Dan Wesson Co Bobtail .45 ACP 1911 Pistol Review

A Concealed Carry Officer, the Dan Wesson Co Bobtail .45 ACP handgun is a quintessential 1911 with beauty and function!

Over the years many arguments have raged on when it comes to the 1911 pistol as a concealed carry piece. Two long-standing points of contention are the length of the barrel and the composition of the frame. Many simply carry full-sized all steel guns with no issues. But for many there remains a desire for a smaller pistol with the same advantages of the design, and more importantly the use of the venerable .45 ACP cartridge.

The first in this line was the Commander-sized pistol, which has a 1911 Commander frame with a 4 to 4.25-inch barrel. For many the inch-shortened barrel works well as it does not adversely affect accuracy, it is controllable and has the benefit of being reliable. Some will disagree, but I have never had a quality Commander-length pistol not work as well as any full-sized pistol. Nor have I experienced any appreciable loss in accuracy at concealed carry distances that wasn’t attributable to the shooter. There is also the added benefit of not losing any capacity, as it maintains the standard frame. This design has withstood the test of time and only improved with better manufacturing and materials, as a Commander pistol with an alloy frame is considerably lighter. Although it’s made in many calibers, the .45 remains the most popular. For many this is about perfect for concealed carry, but for others, an even shorter barrel was required.

The next step in the evolution is the Officers model, a design that incorporates a 3.5-inch barrel and a shorter grip.

This results in what many believe to be an easier pistol to conceal, but also results in one less round in the magazine. They are lighter weight and fit in some places a full-sized pistol will not, but many of the early guns were not reliable. To be honest, in many if not most cases it was probably the operator as short barrel guns require a firm hand no matter who makes them. Where a shooter may not have an issue with a full-sized pistol, any “issues”—weak grip, poor stance, or poor presentation—will all show more easily with a shortened autopistol. On the other hand, the nature of a gunfight presents just such stances and issues. As Clint Smith so nicely put it, “The gunfight is not what you make it, it is what it is!” Essentially, your survival depends on your ability to adapt to reality, not video game fantasy.

Errors typically manifest themselves as a failure to eject or failure to feed. In some cases it was the shorter barrel design, as physics just make it more difficult when the slide moves less. It requires stiffer springs and tighter overall tolerances. The first one I ever purchased required a “tune up” to run duty ammo, and that was on a $1200 pistol in 1999! For many, an Officers model left too much to be desired, and they would stick to Commander or full-length pistols. When the Defender came out with its even shorter 3-inch barrel, many just wouldn’t go for the shorter 1911 pistol.

Aluminum Frames

In addition to barrel length, the other principal argument in the 1911 world is whether an aluminum frame will hold up to “real use.” First of all, real use on a concealed carry weapon for the vast majority of shooters is about no use at all. The idea that most shooters out there shoot regularly is simply a myth. Most gun purchasers fire their weapon a few times and never use it again. And as ammunition continues to get priced off the planet, it becomes even worse. Given this reality, a pistol that will stay accurate and reliable for, say 10,000+ rounds, far exceeds anything most people will do in a lifetime.

I took a brand new aluminum-framed Commander model and did just that. In fact, I grew tired of testing the thing after about 12,000 rounds. Working in a gun store with a range, as well as the ability to shoot “store ammunition” daily made this possible, though I doubt many people could do that today. After all that, it was still accurate, still reliable, had no signs of breakage or damage and was as good as the day I took it out. I replaced return springs twice over that time, but other than that, not a thing was altered. Over that time it was mostly FMJ, but there were several hundred rounds of various defense loads as well as some really hot stuff. I gave that pistol to a friend who shot it for years with no issues. That was in the late 1990’s, so with today’s metals and manufacturing I chalk it up to the need for people to argue. I have no problems with any of my polymer pistols or those with aluminum frames.

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There were a few companies that tried, a Commander-length slide on an Officers’ frame. This seemed to be the “quintessential concealed carry 1911,” as it solved most of the reliability issues using the longer slide, it was not harder to conceal due to barrel length, and it offered the smaller “print” of the Officers’ frame. Depending on how you dress, that little bit on the grip can be significant. Having carried an Officers model as a secondary pistol in an ankle rig for years, I can attest to the fact that it’s rather large for ankle carry. In climates where light clothing is in order, “butt print” is a real problem for concealability. Given any one of the three sizes in my typical inside-the-pants rig, it is the butt that is the easiest to pick up. Nevertheless, this seemed to be the perfect solution. Initially they did not really catch on but it seems they are coming back, and I’m glad to see it.

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  • Kelly Stewart

    I have been a Colt fan for years and being a dealer, have the pleasure of carrying many different brands. I just purchased the Dan Wesson CCO and after adding an Ed Brown full length guide rod, Wilson Combat 20# commander spring and Shok Buf, this thing shoots sub 2″ groups at 25 yards no problem. Unbelievable quality for a production pistol. Hats off to the folks at CZ for this one, dead on.