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Dan Wesson Model 44 Magnum: Simply an Overrated Gun?

Dan Wesson Model 44 Magnum Revolver
Dan Wesson Model 44 Magnum Revolver

When one thinks of the word “Wesson” and Magnum revolvers – no relation to Wesson cooking oil — one naturally thinks of Smith & Wesson. After all, not only is S&W one of the Big Three of American handgun manufacturers (along with Ruger and Colt), but they’re they company that gave us the first .357 Magnum (the S&W Model 27), the first .44 Magnum (the iconic Model 29 of Dirty Harry fame), and the first .41 Magnum (the less famous but still very viable Model 57). However, there’s another bearer of the Wesson family name that also has made its fair share of high-quality double-action revolvers: say hello to Dan Wesson Firearms and their Model 44 AKA “Large Frame” .44 Magnum.

Dan Wesson Company and Firearm Brief History and Specifications 

Dan Wesson Firearms , somewhat obviously, takes its name from its founder, Daniel Baird Wesson II (1916 – 1978), great-grandson of Smith & Wesson co-founder (along with Horace Smith) Daniel B. Wesson.

Dan II worked for his great grandpa’s company for 30 years until it was purchased by the Bangor Punta conglomerate in 1968, at which point he decided to branch off on his own, launching Dan Wesson Arms Inc. that same year, located in the town of Monson, Massachusetts.

Alas, after his passing 10 years later, Dan Wesson’s namesake company went through considerable upheaval. From 1978 to 1991, the company went through various owners whilst retaining the original name and location.

In ’91, his son Seth Wesson became the CEO with the Wesson family as a whole taking ownership, renaming the business as Wesson Firearms Co. and relocating to Palmer, Massachusetts.

In 1996, yet another ownership change, leadership change, and relocation took place; Wesson Firearms was now CEO’d by Bob Serva, owned by New York International Corp, and moved to Norwich, New York, where they’ve remained ever since.

From 2005 to the present day, they’ve been a subsidiary of CZ-USA, the Stateside branch of the Czech company best known for the legendary CZ-75 9mm double-action semiauto pistol, with Alice Poluchová at the helm.

As for their Model 44 revolver, the very first preproduction model came out in November 1980. It was initially offered with 4-inch, 6-inch, 8-inch, or 10-inch interchangeable barrel/shroud option. Geared toward competitive shooters in the no-nonsense sport of handgun metallic silhouette shooting, the Model 44 soon developed a reputation for superb accuracy.

Four decades later, Dan Wesson wheelguns still hold more records and titles in that sport than all other makes of revolvers combined. A major contributing factor to this higher degree of intrinsic accuracy was the fact that the straight, tubular Dan Wesson barrels were held in place at both ends–screwed into the frame at the breech and locked at the muzzle by the enclosing shroud and barrel nut.

This provided a more secure foundation, less barrel vibration, and less variation in the flexing of the barrel from one shot to the next. 

A Friend’s Shooting Impressions           

Due to my non-existent hands-on experience with the 1006, I decided to interview a friend who’s actually owned one and loved it for many years (over three decades actually), namely my old buddy Kevin Freeman, who was my classmate in both North Hollywood High School’s Class of 1993 and the University of Southern California’s (FIGHT ON, TROJANS!!) Class of 1997. (Yes, I’m actually that damn old, please don’t let my dashing youthful good looks fool y’all). Here’s what good ol’ Kev had to say:

“I got my Dan Wesson 44M 30ish years ago as a gift from my Dad. He both liked the variability of having a 44 Mag/Special, and it was up to me to choose. The Dan Wesson was reported to have improved upon other revolver designs: interchangeable barrels and the cylinder lock is on the swing arm instead of the frame. It did result in adaptability and incredible accuracy. That said, I regret my decision. Dan Wesson had SEVERE quality control issues. My Dan Wesson has not been shot in 20 years since it needs to be retimed. The double action trigger feels like it binds up resulting in heavy pull and soft strikes. The single pole grip mount destroys wood grips by putting too much leverage on the front of the grips resulting in cracking. It is a fine-looking gun with many useful improvements over other manufacturers but overall great ideas with poor implementation.”

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Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  In his spare time, he enjoys (besides shooting, obviously) dining out, cigars, Irish and British pubs, travel, USC Trojans college football, and Washington DC professional sports. If you’d like to pick his brain in-person about his writings, chances are you’ll be able to find him at the Green Turtle Pasadena in Maryland on Friday nights, singing his favorite karaoke tunes.

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).