September 11, 2023
No, Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. You have heard of Dan Wesson’s DWX before because it was announced years ago. In fact, a prototype of the DWX Compact model was revealed to Guns & Ammo at the 2019 Outdoor Sportsman Group (OSG) Roundtable. There, several of us were asked for our opinion and feedback. Mostly, we had positive things to say, but an alteration to the thumb safety was among our suggestions. The DWX Compact, which had a 4-inch barrel and aluminum frame, was announced in 2020. I even reviewed a sample for “Handguns” magazine, but the gun never went into production.
For 2023, the DWX is back, and it hasn’t just been announced — it’s in production and shipping! This handgun is a single-action-only (SAO) semiauto chambered in 9mm. The DWX was designed to combine the best aspects of both the CZ 75 and the 1911. CZ owns Dan Wesson, which is how this amalgamation was possible.
Of course, the CZ 75 has great ergonomics, the capacity of a double-stack magazine and wonderful reliability. On the other hand, the Model 1911 has the best shaped and positioned thumb safety, which is very important for a SAO pistol. And the 1911’s trigger pull is the standard by which all other pistols’ triggers are judged. The DWX is truly a combination of both designs. How so? There are many parts on the DWX that are interchangeable with both the standard CZ 75 or a DW1911.
At the time of this writing, Dan Wesson is only manufacturing the full-size DWX. Yes, the DWX is currently only available as seen here: Red-anodized aluminum trigger, grips and magazine basepads. It does accept standard CZ 75 grips, though, so you could replace that and the magazine basepads if you wanted a different look.
The DWX is a full-size all-steel gun with a 4.95-inch barrel. (DW, you couldn’t have rounded up to 5 inches?) When the DWX was first announced, there were plans for full-size models in both 9mm and .40 S&W, but since that time the .40 S&W cartridge has accelerated its slide into oblivion while the 9mm became even more popular. So, the DWX is only available in 9mm for now, but that’s not likely to change. Even though it is a new model, the folks at Dan Wesson proved their smarts: The DWX is fed using the widely available P-07/P-09/P-10 F mags. What does that mean? It boasts an incredible 19-plus-one capacity.
Why would a Dan Wesson feed from CZ magazines? As mentioned, CZ bought Dan Wesson in 2005. In fact, they are now both part of the Colt CZ Group, which also includes 4M Tactical, BRNO Rifles, CARDAM, Colt, Colt-Canada, Colt CZ Defence Solutions, CZ-USA, EG-CZ Academy, Spuhr and Vibrom.
The barrel has an aggressive target crown and sits flush with the end of the slide and dustcover. An M1911’s slide rides outside of the frame’s rails, and the barrel typically has both a bushing and a swinging link. With a CZ 75, the slide rides inside the frame, and the bushing-less barrel locks up with the breech without the use of a link. With the DWX you get a combination of the two. The slide rides outside the rails like an M1911, but it uses a bushing-less barrel with a CZ 75-type lockup. The ramped barrel is unique to the DWX, too, and had a flared end to more tightly mate with the slide. The DWX has an external extractor with a spring (like a CZ 75), unlike the internal, tensioned and sometimes finicky extractor design of the M1911.
The top of the slide is flat and serrated. The front sight is steel with a green fiber-optic insert, which is easy to spot in any light. The front sight uses a modern M1911 dovetail. The steel rear sight is basic black and serrated, but there is a click-
adjustable screw on top of the rear sight to allow elevation adjustments. The rear sight is secured in the dovetail by two set screws; loosening them allows the sight to drift in the dovetail for windage corrections. Then, lock it back down. The set screws are a nice feature. Anyone who has spent a lot of time putting rounds downrange through handguns has likely had a rear sight come loose in the dovetail.
The only marking on the slide is a subdued “DWX” on the left side above the slide stop, which is low in profile but slightly extended. If you ride the safety with a proper thumb-high hold (as you should), you won’t accidentally touch the slide stop.
Let’s talk for a second about aesthetics. Whether you like the look of a 1911 or the CZ 75, you should find the appearance of the DWX pleasing. It looks like what it is, a cross between the two. I don’t know if the red grips, trigger and magazine basepads will sell more or less of them, but CZ has a history of doing this with its high-end pistols, often naming them after the color accents: TS 2 Orange; Shadow 2 Black & Blue; and, of course, the Czech Mate Parrot that wore red-, green-, yellow- and purple-anodized parts. I like the red/black look of the DWX, but I also think Hawaiian shirts look awesome, so take my style preferences with that in mind.
The frame offers a full-length Picatinny rail with seven slots. That’s more than enough room to accept any pistol light, including Streamlight’s 1,000-lumen TLR-10. Full-length dust covers like this grew as much from a competitive shooter’s desire for more weight at the front of the gun to tame recoil as it did from a tactical user’s needing a place to attach a light, as well. It is functional, yes, but it does add weight.
Unloaded, with an empty magazine in place, the DWX weighs 2 pounds, 13 ounces. That’s as much as a Government Model-size 1911 with a rail. Dan Wesson doesn’t specifically state that the DWX was designed for competition, but given its size, weight, trigger, and 9mm chambering, it’s ideally suited for that role. It will be competitive in any action pistol sport with a division to accommodate it. It accepts oversize magazine wells meant for the CZ TS/Czechmate pistols, too.
The black satin finish on the frame and slide is diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated, which is a generic term for several types of nanocomposite finishes. DLC coatings are corrosion resistant, hard, and have low friction properties. They are a better choice versus the bluing we’ve seen with other M1911s and CZ 75s.
This pistol has a single-action-only (SAO), recoil-operated system. There are always new readers subscribing to this magazine, so allow me give a quick summary: For this pistol to fire, the hammer has to be cocked. If the hammer is down, it won’t. The DWX has a bilateral manual thumb safety with nicely extended levers. With the hammer cocked, the safety can be engage by pushing it up. If you’re going to carry an SAO gun for self-defense, you should carry it “cocked and locked,” as they say. Therefore, you can draw and fire it with one hand, in one smooth continuous movement. Even though the DWX has a grip profile closer to that of a CZ 75, the thumb safety appears to have come from a DW1911. Both its position and function feels like a 1911’s, which is great. Unlike a 1911, though, this pistol has no grip safety. (That should satisfy all of those gunfighters who used to pin or weld the 1911’s grip safety.)
Both the front and rear of the frame sport raised 25 lines-per-inch (lpi) checkering, which is actually not as aggressive as the checkering on the thin aluminum grip panels. The magazine release is extended and checkered, too, as is the front of the squared triggerguard. Conclusion? Your hands will not move on this pistol while shooting it.
The magazine well opening is also beveled, so both of the 19-round magazines (featuring bright red basepads) find their way neatly into the magazine well.
No specs were provided for the trigger pull, but Dan Wesson previously told G&A that they expected it to run between 31/2 and 41/2 pounds. The trigger on our sample measured a crisp 31/2 pounds.
I first put rounds downrange through the full-size DWX at a Colt/CZ event hosted by Gunsite in Arizona. It was soft-shooting and the trigger made it easy to shoot fast and accurately. The DWX is more than accurate enough for any role. The slide-to-frame-to-barrel fit was superb — tight but not too tight. Our samples ran flawlessly. Dan Wesson has been producing near custom-grade 1911s, and the DWX is just as well done. The price tag reflects that, but you get what you pay for.
There was no bigger advocate for the 1911 than G&A’s Col. Jeff Cooper, but he also wrote glowingly about the CZ 75. He liked that it could be carried cocked-and-locked — he was no fan of the DA/SA operating principle — and, he liked the humpbacked grip, which was very ergonomic and had the same grip angle as the 1911. Cooper liked the grip profile of the CZ 75 so much that he modeled the grip of the infamous Bren Ten after it. He also had small hands, appreciating the short reach to the trigger when it was in single action; same with the DWX.
Neither design is without flaws. The 1911 isn’t as reliable as many modern guns, especially when chambered in 9mm. Single-stack capacity is also lacking. Plus, the standard CZ 75 has a DA/SA trigger system, and a lot of people don’t like that transition from DA to SA either; the reach to that first double-action shot is too long for many. Most shooters would also agree that the CZ 75 safety was poorly shaped and positioned.
The DWX is meant to correct all of those shortcomings for both designs. In my opinion, it does — superbly. The DWX is a great gun and I hope Dan Wesson has plans to release additional models soon.
Dan Wesson DWX
- Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Capacity: 19+1 rds.
- Overall Length: 7.5 in
- Barrel: 4.95 in.
- Width: 1.5 in.
- Height: 5.85 in
- Weight: 2 lbs., 13 oz. (tested)
- Finish: DLC (steel); anodized, red (aluminum)
- Grip: Aluminum, checkered pattern
- Sights: Steel; green fiber-optic (front); black, notch, adjustable (rear)
- Trigger: Single action only; 3 lbs., 8 oz. (tested)
- MSRP: $2,099
- Manufacturer: Dan Wesson, 800-955-4486, danwessonfirearms.com
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