In the gun world, the 1911 is about as polarizing as it can get. The older generations think it’s the greatest invention since sliced bread where the younger generations laugh at its capacity and overall weight. Personally, I think the 1911 is an extremely cool platform and really paved the wave for other variants and modern handguns. Its accuracy and overall comfort to shoot are something that can’t be ignored either. I wanted to check out a mid-tier 1911 to check out what you get for the money. There are plenty of companies making $3,000+ 1911s on the market but there aren’t a ton in that mid-tier level. I decided to pick up a Dan Wesson and see what it’s all about. Let’s take a deeper dive into the Dan Wesson Specialist chambered in 9mm.
Dan Wesson offers the Specialist in 9mm, 45 ACP and 10mm with a Black Duty finish or bead-blasted stainless steel finish. I tried finding the Black Duty variant but found the stainless first, so I picked up the stainless instead. The overall weight of the Specialist is just over 42oz. It has a match grade 5″ barrel chambered in 9mm. My Dan Wesson Specialist came with two 10-round magazines and a hard plastic molded case with impressions for the gun and two additional magazines. The VZ G10 grips that come standard on the Specialist look very clean and do a great job giving you traction on the handgun along with the checkering on the mainspring housing.
When it comes to the actual pistol, there are a number of upgrades straight from the factory. The low-profile Novak-style front sights are a great addition to the pistol. The Dan Wesson Specialist also comes with front cocking serrations and a skeletonized hammer. Dan Wesson gave the Specialist a classic long-style trigger with texturing on the face for a tactile grip. With no cuts in the trigger, you really get a classic look with modern functionality of the texture on the face making it the best of both worlds. The Specialist also comes with a built-in magwell, ambidextrous safety, and 1913 Picatinny rail as standard for mounting light and laser accessories. MSRP on the Dan Wesson Specialist is $1,825 for the 9mm, and a little more for the black variant.
I have been shooting my Dan Wesson fairly regularly since I picked it up back in early December. Over the last couple of months, I have taken it on a dozen or so range sessions where I have roughly 800 rounds through the Specialist. One of the first things I noticed when looking at my Specialist for the first time was how tight the tolerances were from the factory. There was no wobble when looking at the slide to frame fit up and it truly feels like a hand-fit gun. Right out of the box, this 1911 feels very tight but functioned 100% so far. I never cleaned or oiled the gun before use and despite this, the Dan Wesson Specialist worked flawlessly.
The trigger on this Dan Wesson feels like it was looked over and hand-polished rather than just fitted like many standard 1911 companies. The classic long-style trigger has a tiny bit of travel before hitting a defined wall and breaking just under 5lbs. The reset is short with a defined audible click making it clear the gun is ready to fire again. I really like the idea of having a Picatinny rail on the bottom of the frame for light and laser attachments. This stainless model is extremely good looking so I’m really hesitant to put a light on it, but with the black model, I would definitely utilize that rail more.
Magwell and Magazines
The built-in magwell lets you run the longer 10-round baseplate magazines without having the magazine stick out. I picked up a few of the Wilson Combat Elite 10-round magazines with aluminum base plates. These magazines look great in the firearm and I have never had any issues with feeding despite this being a 1911 in 9mm. Even with standard loaded 147gr subsonic ammunition, the Dan Wesson Specialist cycles and locks to the rear which is awesome for a 9mm 1911.
I am very pleased with such a soft shooting 1911 the Dan Wesson Specialist really is at the range. The full 42oz weight of this gun makes it extremely flat shooting and easy to control. Whenever I take someone out for the first time shooting, I think this would be a good candidate to start with just since it’s a soft shooter and easily controlled. I’ve shot plenty of 1911s around the $1,000 mark and others around the $3,000 mark but nothing in that middle ground of $1,800-2,000. This is about as good as you can get before going fully hand-built by an experienced gunsmith, and for the price, I’m really happy with this 1911.
Personally, I have a really hard time abusing a handgun that is stainless. I think this would be an excellent suit gun or something you carry when you’re dressing up but still want to have a cool carry pistol. If it was in Dan Wessons Duty finish, I would have beaten it up and used the gun as more of a duty-style pistol. I would love to use this as a relaxed range day gun where you just take it out because you enjoy shooting.
The price of 45 ACP has skyrocketed since 2020 as well so having a classic 1911 chambered in 9mm will give you that same feeling but will be much more affordable to use every day. If you wanted to throw a light on it and use it as a home defense gun, it’s fairly well set up with night sights and a weapon light slot. The Dan Wesson Specialist has enough classic features to make it feel like an old-style 1911 with a ton of modern touches with the rail slot and high-quality checkering. Add on the fact it has night sights and a great trigger and you can argue it as a viable self-defense gun if you want carry a single stack pistol.
The Dan Wesson Specialist sits in a mid-tier price range but offers a ton of semi-custom gun shop items without paying the crazy prices of high-end custom shops. It has clear differences from a standard factory 1911 but it’s common enough where you feel comfortable to take it out and really put the gun through its paces. This isn’t my typical gun purchase but sometimes it’s alright just to buy firearms because you enjoy shooting a certain style.
This is one of the few guns I own that I really have just because I enjoy shooting it over everything. It’s a quality product and I’m very happy it’s mine. Let me know what you think about Dan Wessons down in the comments below. Is it worth the little bit of extra cost or are there better options out there? Let me know down in the comments whatever way you lean on this. If you have questions about firearms, feel free to shoot me a message on my Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.