Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dan Wesson Guardian - Photo Review.

I managed to have to some time this morning to detail strip my DW Guardian #51.  I bought the Guardian because I like to have similar guns to the .45ACP 1911's that i have.  I was thinking of a few options to do this, such as building one from a Fusion frame kit, buying a STI Ranger II then bob-tailing it, or having the Springfield Custom Shop build one for me.  Before I made up my mind, the Guardian was announced and that sealed the deal.

The Guardian is a bob-tailed Commander length 1911 with a forged alloy frame.  The frame finish is hardcoat anodize, which is similar to the finish of AR-15's.  The slide is forged carbon steel with Dan Wesson's new "Duty Treatment" finish.  The Duty finish is supposed to be a ceramic type coating, but Dan Wesson remains secret about their Duty Treatment.

The front strap had 25lpi checkering, which provides a secure grip.  While I prefer 20lpi, the 25lpi is better than the 30lpi that I had on my Kimber.  In this photo, you can also see that DW uses Check-Mate mags, which 2 are included with the Guardian.

The fit is on the top end of "Production" guns, though some place the Dan Wesson's in "Semi-Custom" territory, wherever you want to place it DW did a great job.

The sight's are Novak cut sights that I believe are made by Champion/Kensight, which is the same company that Brown and Baer use.  The rear dot's are yellow instead of the typical green.  While I will replace the rear sight with a 10-8, the yellow appear's slightly dimmer than the green front dot.  This effect is due to the color spectrum, with the human eye picking up green easier.

It has an Ed Brown grip safety, but the beavertail itself is slightly thicker than the one on my Kobra Carry, which may be due to a design change.  You can see in this photo that the rear sight has a gap between the frame.  It doesn't bother me since i'll replace the rear sight anyway.

On thing that I noticed is that DW marked the MSH to the gun it was fit to.  Unlike other manufacturer's that scribe the number's onto the parts, DW etches them.  This shows the attention to detail when they build a gun.

The barrel uses a ramped barrel, which seems like standard practice on alloy framed 1911's and is fit to the slide nicely.  There is no sign of "springing", locks up tight and the barrel/bushing/slide fit is tight, but not overly tight.

I noticed that the ejection port is slightly lower than the one on my Kobra Carry.

The bushing is an EGW Thick bushing, and can be removed without a bushing wrench.  The barrel O.D. and the bushing I.D. are both .580", which should produce accurate groups.

The machining was nicely done, and the slide operates smoothly.

You can see the etching on the slide showing which frame it was fit to.
The firing pin stop is squared off with a slight bevel, as opposed to the radius type.

The ejector is extended and pinned.

Removing the grip panels, I found Hogue manufacture's of the grips for Dan Wesson

Small parts are nicely done, which minimal machine marks.

Trigger pull out of the box was 3Lbs. 12oz. on a 10 pull average.
The hammer, sear and disconnector are are tool steel.
The hammer hooks were .020", which is what I like to bring long hammer hooks down to.

Some internal pics.

Range Report

150 rounds of Blazer Brass (115gr)
150 rounds of Remington green/white box (115gr)
50 rounds of Speer Gold-Dot (124gr +P)
I also brought WWB, but unfortunately it was .45ACP and not 9mm.
All ammo fed reliably, even during double and triple taps.

The magazines that i bought were 2 of the following:
Factory Dan Wesson (Check-Mate) mags
Wilson Combat ETM's
Metalform/Springfield 9mm.
There were no issues with any of the magazines used.  I'll use either the factory or Springfield magazines when I carry the Guardian since they are flush with the bottom of the grip/frame.

The Shadow grips and 25LPI frontstrap checkering provided adequate grip, though i prefer something with more bite.  I have large hands and didn't find the slim grips to be too small.  Since the MSH is smooth, i thought that i would want it checkered for better grip.  I may replace it, but don't think it will be an issue.

The sights were Novak style 3 dot night sights, which is common on 1911's.  The Guardian's POI (Point Of Impact) at 15yrds was right on top of the front sight, similar to the dot on an "i".  The rear sight will get changed to a 10-8 rear.  There is nothing wrong with the factory sights, I like all my 1911's to be similar

The factory trigger is a medium curved Videki style trigger.  Like other curved 1911 trigger's my finger started to get tender by the end of the range visit.  I'll change the trigger out for my usual "Quack" (flat) trigger.  Trigger weight was 3Lbs. 12oz.  I'll measure the trigger again after the mythical 500rds.

Slide Stop
I usually don't use the slide stop as a slide release, but as I had mentioned in the photo review, the slide stop has a nice shelf on it as would make it easy to release the slide with the right-hand shooters thumb.  The slide stop was easy to use when performing a slide lock reload and there were no feed issues when doing so.

Shooting the Guardian was as I expected.  It ran without any problem's with the various mags and ammo used.  The Guardian balanced nicely in the hand and even though it's an alloy frame, the recoil was minimal, even with the +P ammo.  Double-Tap's and transitioning between target's seemed to be faster (I don't have a timer) than shooting my Kobra Carry, but this would make sense since it is a 9mm as opposed to a .45ACP.  The spent cases ejected properly and I never got hit in the forehead by a hot case.

It's pretty darn accurate, it really is.  Shooting was done un-supported with a "Combat Grip" and in a 2 handed isosceles stance.  Here's a quick phone pic of the last 5 rounds (Gold-Dot) that I shot for the day at 15 yards.  The the flyer was the 1st round.  I believe i used the slide stop as a release to chamber the first round.  I didn't shoot at 25 yards because there isn't any lighting that far back at the range i go to.

Overall I feel that the Guardian is a great value.  It's well built, reliable, accurate and priced right.  If this is how all Dan Wesson's are, I now understand the whole COTEP thing.


  1. great review, been pondering one of these myself.

    thanks a lot.