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
Magazine Capacity: 8 rounds
Frame Material: Forged stainless
Slide Finish: Duty finish
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
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.