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:
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.
Share your experiences or expectations of SIG’s new ammo in the comment section.