by Jim and Mary Clary
This is a follow up to the Clary's Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammo review from 2016, with new testing on additional calibers.
To say that they were superior performers would be an understatement. The Elite Performance ammo was more accurate than any factory ammunition that we had shot in the past. So, when we talked with Shannon Jackson, who works with SIG SAUER, at the 2017 SHOT Show and she asked us if we would consider trying (and testing) their .380 Auto, .38 Spl and .45 Colt rounds.
That was an easy question to answer: Ship them!
However, we are getting ahead of ourselves…. back up for a moment and read how we got involved with testing the SIG Elite Performance Ammunition back in 2016.
We don't test ammunition very often, because we reload all of the pistol and rifle calibers that we shoot. Our personal experience has been that no factory ammunition can equal our reloads for accuracy and consistency. Okay, we'll admit it, we are pretty proud of our reloads.
Shannon gave us a call after the 2016 SHOT Show and asked if we would try the new SIG Elite Performance Ammunition. Shannon, who is also a shooter, told us that the SIG ammo would perform as well as our reloads. That was difficult for us to believe; however, it was a challenge we could not resist.
We asked her to send us 100 rounds each of SIG Elite Performance FMJ and JHP (V-Crown) ammo in our primary handgun calibers for testing: .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 9mm Luger and .357 Magnum. While we waited for the ammunition to arrive we did a bit of research on SIG and their relatively new ammunition production facility.
SIG SAUER Ammo
SIG SAUER loads their ammunition in their own facility. They do not outsource or license their factory loads, as many other major companies do.
The SIG facility at Eubank, Kentucky is state of the art. However, with the rapidly increasing demand for their Elite Performance Ammunition, they are relocating to a larger facility in Jacksonville, Arkansas. The new 70,000 square-foot facility will have enough room for expansion, as the market demands, and allow for the addition of even more state-of-the-art equipment. It will also include a larger ballistics testing laboratory with their R&D personnel onsite, for optimum efficiency.
The patented V-Crown JHP bullet, produced for SIG by Sierra Bullets, was under development for four years. This proprietary bullet design uses a conical, stacked hollow point cavity. (“Stacked hollow point” means there is a secondary hollow space behind the main cavity.) Jacket skives and scores aid expansion, while a “toothed” cannelure helps keep jacket and core together during expansion. The lead alloy used for bullet cores is optimized for the caliber and intended velocity range.
Tests by independent ballistic experts have confirmed this design provides maximum weight retention and virtually perfect expansion. This should result in improved stopping power.
The Elite Performance SIG V-Crown ammo uses nickel-plated brass cases which provide enhanced lubricity to aid feeding in autoloading pistols. Clean burning, low flash propellants are used to help preserve vision in dim lighting conditions.
With the ammunition finally in hand, we headed out to the Zia Rifle and Pistol Club, south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our tests were conducted over a period of four days to ensure that shooter fatigue (and recoil) were not factors in our results. Below are the results for each of the rounds and the pistols that we used in our tests. As usual, we did our shooting at 25 yards, using the Caldwell Pistolero Handgun Rest. We used Hoppe's 25 yard slow fire, bullseye pistol targets, firing multiple five shot groups for record.
As we stated in the beginning of this article, our initial tests were with the : .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 9mm Luger and .357 Magnum rounds, and those results are below. Our 2017 tests of the .380, .38 Spl and .45 Colt are also listed below and underlined for quick reference.
SIG SAUER Elite Performance Ammunition – 40 S&W (Springfield Model XDM )
|SIG180 gr. FMJ @ 985 fps||SIG 180 gr. JHP (V-Crown) @ 985 fps|
|Smallest group 1.75″||Smallest group 1.0″|
|Largest group 2.75″||Largest group 1.75″|
|Mean group size = 2.00″||Mean group size = 1.50″|
SIG SAUER Elite Performance Ammunition – 45 A.C.P. (Colt Gold Cup Series 80 MK IV)
|Sig 230 gr. FMJ @ 850 fps||Sig 200 gr. JHP (V-Crown) @ 918 fps|
|Smallest group = 1.50″||Smallest group = 1.50″|
|Largest group = 2.0″||Largest group = 2.0″|
|Mean average group size = 1.75″||Mean average group size = 1.75″|
SIG SAUER Elite Performance Ammunition – 9 mm Luger (Springfield Model XD-9)
|SIG 115 gr. FMJ @ 1185 fps||SIG 115 gr. JHP (V-Crown) @1185 fps|
|Smallest group 1.25″||Smallest group 1.25″|
|Largest group 1.75″||Largest group 1.75″|
|Mean group size = 1.50″||Mean group size = 1.50″|
SIG SAUER Elite Performance Ammunition – .357 Magnum (Smith & Wesson, Model 19-2)
|SIG 125 gr. FMJ @ 1450 fps||SIG 125 gr. JHP (V-Crown) @ 1450 fps|
|Smallest group = 1.75″||Smallest group = 1.125″|
|Largest group = 2.50″||Largest group = 2.25″|
|Mean average group size = 2.0″||Mean average group size = 1.75″|
SIG SAUER Elite Performance Ammunition – .380 Auto (Walther PPK)
|SIG 100 gr. FMJ @ 910 fps||SIG 90 gr. JHP (V-Crown) @ 980 fps|
|Smallest group = 4.00″||Smallest group = 4.25″|
|Largest group = 6.25″||Largest group = 6.50″|
|Mean average group size = 4.25″||Mean average group size = 4.50″|
Writer's note: While the .380 caliber is definitely not a target round, it is adequate for a backup piece. The Sig Elite ammo was more accurate than any of the other factory ammo that we have fed through our Walther PPK. For the record, the groups tightened up considerably at 7 yards and 15 yards, the distances that one would be most likely need a backup.
SIG SAUER Elite Performance Ammunition – .38 Spl (Smith & Wesson, Model 19-2)
|SIG 125 gr. FMJ @ 900 fps||SIG 125 gr. JHP (V-Crown+P) @ 965 fps|
|Smallest group = 1.50″||Smallest group = 1.40″|
|Largest group = 1.75″||Largest group = 1.65″|
|Mean average group size = 1.55″||Mean average group size = 1.45″|
SIG SAUER Elite Performance Ammunition – .45 Colt (Ruger Blackhawk)
|SIG 230 gr. JHP (V-Crown) @ 850 fps|
|Smallest group = 2.25″|
|Largest group = 3.00″|
|Mean average group size = 2.50″|
Writer's Note: The .45 Colt is a round that you definitely DO NOT want to get hit with. While the recoil is tolerable in the Ruger Blackhawk, we wouldn't recommend it for everyday “fun” shooting or plinking.
During our tests we found that all rounds fed smoothly from the magazines (in the semi-automatics) and cycled flawlessly. We experienced no ammunition related malfunctions.
The Elite Performance rounds were very accurate. Our groups were consistent and very symmetrical, not ragged or strung out. After firing over 1,200 rounds, we didn't experience a single flier. This does not guarantee that you might not get one, but we did not.
Switching from FMJ practice ammunition to JHP defensive carry ammunition has presented problems in the past, as the two bullet types usually do not have the same ballistics. One of SIG's goals with their Elite Performance Ammunition was to produce V-Crown and FMJ rounds that were almost identical in performance, so that switching from range ammo to duty ammo would not be a problem.
Given our results, it is apparent that SIG achieved that goal.
This ammunition is the cleanest we have ever used. There was substantially less fouling in the barrels of our test pistols, even when compared to our own reloads. We are not sure what powder SIG is using, but it is very clean burning. We wouldn't mind getting some of it for our reloads.
The Elite Performance Ammunition exceeded our expectations. We have to admit that it was as good as our custom reloads, and that is saying a lot. If we did not reload, this is the ammunition we would use for concealed carry, home defense and range practice.
If you try it, you will like it and you might never want to feed your favorite pistol anything else. Our friends have asked us whether we will keep reloading after shooting the SIG ammo. Of course, we will. However, we intend to lay in a supply of Elite Performance Ammunition, just in case.
We would like to thank Shannon Jackson for introducing us to this ammunition. Special thanks also to Dan Powers, President of the SIG SAUER Ammunition Division, for providing us with sufficient quantities to conduct our tests. And Dan….. we would like to personally thank you for producing accurate and consistent ammunition at a reasonable price. In this day and age when there is so much junk on the market, it was a real pleasure to shoot the SIG Elite.
About Jim and Mary Clary:
Jim and Mary Clary have co-authored over three hundred and fifty articles, (and counting) on shooting and hunting. You can read many of them on AmmoLand News.