SIG SAUER’s new Scorpion handgun takes the 1911 pistol a notch higher in performance and brings proven combat ability into the new century. The Scorpion is a far different pistol than the blue steel and walnut 1911 handguns many of us deployed in the past. The SIG looks different, performs differently and leaves little to be desired. It is definitely a 1911 to the marrow. The new SIG features a rugged corrosion and wear-resistant Cerakote finish. Cerakote is a proven ceramic finish that is low maintenance, resists wear and requires little lubrication.
SIG Scorpion Features
From pencil scratch testing to extreme salt spray testing, Cerakote has proven stable in long exposure to the elements. Heat tests did not damaged the finish up to 500 degrees. Along with other modern features, the Scorpion integrates a light rail into the dust cover. Coupled with self-luminous iron sights (night sights) with tritium inserts, the pistol is well-appointed for use around the clock.
There are many features inherent in the design, a confluence of the best of SIG and 1911. Legendary SIG quality control, and the 1911’s combat proven design, is a good combination. There are several versions of the Scorpion, including both 4.25- and 5-inch barrel variants. The shorter length was chosen for this review.
The pistol features what is often referred to as the Commander length barrel and slide with standard barrel bushing. The fit of the barrel to the slide, the barrel to the barrel bushing, and the locking lugs to the slide are excellent. Going to a shorter barrel length requires the pistol use a bushingless lockup without the barrel bushing. This is required of the shorter pistol to accommodate the more severe barrel tilt necessary for a short barrel 1911.
While a number of 4-inch barrel 1911 handguns have exhibited excellent reliability, the consensus is the Commander length, with a 4.25-inch barrel and shortened barrel bushing is the more reliable system. The barrel lugs fit into the slide mortise smoothly and snugly. Tight tolerances mean superior accuracy. Good fitting means less eccentric wear in the long run.
The pistol is fitted with a set of grips designed by Hogue and termed Piranha grips. These grips are an interesting experience for one used to walnut or rubber. They offer a comfortable yet abrasive grip in a groundbreaking design. The grips and the nicely checkered front strap make for excellent adhesion. Despite aggressive checkering, the grip is not uncomfortable when firing full power loads and the pistol does not slip in the hand. Bottom line—there is nothing better in the handgun world for adhesion and control than this combination.
The pistol features an extended magazine well and a mainspring housing that fits the hand well. Although you may seldom need to perform a speed reload in a defensive situation, the option must be left open, and you should practice speed reloads. You will practice often and practice hard if you are serious about personal defense.
The extended magazine well makes rapid ammunition replenishment much more efficient. Training will go smoother and as confidence in repeatable ability builds, so does combat proficiency. The single greatest shortcoming of students in my training classes is a lack of familiarity with the handgun. Be familiar with the pistol.
The dust cover features an integral MIL STD 1913 rail for mounting combat lights or laser devices. The slide lock safety is an ambidextrous unit. The slide lock safety bucks the trend as the levers are actually smaller than the norm rather than the common extended type. The safety is crisp and indents in a positive manner. After use and evaluation, we find the size is no drawback for rapid manipulation and avoids snagging the lever on the holster or garments when drawing from concealed carry. The upswept grip safety is a good design; well executed.
The grip safety is the popular beavertail design with memory groove. The beavertail safety helps lead the hand into the proper firing grip on the draw. The beavertail releases its hold on the safety properly about halfway into its travel. The memory groove is an asset for those of us that use the thumbs forward, two hand firing grip. Often this grip, while very stable and accuracy enhancing, causes the palm to rise off of the beavertail. The memory groove beavertail safety helps in this regard. After looking over these features and handling the pistol, the first impression of the Scorpion is this is a service pistol without compromise. Further evaluation and testing did not contradict this early impression.
The low-profile low-drag sights give you an excellent sight picture. The tritium inserts are bright and the three dot configuration lets you quickly acquire the sight picture. Self luminous iron sights are required of a pistol used for 24-hour personal defense. The slide design is different from traditional 1911 handguns, with a slightly squared profile. This is a subtle change to give the SIG 1911 an appearance similar to the SIG P series handguns. When ordering a holster, do not simply specify 4.25-inch Commander length 1911 with rail—be certain you specify that the pistol is a SIG 1911 as the slide profile differs.
While a distinctive handgun, the SIG Scorpion has the best features of the 1911 design. A straight-to-the-rear trigger compression, low bore axis with little leverage for the muzzle to rise in recoil, and a well-designed grip frame add up to a capable handgun. The SIG features a modern external extractor. While a properly fitted tool steel extractor of the original type is perfectly reliable, the modern version may be superior. I have never seen a P series SIG exhibit a problem with the extractor, and the design of the modern Scorpion is good.
The trigger isn’t a concave or curved design; it is the flat trigger first introduced to the author by Hilton Yam of 10 8 Precision. The trigger is responsive to a skilled operator. Trigger compression should be straight to the rear and this trigger is a boon to a skilled user. A skilled user is a handgunner that practices. And that is the bottom line—learning to manage and use the handgun well.
I chose the Commander-length Scorpion for several reasons. The Scorpion is designed for personal defense. While the 5-inch gun is a great service pistol and well suited to home defense or competition, the shorter 4.25-inch barrel handgun is easier to carry and better suited to the demands of personal defense. The .75-inch shorter slide and barrel clear leather more quickly (the balance is ideal for personal defense).
I have the impression that the shorter slide, with less mass, cycles more quickly than a Government Model. It will take an excellent shot with much experience with the 1911 to prove it, but firing tests seem to bear this impression out. The Commander .45 is my fit for personal defense. The Scorpion may be the most advanced example of the type, yet it is still a Commander length.
I believe the pistol is more controllable in some drills than a Government Model simply because of the faster slide velocity. Just the same, the cadence of fire isn’t set by how quickly you are able to pull the trigger; It is set by how quickly you are able to recover from recoil and realign the sights. When mastering the handgun the only thing better than practical experience is a lot of practical experience. The pistol needs to be fired, and fired a lot, in realistic training.
Field Stripping the Scorpion
Prior to the initial shooting evaluation, the Scorpion was field stripped for inspection. I used the Perry tool, which makes field stripping more convenient, but the Scorpion is a service grade handgun without a full length guide rail. There is no requirement for special tools to field strip the pistol.
There were no tool marks of any type evident and final fit and polish is good. The pistol features a snug fit between the barrel bushing and the barrel, although it is not difficult to field strip. The pistol is tight, but not so tight that it isn’t easily field stripped and maintained. A caution with this pistol, and any other pistol, using the Series 80 positive firing pin block must be observed when the pistol is field stripped. When returning the slide to the frame during reassembly be certain the plunger for the drop safety is depressed. Otherwise the part could be damaged.
After field stripping and examination, the long bearing surfaces were lubricated. During the evaluation, the pistol was used with the supplied SIG magazines and also a back up set of Wilson Combat ETM magazines. The ETM magazine feeds the bullet nose more directly into the chamber at a higher attitude, resulting in more positive feed. Be sure to take every advantage in reliability.
Initial firing was accomplished with Winchester’s USA ball ammunition. This ‘White Box’ ammunition is affordable and accurate enough for meaningful practice. Do not be confused by those with little, or no real experience, in the field. The 230-grain ‘Hardball’ is an excellent battle round with good penetration and wound ballistics. A .451-inch projectile is likely to fully penetrate the target, leaving a wound on entering and a predictably larger wound on exiting to create an impressive total wound volume.
The 230-grain load operates at relatively mild pressure, exhibits a full powder burn with a low muzzle signature (usually just a few sparks), and is feed-reliable in any handgun. The 230-grain FMJ bullet delivers good practical accuracy. The Scorpion gets on target quickly, and with attention to the sight picture, sight alignment and trigger press, X ring hits are the rule. The initial evaluation was spent firing at man-sized targets at 7, 10 and 15 yards. Results were good. The front sight simply hangs on the target as a trained shooter delivers.
Switching to the 230-grain JHP in the Winchester Personal Defense line, the pistol’s handling was identical. This load offers excellent expansion and a good balance between expansion and penetration. It is among the under-appreciated loadings available and an excellent performer at a fair price.
However, if you are facing felons behind cover as part of the likely scenario, or have a need to penetrate vehicle glass or intermediate cover, more thought should go into selecting a loading with good penetration. The Winchester 230-grain PDX is the answer. This load exhibited more recoil than the other 230-grain loads, as it is a bit faster. The bonded core bullet stays together during penetration and the load gives formidable performance. These Winchester cartridges never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject. Practical accuracy in speed shooting is excellent with this handgun.
With a weapon mounted light, the balance of the handgun wasn’t affected. There just isn’t that much weight in a combat light. In some variations of the polymer frame handgun the weapon mounted light affects reliability. The cause is difficult to qualify but polymer frame pistols have a certain give in recoil, and the combat light may affect this dynamic. The steel frame SIG should be free from this problem. The Scorpion is approaching 1,000 rounds without a problem of any type. Several magazines of full-power loads have been fired with the combat light in place without difficulty.
The author gives the Scorpion a clean bill of health, and a rousing endorsement as a service handgun. The SIG is reliable, accurate and appropriate to the task of personal defense and arguably makes the most of the finest fighting handgun design on the planet.
25-yard Benchrest Group
|Load||Velocity||Average of two, 5-shot groups|
|Winchester 230-gr. FMJ||802 fps||2.5 inches|
|Winchester 230-gr. JHP PD||850 fps||1.9 inches|
|Winchester 230-gr. PDX||874 fps||2.25 inches|
|Wolf Performance Ammunition 230-gr. FMJ||822 fps||3.0 inches|
|Wolf Performance Ammunition 185-gr. JHP||890 fps||2.4 inches|
|Load||Velocity||Average of two, 5-shot groups|
|200-gr. Oregon Trail SWC/WW 231 Powder||856 fps||2.2 inches|
|230-gr. Oregon Trail FP/Titegroup Powder||780 fps||2.8 inches|
Are you a 1911 fan? What are your thoughts on the Scorpion? Tell us in the comment section.