May 15, 2023
The 10mm was going to sweep all before it. It was the best of both worlds. It was the auto-loading .44 Magnum, and it was the bullet-holder that challenged the 9mm. It was the do-everything for everyone, and it was the future. It had the pedigree of being championed by both Jeff Cooper and the FBI, (before they turned their reputation into a bonfire) and it had the PR splash of being in the holster of Jim Crockett. So why did it fail? Simple: the pistol made for it was on TV every week, and not only was the pistol (the Bren Ten) not ready for prime time, it couldn’t be made fast enough for all who wanted it. Such is life, sometimes.
Colt, of all people, saved the 10mm by building the Delta, and while the Delta, based on the 1911, didn’t have the capacity or panache of the Bren Ten, it could be had. And it worked. Today, the 10mm has a solid reputation of being a stout pistol cartridge. For one, you can reload up or down the power scale and that has a volume of bullets and ammunition choices to choose from. And to use that ammunition, we have the Tisas D10, a 10mm pistol right out of the 1980s, but better. We’re going to be bouncing back and forth between the present day and the mid-1908s. We’re also going to be bouncing back and forth between the new Tisas D10 1911, and the original Colt Delta, because that was what you had in the 1980s.
Another Great Tisas 1911 is their 1911A1 Replica: Check out the full review Here
First, the D10, in all its glory. And glorious it is. The D10 is a single-stack, single action 1911 pistol, made from forgings. The barrel is forged, drilled, reamed and rifled, and it uses the standard bushing design to position the front of the barrel. The regular link-down design in the rear, plus the locking lugs on top are all pure Browning. The lower lug, however, is a better design at least for the 10mm. It is an integral feed ramp design so the bullet doesn’t have to jump from the frame ramp to the barrel ramp. The big deal here, however, isn’t feeding (it has been a long time since making a 1911 feed properly was any kind of mystery) but in case support. You see, the Maximum Average Pressure, the ceiling if you will, of the 10mm cartridge is 35,000 PSI, compared to the .45 ACP in standard trim of 18,000 PSI, and .45 ACP+P at 21,000 PSI.
That 14,000 PSI jump (which is in itself the MAP of the .44 Special and .45 Colt, by the way) means cases have to be tougher, and adding support helps, a lot. An integrally-ramped barrel provides steel support to the case wall, further back, towards the rim. An unsupported case can hold up to many, many firings in the 18–21,000 PSI range. But up that to 35K, and life can get hard on your brass. Hence the extra support. This does mean that the frame has to be machined in order to accommodate the ramp, but that is an easy thing at the factory. (We used to have to do that to regular frames, back in the day, and it required some detailed machine work.)
The supported barrel goes into a forged steel slide, treated to a black oxide finish, and given all the extras. The slide flats have cocking serrations both fore and aft. I’m not usually a fan of front serrations, but it has been a long time since they were new, and I’m getting over my objections. The ejection port has the sidewall lowered, and the rear edge flared, so as to provide your brass an easy exit without getting dinged up. At the top of the slide, the front is a serrated blade, and the rear is an adjustable, an LPA with not one but two anchoring screws to keep it in place. This is in addition to the low-profile machine work to lower it into the slide, and not be a lump on the top. The front blade is not, like the old guns, held in by means of a swaged tenon. No, it is the modern transverse dovetail, and should you feel the need to replace it with something else that is an easy task for your pistolsmith. It also solves the problem a lot of 10mms had back in the day: hurling sights. The swaged-in tenon of the front sight in Colts had a tendency to come loose and fly off, given the sometimes-snappy recoil of 10mm ammo. No worries on that point now.
Back in the 1980s, one of the first Bridgeport machine operations I learned was lowering an ejection port. That is simple enough that you could probably teach your Labrador Retriever how to do it. The relief on the rear was a simple dremel operation. But “melting” the adjustable sight (back then, it was a BoMar, now out of business) into the slide, and doing it right, was a delicate operation that made the frame-ramp machine work look simple. We pistolsmiths doing IPSC work back then charged a lot of money for that. The slide is driven by a single-strand recoil spring. None of this braided, dual-spring, multi-part recoil system for Tisas, just pure Browning. The spring, of course, is a lot more stout than that found in a .45 ACP, because it has to be. The recoil spring cap is checkered on its face and is retained by the bushing. The guide rod is the standard short one, no full-length rods, and it all works just the way Browning wanted it to. I imagine he’d be a bit surprised at the power the 10mm can produce, but nothing else on it would surprise him. Well, the fit and finish, but we’ll get to that.
The back of the slide has a commander hammer to drive the firing pin, and the frame there has two modern additions. One is a beavertail grip safety, with speed bump at the bottom, and an ambi safety. The grip safety is properly timed and clears the trigger bow at the halfway point in its pivot. The safety clicks up and down cleanly and with a clear sound and brisk movement. The trigger is lengthened and lightened with three cross-drilled holes. The trigger pull is everything you expect when you pick up a 1911: it is clean, crisp, and the hammer falls at under four pounds. In measuring the pull with my digital scale, I had one pull test that was one ounce over 3.75 pounds so I can’t call it precisely at three-and-a-quarter, but it certainly does not get to four.
My only complaint, and it is personal, not something that Tisas can do, is that the ambi bangs against the knuckle of my firing hand. My grip, as long-time readers know, is odd, and dates from when IPSC was still new. I have a grip so high and hard on the frame that the left-side lever brushes my knuckle. Tisas can’t know that, and I might be one of a dozen people who have that problem. I will figure a way to solve that problem, because this 10mm is not leaving here.
Now, the frame. Oh boy, the frame. This is a stainless forging, and once Tisas had forged it, they put all the extras onto it. The frontstrap and the mainspring housing are checkered at 25 lines to the inch. The pattern is obviously machine-cut but that isn’t a slam against it. It has been a long time since you could get hand-cut checkering (in fact, I only know of one shop that still does it) and Tisas did a good job here. Some of the diamonds are flat on top, but you’d get that with hand-checkering sometimes, as well. If it bothers you, someone who has a steady hand with a needle file could sharpen the diamonds for you, since the frame is stainless and there would not be any refinishing needed. The slide stop pin has been shortened, and the frame recessed at the pin hole, to make the end of the pin flush with the frame. This is a custom pistolsmithing detail that is becoming more and more the norm, and here it is, on a factory 1911. There is no light rail, but that’s a personal thing, and if you don’t like it, you don’t see the need to pay for one. There are, however, Tisas 1911s that have a light rail, should you really require one.
The grips are G10, and they are sculpted and grooved to provide a non-slip grip, and an interesting pattern as well. The mag well opening has been beveled, not a lot, but more than just a bit, and it provides an easier and faster reload, without being a big extra lump on the frame. In fact, about the only trick Tisas missed here was to not lift the frontstrap, where it joins the trigger guard. But, it is stainless, and if you really want that, it is an easy custom thing to get, or do. One detail that I noticed, that is a departure from the Colt is Tisas did not see the need to section the rail above the slide stop pin off. Colt did that because the rail would crack, and people would complain. Cracked or not makes no difference, the pistol will still function just fine.
Let’s take a trip in the wayback machine, and see where we would be back then, and where we are today. Why? Because the MSRP of the D10 is $800. Let’s go back to the end of the single-stack era in IPSC competition. If, in 1990, you were to have dropped the D10 onto the bench of a working pistolsmith, or the loading bench of a competition shooter, you would have heard “Nice looking pistol. Who did the work?” “Ten millimeter? That’s a blaster, for sure.” They would have been stunned at the price. Back in 1990, if you could score a Colt Delta, it would have run you $700 for the stainless version. I dug out my old work sheets, and in 1990, I was charging customers $200 to checker the frontstrap, $250 if you want 25 or 30 lpi instead of just 20 lpi. A Bo-Mar sight, and machining the slide to take it, another $175. Beavertail grip safety and ambi thumb safety, another $200. If you could live with the standard barrel, fine, but if you had to have a ramped barrel (the Delta is the standard two-ramp setup) the barrel alone was another $150, and the machining, fitting, and testing added $100.
So, we’re talking an extra $700 at least, and keep in mind, these are 1990 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, our $1,400 1990 10mm, today, would be $3,060 Bidendollars. Now, I’m not saying that the D10 is the equal of a currently built $3,000 1911. For one, at that price you can expect a tighter fit of slide to frame and barrel to both in a custom gun. What you are getting is a better-built 10mm than any of us expected to see back in the glory days, and you get it without the months and months of a wait, then or now.
When it came time to test-fire the D10, I looked over the ammo I had on hand, and asked for more. A lot has changed in the ammo-verse since I last tested a 10mm, and I wanted to make sure I had the bases covered. One new one was Lehigh Defense, who were offering a 115-grain bullet. No, not a typo, the same weight as your vanilla-plain 9mm offerings have. At the other extreme, Buffalo Bore had sent me some 220-grain hard-cast lead bullet loads. In-between I had all the usual suspect, plus some new ones from Federal, to consider. Now, I’m always ready to be hurling 180 grain projectiles at sub-light speeds, and heavier ones are often not a problem. But Buffalo Bore has always delivered the velocities they print on the boxes. So, a 220 at 1,200 fps? And the Lehigh? Just how fast can you push a 115-grain .400" projectile? Well, I guess I was going to find out.
I started with the standards, the 180s, and encountered the usual spread. The Black Hills, at 995 fps, were soft and fun to shoot. (I did not have any of their HoneyBadger on hand to test, not yet.) The Hornady Critical Duty was a step up, and still handle-able as a defensive load. I’d be glad to use the Black Hills in single stack USPSA competition, and the Critical Duty as everyday carry ammo, or bowling pins loads. With the SIG and HPR, now we’re starting to get to the cusp of the law of diminishing returns for competition or carry. Yes, you can shoot it fast, but it is work, and more work is tiring and slows you down. Still, if I thought I needed a 230 PF load, those would be good to go. And as hunting loads, well, they’d be great. The Federal Syntech or Swift A-Frame, as hunting loads would also be stellar.
If I needed “shoot through a moose” penetration, then the Buffalo Bore loads are the way to go. A hard-cast lead bullet won’t expand, and a flat-point or truncated cone design penetrates like there’s no tomorrow. As far as accuracy goes, the 10mm is an accurate cartridge. And this D10 is an accurate pistol. You will find that some of the groups might not seem as accurate as you might think they should be. Well, I didn’t do the accuracy testing in a Ransom rest, and as a result, when I’m shooting the top-end loads, recoil has a way of sneaking up on you. The Black Hills load was the most accurate, followed by the Hornady Critical Duty. When I thought recoil was hurting my shooting, I’d shoot a test group with the Black Hills. If it was larger than I expected, then that was a clue I was done for the day. I also tested a lot more loads thanI would have for other calibers. It seems like most of the time these days I’m testing a 9mm of one kind or another. So, I have a chance to spread the testing of various ammo out over a slew of 9mm handguns. Well, I checked the records, and it has been two full years since I last tested a 10mm pistol, and a year before that for the next. So, lotsa 10mm this time out.
The 10mm offers power in factory loads, and you can obviously select from .45 ACP level, up to .44 Magnum Elmer Keith-level loads. I know, I know, you’re thinking “Nope, a .44 Magnum is a 240 at 1,400 fps.” Well, it isn’t. Most factory loads top out in the mid to upper 1,300s. And Elmer Keith himself thought that was a bit too much, as his were 250s at 1,200 to 1,250. So, the Buffalo Bore 220 grain at 1,295 is right in there. If you don’t want to put up with that much recoil, or take a break from it, reloading the 10mm is easy. The cases are heck for tough and straight cylinders, so they load like .45 ACPs, but with a bit more resizing force sometimes. They use large pistol primers, and bullets and data are everywhere. If someone makes handgun bullets, they make .400" or .401" diameter bullets, and anyone who offers loading data has at least some, if not an encyclopedia full, of 10mm data. The only drawback is the cost of brass. You can score literal buckets of fired 9mm brass at your gun club, but 10mm? That you’ll have to source on your own. The good news, however, is that you really can’t wear out 10mm brass.
The Tisas D10 1911 comes in a lockable hard case, with two magazines and cleaning and disassembly gear. As a standard 10mm 1911, aftermarket magazines from many sources are out there, and you are spoiled for choice. Disassembly is standard 1911, either use the included bushing wrench to unlock the bushing (unloaded, please, always, of course) or hold the slide partially back and pop the slide stop out when the notch in the slide lines up with the slide stop tab. The D10 is so well-specced that the only thing it is missing is to be optics ready. I talked with Tisas USA on that, and it is something they are working on. Cool, and when they do, I’m ready.
Clearly, if you have the new Tisas D10 10mm 1911, you have a long-time pistol to shoot your 10mm ammo in. How long? Well, that depends. I have .45s that have over 100,000 rounds through them, and they are still going fine. A 10mm, at least with the top-end loads, is going to be worked harder, but if we call it 100,000 rounds to the next rebuild, which means tighten slide to frame, check barrel lugs, a few things here and there, I have to ask: how long will it take you to shoot 100,000 full-power 10mm loads? At 10,000 a year, that’s a decade. More likely, you’ll be like the rest of us: mostly .45 ACP-level loads with a few boxes of max-10mm loads a year. If so, get ready for a lifetime of service. Well, service with yours, because this one isn’t going back.
Tisas D10 10mm 1911 Specs
- Type: Hammer-fired, single-action semi-automatic
- Caliber: 10mm
- Capacity: 9 rds.
- Barrel: 5 in.
- Overall Length: 8.25 in.
- Weight: 38 oz.
- Finish: Black Oxide, stainless steel
- Sights: Adjustable rear, blade front
- Trigger: 3 lbs., 10 oz.
- MSRP: $799
- Contact: Tisas
About the Author
Patrick Sweeney is a life-long shooter, with more than half a century of trigger time, four decades of reloading, 25 years of competition (4 IPSC World Shoots, 50 USPSA Nationals, 500+ club matches, and 18 Pin Shoots, as well as Masters, Steel Challenge and Handgunner Shootoff entries). He spent two decades as a professional gunsmith, and two decades as the President of his gun club. A State-Certified law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, he is also a Court-recognized Expert Witness.
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