Images for this review
Dan Wesson is a firearms manufacturer, some what ironically (these days) located in New York State. They were known in the 1970s and 1980s for their custom line of finely-made revolvers. Recently, the company was bought by CZ-USA, the American arm of the Czech firearm manufacturers CZ, and is now a form of 'custom shop' which makes what are called 'semi-custom' guns for them - semi because they are made from selected/tweaked production firearms and parts, rather than built up from pure parts. They are marketed as Dan Wessons, and it is difficult to find any CZ markings on them; but Dan Wesson features prominently in the CZ online catalog.
This review was posted originally on Reddit, on /r/1911fans.
The CCO is a 1911, a variant of the John Moses Browning-designed Colt .45 Automatic - it is a modern, smaller, high quality version intended for concealed carry. 'CCO' stands for 'Concealed Carry Officer's model' - the Officer is a term for a smaller standard version of the 1911 frame. I recently got one. The DW CCO has the shorter grip Officer's frame and the shorter Commander's slide, which is the 'concealed carry' part.
I'm a relative n00b to firearms. Brought up in New York City, I had shot .22 at summer camp back in the day (early 1980s), but was not raised with firearms in the family and, in the city, had nowhere to really explore them. In 2012, I spent some months in a more rural area and after meeting a very nice gentleman who is into guns, I admitted to him that my fantasy was to own an M1 Garand because Medal of Honor. He obliged and found me a smoking deal on a 1943 Springfield, my first own gun. Several years later, I reside in a rural state, and I've started collecting. I had two handguns prior to this one - my first was a .22 Long Rifle target pistol, a SIG Trailside, and my second a surplus Israeli Browning/FN Hi Power (because I played TSR's Top Secret when I was kid - the BHP was the best gun in the game). I knew I wanted a 1911, and I had my sights set on a Colt Gold Cup National Match Series 70 - then I ran across a post on /r/edc where a gentleman posted an Imgur album of his EDC which included a Dan Wesson CCO. I was mesmerized. It just...it just...it just looked so damn good.
So I saved some money, and christened it 'Hipstergat' in my head, to remind myself that I was buying it purely for the aesthetics, be it all on my own head. Recently, I finally received it. Yesterday, I got to shoot it for the first time.
tl;dr - I love this thing. Love love love it. I have shot 1911s in the past - not much, but several. A heritage WWII Colt, a S&W 4506, a Rock Island, and a recent Colt. Although I have decent sized hands, I like the single stack - I have real trouble with the 5906s, although I'm OK with Glocks. I really like my Hi Power, both the feel and the look, so I was ready for a 1911.
The gun is, as others have noted when discussing Dan Wessons, rock solid. It is so tight that no amount of shaking will cause rattle, but the action is smooth and racking the slide doesn't take excessive effort.
Honest truth - I'm a terrible pistol shot, partly because I haven't really ever put any time into it, and partly because my eyes aren't what they were. No excuses. On the plus side, this means that seeing noticeable improvement doesn't take much time or effort, given how far down the curve I am. The first couple of magazines at 10 yards I was on the paper, but spattered around the 3x3 inch diamonds.
My first loaded magazine (the gun comes with two Dan Wesson-marked magazines, 7 round compacts as it's an Officer frame) I put the mag in, fully loaded, and tried to rack the slide. It blocked and wouldn't go forward. My heart sank. I ejected the mag and tried the other one, in case it was a mag issue. No go. I tried several times on each mag, without forcing, to get it to go into battery, without success. I was just considering downloading it to see if the mags were 'nosediving' when full, when I instead decided to try the mag release. It was stiff, being new, but, snap - right into battery. I have no idea why. It worked perfectly with both mags. Possibly the slide release was engaging even during the racking action? Was I racking 'too far'? I don't know. After that, it worked as I expected.
Once it was loaded, the gun fired 140 rounds flawlessly, using a mix of Winchester and Remington, both 230gr FMJ. Zero FTF, Zero FTE, no more problems loading. I have no idea what happened, there, but I'm sure it was me, not the gun.
By the third and fourth magazine, still at 10 yards, I was putting 6 of 7 into the diamond. I still had random flyers, because again, I suck. I tried two magazines of single-hand, and consistently shot to the left clearly pulling (slapping?) not squeezing the trigger (I'm right handed). With two hands in what I think is a Weaver stance (again, not trained) I was able to steadily improve, until by the end of the session, I was putting 6/7 or 7/7 into the diamond reliably unless I went to fast fire. Even firing 2x/second, I could put all 7 rounds into the paper, if not on target. The gun is clearly light-years more accurate than I am or probably will ever be.
The sights are large, three-dot sights. They're very easy to acquire on the all-black finish gun, at least in the bright daylight I was using them. I believe they're glow in the dark, but I haven't looked at them in low light. I had no trouble, even with my varifocal glasses, acquiring a sight picture.
After the 140 rounds, I field stripped and lightly wiped down the gun (I'd wiped it down prior to starting, wanting to be sure it wasn't over-lubricated - there was a lot of oil on the outside of the slide when it arrived - but it was fine). The carbon there wiped cleanly off the gun with zero effort, and it looks like it was never fired :-D (BUT IT WILL BE, oh yes indeed).
I don't have a holster for it as yet, so I haven't tried it for comfort. I don't carry firearms much, but this thing may change that, because it's so damn slick. When I first gripped it, the first time, it just sank into my hands and stopped. I didn't shift my hands at all. It just knew where to go. I know, I'm sounding hyperbolic, and I want to caution you that I'm not very knowledgeable or experienced, but this thing made me feel reassured, in control. It went where I pointed, in one hand or two, and the lack of rattle made me more confident in presenting.
Design and Construction
Others have talked about this gun online, on Youtube, etc. with far more knowledge than I can, but I'll give you a quick description. Basically, the CCO is a 'Concealed Carry Officer's model' - which means an Officer-sized frame with a Commander's sized (4.25") slide. The bottom back corner of the grip has the tiniest bob cut out of it, more for smoothing than anything else - I can't feel it when holding the gun other than to note the lack of a sharp corner. The frame is aluminum, which means the gun tips the scales at 27 oz - noticeably lighter than the other 1911s I have fired. The grips are laser-etched (I think) wood with the DW signature initials logo, and I think quite attractive.
As I said before, I have decently large hands (I'm around 6 feet, wide of shoulder and wide of gut). The CCO felt noticeably short, as the frame stops around my ring finger. It felt like it *should* be unstable, but it was not. I don't know if the 'chain-link' checkering on the front of the grip helped or not - it didn't feel like it should, but the gun did not move in my hands. After two magazines, I stopped noticing that it was smaller than a Government model, except that it was a bit snappier under recoil, which I put down to it being a 4.25" slide and aluminum, thus lighter.
The trigger. I wish I could wax enthusiastic about the trigger, but to be honest, I just don't have enough experience to be able to talk knowledgeably about it. I can say this - unlike nearly all other handguns I've fired, I didn't think about the trigger once while shooting it. I pointed the gun and it fired where and how I wanted it to with zero effort or thought. The reset was a bit hard to feel, but when I tried, I could easily hold, ease for the reset, and fire again with almost no motion. It's probably around 5 lbs, maybe a hair lighter, and of course Single Action only.
Likewise, I'm not going to talk about construction - forged, cast, MIM, etc, because I don't know what I'm talking about.
The grip safety managed not to pinch me in any way. I was aware of it when it engaged, but I didn't have to think about it or move my palm/web to engage it at all. It worked exactly as expected.
As I said before, I chose this gun over the Colt Gold Cup both for the size and even more for the aesthetics. I intend to buy the same Mitch Rosen Stylemaster rig as the original poster had, just because I love the way this gun and that rig look together.
The skeleton hammer is very easy to lower controlled (with gun empty, prior to re-casing, not with a round under it). The slide release and safety sit where I expect them - they're quite stiff, being new, but both operate without struggling. Again, as others have noted, one great thing about the Dan Wessons is the very understated rollmarks - other than 'CCO' and a maker's insignia on the frame, the pistol is unmarked. The finish is a half-matte black, of what sort I'm not familiar, but it doesn't mind oil and resists light scuffing (wood benches, resting on cartridges, etc.) I haven't used it hard yet, of course.
The magazines are stainless steel 7 round compact magazines. I believe they are branded Checkmate mags, but I don't know for sure. I plan to start trying to determine which magazines this gun likes so I can stock up on a few. If anyone knows/has a recommendation for magazines for this gun, I'd be grateful - I'd especially like to know if it's possible to get 8 or 10 round magazines with polymer base pads to use at the range.
I've only put 140 rounds through it, but I plan to put a ton more. I bought mine from Bud's online and had a trouble-free experience on their end (my local FFL had trouble getting them a license copy for shipping, but that's not their fault). This is my first 1911, but it won't be my last. I probably will still chase that Gold Cup in order to have a full-sized range model. This one? I may take it to train with, when I am able to do some training - despite having the 7-rd mags, it just shoots so naturally that I feel if I can train to shoot with this gun, I should actually do better with my Hi Power and other 9mms. I may be wrong, of course. In any case, if I ever actually do carry, this thing is lighter and smaller than my Hi Power, and shoots more naturally.
Update: I have carried this pistol in a concealed carry holster, inside waistband at the 4 o'clock position, for a couple of weeks. Although it was difficult to get used to as I have not carried a firearm before, after a day or two I honestly forgot I had it on except when sitting down or in other circumstances when the pistol bumped against something (car seat frame, bag I was carrying, etc.). I'm using a Kydex and leather paddle holster from an Etsy vendor named TSConcealment, form-fit for the 1911, without a separate retention system. The gun rides very well - it's of course heavier slightly than most polymer 9mm pistols, but the scandium frame makes the difference smaller than it might be.
The pistol draws very cleanly. The extended beavertail makes getting a firing grip on it almost unconscious as it comes clear of the holster; the safety lever is enlarged over the 'standard' Government 1911, and disengages with a very solid CLICK. It's a great feel - it's very stiff, to the point where it's difficult to imagine it moving due to accidental bump, but as soon as my left thumb is resting on it properly, it disengages positively under pressure, without forcing me to use enough muscle to twist the pistol in my grasp.
There are many opinions on what makes a 'good carry gun' and the Internet is rife with all of them. Especially given my lack of experience, I'm not going to bore you with mine. I will just say that this gun has not caused me any awkwardness as I have gotten used to carrying it, and has not shown any unexpected or inconvenient characteristics.