Bruin in .45 ACP, it’s only available in all-black.

The Bruin’s slide lacks a cut-out for optics and there’s no rail underneath. At this price, for this application, I’d expected to see an optic-ready slide. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a rail for a light; not many owners are likely to take the 6.3-inch barreled Bruin out for a night hunt or carry it for personal defense.

The Dan Wesson Bruin ships with two quality eight-round magazines incorporating an overhanging ledge base in front of the grip. I wouldn’t want that feature on a carry gun, but I appreciate the ledge on a hunting handgun, where the user’s more likely to be wearing insulated gloves.

Unfortunately, the Bruin’s trigger well isn’t particularly oversized. There’s no way I could fit an insulated gloved finger in there without sending a round downrange. With thinner gloves, like my work gloves, this wasn’t much of a problem. But it’s something to keep in mind if you’re carrying the Bruin in colder climes.

The ergonomics on any 1911 feel great to my hands, and the Bruin is no exception. Dan Wesson has certainly done a better job with the controls than a Colt Series 70. The Wesson’s single-sided extended thumb safety moves quickly to both the on and off positions, and it’s well serrated for good purchase. Even in work gloves, I had no problems manipulating the safety. My thumb never slipped off the safety when firing the gun, whether I was wearing gloves or not.

Enough glove love. Let’s get to the shooting part of the program . . .

The Bruin’s trigger breaks cleanly after a small amount of pre-travel. Although the four-pound pull weight is about what most people would want on a defensive gun, I’d like it closer to 2.5 or three pounds on a hunting gun. Even so, there’s no discernible grit or catchiness to it, and the break is fast and unexpected.

Using American Eagle 180gr FMJ, Blazer 200gr TMJ, and 175gr Hornady Critical Duty store-bought rounds (ED: add to that a box of Creedmoor Sports XTP loads and a box of Underwood Xtreme Penetrator), I had no failures of any type. No problems feeding, extracting, loading or unloading. The magazine never got hung up or stuck on a reload, and the mags always dropped out cleanly.

The Dan Wesson Bruin was reliable in every aspect. The sights adjusted easily and consistently, and nothing on the gun shook loose during testing. There were no issues firing one-handed, and the grip safety easily disengaged with a high, one-handed grip — something I’ve learned to watch for with any 1911.

Considering the extra-long barrel and the accompanying sight radius, I was hoping for sub-0ne-inch accuracy. Off a front bag at 25 yards, my best five-round group measured 1.5 inches, using the relatively inexpensive American Eagle 180gr FMJ. None of the groups I shot ever quite hit the 2″ mark; the Hornady Critical Duty round clocked in at 1.76″.

Since the Bruin was built for hunting, I shot it standing and kneeling. My eyes aren’t quite what they used to be, but shooting a six-inch circle at 50 yards from the kneel with this pistol was completely doable. My group opened up to 10 inches standing at that range. Taking in mind the inherent accuracy of the pistol, I blame the result on the Indian more than the arrow.

Front and rear Trijicon night sights sit on the pistol’s flattened and serrated slide top. The combination accentuates the firearm’s real world accuracy, making the Bruin easy to aim. Equally, the front sight’s bright green fiber optic/tritium dot enables extremely fast sight acquisition in any light condition.

The 10mm Auto is no ballistic slouch. The Hornady Critical Duty round is going over 1,150 fps from the muzzle, generating more energy at 50 yards than my .45ACP defensive round delivers at the muzzle. But you wouldn’t know it with shooting the Dan Wesson Bruin.

The Bruin handles 10mm recoil easily; that bright green dot barely moves in fast fire. I could put two fast shots to the 4X6-inch center plate of my steel targets at 25 yards with combat compatible consistency. Having the option to place two rounds inside the vitals of a deer or black bear at that 25 yards would make me feel pretty good about my odds for a speedy game recovery.

Credit the Bruin’s weight; Dan’s handgun tips the scales at a hefty 44 oz. Additional props go to the Bruin’s excellent 25 lpi checkering on the front strap and the flat mainspring housing, and the extended beavertail. Even firing the Bruin one-handed, the gun soaks up recoil. It completely tames the 10mm cartridge.

I’m still looking for the right 10mm pistol for both personal defense and hunting. If the Dan Wesson offered the Bruin’s performance in a gun with a five-inch slide, it would be my constant companion. As is, the Bruin’s is a great purpose-driven gun –as long as your goal is backwood self-defense or pistol hunting light-skinned game, all the way up to and including black bears.

Specifications: Dan Wesson/CZ Bruin

Caliber: 10mm
Magazine Capacity: 8 rounds
Frame Material: Forged stainless
Slide Finish: Duty finish
Grips: G10
Overall Length: 9.7 in
Barrel Length: 6.3
Height: 5.8 in
Width: 1.5 in
Weight: 43.9 oz
Trigger: Mech single action
Front Sight: Tritium fiber optic
Rear Sight: Adjustable night sights
MSRP: $2,194

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
Although I generally like two-tone guns, I wouldn’t have chosen this color scheme. The Bruin’s up-cut snout makes the gun a pain to reassemble, but fashion conquers all (apparently). A well put together package.

Reliability * * * * *
Zero issues of any type with any round. Stake your hunt on it.

Accuracy * * * *
1.5″ to 1.75″ groups at 25 yards off of bags is very good shooting, just not exceptional shooting. The ease of fast follow-up shots, and keeping them on target, is a huge plus.

Overall * * * *
Dan Wesson has built a big gun that it serves its purpose well. The Bruin draws easily, points fast, and makes a 10mm feel like a 9mm shot from a G19.

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65 Responses to Gun Review: Dan Wesson Bruin 10mm 1911

  1. A $2k is a lot to spend on a single purpose handgun. Sure it’s beautiful, but for the same price, I can grab a Glock 20, slap a 20T custom slide on it and come away with at least as good a gun for far less out of pocket cost.

    • Yeah, that $2,000 price tag is quite honestly ridiculous as far as I am concerned. I can see maybe $1,000 (which I would NEVER pay).

      • $2k +. WTF! For hog hunting where guns get scratched, dropped and dirty?

        I think it’s pretty clear that this DW 10 will be carried and shown off but when it comes to rolling in the mud with pigs the Glock 10mm will be the gun in hand.

        • At least on the Glock 10mm, a gloved finger usually fits in the trigger guard.

          Looking at the thickness of the plastic on the grips, I wonder why they didn’t consider making it a double-stack magazine…

        • @jwtaylor

          I’m still trying to figure out what it is with you and handguns. It almost seems like if I want a gun to fail, all I need to do is get JW to review it.

        • Never could get a Glock 10mm to run on original-spec ammo, and when it did the brass was so swollen you could push primers in with your thumb.

        • I don’t get everyone having such terrible luck with the Glock 20. Mine runs like a top, and I police my brass and haven’t seen any deformed rounds.

          I can see the appeal of a beautiful 1911, but this isn’t it.

    • You’re comparing a Mercedes to a Chevy. They’ll both get you where you need to go. Whether or not the higher price of the Mercedes is worth it, is a matter of opinion (and disposable income).

      • Cost-analyzing cameras, tools, golf clubs, cars, underwear or guns is not necessary, get what you like and can afford, not what other folks like or want.
        As far as plastic goes, I’ve got lots of old ancient plastic stuff that has become brittle,fragile and cracked so I don’t trust it regardless of how long the “Testing” has said it would last. But suit yourself.

    • Heck yea or You could buy a g20, a g40 and a red dot to put on it. And still have a couple of franklins for holsters and ammo.

      • hahahahahaha…. that’s good, and while you are at it, head over the to the Ferrari dealership and let all those guys know that they could get a Tundra and a Camry and still have some money leftover for rims, tires, and a couple tanks of gas.

        No

        Just

        Stop

        • Yeah these people misunderstand why one might buy a Dan Wesson. It certainly has nothing to do with finding the lowest bidder!

          I certainly could have bought a Colt or a Springfield with the almost $1,000 I spent on my DW Heritage. But that’s not what I wanted.

      • The Razorback is outstanding with Underwood ammo loaded to original Norma velocities (180@1320), though you might want a 24-pound recoil spring. For gloved use, swap in a short trigger. That DW “mid-length” trigger is a bad compromise.

  2. I think for handgun hunting I would stick with a revolver. I have a Redhawk in .44 Mag that would be my hiking ‘companion’ of choice.

    • A Brit in TX,

      There is no question that .44 Magnum ballistics are utterly superior to 10mm, even maximum loadings in 10mm. For that reason, I carry a .44 Magnum when I am camping, hiking, or hunting.

      Having said all that, maximum charge 10mm loadings paired with long barrels have some wallop to them. More importantly, 10mm semi-auto handguns enable average shooters to deliver multiple shots on target about two to three times faster than a revolver in .44 Magnum.

      So, while a 10mm semi-auto may not have enough oomph with a single shot to consistently drop a charging bear in its tracks, it enables an average shooter to put multiple hits on that bear in short order. Assuming 200 grain hardcast lead bullets, that will enable an average shooter to consistently drop a charging bear in seconds.

      • Right. Stick with the .44 mag revolver unless you live in Siberia or Alaska and expect to be attacked daily by pesky roving bear gangs.

      • I agree! I definitely wouldn’t feel undergunned with 10mm and I do love the accuracy and fast follow up shots with the semi-automatic (& 1911 in particular!) platform. The Redhawk in SA is very accurate, it’s much harder to be accurate in DA though…… Perhaps not so important if a bear is on top of you but useful at all other times.

        I imagine that a Glock in 10mm is more common than a high end 1911 for this purpose, can you use hardcast lead loads in a Glock? I seem to remember something about the rifling fouling etc etc.

      • I was with you Uncommon right up until multiple hits on a charging bear. Not many real bears on your area apparently so you have a lot to learn. If you have time for multiple shots and your not specifically hunting bears then you shot way too soon and likely signed your own death warrant.

        Most bears will leave you alone. Until you shoot at them that is then they go zero to thirty five miles an hour in two seconds. Sure you can blast away early but in real bear country you have 20 yards from a threatening bear on a good day. Most likely only 5 or 10 yards. So it better be one shot one kill. Planning for a mag dump is for the movies.

        • The very concept of hunting brown bears with a 10 millimeter is asinine. When I talk about bear hunting and the 10 millimeter I’m talking about black bears.

        • Doktor,

          I think an average shooter could pretty easily rattle-off three or four shots in two seconds once they are pointing at a charging bear. Whether or not they actually have two seconds after pointing their handgun at a charging bear is a different matter.

          Obviously, a bear that springs upon you with no warning from 15 yards away is going to be on top of you before you can recognize what is happening and draw. If you happen to see a bear and draw before he charges and he is 40 yards away, I think you have an excellent chance of having those two seconds of time to rattle-off three or four shots.

          By the way, my understanding is that brown bears like to “bluff charge”. Shooting at one of them with an under powered handgun could be a bad idea. The problem is, you never know whether their charge is a bluff or the real deal. If a brown bear is charging at me and I can get my .44 Magnum revolver on target, I am going to pull the trigger every time rather than leave my life purely up to chance.

    • Strictly for hunting, a 7-inch 44 is hard to beat. And I have one, and 3 other 44s as well. But I can’t hide any of them even under a light jacket.

      • These are the reasons that I would have thought the obvious choice would be a .454 Casull, maybe in a 5″ single action, rather than a 10mm. It would also make a better conversation piece as a BarBQue gun(I’m assuming that is the meaning of occasional trip to town).

  3. JWT – Great series of 1911 reviews. Since you seem to be the resident SME and I’m in the market for 9mm 1911 for range/target duty – do you have any suggestions if $1000 is max budget. I recently sold some Glock 19s given the recent DA decision to roll deep with Sig. Preferring a 9mm single stack and 1911 grip angle, I’m all ears if you’re willing to teach another veteran…

      • Your point is certainly understandable – I’ve looked at the Ruger, Colt, and SA models. Do you prefer the SA Range Officer Operator vs the Range Officer Champion? Also if $1000 is a tough bracket – what’s your best option if I were to push towards $1500-2000 for a truly custom piece? Thanks for the help, I’m not opposed to saving for a better version – single stack 1911s seem to fit my hand better than double stack wonder 9s…

        • I don’t think I’ve seen a truly custom 1911 from a reputable manufacturer for under $4,500. They usually go up significantly from there. At that level, I would call Tim Thompson at Bill’s Custom Automatics and be done with it.
          At the $1,500 level to $2,000 I would go with an STI single stack.

        • I’m no Operator, but I still enjoy my plan-jane Range Officer. Not a custom gun, but a very reliable and accurate.

    • Iver Johnson offers a very adequate 10mm 1911 with a compensated 6″ barrel for under four figures. The trigger is a bit heavy, but it’s quite accurate, and works reliably with a variety of ammo.

  4. Seems like these 10mm should be tested with some more powerful loads. Underwood ammo 180gr is listed at 1300fps, quite a bit more energy than the hornady used here.

    • We did get to run a couple of magazines of Underwood through it. No issues and it did not feel any hotter than the Hornady round.

    • +1

      How about some buffalo bore. Even the sig10mm ammo it’s hotter than most of that stuff. The ae 10mm is solidly in 40sw range.

    • Yesterday (after the review was written) we ran a box of Underwood pushing 140 grain Lehigh pills at 1,560 fps+ through it without a hitch. Accurate, comfortable, reliable, etc. A box of Creedmoor Ammo 10mm w/ Hornady XTP bullets went through it also, but those aren’t loaded super hot (still probably beyond the design parameters of those projectiles though haha).

  5. Mr. Taylor, I’m in the market for a 10mm 5″ 1911 and trying to decide between a custom Dan Wesson or Wilson Combat. In your opinion, does Wilson Combat worth the extra money?

    • I’m not much help here since I’ve never shot a 5-inch 10 millimeter Dan Wesson, or any 10 millimeter Wilson Combat.
      I can say that I have shot many, and own several, Wilson guns and I have never been disappointed.

      • Dan Wesson is going to offer Valor in 10mm I believe, perhaps that will be a good one to review next. If you’re happy with every Wilson 1911 you have handled, that’s good enough for me. Your insights are much appreciated, thank you for all you do

        • We’ll be getting JWT another DW in 10mm shortly here. Standard slide length. I think it would be pretty cool if they made the Valor bobtail (the V-Bob) in 10mm, actually…

  6. The Bruin … makes a 10mm feel like a 9mm shot from a G19.

    So then you’re saying it’s a terrible gun to shoot and completely overrated?

  7. I have an EAA witness all steel (frame and slide) 10mm with a capacity of 14+1. Love it. Was about $500

    For something a little cooler – I could have gotten the EAA witness all steel hunter in 10mm with a capacity of 14+1 with a 6″ barrel for about $1050.

  8. @jw:
    Have you tried any of the Smith 10 series? I have a 1006 and I love that gun. It’s about the size of a 1911, real slim; trigger is ok (but the reset is shorter than anything I’ve ever shot, strangely) and has adjustable sights. The only downside is mags aren’t made for it anymore. Since they’re discontinued, they range from $600-$900 the last time I checked. I’m 5 foot 6 and I’ve worn it outside the waistband under a coat.

      • +1 on the 10 series! Mags are near impossible to find and stupid expensive when located ($150!?! at the last gun show I ran across one) Damn fine shooters. Getting harder to find at the lower end of your price range. With the resurgence of the cartridge and the limited production, I guess that’s just the new normal.

  9. To each his own. I find it really purty, but have zero use for a caliber as esoteric as 10mm. How about the same thing in .45 with a 4-5″ barrel? Maybe a few hundred cheaper?

  10. Never understood the fascination here versus .45acp. If I want 10mm, I drop the bullet weight and add some powder. A Barnes +P 160gr in 45acp will punch in the 1200fps range. And it’ll have the same kick the snappy little 10mm bitch will as well because they are nearly identical at that point.

    Even worse, you don’t get the extra round or two that .40s&w normally allots you for the slightly smaller diameter. This pistol is a standard eight shot 1911 single stack 1911. For $2000. Save you money. Buy a reloading set up for .45 acp and a nice 1911, then load it to match 10mm ballistics. You’ll probably still have money left over.

    • In 10mm at standard 10mm pressure you can send a 160 grain bullet about 1,450 fps through a 4.7″ barrel. This is not the same as sending an overpressure 160 grain .45 slug at 1,200 fps through a 5″ barrel. My 10mm “bear load” is a 220 hard cast lead bullet at the 1,200 FPS (4.7″ bbl) you’re getting from a 160 grain pill.

      Typically you do get extra capacity. 10mm Auto is the same diameter case as .40 S&W, so when you compare capacity vs. .45 ACP you usually see the same increase (e.g. G20’s 15 rounds vs G21’s 13). Many standard, non-extended 10mm 1911 mags hold 9, and a few hold 10. For whatever reason, Dan Wesson has chosen to use mags that hold 8 (probably wanting to use a tall follower and a stiff spring to ensure feeding reliability considering the potential for sharp recoil w/ hot 10mm loads). BTW it can definitely be argued that 8 rounds isn’t standard for a 1911 but, rather, 7 rounds is. Though in this case Dan Wesson does use 8-round mags for their full-size .45s, so I’ll concede that point 😉

  11. Dan Wesson’s are forged and hand fitted, nothing is drop-in, they are every bit as good if not better in some cases than any of the 4-5 thousand dollar customs on the market. If you like 1911’s as I do and you want a high end hand fitted 1911 as good as an Ed Brown, Nighthawk and the likes at half the price you would be hard pressed to find anything better than a Dan Wesson. I own three, two Valor’s and an ECO. Since CZ bought Dan Wesson in 2005 they have been very serious about building the very best 1911, their customer service is also the best in the business.

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