SIG Sauer’s 1911 C3 provides the knockdown power shooter’s demand in a package size shooters wish for. After all, we all want the accuracy from a full-sized model in an easily concealable, compact-sized package. SIG’s C3 does not go quite that far, but it’s awful close and delivers where it counts most.
To deliver on its promise to offer a discreet, but shootable 1911, SIG built the C3 with Commander-length top including a match length and quality barrel, atop an Officer’s frame. This equates to a 1911 that is 7.7 inches long with a height of 4.75 inches. This makes the C3 easier to carry than a full-size without sacrificing any of the accuracy potential thanks to the 4.25-inch, match-grade barrel. As slight negative to the Officer-model frame is the loss of one round. Sig Sauer’s C3 comes standard with two seven-round magazines.
The C3 is a true workhorse and in SIG style, no corners were cut, no details left unattended. The slide is crafted from stainless steel, the frame from aluminum alloy. This provides the strength where it is needed most and lightens the overall mass weight for carry. At 29.5 ounces, the SIG isn’t the lightest 1911 on the market, but it is very respectable for all it offers.
Accuracy from shot-to-shot demands not only a proper grip, but also a consistent one. The C3 has several features to ensure hand purchase and enhance your grip. The front strap is checkered with 25 LPI and the mainspring housing with 20 LPI. The beavertail safety has a distinctive palm swell to provide a tactile grip marker and promote a repeatable hand positioning. While on the subject, SIG’s C3 is milled in all of the right places to ensure easy purchase when manipulating the slide. Roll it over, and you’ll likely notice SIG opted for an external extractor as well.
SIG’s C3 features a single-side, frame-mounted thumb safety. That’s great for righties, but does not serve the southpaw well. While SIG did not opt for an ambidextrous safety, it did design the C3 with an oval-slotted hammer that makes a left-handed safety a simple affair.
As earlier stated, inside and out the SIG C3 exudes quality. All parts are constructed using nothing but the real deal—no plastic or metal injection molded parts. For the C3, SIG engineers went with a standard recoil spring and plug guide. This is an advantage over a full-length guide rod for most when field stripping the C3 for cleaning or maintenance. For the competition shooter, a full-length guide rod make eke out a critical point that makes the difference between being on the top spot of the podium or being the first loser. However, the C3 is a defensive pistol. Accuracy is certainly important and the long side is appreciated. Nonetheless, target accuracy is not crucial in a defensive situation, but easy maintenance is appreciated.
Standard to every SIG I have ever owned or tested, the C3 features a tight fit. Shoot 25,000 rounds through one and shake it. It will be as tight as the day it rolled off the assembly line. The C3 is no exception. This demonstrates the quality and attention to detail that goes into every part.
In putting the C3 through its paces, I tested the trigger. In my hand, it broke crisply with light to moderate pressure. On the trigger gauge, it broke at 5.2 pounds. Anything in the 5- to 6-pound range is ideal by most people’s standards for a defensive pistol. Law enforcement and other professionals in high stress situations are often mandated to use much heavier triggers. Accuracy may suffer, but it significantly reduces the chance of an accidental discharge. However, the C3’s trigger is set for the intended audience and functions just fine.
On top, the C3 sports Novak adjustable sights complete with Tritium inserts to properly adjust the attitude of anything that goes bump in the night. The muted green glow is more than sufficient to index your sights in lowlight situations, without being so bright as to cause a halo effect.
The SIG C3’s two-tone finish presents itself well. Complementing the black frame is stainless controls—a fine touch. I recently came into possession of a set of Crimson Trace grips for the 1911. I really wanted to outfit them on the C3, but the checkered Rosewood grips were just too beautiful. The C3’s loss was a victory for one of my Armscor 1911s instead.
On the Firing Line
While combining a long slide and shorter grip is not a new concept, 1911 purists will notice the tendency of the C3 to feel “nose heavy.” The longer slide allows for better powder burn and increased velocity. Both are good for accuracy, but perhaps more important to a defensive pistol, the increased speed should aid the expansion efforts of most premium self-defense rounds.
Otherwise, the trigger and controls should all be intimately familiar to other 1911s. The long sight radius should more than compensate though and provide most, if not all, of the accuracy you are used to. However, accuracy is worthy of more discussion. The aluminum frame will transfer more felt-recoil. That is simply a fact of physics between aluminum and steel.
The C3’s recoil was moderate and on par with what you should expect from a .45 ACP. No surprises were noted. Low-recoil rounds offered a faster follow up; hot, self-defense rounds knocked the steel target down better with moderate placement. Perhaps, the best general advice I can give is to shoot ball ammo for practice, and you should find the results on paper you are looking for. When shooting premium self-defense ammunition, focus on your skill-building drills not group size (as much).
|Ammo||Avg. Muzzle Velocity||5-shot Avg. Group Size|
230-gr +P JHP
|SIG Sauer Elite Performance
|SIG Sauer Elite Performance
During my initial 100 rounds to break in the C3, I did experience one failure to feed. This is not completely unexpected in a new pistol. However, with approximately 1,500 rounds after the break in, I have not experienced a failure to feed or failure to fire.
The handling was as expected and the C3 cleared leather easily. The long sight radius preformed and accurate defensive fire was achieved. Did it shoot as well as full-size competition 1911? It may have shot as well, but certainly a little less accurate. Did it perform as well as other defensive handguns? It not only performed as well, it easily outpaced most both in accuracy and in rate of accurate fire. Although I fired multiple types of different .45 ACP ammunition, for carry, I have it loaded with SIG’s Performance Elite ammunition.
I have never been one who put too much stock in testing pistols from the bench. Rifles from the bench will produce groups at least as good, and likely just a little better, than a solid rest such as a bipod or shooting sticks. That being said, I typically test from the bench because others will, and I want to offer all of the data that may be useful in making a decision of whether or not to purchase a particular firearm.
|SIG Sauer C3 1911|
|Barrel Length||4.25 inches|
|Overall Height||4.75 inches|
|Overall Length||7.7 inches|
|Overall Width||1.37 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||29.5 ounces|
|Stock or Grip||Rosewood|