Dan Wesson 1911 Heritage RZ-45 01981 45 ACP

The Dan Wesson Heritage offers good fit and finish and outstanding accuracy. We rated it down for a couple of break-in malfunctions. While understandable, the other 1911 handguns tested did not have break-in problems. The Heritage is a good example of a 1911, priced right for the quality.




This was a recent price at BudsGunShop.com, but the SKU is showing out of stock as we went to press. The company website shows it was discontinued in 2019. The Dan Wesson Heritage is a stainless steel Government-Model-size handgun. The pistol is well made of good material, and it’s free from the billboard-size markings on the slide some of us do not care for. The slide features a raised rib with serrations. The pistol features excellent Novak-style sights. The front post contains a tritium dot; the rear sight is simply black. The pistol’s speed safety is well designed and seemed to be the largest and therefore easiest to operate quickly. The beavertail grip safety properly releases its hold on the trigger about halfway into compression.

Action TypeShort recoil-operated locked breech, single action
Overall Length8.6 in.
Overall Height5.5 in.
Maximum Width1.25 in.
Weight Unloaded39.0 oz.
Weight Loaded44.0 oz.
Slide MaterialForged Steel
Slide Retraction Effort18.0 lbs.
Receiver MaterialSteel
Front Strap Height2.6 in.
Back Strap Height3.2 in.
Barrel Length5.0 in.
Grip Thickness Max.1.25 in.
Grip Circumference5.2 in.
MagazinesTwo 8 round
Rear SightFixed drift-adjustable Novak type
Front SightDovetailed post with tritium insert
Sight Radius6.4 in.
Trigger Pull Weight5.5 lbs.
Trigger Span2.8 in.
SafetiesSlide lock, grip
WarrantyFive years
Telephone(607) 336-1174
Made InUSA
The “entrylevel” Dan Wesson Heritage has a basic rear blade
A word on the beavertail safety: Some folks have no problem hitting the grip safety quickly, but some who use the popular thumbs-forward grip may find the palm forms a pocket that allows the grip safety to rise and deactivate the trigger. A beavertail grip safety with a memory bump cures this problem and funnels the grip properly, raising the hand and lowering the bore axis. We liked the Dan Wesson design. All of the pistols were equal as regards grip-safety design, with no clear preference. All controls featured a positive detent. Trigger compression is a crisp 5.5 pounds with the Heritage 1911. The trigger cannot be faulted, but it is also the heaviest of the test, according to the Lyman electronic trigger-pull gauge. The pistol does not have frontstrap checkering. The grips are austere for this type of handgun, a simple rubberized Hogue product. The Heritage is supplied with two eight-round magazines.

During the initial firing stage, the Heritage suffered a single failure to extract and a single short cycle in the first 50 rounds with the 200-grain LSWC loading. After these problems, there were no further malfunctions. Notably, these were the only malfunctions of any type during the test program in any of the handguns, save for a failure to lock open on the last shot with the Devil Dog handgun. The Dan Wesson pistol handled well. Recoil was not pronounced even with the +P loadings. Steel-frame 1911 45s are not a problem with standard loads. The controls were crisp and magazine changes were easily carried out. After the combat test, each handgun was carefully cleaned, lubricated, and checked for eccentric wear before firing for accuracy. The Heritage 1911 was none the worse for wear. The Dan Wesson Heritage turned in several 2.0-inch groups.

Our Team Said: The pistol is a good choice for most shooters, and while Dan Wesson terms it an entry-level handgun, it is as nice a handgun as most shooters would wish to own. We rated it down a half grade based on the early failures to cycle and extract some test ammo.

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45 ACP Range Data.xlsx

Fiocchi XTPHP 200-grain 45XTPB25Dan Wesson 1911 HeritageSpringfield Armory Loaded OperatorNighthawk FalconDevil Dog 4.25 Standard Guncrafter Commander
Average Velocity970 fps954 fps951 fps899 fps922 fps
Muzzle Energy418 ft.-lbs. 404 ft.-lbs.402 ft.-lbs. 359 ft.-lbs. 377 ft.-lbs.
Small Group1.8 in.2.0 in.1.5 in.2.2 in. 1.4 in.
Average Group2.4 in.2.5 in.2.0 in.2.7 in. 1.8 in.
Hornady Custom 230-grain XTP +P 9096Dan Wesson 1911 HeritageSpringfield Armory Loaded OperatorNighthawk FalconDevil Dog 4.25 Standard Guncrafter Commander
Average Velocity919 fps907 fps903 fps867 fps880 fps
Muzzle Energy431 ft.-lbs.420 ft.-lbs.416 ft.-lbs.384 ft.-lbs. 395 ft.-lbs.
Small Group2.0 in.2.2 in.1.7 in.2.4 in. 1.6 in.
Average Group2.4 in.2.6 in.2.1 in.3.0 in. 2.0 in.
Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 230-grain GDHP 23975GDDan Wesson 1911 HeritageSpringfield Armory Loaded OperatorNighthawk FalconDevil Dog 4.25 Standard Guncrafter Commander
Average Velocity855 fps839 fps828 fps810 fps780 fps
Muzzle Energy373 ft.-lbs.359 ft lbs.350 ft.-lbs.335 ft.-lbs. 311 ft.-lbs.
Small Group1.9 in.1.8 in.1.6 in.2.6 in. 1.7 in.
Average Group2.4 in.2.4 in.2.1 in.3.3 in. 2.0 in.


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