Colt Delta Elite

Delta Elite

Colt Delta Elite
Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin  United States
Service history
In service Various Sheriffs and Law Enforcement on the United States border
Production history
Designer Colt's Manufacturing Company based on a John Browning design
Designed 1987
Number built Unknown
Variants Blued, Stainless, Enhanced, 10/40, Bright Stainless
Weight 2.437 lb (1,105 g) empty, w/ magazine
Length 8.25 in (210 mm)
Barrel length 5.03 in (127 mm)

Cartridge 10mm Auto
Action Single action, Short recoil operated
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Muzzle velocity Approximately 405 m/s (1330 ft/s)
Effective firing range 60 m, 100 m (max. effective)
Feed system 8+1 detachable-box magazine
Sights Fixed iron

The Colt Delta Elite is a modified M1911 pistol, Series 80 configuration, chambered for the 10mm Auto. It is similar to the M1911 in design and operation. Colt manufactured both stainless steel and blued versions with eight-round magazines. A Delta Gold Cup model was also offered for target competition. The stainless steel Government Model version has recently been reintroduced.

Released in 1987 it was the second commercial pistol chambered in the 10mm cartridge, following the Dornaus & Dixon manufactured Bren Ten pistol, which was released in 1983 and pioneered the 10mm Auto chambering.[1]


The Delta Elite is credited as being the first firearm produced by a major manufacturer to chamber the 10mm.[2] The ill-fated Bren Ten sparked a genuine interest in the 10mm round with outdoorsmen and as a defense round.

The pistol was dropped from production in 1996 due to lackluster sales and the availability of smaller pistols with higher magazine capacities chambered in .40 S&W.[3]

Colt announced the re-introduction of the Delta Elite at the 2008 SHOT Show. This new generation is generally similar to the previous version. The "new" Delta Elites will be manufactured with the traditional barrel/bushing arrangement. Colt Customer Service stated they had a lack of acceptable accuracy problem with the "bull" bushingless barrel setup. That was the cause of the delay in the Delta Elite's production schedule. The new Delta Elite pistol was released March 31, 2009.[4]


The Delta Elite is a standard M1911 design, with a few minor differences from the latest Series 80 derivative of that pistol. It carries the rowel "Commander" type hammer of that pistol and the same overall features of the 1911 that have made it so popular with users. However, the Delta Elite carries a stiffer double recoil spring to handle the increased recoil of the 10mm round. Unlike the .400 Corbon, the 10mm can easily exceed the pressure levels of the .357 Magnum, thus stressing the original design's limitations, unless care is given. Many gunsmiths have their own modifications which they feel adjust the level of felt recoil of the Delta Elite. Some of the very first Delta Elites had a tendency to suffer flex-induced slide rail stress cracks. This was quickly addressed by removing the section of the rail above the slide-stop cutout.[4]

Original design before improvement to allow flexing.
Metal removed to allow the frame to flex.
A Delta Elite on display at the National Firearms Museum. Police issue from Hartford, CT.


Colt Delta Elite variants
Variant 1 blue
Variant 1 Blued Delta Elite 
Variant 1 stainless
Variant 1 Stainless Delta Elite 
Variant 2
Variant 2 Delta Elite 
Variant 3
Variant 3 Delta Elite 
Variant 4
Variant 4 Delta Elite 
Colt Elite Ten Forty
Colt Elite Ten Forty, a special variant Delta Elite 
New variation
New Colt Delta Elite manufactured in 2009 

See also


  1. Shideler, Dan. Gun Digest Book of Semi-Auto Pistols. Iola, Wisconsin: KP Books. p. 96. ISBN 0-89689-174-7.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sapp, Rick (2007). Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms. Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media, Inc. pp. 165–167. ISBN 0-89689-534-3.
  3. James, Frank (2004). Effective Handgun Defense: A Comprehensive Guide to Concealed Carry. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 186. ISBN 0-87349-899-2.
  4. 1 2 Ayoob, Massad (26 June 2012). Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 90. ISBN 1-4402-2869-8.
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