It’s big news in the 1911 world when a major firearms company offers its own version of Browning’s classic platform for the first time. Last year Smith & Wesson did it. Now, in even more of a shocker, Sigarms has a 1911.
It’s no secret that S&W had been making 1911 frames for other makers for years. But SIG is a company that’s been legendary for producing state-of-the-art double-action service autos, notably the P220 and the terrific P226. So what’s with offering a German-pedigreed version of what most shooters take to be the classic American pistol of the last century? Well, forget preconceived notions. I’ve recently shot the SIG 1911, and any doubts I had evaporated after the first magazine.
First off, let’s deal with the nomenclature. The pistol is called GSR, for Granite Series Rail. “Granite” is in deference to Sigarms’ home base, the Granite State of New Hampshire. The “Rail” refers to the integral tactical light rail the GSR sports. The pistol comes in two identically priced flavors matte stainless with checkered wood grips or black Nitron-finished with synthetic Ergo Grip XT Extreme Use Grips. I shot the black one.
First off, there’s no guide rod. Regardless of how you feel about guide rods, some guns do shoot better with them. But that’s by no means an across-the-board situation; there are a heck of a lot of accurized, pre-guide-rod 1911s and old Colt Gold Cups that’ll hang with anything in terms of shooting tight groups. And I don’t think anyone forced to choose between two equally accurate and reliable guns–one with a conventional recoil-spring plunger and one with a guide rod–would choose the one with the guide rod. Maybe it’s just me, but being able to disassemble a 1911 without an Allen wrench and an extra set of thumbs rates as a good thing. For those of us who grew up shooting “loose as a goose” GI guns, it was enough of a concession to deal with a bushing wrench once we stepped up to 1911s with tighter tolerances and bigger price tags.
Accuracy with my test gun was good to phenomenal. From 25 yards the best results (five-shot groups from a sandbagged rest) were with Speer Gold Dot 230-grain JHP (1 1/4 inches) and Black Hills 200-grain SWC (1 3/4 inches). I tried some Taurus 185-grain Hex JHPs and managed to put four shots into 1 1/2 inches but was plagued repeatedly trying to better that by a fifth-shot flyer that kept opening things up to 2 1/2 or three inches. Buffalo Bore’s stout 200-grain JHP Plus-P stuff ran at a very respectable three inches continually. All groups, incidentally, were pretty close to point of aim, indicating the SIG was pretty democratic when it came to throwing different brands/weights into the money. The trigger broke at a nice, fairly crisp four pounds.I was running out of time, but I couldn’t resist trying the gun at 50 yards with some of the Black Hills 200-grain SWC stuff. For three, five-shot groups, I averaged slightly over two inches, the gun clustering them low but right on line windage-wise. The best group measured 1 7/8 inches center to center, which is about as well as I’ve ever done (or am capable of doing) with any iron-sighted handgun at 50 yards.
The gun functioned without a hitch. Considering the fact that I was shooting a lot of lead SWC ammo and the gun hadn’t yet been broken in, that in itself is fairly unusual.
The SIG GSR is a first-class maiden effort featuring Novak sights and magazines (two per gun), extended beavertail, Commander-style hammer, match-grade barrel (obviously) and a long external extractor. It’s hand-lapped for frame-to-slide fit and is extremely smooth and tight. It’s got a (by now almost obligatory) rail for lights and lasers, which, I feel, increases utility at the expense of aesthetics. Speaking of looks, I sort of prefer the wood grips on the matte stainless version, but the black-coated GSR I shot (it’s also stainless beneath the black) functioned and grouped so well, any cosmetic gripes seem sort of piddly. This gun feels good in the hand, cycles when you shoot it and hits what you aim it at. What else is there?