Sig vs. Sig Part 3

Sig vs. Sig Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

“We The People” and “The Right of the People”

By Dennis Adler

An incomparable duo, the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE in .45 ACP and 4.5mm are the best match up for design and handling of any 1911 pistols. Firing offhand at varying distances, the two semi-autos are almost identical. That demands a special word of caution about brandishing the CO2 model in public (the cartridge model goes without saying). Almost no one can tell it is an airgun unless they are looking at the muzzle. This is the same caution I gave with the Umarex S&W M&P40 and Sig Sauer P226 X-Five, along with a number of other air pistols that are almost indistinguishable from their centerfire counterparts.

Sig’s 1911 CO2 model is not a quiet air pistol, probably a little louder than most blowback action models and it delivers a decent kick when the slide comes back. Not as much as a .22 pistol, but enough to get a feel for shooting a handgun. Like the Sig Sauer 45 ACP Sig 1911 model the air pistol uses the John M. Browning-designed platform of frame, slide, barrel, and recoil system using a recoil spring guide, single recoil spring, recoil spring plug and barrel bushing. The CO2 model follows the same design with internal modifications to accommodate the CO2 firing system which includes an additional lightly wound recoil spring around the barrel, like a blowback action semi-auto. Externally you are experiencing the .45 ACP model when you pick up Sig’s CO2 version of the WE THE PEOPLE. The flat mainspring housing is finely checkered as is the frontstrap, something you will not find on other 1911 CO2 models. Both Sig 1911 models use ambidextrous thumb safeties, the raised palmswell grip safety with extended beavertail and skeletonized hammer also make the CO2 model identical in handling, such as when manually de-cocking or cocking the hammer if a situation dictates that action.

Both the .45 Auto (pictured) and the CO2 model use the same basic John M. Browning 1911 design. Here the cartridge model is fully field stripped showing the 9 main components; slide, barrel with toggle link, recoil spring plug, recoil spring and recoil spring guide, barrel bushing, frame, slide stop (slide release), and magazine. The parts used for the CO2 model are almost identical as shown below.

The list of parts is the same with two notable exceptions, one, the large recoil spring around the barrel (as you would see on a typical blowback action semi-auto like a Walther PPK), and the design of the barrel lug which does not have a toggle link but a solid link into which the back of the recoil spring guide locks when the gun is reassembled. And of course, the magazine holds both the CO2 and up to 17 BBs. But the compared field stripping of both guns definitely makes the point about authenticity of design and operation.

As part of training, setting and releasing the thumb safety on a 1911 is essential. The Sig’s work identically on both guns, and as I have noted before, some CO2 models will still allow the slide to move back even with the safety set. This is incorrect (unless we’re talking about a Colt Mustang based design). The slide on a 1911 should be locked in place with the safety set to SAFE. The safeties on the Sig Sauer click on and off with the same feel and resistance on both guns. This is a training must. The same for the slide release.

WE THE PEOPLE performance

In the original test of the airgun’s trigger, it averaged at 5.7 pounds with 0.187 inches of take up, moderate stacking and a crisp break. Trigger reset takes 0.175 inches, so a full release of the trigger is not necessary to fire again; another plus for the Sig CO2 model. Average trigger pull on the .45 ACP WE THE PEOPLE is 6 pounds 4.5 ounces as set by the factory on this test gun. I made no adjustments to the trigger. Take up is a shorter 0.125 inches with light stacking and a crisp break. Trigger reset takes 0.125 inches, so again a full release of the trigger is not necessary to fire. This shared feature between the .45 ACP and CO2 model is another training plus.

I began with the .45 ACP model at 50 feet, firing from a Weaver stance with a two-handed hold. The target was a Law Enforcement Targets cardboard B-27 silhouette.

Where they differ is in resistance; manually cocking the hammer on the centerfire model requires more effort than the air pistol, same with racking the slide, but these are both to be expected since the hammer for the airgun is going to be lighter than a centerfire pistol’s, as is the recoil spring resistance, since the CO2 has to generate the recoil effect, while the centerfire model needs a heavy recoil spring to slow the reward motion of the slide after firing. Lastly, the weight differential between the fully loaded .45 ACP WE THE PEOPLE and the CO2 model, 2.9 pounds for the centerfire gun and 2.28 pounds for the air pistol. While not great the difference is something you feel in your hands when shooting. This is accounted for by the airguns alloy frame and slide compared to the centerfire model’s steel frame and slide, and the much greater weight of .45 ACP cartridges to 4.5mm (.177 caliber) steel BBs. It is not a difference, however, that will take anything away from training with the CO2 model.

The weight and balance of the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE Model 1911 really makes recoil manageable, at least with the standard 230 gr. FMJ rounds used for the evaluation. You can see the CO2 model in the Bianchi Speed Scabbard on my right side. I used the same holster for both guns throughout the shooting test. This is my personal favorite and about the most comfortable CCW rig for a Government sized 1911.

Sights are the same, technically, white dot combat-style rear and white dot dovetailed front blade. The .45 ACP model is built as a tactical pistol and uses tritium inserts in the sights to allow low light to pitch black sighting capability, essential when moving from outdoors to an indoor environment to maintain or get a sight picture in low light conditions. Tritium, used in night sights, is a radioactive isotope which constantly emits a glow, so they are always on no matter when you need to aim the gun. In a low light situation they’re illuminated. This is like the glowing hour dots on a tactical watch which are also always glowing, you just don’t see them in bright light. Low light training then would not be as easy with the air pistol’s white dot sights, which are the same design but do not have the tritium inserts. (Tritium sights average around $80 to $120). Sig uses larger white dot sights on the WE THE PEOPLE CO2 model than other air pistols and these are real dovetailed sights, the rear locked down by a small hex-head screw. It would be theoretically possible to switch them out for tritium night sights, but not economically realistic.

Hard to tell unless you pick up on the white lettering on the frame, but this is the CO2 WE THE PEOPLE being fired at a distance of 25 feet from the same B-27 cardboard silhouette target.

For the comparison shooting test, the range for the .45 ACP model is going to be 50 feet and 75 feet, for the CO2 model 25 feet. The Sig CO2 model sends its 4.5mm rounds downrange at an average velocity of 329 fps, velocity for the .45 ACP model using Sig Sauer Elite Performance 230 gr. FMJ averages 850 fps, so not exactly a match up there.

Firing the 4.5mm model you get a nice simulated feeling of recoil from the slide being driven back by the CO2 which delivers more force than many other 1911 air pistols. I averaged three full 17-round magazines per CO2 cartridge.

Although this has little to do with air pistols, the recoil on the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE .45 ACP model is remarkably manageable due to the size, weight and balance of the gun. It is one of the smoothest handling .45 ACP models I have come across in quite some time. This almost translates equally to the CO2 WE THE PEOPLE because it is also one of the smoothest handling blowback action 1911 models with just enough tactile feel to the recoil, slide action, safeties and slide release to give you a close approximation of handling its centerfire counterpart.

It’s an almost great target from 25 feet with a best 5-shots closely grouped to the right of the bullseye at 0.51 inches (I added a red dot over the X on the air pistol target) and another group of four rounds also tightly clustered below the red dot and one flyer that blew out my 10-shot total to 1.56 inches. Would have been an even 1.0 inches otherwise, but would have beens don’t count…

As for accuracy, it is hard to compare shooting a .45 Auto at 75 feet (25 yards) offhand to a CO2-powered BB version at 25 feet. You expect the 4.5mm air pistol to deliver pretty good accuracy, and it does. My best offhand 5-shot groups shooting at a full size B-27 cardboard silhouette target measured 0.51 inches (a second group of four measured 0.68 inches and I had one flyer at 8 o’clock at the bottom of the 10 ring that opened up my entire 10-shot group to 1.56 inches. From 50 feet the .45 Auto punched its best 5-shot group into 2.25 inches and at 25 yards (75 feet) 2.75 inches. An aggregate of 10 rounds from two different ranges averaged 3.125 inches, and yes if anyone is counting bullet holes there are 12 not 10, the shots at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock at the bottom of the 10 ring were a sixth and seventh round fired in error at 50 feet, (the magazine had 7 rounds in it and I shot until the slide locked back).

Out of 10 rounds I have 12 inside the 10 and X (that’s a joke on me for shooting out a full seven rounds instead of just five on the 50 foot test) with a total spread combining 50 foot and 75 foot ranges of 3.125 inches, and a best 5-rounds measuring 2.25 inches from 50 feet, with Sig Sauer Elite Performance 230 gr. FMJ ammunition.

At the end of the comparison shooting tests I came away with absolute certainty that the CO2 version is a perfect training pistol for Sig’s .45 Auto model, or for any full size or compact 1911 pistol. And that is as much as anyone can ask from an airgun. Right now at the mid point of the year, the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 CO2 model is my choice for Airgun of the Year.

One thought on “Sig vs. Sig Part 3

  1. The 45 We the People reaffirms why the 1911 just keeps soldiering on. The co2 version shows why every 45 owner should have one. It should be a showcase for why other models should be coming out . The Sig365 9 mm will have an understudy co2 version . S&W should be running a night shift to come out with a Shield co2 Pistol as well as a EZ 380 co2 Pistol . Ruger has been an in name only participant in air pistols and its, handguns would be well served by understudy airguns. With the classic Browning High Power out of production, a blowback co2 version would be a fitting tribute


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