Gun Test: Dan Wesson Wraith 10mm
By Will Dabbs, MD, GUNS Magazine
Photos: Robert Jones/The Imagesmith, LLC
Webster defines manliness as “the traditional male quality of being brave and strong.” Proper manliness carries along with it an implicit ruggedness. It is our innate manliness that makes us covet stupid-huge pickup trucks and dive out of a helicopter into a crocodile-infested river.
Why all this talk of gender roles and the manly arts? Because the Wraith may just be the manliest handgun I’ve ever used. Browning’s original .45 ACP 1911 is a mule of a pistol. But the Wraith kicks everything up a notch. Tale of the tape? Barrel length is 5.75″, overall length is 9.5″ while the weight is 42.3 oz. Slightly above GI 1911 specs, but you’re not going to mistake its parentage for anything else.
The gun has all the obligatory cool-guy stuff. The action slides like snot across glass (not my most inspired metaphor, but an accurate one). The front and back of the grip are beautifully checkered, and the grip safety has a memory bump. The hammer is skeletonized, and the oversized controls are left-side only. There’s a mag funnel that sucks those fresh magazines right up.
The G10 grips are, well, grippy — like some kind of indestructible, desiccated reptile skin, while the top of the slide is nicely grooved to cut glare. The barrel is threaded for a suppressor, and the sights are elevated accordingly. The finish, however, is what really grabs you. For lack of a better descriptor, the whole gun just looks smoky. For a handgun named after a ghostly spirit or apparition, however, it’s perfect.
A tall front sight and a threaded muzzle indicate the Wraith is “suppressor friendly.”
Custom touches: Memory bump on the grip safety, extended beavertail, skeletonized hammer.
Although the 10mm may not have taken the world by storm as anticipated back in the Bren Ten days, it’s making a comeback in the Browning platform.
Will is a fan of the Wraith’s “grippy” G10 panels. The funneled magwell makes speedy reloads a snap.
The Wraith’s 10mm Auto cartridge was originally developed in 1983 in conjunction with the CZ -75/Jeff Cooper-inspired — and thoroughly radical — Bren Ten. It’s had a fascinating history. Despite some commercial ups and downs, the 10mm Auto is still in use around the world.
The FBI adopted it in 1989 in the aftermath of the Miami Dade County Shootout (a fascinating study for any student of armed combat). Offering more power than a .357 Magnum in a package that would reliably feed through an autoloading handgun, the 10mm Auto was a particularly manly cartridge. Alas, recoil was prodigious, and some of the Smith and Wesson 1026 pistols chambered for it were ultimately subjected to a recall. As a result the Bureau adopted a reduced-power 10mm round that ultimately morphed into the ubiquitous .40 S&W.
The 10mm Auto is one of the few straight-walled pistol cartridges widely accepted for hunting whitetail deer. FBI tactical units still use the round today, and HK has produced a big-bore version of the MP5 to run it. Additionally, the Danish Slaedepatruljen Sirius (Sirius Sledge Patrol — try saying that three times really fast) issues GLOCK 20s in 10mm Auto for defense against northeast Greenland’s polar bears.
John Browning initially crafted the 1911 pistol and its .45 ACP cartridge to put Muslim terrorists down quickly and efficiently, and his timeless design prevails even today. The recoil-operated action is both inspired and reliable, ultimately birthing most of the world’s modern tactical handguns. Dan Wesson’s gorgeous take on Browning’s timeless design flirts with art.
In addition to all the cool-guy stuff we discussed earlier, the Wraith’s match-grade barrel is threaded 9/16×24. I would have preferred the standard .578×28 used by most .45 ACP pistols, but nobody asked me. Alas, suppressor manufacturers will all make pistons in this thread pitch for their .45 ACP cans. Pick up a threaded barrel for your favorite .40 S&W polymer-framed handgun and you can run the same can on both guns.
The Dan Wesson Wraith 10mm is a big heavy gun that throws big heavy bullets fast. However, with the Gemtech can in place, it was surprisingly comfortable. Photo: Will Dabbs, MD
The superlative Browning-inspired controls and funneled magwell conspire to make the Wraith 10mm run fast. Photo: Will Dabbs, MD
Gemtech laid the very foundation for the modern sound suppressor industry. Their cans are in use with friendly LE and military units worldwide. Their flagship big bore handgun suppressor is the .45 ACP GM45.
The GM45 is a monocore design. This means the suppressor’s guts are cut from a single cylinder of 7075 aluminum. A great deal of science went into the details, but suffice to say, the resulting can is reliable, efficient and effective.
Various pistons can thread into the near end of the GM45 to accommodate a wide variety of handguns. You can even get a 9mm piston that will allow you to run the GM45 on your favorite 9mm pistol. The end result is a bit bulkier than the GM9, Gemtech’s standard 9mm can, but it nonetheless covers a plethora of guns with a single tax stamp.
The GM45 incorporates a Nielsen device for reliable operation on a Browning-inspired handgun. When properly maintained, such a rig simply will not quit. The end result is a package that will allow you to shoot, move and communicate comfortably and effectively.
Weights, brands (left to right): SIG 10mm 180-gr. V-Crown, Buffalo Bore 180-gr. JHP, Buffalo Bore 200-gr. FMJ, Buffalo Bore 220-gr. HCRN. Photo: Will Dabbs, MD
The 10mm Auto has had its day in the sun thanks to the FBI, but there yet remain any number of top-quality defensive loads available in this caliber. SIG churns out some veritably explosive defensive rounds titled the V-Crown from their state-of-the-art ammo production facility in Arkansas.
Buffalo Bore specializes in serious big-bore ammo, and this outing did not disappoint. We ran 180-gr. JHP antipersonnel bullets up to massive 220-gr. hard-cast howitzer rounds. The gun ran 100 percent with everything and hit like a freight train downrange.
Accuracy and chrono performance with loads tested definitely lived up to the 10’s considerable reputation. Buffalo Bore’s 180 JHP (1,433 fps, 1.5″ for the best 4 of 5 shots at 15 meters), 200-gr. FMJ (1,254, 2.25″) and 220-gr. HC (1,239, 1.4″) were showstoppers. But SIG’s 180-gr., V-Crown JHP (1,288, 1.4″) also delivered the goods.
The trigger on the Wraith has a predictable take-up and a tidy break. With the can in place the end result is a gun that is simultaneously both powerful and meek. The 10mm Auto round kicks more than the familiar .45 ACP, particularly in hot loadings, but the gun remains nonetheless accurate, flat shooting and comfortable.
The manual of arms will already be familiar to anyone currently reading this article. However, everything about the gun is preternaturally smooth and inoffensive. The slide reliably locks back on the last round fired, and magazine changes are fluid, seamless and cool. The frame and slide of the gun are made from good old-fashioned American stainless steel, so the gun is heavy but indestructible. For a hunting tool or home defense arm the 10mm Wraith offers something truly fresh and new. While the .45 ACP is an undeniably manly cartridge, the 10mm Auto is all the more so.
The gun comes with a spare magazine and each box holds nine rounds. If you can’t solve your problems with 10 rounds of high velocity 10mm hollow points then you should find some new problems. The gun’s prodigious recoil is nicely tamed by the weight of the stainless steel frame along with the added mass of the GM45 sound suppressor. Considering the 10mm Auto is an innately supersonic round, you won’t be sneaking up on anybody when you shoot it. However, should you be forced to discharge this weapon within the confines of an automobile or in the house you will not be nearly so deafened as would be the case without the can.
The Dan Wesson Wraith 10mm shot plenty straight with everything Will fed it. Both SIG antipersonnel rounds and the Truly Big Slugs from Buffalo Bore printed about 1.5″ at 15 meters (4 of 5) from a simple rest. Photo: Will Dabbs, MD
The Dan Wesson Wraith 10mm is sufficiently big and powerful to use hunting whitetail in many states and pigs most everywhere. Those same attributes that make the Dan Wesson Wraith a viable option for your next deer hunt make it a powerful home defense platform. Additionally, should you be willing to shoulder the burden of packing a serious firearm, no one wielding the Dan Wesson Wraith 10mm will ever be accused of bringing too little gun. For heaven’s sake, the Danes carry guns running this cartridge for defense against polar bears.
I packed mine for a while underneath my surgical scrubs just to see if I could. Doing so comfortably will require a decent carry rig, and Alien Gear makes a great one. Put up with the discomfort of a steel-framed 1911 launching polar bear bullets, and you’ll be properly prepared for quite literally anything the world might throw at you. The Dan Wesson Wraith is spooky, sexy, powerful and cool. With an MSRP of $2,375, it’s well within spec for a high-end 1911.