Browning's Classic Improved

By Todd Burgreen

The Dan Wesson Silverback 1911 10mm Defies the Purists

What comes to mind if someone mentions a 1911 specialized for defense, law enforcement or even military applications? I bet most would first consider a classic single stack 1911 chambered in .45ACP. An ergonomic, instinctive-pointing, hard-hitting handgun is a premium when having to react decisively to a threat. These were John Browning’s guiding principles in creating the 1911 to begin with. The 1911’s inherent qualities have caused many manufacturers to jump on the 1911 bandwagon over the years by offering their versions. Most attention seems to be on “improving” the 1911 platform by modifying its components via full length guide rods, match barrels, match trigger, bushingless bull barrels, etc. Questioning the standard approach is not always the easiest path to follow. Dan Wesson (DW) has approached the 1911 from a different angle, which involves more than just tweaking/modifying components.

Dan Wesson’s quest to improve the 1911 for personal defense, sporting, tactical or law enforcement applications focuses on caliber enhancement combined with impeccable quality. The DW Silverback 1911 is chambered in 10mm Auto. (A .45ACP model is also available.) Before the howls of protest reach a crescendo, allow some elaboration. Yes, the association between the .45ACP cartridge and the 1911 platform is seamless. Many may forget that Browning is not only creator of what many feel is the ideal handgun in the form of the 1911, but also the designer of the .45ACP cartridge. In ballistics circles, the .45ACP has just as loyal a following as the 1911—it is considered to deliver the ideal combination of terminal ballistics and controllability. However, by the early 1970s even leading 1911 proponents started considering other alternative caliber choices beyond 9mm and 38 Super for the 1911, tactically speaking.

Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper is often associated with the early development of the 10mm Auto cartridge. As with most calibers, numerous .40 caliber pistol wildcats were created before the 10mm Auto design as we know it was solidified for use in the ill-fated Bren Ten handgun. The 10mm Auto was designed to be a pistol cartridge...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N7 (September 2017)
and was posted online on July 21, 2017


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