The Dan Wesson Specialist is another addition to the company’s 1911 line of pistols that I expect to be on display at the 2012 SHOT Show. According to the Dan Wesson company, the Specialist is a full sized, single-action pistol that was designed for police departments and “special units” that carry a 1911-style pistol.
The pistol will be familiar to most any 1911 enthusiast, but it has a number of nice features that should appeal to anyone wanting a full sized handgun for self defense or duty carry.
The Specialist is chambered for the ubiquitous .45 ACP cartridge. We can argue whether this round or that round is “better,” but no one will say the .45 won’t get the job done. The magazines will hold eight rounds, and two mags come standard with the gun.
The sights are tritium night sights in a “Straight Eight” style made popular by Heine. The front and rear tritium vials are contrasting colors to allow the shooter to more easily discriminate which sight is which in low light. The front sight vial is green, while the rear sight vial is amber.
The rear sight has a 90˚ angle on the front side. This allows a person to cycle the slide one-handed should you need to reload or clear a malfunction using only one hand. (And yes, when fighting for your life, you may need to perform such an act.)
There is a Picatinny rail for mounting lights and lasers. Since this is a full sized 1911 with a 5″ barrel, it appears that most mounted lights will terminate prior to the plane of the muzzle. While this isn’t likely to make a huge difference, I have seen the battered look a flashlight takes on after extending beyond the end of a barrel on an MP5. At some point even an LED flashlight will say “enough!” and refuse to shine any more. This doesn’t appear to be a problem with the Specialist.
The grips are made of G10, which is a very tough material that provides excellent service life and a very positive grip. I have a Michael Janich designed Be-Wharned knife with a G10 handle. It has proven to be exceptionally durable and inspires a great deal of confidence when gripped. I thought G10 was another over-hyped marketing product when I first heard about it, but I have since been convinced of its usefulness and durability from carrying it in the real world.
The grips are the VZ Operator II grips. They have a brown and black color pattern that I find very attractive.
The thumb safety is ambidextrous and the Specialist is equipped with an extended magazine release. The mainspring housing is flat.
Two versions of the Specialist are expected: a matte stainless finish and a matte black finish. Dan Wesson calls the black finish the “Duty” finish. MSRP on the stainless model is $1558, while the black version is $1870.
Dan Wesson Specialist Specs:
• model: Specialist Black, Specialist Stainless
• caliber: .45 ACP
• capacity: 8+1
• barrel length: 5″
• overall length: 8.75″
• height: 5.5″
• width: 1.45″
• weight: 2.31 pounds
• safeties: ambidextrous thumb, grip
• MSRP: $1870 (black), $1558 (stainless)