Introduced in 1987, the Delta Elite is the original 1911 to be chambered in the 10mm cartridge. This time-tested Colt uses a Series 80 firing system as well as a standard grip safety and thumb safety. This gun is old-school for sure, but it’s built to be reliable. The Delta Elite uses a dual recoil spring system, which is similar to the system found in the CQBP that Colt supplies to the U.S. Marine Corps, to help dampen felt recoil. Additional old-school styling includes an armed mainspring housing and rounded, Commander-style hammer.
The Titan is an all-steel, high-capacity 1911 that offers 14+1 rounds of raw firepower. Nothing about the Titan is subtle: rugged night sights are recessed into the slide, snake scale serrations are positioned forward and aft on the slide, G10 competition grips, tactical rail, and a magazine well that swallows magazines whole. The triggerguard is squared off, giving the Titan rakish aesthetics and the trigger is flat faced. Dan Wesson packs the full-size Titan full of features.
The heir apparent to the Bren Ten is the Witness Full Size built by Tanfoglio in Italy and imported by European American Armory (EAA). Like the Bren Ten, the Witness series of pistols, including the 10mm variant, is based off of the legendary CZ 75 platform. The Witness is a heavy-duty version of the CZ 75 and features an extended beavertail frame, a DA/SA trigger and an exposed, knurled hammer. The EAA import updates the model with a integral accessory rail.
Designed for hunting and competition, the G40 Gen4 In MOS Configuration has a 6.02-inch barrel to help wring out the most velocity from the 10mm round. This long-slide pistol is also one of Glock’s new MOS Configuration models, which allows for the quick attachment of a red-dot optic. It’s also a Gen4 variant, so the different grip insert sizes come with and without beavertails to fit most hands. Even when fully loaded with 15+1 rounds, this Glock is relatively lightweight at only 40.14 ounces. This is a gun that’s easy to carry and has less felt recoil due to its polymer frame.
The Custom TLE (Tactical Law Enforcement) series of pistols are built to perform thanks to their match-grade barrel and bushing and trigger pulls set at 4 to 5 pounds. Built with a steel frame, the 30-lines-per-inch (lpi) checkering on the front gripstrap ensures an operator retains positive control during rapid fire. The pistol uses a firing-pin block that is deactivated by depressing the grip safety. The three-dot tritium night sights offer enhanced target acquisition in low-light environments.
Para USA’s Elite LS (Long Slide) Hunter features a 6-inch, match-grade, ramped barrel and bushing. The frame and slide are stainless steel for a durable steel-to-steel operation. The pistol is also includes an EGW HD extractor for more reliable shell extraction, an oversized and flared ejection port, and an extended and flared beavertail grip safety. The front sight uses a fiber-optic tube to suck up available light and the rear sight is fully adjustable.
The TAC Ultra FS is made in the Philippines and built to maximize the performance of the 10mm cartridge. Designed for competition use, the TAC Ultra FS has the features of a top-of-the-line race gun, like a fully ramped barrel, a full guide rod, an extended beavertail, an ambidextrous safety, a beveled magazine well, and a 4- to 6-pound trigger pull. The full dustcover gives the TAC Ultra more heft to help reduce recoil. I have personal experience with this beast and have found it be very accurate and reliable, especially for the price.
The P220 Elite Stainless pistol has an extended beavertail frame with frontstrap checkering, three-dot SIGLITE night sights and a 4.4-inch barrel. The toothy Rosewood grips help give a user good grip and traction when touching off those big-bore rounds. The trigger is single action only (SAO) so the pull is crisp and clean. For this build, Sig consulted with Bruce Gray of Grayguns who is well known for his work on 10mm conversions. The cliché is true: This new P220 is designed to perform right out of the box!
The Perfect 10 from STI International offers a 14+1 round capacity with a flush-fitting magazine. This full-sized pistol is built on STI’s Modular Steel 2011 polymer grip frame, which allows for a double-stack capacity without the added girth. The Perfect 10 sports a full dustcover with a full Picatinny rail for mounting accessories. The internals are engineered to be robust, as the pistol uses a heavy 22- to 25-pound recoil spring with a two-piece guide rod. With a flared mag well, an extended high-ride beavertail, a long, curved trigger and an ambidextrous safety, the Perfect 10’s got the goods to back up its name.
The CQB pistol is the backbone of Wilson Combat, and when chambered in 10mm it offers all the reliability and performance one expects from this custom builder. The pistol carries an accuracy guarantee of 1 inch at 25 yards thanks to the fact that the 5-inch, stainless, match-grade barrel and bushing are hand fitted, as are the carbon steel frame and slide. Features include a high-ride Bullet-Proof beavertail grip safety, a contoured magazine well, frontstrap checkering, a rear Battlesight and a fiber-optic front sight. My experience and expectation with any Wilson Combat pistol is that no matter the caliber, it will be reliable and accurate.
The official SAAMI name is the 10mm Automatic. The cartridge was the brainchild of Jeff Cooper, who wanted better external ballistics than the venerable .45 ACP provided. Cooper wanted a round with more downrange energy while still using a heavy, big-bore bullet. When the 10mm cartridge debuted in 1983, Norma was the only factory to offer the round and the company of Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises had the only pistol, the Bren Ten.
The Bren Ten was based on the CZ 75 pistol. What the Bren Ten and the 10mm cartridge did was offer a pistol with the power of the .41 Magnum revolver in a pistol the size of a beefed-up CZ 75 with good round capacity. It seemed like a perfect match. Even Colt released the Delta Elite, a 1911 chambered in the 10mm in 1987, but the popularity of the 10mm waned until the disastrous 1989 FBI Miami shootout.
Analysis of the shootout revealed that the agents involved were vastly under gunned. The FBI adopted the 10mm in the S&W Model 1076 shorty afterward. But there was a problem. The 10mm was difficult for agents to control. The 10mm Auto is serious firepower with noticeable felt recoil. The solution was to load the 10mm light to reduce felt recoil, which defeated the purpose of the 10mm Auto in the first place. As the story goes, the light 10mm load was more efficient when redesigned as the .40 S&W, which skyrocketed in popularity within LE circles. The 10mm might have become obsolete if it continued its impotent existence, but ammo companies loaded the round as it was intended—to carry full-bore, wrist-cracking power.
Gun companies continue to offer rugged, well-made 10mm pistols, and a few devoted shooters experience the 10mm as Cooper intended: a big-bore, hard-hitting round packaged in pistols with sizable capacities. The round is as serious for defense as it is suitable for hunting medium-sized game. All hail the 10mm! Here are 10 prime examples of semi-auto pistols that bring out the 10mm’s true potential.
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