A Bear Of A 10mm
Dan Wesson’s Longslide Bruin Is An Autoloading
Equalizer For The Great Outdoors.
By Massad Ayoob
Photos: Joseph R. Novelozo
I put the sights dead on the blue steel gong 100 yards away, held the rough-gripped pistol snug on the sandbags and pressed the trigger. The bang was instantly followed by a ting. I was beginning to bond with this big 1911.
The pistol in question is the Dan Wesson Bruin, chambered in 10mm Auto and built around a 6.3-inch barrel with proportionately lengthened slide. Our sample (SN 1602682) was finished with blue-black slide and a bronze-colored frame. The upswept beavertail grip safety and the slightly extended, right-hand-only thumb safety were both well adjusted. On a Lyman digital trigger gauge from Brownells, the pull weight averaged 5.15 pounds. The trigger press offers a short space of light resistance before reaching “the wall,” followed by a crisp release and no palpable backlash.
This handsome pistol has interesting “sculpting.” A slight rib is machined along the top of the slide, finely grooved lengthwise to break up any reflection. Slide-grasping grooves are angled in homage to the Colt Gold Cup, front and rear. I don’t care for front grooves, but at least with the long barrel, they’re farther back from the business end than with a standard-size 1911. The G10 grip panels are cut in the form of chunky little squares, each of which have their own tiny vertical serrations.
Front and backstraps of the grip frame have fine checkering. The lower rear corner of the butt has been rounded, not so much as on the widely-copied “Bobtail” Ed Brown defined, but enough to break the edge and contribute to the Bruin’s distinguished appearance.
The power of the 10mm Auto has been exaggerated to an almost comical degree on some Internet gun forums so, naturally, has its recoil. With the additional barrel/slide mass, the Bruin weighs 43.9 ounces unloaded, more than a 1/4-pound heavier than a standard Government Model .45. And that does seem to dampen recoil, as does its 22-pound recoil spring.
Recoil is largely subjective, but as a rule of thumb, if you have otherwise-identical pistols in .45 ACP and 10mm Auto, the recoil of the 10mm with a full power load will be roughly the same as the “kick” of a .45 ACP +P round. With this heavy bruin, the general consensus of the test team was full-power 10mm kicked in the Bruin about the same as a Government Model with standard-pressure 230-grain .45 hardball. In short, the team—consisting of about half-a-dozen experienced shooters—was unanimous in finding the Bruin to have less recoil than expected.
The “Tens” of the 1980’s got a bad rep for durability when enthusiasts shot them heavily with full-power ammo. The original Bren Ten had a reputation for breakage. Friends of mine who used their 10mm’s extensively with hot loads reported peening in early Colt Delta Elites at around 3,000 rounds, and in the rugged S&W 1006 between 5,000 and 10,000 rounds.
With its 6.3-inch barrel the Longslide Bruin is one imposing semi-auto with the
power and accuracy potential to match. Under the Bruin is a CRKT Chogan Tomahawk.
I talked with Keith Lawton, vice-president of Dan Wesson Arms, about estimated service life and how often recoil (and firing pin) springs should be changed on the Bruin.
Said Lawton, “It is hard to give a set number because each user is different and shooting different loads. The owner should really pay attention to the gun. When they start to experience failures to feed, extended ejection distances and the like then they should look into a recoil spring change. Someone shooting a constant diet of heavy loads will need to change the spring more often than someone shooting lighter loads. For the full-size gun, I still recommend that around the 2,500 round mark they start to pay attention to it. Springs are relatively inexpensive so they are really cheap security. Firing pin springs are a much lower stressed spring and do not require changing nearly as often. I would recommend changing them every 2 recoil spring changes.”
Lawton adds, “The spring weight is 22 pounds and made of chrome silicon—like all of our recoil springs—which has much better performance than standard music wire recoil springs. I went with the 22-pound to accommodate the heavier loads so often used today. Only supercharged, heavy bullet-weight loads may need a 24-pound spring, but I generally don’t recommend these loads as there is nothing in the USA that can’t be taken down with a 165/180-grain load. All of our 5-inch 10mm’s use the same recoil spring and weight. The added weight of the slide and barrel on the Bruin help to absorb some of the recoil and make it more pleasant to shoot.”
The 10mm Auto cartridge is a versatile one. We benched it with 5 loads by 4 different makers with as many different bullet weights. At 25 yards from a bench rest, 5-shot groups were fired, each measured once for all 5 and again for the best 3 therein, which time has proven to give a good approximation of what all 5 rounds would likely have done from a machine rest. We measured farthest shot to farthest shot, center to center between the holes, to the nearest 0.05 inch. Results were as follows:
The sights include a tritium fiber-optic front (above) and a fully adjustable rear (below).
The blue/black slide and bronze-colored frame make for a handsome and distinctive 2-tone effect.
• Buffalo Bore Hard Cast 220-grain FN took accuracy honors with 5 hits 1.20 inches apart—the best 3 of those in 0.60.
• Federal’s Trophy Bonded 180-grain JSP hunting load punched 5 holes in 1.80 inches—its best 3 in 1.05.
• Hornady Critical Duty 175-grain put 5 shots into 1.55 inches—with the best 3 in 0.65. The older-line Hornady XTP 155-grain JHP gave us a 2.05-inch 5-shot group, planting its best 3 in 9/10ths of an inch.
• SIG Elite V-Crown JHP is a relative newcomer to the market, but has proven itself already to be accurate. In 180-grain 10mm configuration, the V-Crown finished with 5 shots in 2.15 inches, the best 3 in 1.15 inches.
A pistol designed for hunting is likely to be deployed at distances greater than the traditional 25 yards. So I tried the Bruin from a Chapman roll-over prone position 50 yards from the target. Wanting to use a hunting load, I chose the Federal Premium Bonded JSP, simply because it was the one hunting load of which I had the largest supply.
From the 50-yard line, the Bruin put all five Federals in 3.25 inches. The best three of those were 1.65 inches apart. It was time to add another 25-yard increment.
Right at 75 yards from my main backstop stands what was once a deck for an above-ground swimming pool (it now serves as the World’s Shortest Sniper Tower). I went prone here once more, but the angle wasn’t right and I had to lift my head off my arm and shoulder a bit. This is my sniveling excuse for not shooting well. The whole group of 5 shots measured 9.90 inches. That included a called flyer, which should never be held against gun or load, and an uncalled “gut shot.” It is to factor out such unnoticed human error that I take the second measurement of the Best 3. In this case, those measured a face-saving 3.40 inches.
I had figured on finishing the testing at 100 yards, but about then the skies opened, and it was my last day at home before a trip to teach a class in the Midwest. So the Bruin went along for the ride.
After the class, Austin Gibbons and I took the Bruin to the 100-yard line at the shooting park/gunsmithy/gun shop that is Sand Burr Gun Ranch in Rochester, Indiana. At the berm was a blue-painted steel gong measuring 8×12 inches. I estimated some trajectory drop, held high, and missed. Aiming at a spot on the plate from my sandbagged rest, however, I was rewarded by 5 consecutive tings of those 180-grain Federals striking the steel. The bullet strikes measured just under 8 inches apart. The Bruin was giving me point-blank sighting: from in-close to 100 yards. The lesson? Put the sights on point of aim and you’re going to hit the target.
Grouping is only one element of accuracy. The other is point of aim/point of impact. Though the Bruin comes with adjustable sights, I never once had to put the screwdriver to them. The test pistol had come out of the box already sighted in. New shooters wouldn’t believe how often this is not the case with a new handgun. Clearly, the folks making these Dan Wessons are making sure they leave the factory shooting where they look. That is worthy of a big thumbs-up for their quality control.
Needless to say I was very pleased with the Dan Wesson Bruin’s accuracy in every respect.
The Bruin came out of the box sighted to keep them all in the black at 25 yards
and proved consistently accurate with all 5 test loads. Photo: Gail Pepin
Long-Barrel 10mm Velocities
How much velocity does the 6.3-inch barreled Bruin add to 10mm rounds? We tried the same 5 loads over a Chrony II at Sand Burr Gun Ranch.
• Buffalo Bore’s claimed velocity for the 220-grain Hard Cast load, as listed on the box, is 1,200 fps. We averaged 1,204.8 fps.
• Federal Trophy Bonded 180-grain JSP is advertised at 1,275 fps. With the Bruin it averaged 1,307 fps.
• Hornady promises 1,266 fps (yes, they get specific) for their 155-grain XTP. From the Bruin things were bettered dramatically. We averaged 1,436.8 fps for a whopping 170 fps increase. Their Critical Duty load with its 175-grain FlexLock bullet promises 1,150 fps. We averaged 1,167 fps.
• The SIG Elite V-Crown 180-grain JHP is rated at 1,250 fps. We averaged 1,289.4 fps.
Conclusion? The long-barreled Bruin guarantees you’re going to meet or exceed nominal 10mm velocities.
We don’t employ gunbearers in this country, so carry comfort is a consideration. Any outdoorsman who’s taking a powerful handgun afield is going to have to be tolerant of some weight. Concealed carry may seem a non sequitur with a hunting handgun, but it really isn’t. You don’t want to leave it unprotected in camp or cabin when you go into town for dinner, and many outdoorsmen don’t care to frighten hikers they meet on the trail.
Leather for longslides is thin on the ground, but I got by nicely with 6 days of carry in an IWB rig by Elmer McEvoy of Leather Arsenal and an old Bianchi X15 shoulder holster. A Yaqui Slide rig was tried and discarded—the Bruin’s muzzle tended to protrude from under concealing garments, and for all-weather outdoor use, a holster exposing the muzzle can result in a plugged barrel if you fall in the mud or squat in the snow to examine tracks.
I didn’t get a chance to go hunting with the Bruin, but I sent it along to Mark Hampton, who is going after a hog with it. Stay tuned for his further adventures with the Dan Wesson Bruin in our sister magazine, American Handgunner.
Stripped to its essentials, the Bruin is strictly 1911. Only there’s a bit more of it!
The G10 grip panels (below) feature small squares, each with its own tiny vertical
serrations. The lower rear corner of the butt has been rounded, but not to the extent
of a “Bobtail.”
Overall perks and quirks? The Bruin demonstrated great controllability and practical accuracy. I loved the sights which could be described as “ruggedized” BoMar clones with a Trijicon rear and tritium fiber optic front. One of the two furnished 8-round magazines would not eject cleanly, nor would a Colt Delta Elite magazine.
Reliability was 100 percent with everything but the Buffalo Bore Hard Cast 220-grain load, which would occasionally fail to go completely into battery, though a light bump on the back of the slide always cured that. Since DW’s Keith Lawton had warned us beforehand that the Bruin needed a heavier spring to run heavier-than-standard 10mm rounds, I can’t hold this against either gun or ammo.
The lower outer edge of the G10 grip panels were sharp, occasionally irritating bare arms that bumped it while holstered. Overall build quality, action smoothness, etc. were fully commensurate with the Bruin’s tariff of $2,195.
If you have a need to ruin a bruin, Dan Wesson’s big 10mm might just be a shoo-in.
Mas demonstrates Bruin’s controllability with a 10mm hunting load.
The circle shows flying brass. Photo: Gail Pepin
OVERLEAF: Sharing the spotlight (literally) with the Bruin is the Streamlight Siege Floating
AA Lantern with Magnetic Base. At 75 yards (above), again with the 180-grain Trophy Bonded,
Mas feels he got a bit sloppy. Photo: Gail Pepin. Leaves fly through the gun smoke and the Bruin
recoils to the right as Mas shoots (below) from prone at a 50-yard makeshift hog target (arrow).
Photo: Gail Pepin
The Federal Trophy Bonded 180-grain JHP load showed its stuff at 50 (above) and 100 yards (below).
At 100, no “hold-off or “hold-over” was needed. Mas shot both from prone. Photos: Gail Pepin
The Bruin was tested with these 10mm factory loads, ranging in bullet
weight from 155 to 220 grains. Photo: Gail Pepin
Longslide Bruin 10mm
Maker: Dan Wesson
65 Borden Ave.
Norwich, NY 13815
Action: Locked breech, single-action, semi-auto
Caliber: 10mm Auto
Barrel length: 6.3 inches
Overall length: 9.7 inches
Weight: 43.9 ounces
Material: Forged stainless steel
Sights: Tritium fiber-optic front, adjustable night rear
Grips: Textured G10
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