Revisiting the Dan Wesson Patriot .45...
Hello. Almost exactly four years ago, I got a stainless steel Dan Wesson Patriot pistol. Initial shooting proved the pistol to be utterly reliable with any and all JHP ammo I tried, be they handloads or commercial. Likewise, the pistol gobbled up 200-gr. CSWC's, including some designs that can balk in more than a few 1911-pattern pistols.
The only problem that can be attributed to the pistol was that the MIM magazine release broke very early on. Dan Wesson promptly sent me another, but I choose a Brown for replacement.
Though a commercially produced pistol, the DW Patriot was "proofed." This means that each was tested for accuracy and had to shoot 5 shots into less than 1.5" @ 50' before they would leave the factory. Included with the Patriot was a laminated proof target.
Shown with the instruction manual is the proof target that accompanied my Patriot. The group is well under 1.5 inches.
The DW Patriot boasted a forged frame, fitted match barrel and bushing, and an external extractor. The latter is a topic of heated discussions, but this one worked fine and continues to do so. That said, I personally prefer the traditional internal type. I have not kept up with all of the DW 1911-type handguns, but it appears that they've pretty much gone to using internal extractors. Given my druthers, this Patriot would have one, too.
The barrel chamber is tight and is not tolerant of poorly loaded, out-of-spec ammunition. It has never malfunctioned with any factory load, but some slightly too long 200-gr. CSWC handloads did fail to chamber; that was my fault. With the same bullets, but loaded to 1.25", chambering and feeding is perfect.
Initial sighting in was easy and the sights remained stable, holding zero w/o fail.
Shooting from a rest with wrists sandbagged, I came close but never have shot a 15-yard group as small as the proof target. The Patriot grouped nicely in the beginning and continues to do so.(These groups were fired during the initial shooting of the gun 4 years ago.)
During the four years that I've owned and shot the Patriot, I would estimate about 4K rounds have been fired. Most have been 200-gr. CSWC handloads or standard pressure 230-gr. handloads and factory rounds.
The pistol has held up nicely. Wear, really more like burnishing, is even on the frame and slide. There remains some lateral and vertical play between the slide and frame, but it is minimal. The barrel-to-slide fit remains solid and tight. The slide remains well-centered with no rub marks on either side at the lower front as can be seen on some pistols when this portion of the slide touches the inside of the dust cover during recoil.
I have made a few changes to my DW Patriot, but very few.
I replaced the FLGR with the conventional GI recoil spring guide and end cap.
Grips were replaced, as was the plastic mainspring housing.
I also replaced the front sight. The original was not pleasing to my eye in either shape or width. It was also a bit high, requiring that the rear adjustable sight be elevated more than I like. I replaced it with a lower one that is also a bit thinner.
In this picture, you can see the original front sight that came on my Patriot.
Here is my Patriot as it appears today.
I took the pistol to the range yesterday and fired a few groups with ammunition that has proven accurate for me in this pistol as well as others. Only handloads were used.
The first consisted of a 200-gr. Precision (coated) SWC loaded over 5.0-gr. Bullseye in mixed, fired cases, and ignited with a Winchester large pistol primer. From this gun, average velocity is 891 ft/sec with a standard deviation of 10 ft/sec. LOA is 1.25". (I usually get about 860 ft/sec with this load in most 5" guns.)
The second uses Remington's 230-gr. Golden Saber over 6.3-gr. Unique and ignited with the same primer. Average velocity is 870 ft/sec with a standard deviation of 14 ft/sec. LOA: 1.22".
This was my best group using the Precision 200-gr. CSWC, which was fired standing and with a two-hand hold at 15 yards.
Results with the 230-gr. Golden Saber handload were good (for me) and had almost exactly the same POI as the CSWC at 15 yards.
At 25-yards, I fired a group while seated and with my wrists braced and as with the previous two shown, it was done in slow-fire.
I fired two groups with the 200-gr. Precision bullet handload at 25 yards. The first group was poor and was my fault. I was thinking about a "Beltbuster with cheese" and not shooting. I managed to focus my thoughts to what I was doing and got a nice group with the Patriot. Obviously, the pistol has more than enough mechanical accuracy for most of us and can meet my own perceived needs easily.
Yesterday, I contacted Dan Wesson via CZ via email. My question was whether or not the external extractors for the Patriot were still available…even though I bought two extras shortly after I got the gun 4 years ago. So far, I have no answer and don't know if they are or not.
A few months ago, I decided to see if a new "Colt Competition" slide could be fitted to the DW Patriot frame w/o too many problems. Some fitting was definitely required, but the job was not difficult. A big surprise for me was that the DW bbl and bushing actually fit the new slide snugly! Using a blue marks-a-lot I checked lug engagement and things are fine! (These slides were sold a few years ago and could be found at CDNN as well as other places. The ejection port was not lowered. I had this one done by a gunsmith who then dropped the slide in the bluing vat.)
Here is the Colt Competition slide on the DW Patriot frame. The bbl and bushing are from the DW.
All of this is nice, but the question remained about not only function, but where the POI would be with regard to this slide's fixed sights.
I got lucky…real lucky! The fixed sights in this combination turned out to be perfect for me, both vertically and with windage. Usually, such is not the case for me.
I will shoot the DW Patriot with the factory slide/bbl that came with it, but it is nice to know that should I somehow break all three extractors and no more can be found, I'm not out of business with this gun; I'll just slap on the Colt slide.
Four thousand shots is not many to some shooters and three lifetime's worth for others, but so far the DW Patriot appears to be capable of holding the course. I am not a fan of stainless steel pistols, but will use this one for times when I'm likely to be sweating on the gun or in inclement weather. I could do without the forward slide serrations, but the gun works and has proven itself a shooter. For those concerned about possible galling, I have seen absolutely none. I believe that this problem was solved years ago.
This DW Patriot proved itself useful over the years. This "table doe" was popped with the pistol using a 200-gr. Hornady XTP loaded over 7.2-gr. Unique. Average velocity was 991 ft/sec.
In my opinion, DW built the guns nicely for production line pistols. The slide glides smoothly though not so "velvet smooth" as on a slide that has been fitted and lapped. The trigger pull has remained constant and breaks at between 4.5 and 5-lbs in my estimation. More importantly (to me), it breaks cleanly.
Would I buy one today if I could find one? That depends upon the price, the condition of the pistol, and whether or not Dan Wesson is still supplies the external extractor.
Mr.Camp you have wrote one of the best reports I have ever read. Thank you for sharing so much good information with us. My hat is off to you Sir.
Hello and thanks. I'm glad it was of service.
PS: I was asked on another forum a few minutes ago if DW's quality has declined. I have no knowledge of this one way or the other. If anyone does, I'd appreciate your observations.
I too enjoy your in-depth and thorough reports. I'm a frequent visitor of your site.
I can't speak for DW 1911's at all though.
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