U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Every time we hear the death knell of the 10mm cartridge, some manufacturer rolls out a new model to get fans of the round something to lust after and bring a few new converts its way. With this year being the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Colt Delta Elite, Colt released the pistol in a rail gun format: Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun.
Colt may have been the manufacturer that saved the 10mm round from certain death back in the mid-1980s. Some folks may give this credit to Glock who rolled out the Glock Model 20 in 1991 and they may have a valid point regarding numerous waves of resurgence over the past three decades with the 10mm, but Colt was the first major manufacturer to catalog a 10mm in 1987 with the Colt Delta Elite 1911.
So fast forward thirty years later and we see some much needed changes to this pistol.
Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun
The first of these changes / upgrades is the addition of an integral accessory rail on this all stainless steel 1911 style pistol.
We used to hate rails on pistols long ago. We felt that they threw off the distinctive lines of classic firearms like the Colt 1911, the SIG P226, or even the Beretta. That was until we started taking lowlight and no light tactical pistol courses and soon realized that weapon lights were essential on handguns, because when you need one to save your bacon it's more than likely going to be in the dark and you will need to identify targets and ensure that you do not shoot the wrong person.
So we see rails as more of a must have on certain firearms, rather than a nice to have and Colt made a nice solid Picatinny rail as part of their dustcover on the Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun. This means that most devices (whether you run lights, lasers or a combination unit) should fit without any adapters.
Novak-style low profile sights are installed and we do prefer these to the old GI style sights common to Colt's other 1911 pistols. The Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun features an extended thumb safety and an upswept beavertail grip safety to protect the shooter from “slide bite”. There is a Series 80 firing pin safety installed and a three-hole aluminum trigger rounds out the fire control group.
They actually made all of these upgrades in 2011 or 2012, but this was the first time we had a chance to try out these features on a Delta Elite. In the past we had tried the “standard” versions which meant vestigial mil type sights and a plastic trigger or someone who dumped more money into their Delta than what it was actually worth.
However one of our favorite upgrades is the composite grips with the Delta medallions. In the past, a few of the Delta Elites that we handled had Pachmayr Rubber grips with these medallions. We often felt that they cheapened the look of a 1911 and like the new grips much better.
Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun : The Good
Despite the opinions of folks on a 1911, a well-made one just feels perfect the first time that you pick it up. The Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun had no sharp edges or rough spots at all. Those folks at Hartford still know how to set the standard when it comes to making a 1911.
The extra weight of the railed dust cover and the all steel pistol takes much of the brunt out of the felt recoil. That first round through the other Delta Elite always gets us and reminds us that we are not shooting 45 ACP.
The bottom line is that this is a good looking pistol and the two 8 round magazines drop effortlessly when needed and feed flawlessly.
We typically shoot pistols at 50 feet, but let this one go out a bit further to 75 feet. We used a variety of ammunition types and noticed something different in this handgun than our others chambered in 10mm.
The lighter bullets in the 155 grain to 175 grainers grouped almost 2” better than our heavier bullets that we have always sworn by. We anticipated the opposite. The lighter weight bullets grouped about 1.75” to 2” at 25 yards, but the heavier 200 grain loads were shooting 3.5” groups.
It could have something to do with the actual bore diameter or maybe those loads were a little hotter with more pressure.
Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun : The Bad
Some folks will cry foul about the Series 80 Firing Pin safety, but these are the same people who cannot understand why they took Happy Days off the air or get frustrated when they see a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. The firing pin safety is here to stay and if you think it makes your factory trigger atrocious, you are either living in a fantasy world or are the type that complains that their free ice cream was vanilla instead of chocolate.
In all seriousness, we were disappointed with the performance of the heavier loads, particularly because we have shot more 1911s than any other semiauto pistol and 10mm is part of our regular shooting sessions (albeit in a different platform). Maybe it is isolated to this particular handgun or maybe we just had a bad few days at the range, but if I were going to shoot one of these on a regular basis, I would stick to the lighter loads.
However, that can be a good thing as the Delta Elite cannot withstand a steady diet of hot 10mm ammunition without causing undue wear on the components. Think of this as shooting 40 S&W “+P” type loads as opposed to those sub 41 Magnum power loads.
We suspect the issue may be with the recoil springs.
Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun : The Reality
For an MSRP of $1300 and a street price still over $1000, Colt makes a fine 1911 chambered in 10mm. It’s nice to see these upgrades after 30 years and while many of us might have liked to have seen them sooner, we always think that it’s better late than never.
We would not recommend the Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun for self-defense against Brown Bear or Polar Bear, but it should be adequate in the lower 48 against black bears or for hog hunting with a handgun.
The 10mm cartridge is a niche caliber and while it is one of our favorites, it will never truly go mainstream. Its following should keep it in production for the foreseeable future.
- Name: Colt Delta Elite Railgun
- Part #: SKU 02020RG
- Caliber: 10mm
- Capacity: 8+ 1
- Slide Material: Stainless Steel
- Slide Finish: Brushed
- Frame: Stainless Steel
- Frame Finish: Matte
- Barrel Length: 5″
- Barrel Spec: Stainless Steel 1:16 LH, 6 groove National Match
- Overall Length: 8.5″
- Overall height: 5.5″
- Width: 1.25″
- Sights: Novak White Dot Front, Novak Low Mount Carry Rear
- Weight: 38 oz (2.375 Lbs)
- MSRP: $1299
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.
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