Sure enough, when the 10mm was unveiled, it looked as though all those predictions were
right. After testing Colts Delta and the new cartridge, the FBI announced it was
going to be their official sidearm and round. Impressed by that endorsement, police
departments all over the country began considering rearming with the new 10mm autoloader.
Then an unexpected development developed:
Bureau technicians immediately began experimenting with reduced loads. Seems the
full-charge ammunition, although it lived up to all advertised velocity and energy
specifications, kicked a bit.
Imagine that? A magnum round with lots of
recoil! Whod of thought it? If any of J. Edgar Hoovers troops complained about
the .357s kick when that caliber was selected as the bureaus official caliber,
it must have escaped my attention. Maybe its all that sensitivity training FBI
agents are supposed to receive - perhaps its really working.
No matter. As a result of the bureaus
experiments, a reduced-load 10mm round was created. Instead of sending a 200-grain
flatnose out the muzzle around 1,200 fps, bullet weight was lowered to 180 grains and its
launch speed to an advertised 1,000 fps. A short time later, those ballistics were
incorporated in a slightly shorter case and baptized the .40-caliber Smith & Wesson.
As everyone knows, the .40 S&W is the darling of law enforcement agencies all over the
country. According to newspaper reports, bad guys like it too.
To add insult to injury, the FBI decided to
swap their Colt Deltas for Berettas. Some reports indicated they would be chambered for
the old 9mm cartridge. Others predicted theyd be in the new .40 caliber. Which
turned out to be true I cant say. Dont care, really. What they shoot is their
problem, not mine.
And the 10mm? Well, it looks as though its
days are numbered. Remington quit making 10mm ammunition two or three years back.
CCIs new catalog doesnt list it. Federals contains one load featuring a
180-grain jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) at .40 S&W velocities. Winchester is down to one
load, but its a corker: a 175-grain Silvertip hollowpoint at 1,290 fps that gins up
649 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) of muzzle energy from a test barrel. From my Delta, those loads
averaged 1,197 fps some 15 feet from the muzzle. Not bad.
Since Colt dropped the Delta from production,
the only arm being chambered for the round is Smiths Model 610 Classic Hunter - and
that might vanish from dealers shelves at any moment. No, it doesnt look like
the 10mm has much of a future.
That Model 610, by the way, was originally
dropped from production about three or four years ago. It reappeared in Smith &
Wessons 1998 catalog in response to customer demand that was sparked by 610
owners boasts about their sixguns remarkable accuracy.
My Model 610 was purchased the first year of
production. It was a test gun, but after seeing how it performed at the range, I figured
it was one of those happy accidents and bought it. Come to find out, mine was
representative of the breed, not a lucky exception. During the following year, 610s racked
up a universally recognized reputation for accuracy but were dropped from production
anyway. Apparently not many pistolieros were interested in a sixgun chambered for an
Glancing over my old range data, its
pretty obvious that accuracy of practically every load tried was above average, whether it
was fired in the Delta or the Model 610. There must be something about the cartridge
itself that contributes to that kind of a record.
To begin with, the 10mm will accommodate
bullets from 140 to 200 grains Ð accurately. In addition, its unusually tolerant
about powders. Some might give slightly better results than others in individual handguns,
but none tested was an obvious mismatch Ð a phenomenon rarely experienced by a
handloader. Very fast burning powders seemed to open groups. Slow-burning numbers
cant churn up velocity levels of factory ammunition, but they were certainly
Among my favorites are AAC-7, Unique, AAC-9,
Universal Clays, Blue Dot and HI-SKOR 800-X. Theres more than enough published load
data available, so theres no point in repeating it here.
Its a sturdy case and easy to reload:
just give the case neck a slight bell to ease bullet seating, choose bevel-based bullets
whenever possible and give each case enough taper crimp to hold its bullet securely.
Both the Delta and Model 610 take to cast
bullets like a politician to money under the table. One of my favorite loads in the Delta
is built around SAECOs bullet 047, a bevel-based flatnose weighing 206 grains from
my mould. Backed by 10.0 grains of AAC-7, those bullets average 1,095 fps 15 feet from the
muzzle. Five-shot strings run from 1.7 to 2.0 inches at 25 yards fired over a rest. All
cast slugs were hand-lubed with Alox and fired as-cast. That guarantees groove-filling
bullets and lead-free bores.
The first Government Model Colt to come my way
was issued to me back in 1942. There has been at least one within reach most of the time
since. Of all of them, the Delta 10 is the most consistently accurate, untuned Model 1911
Ive ever fired. It has benefited from a trigger job since it has been in my
possession, but thats the only smithing it has enjoyed. The factory wraparound
grips were replaced by Pachmayrs Pacwood-rubber American Legend stocks. They improve
the Deltas appearance, and their finger grooves are a definite aid to control.
When the Deltas clip is stuffed with
full-power loads, the big auto rears back with a fair amount of authority. Thanks to that
hefty pair of recoil springs, it has more jolt than a .45 automatic but not near as much
as a .357 magnum fired in a pistol of the same weight. Using a two-handed hold, the
10mmÕs recoil is more bounce than back-slam. Its muzzle is pushed skyward each time a
round goes, but getting back on target quickly has never been much of a problem. Ken
Waters mentioned the Deltas tendency to torque as it recoiled. For some reason,
Ive never noticed that.
Thanks to a beefy 5-inch barrel with full
underlug, Smiths Model 610 is about half a pound heavier than the Delta. Loaded, it
feels slightly muzzle heavy, always an aid to steady holding. When fired single action,
trigger pull is a consistent 3 1/2 pounds, according to the Chatillon pull tester. Let-off
is the usual S&W crisp and, as noted before, accuracy is absolutely phenomenal.
The first time the 610 put five rounds in an
inch at 25 yards (from a rest, of course), it was attributed to luck. When it happened
again - and again - during load testing, the realization began to dawn that both sixgun
and cartridge were unlike anything that had come my way before.
Most five-shot strings cut 1.5 inches at 25
yards, but an impressive percentage went into an honest inch. Anytime groups exceeded 1
1/2 inches, there was no doubt about where the fault lay.
Friends tell me the current Model 610, the
Classic Hunter, is delivering the same kind of accuracy. It is available in only one
barrel length: 6 1/2 inches. All that extra metal brings its unloaded weight up to 52
ounces. My 610s recoil feels like that of a .45 Colt. That of the new model must be
Periodically Im tempted to mount a
pistol scope on the Model 610 just to see how accurate it really is. In the meantime,
its used to develop new loads and test new bullets. It also goes along in the pickup
sometimes, but as luck would have it, it has never been needed.
One more plus: The Model 610 is as versatile
as a dual-cylindered model. With the aid of S&W full-moon clips, shorter-cased
.40-caliber rounds can be loaded and fired in its chambers. Accuracy is first class and
recoil is hardly noticeable at all. If nothing else, that capability means there will
always be another source for usable brass.
To date, the Delta has never been turned
against anything larger than jackrabbits and crows. It might be more practical to pack the
Model 610 when hunting, but to be honest, the Delta is flatter, more compact and rides
easier in a holster when clambering up hill and down dale. Its also accurate enough
Ð at least, it has proved to be so far.
Needless to say, a fast second or third shot
capability comes in mighty handy when popping away at a high-stepping, dodging bunny. Most
of my hunting loads leave the muzzle around 1,100 fps. Not only do those bullets fly flat
and give plenty of reach, but all that velocity allows a noticeable reduction in the
required lead, even when ranges stretch out near 100 yards. Equally important, those
projectiles hit mighty hard out there. Even with my over-the-hill hearing, the solid thump
they make when smacking fur is clearly audible.
At the range, just about any handload will
group 2 inches at 25 yards from a rest. A number of factory loads bettered that. One box
of Remington 200 grainers averaged 1.7 inches. Velocities of those jacketed flatnoses,
measured 15 feet from the Deltas muzzle, averaged 1,050 fps, and their extreme
velocity spread was only 41 fps. Too bad the Big Green is out of the 10mm business.
Thanks to the continuing popularity of the .40
caliber, there should never be any shortage of bullets to choose from. Speer offers four
different weights with full-metal jackets: 155, 165, 180 and 200 grains. Winchester stocks
155-, 165- and 180-grain Silvertip hollowpoints for their .40 calibers plus the 175
grainers seated in their sole remaining 10mm load. In addition to the 180-grain hard alloy
flatnose seated in their 10mm load, they also market 155-, 165- and 180-grain
full-metal-jacketed (FMJ) flatnoses in their .40-caliber rounds. Remington lists five
different types in four weights: 141-grain Frangible, 155-grain JHP, 165-grain brass JHP,
180-grain brass JHP and a 180-grain JHP.
So far, all the small game dropped by the
Delta fell victim to full-patch flatnoses or Lyman bullet 401638 cast from a Linotype-hard
mix. Although the most distant kill I can recall couldnt have been much over 90
yards away, that full-jacketed truncated cone with its wide, flat face packed a lot of
punch. The large crow in my sights seemed to explode in a shower of black feathers, and
the "thwack" of the bullet was easily heard.
Just why the 10mm received such scanty
attention from hunters is hard to figure. Youd think competitors would have checked
it out, especially the silhouette shooters. Seems to me it would have been an ideal
caliber for that game. Well, no point in crying over the proverbial spilled milk.
Its obvious the curtain is coming down on the 10 and the arms chambered for it. Fans
of the round will do well to stock up on brass while its still available. If you
know of anyone in the market for a powerful but controllable hunting handgun with a much
higher-than average accuracy potential, tell them to take a long, hard look at Smith &
Wessons Model 610 Classic Hunter. The day might come when theyll wish they