Dan Wesson’s DWX was one of the most highly-anticipated firearms of 2019. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it to us until earlier this very year, which I have it on good authority is considered to be 2023. A hybrid design effectively combining a CZ competition frame with a Dan Wesson 1911 slide, resources and materials from both the Czech Republic and New York were required to complete this fast, refined, sexy new pistol. That made it highly susceptible to COVID restrictions, delaying the release of the DWX and the DWX Compact seen here.
Dan Wesson has built a well-deserved reputation for making top-of-the-line 1911s that blur the line between production and custom. In effect, guns with the incredibly precise fit and smoothness of a custom handgun, complete with hand tuning in the critical areas, but with the reliability, the lack of a “break-in” period, and the price tag of a production gun.
The DWX pistols continue this, but with a more modern flair. Instead of single-stack 1911s like the rest of the Dan Wesson lineup, the DWX Compact frame is effectively that of a tuned-up CZ 75 and it accepts a double-stack, 15-round magazine.
This may not come as a surprise, but the DWX Compact is a smaller version of the DWX, which I sorta reviewed here. The big brother holds 19 rounds and is hands-down one of the best shooting pistols on the market.
Inside either DWX, the trigger group will be familiar to any 1911 shooter (the sear, hammer assembly, disconnector, firing pin, and springs are all 1911) and the slide is much more 1911 in style than CZ 75, though it does use a CZ 75-type barrel locking lug system.
Naturally, one of the best features of a good 1911 is its trigger, and in that regard, the DWX pistols do not disappoint. The DWX Compact’s trigger moves in a straight line forward and backward. Check. It has a very distinct wall with a crisp, clean, glass rod-like break. Check. Its reset is mind bogglingly short. Check. No trigger shoe safety dingus. Check.
Break weight on the DWX triggers comes in between 3.5 and 4 pounds, but you’d never guess it. It’s so free of creep and so dang crisp and short that most people will guess it’s under 2 pounds.
The DWX trigger is indistinguishable from a hand-tuned 1911 trigger, because that’s exactly what it is. If you feel the need to tune it up, tune it up with 1911 parts. But you won’t. It’s just about flawless right out of the box.
In a definite deviation from a 1911-style pistol, the DWX lacks a grip safety.
The DWX Compact’s manual thumb safety, however, is right where you’d expect it. It snicks up and down smoothly with a clean, decisive click. It’s a left side-only affair, but as it’s a standard 1911 component the end-user can swap out for an ambi safety if desired.
Target crown bushingless bull barrel and a full-length dust cover.
The fit between the slide and frame rails is very precise. There’s no room for wiggle or rattling, yet the slide cycles like greased glass.
I’d say that it isn’t as tight and precise as Dan Wesson’s 1911s, but at the same time, it’s much more refined and with tighter tolerances than other production semi-autos.
Also seen in the photo above, I love that sight picture.
Sight layout on the DWX Compact matches my personal preference. The rear sight is all black with a serrated face. It’s drift adjustable for windage.
Up front is a bright dot with a tritium insert. Eye-catching front night sight and all-black rear? Yep. Perfect.
Good sights, a great trigger, and tight tolerances should make for an accurate firearm and the DWX Compact delivers.
On the range it fed, fired, and ejected all of the random ammo I threw at it and it printed nice, tight groups when I slowed down and shot as well as I could from standing offhand.
With black, aluminum grip panels and black aluminum magazine baseplates, the DWX Compact isn’t as flashy as its big brother. Its aluminum frame and 30-ounce weight are more geared toward carry and duty use, whereas the larger, heavier (45 oz), steel-framed DWX is perhaps better suited to competition and target shooting.
A potential downside for carry/duty, though, the dust cover is smooth and featureless, without a Picatinny rail or any other feature for attaching a light or other accessories. Then again, this is a plus for carry if you prefer a smoother, more snag-free firearm.
Likewise, neither version of the DWX is cut for an optic, which has become de rigeuer.
Really there’s no winning with that. Consumers complain about optics cuts and they complain about the lack of them. The DWX itself is somewhat of a marriage between traditional and modern and I suppose some picking and choosing must be done.
Additionally, of course, these are guns that were designed in 2019 (and some amount of manufacturing was completed during COVID craziness), when optics-ready slides were just becoming increasingly popular, but were far from “expected” as they’re becoming now. In 2023, it’s fair to say the vast majority of newly-released pistols and new models of existing pistols are coming optics-ready from the factory.
I have no insight or knowledge of this particular matter, but my guess is that upcoming DWX models will feature an optics cut. The market increasingly demands it, but don’t let that hold you back. If you’re determined to mount a red dot, multiple machine shops out there have been cutting DWX slides for months now and do a great job.
Strictly as a matter of enjoyment on the range, I slightly prefer the full size DWX. As you’d expect. With more weight overall and especially out over the nose, it shoots softer and flatter. In fact, it’s one of the fastest, flattest shooting factory guns that isn’t all ported and compensated and race gunnedd out that I’ve shot.
The DWX Compact isn’t far behind. It shows a little more muzzle flip than the big boy, but it shoots like a 9mm 1911 and a 9mm 1911 is one of my very favorite genres of pistols to shoot. But the DWX Compact holds six more rounds than your typical 9mm 1911.
And it’s just dead sexy.
This is a finely-tuned, beautifully fit and finished, reliable, accurate, very good looking pistol that will serve any owner well in any capacity. And it’s nice enough to pass along to your children and beyond. The Dan Wesson DWX and DWX Compact are fantastic pistols that fully justify the asking price.
Specifications: Dan Wesson DWX Compact
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 15
FRAME MATERIAL: Aluminum
SLIDE FINISH: DLC
OVERALL LENGTH: 7.5 inches
BARREL LENGTH: 4.0 inches
HEIGHT: 5.2 inches
WIDTH: 1.3 inches
WEIGHT: 30.8 ounces
TRIGGER MECH: Single Action
FRONT SIGHT: Tritium
REAR SIGHT: Fixed Battlehook
SAFETY: Manual Thumb Safety
MSRP: $1,999 (find it for less via Dan Wesson DWX Compact)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Overall * * * *
This is a flawless gun. Everything on the DWX Compact is perfectly made, perfectly finished, and perfectly tuned. It strikes an absolutely ideal balance between precise fit and full reliability. However, if I were designing it around my preferences, I’d cut Picatinny slots into the dust cover and an an optic cut in the slide. That would make this five-star gun all day long.