Sig Nitron 1911: Can It Hang with the S&W PC1911?

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I recently acquired a 1911.  Well, another 1911.  This one is marketed by Sig as the Sig Tacpac Rail.  Basically, it’s a Sig Nitron Rail 1911 that comes in a case with a holster, two mags, a loader, and a Sig laser sight (hence, the “Tacpac” designation).

For any of you not familiar with Sig’s history of making 1911s, they are fairly new to the game.  Meaning, they’ve only been in the business of making 1911s for around 10 years.  The first Sig 1911s were reportedly made using Caspian slides and frames and, from what I have read, suffered from poor reliability and were generally not considered a great effort.  Sig then started making their own under the designation GSR, which stood for Granite State Rail.  These pistols featured what is referred to as the “manhole cover” on the right (or starboard side for you non-land residing folk) side of the slide.  Look at one and you’ll see why:  there’s a circular cover with a couple holes as part of the firing pin safety mechanism on the slide.

Anyway, about my gun.  I purchased this just a couple weeks ago online.  The FFL was very upfront about the fact that this was a NIB firearm but the case had been damaged in transit to them, resulting in a broken latch and a missing chunk of plastic.  I called Sig, explained the situation, and had a brand new case (complete with another holster and loading tool) at my house even before the pistol arrived to my FFL for transfer.  And, all of this was free of charge!  Thanks Sig!

The pistol itself is tight.  In fact, this is the ONLY 1911 I own that I have had to use a bushing wrench on; I could not get the bushing fully rotated by hand.  The slide to frame fit is tight as well, with only a minimal amount of play detectable.  For all you readers, slide to frame fit, while heavily scrutinized, is not nearly as important to a 1911s accuracy as the barrel to slide fit.  And that, both at the bushing and ejection end, is tight.  From what many knowledgeable people have told me, all Sig 1911s are fit to the same level using the same processes.  Even the models that came from their “Custom Shop” like the STX are not fit to a higher level than the basic pistols (with exception to very unique models like the Max).

The Nitron 1911 is named as such due to the Sig Nitron finish applied to metal parts. Nitron is Sig’s brand name for a finished called Ionbond, which is reportedly very tough and durable.  One thing people might not realize is that the Sig Nitron frame and slide are, in fact, stainless steel.  So, having the Nitron/Ionbond finish on top of Stainless should be a very, very good combination for resisting corrision.  The sights are a standard 3-dot configuation, with a Novak-style unit mounted nicely into the rear.  The Sig features checkering on the front strap which is very aggressive; I believe it to be 25 LPI.  Compared to my S&W PC1911, which wears 30 LPI checkering on the front strap, the Sig is much “grippier” and I actually prefer it vs. 30 LPI.  The grips on this gun are Ergo XT which are available as aftermarket grips for under $20.  They provide a nice rough surface without being too aggressive, but I can’t say I’m in love with them.  Nothing bad about them, but they just aren’t “warm” like wood.  I may end up replacing them sometime but they do match the general functional look of this pistol.

Overall, the Sig functions smoothly.  The slide glides nicely on the rails and feels precise.  It’s hard to describe that feeling, but it just feels like quality overall.  The trigger pull is a light take up followed by a crisp break.  But, I have one issue with the trigger:  it breaks at just over 6 lbs.  While I realize this might be okay for a duty pistol, I’d like a break closer to 3.5 – 4 lbs on a 1911.  Coupled with the fact that the trigger, like most standard 1911 triggers, is too long for me, trigger control on this pistol takes some extra concentration on my part.  But, the break is fairly crisp so that’s good.  I may work on polishing some parts to see if I can get the pull weight down some and I already have a Greider short solid trigger on the way from Brownell’s to replace the stock unit.

I took the Sig to the range today along with the S&W PC1911 for comparison, not knowing what to expect.  Would the Sig stage an upset and best the S&W at nearly 60% the cost of the latter?  Or would the Performance Center’s hand-crafted gun come out on top?  This would be initially tested with a couple different loads I worked up:  a 200 gr SWC coated SNS cast bullet load propelled by 5.0 grains of W231, and a 230 gr RN plated Berry’s load propelled by 5.0 grains of W231 as well.

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In summary, the Sig ate everything thrown at it.  The S&W did as well, but if you have read my past entries you’ll note that my Kimber gets a severe case of indigestion with the SWC loads.  Score one for the Sig on the reliability end.  And, I experienced no FTF or FTE with the Sig at all, although it did throw brass in my face a couple of times (thank goodness for glasses).  I shot a string of 5-shot groups at 50 ft and threw in a 25 yard group and a couple 10 yard groups as well.  All in all, I only racked up 9 groups with each pistol so this is far from a comprehensive test.  However, out of the 9, the S&W came out with the smallest groups 5 time and the Sig 4.  Not bad, Sig!  Especially considering the S&W has a trigger that breaks at 3.25 lbs and the Sig takes almost double that effort.  The Sig’s sights were well regulated vertically, and the shots generally grouped slightly to the left of the bullseye. However, I suspect this could be due to both the high pull weight and the length of the trigger; if I can get the pull weight down to around 4 lbs and put the Greider trigger on, I may find groups come more to center (I know that I’m not applying ideal front to back pressure on the trigger as it is currently configured).

The Sig, surprisingly, ran with the S&W… more so than my older Series 1 Kimber.  The Sig also digested everything thrown at it and experienced no failures in this brief, initial range session.  With a little tweaking of the trigger the Sig Nitron may just give me even more of a surprise.

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About martowski

Garden-variety professional with one too many hobbies.
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