When first introduced in the early 1980s, the 10mm AUTO cartridge took the firearms world by storm. Shooters, especially LEOs, wanted a semi-auto pistol cartridge that provided more stopping power than the 9x19mm and improved on the ballistic characteristics of the .45 AUTO. Perhaps the biggest boost to the 10’s popularity came when the FBI adopted it along with the S&W Model 1076 pistol. After using the S&W Model 13 revolver loaded with the .38 Special cartridge as the previous standard, many FBI agents found the heavy recoil of the 10mm AUTO undesirable despite the power advantages. Eventually, research resulted in the development of the .40 S&W cartridge, which is essentially a 10mm with a shorter cartridge casing.

Now the .40 S&W cartridge is the principal caliber used by LE in the U.S. Although the 10mm AUTO cartridge never achieved the popularity of the 9mm, .40 and .45 calibers, it has always enjoyed a great reputation among many in the shooting world and has recently sparked renewed interest among target shooters and hunters. With 10mm AUTO jacketed hollow point ammo such as the 175-grain Winchester Silvertip and the 180-grain Federal Hydra-Shok being readily available, the 10mm AUTO is also appealing for personal defense use. Tactical Weapons offers a look at some of the current handguns available in the hard hitting 10mm AUTO cartridge.

Colt was one of the original firearms makers that recognized the potential of the 10mm AUTO cartridge. They were the first company in the United States to successfully manufacture a pistol chambered for 10mm AUTO on a large scale. Known as the Colt Delta Elite, the pistol was an adaptation of Colt’s tried and true line of Colt Government Model M1911 pistols. After several years of being out of production, the Colt Delta Elite has recently been re-introduced by Colt’s Manufacturing Company. The frame, slide, and barrel are made using forged stainless steel, resulting in a robust and visually appealing pistol. Both the slide and wrap-around rubber grips are adorned with the Delta Elite medallion just like the first production models. Other distinctive features include a combat hammer, aluminum trigger, and white dot sights.

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January 2011

When first introduced in the early 1980s, the 10mm AUTO cartridge took the firearms…