Table of Contents
Commander-sized 1911s with a 4.25″ barrel are a dime a dozen and there are many great ones. But there are only a few recent, compact, commander-style 1911s with a shorter 4-inch barrel in 9mm to help with concealed carry. The shorter barrel makes carrying somewhat easier, but yet is long enough to provide a decent sight radius to help some with accuracy. While the debate continues, there probably is no discernible, overall difference offered by the extra .25 inch. However, keep in mind that a long barrel is very helpful when shooting long distances beyond about 25 yards. But, your mileage may vary with the type of ammo used and other factors.
Just this summer, Dan Wesson introduced its new compact 1911 Enhanced Commander Pistol (ECP) with its 4-inch barrel. The overall reduced size, commander-size frame, and light weight of this 1911 compact combine with the easy-recoiling and controllability of the 9mm caliber to make it a worthy consideration for your carry pistol.
Thanks to parent company CZ-USA and their Dan Wesson subsidiary for asking me to review their new ECP pistol. I was anxious to test and evaluate it to see if the ECP fits in my top 9mm compacts for concealed carry. I analyzed my top 21 concealed carry guns in the second printing of my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.” I want to analyze, evaluate, rate, and compare the ECP to my other top compact carry guns.
So, is the Dan Wesson 1911 ECP compact 9mm ideal for your concealed carry? Below is some information to help you.
Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 9mm Specifications And Features
Initially for this review, I want to present the specifications and features of the Dan Wesson ECP compact 1911 9mm. Then, I will give my ten criteria, range test results, and my opinions for each criterion to help you analyze the ECP to see for yourself if it is the concealed carry gun for you. You can add or subtract from my criteria to meet your needs and preferences.
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 a gun may be unreliable, had recalls, accuracy problems, safety concern, ammo feeding problems, extractor or ejector concerns, etc.
I was very anxious to shoot the ECP and to compare it factor by factor to my other quality compact 1911 9mms, to see if it would be in my top concealed carry pistols. 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 list of 1911 compact 9mm handguns for concealed carry? Does it have any unique or special features that make it stand apart from the usual 1911 compact 9mm?
Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 9mm Specifications
|Ninja Column 1||Ninja Column 2|
|Other||5-Year Warranty on Parts; 1-Year on Wooden Treatments/Parts|
|Grips||G-10 Checkered; Tapered|
|Safeties||Manual Thumb Safety; Grip Safet|
|Weight (Unloaded)||29 oz|
|Magazines & Capacity||9 Rounds; 2 Mags Included; Steel; Single Stack|
|Trigger Press||To Be Determined- (as measured over 10 trials with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull gauge)|
|Trigger Type||Single Action; Serrated Face; Solid Aluminum|
|Slide & Finish||Stainless Steel; Matte-Black Duty Finish; Tri-Topped Slide is Ribbed to Reduce Glare; Aggressive Slide Serrations; Compact|
|Frame & Material||Forged Anodized Aluminum; Commander-Style; Matte Black|
|Sights||Brass-Bead Front Sight; Black, Fixed U-Notch Rear Sight|
|Barrel Length & Type||4.00"; Match Grade; Bushingless, Ramped Bull with 30-Degree Crown|
|Model Number||Model #1884, Enhanced Commander Pistol (ECP)|
Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 9mm Features
- Flat-Top Slide with Unique Angled Cuts
- Rounded Bobtail Butt on Aluminum Mainspring Housing Bottom Corner to Help Concealment
- 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
- Tactical Skeletonized Hammer to Reduce Weight
- One-Piece Guide Rod and Flat Recoil Spring for Smooth Slide Operation & Less Felt Recoil
- High-Ride Grip Safety with .250 Radius Cut for Higher Beavertail Grip
- Attractive and Durable Thin-Line Tapered G-10 Grips of Multiple Thermoset Plastic
- Laminate Layers of Fiberglass and Epoxy Resin
- Ejection Port is Lowered and Flared for Reliability
- External Extractor and No Accessory Rail
- The barrel has One Stage, Integral Feed Ramp to Enhance Rounds Feeding & Improved
- Support of Casehead of a Chambered Cartridge
My Criteria And Considerations for this Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 9mm Review
Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the ECP compact 1911. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like smooth rounded corners, a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included 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 gun 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 and you make tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.
My General Impressions of the Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 9mm
The match-grade barrel is flush-cut, ramped, and a bushingless bull type with a target crown, not with the traditional bushing. It is more compact and easier to disassemble. The 30-degree barrel crowning helps protect the lands and grooves rifling and some say adds to accuracy.
The front brass-bead front sight of the ECP is fixed and stands out. Some prefer it for quick sight acquisition with a black rear sight. And the ECP’s rear sight is black with a fixed U-Notch. They are steel, low profile, very sturdy, look great, and help get a nice sight picture.
The slide has very useful and unique Top ridge slide serrations to help keep the glare down. I like the unique angles cuts on the slide, but some do not. The slide finish is a very durable duty finish. The ECO has a tactical skeletonized hammer to reduce weight and a skeletonized trigger.
With a very tight fit and tight tolerances, the ECP 9mm compact is a quality 1911 gun. Its fine custom craftsmanship, excellent ergonomics, and nice extra features make it a very desirable pistol. It radiates quality and there is not a rattle to be heard. The beautiful G-10 tapered grips are durable and very functional. The tapered grips helped my wife and her small hands more easily grasp and control the pistol.
The ECP’s lightweight forged-aluminum frame is coated with the fine black, very durable duty finish for concealed carry. The Dan Wesson proprietary name is “Duty Treatment” and it is a ferritic nitrocarburizing treatment of the metal which is a case-hardening, high-temperature process that removes oil from the metal during a salt bath. Other manufacturers use a proprietary name for it, like Hard Hat, Melonite, and Tennifer. It is very durable and some claim it is among the finest finishes available. It claims to improve lubricity and it did in the short-run for my gun.
Maintenance Tip: Beware that there is a claim by a few that “gun scrubber” cleaners may dull or discolor the appearance of some polymers and even, perhaps, the ECP’s non-polymer Duty Finish. So maybe oil is all you need as a cleaner here. From my brief experiences, this Duty Finish is not a delicate and easily-ruined finish. Always be careful, research this for yourself, and make the call.
Although not a custom gun, this very fine quality ECP pistol is a step above production level with extras not usually found on production guns. The mainspring housing has a rounded bobtail butt to help with concealed carry. Dan Wesson finely 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. The frame is machined for a rounded contour and it has a nice beavertail high-rise grip safety with a “bump” to maintain a high grip.
It was easy to takedown this 1911 ECP compact 9mm and there was no barrel bushing. It has a nice solid, short and soft single action skeletonized trigger. And there is a skeletonized hammer. The slide was easy for me to rack and the felt recoil and muzzle rise were very manageable, partially due to its decent 29 ounces unloaded weight, enough to keep recoil at a minimum.
Below I will get into more specifics and my opinions for each of my criteria, after my range testing.
Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 9mm Range Test & Results
I fired only about 250 rounds total for my review to evaluate this ECP pistol, using mostly full metal jacket/ball and some hollow point rounds. I did not shoot reloads, steel case, or low-quality ammo. The Instruction Manual specified that quality factory, ball ammunition be used for the break-in process and recommended a break-in of 300-500 rounds for it to be combat ready. And as always, I do recommend 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. 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 and carry it. I usually notice at about 200 rounds a change in the trigger press and action of most pistols I review. I try to reduce the effects of external variables that might affect the new gun’s reliability, accuracy, stoppages, and general performance, like remanufactured reloads, steel-cased ammo, non-SAAMI specifications ammo, and generally less expensive foreign rounds, that might not be subjected to strict quality control standards. I want to focus primarily on the gun itself.
For the ECP, 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 7 yards with a mag 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 their fine Elite Performance FMJ and premium V-Crown ammo to test and evaluate the 1911 Dan Wesson ECP compact 9mm. I shot high-quality Sig Sauer V-Crown JHP and FMJ ammo in 115 grain weight (some 147 grain) 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 1911 ECP, after I initially thoroughly cleaned it. You can use my Concealed Carry Drill to test and evaluate your handguns. I like the realistic 5 or 7-yard distance best to simulate deadly-force close encounters, with a draw and within 20 seconds.
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You can Download and Print “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and targets by clicking on the Link at my website’s Articles Page at www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com.
Also, you can click here on this website for a free download.
Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 9mm Range Results
I landed all 15 rounds with a mag change in my drill’s five various-sized circles and in a little less than 20 seconds… make that a close 19 seconds. I must really focus with my old eyes and it is getting more difficult for me to get small groups, but I persevere. I fired rapid-fire initially with the Sig Elite Performance ball-full metal jacket rounds per the ECP’s Instruction Manual for break-in with FMJ ammo. Then, I shot the Sig V-Crown JHP rounds in 115 and 147 grain. See above photo. Although I have Mr. J. Quincy Magoo’s weak eyesight, I successfully completed my drill at longer distances of 10, 15, and 20 yards, but my times weren’t spectacular.
I found the SIG Elite Performance FMJ and V-Crown JHP both in 115-GRAIN rounds to be very accurate and not too overpowering nor underpowered, but just right. For me, the ECP was accurate and reliable with manageable felt recoil in this compact 1911.
While these hits were acceptable to me for closeup self-defense encounters, 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 at 7 yards fired rapid fire with a mag change with the ECP compact 9mm. I bypassed 3 and 5 yards for more of a challenge and given my available time constraints. I shot 250 total rounds through it and bought some of the ammo myself.
Opinions And Evaluations For Each Criterion
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10
The accuracy of the ECP 9mm was excellent for me at close distances of 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards. My hits at 20 yards with this lightweight compact were on target, but I had larger groups than I wanted.
As always, I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot various 115 grain, 124, and 147 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 certainly 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 used.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 10
I was very pleased that the trigger press for this new ECP compact 9mm was outstanding, averaging about 4.90 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 5 pounds for a single-action trigger pistol which is not “broken in” yet. After more rounds downrange for break-in, I expect the press will get a little lighter. The ECP had a stellar trigger press for a 1911 lightweight 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 nice, short travel distance and a short reset for quick follow-up shots. The reset was very identifiable. I enjoyed its short and soft trigger.
4. Barrel Length: Score: 9
The ECP’s bushingless, bull 4.0″ barrel is match grade, ramped, and hand fitted to the slide with very tight tolerances. No rattles. It was a very solid and thick barrel which was stiff to operate at first, despite the abundance of oil I applied. Keep it well-oiled and ensure a sufficient break-in period. The felt recoil was very manageable for both my wife and me.
5. Sights – Score: 8
I like the ECP’s fixed brass bead front sight and black rear sight combination. Although my color-blind eyes definitely prefer a green fiber optic and/or illuminated tritium front sight, this brass bead did get my attention for quick sight access and follow-up shots… most of the time. And the brass bead looks beautiful. For me, easily-identifiable night sights are important for my aging eyesight and for concealed carry. Although a brass bead sight is used on several rifles and some high-end guns, a brighter, non-tarnishing gold-plated front sight bead would probably work better for the ECP and for me. In some lighting conditions, I could not easily pickup the front sight and brass bead.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 10
The 29 ounce unloaded weight of the ECP was heavy enough to help with its accuracy. The frame and trigger were lightweight aluminum to help with concealed carry. There was very manageable felt recoil and much controllability and stability for this quality compact.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
The DAN WESSON ECP 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. I prefer the 9mm for concealed carry.
8. Capacity – Score: 9
I liked the 9+1 CAPACITY of the 1911 ECP compact 9mm and its mags. There were two steel mags included as standard. I prefer three mags to be included as standard, but this adds cost for everyone to the package.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 10
The Dan Wesson 1911 ECP 9 mm has excellent ergonomics and I was easily and comfortably able to reach all controls like the thumb safety, slide stop lever, and magazine release. Its fit, function, and high-quality craftsmanship were very apparent. The excellent trigger, rounded Bobtail Butt, bushingless barrel, reduced-glare slide top, ample front and back strap fine checkering, and G-10 tapered grips were some extras that I really like. It fit my medium-sized hands and my wife’s small hands just right. It felt so very nice to hold this thin-profile 1911 commander-sized pistol. The grip safety with its extended beavertail and memory bump was natural, comfortable, and I had no problems grasping it, operating it, and firing it. The rounded-bottom Bobtail Butt of the Mainspring Housing did help with concealed carry. The unique, angled slide cuts attract your attention.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9
The nice hard plastic case included two mags, a lock, bushing wrench, and Instruction Manual. The compact ECP looks beautiful and it is a high-quality, accurate, and reliable 1911 compact pistol. The slide to frame fit is tight. The top-rib slide serrations help reduce the glare. The G-10 tapered grips are attractive, durable, and fit my hands very well. The single-action trigger press was very nice and the felt recoil was very controllable. 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. The nice bushing wrench is an extra and is not needed for this bushingless pistol.
Total Points = 95 out of 100 Possible.
Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 9mm Review Conclusions
I most certainly recommend this quality Dan Wesson ECP compact 9mm pistol for concealed carry, home defense, range use, and fun plinking. This finely-crafted, tightly-fitted 1911 9mm compact is a winner for your concealed carry consideration. I was very impressed with the ECP’s accuracy, reliability, and its very controllable recoil for a compact 9mm. The outstanding trigger with its 4.90 pound trigger press was short, soft, and crisp. The match-grade, bull barrel with target crown, and fine ergonomics were very impressive. Its accuracy and reliability are there. If there was one thing I would change on this excellent pistol, given my diminishing eyesight, it would be the front sight. Although the beaded brass sight looked great, was useful and usually not a problem to pick up, a green fiber optic or illuminated tritium front sight would work even better for me and my color-blindness and aging eyesight. After more rounds down range for a total of 500 rounds for reliability confirmation, I would bet my life on this fine pistol and carry it every day. I do sincerely believe that you do get what you pay for and this compact, commander-sized 1911 pistol with the 4-inch barrel exudes quality and has excellent performance.
I hope this review of the Dan Wesson 1911 ECP 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 gun yourself per your criteria and purpose, with various ammo types and brands, different magazines, over an extended break-in period.
Continued success friends!
Dan Wesson Firearms
Norwich, NY 13815
Sig Sauer for Elite V-Crown 9mm JHP-FMJ ammo
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 ColBFF@gmail.com.
Dan Wesson 1911 ECP Compact 4-Inch
Ben put the new for Mid-2018 Dan Wesson ECP Compact 4-Inch 9mm through the usual paces and gives his opinion on it for concealed carry in this review.
Accuracy and Reliability
Proper Gun Weight