Firearms

Range Report: SIG Ultra Compact 9mm

SIG Sauer Ultra Compact 1911 9mm pistol with a box of SIG Elite Performance ammunition

When it comes to the 1911, the full-size Government Model .45 is easily the type with the best reputation for reliability. It is more difficult to get the shorter Commander right, and it is even more difficult to convince an Officer’s Model size pistol to run correctly. Add in chambering the pistol in 9mm, and you have a whole new set of dynamics to work through.

It is somewhat remarkable that SIG has taken the 1911 9mm pistol and produced a completely reliable pistol with excellent handling. The SIG Ultra Compact is well suited to personal defense. While there is a certain amount of truth in the statement that a 1911 should be a .45 ACP, the Ultra Compact 9mm is a pistol that stands well on its own merits.

SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm left profile that is cocked and locked
The SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm is a well-made and reliable handgun.

SIG Ultra Compact Features

SIG Sauer has taken the 1911 design and added SIG quality and consistency of manufacture. The result is a pistol you may bet your life on with a great deal of confidence. The pistol has several departures from the traditional 1911.

The most noticeable departure is that the 1911 9mm features an external extractor. This makes for improved reliability. There is nothing wrong with a properly tuned tool steel 1911 extractor. When have you had trouble with a SIG extractor?

The slide is nicely finished stainless steel. The aluminum frame is black anodized. The pistol features the usual 1911 grip safety, slide lock safety, slide lock, and magazine release. The controls are very ergonomic. The slide lock and slide lock safety are not extended, but they are easily manipulated.

The grip safety is a beavertail type. This safety guides the hand into the grip and helps lower the bore axis. Shooters who use the thumbs forward grip sometimes form a cup in the palm that rises off the grip safety. A well-designed beavertail grip safety eliminates this concern. The safety is positive in operation and locks sharply in place.

The barrel doesn’t use a barrel bushing (like many 1911 handguns use). With a shorter slide, the barrel must tilt more severely during recoil. Thus, the barrel bushing is deleted. In its place, the pistol features a belled barrel that locks solidly into the slide.

Front grip strap checkering on the SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm
Front grip strap checkering is a custom-grade touch.

The checkered grips are either cocobolo or rosewood. They are well turned out and offer good abrasion when firing. The front strap is nicely checkered, as is the mainspring housing.

The trigger breaks smoothly with a 5.1-pound compression. Reset is sharp. The sights are three-dot types with tritium inserts. These sights are an advantage in dim light. The sights ride low — as a concealed carry handgun’s sights should — but offer a clear, sharp, sight picture.

The pistol is supplied with two 8-round magazines. These are standard 1911-type magazines, and in common with other 1911 9mm pistols with similar-sized frames.

SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm pistol atop an orange silhouette target
The pistol turned in excellent combat groups.

The 1911 isn’t difficult to disassemble. Ensure the pistol is unloaded before you disassemble the pistol, of course. Then, simply lock the slide to the rear and remove the slide lock. The slide runs off the frame. Next, remove the recoil spring and guide, and pull the barrel out of the slide.

This is a handsome pistol with a nice two-tone finish. The finish was flawless, the controls were crisp, and the grips were well done. The pistol fired as smoothly as it looks.

Range Testing

I began the test by lightly lubricating the pistol over the long bearing surfaces, barrel muzzle, and barrel hood. I loaded the magazines with CCI Blazer 115-grain FMJ loads. I locked the slide to the rear and then dropped the slide on a loaded magazine by releasing the slide lock.

SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm pistol with three different brands of 9mm ammunition
SIG’s 1911 9mm proved reliable with a wide range of ammunition.

Firing at man-sized targets at 5 and 7 yards, the SIG 9mm proved fast on target and fast to a first shot hit. The SIG Ultra 9mm is among the most controllable and lightest recoiling 9mm pistols I have fired. Combining a metal frame and the 1911’s straight-to-the-rear recoil results in a fast-moving pistol that gets good hits. Moving to 10 yards in offhand fire, I slowed my trigger press just a little and continued to blast the X-ring.

Accuracy testing is always interesting. I elected to test the pistol with its relatively short 3.3-inch barrel at 15 yards. Firing from a solid benchrest firing position and taking every advantage for accuracy, I fired five-shot groups for accuracy. The results would be exceptional — even for a full-size handgun.

For the final test, I fired the SIG Elite 147-grain V Crown — the only heavy bullet load tested. This load put five shots into 1.4 inches at 15 yards. This shows the pistol runs well and is very accurate.

Load

Velocity

5-Shot Group

Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense1,104 fps1.5 inches
Hornady 115-grain XTP1,099 fps1.7 inches
Remington 115-grain UMC FMJ1,050 fps2.15 inches
Federal 124-grain HST1,120 fps1.45 inches
SIG 147-grain V Crown980 fps1.4 inches

During the range work, I used a well-made leather holster from FALCO. The Crab Hawk holster features belt loops that cinch tight, allowing for good concealment under a covering garment. The stitching and finish were good to excellent. The holster features a sweat guard, retention screw, and a reinforced spine.

SIG Ultra Specs

Length: 6.8 inches
Height: 4.8 inches
Width: 1.2 inches
Barrel: 3.3 inches
Weight: 28 ounces
Magazine capacity: 8 rounds
Type: Single-action
Sights: Drift-adjustable

Conclusion

The pistol’s combat ability leaves nothing to be desired. Reliability is faultless and the SIG Ultra is accurate enough for any chore a 9mm pistol may handle. The SIG Ultra Compact 9mm is light on the hip and easily concealed. If you are a 1911 fan, or simply value precision and control over magazine capacity, this may be the pistol for you.

How do you feel about 1911s chambered for 9mm vs. .45 ACP? Have you shot the SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm? What is your review? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Bob Campbell shooting a SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm handgun at an outdoor range
  • Falco Crab Hawk leather holster with a SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm pistol inserted
  • Bob Campbell demonstrating firing one handed from the retention position with a SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm handgun
  • SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm pistol with three different brands of 9mm ammunition
  • front view of Bob Campbell shooting a SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm handgun
  • Front grip strap checkering on the SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm
  • Bob Campbell shooting a SIG Sauer Ultra Compact 1911 9mm handgun at an outdoor range
  • SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm left profile that is cocked and locked
  • SIG Sauer Ultra Compact 1911 9mm pistol with a box of SIG Elite Performance ammunition
  • SIG Ultra Compact 1911 9mm pistol atop an orange silhouette target

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (6)

  1. The P938 is a micro 9mm and the Ultra Compact is a larger and heavier gun, it is similar to the
    EMP 1911, I have had mine for 3 yrs and it functions flawlessly. It goes through aluminum case and brass and steel case ammo without a hiccup. On the negative side it is heavy, but is concealable.
    I prefer my Sig 365X for EDC as it carries 12rds as opposed to 9rds in the Ultra. I carry concealed
    and the 365X is my summer gun, and the Utra is my winter gun as it conceals easier with a jacket or vest. You cannot go wrong with either gun.

  2. Joe

    The SIG Ultra is larger than the 938. While larger it isnt difficult to conceal, it simply isnt a micro compact like the 938. It is much easier to shoot well.
    Thanks for reading

    Bob

  3. i wanted to intercede in brazil i am part of a shooting club our president wants to release weapons but the cogreço doesn’t want them anymore also they don’t give security for businessmen who pays taxes every month incredible isn’t it!!!!!

  4. This is very similar to the compact Kimbers. I have an RCP. But. with a barrel and slide that short, the butt needs to be rounded at the bottom end. MUCH more comfortable to shoot . Still snappy though.

  5. If there is a glaring negative for Sig, it is their infatuation with the NON-CAPTURED, open end rod, return spring design. The 938 is for sure a ROYAL PAIN when trying to get back in. A captured spring setup for the P938 would be a worthwhile aftermarket investment, if there is one. I actually prefer all the benefits of the original 1911 design return spring with NO guide rod, as it is much easier to disassemble and reassemble. Also the internal extractor design is much easier to remove for cleaning than the Sig external design extractor. That said the P938, a MICRO 9, is still a very comfortable carry.

  6. I was wondering if anyone had any information on a comparison between this Sig Ultra Compact and the P938. They appear fairly similar.

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