If you have your finger on the pulse of the goings-on in the handgun industry, you're aware that we're in the midst of a 10mm Auto renaissance. The 10mm's sudden popularity comes as no surprise to the cartridge's substantial fan base, who think it's about time the rest of us caught onto what a marvel of engineering the round truly is. But the fact that this cartridge has even survived is a testament to its merits.
Handgun shooters were impressed with the 10mm's ballistics when the cartridge broke cover in the 1980s. The 10mm Auto is a potent cartridge—just what the FBI was looking for after the notorious 1986 shootout in Miami in which two agents were killed because their 9mm service weapons failed to stop the assailants. In short order the agency adopted the 10mm, but it proved to be too much for many agents. This paved the way for the .40 S&W, which was seen as the final nail in the 10mm's coffin.
The 10mm suffered a setback when the Bren Ten pistol in which it was first chambered was plagued by manufacturing issues. The 10mm Auto was verging on obsolescence when Colt stepped in in 1987 and saved the day, offering it in the new Delta Elite 1911. Still, the cartridge never really caught on and survived only as a niche round.
Now, more than 30 years after it was released, the cartridge has finally gained a secure footing thanks to its combination of sufficient knockdown power and manageable (at least for experienced shooters) recoil.
Ed Brown, a machinist and competitive shooter turned gun manufacturer from Missouri, began making parts for his competition 1911s when he couldn't find aftermarket parts that were up to his high standards. Brown manufactured parts for his own pistols, and later his company began offering superb custom-built 1911s backed by the best customer service in the business.
Since most 10mms offered today are chambered in 1911 pistols, it seemed natural that the Ed Brown team would offer a line of custom 1911s in 10mm Auto, and indeed it does. The company recently unveiled its first long-slide 10mm Auto.
Dubbed the Ed Brown LS10, this new six-inch-barreled 1911 features a single-stack Government frame; crowned, flush-fit muzzle; 25-lpi checkering on the frontstrap and mainspring housing; square-cut front and rear cocking serrations; and Ed Brown's durable Black Gen 4 slide finish. Of course, the pistol utilizes a variety of Ed Brown parts like the manual safety, grip safety and beavertail.
These are custom guns, so there is a long list of options to make your LS10 a truly one-of-a-kind pistol. The model I tested had a French border, a flattened and serrated slide top and diamond-checkered rosewood grips.
"While not our first 1911 in 10mm, we are convinced that the six-inch long-slide and the 10mm are perfectly suited for each other," says John May, director of sales and marketing for Ed Brown Products Inc. "Any pistol that wears 'Custom by Ed Brown' is required to meet the now-over-50-years' standard of excellence. Two of those have to be reliability and accuracy.
"We know, after lots of testing and a lifetime of experience, that we wanted to introduce both the 10mm and the long-slide platform to our line of the world's finest custom handguns. It has proven time and time again to be a real tack-driver and will be a real treat in handgun hunting worldwide. I know our customers are already finding it a perfect fit for hunting both whitetails and wild hogs in the U.S."
The 10mm is indeed the cartridge of choice for those who prefer to hunt with a semiauto handgun, and it's a terrific outdoor defense gun as well. The LS10 is offered with both traditional adjustable iron sights or a Trijicon RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex) sight.
I would guess that most buyers will opt for the RMR-equipped version of the LS10. The maximum effective hunting range for this cartridge is roughly 50 yards for deer- and hog-size game, and it's difficult for the average shooter to produce accurate groups at those ranges with traditional iron sights. A quality red dot sight like the RMR makes precise shooting at those extended ranges simpler and more precise.
The 3.25 m.o.a. red dot is the right size for shooting out to that distance, and the RMR is light—just 1.2 ounces with a battery—so the optic improves accuracy potential in a range of light conditions without adding bulk to the pistol or altering balance. The RMR runs on a single CR2032 battery and continuous runtime is measured in years, not hours.
The forged aluminum housing protects the optics from the dings and bumps that are inherent to outdoor use. The adjustable LED has eight brightness settings, and if you're worried about battery life, you can simultaneously press both illumination buttons and the unit powers down after three seconds. It's about as rugged and versatile a pistol sight as you'll find, and it's perfectly suited for the LS10.
The LS10 has an overall length of 9.75 inches and a height of 6.25 inches and weighs 43 ounces with an empty magazine. It's under 1.5 inches wide, so it carries much like a standard Government 1911. It's also significantly lighter than many standard revolvers designed for hunting or outdoor defense. Smith & Wesson's 629 Classic weighs more than 48 ounces, and Ruger's new 6.5-inch Super Redhawk in 10mm weighs a full 10 ounces more than the Ed Brown LS10.
For outdoorsmen and women who want a relatively light, compact pistol that still offers substantial reach and plenty of power, the Ed Brown is a natural choice. Additionally, holsters are easy to find an affordable. Ed Brown's website has a link to S&S Leatherworks, which offers a chest rig cross-draw holster specifically for the LS10, an ideal setup when riding ATVs, hunting, hiking or for any number of other recreation activities.
I used a DeSantis E-Gat Slide holster to carry the LS10 to and from the range and found it worked perfectly well once I opened the sight channel with a fine file to accommodate the LS10's tall post front sight. So if you have a leather 1911 holster that will accommodate the LS10's lengthy barrel and don't mind customizing it to allow for front sight clearance, that's another option.
Reports of the 10mm's recoil would lead one to believe that the 10mm is nigh unmanageable to shoot with full-power loads. Not so. It's not a gun for novices, and the recoil can cause fatigue after extended shooting sessions, but it's manageable. The team at Ed Brown added a solid recoil plug that gives the LS10 great balance and helps keep the muzzle from snapping up with each shot.
If the LS10 isn't the most manageable 10mm I've ever shot, it's right at the top of the list, and even after a lengthy range session, I wasn't fatigued by recoil. I'd certainly rather spend an afternoon shooting the LS10 than some ultra-light carry 9mms loaded with hot defensive ammo. That long profile, slight forward balance and Government-size grip make this a gun that you can shoot comfortably.
The real question is whether the LS10 produces the kind of accuracy you'd expect for a gun priced around $4,000. At 25 yards, groups averaged from just over an inch to just under 1.5 inches, which is remarkably good.
Those accuracy figures are a combination of a precise optic, fine materials, quality workmanship and a superb trigger. With minimal uptake and a crisp break, the LS10's trigger felt more like what you'd expect to find on a good rifle than a pistol. It broke just under four pounds and offered a consistent feel that helps boost confidence. The LS10 is a gun you want to shoot over and over again because you're certain you can eventually stack five shots into one ragged cluster.
This kind of accuracy is a direct result of attention to detail. It's no secret Ed Brown guns are built to a high standard, and these pistols are some of the most refined 1911s you can buy. Everything about the LS10 is tight and smooth, from the slide/frame fit to the checkering on the rosewood grips.
There was just one feeding issue. The SIG full-metal-jacket ammunition would occasionally hang up before chambering and would require a push on the slide to seat the cartridge. There were no issues with firing, extraction or ejection with any of the loads tested.
Twenty-five yards from a bench wasn't all that challenging for the Ed Brown, so I moved to 50 yards and shot off of a telescoping shooting stick. Even at that range and with a less-than-solid rest, the LS10 managed three-inch groups. Better shooters than I could potentially extend their lethal range beyond that, and with the right loads the 10mm is still generating better than 500 ft.-lbs. of energy at that distance. Plus, the LS10's balance allows for fast follow-ups.
The tall Trijicon night sights are easily visible through the optic, so even if you don't have the RMR turned on you can quickly engage targets with the irons. This makes the LS10 an even better gun for bear country, especially with a chest rig that keeps the gun conveniently tucked out of the way yet allows for a rapid draw. And if you're a hunter, this gives you the option of using irons for a quick shot on game that might be moving as well as the precision provided by the red dot.
The 10mm, as those early FBI tests show, is also potent medicine against human predators. I sincerely doubt anyone will ever choose this pistol for concealed carry, but it's an effective self-defense weapon whether you are at home or on the trail.
With mild 10mm loads it's actually quite comfortable to shoot quickly. While it may be hard for some to justify purchasing a $4,000 pistol regardless of the level of versatility it offers, the LS10 is a handgun quite adept at a wide range of tasks. Couple that with Ed Brown quality and you've got a long-slide 10mm that immediately moves to the head of the class.
ED BROWN PRODUCTS LS10
TYPE: 1911 Government long-slide
CALIBER: 10mm Auto
BARREL: 6 in.
OVERALL LENGTH: 9.75 in.
WEIGHT: 43 oz.
FINISH: Ed Brown Black Gen4
TRIGGER: 3.8 lb. pull (measured)
SIGHTS: Trijicon tall night sights, Trijicon RMR reflex sight (as tested)
PRICE: $3,995 (base)
MANUFACTURER: Ed Brown Products Inc., EdBrown.com