Colt Delta Elite 10mm Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 16th, 2012

 

 

Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

 

 

Delta Elite comes with hard case, instruction manual, two magazines, and cable lock.

 

 

 

 


Checkered synthetic rubber wrap-around grip panels.

 

 


Top to bottom: magazine release, slide lock, thumb safety, grip safety.

 

 

 

 


Eight-round magazine.

 

 

 

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.

Chambering 10mm Auto
Weight w/ Empty Magazine 37.4 oz.
Trigger Pull 4.73 lbs.
Barrel Length 5.03"
Barrel Diameter 0.577"
Overall Height 5.42"
Overall Length 8.55"
Slide Thickness 0.915"
Grip Thickness 1.28"
Trigger Reach 2.81"
Magazine Capacity 8 rounds
Magazines Supplied 2

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.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore JHP 180 1390
Buffalo Bore FMJ 200 1252
Buffalo Bore HCL 220 1180
Buffalo Bore TAC-XP 155 1502
Double Tap JHP 135 1667
Double Tap GDHP 155 1491
Double Tap JHP 165 1335
Double Tap GDHP 180 1363
Double Tap GSHP 180 1312
Double Tap XTP-HP 200 1279
Double Tap FMJ 200 1264
Double Tap TAC-XP 125 1582
Cor-Bon PB 135 1355
Cor-Bon DPX 140 1367
Cor-Bon DPX 155 1222
Cor-Bon JHP 135 1490
Cor-Bon JHP 150 1225
Cor-Bon JSP 180 1313
Cor-Bon FMJ 200 1122
Cor-Bon Glaser 115 1545
Winchester JHP 175 1297
Handload JHP 165 1279

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 ammunition.

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 available.

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 www.galleryofguns.com.

To order quality high performance 10mm ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com, www.doubletapammo.com, and www.luckygunner.com.

To order a Simply Rugged holster, go to www.simplyrugged.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

 

 


Simply Rugged Versa Clip holster.

 

 

 

 


Excellent accuracy.

 

 

 

 


Dual-spring recoil system.

 

 


Firing pin safety.