Sig Sauer ASP Pistols Part 3
Pellet Power Showdown
By Dennis Adler
We now arrive at the Precision part of the Sig Sauer trio, the graduate course for CO2 air pistol shooters, but the entry level course for single stroke pneumatic competition air pistol shooting. The Sig Sauer ASP Super Target stands on the line that divides these two shooting disciplines. As a competitive entry-level target pistol with an average selling price of $350 it is going up against spring piston models like the Beeman P1 and P11, and single stroke pneumatics like the Beeman P3 and Air Venturi V10. The Sig falls into the middle price range between the Beeman P3 at $230, the Air Venturi V10 at around $300, and the Beeman P1 and P11 at $429 to $499 dollars, respectively. The Super Target is about three times as much as the M17 and X-Five ASP models. Here’s why.
Handcrafted in Italy
While Sig Sauer maintains a solid hold on the manufacturing of its air pistols in Taiwan which are built exclusively for Sig’s Airgun Division (Sig Air), the Super Target is a very specialized design, and single stroke pneumatics of this type (and price range) are generally built in Germany, Italy, or Spain. The Super Target is manufactured for Sig Sauer in Italy by Chiappa, the same armsmaker that built the superb FAS 6004 single shot pneumatic target pistols. In fact, the Super Target is actually a variation of the 6004 with specific Sig styling cues derived from the legendary 9mm Sig P210. The reason for the strong P210 influence in the Super Target’s design dates back to the original 9mmSig P210 developed 71 years ago! The original designation for the pistol was SP 47/8 and in 1949 it became the standard sidearm of the Swiss Army. The gun was later renamed the Sig P210 and it has been in production in one form or another (by Sig and Sig Sauer) since 1947 and is currently sold as a target pistol with adjustable target sights or standard version with white dot sights. It remains one of the longest produced early post WWII handguns on the market; homage to the P210’s enduring design and quality. That heritage is represented in the general configuration of the Super Target within the limitations of its overlever design, but even there, the unmistakable P210 slide shape and slide serrations are evident. As single stroke pneumatic pistol designs go, the Super Target’s heritage is clearly identifiable.
The FAS 6004 is more of a dedicated entry level 10-meter competition pistol design (10-meter right or left hand competition grip configuration), whereas the Super Target is built for target shooing with a pistol grip design and angle that feels very close to the 9mm Sig P210 Target and can be used with a two-handed hold. There are other significant differences between the FAS 6004 and Super Target design, beginning with the use of a hammer as the slide (overlever charging handle) release, rather than the single side release used on the FAS. Using a hammer to release the Super Target’s slide makes it totally ambidextrous; it is also a function of Sig’s desire to have a hammer on the Super Target to solidify the look of the P210 profile.
Sig Sauer went with the same trigger mechanism used in the FAS, which is an excellent adjustable 2-stage design. However, compared to the FAS, the Sig’s trigger physically sits much further back in the triggerguard like an actual P210, and comes with a factory set average pull above 2 pounds (2 pounds, 7.9 ounces on this test gun). The first stage take up is adjusted as short as possible for a crisp 0.125 inch take up in the second stage to break the shot.
I made some minor adjustments to the trigger to accommodate my personal likes. I moved the trigger from its rearmost position as it came from Sig Sauer, forward by about 3/8th of an inch, so I have a bit more relief going into the first stage. This requires a 1/8th inch Allen wrench and an adjustment to screw number 2, topmost in the trigger. Turning clockwise lengthens the stroke and I made enough of an adjustment to move the trigger far enough that it completely clears the back of the triggerguard. This does not change the trigger pull resistance, which is screw number 1 at the top front of the triggerguard. I did, however, retest the trigger pull with the Lyman gauge and it averaged 2 pounds, 7.9 ounces. What this did change, was to impart a very slight bit of over travel and make the first stage of the trigger pull longer, now 0.187 inches, with a very short, crisp, second stage release. I decided to shorten the first stage by turning screw number 3, the center screw in the trigger, counterclockwise just slightly. This smoothed out the first stage to an almost glass like feeling between the first and second stage, with the same crisp release to break the shot. This was a minor but tangible difference in trigger pull that is now exactly to my liking and basically feels like the trigger on several of my other target pistols. The second stage adjustment from Sig Sauer was perfect just as is.
For the barrel, Sig used Chiappa’s excellent button rifled steel barrel from the FAS and other Chiappa models, again, a proven design. There is a difference in the Super Target’s breech design, however, one of Sig Air’s noteworthy engineering changes. Access to the back of the barrel is improved to make it easier to seat a pellet by enlarging the cutout, and the breech chamber has a smoother bevel than the FAS. The rifling at the breech is tapered, allowing the pellet to meet less resistance as it enters the barrel and with the pellet positioned as close to the valve as possible, when the gun is fired the valve stem is held open so it dumps the whole charge to achieve maximum velocity. The upshot is that this not only makes loading easier and provides the highest velocity, but also assures the use of alloy pellets which do not work well (or at all) in the FAS 6004. The use of alloy pellets allows the Super Target to hit velocities around 400 fps.
Sig chose to use the same excellent adjustable rear sight as the FAS, while the front sight is more like the P210 and squares up nicely in the rear U notch. The gun weighs 40 ounces, just slightly more than a P210 (36.9 ounces) and a solid 6.5 ounces more than the FAS 6004, which has a very angular taper to the slide design (reducing weight), while the Sig retain a traditional shape to closely resemble the P210 Target. Overall length is 10.25 inches with a sight radius of 8.3 inches, a height of 6.25 inches (base of grip frame to top of rear sight), and width of 1.06 inches (grip width of 1.31 inches, base width of 1.875 inches). It is a big handgun that scales up larger then the 9mm model it is based upon. As a target pistol it has the heft and balance to sit solidly in the hand for a classic one-handed target shooting stance or for shooting in Weave stance with a two-handed hold.
Single stroke pneumatics such as the Super Target and older, long-established models like the HW75 are regarded as entry-level competition pellet pistols. In centerfire terms they would be comparable to the IPSC Standard Division; target pistols built for accuracy. The more dedicated 10-meter target models like the FAS 6004 and Air Venturi V10 (built in Spain) have grip designs based on 10-meter competition pistols (one-handed target shooting) but are still entry-level. From there you generally advance into PCP (precharged pneumatic) single shot competition pistols that can be used in local and regional events and Olympic competition. Just add some zeroes to the price of guns like the Super Target.
There is one absolute caveat with 10-Meter target pistols; there are no automatically engaged or manual safeties on these airguns. Once the over-lever handle is closed and locks down, the guns are ready to fire. This is true for the Air Venturi V10, FAS 6004 and the Sig Sauer Super Target.
Speed and accuracy
Knowing that the highest velocities will be achieved with alloy wadcutters, I clocked H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. pellets which averaged 385 fps, with a high of 387 fps, a low of 382 fps and an impressive standard deviation of only 1 fps with 10 shots clocking 387 fps, 382 fps, 382 fps, 386 fps, 384 fps, 384 fps, 386 fps, 387 fps, 386 fps, and 384 fps. Shooting Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters I knew velocity would be lower and the Super Target delivered 10 shots with an average velocity of 349 fps, a high of 358 fps, a low of 345 fps and a standard deviation for 10 shots of 5 fps.
Starting with H&N from the benchrest at 10 meters I shot a best five at 0.56 inches, with hits just off to the left and high of the bullseye. I made a slight sight adjustment for the H&N alloy wadcutters and put the next five inside 0.5 inches. This is precision, albeit from the benchrest rather than shooting off hand as I prefer. A dedicated benchrest target shooter would likely place five shots in the 10 and bullseye at under 0.5 inches from 10 meters.
Last November I was able to get some of the Sig Sauer Pb Match Grade pellets. These are heavier, 7.71 gr. lead wadcutters, and I used these for the final run on the Super Target at 10 meters from the benchrest.
Sig Sauer Pb Match
It took three targets to adjust elevation and windage for the heavier lead wadcutters. Overall, I shot about a dozen targets with the Pb Match, and the best delivered a bullseye group measuring 0.62 inches including one flyer breaking out into the 8 ring at 4 o’clock. I did have 4 of the five at 0.5 inches, so I think the Pb Match and Sig Sauer Super Target are about equal in accuracy (for me) to the much lighter weight H&N Sport Match Green alloy wadcutters, which I prefer.
Getting down to your choice of pellets for any pistol is trial and error and what is best for one shooter may be terrible for another. There are a lot of different 4.5mm wadcutter pellets out there, lead and alloy alike, and when you find one or two that deliver consistent results those should be your “go to” rounds. Mine are H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. alloy, and RWS Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters, the latter for more than 20 years. Change doesn’t always come easy, but getting a new target pistol is never hard! The Sig Sauer Super Target completes a perfect trio of air pistols for training, accuracy and precision.
A Word about Safety
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 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.