Modern Options in a 1911

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Modern Options in a 1911

The wild hog stood broadside at 25 yards. I lined up my optic’s red dot on the boar’s vital zone and squeezed off the first shot. And then I fired off shots No. 2 and 3 and saw I had a sub-1-inch group going, so I quit shooting.

Of course, this was a wild boar target not the real thing, so shots #2 and #3 were easy enough to take shooting from a rest at my outdoor range. I’d started my shooting with the intention of firing a five-shot group for my review of the pistol — a 5 Tactical Optics Ready 1911 in 10mm Auto manufactured by Devil Dog Arms. But seeing that group I knew: All another two shots would do is widen the group.

And for a hunting firearm, a three-shot group informed me of the very pragmatic reality of the 5 Tactical Optics Ready 1911. This is a hell of an accurate and functional 1911 for the hunter. Actually, it was a hell of a 1911 in general, perfect for home defense, the range, open carry and, yes, hunting.

Devil Dog Arms has been making and selling 1911s for several years now, but really hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves as a first-rate manufacturer of the iconic 1911 pistol. I’ve reviewed and used a number of DDA handguns over the past three years and was very impressed with the quality of these handguns. And being a handgun hunter myself, I asked for a review unit as soon as I heard DDA was building the 5 Tactical Optics Ready in my favorite handgun hunting caliber, the 10mm Auto.

A Modern Take

My 5 Tactical arrived with a one-piece optics plate and rear sight. I decided to mount a Trijicon SRO optic onto the pistol, and all this required was for me to remove two screws from the plate at the rear of the slide, and then mount my SRO onto the plate. The slide of the 5 Tactical I received for testing was cut specifically for the SRO/RMR optic footprint. (Of note, on the DDA website a customer can select which optic they want their pistol cut to fit.) 

The DDA 5 Tactical features a 5-inch stainless steel barrel, a frame made of domestic cast steel, and a slide cut from domestic 4140 bar stock steel. It was a solid pistol, sporting G10 grips that provided a very secure hold even with 10mm recoil. The trigger was crisp and reset quickly. And the two magazines the pistol came with held eight rounds of powerful 10mm ammunition, for 8+1 capacity.

A 1911 purist might be a bit put off by DDA’s Custom Flat Top design with 45-degree angles cut into each of the sides, a threaded barrel for a suppressor, and a rail under the barrel to attach lights and other accessories. But I appreciated the looks and the functionality of this more modern take on the 1911.

At 10 yards firing offhand, the DDA pegged 1-inch groups easily with a variety of 10mm ammunition brands.

Then I moved onto 25 yards. Shooting from a rest I was able to record groups that averaged 2.0 to 2.25-inches with both Sig Sauer and Winchester range ammo. In a good number of those groups, three of the shots measured 1.0- to 1.25-inches.

Then I switched to the newer Solid Core 10mm. Designed by Federal Premium to penetrate, Solid Core bullets are coated in Federal’s Syntech polymer jacket, which reduces fouling and friction. Federal built these hard-core, high-antimony lead bullets with flat-points to drive deep and punch through thick skin and rock-hard bones without coming apart and losing energy. Exactly what I would need for my Texas hunts in pursuit of big, wild boars.

I shot off a few Solid Core rounds at the target I had already in place and was hitting at or near the bullseye. So, thinking of my upcoming hog hunts, I set up a Boar PREGAME Splattering Target from Birchwood Casey and drilled the above-mention three shots, which came in at a very impressive 0.68-inches.

I was convinced.

Good Options

DDA 1911s come in a variety of models and sizes. I was also very impressed with was the 3.5 Standard 1911 I reviewed. The “3.5” designation refers to the length of the match-grade barrel, at 3.5-inches. However, the frame on the 3.5 Standard is actually that of a full-size 1911, meaning the 3.5 Standard also uses a standard-size magazine with 8+1 capacity in 45 ACP (my reviewed model). The 3.5 Standard is also made in a 9mm version for a 10+1 ammunition capacity.   

Traditionally, the full-size 1911 with a 5-inch barrel, generally known as the Government model, and the somewhat shorter Commander with it’s 4.25-inch barrel, both feature full-size 1911 frames (there are internal differences between the two models, including rail sizes and slightly different placement of the impact abutment).

Yet, the more compact Officer 1911 with its 3.5-inch barrel historically had its own, smaller frame. Not the case with the DDA 3.5 Standard, and the full-size frame also translates into full-size grips for better stability while shooting.

My 3.5 Standard featured a Cerakote finish in Flat Dark Earth. Other features included a heat-treated and machined frame, built from 4140 domestic investment cast steel. The slide was also heat-treated and machined from domestic billet steel and sported the DDA custom flat top with the 45-degree side design.

Deep oversized front and rear serrations aided in racking back the slide. Front and back straps were etched in very tactile 22LPI checkering. The DDA 3.5 Standard had a manual safety on the left, back side of the frame, as well as a grip safety just below the bobtail. The front post sight was pinned and had a white dot, while the Kensight rear sight was drift-adjustable, with white dots on either side of the notch.

Shooting the DDA 3.5 Standard at 7 yards offhand, I averaged five-shot groups of between 1.25 and 1.5 inches with three different brands of 45 ACP ammunition, while a best group came in at just under 1 inch. From the rest at 20 yards, I was able to average 2 to 2.5 inches with all three brands of ammo. DDA offers the 3.5 Standard in a Black Oxide or Boron Nitride finish, in addition to the Cerakote FDE finish of my test pistol. It was not only a sharp-looing 1911 — it was a pleasure to conceal carry, too.

Sales Help

Devil Dog Arms has its manufacturing facilities and main office in Geneva, Illinois.

If you think your customer base might appreciate the 5 Tactical in 10mm, Cole Quarnberg, DDA’s director of marketing and public relations, suggested sales staff stress that the 5 Tactical Optic Ready in 10mm is ready to hunt right out of the box.

“We recently took the optics-ready 10mm on a media hunt for exotic rams, and a 60-yard, well-placed shot anchored a ram right where he stood,” Quarnberg says. “The 5 Tacticals are very well built, and the optics-ready feature gives you a better chance for an ethical kill. The standard 5 Tactical 10mm (non-optics ready) comes with upgraded fiber optic sights that work very well, too.

“And let your customers know that 10mm bullet and ammunition selections are great and steadily expanding, for hunting, plinking and self-defense. Oh, and the 5 Tactical and the 10mm are also fine choices for someone who hikes or packs into the backcountry and wants a handgun to fend off bears and other predators.”

For in-store marketing help, DDA offers their dealers banners, counter mats and just about anything custom they might need, depending on the FFL’s buy quantities and sales volumes.

“We also own a T-shirt company, so we can custom make shirts, hats and swag for the dealer to give away and promote DDA,” Quarnberg adds. “For the shirts, we put the FFL’s logo on one side and our DDA logo on the other.  And we can design and make just about any other soft goods for DDA promotions.” 

DDA sells direct to FFLs, and dealer prices go down as the FFL orders more units.

“We do offer incentives for your salespeople, too, so they can buy their own DDAs at a real discount,” Quarnberg says. “We also have a range program where the FFL can buy a pistol at very deep discounts to use on the range for a contracted amount of time. We do offer training if the dealer wants it, and dealers always have access to our staff for sales ideas and technical questions.”

DDA 1911s are currently being featured in upcoming magazine articles and YouTube reviews.  And DDA is in the process of adding a new section to the DDA website where all these reviews and other DDA coverage will be together in one easy-to-access site.

DDA is a gun maker on the move and is also launching a new rifle. Stay tuned.


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