Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Ammo problem... what about the .410?
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Franchi Momentum Rifle makes debut

The 10mm comes into it’s own
Sometimes it amazes me how dynamics change around Gundom when it comes to what is “in” and what is “out.” Truly, the marketplace is fickle. The subject at hand is the 10mm Auto.

Finally, after decades of malaise, it looks like the 10mm Auto may be coming into its own – and as a hunting cartridge, at that. It has been a long time and a long road getting to this point, however.

THE COLT DELTA ELITE was the first truly obtainable pistol chambered for the 10mm Auto. Here is author’s Delta Elite that was used on a hunt when the cartridge was introduced in the 1980s.

Southern California holds much of the history of this rimless cartridge. Jeff Cooper may have been the force behind its creation, but Dornaus & Dixon got the ball rolling by offering their Bren Ten chambered for it in 1983. But there were many problems that almost saw the 10mm Auto suffer stillbirth. Norma made the first ammo for it.

In 1987, Colt brought out its Delta Elite in 10mm, making it the first handgun that was actually widely available on the market for that cartridge. I remember that well, because I was with the folks from Colt and Winchester ammo on a hunt in Texas following the SHOT Show that year when it was introduced. It worked fine in the hunt and I still have the Delta Elite I used on that hunt.

The marketplace was underwhelmed initially and then the law enforcement folks huddled with Winchester to come up with what they all thought was a better idea – since the 10mm Auto case was longer than it needed to be (not a problem in the Bren Ten or the Delta Elite 1911), they decided to come up with a shorter cartridge that would shoot the same bullets at more or less the same velocities, but would fit into 9mmP size pistols. That all happened between 1987 and 1990.

The result was the .40 S&W, which became seriously popular. I remember that development, because I was peripherally involved. Hunting buddy Mike Jordan at Winchester was part of the development team and so there came a time during the development when he brought some guns and ammo to Southern California to shoot some exotics in Cherry Valley at Chuck Wagner’s place. I forget whether it was Mike or me who bagged the first animal with a .40 S&W, but it was on that hunt.

THE 10MM AUTO cartridge, center, compares with the .40 S&W, left, and .45ACP.

Back to the 10mm Auto. For years, there were not many models of handguns chambered for the 10mm and it was at most on the back burner within the industry. Then a couple of years ago, there began to be renewed interest in the 10mm as a hunting cartridge. Since then, more and more pistol makers are offering models in 10mm Auto – Colt and Glock (who have offered a 10mm Auto all along), CZ-USA, Dan Wesson, Kimber, Ruger, Smith &Wesson and SIG to name a few.

All along, the 10mm Auto has been touted as having performance similar to the .41 Mag revolver cartridge. It is a bit less than the .41 Mag. It works fine on medium-size game at short distances. Although it could be used as a primary pistol/cartridge combination on wild pig hunts, its highest and best use on such hunts is as a coup de grâce combo. Expanding bullets work best for hunting such game.

For those who want a pistol/cartridge combination that can work at close range on hunts and also double as a recreational/defense combo, the 10mm Auto is a good choice.

It is nice to see that the cartridge is coming into its own. It would not be correct to say that it is making a comeback, because it never really made it to the big time in the first place. But at least it looks like it is here to stay.

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Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a WON Guns and Hunting Guns Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at

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