Review: SIG Sauer Emperor Scorpion 10mm

Chrome revolver top and SIG Sauer Emperor Scorpion bottom

The 10mm cartridge seems to be enjoying a revival. This powerful and accurate cartridge has enjoyed a small but loyal following since its introduction, and there are many reasons this handgun and cartridge combination are enjoying a new appreciation. As the late Jeff Cooper remarked, the 10mm will do things at 50 yards the .45 ACP cannot.

Chrome revolver top and SIG Sauer Emperor Scorpion bottom
The SIG Scorpion offers Magnum power in a self-loader. It is flatter and holds more cartridges than the revolver.

The 10mm offers excellent penetration and is suitable for taking deer and boar-sized game to 50 yards. The 10mm handgun comes as close to a go-anywhere do-anything handgun as we are likely to find. A wider than ever selection of loads and handguns makes for a versatile choice.

For most of the 10mm’s lifetime, the majority of handguns chambered in 10mm have been 1911 handguns. These include the Colt Delta Elite, Ruger SR1911, and the Rock Island 10mm. The double-action first-shot Smith and Wesson 1076 pistol was once the standard issue of the FBI. The Glock Model 20 is the most popular 10mm of all time.

I have regarded the 10mm as a handgun for field use and for protection against the big cats and feral dogs. The 10mm, based on its recoil and power, is more of a field gun than a carry gun—although I often carry a steel frame .45. A new 10mm handgun now rides with me and it is arguably the most accurate handgun in this caliber I have yet tested. Superior features make it a useful home defense handgun as well.

SIG Emperor Scorpion

The SIG Scorpion treatment has been given to several handguns in the SIG lineup. The Emperor Scorpion features the special finish normally associated with the Scorpion and special high tech G10 grips as well. The pistol features the steel slide of the SIG P220 but features a steel frame rather than the standard aluminum frame of the P series handguns. This results in excellent balance and good control.

Several boxes of 10mm ammunition
These are just a few of the loads fired in the SIG 10mm pistol. It was reliable and accurate with all loads.

There has been considerable modification of the grip frame to accommodate the 10mm cartridge. The result is, in my opinion, one of the most comfortable SIG P series grip frames. The G10 grip provides excellent adhesion and abrasion when firing. The pistol is a double-action first-shot handgun with a well-placed decocker for safely lowering the hammer from full cock.

The double-action trigger is the SERT or short reset trigger. This trigger allows a shorter stroke and faster reset than the original P220 trigger. The magazine latch, slide release, and easy take down of the P220 are retained in this handgun. The slide is longer than the .45 ACP P220 handgun in order to accommodate the 5-inch barrel. The heavy-duty recoil spring keept the 10mm cartridge under control.

Lockup was tight, and the fit and finish were excellent. While we usually think of SIG handguns as personal defense and service handguns, the Emperor Scorpion is well suited to outdoors duty from hunting thin-skinned game to protecting the user against dangerous animals.

The SIG 10mm is also intended for personal defense as it features well designed self-luminous iron sights. The steady green glow of tritium night sights is comforting on the belt, beside the bed, or around the campfire. The SIG 10mm also features an integral light rail for mounting combat lights.

I am a believer in using enough gun for game and defense use. The SIG 10mm pistol will make a particularly effective home defender. The weight doesn’t matter in home defense, and the balance and recoil control make for an easy handling 10mm handgun. As an example, the first loads I fired in the Emperor Scorpion were the SIG Elite 180-grain FMJ.

Breaking at almost 1,200 fps, felt recoil was no more of a problem than the standard .45 ACP. Recoil was straight back and the trigger reset was excellent. The extra weight of the steel frame and long slide really made a difference.

Light rail on the frame of the SIG Sauer Emperor Scorpion pistol
The Emperor Scorpion 10mm is supplied with a modern light rail.

I also fired the SIG Sauer Elite 10mm 180-grain JHP. At just over 1,200 fps, this is a full-power load with plenty of power and good expansion. It is the single most accurate loading I have yet fired in the SIG 10mm handgun. This combination of an affordable practice load and a premium V Crown hollow point load would be all you need for practice and personal defense.

Another load I deploy often, and one with an excellent reputation, is the Winchester Silvertip. This 175-grain hollow point offers good power and excellent expansion. It feeds flawlessly in every 10mm handgun I have used. The Silvertip looks right and it is accurate enough for any chore. Federal Cartridge Company offers two loads that underline the versatility of the 10mm cartridge. The 180-grain Hydra-Shok is a mid-range load.

At 1,060 fps, it is stronger than the .40 Smith and Wesson but loaded down from the 10mm standard for good control. This would be an ideal carry load as expansion is excellent and control good—yet it meets FBI criteria for barrier penetration. Federal also offers a bonded-core loading at a strong 1,280 fps. This would be a great load for boar and deer-sized game. Penetration is on the long end and accuracy excellent.

As you might imagine, I have enjoyed testing loads for this handgun. Recoil isn’t discouraging, and accuracy is always interesting. I have tested several full-power loads from Double Tap Ammunition. A maximum effort loading is the 135-grain JHP at a strong 1,555 fps. That is real power and rapid fragmentation. If you can control this load, it is an excellent choice for home defense.

controls on the SIG Sauer Emperor Scorpion
The SIG’s decocker and slide lock are well placed for rapid manipulation.

The 200-grain hard cast bullet load at over 1,200 fps would be a good load for game animals but also well suited to defense against those with teeth and claws. A defense load I find controllable, and very interesting, is the 230-grain 10mm Equalizer. This is a 135-grain hollow point over a 95-grain lead ball. Loaded to 1,000 fps, the two bullets strike side by side at 10 yards. This load would be my first choice among the Double Tap loads for home defense. Two projectiles landing simultaneously offer a lot of shock, and that is a lot of weight. Penetration was good and function flawless.

I like the SIG Emperor Scorpion a great deal. I have carried a 1911 for decades and prefer the steel frame .45 for personal defense and home defense. However, I am not blind to other—or even superior options. I was able to fire the SIG 10mm more accurately than any 10mm 1911 I have owned. The long DA first shot is smooth, and I am able to make adequate combat groups; the single-action 1911 10mm is faster to a first shot hit. But for control after the first shot and absolute accuracy, the SIG 10mm beats the other 10mm handguns I have fired, including the EAA Witness and Glock 20 to the Colt Delta Elite.

In firing from a solid benchrest, I have fired a number of 5-shot groups at 25 yards of 1 to 1.5 inches—as well as I am able to fire any handgun. The SIG Emperor Scorpion is arguably among the two or three finest heavy-duty self-loading handguns on the planet. Based on power, accuracy, and reliability, this is a handgun that will not let you down.

Those who are a fan of the 10mm are normally more than just a bit passionate, so let’s hear from the 10mm and SIG fans to get your review of the Emperor Scorpion. Sound off in the comment section.

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Comments (35)

  1. Ballistics by the inch ( fired a selection of 10mm ammo from various barrel lengths and posted the results. It seems most 10mm loads are more or less optimized for about a 12-14″ barrel. Likely that’s due to using a faster pistol powder. Some finagling with handloads and a slower powder could change that.

    I have a .41 Magnum Marlin lever gun that will push a 210 grain Speer Gold Dot over 1700 fps. And it’s not unpleasant to shoot at all. That’s why I’d like to see a light 10mm carbine that could take a 15-30 round magazine. As long as it worked and was accurate it’d be a handy ranch rifle for most larger predators and a great little camp rifle. Hello, Ruger? Are you listening?

  2. I’d still like to see a good, lightweight 10mm carbine with a 16.25″ barrel. Something along the lines of the .30 M1 Carbine, on steroids. You should be able to push a 180 grain pill over 1500 fps easily.

    1. Now THAT would be something special! Probably would get closer to 1800 fps out of a 16.25″ barrel. The original 10mm Norma 170 grain JHP load got 1400 fps out of a 5″ tube – I know, I’ve shot a lot of it – while the original 10mm Norma 200 grain JTC load hit 1200 fps. An awesome round that would be even more awesome out of 16.25 barrel carbine. Gun manufacturers are you listening?

  3. The 10mm and the .40 S&W have their uses. I look at the .40 as a 10mm special, sort of like .44Mag and .44 Special. The 10mm had a few problems in the beginning due to not having strong enough actions in one or two designs, but Glock proved that it could be made in polymer frames and work well. That Scorpion model you tested looks good, and I would probably consider it if I didn’t already have my Glock. I am not truly a fan of Glock and I think it feels funny in my hand, but every model of Glock that I have tried gives good accuracy and excellent reliability. Should there be an opportunity for another 10mm to sneak into the gun safe without the descendant of Swiss bankers who I am married to finding out, I think this article has shown me which one it should be.

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