February 01, 2012
Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to shoot and review several 1911s from Dan Wesson and have been very pleased with both the workmanship and choice of features. I think the latter is important because what options a manufacturer decides to put on a 1911 tells you whether the company "gets" the design. While they weren't inexpensive, Dan Wesson was providing 1911s the equal to many custom gun makers for hundreds of dollars less, and this year the company decided to up the ante with the Elite Series.
The Dan Wesson Titan is touted as the "ultimate combat 1911." A high-capacity all-steel 1911, it's chambered in what Jeff Cooper himself thought would be the best man-stopping cartridge ever: the 10mm Auto.
Dan Wesson has gone the sexy/tactical route with the Titan. All black with green G-10 grips, the top of the slide has been flattened and serrated. The slide features unidirectional snake-scale slide serrations front and back, the trigger guard is squared, and the frame features an integral mag well.
The Titan and the other Elite series pistols start with Caspian's high-capacity wide-body frames manufactured for Dan Wesson. The flush double-column magazines of the Titan hold 15 rounds of 10mm comfortably, and yet the grip itself is not hugely larger than that of a traditional single column 1911—1.4 inches wide at the grip versus 1.3. Considering the Titan has nearly double the capacity of a standard 1911 chambered in 10mm, that's a huge plus.
Is this a big gun? Yes, but all 1911s with rails are big, heavy guns, and anything labeled the "ultimate combat" anything isn't going to be small and light.
The Caspian high-cap frame has been around since the previous century, and that is good for two reasons: It is a proven design, and magazines for it are easy to find. The Titan comes with two blued magazines that have removable black anodized aluminum base pads. Mine were marked ".40 SW" but worked just fine.
Caspian high-cap frames have a flared, beveled magazine well to speed up reloading. Anybody who thinks this is unnecessary or just a fashion accessory has never tried to reload a pistol under stress.
The Titan comes with a beavertail grip safety with a bump at the back to ensure even those people with small hands (or thin ones like mine) can still deactivate the safety when using a proper thumb-high hold. Attached to the frame via hex-head grip screws are thin competition-style G-10 grips. These patterned green grips provide an aggressive gripping surface and are as thin as possible to keep the size of the grip down.
Both the front of the frame and the mainspring housing are covered in CNC-cut 25 lpi checkering. While no machine-cut checkering is as sharp as that done by hand with a file, what's found on the Titan is more than aggressive enough to keep the gun locked in your hand. The unidirectional snake scale serrations on the slide, however, were less aggressive than I was expecting or would have liked.
The frame comes standard with a squared trigger guard, which I prefer, although the front of it is not checkered like you'll find on some custom guns. It has an accessory rail if you want to attach a flashlight or light/laser.
While the trigger guard is not undercut, it comes straight back to the frontstrap. This, combined with the high-cut beavertail, helps place the pistol lower in the hand than what you'll find on a traditional 1911, and it really makes a difference in reducing muzzle rise.
The Titan has an extended magazine release, which some people might think is a bad choice on a combat pistol. I'm not sure I disagree, but the magazine release spring was very stiff, and the button has to be pushed in quite a bit to drop the magazine, so you're going to have to try very hard to send a magazine into the dirt by accident.
The Titan is supplied with a flat-faced, serrated trigger, something a lot of competitive shooters have been using for a number of years. I've never cared for the way flat triggers felt on my finger, but they seem to make trigger pulls feel lighter (and it certainly looks distinctive). It is skeletonized, adjustable for overtravel and distinctive.
Combined with the two-hole EGW Doug Koenig Ultra Low Mass hammer, the trigger pull on our Titan measured 2.25 pounds.
The Titan is supplied with a ramped bull barrel, as that departs from the original design, but ramped barrels seem to help make 1911s chambered in 10mm and the shorter .40 S&W more reliable. A bull barrel does away with the traditional barrel bushing and is at least as inherently accurate. The barrel in the Titan is a Schuemann Ultimatch, a barrel known for its quality. The Titan also has a full-length recoil spring guide rod.
Accurate 1911s are that way not just because of good barrels but because of proper fitting of the slide and frame. The Titan's slide and frame are hand fit, and there was absolutely no play between them or the barrel, which locked up tight when in battery. Groups out of the Titan were what you should expect out of a gun this well-made (and this expensive).
The Bo-Mar BMCS combat sight is the adjustable 1911 sight against which all others are judged. The original is no longer available, but quality copies are, and the one atop the Titan is built by Dawson Precision.
Gunsmiths have been "burying" Bo-Mar-type rear sights in 1911 slides for decades, but Dan Wesson did things a little differently with the Titan. Instead of having the rear sight exposed at the back of the slide, the rear sight is moved forward so that it is protected by the slide. I don't think it looks as good as the traditional buried Bo-Mar, but that's simply personal preference.
The rear sight has tritium-inserts to either side of the notch, and the dovetailed front sight has a white-outline Trijicon tritium insert. I would have preferred a slightly larger notch so there was more daylight around the front sight, but everything works just fine. Many people might like to argue that adjustable sights have no place on a combat pistol for this or that reason, but the fact is that the rear sight is no less impact resistant than the ambi safety or the skeletonized hammer.
1911s chambered in the original .45 ACP aren't exactly pussycats to shoot, and perhaps the main reason 10mm has never caught on as a defensive cartridge is that it is too much of a good thing. In its original loading the ballistics of the 10mm auto approached that of the .41 Magnum, another caliber that never caught on for self-defense because of its excessive blast and recoil.
Current full-power loadings of the 10mm are tamer, but they will still throw 180-grain bullets downrange approaching 1,200 fps, which is a significant step up from the .40 S&W.
Most polymer-framed striker-fired guns chambered in .40 S&W, even full-size ones such as the Glock 22, are hard to control and often unpleasant to shoot because they are so light. At 46 ounces and all-steel, firing full-power 10s out of the Titan was no problem. Felt recoil and muzzle rise was about on par with a GI 1911 firing .45 ACP ball.
One problem my range volunteers and I did have with the Titan was that rounds were occasionally hitting the slide stop as they moved upward, locking the slide back when there were still rounds in the magazine. This is a common problem with 1911s fed by double-column magazines; the tab on the slide stop must be long enough for the magazine follower to hit it, but not so long that it gets in the way of the cartridges.
Even with CNC-cut frames and parts sometimes the only way to get the slide stop perfectly adjusted is to do a little test firing, and apparently this was not done at the factory before the pistol was sent out. Mine was not a production model but rather a prototype sample, so I'm assuming this little problem will be handled at the factory by the time the Titan is ready to ship. Ten minutes with a hand file is generally all it takes.
Dan Wesson provides two 15-round magazines with the gun. Caspian also makes extended 18-round magazines in case you find yourself confronted with shambling hordes of the undead moaning "Brains."
In short, any problem that can be solved with a pistol the Titan is more than capable of handling, and while it is far from inexpensive, it's as close to the "ultimate combat 1911" ideal as you're likely to find.
- Type: 1911 semiauto
- Caliber: 10mm Auto
- Capacity: 15+1
- Barrel: 5.0 in.
- OAL/Width/Height: 8.6/1.54/5.9 (w/mag) in.
- Weight: 46 oz.
- Finish: matte black
- Sights: adjustable rear w/tritium inserts; dovetailed post front with white outline tritium insert
- Trigger: 2.25 lb. (as tested)
- Grips: green G-10
- Price: $3,829
- Manufacturer: Dan Wesson
- Smallest avg. group: 180 gr. Hornady XTP—1.66 in.
- Largest avg. group: 155 gr. Hornady XTP—1.85 in.
- Avg. of all ammo tested (3 types)—1.74 in.
- Accuracy results are the averages of four five-shot groups at 25 yards from a sandbag rest.