The Colt Delta Elite M1911 has been around since the 1980s. It was Colt and the Delta Elite that came in at the last minute and saved the 10mm round from death. While never a huge best seller it has come and gone over the years since the first models hit shelves. It did go away for a while but as recently as a few years ago was brought back by colt in its original retro form and sold pretty well. While it was a great gun and true to its original issue, it was a bit bare stock for now a days. In May of this year, all of us who wanted a Delta Elite in a more modern combat carry package without having to send the stock model off to a gunsmith, got what we had been waiting for.
The new Delta is everything I personally wanted for a long time. It has all the refinements I want in a M1911 that I plan to use for more than setting in the safe. It has my favorite Novak Combat sights. It has an extended safety, the under side of the trigger guard is cut for a higher grip. it has a competition trigger and a beaver tail grip safety and is de-horned for carry comfort in addition to other upgrades.
Before I get into a deeper look at the piece, I should add right away that I did change a couple of things as I am want to do. While I like the safety that comes from the factory and think its a fine part, I much prefer the feel and size and shape of the STI extended safety be it single or ambi. Colt used to provide the STI on its XSE and upgraded guns until recently switching to what I believe is the Wilson Combat safety. I replaced the Wilson part with my personal preferred safety.
The Next change on the gun that I make on almost all of my 1911s is a part that I have had a long standing love affair with. That is the S&A stainless steel checked main spring housing. Again, the factory has so issues and I can not fault it. I just have my personal quirks like we all do and when given a chance I can not resit making tiny changes to a 1911 to make it more my own. To see the gun in its unaltered form, I provided the link to my original first look over review of the Delta from a few months ago posted above.
Now that we got that out of the way so no one will wonder why their Delta looks different than the one reviewed here, its time to take a look.
The new Delta is standard Colt 1911 with some obvious slight changes. It comes apart just like any other Colt and Colt’s apparently millions of copiers.
The recoil spring is the new double spring system. It is the same concept as used on the USMC’s MARSOC M1911 recently adopted and also made by Colt. You can find a review of it here as well. It does not have the full length guide rode that is essentially pointless.
The recoil that results from the new dual spring was a huge surprise for me. I have had several older Deltas over the years and full power 10mm ammo is not exactly something you would want to pound yourself with all day long. But this makes it pleasant and I could barely tell a different between the 10mm ammo and 45 ACP. The lower power 10mm auto loads are very pleasant to shoot with the new recoil spring set up. This seems to be a new standard practice on most of the more combat and competition 1911s from Colt now and I’m liking it a lot so far. I confess I have not attempted to take these two apart from each other because I have no inclination to see how much of a pain it may or may not be at this point. I most likely won’t do it either until they need replacing from normal use.
The cut out for the slide release is the full relief. This is pretty common now a days but there was a time when it was not standard. It was originally done because of the cracking that would appear on the old light weight commanders after long term hard use. A crack in the area effected nothing but some anal retentive types (like the kind of guy who loses sleep over brass marks or dings on his AR15s case deflector) ability to sleep at night witohut worrying over it. Obviously it is expect especially on a 1911 in this round as it is a powerful round and some of the loads are very hot and hard on a gun.
Yes. It is the so called “series 80.” Deal with it. There is nothing wrong with that, I have been using series 80 guns for 30 some years and never had a problem. The trigger is crisp and breaks clean. Anyone who tells you not to buy a gun if it has the series 80 style safety is an idiot that can be ignored or treated like your liberal mother in law.
The barrel is standard 1911. I know some people moan and grown over this because they want to shoot rounds that are super hot. I don’t care one way or the other. I do not load the ammo to pressures high enough to need to worry about it. The hotter self defense loads from the factories work for me. In my mind, if you want that kind of performance out of your 10mm, buy a revolver or send the gun off and have it fitted with the barrel you want. I think if I was going to do that I would go ahead and go all the way and have a 40.SW and a .357sig barrel fitted for it at the same time and have the use of all the rounds. otherwise, the standard, original barrel fills all my needs.
Here is another look at the under cut. This is such a nice little enhancement that it should always bee standard on anything that is not a retro nostalgia repro. The strange thing about this is that I thought for many years it was appreciated by everyone until I mentioned it to some casual 1911s owners and they never noticed it. I guess that goes to show how far enhanced production 1911s have come since the days when this sort of thing was a custom gunsmith only feature. In my opinion, M1911s from factories and gun smiths are the better than they ever where including some of the custom guns from back in the day.
While it may only be a personal taste, I really like the new black trigger against the SS gun. I noticed this trend with the Colt Defender a couple of years ago and really like hot it contrasts and looks with the black sights .
Another change is the new grips. For years the Deltas always had the standard wrap around rubber grips. These are still rubber, but obviously do not wrap. I like the slimmer grip though all day pounding of full power ammo does make the older wrap feel pretty good. Of course the grips have the iconic Delta Elite triangle. The wrap around rubber grip with red triangle have been on the Delta for a long time. A older catalog shows some from days past below . The wrap around grips are almost an institution for the Delta but I really like the look and feel of the new grip. I have an original wrap grip that I put on it for a while to compare before taking it back off and I am sure some will miss it. Maybe Colt will offer up the older grip as a factory part at the online store for those who want it.
For those curious who want to see the older original grips, below the catalog is a picture of my ultra-rare Delta Elite Gold Cup in blued steel with original wrap around rubber grips.
If you can not wait till part 2 and the accuracy test/review, yes the new Delta out shoots the original Gold Cup Delta,and the GC Delta is Very accurate already.
The mags are the standard Colt mags. Same design used for the Super .38.
They of course are marked 10mm Auto. Thanks to Hunter at Rangehot.com. I learned that the standard magazine for 45 ACP will cycle and feed in the 10mm gun. I admit to having no idea about this but after he mentioned it to me, I tried it and could not believe I went all these years not knowing. Now, I don’t know if all mags for the 45 guns will work perfect all the time and always lock back when empty. And I would not carry 45 mags for the gun if I thought I was going to have to fight with it. But they will do in a pinch. If you are at the range and need more mags for whatever reason or you lose or destroy the 10mm mags or if you just want some more mags and can not afford the pricey purpose made mags, the 45 ACP mags will work. I tried Wilson Combat 45 ACP mags and standard Colt 7 and 8 round mags and they worked no problem what time I used them. Use that info however you want. But I recommend sticking with the purpose made 10mm mags if you are going to CCW.
On another magazine note, I have tried one other company’s 10mm mags. I picked up 4 Kimber mags from a local gun store and all 4 had problems. In my experience this is typical of kimber mags. I was not very surprised and was glad I did not pay the full price for the things. They do seem to work about 3 out of five times though. Otherwise the standard USGI 45 ACP mags work better in the gun and of course the mags that came with the pistol are flawless. I say all that to say, you can use other mags other than ones specifically marked “10mm” if you need to or are having trouble finding extras, but keep in mind the potential for mischief.
I have fired the new Delta quite a bit so far and it is everything I hoped it would be when I was first told by Colt they had sent me one before the NRA show. It feels good. It really is hard to explain but it feels really good. As we stood around the booth for it at the NRA show I heard people comment on how great it felt over and over. You’d think that’s crazy as it is a 1911 like other 1911s, just in 10mm but its true. It indeed has a lot of enhancements over all the early Deltas, and in my opinion is nicer than the nicest of the older Gold Cup Delta Elites nice as they are. It is not tricked out for competition since who really wants to use 10mm all day in 3 gun or IPSC or whatever. it is set up for carry or hunting and it is very nice. I have been daily CCWing it since it arrived and its rubber grips and de-horning make it comfortable. And the thought of the power of the 10mm and the hornady ammo is very comforting.
Part 2 of the Delta Elite review will be up soon with accuracy testing, handling and longer range shooting to take advantage of the rounds flatter trajectory and speed.