Down Zero TV Gun preview: Sig 1911 Tac Ops

One of the guns that we’ll be using in the upcoming web series Down Zero TV is going to be a Sig 1911 Tactical Operations.  Yesterday, we picked up the Tac Ops from Team Gun Nuts’ favorite indoor range, and took it to the indoor range to break it in and perform a function check on all the magazines.  Here are some basics on the pistol: Sig ships it with 4 magazines, which have two different basepad sizes.  I prefer the largest basepad, as it makes it easier to seat the magazines in the magwell.  Because the Sig has a mag funnel on it, magazines that lack basepads can be somewhat difficult to properly seat.  Before I get too far ahead of myself, here are the specs for the Sig 1911 Tac Ops:

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Weight with empty mag: 41.6 oz
  • Fits IDPA box with mag: Yes (just barely)
  • Sights: Novak 3-dot night sights

The other vitals are listed at the Sig website.  MSRP for the gun is $1200 or so, most shops I’ve seen them

Sig 1911 Tac Ops with magazines

at have them for right under a grand, which is the expected starting price to get a decent 1911 these days.  In addition to the factory Sig magazines, this gun was fed from Chip McCormick shooting star 8 round magazines, factory Colt 7 and 8 round magazines, and the industry standard Wilson Combat 8 round magazines.

For the initial function test of the Sig 1911 Tactical Operations, I used PMC Bronze 230 grain FMJ ammo, which is a good compromise between reliability and cost.  The test consisted of a walkback test (shooting 8 rounds at an IDPA head box at 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards), a group size test at 25 yards, and then function tests with all the magazines.  All the magazines should reliably feed 8 rounds, they should be easy to seat with a round in the chamber, should reliably drop free, and should feed the round when reloaded from slidelock using the slide release lever.

Sig 1911 Tac Ops

Function: The Sig 1911 Tac Ops was lubricated with Gun Butter, and then set to the task at hand.  I had one failure to feed out of the factory Sig magazines when reloading from slide lock in the first 30 rounds which did not repeat after that.  The factory Sig magazines also had the most robust springs of all the mags present, and required a slightly aggressive seating when being inserted with a loaded chamber.  However, they still fed 100% in that situation.

The Wilson Combat magazines, with their short basepad were the most difficult to seat reliably when inserted on a loaded chamber, I will likely relegate those for IDPA use only as they had no issues when seated with the gun at slidelock.

Accuracy: so how accurate is this gun?  During the walkback drill, all shots were kept within the 6×6 IDPA head box at all ranges.  Oddly, the gun does not shoot to “drive the dot” point of impact, the rounds impact directly over the tip of the front sight.  I’ll be changing the rear sight out shortly, so we’ll see how that changes things.  However, slowfire at 25 yards I shot a 2.5ish inch 5 shot group with the gun.  It is absurdly accurate, which I’ve come to expect from Sigs.

Shootability: Ah, the magic word, shootability.  This is a measure of how easy the gun is to shoot for extended periods of time.  For the most part, the Sig 1911 Tactical Operations scores very well here.  It’s an all steel, 5 inch 1911 that weighs slightly less than a Cadillac, so recoil was exactly what you’d expect from a full size 1911.  The Sig 1911 Tac Ops does have a checkered front strap, which after 332 rounds had chewed up my hand a bit.  That being said, regular practice will grow the callouses I need.  The only area where the Sig doesn’t score well is the ambi safety.  The right side of the ambi-safety digs into the bottom of my base knuckle in a fairly unpleasant way.  The ambi-safety will get ditched in favor of a sided safety pretty quick anyway.

All around?  I really like this gun.  Although with 300 rounds on it, it’s hard to make any real proclamations about it, I’ll be running it this weekend while teaching my IDPA Basic class, and I’ll be running it next weekend at Todd Green’s class up here in Washington where I expect to rock 1200+ rounds through it over 2 days.  That should be fun, to say the least.

The Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical Operations is going to be our “go-to” gun for the IDPA and USPSA season in Single Stack and CDP.  Coming up in the next few weeks we’ll take a look at the guns that we’ll be using on Down Zero TV for Production and Stock Service Pistol.

15 thoughts on “Down Zero TV Gun preview: Sig 1911 Tac Ops”

    1. Poor choice of words on my part. I should have said “initial function test”, because the gun does not require a break-in period. In fact, I like that re-phrasing so much I edited the post to say just that. The failure occurred on the first slidelock reload on the first factory mag, so the gun had fired less than 10 rounds when it happened. Since I was unable to repeat the failure in the following 320 rounds, I’m not too worried about it.

      1. Ah, the classic reaction when this happens to a gun you like “it only happened the once, because of X, and Y, and then I shot another hundred rounds through it no problem, so it’s not a big deal.” As opposed to when it happens to someone *else’s* gun, at which point it’s a poorly made POS and proper guns don’t have this problem 😉

        1. Mike, the difference is that I’m not going to just shoot another 100 rounds through it. I’m going to shoot several thousand rounds through it, and unlike a lot of other people I actually tried to replicate the failure under the same conditions several times and I couldn’t.

          What kills me is when people say “my gun malfed 10 times in the first 200 rounds, but I think that’s okay” and they don’t why it malfunctioned, they didn’t try to identify the problem, and there’s no diagnostic process done with the malfunction.

          The second part of that is that this was a magazine related malfunction, which is generally fixed by not using that magazine again. The mag is numbered, so if I have the same failure from the same mag again, it’s going in the trash. I had zero failures from the Chip McCormick, Wilson Combat, Colt, and 3 of the 4 Sig factory mags.

          1. I’m a little confused. What is the difference between an “initial function test” and a “break-in period”? How long is this IFT and how many failures are allowed?

            Seems to me that you’ve made an absolutist statement referenced in the link above and when the Sig doesn’t fall in that absolute criteria, a new phrase is coined to deflect criticism from conflicting statements by the author.

          2. A “break-in period” as defined in the previous article is when someone says that you must “shoot x number of rounds through a gun before it will be reliable”. The initial function test on the other hand is fairly self-explanatory, it is a test of the function and accuracy of the gun using repeatable metrics to gather accurate data.

            On the initial function test, I received one failure to feed when performing a slidelock reload with Mag #5. After that failure, the conditions were recreated with the three other Sig factory mags (Mags 6-8) with no failures. Mag #5 was then returned to the gun where it received no additional failures to feed. Throughout the test, I performed 90 slidelock reloads, and received one failure to feed during the test. That’s a failure rate of 1.11%. I performed an additional 90 reloads on a loaded chamber, with a failure rate of 0%.

            The industry standard for reliability is 1 malfunction every 1000 rounds is acceptable. The military wants 1:2500. If this gun does not perform to the industry standard, it will be reported here.

          3. The initial function test is not a break in period – it’s just him going out and shooting the gun the first time. It’s not a period of time or so many hundred rounds until the gun works right, it’s “NEW TOY! TIME TO PLAY!”

          4. Caleb, I didn’t even mean to be critical with that. I thought the smiley was enough to show it was meant tongue-in-cheek.

          5. Sorry Mike, didn’t mean to drop the hammer on you like that. You managed to whack my “CALEB SMASH” button. No hard feelings?

          6. Ha. I do get your point, though. No worries.

            Hopefully it’s the last issue you see out of that gun. Few things suck as much as losing an event because of equipment failure.

  1. Just get some regular or extended length base pads for the WC magazines from Brownells. They’re not expensive and they swap out easily.

  2. Caleb,

    Do you plan to clean the gun at all between the two days of the ToddG class? I’d be curious to know if it fares better dirty than my Springfield Operator. I burned through a little over 1000 rounds the other weekend, and the only issue that would arise is the occasional (every 30-40 rounds I think) failure to lock back on an empty magazine once I hit the 400+ round mark for the day.

  3. Caleb, Does this new 2010/ 2011 version of the SIG TacOps have a key operated safety lock thingy?

  4. GreyRay,

    As far as I know, SIG doesn’t have key locks on any firearms. None of the 1911s I’ve looked at do and the part was never mentioned in the Academy 1911 Armorer’s course.

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