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When the Bren Ten pistol failed to be a
success back in 1986, many thought that the 10mm cartridge was
dead in the water. However, soon after, when Colt introduced the
Delta Elite and Smith & Wesson introduced their 1006 series
of auto pistols, the FBI briefly adopted the cartridge, and it
had a new life. The original Norma ammunition was powerful
stuff, and proved to produce more recoil than the FBI desired,
so they effectively castrated the cartridge by requesting a
weaker load, which lead to the development of the 40 S&W
cartridge. Were it not for ammunition companies like Buffalo
Bore and Double Tap, the 10mm Auto would likely be dead today.
However, with ammunition available that far outperforms anything
that the 40 S&W can do, the 10mm is one of the best auto
pistol cartridges that we can own.
While the S&W and Colt 10mm pistols went
out of production, Glock and EAA,
along with a few others, kept the 10mm alive with some very good
pistols that are built to handle the pressure and recoil of the
fine cartridge. Colt has recently re-introduced their Delta
Elite 10mm auto pistol, giving shooters another choice in a 1911
style 10mm pistol.
There are those who say that the 1911 design
cannot handle the 10mm auto cartridge, but that is just not
true. Set up properly, the design does very well, and is also
relatively comfortable to shoot. The same fine attributes that
endear the 45 ACP 1911 pistol to thousands of shooters carry
over into the Colt Delta Elite. The 10mm runs at about the same
pressures as do the 9x19 and 38 Super cartridges using modern
ammunition. The Delta Elite uses a dual-spring recoil system,
and I observed no battering of the frame, slide, guide rod, nor
anything else after shooting the pistol extensively with the
high performance ammunition listed below.
The Delta Elite is made primarily of
stainless steel. The sides of the frame, hammer, and slide have
a satin polished finish. The rest of the pistol has a
bead-blasted finish. The grip panels are checkered synthetic
rubber, and wrap around the front strap for a secure grip. The
Delta Elite has the Series 80 firing pin safety to prevent
discharge if the weapon is dropped on its muzzle. The pistol has
a single-sided thumb safety and a Commander-style (Rowel)
hammer. The grip safety is of standard configuration. The black
three-dot sights are not adjustable for elevation correction,
but the rear sight can be drifted in its dovetail for windage
correction. Critical dimensions are listed in the chart below.
Weight is listed in ounces. Linear measurements are listed in
inches. Trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance. Height
includes the sights and magazine base.
|Weight w/ Empty Magazine
Chronograph results are
listed in the charts below. Velocity readings were taken at a
distance of twelve feet from the muzzle, at an elevation of 541
feet above sea level, with an air temperature of seventy-six
degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of seventy-two
percent. I gathered together every type of 10mm ammo that I
could for testing. Bullet weights are listed in grains.
Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). JHP is a
jacketed hollowpoint. JSP is a jacketed soft point bullet. DPX
and TAC-XP are homogenous copper hollow nose bullets. PB is Cor-Bon
Pow’RBall. HCL is a hard cast lead bullet. GDHP is Gold
Dot hollowpoint, and GSHP is Golden Saber hollowpoint. Glaser is
a pre-fragmented bullet.
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Buffalo Bore FMJ
|Buffalo Bore HCL
|Buffalo Bore TAC-XP
|Double Tap JHP
|Double Tap GDHP
|Double Tap JHP
|Double Tap GDHP
|Double Tap GSHP
|Double Tap XTP-HP
|Double Tap FMJ
|Double Tap TAC-XP
Each of the loads shown above are real 10mm
Auto loads, easily beating the power and velocity of the 40
S&W by a substantial margin. Recoil can be brisk with some
of the heaviest loads, but none were painful nor even
uncomfortable to shoot in the Delta Elite. The Colt handles the
recoil very well, and getting on target between shots was quick
and easy; no more of a problem than with a decent 45 ACP load.
For accuracy testing, I secured the Delta
Elite into my Ransom Master Series
machine rest. The Ransom holds the pistol securely, and
eliminates shooter error, showing the potential accuracy of the
weapon, without regard to my shooting ability, or lack thereof.
The Delta Elite proved to be very accurate, depending upon the
particular load chosen. Five-shot groups at twenty-five yards
ranged from one and one-eighth to two and three-quarters inches,
with this weapon seeming to prefer the lighter weight bullets
for best accuracy. Still, even the heavy Buffalo Bore 220 grain
hard cast lead loads grouped into two and one-half inches, which
is still good accuracy at that distance. All of the lighter
weight loads grouped in the two inch or better range.
Functioning was one hundred percent, with each of the twenty-two
loads tested. Every cartridge fed, fired, and ejected perfectly.
The slide never failed to lock open on an empty magazine. There
were no hang-ups nor stoppages of any kind. Perfect.
I particularly like the lead-free all-copper
hollowpoint bullet loads from Buffalo Bore and Double Tap for
all purposes in the 10mm pistol. These Barnes TAC-XP bullets
used in this ammo expand quickly, yet hold together to penetrate
deeply. For those who like this bullet, but at a slightly slower
pace, Cor-Bon also loads this bullet in their DPX line of
Weighing in at two and one-third pounds, the
Delta Elite needs a good holster to carry it well. For concealed
carry use, a well-made inside-the-pants holster, such as the
Simply Rugged Versa Clip holster shown, easily hides the big
pistol. The Versa Clip can be worn inside the pants, outside the
pants, or as a tuckable holster, simply by changing the position
of the spring clips. The heavy-duty spring clips secure the
holster well, and there is leather between the flesh and the
pistol, protecting both from wear.
For my use, this Colt only needs two things.
The first would be to add a set of Master
Series Crimson Trace Lasergrips, for
use in low light. Second, and only because I am a
left-handed shooter, would be the addition of an ambidextrous
thumb safety. Both accessories are easy to install, and readily
The Colt Delta Elite 10mm 1911 pistol is a
pistol that would serve very well as a hunting pistol for
medium-sized game such as deer and hogs, and could also serve
for protection from large carnivores such as bear. The Delta
Elite is also a good choice for a fighting handgun, combining
all the fine qualities of the legendary 45 ACP 1911 with a more
powerful, modern handgun cartridge. Check out the wide variety
of Colt firearms and accessories online at www.coltsmfg.com.
For the location of a Colt dealer near you,
click on the DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.
To order the Delta Elite pistol online, go to
To order quality high performance 10mm
ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com,
To order a Simply Rugged holster, go to www.simplyrugged.com.
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