For those looking for the review on the Colt Delta Gen II you can find it by following this link. The Gen II has replaced this Delta Elite in the Colt line up.

There are things that are awesome, just by themselves… such as chocolate, peanut butter, the 10mm Auto, and a Colt Government Model. Do you see where I am going with this?

The Colt Government is a fine pistol in any caliber but coupled with the 10mm Auto something magical happens. Since I have a little bit of experience with the 10mm Auto, as well as a few older Delta Elites, I wanted to see what the new Colt Deltas were all about.

For a little history on the 10mm Auto click here.

I received a new test Colt Delta Elite shortly after the 2014 SHOT show with the intention of running it hard and keeping an eye on how it shakes out.

I took a close look at the Colt a few days before I took it to the proving grounds.


The thumb safety, engaged with a hint of resistance and audible click.


The trigger broke clean at 5 pounds with a touch of take up and no over travel.


The slide fit to the receiver was tight with no deflection. The rear sight picked up easily with the 2 dots.


The front sight also easily picked up with the dot, though I would like this to be a tritium sight, which is easily added.


The magazine well with the flush fit 8 round magazine


The grip safety, a traditional style, was well fit and disengaged with correct purchase


The Delta Elite wrap around stocks with the Greek symbol of 4, denoting the caliber of the 10mm Auto as .40


The magazine released is checkered for a positive, keep your thumb on the button, feel.


The wrap around stocks afforded a checkered rubber grip on the front strap.


The muzzle of the Colt Delta Elite. The barrel bushing was well fit and I am glad to see Colt left the full length guide rod out.


The ejection port was lowered and the “Government Model” rollmark.


A shot of the rear of the pistol,


One of the 2 factory supplied magazines.


The magazine well was slightly beveled for aiding in reloading.


The mainspring housing was serrated to keep your sweaty hands on the gun during recoil.


The Commander style hammer (modeled after the rowel style) is serrated in case you need to thumb it. The extractor was well fit to the rear of the slide.


The feed ramp and barrel, ensured feeding of the round. I know, it is a bit dirty.


Yes, the Colt Delta Elite is a Series 80 and you can see the firing pin plunger here.


Here you can see the Colt Delta Elite barrel (right) as compared to a Gen 3 Glock 20. Case head support on the Colt is very similar to the updated Glock and tighter than previous Delta Elites.

The reloads were a mild 200gr Hornady bullet with 6.0gr of Unique and a maximum 8.6gr of IMR 800X under my home cast 175gr lead truncated cone. The last load was worked up to the propellent charge, as always start at the beginning and work up.

The initial range trip was primarily for testing my reloads for function and pressure signs. After several magazines of each reload and some factory rounds for good measure I was satisfied with my reloads and had begun to get an idea on the new Delta.  I took a closer look at everything when I got home and the powerful Colt was good to go.


I rounded up some factory rounds, Hornady 200gr JHP, Georgia Arms loaded Speer Gold Dots, Remington 180gr FMJ, Federal American Eagle, and two reloads and headed out for the second range trip. I brought along a few friends to help. After burning through most of the ammunition, I stepped off to the twenty-five yard line to shoot a few groups from a rest to see how accurate the Colt was. All in all we went through about 300 rounds without cleaning the Colt or having any issues.  I let several of my friends shoot the Delta Elite and everybody liked it and I even had a few offers to buy it. I had to tell them it was not even my gun (yet) but I left the “yet” part out.

Delta Elite Data

Reload 1 is 200gr Hornady bullet with 6.0gr of Unique

Reload 2 is 8.6gr of IMR 800X under my home cast 175gr lead truncated cone, Lyman mold 401638. Brinnell hardness is 19. You can find the review of that mold here.


The Colt Delta Elite field strips as any other Series 80 Colt Government Model. Everything looked good to go at the end of the review.


The Colt Delta Elite is a fine pistol, gave me no troubles with function or breakage, and was damn accurate. There has been a bit of a fad lately with some gun writers to run down the “1911”. See my complete thoughts on that here.  Keep in mind when the Government Model was designed the Wright Brothers were still building bicycles in Ohio. From manned missions to the moon in the late 60s to the state of the art jets we have today, the Government Model has changed very little comparatively since it’s adoption. With the Colt 1911 now available in so many calibers (the 10mm Auto being one of my favorite) there is little reason not to at least try one for yourself before you take the word of someone like myself. This new Delta Elite would serve well for many purposes from home defense, to concealed carry, to a trail/hiking gun. Factory ammunition can be a bit expensive and some loads are not much more than hot .40 S&W. There are ammunition manufactures, such as Hornady and Georgia Arms, that offer 10mm Auto ammunition that is loaded correctly. In my opinion the 10mm Auto also comes alive at the reloading bench, just like the Super .38.

Update, after another couple of hundred rounds and some intense reloading experiments the Colt Delta Elite is holding up nicely.


Model number       2020

Caliber                     10mm Auto

receiver/slide         stainless steel

over all length         8 1/2″

weight                   35 ounces

trigger pull          5 pounds

twist                    1 turn in 16 inches

MSRP $1115


Colt Manufacturing










By Hunter Elliott

I spent much of my youth involved with firearms and felt the call early on to the United States Marine Corps, following in my father's and his brother's footsteps. Just after high school I enlisted and felt most at home on the rifle range, where I qualified expert with several firearms and spent some time as a rifle coach to my fellow Marines. After being honorably discharged I continued teaching firearm safety, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and began teaching metallic cartridge reloading. In the late 1990s I became a life member to the National Rifle Association and worked with the Friends of the NRA. Around that time my father and I became involved with IDPA and competed together up until he passed away. I began reviewing firearms for publications in the mid 2000s and have been fortunate to make many friends in the industry. Continuing to improve my firearms skills and knowledge is a never ending journey in which we should all be committed. I am also credited as weapons master on a few independent films.

37 thoughts on “The Colt Delta Elite. You got your chocolate in my peanut butter.”
  1. […] GA_googleFillSlot("ColtForum-300F"); My review of the new Colt Delta elite has been published. Please take a look and let me know what you think. You got your chocolate in my peanut butter the Colt Delta Elite 10mm AutoRange Hot […]

  2. Another great article Hunter and nice Delts Elite. 10mm’s are always interesting and so underrated in most medias. For those who have come to appreciate the 10mm cartridge for what it brings as ballistic performance, with the versatility of projectile weights and bullet designs makes it very unique. Handloaders make the most of the performance potential in the various firearm platforms chambered for this cartridge.

    In the early years of the 10mm cartridge, I studied the Colt Delta Elite, the Bren Tens and the Smith & Wesson 1006 which won my heart back then. The Bren’s were desirable but not to be found locally. The S&W1006 was shown in a torture test that piqued my interest, with the 9+1 round payload combined with the adjustable sights, so it won out my hard earned money back in March 1990. It has proved to be a very strong shooter ever since, digesting some very strong loadings as I tested various limits.

    One thing that I have come to appreciate is added versatility by mere barrel changes, chambered for 40S&W, 357Sig and 9x25Dillon cartridges.

    Thanks for your review and long live this great cartridge!
    The Shadow

  3. Dude, good review and love the Delta, but your choices in factory 10mm ammo to test it with were anemic.

    You wrote: “There are ammunition manufactures, such as Hornady and Georgia Arms, that offer 10mm Auto ammunition that is loaded correctly.”

    Not the current Hornady loads. Their 200gn XTP is spec-ed @ 1050fps. That’s barely an accelerated .40-level load. Double Tap even loads a 200gn JHP in .40S&W and it does 1050fps. Now, way back in the late ’80s, Hornady did offer that same 200gn XTP load @ 1150fps, close to the original Norma specs. Their so-called “full-load” 180gn 10mm XTP is, according to Horn, doing 1180fps from a 5″ barrel, which isn’t bad given how other ammo-makers have watered down the 180gn 10mm to .40-levels, but full-throttle velocity in 10mm for that bullet-weight is 1300+fps.

    GA makes a decent 155gn 10mm Gold Dot load @ 1375fps, but their 180gn GD load is 1150fps from a 5″ tube. At best, that’s a low “mid-range” 10mm load.

    The Federal 10mm stuff is .40-duplicating junk. If the Rem was their 180gn 10mm FMJ @ 1150fps, then while that’s better than Fed’s load, for a *real* 10mm FMJ load you might have tested the Delta with DT’s 180gn @ 1250fps. Not full-power, but definitely a good practice load that’s close enough.

    Nope, next outing you need to run some DT, Buffalo Bore, or Underwood true-spec 10mm loads through your Delta, preferably with the heavier bullets, and see how it handles and what sorts of groups you get. Might want to get a Wolff XP recoil spring when you do that test.

    1. I appreciate your feedback.
      I reviewed what I could find local and shoot the gel with. The Hornady and Speer did preform pretty well velocity not withstanding. I was looking more at expansion and penetration than velocity.
      I do get what you say and agree with you but I have heard mixed opinions on the safety of those rounds pressure wise. I did load some of my reloads at the ceiling of real 10mm Auto loads but they over penetrated enough that would cause me to not carry that rounds as defense against two legged animals.
      I will keep my eye out for some of the rounds you listed and see what I can come up with.
      Thank you again for your feedback and insight, I appreciate that.

      1. Dude, wasn’t trying to be harsh. Seriously, you’re a good wordsmith and I liked the way you penned the review, plus you’re obviously a strong 10mm fan, like many of us.

        ” * * *but I have heard mixed opinions on the safety of those rounds pressure wise. I did load some of my reloads at the ceiling of real 10mm Auto loads but they over penetrated enough that would cause me to not carry that rounds as defense against two legged animals.”

        Well, there are “opinions,” and the negative ones are mostly unsupported *speculation* about what *could*/*might* happen masquerading as experience. Of the outfits I named, I’m unaware of any 10mm user claiming a catastrophic failure from an “over-pressured” load. If anything, over the last few years DT has been criticized for the chronographed failure of some of its 10mm ammo to reach advertised or claimed velocities. Also, unlike in the Norma-era (mid-’80s), we have way better propellants today, including hybrid powders which didn’t exist then, and in autoloading ammo these are able to produce highly velocities, with LOWER pressures than previously – and not just in 10mm, but in 9mm, .357Sig and even .40S&W.

        That’s on the safety issue. As far as what 10mm users feel comfortable carrying, that’s not only a personal decision and it’s also driven by the intended use or purpose for which the load was chosen. And, as someone pointed out in one of the many on-line caliber debates, that’s the 10mm AUTO greatest virtue: versatility of use.

        The 10mm’s huge energy curve allows its users to match the fps/fpe output of a given load (factory or handload) to the intended application: for personal defense/CCW/duty use; for competition/target shooting; for handgun hunting on hogs or deer; or use in a defensive pistol (say, a 15+1 Glock 20) that you’re carrying while camping, hiking, hunting, or fishing in the backwoods boonies, where encountering 2- or 4-legged predators is a possibility or, in some areas, a probability.

        Again, just a constructive FYI.

        Take care.

        1. I really do appreciate your feedback and I in no way thought you were being harsh. If I came across that way I apologize. I take all the constructive input I can get. That is how we grow and learn making the end product better.
          You have a better grasp on the some of the more boutique 10mm Auto rounds so that helps me put reviews together and be more comprehensive.
          Thank you again for you insight and please any advice you have for me I am all ears.

      2. Used my Delta Elite with Hornady 180XTP’s on one big pig and one mule deer buck. One shot, one kill. Shot placement, both at around 45 yards on two different trips. The Hornady XTP’s may not be “full power,” but I was impressed that is brought down a big boar with one heart/lung shot. He fell over and kicked for a bit, but he was dead. The buck ran about 75 yards and collapsed. Dead right there! I would never use the DT, Buffalo Bore or Underwood in a Delta. But the Hornady and the slightly more powerful 175 Silvertips work great. I’ve taken three bucks now with Silvertips out of my stock Delta Elite. Boom.

  4. Sweet review, man. I picked mine up last month and I love it. A question, though…where would a person like me locate a delta elite knife, as pictured above?

    1. Thank you sir.
      Ok, I will let everyone in on how the Delta Knife came about. When setting up the Delta photoshoot, I removed the Colt medallion and added the Delta medallion just for the shoot.
      I never though many folks would notice but I have gotten a lot of comments and want to be honest.
      Thank you again.

      1. I am a part time custom bladesmith and intend to make a great fighter knife that will compliment the Colt Delta Elite and inlay the same Delta medallions! I think that was a great idea!

  5. Nice to read your review, the 10mm and Super 38 are my fav(orite pistol calibers to load for, and they are used to (try) to rid the property of various types of vermin. Now that feral hogs are in the neighborhood and the sighting of a large black bear outside the bedroom window; the 10mm has become a caliber carry of choice day and night.

    Your review is timely and traditionally designed JHPs don’t need to be pushed to uber velocities in order to be effective with hammer of Thor terminal performance. For the 1911 owner it means that one doesn’t need to hammer their pistol and hands. 🙂 It also means faster split times on target that one would expect from the 1911 platform.

    Will need to put the Delta Elite on the short list for future 10mm ownership.

    In theory, the Barnes all copper JHP bullet has no upper velocity limit for use in service calibers. I had Bob Serva at Fusion build a tactical Commander because I needed more gun during night time encounters with very large predators. My primary ammunition is Double Tap’s 125gr Barnes bullet that chronographed 1590fps during Gunblast’s Delta Elite review. What I wasn’t prepared for was its soft recoil, small, if any, muzzle flash. It’s loud, but not piercing as other service calibers can be.

    Thank you for taking the time to test and write another great review! 🙂


    1. Thank you very much for the kind words Bob. I do appreciate your feedback and I have learned quite a bit since getting a couple of gel blocks. I know for a fact you know exactly what you are talking about so I appreciate your insight.

  6. Good review on the Colt Delta Elite. I am a fan of the 10mm Auto and I liked reading the ballistics tests on your online gun magazine, especially the 10mm and 300 Blackout.
    Nice work on Hunter, I like your magazine.

  7. Great reviews on the colt delta elite. You helped push me into the loving arms of Colt versus kimber (eclipse) and sti (nitro).

      1. Finally took her out for a spin at PDHSC in Raleigh. Loved it! Although i was shooting a little low and to the right. Will need to get back and figure out what I was doing wrong.

  8. My first experience with the 10mm was when I picked up a Glock 20, and then only the weak factory stuff was what I used. Since then, I’ve gotten into reloading, and loading and shooting actual full power loads. The above user is correct, the full power stuff is where the 10mm shines. Getting back to the Delta, I bought a blued one from 1987, and fell in love with it. It’s just a fun a gorgeous firearm, and after some trigger work, new sights, and handloads, became my favorite range toy. It groups comparable to what the author was getting in the article, and I enjoy seeing other 1911 shooters remark about how they “It’s not a .45”. I’ve since then bought a stainless version from the late 80’s as well, and have carried that thing everywhere. Delta owners are a special breed, and there is definitely pride of ownership over Kimbers. At least in my opinion. Keep up the good work, and may the 10mm live on.

    1. Finally took her out for a spin at PDHSC in Raleigh. Loved it! Although i was shooting a little low and to the right. Will need to get back and figure out what I was doing wrong.

  9. Actually, the Hornady 155 grain XTP is pushing 1358 fps out of a 4.75 inch barreled Witness, It will do even better out of the 5 inch Delta barrel. This load is well within the 600 foot pound spec for full power 10mm ammo.

    I understand this is not Underwood level, but it is still a healthy load in 10mm.

  10. Hunter, great review. My Delta should be here Wednesday. A question if I might; what would you consider an optimal bullet weight, JHP, for this gun? I am not a hunter and my primary purpose for this weapon is to motive Black Lives Matter thugs to get out of my way on the freeway if that time every comes. I am thinking 180gr using Power Pistol or Lil-Gun.

  11. Hunter, great review on the D.E. Having shot the new as well as the older Colts in 10mm how do they stack up side by side as far as the bbls. and differences in being supported? Also Underwood makes a good round for the colt in 180 grams at 625 fps of energy for those interested.

    1. Thank you very much Patrick. I have an older Delta Elite, and the newer ones have a much tighter and better supported chamber. I shot some max SAAMi spec ammo through the test DE and there were no signs of case bulging or separation.
      I believe the new Delta Elite to be better designed and built pistols over the older version.

  12. Ironically I was eating Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips and Adams Natural Peanut Butter as I was reading you excellent review! My question is whether the Delta Elite is durable enough to withstand a steady diet of full power 10mm loads? I like the svelte profile and old school looks of the 1911 a lot more than the bulkier SIG P220 Elite 10mm or the boxy Glock 20.On the other hand I would rather get one of the other pistols and just stick to 45acp if the Browning design is not up to handling the 10mm.

    1. I am sorry it took me so long to reply but I have been at the NRA show. As for the Delta Elite, yes it will handle SAAMI spec 10mm Auto all day long. I bought the test sample from Colt and have used it when working up 10mm Auto loads and have not had any problems.

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