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    The 10mm — When It's Time to Go to Plan B

    I have long been a fan of large calibers. This is based on my research and personal experience. Depending on the need, I favor the 1911 in .45 ACP or 10mm, or magnum caliber revolvers. I have been concerned with animal defense for years. Among the many things I wish I had not seen was a photo that my Sgt., later Chief, showed me of a pretty youngster (perhaps four) with most of her scalp and face gone above the nose. She had been killed by a large dog.

    open box of Federal Hydra-Shok ammunition with one loose cartridge
    Federal’s Hydra-Shok is a low recoil, but highly accurate, loading.

    These attacks seem depressingly more common these days as inadequate personality types and ex-cons obtain these animals and treat them badly. Others simply have no idea how to treat an animal and have no respect for their capabilities. As a young man, my constant companion on duty and when hunting and hiking was a Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum. While the four-inch barrel .357 Magnum is a great all-around handgun for personal defense, I moved to the 1911 .45 which I found ideal and managed to carry on duty.

    Safety, reliability, and hit probability with the 1911 are all that could be desired. I have wondered from time-to-time if it was practical to combine the features of the 1911 with a hard-hitting cartridge and make for a suitable outdoors 1911. Twenty years ago, a correspondent in Alaska, asked me to help work up an outdoors load for his use as a lawman that would also be suitable for dangerous animals. Both bad guys and wolves come with a layer of fat and fur, he said.

    I worked up a Hornady 250-grain XTP at a hot 938 fps. I used heavy-duty recoil and firing pin springs. I loved the load, although it cracked the frame of my 1911 at a high round count. However, by then, I had won several bowling pin matches. I retired the Colt after 15,000 rounds. A friend purchased it and used it with the cracked frame for many years. I think my Alaskan pen pal liked the load as well. I looked to the magnum revolver as my choice for trail gun once again.

    Ruger SR1911 10mm

    Ruger SR1911 10mm pistol with two Ruger and one Mecgar magazines
    The 10mm is supplied with two magazines, we added a MecGar magazine.

    I had experience with the 10mm 1911, but their reliability and longevity were not what I wanted, then came the Ruger SR1911. This pistol features adjustable sights, making it a true outdoors pistol. The bull barrel and full-length guide rod made for a muzzle-heavy pistol that dampened recoil. This pistol is as suitable for constant carry as any steel frame 1911.

    The SR1911 features a well-designed beavertail safety that helps with the pistol’s recoil. The Ruger weighs 39 ounces. This is recoil-absorbing weight! Even with full power loads, including the Double Tap 200-grain flat point, recoil was controllable. The piece allowed relatively fast follow-up shots and rode well on the hip. Good leather wasn’t hard to find.

    Most of us never encounter a bad-tempered bear or cougar. Wild animals demand a certain set-off distance for comfort, and when you invade that comfort zone they may become belligerent. Plan A is to avoid trouble. The Ruger 10mm makes a good plan B. However, load choice makes the difference. If you wish to use the pistol for deer or hogs, the Hornady 180-grain XTP is a great choice. Federal Cartridge offers a bonded core 180-grain bullet that offers excellent performance. It is a pure hunting load. For defense against dangerous animals, the hard-cast lead bullet loads from Buffalo Bore work well. We need as much penetration as possible.

    Double Tap 10mm cartridge showing a 135-grain JHP bullet over a 95-grain lead ball
    The 10mm is versatile. This is a 135-grain JHP over a 95-grain lead ball, as loaded by Double Tap Ammunition.

    An outdoors pistol is often exposed to the elements. Stainless steel is a good choice for most of us. The primary cause of finish wear is friction as the piece is drawn from a holster. A tightly-fitted leather holster offers a good balance of speed and retention. My pistol is most often carried in a Galco Combat Master, a classic design with much to recommend. My personal SR1911 10mm has been upgraded with a few judicious modifications.

    Friends using other examples have reported 4.75-, 5.0- and 5.25-pound trigger release. My SR1911 arrived with a 7.0-pound trigger compression. I performed a trigger job and replaced the trigger, sear, hammer, and disconnect with quality Ed Brown parts. The trigger was adjusted to 4.25 pounds—ideal for a trained shooter.

    There are areas in which feral dogs are a problem. I have dealt with them and seen what they do to livestock children and the elderly. The 10mm is a good choice for these problems. With proper loads, the 10mm is well suited for defense use against mountain lions or small bears.

    From the Bench – Five Shot Groups at 25 Yards

    Ruger SR1911 10mm
    CCI Blazer 180-grain FMJ 2.8 inches
    Federal 180-grain Hydra-Shok 2.0 inches
    Hornady 155-grain XTP 2.2 inches
    Hornady 180-grain XTP 2.0 inches
    Double Tap 135-grain JHP 2.5 inches
    Buffalo Bore 200-grain FP 2.0 inches
    SIG Elite 180-grain FMJ 2.2 inches

    I added a magazine well that aided in rapid magazine changes. The pistol was also fitted with a set of Ahrends Skip Checkered grips. These are first class, hand-cut grips that offer a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. This combination of upgrades made a difference in handling. My choice for outdoors defense and trail use has turned out well. The pistol is also suited for town use, with proper loads and a well-designed IWB holster.

    three brass cartridges loaded with Buffalo Bore hard cast lead bullets
    Buffalo Bore’s hard-cast lead bullet offers excellent penetration.

    I like the 10mm very much. It isn’t as controllable as the .45 but much faster into action and for fast follow-up shots than the Magnum revolver. It is accurate, reliable, and with certain modifications, a very good shooting handgun. When originally adopted by the FBI there were two tiers of loads, a standard defense load and a high-powered, high-penetration loading. This works well for outdoorsmen.