Review: Dan Wesson Everyday Carry Officer’s (ECO) Compact .45 ACP Pistol

   03.09.15

Review: Dan Wesson Everyday Carry Officer’s (ECO) Compact .45 ACP Pistol

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I am a personal self-defense trainer, and I’ve owned a self-defense gym for the past few years. I have a self-defense background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, conventional boxing, and firearms. Whenever I train, I prepare for SHTF scenarios, which means I study and use techniques that work–none of that showmanship garbage. In a street scenario, I want to neutralize my attacker effectively and efficiently. I prefer not to fight hand-to-hand if I can avoid it. Using my primary carry pistol is far preferable.
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In selecting a carry pistol, I want something light, slender to reduce printing, and with good stopping power. Lately, I’ve been carrying a Sig Sauer P250 9mm compact. It’s a polymer, double-stack 9mm, and though always reliable, it’s a bit on the cumbersome side. In truth, it would work better as a backup, so I recently tried out the Dan Wesson Everyday Carry Officers’ (ECO) 1911 compact in .45ACP.

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Opening the case, we see the ECO and two seven-round magazines, a non-mar takedown wrench, a lock, small vial of gun lubricant, and the manual. The ECO is a single stack 1911 with a 3.5″ ramped bull barrel.

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It’s finished matte black and sports slim, semi-aggressive DW carry G10 grips as well as moderate checkering on the front and back strap. The single action trigger has the standard solid form with a nickel finish for corrosion resistance. The hammer is skeletonized.
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Sights are fixed, low-profile, three dot type, with tritium for low-light target acquisition. It comes standard with a right handed safety and magazine release. What first caught my attention about this pistol was the FEEL of it. It’s more slender than most 1911s, let alone .45 caliber pistols in general, which is very nice for small hands such as mine.

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The grips and checkering are aggressive enough for a solid grip; you’re not dropping this pistol even with sweaty or bloody hands. The weight is light, well balanced, and much easier to carry than a steel frame.

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The slide racks well, fits snugly, and locks back with ease. Thanks to the shorter slide, it fits in a bellyband holster in the appendix position. The ECO is comfortable and light enough (even with a magazine full of 230-grain ammunition) to be carried all day.
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At the range, I ran function and accuracy tests with Winchester “white box” 230-grain ball, G2 Research RIP pre-fragmented copper hollow points, Federal 230-grain Hydroshock JHP, Corbon’s fast 165gr JHP with wide “ash-tray” cavities, and some zuerillium alloy 144 grain lead free rounds. The muzzle flip and recoil with the Winchester ammo was quite substantial. Though the recoil is strong, the fit of the grip is comfortable enough and a close fit for my hand. The checkering and semi-aggressive grips help retention as well.
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Getting a second sight picture took a bit longer than I would’ve preferred, longer than when I regularly practiced with my all-steel Kimberly Eclipse Ultra II. I attributed this to the light weight of the ECO. However, the groups at 7 yards were still satisfactory–the size of a half-dollar coin. The lighter, faster G2 ammo was much easier to control, and the groupings were much tighter, quarter sized overlapping holes.

Next I tried a mag of Hydroshock rounds. The recoil and muzzle flip were still manageable but stronger than with Winchester FMJ. Then I tried 165gr Corbon JHP: recoil was on par with Winchester FMJ, muzzle flip slightly less. Lastly, I used the zuerillium alloy ammo, a prototype batch from MI Bullet company. It is also a light ammo like the G2 ammunition. When shooting it, my shots were one on top of the other. Nice tight groupings with hardly any muzzle flip or recoil. I highly recommend loading a lighter defensive round like G2 and a matching practice load like the MI Bullet alloy load when carrying the ECO for the quicker re-acquisition of the sight picture when it really counts.

Zyrillium alloy range ammunition is similar in weight and external ballistics to all-copper defensive loads.
Zuerillium alloy range ammunition is similar in weight and external ballistics to all-copper defensive loads.

The trigger was light and crisp. I brought along a novice shooter (who was more used to my double action only Sig P250) with me to see how he would handle a light trigger. He adjusted to it quickly and found it comfortable, with no flinching in the anticipation of recoil. The ejection pattern was mostly to the right, with an occasional casing thrown back over my head. No misfires or misfeeds occurred.
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In conclusion, if you are looking for a short 1911 chambered in .45ACP and you don’t mind using lighter weight ammo, then this is the perfect gun for you. It fits comfortably for appendix carry, which I recommend from a self-defense stand point as it provides the quickest draw. It is a very well made pistol and extremely light. As for me, I will be carrying it with a lighter defensive round, and I completely endorse this pistol as a perfect choice for a primary carry weapon.

Short enough for appendix carry, ECO fits snugly in a bellyband.
Short enough for appendix carry, ECO fits snugly in a bellyband.

(Photos by Oleg Volk)

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