I got the 1911 bug again after shooting a few mags of a Dan Wesson Valor. This along with a friend’s Para .40, I found it was time to relight the spark I once had with the 1911 platform. My only previous 1911 was a Kimber Ultra Carry Stainless Series II. The Ultra Carry was a great compact .45 that I put 1000+ flawless rounds through. But with my hands and wrists not being what they used to be, it was sold and started what has now become my collection is Sig Sauer P-series pistols.
There are many manufactures of John Browning’s venerable design and only a few that stand out in the sea of custom and semi-custom builders. There are also several that offer entry level models as well. Being a self proclaimed Sigophile, I thought it only natural I reenter the world of 1911’s with a Sig.
Sig Sauer started out pretty rough in the 1911 business. They had the standard issues for what you would find with building any product that you are not akin to building. There was some consistency in build quality but that did not really take hold until the 2nd generation. Fast forward six years and the Sig Sauer 1911 is one of the best-kept secrets in the production 1911 game. For the record, these are not Wilson, Clark, Baer or Wesson grade pistols. Any comparisons to such are clichéd; apples and oranges. They do not come assembled from the Philippines with cleanup work and fitting taking place stateside or are they made in Imbel Brazil. But, what they are is 100% American made pistols with match grade internals with a fit and finish that is tight and clean.
I wanted to start out basic. I was looking for a non-railed all black pistol. I wanted a steel/stainless steel frame/slide and accuracy out of the box. It had to be a good foundation to use as a platform for future upgrades as well. This led me to my #1 Sig parts and pistol store, Top Gun Supply in Ohio. After verifying with Michelle at TGS that the one they had in stock was indeed a recent build (more on this later), I submitted my order for $799 and Scott at Austin Gun Liquidators handled the transfer. The answer to my basic 1911 pistol bug was the XO in a Nitron finish.
The XO is as simple as it gets, no rail, Novak sight cuts, no ambi-safety and a set of $20 Ergo grips. It has a match grade barrel, hammer and sear. It utilizes a half-length guide rod and uses only a minimal number of MIM parts. The internals are all steel and each hand fitted. The only parts that are not standard issue Colt is the extractor assembly. The extractor is external and there are aftermarket solutions. The slide is all Sig and visually matches their line of P-series pistols with the serrations on the rear and a line down the middle of the slide. Some of their older Sig 1911 pistols utilized a straight cut line from where the dust cover meets the slide to the nose of the slide. The later builds have a more traditional curved cut. This was the purpose for verifying with TGS if the pistol they had was a later build, as I preferred the traditional cut.
What you get for the money is what sets the XO apart from the rest. Plastic? There is some but only in the grips. The trigger and main spring housing are metal. You will also be hard pressed to find a production 1911 under $800 that comes with checking on the front strap. In the case of the XO, you get 25 TPI. Sig also includes an extended thumb safely as well. Slide fitment is tight and does not have any play. The grip safety however is not fitted perfectly. It is smooth to the edges of the top of the frame and does not have a “bite”. But, it is the only part that makes noise during a standard “shake to hear the rattles” test. The rattle is minimal and the fit is still good overall but it does distract from the rest of the gun’s tight fit and finish. All Sig Sauer 1911’s ride on an 80 Series chassis. Some find this less preferable but for me it is neither here nor there. Many competitors in the price range of the XO don’t have these accouterments. Many also have a higher percentage of MIM parts even for internals. Feature for feature, the XO stands out. Solid internals and a foundation for customization make the XO a true winner. So how does it shoot?
For my first range trip, I was not going for the traditional “here’s the group size pic”. I was there to ring the XO out. My interest was in putting as many rounds downrange as possible and testing reliability. This would also be a good indicator of the amount of money paid to 1911 smith to correct any potential issues. After 200 rounds and four different kinds of ammunition, I was not disappointed. I did not experience a single failure of any kind. All rounds went into battery smoothly via slide release or racking the slide. For testing, I used Tulammo 230 GR FMJ, Winchester Target/Range 230 GR FMJ, Remington UMC 230 GR FMJ & Winchester Personal Protection 230 GR JHP. Everything fed smoothly. I was interested to see if the steel cases of the Tulammo would pose any issues and it didn’t. I now there are some 1911’s that require a specific round count in order for break in but the XO functioned flawlessly. Magazines inserted and ejected with a positive feel and click. After every mag was empty, the slide locked back every time. I know a lot of folks would prefer to switch out the factory Checkmate mags for Wilson or Tripp’s. I did not find this to be necessary.
As demonstrated by the above pic, the hole to the left is the first 50 rounds at 10 yards. The factory sites were adequate but I am used to having night sites on all of my pistols. Since the XO is Sig’s bargain 1911, you get a 3 dot system and they were good enough to get me on target. I am very sure I will be upgrading to Trijicons in the near future and with the Novak cuts options are pretty open. The Ergo grips are rough and I did not experience any slipping at all. The Ergos do have some width to them. I have small/medium sized hands and would prefer a more slender grip. I have my eyes on a set of checkered Hogue G-10s that I am sure will fit the bill. The oversized mag release was also a welcome surprise.
The most important part of the pistols drive train is the trigger. I don’t have much exposure to good 1911 triggers, but at least I have a few good reference points. The XO’s trigger has a positive break and that it where stops. There is quite a bit of take-up and it has a spongy feel before engagement. I would also probably feel more comfortable with a shorter reach trigger like a medium Wilson. Bottom line, the trigger will need to be addressed.
All of this is in line with my expectations of an entry level 1911. Although the XO seems far from entry level, Sig has done a great job of adding value with quality. The Sig Sauer 1911 is a heck of a gun for the money. I went to the Lone Star Gun Show this weekend and really got a good chance to handle many different 1911’s. Compared to most, the fit and finish is above those and the lightly dehorned frame and slide make it very comfortable hold. The Sig 1911 has not grabbed hold of dyed in the wool Sig fans. They prefer their pistols old and German. But I am sure over time you will be seeing more Sig Sauer 1911’s at your local range.
By: Garret Willis
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