Dan Wesson Specialist 1911 Pistol Review: Old School Style with Modern Precision

Dan Wesson Specialist 1911 Pistol


Hello and welcome to my Dan Wesson Specialist review.

The Dan Wesson Firearms Company was originally started in 1968 by Daniel Wesson, great grandson of Smith & Wesson co-founder D.B. Wesson.

Dan Wesson was determined to build the best revolvers possible and early focus included large frame models including .357 magnum, .44 magnum and the SuperMag.

Revolvers would continue to be the company’s focus for over three decade, during which time the firearms they produced would become sought after by collectors and avid shooters alike.

A new direction

By 2005 the company had experienced several changes in ownership, eventually being acquired by CZ-USA, but their focus remained building the best firearms possible.

However, although they continued to produce a wide assortment of revolvers their new focus became developing high quality, precision semi-automatics – including an affordable tack driving 1911 design.  


Dan Wesson Specialist 45ACP Black 1913 Rail

Affordability was a priority as this project was not born of engineers testing their limits, it was the result of police officers demanding a 1991 style duty weapon that pushed the limits but did not break the bank.

Many of these officers had carried the original 1911 earlier in their career or while servicing in the military, but the available models were not able to keep up with high tech competitors.

Technology to the rescure

One of the biggest challenges associated with developing an affordable but custom level firearm is keeping the cost down without sacrificing quality.

After all, although the Specialist may eventually find itself at home in serious collections it was designed for the holster, and there was no point out pricing those who has asked for it to begin with.

But how was Dan Wesson supposed to provide hand fitted precision without the cost associated with time consuming gun smithing it requires? The answer was modern technology.

The production factory underwent a major renovation in the early 2000’s, at the same time the 1911 series was being developed.

Included in this renovation was a retooling of the production line and the addition of the latest in CNC equipment.

This new equipment would allow the production of high tolerance piece off the line.

Gone were the days of producing oversized parts and them handing them off to smiths who would painstakingly sand, grind and file them to a perfect fit.

While each piece would still be hand fitted far less retooling would be necessary, making the process far quicker. Less time equals less investment which in turn makes for a far more affordable end product.

Additional cost savings were possible because Dan Wesson did not attempt to produce all the parts and components in-house.

By partnering with other industry leaders such as Ed Brown, Heine, Wolff & Grieder they were able to include top end parts without the overhead. Again, keep costs down without sacrificing quality.

Dan Wesson Specialist Review: Fit & Feel

Speaking of end product, if you are carrying the Specialist for protection every day of your career how it was produced is of little concern. What you really care about is the end product. How does it all fit together, how does it feel in your hand and how does it perform. Does it measure up to what you expect for the price – or from a firearm bearing the Dan Wesson name? Absolutely.

Ambi Safety, Grip Safety

Ambi Safety, Grip Safety

The tolerances are not only tight they are precision like. While there are certainly collector level models with a greater degree of fit, you will be unable to detect the difference without mechanical inspection.

Ball End Mill Cut

Ball End Mill Cut

To the eye and hand this firearm has the appearance of a firearm one would expect to cost far more.

When it comes to comparing the Specialist to the original 1911 the only similarity is appearance. ​

Tactical Hammer

Tactical Hammer

Gone are the wiggles and wobbles once considered part of owning a 1911 are a thing of the past.

Also missing is the custom firearm break in period. The Specialist is at its best right out of the box, not 500-1000 rounds later. You could not ask for much more, but you will get more.

Fixed Night Sight

Fixed Night Sight

The Specialist is a full-size 1911 design chambered in either .45 or 9mm and ready for service from the time it leaves the factory.

The forged stainless-steel frame is available with both a stainless or Duty Black finish, making it perfect for the show case or the holster.

Frontstrap 25 LPI Checkering

Frontstrap 25 LPI Checkering

The Clark-style top rib, serrated side ribs and 25 LPI front strap checkering provide a secure grip whether shooting, reloading or manipulating.

Top Rib

Top Rib

Speaking of grip, the perfect one is almost natural thanks to the G10 VZ Operator II grips which force the hand into the 1911 trademark beavertail.

Long Solid Trigger

Long Solid Trigger

The Specialist is also real-life operator friendly with a detachable two-piece magwell, extended magazine release and ambidextrous thumb safety – all of which can be easily managed under stress, while wearing gloves or even when hands are wet or covered in sweat.



When it comes time to put rounds down range you will find the single amber tritium rear sight and green lamp & white target ring front sight make target acquisition fast & accurate- just how you need it to come out on top when your target is trying to shoot back. ​

However, should you want an additional edge the recessed slide stop, undercut trigger guard and 1913 Picatinny rail allow for hassle free mounting of a wide range of light or lasers.



Each is also shipped with two bump pad equipped magazines with an 8 round (.45) or 10 round (9mm) capacity.


  • Model: Specialist Commander
  • Caliber: 9mm, .45
  • Magazine Capacity: 10/9mm, 8/.45 ACP
  • Slide Finish: Bead Blasted, Duty Black
  • Frame Material: Forged, stainless steel
  • Grips: G10 VZ Operator II
  • Overall Length: ​

9 inches/Commander 9mm

8 inches/Commander Black

8 inches/Commander Black 9mm

8 inches/Commander .45 ACP

  • Barrel Length: 4.25 inches
  • Width: 1.45 inches
  • Weight: 40 ounces (unloaded)
  • Trigger: Single Action
  • Front Sight: Fixed, Night Sight
  • Rear Sight: Tactical, Night Sight
  • Safety: Ambidextrous thumb, grip
  • MSRP:

$1701/Commander 9mm

$2012/Commander Black

$2012/Commander Black 9mm

$1701/Commander .45 ACP

Check out BERETTA9mmUSA’s review of it too:


Could you buy a better 1911? Sure, if money is not option there is always something better available.

The real question is “Do you need a better 1911?”

Not if you are looking for a dependable, holster ready out of the box 1911 designed with the user in mind.

This firearm was not designed to sit in a show case, it was designed to ride on a duty rig. It is also designed to be used and used accurately.

All of this is what you get and you get it for an MSRP far below what show case models will cost, and you will get a firearm worth far more than you paid.

If you are in the market for a 1911 beast with a little bit of beauty hidden inside then the Specialist is the firearm for you.

Dan Wesson Specialist 1911 Pistol


Hopefully, this review of Dan Wesson Specialist will help you in your decision. If you want a review for any gun, feel free to leave a comment below!

1 thought on “Dan Wesson Specialist 1911 Pistol Review: Old School Style with Modern Precision”

  1. Hi
    Great review, tbut this model you reviewed is the older, discontinued specialist 1911. Dan Wesson have a newer specialist version with a lot of updates. Hope this is helpful.
    PS the newer version is even more beautiful.


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