Colt Manufacturing

Colt Manufacturing page last updated: 12/19/06


Colt Manufacturing

Model Description Status Rating
Delta Elite 5" barrel with fixed sights. Originally available only in blue, but later offered in stainless as well. Discontinued
Delta Gold Cup Gold Cup version of the standard Delta with 5" barrel with adjustable rear sight. Stainless version most common, but a few blued guns were made. Discontinued
Double Eagle All stainless, 5" barrel with fixed sights and Sig-style frame mounted decocker. Discontinued
Additional Notes: The Colt Delta Elite is one of the most popular 10mm pistols around. Though many deem the 1911 as being too fragile for full-power 10mm ammo, there are a number of simple modifications that can be made to reduce wear and tear.


When it comes to the 10mm Auto cartridge one of the most popular platforms is the Colt Delta Elite. The Colt Delta is very important to the 10mm story in that it was the gun that basically saved the cartridge from oblivion. Prior to Colt the only gun chambered for the 10mm Auto was the Bren Ten. When Dornaus & Dixon closed their doors in 1986 this essentially left the 10mm without a home. Colt, always searching for new ways to revitalize its 1911 Government Model, decided the hot 10mm Auto would be a relatively easy way to add a magnum-class chambering to their lineup. As with many new guns the Delta Elite was not without "teething" problems. These were eventually rectified, but for many shooters the belief that the 10mm was too much for the 1911 was set in stone.

In the early 90's the 10mm was in its prime, largely due to the cartridge's adoption by the F.B.I. Just about every gunmaker was now rushing to add a 10mm to their catalog, and though Colt already had its Delta, the law enforcement trend was towards double-action pistols. It was during this time that Colt introduced its Double Eagle line. Essentially a double-action 1911 with a Sig-style frame mounted decocker, the Double Eagle seemed to be the answer, but it never garnered the popularity Colt had hoped for and was eventually dropped from production.



While Colt has made numerous 10mms they basically come in two forms. The first is based on the 1911 Government Model and includes the Delta Elite (and all its various derivatives). The second is the Double Eagle which was Colt's attempt at a double-action 1911.

Delta Elite - In 1987 Colt rescued the 10mm Auto cartridge from an early demise by chambering the round in its 1911 Government Model. Dubbed the "Delta Elite," Colt advertised the gun's hard-hitting power and flat trajectory.

The Delta used a dual recoil spring setup rated at 23lbs, but even with the stronger spring early guns developed problems with frame cracking. Cracks appeared in the corner of the slide stop hole, but Colt was able to come up with a simple fix by removing the metal just above the hole turning it into an open-topped notch. Though this solved the frame cracking issues, the Delta was never able to totally overcome the continuing rumors of poor durability and stories of guns being "beaten up" by the 10mm cartridge.

Delta Gold Cup - Basically a Gold Cup version of the Delta Elite, this gun is probably the finest Colt 10mm made. Built to exacting tollerances these guns are extremely accurate. My personal DGC was rather finiky for the first couple hundred rounds, but is now quite reliable and is the most accurate 10mm Auto I own. Most Colt DGCs were stainless steel, but I have seen a few blued guns advertised.

Double Eagle - When Colt designed the Double Eagle the idea was to build a double-action pistol that would retain the classic look of the 1911. The slide, externally, looks almost identical to a standard Government Model, but the frame his highly modified. One of the most controversial design features of the gun was the use of the grip panels to not only contain, but actually hold in place some of the various internal parts. There were many complaints about springs flying and pieces falling out when the pannels were removed. These problems were supposedly corrected with the MkII version, but the grip pannels were still used to cover these parts and, in my opinion, were far from asthetically pleasing. On the plus side, these guns incorporated a Sig-style decocker located between the trigger and grip pannel on the left side of the gun.

A rare blued Delta Gold Cup with factory ivory grips.


The Colt 1911 Government Model 10mms are excellent pistols, but care must be taken when firing full-power 10mm ammo through box-stock guns. Though not as strongly built as the S&W 10xx series, or Glock 20, once properly set up these guns are outstanding shooters!

Many potential first-time 10mm buyers ask which gun is "better." When comparing the Colt Delta, S&W 10xx series, Glocks, etc., the only real drawback for the Colt is its price (usually 1.5x to 2x the price of other non-1911 10mms). Everything else is subjective and can be put down to personal preference.

Shooting Characteristics

Shooting a Colt Delta is pretty much like shooting any other 1911 Government Model. The main difference, in my opinion, is that recoil is faster with more muzzle flip. This is not to say that recoil is harsh and abusive, like shooting a .44 Mag. Personally I don't find the recoil of a 10mm any worse than a +P .45 ACP. It's just a bit "snappier," making follow-up shots a little slower as it takes more time to get back on target.

With ammo it likes, the Colt Delta is an easy gun to shoot well. Unlike the .45 version, the Delta 10mm has a very flat trajectory. Combine this with a good, crisp 1911 trigger and consistent hits out to 100 yards becomes relatively easy.

I have never shot a Colt Double Eagle, in any caliber, and so I cannot speak to its particular shooting characteristics. The DE uses completely different trigger system and so, in my opinion, gives up one of the Colt's best attributes.


March 1987 Shooting Times

One of the early articles on the first "mainstream" 10mm pistol, the Colt Delta Elite. This article, by Dick Metcalf, covers the high points of the new gun and it's similarities with the standard .45 ACP 1911.

February 1988 Guns & Ammo

Another early review of the Colt Delta Elite by Jan Libourel. Good general information on the "new" 1911 10mm. The article also includes some interesting information on varying lots of the supposedly "hot" Norma ammunition.

American Handgunner 1991 Annual

A good article, by Waldo Lydecker, on the Colt Double Eagle MkII 10mm pistol. The article covers not only the basic design, but also the upgrades made in the MkII version. Includes some great pictures.


Pre-Enhanced vs. Enhanced

Early on in the Delta's production there were problems with frame cracking. This occured in the area of the slide stop hole with a crack usually developing in the lower right hand corner. Colt quickly became aware of the problem and introduced a "fix," along with a number of other minor upgrades. These upgraded Delta Elites are most commonly known as the "enhanced" version.

The cracking was solved by simply cutting out the top of the slide stop hole making it more of a notch. Other changes included slanted cocking serrations on the slide, an undercut trigger guard, a skeletonized hammer, and a wider, longer beavertail grip safety.

For more detailed information and pictures be sure to check out Sean Smith's "10mm Tech Notes" webpage:

10mm Tech Notes - Colt Delta Elite

Delta Variations

When people talk about Colt's 10mm the gun they are most likely to think about is the standard blued Delta Elite. There is also, of course, the Gold Cup version and the Double Eagle, but Colt also made numerous "limited run" 1911s chambered for the 10mm Auto. These guns were usually produced in runs of around 500 units or so. While produced in relatively low numbers the current prices for these guns can range from about the same as a standard no-frills Delta Elite to more than a stainless Delta Gold Cup.

Coming up with a comprehensive list of all of Colt's 1911 10mm variations would seem to be an easy task, but unfortunately this has not turned out to be the case. So far I have come across the following model variations:

Combat Delta 10
Custom Combat 10
Delta 10
Elite 10
Elite Ten/Forty
Match 10
Ultra 10

I would not be surprised if there are others out there, but so far these are the ones I've seen in person, or listed on various internet sites.

Colt "Elite Ten / Forty" dual-caliber 1911 Government Model.

Colt "Match 10" 1911 Government Model.

Colt "Elite 10" 1911 Government Model.

Colt "Custom Combat 10" 1911 Government Model.

"Barbecue" Colt Delta Gold Cup

I'm not much for engraving, but this Delta was just too over-the-top not to include. If you're a 10mm fan and plan on heading to a big, Texas barbecue then this is the gun you should be wearing!

One-of-a-kind Colt "Famous Cattle Brands" Delta Gold Cup.



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