Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical Part 2
Railing against the system
By Dennis Adler
The Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical is a 21st Century take on a very early 20th Century design. The Colt Model 1911 is 105 years old; in gun years it should be an antique, but John Moses Browning’s design was so good that the fundamentals of the Model 1911 still work. Except for the addition of dust cover accessory rails, the return to the original John M. Browning style flat mainspring housing on the majority of the latest models actually puts them closer to 1911 than 2016! Whatever else remains of the original Browning and Colt’s design also works as well today as it did 105 years ago. Improvements such as ambidextrous manual thumb safeties (though some will dispute their merit), skeletonized target triggers, Delta style hammers to speed up movement and improve lock time, the upswept beavertail grip safety (which few will ever fault), have made the latest 1911 Models better handguns, but very much the same guns. Sig Sauer’s approach is no different, nor is the .177 caliber Sig air pistol vs. the traditional Colt Model 1911 Commander airgun. They are also two sides of the same coin.
Shooting and comparison
The similarities between the Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical and Colt 1911 Commander .177 caliber blowback action semi-auto airguns are about as diverse as their cartridge-firing counterparts and the advantages of the Sig design crosses over to the air pistol. The Umarex Colt 1911 Commander is a traditional design based on the 1911A1 platform developed in 1924, and distinguished from earlier 1911 designs by a new style short trigger, a larger grip safety, and most notably an arched, knurled mainspring housing that fits the palmswell of the shooter’s hand. The new model eventually replaced all of the original military 1911s and became the standard commercial version. Interestingly, in recent years most 1911 manufacturers have reverted to the flat mainspring housing, including Sig Sauer.
The Umarex Colt Commander is upgraded from a standard 1911 with a skeletonized Commander-style hammer, dovetailed front and rear white dot tactical sights, plus the correct checkered raised mainspring housing, smooth frontstrap, black diamond checkered hard plastic grips, fully operating standard-sized beavertail and palmswell, single thumb safety, and slide release. It also has a military-style tether ring at the bottom of the mainspring housing. And that is about the only visual similarity, other than the basic 1911 profile, that makes the Colt and Sig .177 caliber airguns alike.
For anyone who prefers the original military style with a few upgraded features, the Colt Commander is your gun. It is a quality built, Colt licensed Umarex model, and one of the best 1911 CO2 blowback action airguns around. However, where Sig Sauer has gone with the 1911 Tactical, is about where Colt’s has ventured with their CQBP and XSE Series Rail Guns. And the best way to quickly define the Sig model (the .45 ACP and airgun design), is to compare it with a custom grade 1911.
The Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical airgun comes with fully operational extended ambidextrous thumb safeties that look, feel and operate exactly like those on the .45 Auto, a vertically serrated flat mainspring housing, a raised palmswell, Delta-style hammer, skeletonized speed trigger, and a lowered and flared ejection port in the slide. This last feature is really interesting since there is no spent shell case to eject, but the blowback action metal slide nevertheless looks the part . It also has deep front and rear slide serrations (which the .45 ACP Sig’s do not have).
With its extended floorplate magazine, accurate Sig Sauer style white dot sights and dustcover accessory rail, this is a lot more gun in appearances and features than the Colt 1911 Commander .177 caliber model. The Sig Sauer airgun is also free of the usual paragraph of manufacturer’s warnings and other minutia that usually detract from the right side of the slides. Visually, the Sig Sauer is about as correct to the .45 ACP model as a .177 caliber airgun can be. The choice between the Sig Sauer and Colt Commander is simply the same as anyone would make when choosing the cartridge-firing models; the upgraded features that separate a traditional 1911 from a custom competition or tactical model. In the airgun world, having this same choice in a .177 caliber blowback action semi-auto Model 1911 is remarkable.
Both the Colt Commander and Sig Sauer Tactical use the same style, 18 round capacity, self contained CO2 and BB magazines, although the Sig’s magazines have the extended floorplate design. Both have target triggers, the Colt’s with an average trigger pull of 2 pounds, 10 oz., 0.125 inches of travel, zero over travel and a quick 0.125 inch reset. The Sig Sauer’s skeletonized alloy trigger also has 0.125 inches of travel to release, zero over travel, 0.125 inches to reset and an average trigger pull of 2 pounds 9.5 ounces. Both are lighter by half than most competition triggers but have the same 0.125 inches of travel and reset, which is more instructive than the trigger pull alone.
Tests were done at a distance of 21 feet using Umarex steel BBs. The targets were Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C and all test shots were fired offhand using a two-handed hold. Average velocity for the Colt is 325 fps, the Sig Sauer averages 330 fps.
The Colt’s best average 10-shot group measured 1.875 inches. The Sig Sauer 1911 feels a little more solid in the hand with the oversized wraparound Tac Master grips, and the Sig Sauer design white dot sights just slightly faster to line up than the Colt Commander’s. That’s the good news.
On the test range the Sig was a little disappointing in performance compared to the Colt, with the slide seeming to drag on the blowback action (and this was tried with two different magazines), and while accurate, the Sig did not do as well delivering a best 10 shots at 2.24 inches. The Sig scores some significant points on features, but it did not perform as well as the Umarex Colt Commander. I am going to get another Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical and do the shooting test over again, so watch for an update on this report.
A word about safety
Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.