The Dan Wesson DWX, Tested and Reviewed
The long-awaited DWX is a sleek, smooth, and highly-refined blend of the CZ 75, 1911, and P-10 designs
By Tyler Freel | Published Apr 14, 2023 12:11 PM EDT
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The Dan Wesson DWX was first announced in 2019 as an idealistic blend of CZ 75 ergonomics and 1911 function. Both pistols are popular worldwide, and the DWX, or the idea of the DWX, cultivated in a pitched anticipation among pistol shooters well before the first ones hit the shelves. The rollout was delayed, but as of now, the Dan Wesson DWX pistols are shipping out to customers.
Pistols based on collaborative and blended-design are nothing new. Favorable features are often borrowed from successful designs. The VIS P35 that my grandpa brought back from Europe at the end of WWII is a beautifully-shooting Polish mash-up of 1911 and pre-production FN/Browning Hi-Power features. After occupying Poland, the Germans liked it well enough that they kept making the P35 and started issuing it to their own troops.
Dan Wesson has been under the CZ banner since 2005, and they’re known for producing top-end 1911s. The CZ 75 is one of the most popular handguns worldwide. They have great ergonomics, a low bore axis, and are smooth shooters. A derivative of that line is the TS 2 Racing Green that we tested last year—a gun that won our editor’s choice in the 2022 handgun test. CZ’s single-action pistols are recognizable by their characteristic grip contour, a deep frame, low-riding slide, and a cantilever trigger.
The 1911 and CZ 75-type pistols are distinctly different in many ways, but the Dan Wesson DWX aims to skim the cream from both designs and give us something wonderful. Did they pull it off?
The Dan Wesson DWX is a semi-automatic, single-action 9mm pistol that’s built with competition in mind. Although the primary influences in the DWX design are the 1911 and CZ 75, there are also some features derived from the CZ P-10 striker-fired pistols. The fusion of features is a significant departure from each individual design, and gives us a truly unique pistol. It exhibits a high level of fit and finish, with quality coatings, and well-executed features like a flush, gently-crowned muzzle.
The slide on the Dan Wesson DWX is based upon their 1911 design and features smoothly radiused edges and a ribbed top. The slide has simple and effective cocking serrations on front and rear, and it uses CZ-style dovetail drift-in sights. The front sight is a narrow post with green fiber optic. The rear sight is a Dan Wesson branded, fully-adjustable, serrated black notch sight, that looks similar to what you’ll see on CZ 75’s and P-10’s.
The Dan Wesson DWX has an external extractor that’s like those on the P-10 pistols, and the barrel design is also borrowed from the P-10. Unlike the 1911, which has a rotating barrel link, or the CZ 75, which has a channel for the slide stop pin to drop the breech during extraction, The DWX barrel looks much more like that of striker-fired pistols. It has a squared chamber, and lacks the locking lugs atop the barrel that both the CZ 75 and 1911 have.
There’s no barrel bushing or spring plug, and the DWX uses a simple non-captive, full-length guide rod like the CZ 75. This makes it easy to swap recoil springs if a shooter wants to fine tune the pistol for a particular load.
The most notable “CZ” feature of the Dan Wesson DWX is its grip. The grip shape and texture are characteristically CZ, and in addition to the knurled aluminum grip scales, the front strap and mainspring housing both have aggressive checkering. Unlike the 1911, there’s no grip safety, and the DWX is compatible with CZ 75 aftermarket grips. Aftermarket CZ shadow grips work too, but the VZ grips CZ 75 grips I tried seem to fit better.
Some of the most obvious departures the Dan Wesson DWX takes from the CZ 75 are a shallower frame and different slide rails. The CZ 75 and similar pistols have a deep frame in which the slide and barrel ride low. The DWX frame is proportioned more like a 1911. The slide rails of the CZ 75 point inward, meshing with outward-facing channels on the 75’s slide. The DWX slide rides on the outside of the slide rails with inward-facing channels—like a 1911.
Unlike the standard 1911 or CZ 75, which have the slide rails machined into a one-piece frame and grip, the serialized component of the Dan Wesson DWX is an insert that includes the front and rear slide rails, 1911-style disconnector, and ejector. It’s fitted into the top of what we’d traditionally call the frame, and secured at the front by the slide stop pin. We see a similar non-homogeneous design in 2011 pistols like the Staccato P and Staccato CS, but what we could call the “grip module” of the DWX includes the dust cover, a full-length seven-slot Picatinny accessory rail, and the flat-faced 1911 trigger. The Grip modules of 2011-style pistols are usually polymer, and house the mainspring and trigger, but not the dust cover or accessory rail.
The DWX comes with two 19-round steel magazines that have red anodized aluminum baseplates. Rather than single-stack, 2011-style, or CZ 75-style magazines, the pistol uses CZ P-10F magazines. Any serious shooter will want to have more than a handful of magazines, and at $30, the P-10F mags are about half the price of good CZ 75 magazines. They’re durable and easy to disassemble and clean.
Unless the CZ 75 ergonomics disagree with you, you’ll find that the DWX is superb in the hand. The grip contour and texturing are well thought out, and strike a balance between finesse and aggressiveness. The knurling on the scales and frame provide excellent traction, but can feel a little harsh if you’ve got soft hands. The grip circumference is just a little small for me, and a set of VZ CZ 75 palmswell grips made it a perfect fit.
The long beavertail allows a high, secure grip, and the 1911 controls are easier to reach with the thumb than on some other pistols like the 1911, CZ 75, and TS 2. The ambidextrous thumb safety is crisp, but easy to operate, and there’s no wobble or play on either “safe” or “fire” positions. The slide stop on the Dan Wesson DWX sits far enough back for me to easily operate without breaking grip or using my support hand. The DWX also has an extended, knurled magazine catch button that drops magazines freely with ease. Fully-loaded magazines don’t seat effortlessly, but they aren’t difficult to lock in.
The DWX is a dream to shoot, it draws smoothly from the holster, and is a natural pointer. The trigger isn’t exceptionally light (3 pounds, 6 ounces on my sample), but it’s crisp and has a good reset. Recoil impulse is soft, and with a good grip, the sights fall right back onto target as the slide locks into battery. It’s just as easy to hit IPSC-size targets at 50 or even 100 yards as it is to clean Bill drills at 7 yards. I’d like to see it with a good optics cut, but for now, it’s a great option for iron sight competitive classes such as Limited in USPSA or Steel Challenge.
I had the unique opportunity to test two different DWX pistols: one at our 2023 gun test, and the other independently. I’ve fired approximately 1,200 rounds through mine, and our test team put at least 1,000 rounds through the other. The Dan Wesson DWX is a tight-fitting pistol, but even in the break-in period, I didn’t see any malfunctions. I fired a wide variety of ammunition, from 115- to 147-grain bullet weights, and both ball and hollowpoint defensive ammo. Everything ran.
After 1,000 rounds, there is perceptible play between the slide and slide rails, but the gun runs smoother than an oil slick, and it doesn’t seem to affect accuracy at all. We fired 20 groups for record at our gun test, bag-supported on a tripod from 15 yards, and the average of the top 10 groups from the DWX was 1.27 inches.
The DWX is a superb shooter and it has an excellent grip and controls, and left-handed shooters will appreciate the ambidextrous safety. It has good sights, and would make a great competition gun.
An optics-mounting system would make the DWX more versatile. For a competition gun, the accessory rail is a bit unnecessary, but perhaps we’ll see future models that are optimized for carry or self defense.
Yes, the Dan Wesson DWX is currently being produced and rolled out, but demand is high.
The Dan Wesson DWX is not a 1911, but it utilizes several 1911 features, such as the trigger, safety, slide stop, and slide shape.
Yes, CZ acquired Dan Wesson in 2005.
The Dan Wesson DWX is a niche competition and range pistol, and isn’t as practical for defensive purposes. Still, it’s a phenomenal firearm, and the more I shoot it, the more I like it. It’s a steel-frame gun that can compete with many 2011-style pistols, but with more refined ergonomics and cheaper magazines. The long-anticipated release drummed up lots of demand, and although the MSRP of the DWX is a very fair $2,100, They’re currently selling for anywhere between $3,200 and $4,200. If you want one, they’re absolutely worth buying, but I’d hold out for something closer to the suggested retail price.
Read Next: How to Clean a Pistol
Tyler Freel is a Staff Writer for Outdoor Life. He lives in Fairbanks, Alaska and has been covering a variety of topics for OL for more than a decade. From backpack sheep hunting adventure stories to DIY tips to gear and gun reviews, he covers it all with a perspective that’s based in experience.
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