“We The People” and “The Right of the People” Part 2 Part 1
By Dennis Adler
Similitude is the word I would use for these two pistols, identical in every feature except caliber, firing method and recoil. Up to the point where you pull the trigger, there is no difference in handling. The CO2 Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 is a total replacement for every training regimen except live fire with .45 ACP rounds.
For those who have a CCW no one will disagree that training with your handgun is not only essential but can make the difference between being a survivor or a statistic. Of course, no one is going to carry a BB gun for protection, unless you’re up against a renegade gang of ground moles, but with the cost of ammunition and range time, among other things, getting in proper training is costly. Sig Sauer has always had this in mind with their airguns, but never has it been so well expressed as with the WE THE PEOPLE duo of .45 ACP and 4.5mm models. Training with a 100 percent accurate stand in for your centerfire handgun is absolutely worth the price of the air pistol. And even if you don’t have the WE THE PEOPLE .45 ACP model, if you carry, or plan to carry a full-sized 1911, the WE THE PEIOPLE 4.5mm CO2 model is still a 100 percent accurate understudy for a modern 1911 tactical model.
For this article we are going to look at four different types of holsters for a 1911, three are belt holsters, one a shoulder holster, which I am showing for comparison. The techniques for shoulder holster carry are somewhat different as is drawing. That will be a separate article sometime later. Pictured top left and going clockwise, a Galco Miami Classic II with double open magazine carrier and tie down set (snap on loops to hold the holster and magazine carrier to your belt), A DeSantis C&L (Cocked & Locked) Thumb Break Scabbard, a Blade-Tech thermoplastic molded 1911 open top tactical holster, and a classic John Bianchi-designed 1911 Speed Scabbard. Most of these holsters cost more than the WE THE PEOPLE CO2 model.
As I have said in earlier CCW training articles, the idea behind a training gun is to duplicate as much of the actual handling and operation of its cartridge-firing counterpart as possible, and to do it affordably, compared to live fire with your actual carry gun. Law enforcement has been embracing this idea for awhile (some with Airsoft, others with matching CO2 pistols) and for those who agree that there is simply no substitute for a .45 ACP, the Sig Sauer 1911 WE THE PEOPLE has everything perfected right down to pulling the trigger. The difference between firing the 4.5mm and .45 ACP Sig models is about the same as jumping off your front porch and parachuting out of an airplane, but to continue the parallel, everything is the same until you jump. That is what makes the new Sig Sauer CO2 model the best 1911 training gun thus far.
Classic open top concealed carry vs. modern contoured thermoplastic molded holsters. The Bianchi Speed Scabbard (left) is one of the most comfortable Government sized 1911 holsters ever designed. It is a contour fit for the gun, with solid retention but ease of draw. The backside has a curved belt loop to keep the holster and gun closer to the body making it easier to wear a full sized 1911 under a jacket. The same is achieved with the Blade-Tech holster which locks the gun into the molded thermoplastic holster and requires a firm pull to draw. The tension can be adjusted with the two screws on the flat panel. The holster can be mounted several different ways by changing the Blade-Tech mount on the back. This one is set up to fit a 1-1/2 inch belt. Both offer solid retention but neither protects from a gun grab, or assures retention if the wearer becomes inverted (back flips not recommended).
Carrying the load
A loaded (full magazine and one round chambered) Sig 1911 will average 46.5 ounces (2.9 pounds). The CO2 model with CO2 loaded in the magazine and 17 steel BBs (though for training you should load 8 BBs to equal the centerfire pistols 7+1 capacity) weighs 36.5 ounces (2.28 pounds).
Whether for open carry or concealed carry, a Government Model-sized 1911 is a handful, from overall length, to grip size, and weight. For the Sig 1911 CO2 model to do its job, it has to give you as much of the experience as possible and for this air pistol vs. the .45 ACP version it is total emersion. Throughout the photographs in this article I will be switching between the centerfire pistol and the air pistol to show that there is no difference in how the guns are handled in carrying, drawing, and presentation.
The thumb break safety strap (pioneered by John Bianchi) is used in many CCW holster designs today including this contoured DeSantis C&L model. This holster has double front belt slots to allow the user to adjust the cant. The thumb break snap is easy to use and secures the gun in the holster in almost any situation. It will not prevent a gun grab, but it will slow someone down who is not familiar with a thumb break safety. The Galco shoulder holster uses the same type of thumb break safety strap to keep the horizontally carried gun in the holster. Horizontal carry makes the gun easier to conceal from the front and faster to draw, especially if a tie-down belt loop (shown) is used to keep the rig taut.
The four carry methods shown
I probably should not call this four carry methods since three are belt holsters, but the specifics of each belt holster design are different and weigh heavily on making a carry decision, particularly with a 1911. The holster choice for a 1911 is dependent upon the chosen method of carry and level of concealment and retention required. For this review I have chosen an open top full size belt holster, a thumb break safety belt holster, an injection-molded tactical holster and a shoulder holster for comparison. There are also IWB (inside the waistband) holsters for full sized 1911s.
Carry with a full sized handgun requires a coat or some full length jacket to keep it concealed but quickly accessible…
…the coat can be swept back by the strong side hand on the draw. Here I am using the Bianchi Speed Scabbard. Note how closely this rests against the body. In this shot I am beginning my draw and moving my offside (support) hand into position to (a) ready to engage in a two-handed hold, or (b) use to deflect an oncoming attack to block or prevent the gun from being drawn.
In this sequential drawing shot I have established a two-handed hold and I am beginning to push the gun up and out to raise and aim. Note that at this point the safety is still set and my finger remains off the trigger.
In the final position to fire the safety has been released by my shooting hand thumb and my finger has engaged the trigger. From the time I sweep my coat back to draw until I am ready to fire, less than 2 seconds elapses. It should become one fluid motion.
The thumb break safety strap is used with a cocked and locked 1911 and this places the strap between the face of the hammer and the firing pin. The strap ensures that the gun stays in the holster until the snap lock is pressed open with the thumb…
…at which point the gun can be drawn.
Using the same holsters for training with air pistols as used for actual carry can be expensive if you don’t intend to carry the centerfire counterpart (a couple of the holsters I am showing cost as much or more than the Sig Sauer CO2 model), but if you are serious about using a CO2 pistol for handgun training it is money well spent. With a 100 percent matching gun every exercise up until you pull the trigger is identical. And when you pull the trigger with a CO2 model you are spending a fraction of a cent. You can’t say that when you pull the trigger on a .45 ACP loaded with Federal Premium 230 gr. Hydra Shok jacketed hollow points.
This time using the Blade-Tech tactical holster and a Blade-Tech magazine pouch, which is holding the CO2 model’s magazine, a firm upward pull releases the gun from the holster.
Here again I have established a two-handed hold and am preparing to move with the muzzle pointed downward, the safety still set and my finger along the side of the frame above the triggerguard. From this position I can bring the gun up to fire quickly. I personally prefer this method when moving as opposed to having the gun up unless there is an immanent threat. These are all exercises you can practice with the CO2 model and engage a target as the final step. At close range, 15 to 25 feet from the target, the training would be the same with the .45 ACP, but a lot louder and more costly when you pull the trigger.
In Saturday’s Part 3 conclusion we pull a lot of triggers!