SIG Sauer’s New FMJ Practice Grade Ammunition

SIG Sauer M17 pistol with 9mm+P ammunition

A few months ago, I tested SIG Sauer’s new Elite defense loads. I found each caliber well suited to the mission at hand. They are not +P loads, but velocity is adequate to instigate bullet upset in test media. More importantly, each load fed, chambered, fired and ejected with reliability. The level of accuracy is high. With the primary requirements of personal defense, shot placement and firearms control, these have proven to be ideal defense loads. Recently, SIG introduced a companion line of practice ammunition. I have not tested each loading but the loads include:

Caliber Bullet Weight
.380 ACP 100-grain
9mm Luger 115-grain
.357 SIG 124-grain
10mm 115-grain
.380 ACP 180-grain
.40 S&W 180-grain
.45 ACP 230-grain

I was able to obtain and test fire a good quantity of the 230-grain .45 ACP loading. This load, like all of the practice loads, uses a plated bullet. Plated bullets are less expensive than a jacketed bullet, but offer superior performance to lead as far as leaving deposits in the bore. The plated bullets are lead bullets with a copper covering delivered through electrolysis. Therefore, the copper is mated to the lead in a uniform manner.

In common with lead bullets, plated bullets are usually turned out slightly larger than the groove diameter. As an example, the typical jacketed .45 ACP bullet is .451-inch while both lead and plated bullets will run .452-inch. Jacketed bullets begin life as a copper cup with lead swaged into the cup or jacket. Lead bullets are available in varying degrees of hardness—swaged bullets are softest and cast bullets are hardest.

I am not aware of the institutional use of lead bullets for training since the advent of the self-loading pistol. I use lead for high volume practice but sometimes, well, it isn’t pretty. You cannot use lead bullets in most indoor ranges. The lubricant used is often smoky. As long as you are not going to pursue Magnum velocity, plated bullets are ideal for practice use. In my experience, they are as clean burning as jacketed bullets and as accurate as carefully cast lead bullets.

As of this date, I have fired over 100 rounds of the training load. As expected, the loads feed, chamber, fire and eject normally. I fired the loads in a number of different handguns. You do not have to have a SIG to use these of course, and I fired a few in long serving Colt Commander. However, I am also using a very accurate and reliable, hard-hitting SIG P220 Carry Elite. Since I have recently bench rested the P220 Carry Elite for accuracy, the comparison with premium defense loads seemed valid. Firing from a solid bench rest, the new loads delivered a 2.75-inch five-shot group at 25 yards with the first effort. That is solid performance from a short barrel .45.

The Colt Government Model Combat Elite settled into a solid 2.5 inches, and the Colt Commander 3 inches. More importantly, the ammunition gave good function. I fired the SIG P220 Carry Elite from the retention position and enjoyed a full magazine without incident. When firing from a position that isn’t as rock steady or conventional as the standard two-hand grip, you wish your pistol to function. The SIG pistol and SIG ammo combination worked for me.

Moving to combat drills, I took on steel plates at 15 yards. When I did my work properly with the sights aligned, the grip firm and the trigger pressed smoothly to the rear without moving the sights, I was rewarded with a solid clang and the steel gong moving to the rear. The 230-grain loads are clearly both accurate and powerful enough for competition. Velocity ran from 800 to 850 fps dependent upon the barrel length of the handgun that was used. The .45 ACP isn’t dependent upon velocity for its best results, and these loads are in the norm for .45 ACP hardball. The new loads have demonstrated service grade performance. They are accurate enough for any chore including training and competition.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

Share your experiences or expectations of SIG’s new ammo in the comment 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 (5)

  1. Whoops! I think you made a listing mistake. There is no .380 with 180 grain bullet and the 10mm listed at 115 grains is probably also incorrect (the 10mm probably should have been the one listed with a 180 grain bullet, not the .380).

  2. I use only Speer Gold DOT Cartridges and never have a problem with cleaning but I always clean right away anytime I fire my Glocks, You keep it clean and it will always work when you need it too! And I change out my ammo every few months to keep fresh/dry (ammo). I fire my old ammo at the range, nothing is wasted!

  3. Sir,
    That copper plated bullets would leave a residue worse than lead is counter intuitive and contrary to my experience.
    But anything can happen- perhaps a poor alloy?


  4. I’ve no experience with this ammo, but other copper plated ammo I’ve shot leaves a copper residue that is more difficult to remove than lead. More difficult, but no impossible. Just more scrubbing.

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