Recently, SIG Sauer broadened its line of defensive ammunition with two big bore revolver loads. The .44 Special V-Crown and .45 Colt V-Crown offer good choices for personal defense. Before we look at the performance of each load we should look at the cartridges. The .45 Colt is the older cartridge, introduced in 1873. The .45 Colt has been loaded with different weight bullets but traditional performance is a 255-grain conical load at about 850 fps in most revolvers. Modern Ruger revolvers may take loads considerably hotter. This is why handloading manuals have sections marked Ruger Only! A standard handload for good tight Colt SAA revolvers and Smith and Wesson double-action revolvers is a 255-grain SWC at 900 fps. The problem ammunition companies have is that they must load cartridges to a safe pressure level for older revolvers and the lowest common denominator. That is why most Cowboy Action loads are at the 750 fps level.
Just the same, even .45 Colt loads with modest velocity often demonstrate excellent penetration. The .45 Colt is a proven stopper and an accurate cartridge in a good tight revolver. I tested the newest offering from SIG Sauer in a Traditions SAA revolver. With a 4 ¾-inch barrel, this is a fast handling, easy-packing handgun I often carry in a Rocking K belt slide when hiking or simply picking for antiques in the rural areas.
The SIG Sauer V-Crown load features a nickel plated cartridge case for smooth chambering and extraction. The projectile weighs 230 grains inviting us to think this is very similar to the JHP used in the .45 ACP case. This bullet, however, features a crimping groove. I loaded the revolver and took aim at a 15-yard target and fired a five-shot group. Recoil was modest, and the five shots went into a 1.2-inch group. This is an accurate combination. Average velocity is 790 fps.
In testing the load by firing into water, the V-Crown hollow point penetrated 18 inches of water and expanded to .83 inch. That is service grade performance. Yet, recoil was mild. This is a reliable loading for personal defense. Those who own one of the many quality single-action revolvers chambered for this caliber, or the increasingly difficult to find Smith and Wesson .45 Colt double-action revolver, will find this a suitable home defense loading.
The .44 Special is by far the younger cartridge—introduced in 1908. The .44 Special was designed for double action revolvers and intended to carry on the excellent reputation for accuracy demonstrated by the .44 Smith and Wesson American and .44 Smith and Wesson Russian cartridges. Nominal ballistics are a 246-grain bullet at 750 fps. This superbly accurate and mild shooting big bore cartridge became very popular.
Eventually, it was hot rodded with heavy loads and this experimentation led to the .44 Magnum cartridge. Guns were wrecked and worn out along the way. But the .44 Special in its original form is a fine target cartridge and none too shabby for personal defense with the right combination. A fly in the ointment of heavy loads are lightweight revolvers such as the out of production Rossi five shooter and the Charter Arms Bulldog. They are not well suited to heavy loads.
While a modest upgrade in velocity is acceptable, wear on the small parts will eventually put these handguns out of business. Ruger has introduced a five-shot .44 Special on the GP100 frame that may be among the strongest revolvers ever built in this caliber. Handloaders and specialty ammunition makers will find the Ruger an excellent field gun and fertile ground for specialized loadings.
Meanwhile, those wishing to use the five-shot .44 Special for personal defense have a viable option in the V Crown JHP loading. From the Ruger GP100’s 3-inch barrel, this 200-grain loading breaks at 756 fps. Accuracy is good to excellent at 2.0 inches for a 15-yard group. This load penetrated 14 inches of water and expanded to .76 caliber. Control was excellent.
Each of these loads offers good accuracy and a clean powder burn. Muzzle flash is limited. Recoil is modest. For anyone owning a new revolver in these big bore calibers or those owning an older revolver they wish to press into service, these are good choices.
What experience have you had with SIG’s V-Crown ammunition? Share your thoughts in the comment section.