Sig Sauer Spartan BB pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig Spartan BB pistol
Sig Sauer Spartan BB pistol offers a lot of pistol at a budget price.

This report covers:

  • Sig firearms
  • The airgun
  • Manual safety
  • Full blowback
  • Grips
  • Finish
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Magazine
  • Light rail
  • Evaluation

Today we begin looking at Sig Sauer’s latest BB pistol, the Spartan. It’s a faithful copy of their Spartan 1911 firearm, which has upgraded features that put it ahead of many production 1911s. And it’s made in Japan.

Sig firearms

I will say this about Sig firearms — when they decide to make something they don’t cut corners. I never had much contact with them in the past, but since they have started making airguns I have been giving their firearms a look, as well. I am a died-in-the-wool conservative when it comes to firearms. Don’t try to sell me on a process like metal injection molding (MIM) unless it performs better than machining in some way other than just the cost to manufacture.

Some newer readers may not remember the struggle I had with my Taurus PT1911, but until I got rid of the MIM extractor and fitted a machined one from Wilson Combat, it was an unreliable dog. You can read about it here. As a result of that debacle, I pay attention to the construction of new firearms, because there is a lot of cheap manufacturing going on. But at Sig, firearms don’t get out the door unless they are right. Or, at least that is the impression I have from shooting them, examining them and reading about them.

Sure they cost more money, but what difference does that make? If I am buying a firearm for defense, I want it to be right — period! End of report! If you want to save money, cut a slot in the top of your head and become a piggy bank.

The Sig Sauer Spartan, with its stainless steel slide, retails for pennies under $1,400, with street prices all over the place; some as low as $800. That puts it in the same category as other fine production 1911s like Kimber. This is a Series 80 pistol that has a firing pin safety to prevent accidental discharge in case the loaded weapon is dropped. That is a feature I personally don’t care for because it usually impacts negatively on the trigger pull, but military and law enforcement organizations are demanding it these days.

The airgun

The Sig Spartan 1911 BB pistol is your opportunity to own a Spartan for less than $100. I have to tell you, the heft and feel of this pistol is quite realistic.The only fly in the ointment is a lawyerly manual safety that comes from the airgun world. No firearm would dare have one like it.

Manual safety

The safety has an additional button on top of the conventional thumb safety switch. Apparently the designers really want the shooter to think before he releases that safety. The trick is to treat it differently than a stock 1911 safety. Push the top button down with the soft pad of your thumb and the safety becomes a one-hand control.

There is also a lever on the right of the gun, but it’s only cosmetic. It doesn’t move.

Sig Spartan BB pistol manual safety
The manual safety has an extra button (arrow) that must be depressed to take the safety off. Simply press down on it with the soft pad of your thumb and it goes off easily.

Full blowback

The Spartan is a full blowback (long slide travel) with a metal slide, so I will guess the recoil is quite realistic. On the left side of the slide the words Molan Labe are written in gold Greek letters. The meaning is “Come and take them,” which American gun owners can appreciate, but which is actually the motto of the First Greek Army Corps, as well as the United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT).

Of course the blowback cocks the hammer, so this is a true semiautomatic pistol. More on that in the accuracy test.

Grips

The grip panels are smooth black (or dark bronze) scales with an ancient Greek helmet and the same words silkscreened in gold on both sides. The front strap is stippled with a uniform fine grid pattern, for a better grip. The Spartan begs to be held correctly — as in a 1911 bullseye hold that I will discuss when we get to the accuracy test.

Finish

A Spartan firearm is finished in an oil-rubbed dark bronze Nitron finish. To my colorblind eyes this pistol appears to be one of several colors, depending on the light. It’s either a deep charcoal, or a matte olive or even a light black. I can even see the bronze color in incandescent lighting.

The hammer is a skeletonized Commander profile and rides above a huge beavertail grip safety, designed to protect the web of the hand from the slide in recoil. A high speed bump at the bottom of the safety ensures the safety will always be depressed when the pistol is held correctly. A 1911 grip safety combines with a short floating firing pin to give two of Brownings three positive safety features, making the 1911 safe to carry cocked with a round in the chamber. But many law enforcement agencies don’t think that’s enough and demand the fourth positive firing pin safety that comes with Series 80 pistols.

Sights

The sights are fixed combat style, front and rear. There are three white dots that are aligned for a rough sight picture in action shooting. On the firearm they are tritium (radioactive — glow in the dark) but on the BB pistol they are just painted white. But the front blade is wide enough for a bullseye shooter. Can’t wait to get this pistol into accuracy testing.

Trigger

The trigger will take some getting used to. I can make an argument for it being two-stage, but stage one is extremely short and vague. Instead of a first stage it feels more like there is some play in the linkage. Stage two has a little creep but it breaks relatively cleanly. It feels heavy, like the trigger on a firearm. I think I will learn a lot more in the accuracy test.

Magazine

The Spartan BB magazine is a 16-shot stick mag that fits in the front of the grip. It drops free when the release is pressed and it holds the slide open after the last BB has been fired.

The CO2 cartridge fits into the grip through the left grip panel. The Spartan uses the same CO2 cartridge mechanism that you saw in the Sig Max Michel 1911 review. In fact there is a lot of similarity between these two pistols.

Light rail

The frame comes with a light rail that is not found on the firearm. A light rail allows the mounting of accessories like a laser or tactical flashlight for combat use. I have a light rail on my Wilson Combat CQB, but it attaches with screws, where this one is cast into the frame.

Evaluation

Like I said in the beginning, the Spartan offers a lot for a budget price. Of course the operation will prove the pudding, so let’s get this one into the tests!

33 thoughts on “Sig Sauer Spartan BB pistol: Part 1

  1. BB—-Thompson Center made a single shot break barrel rifle called the TC 87. It had a similar safety ! Only the TC was worse. It made a loud click when you released it ! a few years later, TC came out with an improved model, but it had the same safety. I had both versions. I wanted them because TC made a variety of barrels in different calibers, including shotgun barrels. This rifle would have been perfect, for my trips to Africa. I wound up taking 6 firearms to Africa. The paper work, red tape, and the time it took to fill out the forms and have them processed was a horrendous waste of my time. One rifle with 6 barrels would have saved me a lot of time and paperwork. But I would have lost a lot of time trying to release the double safety, and then there was the loud, game warning loud click !. Of course, I could have hunted with an empty chamber, but I hunted in leopard country, and they are fast ! I could have carried the rifle loaded, with the safety off. I dont think that I could have found a guide ( required by law ) at any price, if I did. So I sold both TC rifles, and built my battery around mark X mausers and Savage 110,s.


  2. BB— The computer would not let me finish my post. Is this something new ? A limit on the length of the post ? Anyway, I also included a Ruger .22 lr bolt rifle ans a 16″ barrel Marlin 30-30 (instead of my .44 mag. Redhawk ). I used it to down small antelope in areas of heavy brush. If you can find one of these TC rifles at a gun show, please try the safety. It,s probably worse than the one on the Spartan ( unless a gunsmith worked on it ) My gunsmith would not touch it because of ” liabilities “, so they had to go.——Ed


  3. B.B.,

    Considering that this is basically a reskinned Sig Sauer Max Michel 1911 which you had previously evaluated: http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2016/11/sig-sauer-max-michel-1911-blowback-bb-pistol-part-3/ This is another in a series of training pistols not for competition. I can understand why Sig is doing this. I cannot understand why they cannot also create a model suitable for competition. How hard can it be to get rid of the odd safety and place a regular safety?

    Siraniko


  4. B.B.,

    One a real 1911, does the bullet have time to exit the barrel before the slide begins to respond to the shot? Or is the slide already in motion as the bullet exits, causing the shooter to pay close attention to the hold?

    Similar question for BB pistols such as this one — does the BB have time to exit the barrel before the blowback mechanism has time to respond? Or has the slide already begun moving as the BB exits, causing the shooter to pay close attention to the hold?

    Thanks!

    Dave


  5. B.B., Your Taurus PT1911 may have been a dog but I don’t think it was because the extractor was a MIM part. 1911 extractors can be tricky to fit correctly and I think Wilson Combat simply knows how to manufacture and adjust (tension) a 1911 extractor. In fact, I learned how to do it myself by watching the Wilson Combat 1911 DVD series, but I’ve only had to do it on my own personal 1911 builds.

    The funny thing is I own that exact same PT1911 model. I’ve owned it for many years since it was new and it’s been completely reliable–MIM parts and all! I’ve never done anything to it other than clean it occasionally.

    On the other hand, my TalonP still shoots only about as well as the Escape series guns that you tested (okay but not as good as the old TalonP you reviewed and certainly not as bad a performer as your PT1911). BTW, now that I’ve fired about 3500 rounds from it, I’ve also found the Predators to be the most accurate pellets, followed by JSBs–just as you found with the nearly identical Escape series.

    I have a question for you. When I slugged my TalonP barrel, I found that the ID constricts .002″ in diameter for the last 1″ of the barrel. From what I’ve read here over the years, that seems like a awful lot of choke! (.0005 to .001 is typical, I think.) My TalonP barrel groove / land diameter goes from .2546 / .248 down to .2525 / .246 at the choke. Does .002″ sound right to you?

    I’ve been casting and sizing Bob’s Boattails (designed for air guns) and RCBS 25 ACP slugs and they really don’t like all that choke! I’m beginning to wonder if it’s too much choke for pellets too. I have a new 28″ long TJ’s barrel and hope to install it soon.

    I have airgun sizing dies in .001 steps from .252 to .258 and can size the BBT slug from about .256 down to .252. If you would like to try them sometime, just let me know and I’ll mail some to you. I can cast the 46 gr. HPs and 52 gr. FN versions with my Lyman style “hollow pointed” 2-cavity mold.

    Thanks,

    -Cal


    • Cal,

      Oh, I know you are right. But please leave me with my minor complaint, because I worked on that MIM extractor and even saw some improvement before I gave up and just installed the Wilson part.

      As for the choke, two thousandths is a lot. I’ve never heard of that much before. Harry Pope liked to choke a barrel a half-thousandth. I think one thousandth is about the most there should be.

      Resizing bullets more than one thousandth is risky, because the centerline of the bullet can be upset. I have tried to stick with no more than one thousandth when I resize. That’s just what I read in the reloading manuals.

      B.B.


      • I prefer MIM parts to machined parts too, B.B.. and it’s interesting that you could not get the Taurus MIM part to fully function correctly. However, I was surprised to read your complaint, because you have often blogged about the practicalities of economy in designing and manufacturing airguns, and I would have guessed that you might regard MIM parts as a “plastic trigger thing.” 😉 But yeah–I understand. While in college, I once didn’t eat any pizza for month, because I got sick from food poisoning after eating it. Hmm–it might have been similar with beer too, once or twice!

        Thanks for sharing my suspicion about my TalonP choke. Many airgunners shooting slugs don’t think chokes work with a choke, so they often cut them off of their L-W barrels. I’ll keep my choke, because I don’t want to risk making it shoot worse. Shortening the already short TalonP barrel would create front bushing support challenges anyway. I’ll just fit up my TJ’s barrel when I get a chance and see what happens.

        I’ve read the same about sizing cast bullets. Some people put the limit at two or three thou. I think it helps to be sizing pure soft lead, as I do for muzzleloaders and airguns.


  6. Thanks B.B! Should be interesting. I always hold my breath in anticipation when I refresh the blog home page. What’s the topic for today?!

    I have a Tanfoglio Witness and would be interested in your comparison of this gun to the other 1911 air pistols out there. I wish a pellet version was cheaper!

    Those wanting a deeper appreciation of the 1911 should check out American Gun by Chris Kyle (yes, the American Sniper). This design is over 100 years old (as the name implies) and still in production. That’s saying something!



  7. “If you want to save money, cut a slot in the top of your head and become a piggy bank.”

    Amen, B.B.!
    MY home defense gun is one I inherited from my Dad, his S&W 681; all parts are hogged out of blocks of steel and it was a simple and reliable police gun for years before my Dad got it.
    Simple, reliable, solid construction…just what you want in a home defense gun. =>


  8. B.B.
    I have always been a huge fan of Sig firearms. I have a P220 (45ACP) that is outstanding. Very light weight makes it a great carry option if you must carry. They are made in Germany and are expensive for a reason. They are that good. Check one out if you get a chance.
    Ken


    • Pelletpopper
      I am also a fan of Sig arms products but light weight is not how I would describe most of them. I think my p220 is about two pounds empty. We like it because the weight makes it easy to shoot well for the wife and I. It is the model I prefer to the iconic 1911.


  9. B.B.,

    Off-topic, but have you any “intel” about Umarex releasing a Colt SAA in 4.75 inches?

    That’s been my ideal, but I put in an advance order and paid Pyramyd Air for an Ace-in-the-Hole back in June. However, the arrival date has yet again been pushed back for two months to mid-October. I’m starting to figure that if I’m going to wait for months, maybe I should just get a refund to my credit card and wait a year for the gunfighter model, if there are any plans for that model, the definitive Colt SAA.

    Michael


  10. I’ll eat my hat (and start on my shoes) if Sig have started making airguns, or that’s been any closer to the factory than it took to fly over it, unless we are going to start thinking that the Webley factory has reopened and that all those Colt, Dan Wesson, etc etc BB pistols are emerging from an assembly line next to the firearms!
    That is far eastern, quite possibly based on an existing airsoft pistol (most are) with a licenced name on it, sometimes even with a “made in” stated, in the name of accuracy emblazoned on the pot metal casting.
    I’ll never understand why manufacturers sell their name like this, I’m guessing they assume no one in their right mind would really think they were made by them, they’ve all done it too, Hammerli, Sig and even Walther (before they got their act together) all had their name on a Chinese springer or two.
    That is a BB firing Sig replica, it ain’t no Sig


    • Dom,

      They have decided there’s too much money for them to say, “No.” But from 1973 through 1978 Smith & Wesson made their Model 78G and 79G air pistols in Springfield, Massachusetts, right beside the production lines of their firearms.

      Michael


      • And, obviously BSA and Webley made firearms in the same factory as their air rifles for a century, Anschutz and for that matter Weihrauch make both, but that’s kinda missing the point, If Sig were making this item, you can rest assured it would be the same quality as the firearm, and it wouldn’t be at this price point.
        Strangely Weihrauch make excellent air guns, but their firearms are, putting it kindly, rather workmanlike, and a bit cheaper.
        I would chance my arm and say that this Sig has never set foot in Europe.



          • I must admit I’ve never tried their 22LR rifles, but they were making their “Windicator” revolver at the same time as putting mile deep blueing on a HW77 and (though unfairly maligned, they function fine) they look like someone has sprayed them with a matte black rattle can, a bit “lumpen” and ugly too. Hard to imagine they came from the same factory


  11. BB and fellow Airgunners
    I would guess the 1911 design must be one of the most popular air pistol designs around. I’ve counted no less then 5 air pistols of different brands and prices currently sold at the on line dealer I frequent, that are either exact replica’s, or close enough to be identified as a 1911’s . An example of one of the most popular, and most expensive air pistols based on, but not an exact replica of the 1911, would be Weihrauch’s HW45. At least in my view. What first caught my attention on this Sig. is the ancient Spartan cuneiform on the metal slide, and plastic handle grip. This is a nice touch that along with the Spartan helmet, adds a simple, yet original (as far as I know) dimension of originality to the Sig air pistol.
    As it is a bb pistol, I’m not expecting mind blowing accuracy. However, if it proves to equal my friends Tanfoglio Witness on accuracy day, it should prove to be a winner, especially at a savings of $25.-$30.00 over the still popular Witness.
    Ciao
    Titus


Leave a Reply