Dan Wesson DWX 9mm

East Meets West
; .

Gear List
Holster: Long’s Shadow Huron Holster and Henning
T1000 Belt Hanger;
Mag Pouches: Long’s Shadow Competition Single
Mag Carrier with Henning T900 Belt Hanger

The Dan Wesson DWX is the classic hybrid. Taking the good stuff from the Czech CZ75 and mixing it in with the secret sauce from John Moses Browning’s archetypal single-action 1911 makes something that synergistically becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Whether you run the DWX out of the box or customize it to reflect your own unique personality, this pistol shoots like a laser while remaining as comfortable as a broken-in pair of old boxer shorts.


Origin Story

Back during the Cold War, the Czech CZ75 was a fistful of protest. Like the Borg of Star Trek, the Soviet Union gobbled up everything it touched, assimilating entire cultures into the overarching communist collective. However, here and there you could still find the stubborn flicker of independence. Sometimes the very expression of individuality was a protest against totalitarianism. The gleaming example was Czechoslovakia.

Building guns has always been a big part of the Czech ethos. Shooting is their third-most popular sport right behind football — the European sort — and ice hockey. Their reputation for innovation, industry and quality is well-deserved. In the interwar years, the Czechs brought us the ZB vz. 26 that eventually became the British Bren Light Machinegun. During WWII, the Czechs were forced to make armaments for the Axis. Their repurposed Bf-109 Messerschmitt fighter plane clones helped the Israelis win independence in 1948. However, the same year a communist coup d’état toppled the representative government in Czechoslovakia and ushered in four decades of authoritarian rule.

These subjugated nations typically adopted Soviet weapons and tactics. Licensed factories were constructed in most satellite countries to produce AK assault rifles. The standardization of weapons throughout the Pact made logistical and military sense. However, the Czechs simply refused to play along.

With literally half the world awash in Kalashnikov rifles, the Czechs clung dogmatically to their domestically designed Vz.58. The Vz.58 was a curious striker-fired rifle using a tilting-block locking system philosophically similar to the Walther P38 pistol. The Vz.58 fired the Combloc standard M43 7.62x39mm round and was lighter than the AK while remaining comparably reliable. It was arguably the better gun.

In 1975 the Warsaw Pact was up to its vodka-addled ears in Makarov handguns. The Makarov was a fairly uninspired 9x18mm unlocked blowback pistol, the design of which was clearly pirated from the German Walther PP. As combat handguns go, it was pure unfiltered milquetoast. Predictably, the Czechs followed a different path.

In the same year, Czech gun designer František Koucký came out of retirement with the mandate to design a new combat pistol. He eschewed both the Combloc standard 7.62x25mm and 9x18mm rounds in favor of the 9mm Parabellum. The resulting CZ75 was a supernova of innovation amidst an otherwise drab backdrop of Iron Curtain sameness.

For starters, the frame on the CZ75 rode outside the slide. This is backwards from basically every other combat pistol on the planet. This does decrease the amount of surface area you have to grab when racking the slide manually. However, it also maximizes slide-to-frame contact for optimized stability, repeatability and accuracy. The CZ75 also just felt great in the hand. The rest of the world took note.

Because of the curious antipathy defining the Cold War, František Koucký was unable to patent his innovative design outside of Czechoslovakia. Arms makers around the globe therefore enthusiastically pirated the salient innovations defining his radical gun. My first high-capacity 9mm was an inexpensive Italian-made copy of the CZ75 purchased back in the 1980s.

Normally, guns made in Eastern Europe during the Cold War stayed in Eastern Europe. However, U.S. servicemen could privately purchase the CZ75 through their Rod and Gun Clubs in Europe and legally bring them home. As this was the only way to land a genuine CZ75 back before the wall came down, it made those guns incredibly valuable. Combine their relative rarity with truly superlative design and they became the golden ring back in the day. The design retains a rabid following even now.

Throughout it all, old John Browning’s 1911 soldiered on in U.S. military service. Generations of American veterans left the military with an unbounded affection for the weapon. The single-action trigger and general mastery of human ergonomics turned the 1911 into “America’s gun.” Pistolsmiths customized the heck out of the thing, transforming a basic GI defensive tool into the embodiment of tactical art — which brings us to today.


The rear sight is a low-profile model mounted via a CZ Shadow
2-style cut so there are plenty of aftermarket sight options.
The beavertail and ambi thumb safety will feel comfortable to 1911 diehards.

Despite the CZ75-like frame, the controls are set up like a standard 1911.

Will says the flat-faced K-Trigger feels like “pure 1911” and will
ruin you for lesser triggers. The 25 lpi checkering provides a
firm grip regardless of the circumstances.

DWX Particulars

The 9mm Parabellum Dan Wesson DWX bins the linked short recoil locking system of the 1911 in favor of the simplified ramp style lockup of the CZ75. The slide and frame are both cut from forged steel and the dust cover has Picatinny rail for miles. The 18-degree grip-to-frame angle will feel homey and comfortable to anybody who grew up on American handguns. The factory grips are anodized aluminum, but the DWX will accept any standard aftermarket CZ75 furniture.

Magazines fit flush and hold a whopping 19 rounds in the box for a total of 19+1 onboard. I’m not really sure how they can pack so many bullets into such a finite space, but I topped them off. They really do work.

The slide/frame interface mimics the CZ75 but there are deep gripping grooves cut into the slide both front and rear to ensure ample charging space. The slide is cut for a 1911-style dovetailed front sight if aftermarket sights are your bag. The rear sight is mounted via a CZ Shadow 2-style cut. The front sight has a fiber optic insert, while the adjustable rear is adjustable for height and offers a serrated rear face for glare reduction. The stock sights are undeniably superb but if you wanted to swap them out for something flashier, it is a fairly straightforward chore. The top of the slide also features a serrated rib to reduce glare.

The extended magazine release is readily reversible and the barrel is legit match-grade. The DWX eschews a barrel bushing in favor of a perfect uncorrupted mechanical interface between slide and barrel. The single-action trigger is flat-faced, absolutely divine and pure 1911. They call it a K-Trigger because it, well, looks like a “K.” It will ruin you to lesser triggers. The oversized thumb safety is perfectly replicated on both sides of the gun and the left-sided slide stop is extended and contoured to perfection. The mainspring housing is nicely checkered at 25 lines per inch for reliable purchase even when sweaty or terrified. The CZ75 grip contour puts your hand up high and firm to mitigate muzzle flip. The gun feels like a CZ75 but runs like a single-action 1911. This is one beautiful pistol.


A sample group shot by Will off a simple rest at 12 meters.

So What’s It Good For?

This gun weighs nearly 3 lbs. At 45 oz., you could carry the DWX concealed, but there will certainly be more comfortable options. Top-end customized competition pistols pack more technology than the space shuttle with a comparable price tag. Some bargain basement heaters aspire to become paperweights. By contrast, the DWX strikes a lovely balance.

The innate quality to the piece is obvious the first time you cycle the slide. These guys make simply magnificent handguns. That means accuracy, controllability and reliability. These attributes will hold you in good stead competing in a combat course at the range or during those times when you hear glass breaking downstairs at two o’clock in the morning.

Slap a Streamlight TLR-8G combination light and laser on the rail and you have an all-weather home defense gun with the capacity and capability to win a proper firefight. Tuck a spare magazine someplace handy and you’ve got enough ammo to get yourself out of any reasonable jam along with most of the unreasonable sort as well. The DWX can be had in either 9mm or .40 S&W. The DWX is old-school-cool and isn’t cut for an optical sight.

I know I shouldn’t care, but the DWX really is a pretty pistol. The red trigger, grips and mag baseplate offer just a splash of dichromatic dissonance to create an attractive aesthetic synergy. The gun balances well and shoots like a dream. The ample heft thoroughly tames recoil and muzzle flip. When fired from a simple rest at 12 meters, the gun typically printed contiguous jagged hole

Plastic guns are obviously all the rage these days and most everybody makes them. However, there yet remains something to be said for the heft, controllability and ruggedness of good old-fashioned steel. It won’t wear out in half-a-dozen lifetimes and, particularly slinging 9mm Para, is an absolute joy at the range. The MSRP is $2,099. The Dan Wesson DWX is where classic iron meets the Information Age.


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