Sig Nitron Rail 1911 vs. S&W Performance Center 1911: Reboot

If you have read any of my previous blog entries, you know that I’ve recently acquired both a S&W Performance Center 1911 and a Sig Nitron Rail 1911.  And, I’ve made some modifications to both.  Most notably I’ve reduced the trigger pull on the Sig to 3.5 lbs. and fitted a Greider short grooved trigger.  On the S&W, I’ve fitted a new Ed Brown thumb safety, a Greider short grooved trigger, and changed the grips.  All of these changes add to improved shootability for me as an individual user.

When I last shot the Sig 1911, it performed admirably against the S&W, yet I felt the stock 6.25 lb. trigger was keeping me from ringing the most accuracy out of it as possible.  This time, both pistols came to the range with triggers breaking close to one another in the 3.25 – 3.5 lb range… a much closer comparison.

In total, I fired 10 “head to head” groups.  Meaning, I shot 5 shots with the S&W and 5 with the Sig using the same ammo, distance, and technique with both.  While this is not an exhaustive comparison, it provided 10 “head to head” samples to work with.  Eight of the 10 were standing from 50 ft; another two were off the bench at 25 yards.  I used two types of handloads:  a 230 gr Berry’s plated bullet and a 200 gr. SNS coated semi-wadcutter bullet, both powered by standard CCI large pistol primers and 5.1 gr of W231 powder.

From the 50 ft. line, the Sig produced the better results in 5 out of the 8 sets.  However, one of these was one-handed “just for fun,” so I really don’t count that since shooting one-handed creates a lot more user variance.  So, when you look at it, the Sig came out on top really 4 out of 7 sets, with the S&W coming out 3 out of 7.  The Sig averaged .43″ smaller groups at this distance as well.  However, the S&W turned in the tightest 5-shot group at 1.1.25″.   Here’s a few of the head to head targets from 50 ft (Sig on the left, S&W on the right):

Yes, there really are five shots on the Sig target.

Below isn’t my best effort from 50 ft., but thought I’d share regardless.

AT 25 yards, the S&W made the smallest group on the first set but the Sig made the smallest in the second set.  The Sig’s groups on average were smaller by .56″, but the S&W turned in the smallest group at 2.875″.  However, check out the shot distribution in the second set on the Sig.  If not for the one shot in the upper left (which I’m sure is user error), the Sig could have turned in a show stopper group.  Of note, in the first set I had only my hands resting on the bench.  On the second set, I rested the pistol butts on the carpeted bench surface as well.

What does all this mean?  First of all, it means I need to practice some more as I am sure I can do better than this.  But, from a Sig vs. S&W perspective, what this shows me is that both pistols are capable of similar accuracy in my hands.  Put them into a rest and you might see a miniscule difference between one or the other, especially if different types of ammo are used.  However, in my hands both standing and from the bench, I don’t think I could expect to see a real difference in accuracy between either.  While the Sig did slightly edge the S&W in this comparison, I believe it could easily go the other way on another day.  And, remember that at both 25 yards and 50 ft the S&W did produce the smallest single groups of the day… but the Sig produced the tightest average group sizes at both distances.

At some point the mechanical construction of a pistol produces repeatable enough results to take it out of the equation as a deciding factor in accuracy.  I believe, when looking at the Sig and the S&W PC1911, this is the case with both.  And, while I’m sure maybe a $3,000 pistol might be capable of producing slightly better results, I do believe that overall the mechanical accuracy of both of these handguns eclipses my ability as a user to maximize their potentials.


About martowski

Garden-variety professional with one too many hobbies.
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