The story is well documented by now, but it’s worth repeating. After the 1986 FBI Shootout in Miami, the FBI started to believe that their .38 revolvers were out of date. In 1989 the 10mm Auto round was selected by the FBI for its superior penetration, but the round’s snappy recoil proved too much for some, and the milder .40 S&W round was adopted as a compromise. .40 S&W has waxed and waned in popularity (and seems to be waning at the moment, making .40 handguns a potentially good buy), but the 10mm Auto round maintained a small but steady band of followers. This Colt Delta Elite dates to 1989, and while it’s got a bit of wear and tear on it, the gun’s heft does a surprisingly good job of managing the recoil.

The Delta Elite was the second 10mm gun on the market (the ill-fated Bren Ten was the first), and it was built on Colt’s tried-and-proven Series 80 platform. This first variant stainless gun has the original homely looking rubber wraparound grip, and it does a marvelous job of providing a comfortable surface for your mitts. The profile of the grip feels identical to a regular 1911 despite the different chambering, and the mag well is close to, if not identical to its .45 brethren.

The 10mm Auto round feels more like a .357 Magnum than it does a .45 ACP. It’s a quick, snappy round, but to Colt’s credit the Delta Elite swallowed three different varieties of 10mm without a single hiccup. More surprising was the fact that after 150 rounds, my hand wasn’t sore. This is an eminently shootable gun, likely owing to its full-size proportions and heft.

I was also pleasantly surprised at the Delta Elite’s accuracy. The high profile white dot iron sights provided a clear and unambiguous sight picture, and the trigger broke as crisply as any quality 1911 I’ve ever owned, at just a shade over 4 pounds. The slide was a bit stiffer than I’m used to, and I’m told that the recoil spring (actually, it’s a pair of springs) is a bit stiffer to manage the 10mm’s high-pressure snap.

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