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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense
|Hornady 115-grain XTP
|Remington 115-grain UMC FMJ
|Federal 124-grain HST
|SIG 147-grain V Crown
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
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.