The Dan Wesson M1911 ACP is a semi-automatic pistol manufactured by Dan Wesson Firearms. As eluded to by its name, the DW M1911 is a clone of the ever prominent M1911 pistol originally manufactured by Colt.
The DW M1911 takes many of the features from the original M1911. Most prominent of these features is the distinctive beaver-tail safety mechanism, which has been slightly enlarged to make it more user friendly. Likewise the overall appearance of the DW M1911 closely resembles the original, although the use of modern materials and different alloys has meant that the DW M1911 is lighter than the original.
Yet, the DW M1911 does have its own unique features. The hammer, for example, has effectively been skeletonized (a feature seen on the Ruger SR1911) becoming simply a metal loop. The trigger guard is undercut, shaving off more weight, with the grips also becoming lighter and fitted with the Ed Brown grip safety. These parts are all finished to a high standard, with the DW M1911 also being almost completely assembled by hand.
Mechanically the DW M1911 remained almost identical to the original M1911. The same semi-automatic mechanism, as it was designed by John Browning, remained, although the individual parts had been slightly refined (as expected after 94 years of use) to produce a smoother action.
The DW M1911 fires the .45 ACP in its most common format, as did the original M1911. However, as the DW M1911 has become more popular, Dan Wesson Firearms decided to open the DW M1911 to the 9mm and 10mm markets, with these models slowly beginning to overtake the .45 ACP versions. Magazine capacities vary from seven to nine rounds, held in a box magazine.
The DW M1911 has been established as one of Dan Wesson's more popular firearms in recent years (largely due to their de facto ownership by prominent pistol producers CZ). As such the DW M1911 has and is currently manufactured in various configurations, each with a varying number of acronyms.
Current production models include:
- Full Size Models
- DW Pointman Nine - A limited production version of the DW M1911 which conforms to government spec M1911 conditions. Fires the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge.
- DW RZ-10 ("Razorback") - A 10mm Auto firing version of the DW M1911, reintroduced in 2013 because of high demand.
- DW RZ-45 Heritage - A government size version of the DW M1911, this time chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. This model is effectively the entry level DW M1911.
- DW Specialist - This is a unique verison of the DW M1911, designed purposefully for police units. Fires the .45 ACP cartridge
- DW Valor - The closest of the DW M1911 line to the original M1911, although this design has also been highly modified. This model is Dan Wesson's flagship firearm at present.
- DW CCO - The original compact version of the DW M1911, with a Bob-tail frame and manufactured from a light weight aluminium alloy.
- DW ECO - An officer size DW M1911 and also one of the lightest examples available at 25oz.
- DW Guardian - The demand for a commander-sized DW M1911 led Dan Wesson to combine features of their two more popular designs (the DW V-Bob and DW CCO) into one light weight design.
- DW V-Bob - A version of the DW M1911 Valor line with a compact frame and Bob-tail design.
- Elite Series
- DW Havoc - A highly modified version of the DW M1911 that has had virtually every part redesigned. This version is designed for practical pistol shooting, and while being one of the more expensive DW M1911's (at US$4,299) has the most innovative features and a 21 round magazine.
- DW Mayhem - Chambered for the .40 S&W Magnum cartridge, the DW Mayham has also been modified to be as light and as practical as possible, with various parts such as the trigger being skeletonized to reduce weight.
- DW Titan - A version of the DW M1911 with modified sights and other weight reducing features.
The Dan Wesson M1911 has effectively become Dan Wesson's only product, although as can be seen above, there is a large amount of variety in the design. This move to only producing a pistol was made by Dan Wesson's change of ownership in 2005, coming under the control of CZ-USA (itself a member of CZ, Czechoslovakia), and although this ended their famous line of revolver designs, the concept of high quality products has been retained.
The DW M1911 itself has developed a significant following as, like its base the M1911, it can be effectively used in a variety of roles. The main issue for the DW M1911 is that it is now in a highly competitive market of other M1911 designs, produced by Smith & Wesson (SW 1911), Sturm, Ruger & Co. (SR1911), Taurus International (PT 1911) and Remington (1911 R1).