Some of you who are new to firearms may not be all that familiar with 1911-pattern .45 ACP pistols. And since I don’t write about 1911s all that often, I thought it would be good to cover some history of the design before I tell you about the one that is the subject of this article.
From 1899 through 1902, the United States was involved in a conflict known as the Philippine Insurrection, which was an outgrowth of the Spanish American War. During the Insurrection, American cavalry troops engaged the primitive but aggressive Muslim Moro tribe during jungle combat operations.
The Army had not long before given up their slow-firing/slow-reloading Colt Single Action Army revolvers chambered in .45 Colt caliber (a 225-grain lead bullet traveling at approximately 1000 feet per second and delivering 566 FPE) for the faster-firing/faster-reloading double-action Colt 1892 Army revolver. While the Army took a major step forward in technological design when they issued the new gun, they took a MAJOR step backward in the cartridge it chambered — the .38 Long Colt — which propelled a much smaller 125-grain lead bullet at 772 feet per second (which produced only 165 FPE). The use of the .38 Long Colt cartridge against the Moros would soon prove to be disastrous.
The Moros were fearsome warriors who had a penchant for engaging in close-quarter battle with edged weapons like machetes. They were additionally bolstered by the ingestion of powerful pain-reducing drugs before combat and by wrapping their torsos tightly with treated manila ropes as a primitive form of body armor.
During the encounters, Army troopers, armed with 1892 Colts, were equipped with a great CQB fighting tool chambered in a target practice caliber. Many Moros would take a cylinder full of .38 Long Colt rounds in the body and keep on coming, hacking the offending troopers to bits in the process.
This happened enough that the Army ended up shipping an emergency supply of mothballed Colt Single Action Army .45 revolvers to the troops to replace the 1892 .38s and the results were decidedly different. The Army vowed never to use .38 Long Colt revolvers as frontline handguns, and the Army demanded that a new service pistol — semi-automatic in function — be developed in a new .45 caliber.
In 1911, the Army adopted the .45 single-action semi-automatic pistol developed by John Browning and manufactured by Colt as their new service pistol. Chambered for the new .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge, the 1911 pistol — as it came to be called — used a quick-reloading seven-shot magazine for the new cartridge, which propelled a 230-grain full-metal-jacketed bullet to a velocity of 850 feet per second (yielding 369 FPE).
The new pistol design and cartridge was quickly embraced by the military and remained our official service pistol for 74 years until it was replaced by the 9mm Beretta 92. Its combat effectiveness was legendary. During that time, it became a favorite pistol among law enforcement officers, law-abiding users and not-so-law-abiding users as well. There has been no other pistol as widely used, modified and manufactured by various companies in history.
Fast forward 106 years.
The SIG TACOPS 1911 Carry model is an example of the 1911 pistol design being carried to its zenith, while still utilizing the overall basic elements of the original.
Starting with stainless-steel construction of the barrel, slide and frame — rather than carbon steel — SIG Nitron-coats the slide and frame for additional rust- and scratch-resistance. The frame features a built-in Picatinny rail up front for mounting tactical weapon lights, laser sights or combinations thereof to make the TACOPS even more effective in combat. SIG 1911s use an external cartridge case extractor rather than the internal type utilized in the original 1911 design. Many people, myself included, feel that the external extractor is more reliable.
The barrel length of the TACOPS Carry is 4.25 inches, rather than the standard 5 inches, making it a bit more concealable and easier to carry. Weight is 38 ounces. The front strap and rear strap feature fine checkering which, when combined with the ERGO XT synthetic grips, really helps in controlling recoil. There is a stainless-steel Magwell to smooth out rapid reloads.
Speaking of reloads, the TACOPS Carry comes standard with four (4!) stainless-steel eight-shot magazines with bumper pads attached! In a time when many manufacturers of any type of firearm only include one magazine with their guns, this is an exceptional deal.
The TACOPS Carry comes with some additional features — not available on the original Colt 1911 pistol — to meet the needs of the modern shooter. The manual thumb safety system is of the extended style and is ambidextrous. For those new to the 1911, the pistol is designed to be carried with a round in the chamber, a full magazine, the hammer back and the safety “on.” When the pistol is drawn in preparation to fire, the manual safety is clicked “off” with the thumb. The manually activated thumb safety system is backed by a grip safety. This means that even if the manual safety is off, a 1911 can’t be fired unless it is firmly gripped in the shooting hand. Releasing pressure on the grip safety re-engages it automatically. The grip safety on the SIG TACOPS has an extended beavertail (the portion that extends over the web of the hand), which protects the hand against the hammer pinching the web of the hand during shooting (hammer bite). The hand is also protected against hammer bite by the compact skeletonized hammer.
The single-action trigger pull, via a skeletonized aluminum “long” trigger (about 4.5 pounds), is very crisp. It is the single-action design that has given the modern 1911 its reputation for superior accuracy.
In addition to the extended thumb safeties, the slide release is also enhanced, which makes it easier to drop the slide using the shooting-hand thumb.
The front and rear sights are SIGLITE Tritium three-dot fixed combat sights. They are well defined and easy to acquire regardless of light conditions.
Takedown of the SIG Sauer TACOPS Carry follows the original 1911 design. It utilizes a barrel bushing and standard recoil spring guide. Unlike other modernized designs, the TACOPS can be taken down for field stripping without tools.
I test fired the TACOPS Compact using two different types of SIG Elite Performance .45 ACP ammunition: 230-grain Elite Ball practice ammo rated at 830 feet per second, and 200-grain V-Crown JHP defensive ammo rated at 918 feet per second.
This is one great shooting handgun. The all-steel frame and fine-line checkering on the front and rear straps work together to keep recoil controllable. The 200-grain V-Crown load, which develops 374 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, produced sharper recoil than the 230 Elite ball load and its 352 FPE. Accuracy was top flight. I fired, standing with a two-hand grip, at an NRA B-27 Silhouette target and easily managed six-shot groups in the 2- to 2.5-inch range with both loads. My best six-shot group at 30 feet measured 1.5 inches using the Elite Ball ammo, with four shots in one hole, and the remaining two in another. There were zero malfunctions with either load.
The SIG Sauer TACOPS Carry model combines the best of all 1911 features in one reasonably priced gun. I like it enough that I have been carrying it as my duty handgun with a Streamlight TLR-2 laser/weaponlight attached. The TACOPS Carry has an MSRP of $1221, but should be available for closer to $1000.
More info at: www.sigsauer.com
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