Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical Part 3
Taking a Second Look
By Dennis Adler
Back in the October 14th Airgun Experience, the Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical was put to the test against the Umarex Colt Model 1911 Commander. The Sig’s modern rail gun design and ambidextrous extended thumb safeties gave the .177 caliber airgun a tactical handling advantage over the standard 1911A1 design used on the Umarex Colt Commander. But where the Sig came up short was in reliability. And that was strictly a function; or rather malfunction, of the self contained CO2 and BB magazines for the Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical.
While both the Colt and Sig use self contained CO2 BB magazines, their design is different, and they are not interchangeable. At first glance, they look the same internally but the O-rings used in the Colt magazine are larger and of a different design, as is the metal retaining ring surrounding it, and the CO2 cartridge piercing pin/CO2 nozzle is also slightly different in design; two different manufacturers, with two different approaches to the internal components of their self contained CO2 BB magazines. Over the past several years conducting numerous tests of the Umarex Colt Commander, I have never had a magazine failure or a failed O-ring.
The Sig comes with one 18-round magazine, and back in October I tested the gun with that magazine plus an additional one ordered separately. Both had the same problem resulting in the slide seeming to drag on the blowback action and the air running out prematurely. The Sig also came up a little less accurate than the Colt Commander with a best 10 shots at 2.24 inches from a distance of 21 feet. The Commander’s best 10 measured 1.875 inches and clearly outperformed the Sig. Handling the Colt and Sig 1911 models was essentially the same, with the only functional advantage of the Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical being its ambidextrous safeties. The greater appeal is in the dustcover accessory rail, but only if you are going to mount a tactical light/laser combo for improved accuracy. The latter is difficult to achieve if the CO2 is dropping like molten lead in a shot tower.
The Magazine advantage
When the O-rings in a CO2 pistol wear out and need to be replaced, it is a fair amount of work, and some airguns have O-rings that cannot be replaced. The one big advantage of the latest blowback action CO2 pistols is that most use self contained CO2 BB magazines. The good news here is that a bad O-ring is just a bad magazine, not necessarily a bad gun. This proved to be the case with the Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical. The two original magazines were a total fail even after reseating the O-rings. Both leaked CO2 and the gun began to fail after the first magazine was empty (18 shots) with the slide dragging, and finally not able to re-cock the hammer.
The new replacement magazine looked exactly the same. Inside around the O-ring (as compared to the original magazines after reseating the O-rings) there was no difference in appearance, only the new magazine performed perfectly through three complete reloads.
The Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical also saw immediate improvement in performance, a more robust recoil, 319 fps average velocity (with an ambient temperature of 56 degrees, a high of 325 fps and a low of 310 fps), and much better accuracy at 21 feet with a best 10 rounds in the 10 and X-bull measuring 1.50 inches. The previous best 10 had measured 2.24 inches.
The Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical airgun is a remarkably accurate design, and if I were using a blowback action CO2 air pistol for training or to learn the basics of using a 1911 Rail Gun, the .177 caliber blowback action Sig Sauer is ideal. Even for advanced airgun shooting with a 1911 design, the Sig has it hands down over a stock 1911A1 (unless that is your personal preference). With a good, well functioning magazine this is a better pistol to shoot, offers more features, and has a nearly equal quality of fit and finish. That is a major win for the Sig Sauer 1911 vs. the Colt Commander. As for the magazines, not so much; it is a luck-of-the-draw situation. The Sig Sauer is an excellent airgun with a CO2 BB magazine that is simply not as well designed as those used in the Umarex Colt Commander. On the plus side, this kind of feedback usually results in a better product down the road, and all this gun needs is a better internal O-ring design for the magazines.
On Friday we are back to the plan with the first of a three-part series on two of the most famous WWII handguns, the German P.08 Luger and Russian Makarov.
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.