SIG Sauer Elite Defense Ammunition

Silver-and-black box of SIG ELITE Performance ammunition with white and gold lettering

When choosing ammunition, you must first ask what does the bullet do? While most ammunition is used for mundane chores, such as target shooting and plinking, a bullet must perform more serious duty at times.

Silver-and-black box of SIG ELITE Performance ammunition with white and gold lettering
The distinctive packaging illustrates performance in line with the author’s testing.

The critical job of personal defense and the important job of hunting each require careful ammunition selection. And the critical job of penetrating flesh and disrupting vital function is too serious to ignore.

A necessary study is anatomy. Every creature relies on oxygenated cells. The circulatory system pumps oxygen-rich blood. The nervous system, often erroneously called the central nervous system, sends signals through the spinal cord. Significant damage shuts down oxygen to the organs or stops signals.

Having taken quite a few game animals and investigated critical incidents, I believe hydrostatic shock exists although it does not have a significant effect past the immediate area of a wound channel. Clearly a pistol cartridge cannot create significant damage based on hydrostatic shock.

Actual damage is all that matters. The larger the target is, the less apparent the impact of even a high-velocity bullet. Game animals are seldom knocked to the ground. Projectile velocity is important for delivery to the target and instigating expansion, yet the determining factor of the damage is the wound channel.

There is a lot of discussion about defensive ammunition. The criteria outlined is simple, and it is a complex thing to design a loading that achieves acceptable goals. A personal goal is that the loads not be rated +P. Overpressure and +P may not mean the same because overpressure often means dangerously high.

Just the same, +P loads are heavier so they accelerate wear and make a handgun more difficult to control. Handguns are not very powerful, and fast follow-up shots often are needed.

I was very interested in SIG Sauer’s personal line of ammunition. The ELITE loads are a result of product development that seems extensive. A simpler route would have been to license a maker to produce SIG-marked loads using any number of readily available projectiles.

Expanded .45 ACP bullet with focus on a light gray background
Expansion is consistent and impressive, as shown by this expanded .45 ACP bullet.

SIG took the more difficult route by designing their own bullets. The V-Crown projectile is a bonded-core bullet, meaning it expands well and the lead core and jacket do not separate since they are bonded together. The cartridge cases are nickel-plated for smoother function. It is difficult to prove, and nickel plating is supposed to provide smoother chambering.

I recently tested nickel-plated rifle bolts and have done considerable research; I will take nickel-plated cartridge cases when I can get them. I obtained a good supply of .45 ACP and 9mm Luger loadings for testing.

.45 ACP

The .45 ACP hollow-point loads use a 200-grain JHP at a listed 900 fps. That is not a heavy loading, and is faster than the 230-grain. Using a projectile with a good balance of expansion and penetration results in good control, excellent accuracy and reliable function.

I test fired the loading in a SIG Fastback 1911, which seemed appropriate. I also backed up the test with a couple of other .45 ACP handguns. Function was flawless. Average velocity was right on the money for factory specifications.

Velocity Averages

Velocity Average Firearm
 905 fps  5-inch barrel SIG Fastback
 870 fps  4 3/5-inch barrel SIG Scorpion
 809 fps  3.3-inch barrel SIG Ultra

 Accuracy Testing

  • Average of two 5-shot groups
  • 25 yards
Firearm Group
SIG Fastback 2.0 inches
Smith and Wesson E Class SW1911TA  1.75 inches


Gray haired man in red shirt and red ear protection drills with 9 mm and .45 loadings, with a wooded area behind him.
The author executing several fast-paced drills with the 9mm and .45 loads and found performance left nothing to be desired.

I fired most of the loads in the SIG Fastback and control was never an issue. The expansion testing showed an excellent balance of expansion and penetration.

9mm Luger

I have been looking for a service load for my Heckler and Koch P7M8. That handgun features a short, 4-inch barrel. The fastest 124-grain factory load I have clocked runs at 1080 fps, and you cannot use +P loads in that gas-retarded blowback handgun. It is what it is, and that is reasonable for a factory 124-grain JHP loading.

I tested the SIG Sauer 124-grain 9mm in my P7M8 to explore the JHP as a carry load. I need little prompting to fire that interesting handgun. The SIG 9mm 124-grain JHP clocked an average of 1100 fps in the P7M8. Control is good, and the powder burn is clean.

Now, I have my carry load!

I also fired the SIG 124-grain JHP in my long-serving and proven SIG P228 9mm pistol. Results were excellent.

Velocity Averages

Velocity Average Firearm
1103 fps HK P7M8
1121 fps SIG P 228
1144 fps SIG P 226

 Accuracy Testing

  • Average of two 5-shot groups
  • 25 yards
Firearm Group
HK P7M8 2.0 inches
SIG P228  1.7 inches

The SIG ammunition line is a good addition to the ammunition scene. Velocity, function, accuracy and ballistic performance are all there and, in some regards, exceptional.

Do you use SIG’s excellent products? What are your plans for using their new ELITE ammunition line? Share your thoughts and plans with us in the comments section.

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
Rifle Magazine
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 (10)

  1. “I have been looking for a service load for my Heckler and Koch P7M8. That handgun features a short, 4-inch barrel. The fastest 124-grain factory load I have clocked runs at 1080 fps, and you cannot use +P loads in that gas-retarded blowback handgun.”

    Not to nitpick, but…
    1. People have been using Gold Dot and 9BPLE in the P7 for decades; no need to ‘look for a service load’ when many already exist.
    2. Domestic 9mm loads are tested in 4-inch barrels.
    3. The P7’s gas-retarded action, and robust all steel construction (i.e. built like a tank), is exactly why you CAN use +P loads with it.

  2. I would like someone to lay out proven results of the 5.56 and a .308 or 30/06 using several different bullets on several different defensive materials. Body armor NOT included. This is to help determine materials to defend against the most popular ammo to be encountered.

    AMMO: 5.56, 55 gr, FMJ and 62 gr, penetrator bullet.

    AMMO: .30 cal. as above in FMJ (military), penetrator, and HP

    MATERIALS: 1/4,” 1/2″ steel, wood (thickness?), dirt, gravel or rock.

    This would be greatly appreciated. With all the experts out there I cannot get anyone to give me a real-life result. I wanna keep the trash outta my home. I will put in a moat later. Thanks folks!!

  3. I carry a Glock 33 in .357sig and I truly love this ammo.
    I did my own torture test by shooting 2×4’s and jugs of water with incredible expansion and descruction. I dumped my other ammo choices and I trust this ammo with my and my family’s life and that says a lot.

  4. I read somewhere, it might have been on one of the The Shooter’s Log websites. The the Virginian State Police, concluded that one .357SIG round can drop a large attacking dog, dead in it tracks. While it take multiple 9mm rounds to do the same thing.

  5. @ Apples and Oranges.

    Your comparing Apples with Oranges, I mean, a .45ACP (11.43x23mm) has superior stopping power. To a .355Parabellum (9x19mm). It’s a meaningless question, With what ammunition are you making a comparison with. If you use a Jacketed-Hollow-Point .45ACP against a Jacketed-Hollow-Point 9-mil, your still going to come-up with the same answer. It one thing to make a comparison of the same caliber, its another if you mix the calibers. What distinctions are you trying too make.

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