Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm Review

There are many fine handguns on the market now for concealed carry, including 1911s and striker-fired pistols. Have you considered the ergonomics, trigger, accuracy, and slim-profile benefits of a classic 1911 in a sub-compact 9mm for concealed carry? Col Ben uses his 10 criteria and gives his opinions and thorough insight into the Dan Wesson 1911 ECO sub-compact Officer-Size 9mm. Will this gun meet your concealed carry requirements?

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Dan Wesson Eco 1911 Review
There are many fine handguns on the market now for concealed carry, including 1911s and striker-fired pistols. I appreciate a thin compact and sub-compact 1911 with all their fine traditional features, especially their ergonomics and triggers, and in 9mm. The overall reduced size, officer’s-size frame, and lightweight of 1911 sub-compacts combine with the easy-recoiling and controllability of the 9mm caliber to make them great carry guns.

The ancillary revisions over time to the classic design with shorter slide length and shorter grip length help with concealed carry. The initial concerns about the way the magazines present the round to the breech face in this smaller sub-compact design have been resolved by most manufacturers.

Times have changed, and 1911 sub-compact reliability is no longer a concern for quality manufacturers. There has been a reduction of magazine capacity by one round for the sub-compacts, with most like this Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm having an adequate eight rounds of capacity. And to accommodate the sharper barrel tilt in the sub-compact, ECO short-slide pistol, the barrel does not use a barrel bushing.

So, is the Dan Wesson 1911 ECO 9mm ideal for your concealed carry? Hopefully, my opinions will help.

I have been selective in recently reviewing the very best performing sub-compacts that meet my criteria. The Dan Wesson ECO (Elite Carry Officer) is a 1911-style sub-compact pistol with a 3.5″ match-grade barrel. Dan Wesson designed this pistol for easy concealed carry without sacrificing accuracy and reliability. Several requested that I review it and thanks to parent company CZ-USA and their Dan Wesson subsidiary for sending me the ECO to review. I was anxious to test and evaluate it to see if the ECO fits in my top eight sub-compact 1911 9mms for concealed carry, which I will be publishing here soon.

For my Top 8 list, I excluded several pistols for concealed carry considering their excessive height, weight, barrel length, width, capacity, manageable felt recoil, MSRP, and other features. I have included some of them in my Top 21 Concealed Carry Guns in the second printing of my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.”

Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm
Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm

Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm Specifications And Features

For this Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm review, I want to present the specifications and features first. Then, I will give my ten criteria, range test results, and my opinions on each criterion to help you analyze the ECO to see for yourself if it is the CC gun for you. You can add or subtract from my criteria to meet your needs and preferences. Below, I’ll also suggest a quality, custom leather holster I like for this 1911 sub-compact 9mm.
Know that I am not on the Dan Wesson or CZ payrolls, have not been paid or compensated by them in any form for this review, and not given any gratuities nor influenced to say certain things about the gun. I want to be as objective as possible, honest and straight-forward with my opinions and ideas the way I see the pistol to help folks sincerely. Also, please know that manufacturers do not buy advertising on my website. I have even turned down several guns to review, because of data indicating the firearm may be unreliable, had been recalled, accuracy problems, safety concern, ammo feeding problems, extractor or ejector concerns, priced at $1,700 or more, etc.

I was very anxious to shoot the ECO and to compare it factor by factor to my other quality sub-compact 1911 9mms, to see if it would be in my top concealed carry pistols and my top sub-compact 9mm 1911s. Based on my hands-on range test of the gun and my analysis, I want to give you my opinions with pros and cons and issues or concerns that would prevent me from carrying this gun or allow me to carry it. Is this a pistol I would recommend for concealed carry? Would it make it to my TOP EIGHT list of 1911 Sub-Compact 9mm handguns for concealed carry? Does it have any unique or special features that make it stand apart from the usual 1911 sub-compact 9mm?

Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm Specifications

Model NumberModel ECO #01968
Caliber9mm
Barrel Length & Type3.50"; Match Grade; Flush-Cut, Ramped Bull with Target Crown
SightsRadius Fixed Front Tritium Night Sight; Novak Style; Rear Tactical Night Sight with single Tritium Vial located dead-center below Rear Sight's notch
FrameMaterial Forged Anodized Aluminum; Matte Black; Shortened Grip Length; Officer's Style
SlideFinish Matte Black Duty Finish; Top of Slide is Ribbed to Reduce Glare

CAUTION: Cleaning Solvents can discolor/damage Duty Finish
TriggerType Single Action; Slightly Shorter-Length Trigger with Serrated Face; Solid Aluminum
Trigger PressTo Be Determined- (as measured over ten trials with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull gauge); Factory Spec = 4#
MagazinesCapacity 8 Rounds; 2 Mags Included; Steel; Single Stack
Height5.00"
Width1.45"
Overall Length7.25"
SafetiesManual Thumb Safety; Grip Safety
GripsG-10 Checkered; Black and Gray
Other5-Year Warranty on Parts; 1-Year on Wooden Treatments/Parts
MSRP$1,623

Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm Features

  • Front Strap and Mainspring Housing Checkering – Both with Fine 25 Lines Per Inch
  • Undercut Trigger Guard to Allow High Backstrap Grasp, Less Muzzle Rise, and for Comfort
  • Rounded Butt on Aluminum Mainspring Housing Bottom Corner to Help Concealed Carry
  • Tactical Skeletonized Hammer to Reduce Weight
  • Ball End Mill Cut on Front of Slide for All-Day Carry; Rounded Edges for Smooth Appearance
  • One-Piece Guide Rod and Flat Recoil Spring for Smooth Slide Operation & Less Felt Recoil
  • Ed Brown-Style High-Ride Grip Safety with .250 Radius Cut for Higher Beavertail Grip
  • Attractive and Durable Two-Tone Black and Gray, Thin Line G-10 Grips of Multiple
  • Thermoset Plastic Laminate Layers of Fiberglass and Epoxy Resin
  • Ejection Port is Lowered and Flared for Reliability
  • Barrel has One Stage, Integral Feed Ramp to Enhance Rounds Feeding & Improved Support of Casehead of a Chambered Cartridge

Holster for the Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm

Kramer Handgun Leather makes a beautiful, high-quality OWB Belt Scabbard Leather custom holster. This classic “pancake” design has excellent workmanship, is very comfortable, extremely durable, has fine retention, covers the trigger, and conceals well. The Kramer Handgun Leather OWB holster has a high-riding FBI forward cant or tilt for easy draw. They designed the holster to wear on your strong side hip. The butt of the gun is tucked snugly into the body to help with concealment. I like the quality look, feel, and function of this holster. And, it works well for concealment, for the range, and for home use. The Dan Wesson 1911 ECO 9mm is shown below in the high-quality KHL OWB Pancake belt holster. A quality handgun deserves a quality holster.

Dan Wesson ECO 1911 Holster
Kramer Leather Custom OWB Horsehide Leather Pancake Belt Scabbard Holster with Dan Wesson 1911 ECO 9mm

Criteria And Considerations for this Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm Review

Here are ten of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun so I will be using them for the ECO 1911. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like smooth rounded corners, a particular style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, added extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I want a pistol to meet ALL of my criteria. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my ten criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add additional criteria, preferences or subtract any of mine.

Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider. You can make tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.

1911 ECO Front Strap Checkering - 25 LPI
1911 ECO Front Strap Checkering – 25 LPI

General Impressions of the Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm

The ECO 9mm sub-compact is a quality 1911 gun with a very tight fit and tight tolerances, fine custom craftsmanship, excellent ergonomics and extra features for concealed carry. It does not rattle and exudes quality. Make sure you keep it well oiled, especially during the break-in period. The G-10 black-gray colored composite grips are beautiful, very functional, and will last a lifetime. It is excellent for concealed carry with its lightweight forged frame machined from aluminum with a durable Duty Finish coating.

This 1911 is a very fine gun with extras not usually found on production guns. Dan Wesson finely machine checkers the front and back straps with 25 lines per inch (LPI) which allow the shooter an enhanced non-slip grip without very aggressive checkering like on some 1911s.

The match-grade barrel is flush-cut, ramped, and a bushingless bull type with a target crown, not with the traditional bushing. So, it is more compact and easier to disassemble. The barrel crowning helps protect the lands and grooves rifling and may add a little accuracy according to some reports.

The front tritium night sight is fixed and has a tactical ledge, Novak Style, while the rear sight has a single tritium vial dead-center below the rear sight’s notch. They are steel, low profile, very sturdy, and help with a nice sight picture.

The slide has very useful and unique top ridge slide serrations to help keep the glare down. The slide finish is a very durable Duty Finish. But, be careful with cleaning solvents because they can discolor and possibly damage the finish.

Dan Wesson machined the frame with a very rounded contour, and there is an undercut trigger guard to allow high grip grasp for optimal control and to help reduce muzzle flip. The mainspring housing has a rounded butt to help with concealed carry. It has a beavertail high-rise grip safety with a “BUMP” to maintain a high grip.

It was easy to disassemble this 1911 ECO 9mm and there was no barrel bushing. It has a nice solid single action trigger which has a slightly shorter trigger than a classic 1911 and has a serrated face. The hammer is a tactical skeletonized hammer which reduces weight. The slide was easy for me to rack and the felt recoil and muzzle rise was very manageable for a short-barreled pistol, partially due to its low 25 ounces with unloaded mag weight. My wife could also easily rack the slide.

Dan Wesson 1911 ECO with Some Extra Features
Dan Wesson 1911 ECO with Some Extra Features
Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm: Very Accurate at Seven Yards with my Concealed Carry Drill- Easily 15 HITS + Extras
Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm: Very Accurate at Seven Yards with my Concealed Carry Drill- Easily 15 HITS + Extras

Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm Range Test & Results

Recognize for this ECO pistol review I fired only about 250 rounds total to evaluate it, using mostly full metal jacket/ball and some hollow point rounds. I did not shoot reloads, steel case, or cheap ammo. The instruction manual specified to use quality factory, ball ammunition for the break-in process and recommended a break-in of 300-500 rounds for it to be combat ready. And, I do recommend usually shooting at least 500 rounds over a few days to break-in a pistol (and to break-in you the new shooter to this particular pistol) that I am considering for self-defense… to be comfortable with its performance, handling, reliability, and accuracy.

For me, 500 rounds for break-in is not a magical objective number, and it is very subjective. But, I do want to see how the gun handles both the hollow point and full metal jacket ball rounds before I bet my life on any handgun. I’ll do whatever it takes to make me feel comfortable with this life-saving tool. When a gun is brand new, I typically add a little more oil than usual, since for the first 200 rounds or so the metal parts and mechanisms are likely to wear a little more and the extra oil can help it run smoothly and not bind up. At about 200 rounds for a lot of pistols, you might even notice a change in the trigger press and action. I try to reduce the effects of external variables that might affect the new gun’s reliability, accuracy, stoppages, and general performance, such as reloads, steel-cased ammo, non-SAAMI specifications ammo, and generally less expensive foreign rounds, that potentially had lower quality control standards. I want to focus primarily on the gun itself.

Would this sub-compact 1911 handle both the ball and the premium hollow-point rounds without any malfunctions or stoppages? I had to answer this crucial question. Below are my evaluations for each of my ten criteria for my concealed carry purpose. I wanted to put the gun through its paces with my Concealed Carry Drill at seven yards with a magazine change and check it thoroughly for malfunctions, stoppages, and performance with premium, quality JHP, and FMJ rounds. I want to thank Sig Sauer for providing 365 Elite Performance ammo to test and evaluate the 1911 Dan Wesson ECO sub-compact 9mm. I shot high-quality Sig Sauer 365 V-Crown JHP ammo in 115 grain weight “optimized for CCW” and in 115 grain FMJ to determine how well the gun cycled and handled different loads.

I used my standard “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” to test and evaluate the ECO after I thoroughly cleaned it. You can have my Concealed Carry Drill for FREE for your practice. Permission to Download, Print, and share “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” is granted when my website address and copyright are included and kept on it.

You can Download and Print “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and targets by clicking on the link at my website’s Home Page at www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com.

Also, you can click here on this site for a free download.

Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm Range Results

At seven yards and shooting the five various-sized circles, I easily and quickly landed all 15 rounds in them, with a magazine change. I rapid-fired initially with the ball-full metal jacket rounds per the ECO’s instruction manual for break-in. Then, I shot the Sig V-Crown 365 rounds in 115 grain JHP and all hit in their five circle targets and within the 20 seconds time limit at five and seven yards. Although a challenge for this ole geezer with declining eyesight, I passed my drill at longer distances of 10, 15, and 20 yards, although my times weren’t great. In fact, I enjoyed shooting it so much that I fired some extra rounds in the bottom 4.5″ circle target at seven yards.

I found the Sig 365 115-grain JHP rounds to be very accurate. They were not too overpowering, not underpowered, but just right in the middle. For me, the ECO was accurate and reliable with manageable felt recoil in this sub-compact 1911.

These hits were acceptable for me for closeup self-defense encounters. But, shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities, goals, and proficiency. Use my drill at various distances, e.g., 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 yards to challenge yourself, as you progress. At first, do not time yourself but safely practice, until you feel comfortable and safe with the drill. Above are my hits for my 15 rounds (plus some extras) at seven yards rapid-fired with a magazine change with the ECO sub-compact 9mm. I bypassed three yards for more of a challenge and given my available time constraints. I shot 250 total rounds through it.

Opinions And Evaluations For Each Criterion

1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10

The accuracy of the Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm was excellent and effortless for me at close and medium distances of 3, 5, 7, 10, and15 yards. Despite my less than average eyesight and average marksmanship, this senior guy was able to shoot decent groups. But, while my hits at 20 yards with this sub-compact were on target, they were larger 3-3.5″ groups, and I would have rathered smaller ones. But, I had no problems out to 15 yards, with the gun doing a lot of the work. All of my groups for my drills of 15 shots each at the various distances were about 2.5 to 3 inches or so, drawing from my Kramer Leather holster.

I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot various 115 grain FMJ, 124 grain FMJ, and JHP rounds. I did not shoot reloads. I had no problems shooting hollow points, and the gun functioned flawlessly. The press was soft and crisp, and the recoil was very minimal for this average shooter. I was indeed impressed with its reliability. I experienced no malfunctions, stoppages, feeding problems, and extraction nor ejection issues. Accuracy and reliability were both excellent with the ammo.

2. Trigger Press – Score: 10

I was very pleased that the trigger press for this new ECO sub-compact 9mm averaged about 4.95 pounds, with ten readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. All of the readings were less than or very near my desired maximum press range of five pounds for a single-action trigger pistol which is not “broken in” yet. There were quite a few extreme measurements in the presses I recorded. After more rounds downrange for break-in, I expect the trigger press will get a little lighter and closer to the factory specified four pounds. The ECO had an excellent trigger press for a 1911 sub-compact 9mm.

3. Trigger – Score: 10

The 1911 single-action trigger was crisp, smooth and excellent, with no creep and minimal takeup. It had a decent, short travel distance and a short reset for quick follow-up shots. The reset was very identifiable. This single-action trigger was excellent. I enjoyed this short and soft trigger.

ECO's Match-Grade Bull Bushingless 3.5" Barrel
ECO’s Match-Grade Bull Bushingless 3.5″ Barrel

4. Barrel Length – Score: 9

The ECO’s bushingless, bull 3.5″ barrel is match grade, ramped, and hand fitted to the slide with very tight tolerances. This helps with accuracy, reliability, and recoil was minimal. From this short barrel, I expected the felt recoil to be very noticeable, but it was not, and I had no problem at all managing the recoil. My wife also handled the recoil well. Dan Wesson included a bushing wrench, but not needed in the ECO.

Fixed Front Tritium Night Sight on the 1911 ECO 9mm & Slide Ribs to Reduce Glare
Fixed Front Tritium Night Sight on the 1911 ECO 9mm & Slide Ribs to Reduce Glare

5. Sights – Score: 9

I like the ECO’s factory tritium front & rear night sights with tactical ledge, Novak Style sights. I do prefer larger dots and a fiber optic or tritium front sight for quick sight access and follow-up shots, but these worked for me. However, an easy-to-pickup green Fiber Optic front sight is my preference for a 1911 sub-compact for concealed carry, while night sights are important for concealed carry. It will take some time for me to get used to the tritium vial located well below the all-black notch.

ECO's Serrated Rear Black Sight with Tritium Vial Below Rear Notch
ECO’s Serrated Rear Black Sight with Tritium Vial Below Rear Notch

6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 10

The lightweight ECO weighed 25 ounces unloaded with an empty magazine and was a nice weight gun for concealed carry. The frame and trigger were lightweight aluminum. This sub-compact has much less felt recoil and more stability than I expected.

7. Caliber – Score: 10

The Dan Wesson ECO in 9mm caliber was easy and fun to shoot, and I managed the recoil well. Of course, shooting 9mm ammo is much less expensive, and modern ammo with improved ballistics gets the job done.

8. Capacity – Score: 9

I liked the 8+1 capacity of the ECO sub-compact 9mm and magazine. And there were two steel mags included as standard. I prefer for manufacturers to include three magazines with the pistol, but this adds cost for everyone to the package.

Serrated Trigger Face and Shorter Trigger on ECO
Serrated Trigger Face and Shorter Trigger on ECO

9. Ergonomics – Score: 10

The Dan Wesson ECO 9 mm has excellent ergonomics, and I was comfortably able to reach all controls like the thumb safety, slide stop lever, and magazine release. I could tell this is a semi-custom pistol and the high-quality craftsmanship was apparent. The shorter trigger and serrated trigger face were some extras that really helped me. It fit my medium-sized hands and my wife’s small hands just right. It felt terrific to hold this thin-profile pistol. The grip safety with its beavertail and memory bump was natural, comfortable, and I had no problems engaging the gun to fire it. I love the rounded bottom butt (bobbed) of the mainspring housing which helps with concealed carry and comfort.

Dan Wesson 1911 ECO 9mm in Hard Case with 2 Mags, Lock, Instruction Manual & Bushing Wrench (Extra)
Dan Wesson 1911 ECO 9mm in Hard Case with 2 Mags, Lock, Instruction Manual & Bushing Wrench (Extra)

10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9

The hard plastic case included two magazines, a lock, bushing wrench, and instruction manual. The wrench was a nice extra, even though you don’t need one for the bushingless ECO. The ECO looks beautiful and it is a high-quality accurate and reliable handgun. The unique top-rib slide serrations help reduce the glare. The G-10 grips are attractive, durable, and useful. The 25 LPI checkering on the front and back straps helped with a firm grip. The bull barrel and its target crown helped with disassembly and compactness.

Total Points = 96 out of 100 Possible.

Conclusions

I most certainly highly recommend this quality Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9mm, for concealed carry, home defense, range use, and fun plinking. I rate this finely crafted 1911 9mm as indeed a top 1911 sub-compact 1911 in 9mm for concealed carry. Stay tuned at this website for my final Top 8 1911 sub-compact 9mm evaluations and final comparative ratings soon. I was very impressed with the ECO’s accuracy, reliability, and its very controllable recoil for a sub-compact 9mm. The outstanding trigger with its 4.95 pound trigger press was short, soft, and crisp. The match-grade barrel, night sights, ramped bull barrel with target crown, and ergonomics were very impressive. Its many great, high-quality features as presented above are there, including accuracy and reliability, without any malfunctions or stoppages. No worries about a 1911 9mm sub-compact here. After more rounds down range for a total of 500 rounds demonstrating these same results and characteristics, I would bet my life on this excellent pistol and carry it every day. I do sincerely believe that you do get what you pay for and this gun exudes quality and has outstanding performance.

I hope this review of the Dan Wesson 1911 ECO Sub-Compact 9 mm has helped you gain some information for your concealed carry decision. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and shooting only 250 rounds of premium full metal jacket/ball and JHP ammo. I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it and have at least 500 rounds break-in range time through it for yourself. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what’s important to you ahead of your range live-fire time. Then critically evaluate the firearm yourself per your criteria and purpose, with various ammo types and brands, different magazines, over an extended break-in period.

Continued success!

Contacts

Dan Wesson Firearms
1-607-336-1174
Norwich, NY 13815

Kramer Handgun Leather
1-253-564-6652
Tacoma, WA 98411

Sig Sauer for Elite V-Crown 9mm JHP-FMJ Ammo
1-603-610-3000
Newington, NH 03801

Photos by Author and Dan Wesson Firearms.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only, and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.

© 2018 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected]