|Home - Volume 2 (2007) - Issue 2 (Spring '07) - Pistol Review: SIG Arms Revolution Compact C³|
SIG Arms Revolution Compact C³
A worthy successor to the Colt CCO
A Gun Test by Harwood Loomis (Hawkmoon, )
I live in a state in which (according to my most recent information, anyway) the state police carry SIG SAUER pistols, chosen both for the power of the .357 SIG cartridge and for the almost legendary reliability of the pistols. The name SIG was not unknown to me, although until recently I didn't understand the relationship of the SIGARMS company located in New Hampshire to what I had always regarded as the SIG SAUER company in Europe. As it too often occurs, most of what I thought I knew was either wrong or (to be charitable to myself) out of date. It seems that SIG (Swiss Industrial Group) sold off the firearms business in 2001. The company we know as SIGARMS is one of five companies, the largest and the dominant company of the five. SIGARMS is a separate company, incorporated in 1985 and located in the United States. Unlike Glock or HK, which are directed from Europe, SIGARMS is its own master but continues to work closely in design, engineering and manufacture with its sister company, J.P. Sauer & Sohn. SIG SAUER is the brand name they both put on the pistols, but it isn't the name of the company.
It was quite awhile ago that I was surprised to read that SIGARMS had decided to expand their product line to include a 1911 pistol. According to SIGARMS, development of the 1911 line of pistols was undertaken entirely by the U.S. SIGARMS company, without direction or input from the European affiliates. I was further surprised to read that they had decided to depart from the traditional appearance of the 1911 and to "make it look like a SIG." After that initial splash, I stopped following the progress of the SIG 1911s. I recall hearing something about initial problems, and changes in suppliers and vendors, but the bottom line for me was that the SIG 1911 didn't look like a 1911 and so I wasn't particularly interested. (We old curmudgeons have our standards.)
While I was sleeping, SIGARMS quietly expanded their line of 1911 pistols from one (the original GSR) to an astonishing sixteen (16) models. Accordingly, I was awakened from my SIG stupor when John Caradimas, the owner of the M1911 Pistols Organization, informed me that M1911.ORG would be receiving a new SIGARMS 1911 pistol for evaluation, and that I was next in line to receive a test pistol. So much for traditional wisdom. Sometimes, if you ignore something long enough, it goes away. Apparently SIGARMS didn't get the memo, so after some exchanges of correspondence with Paul Erhardt at SIGARMS in New Hampshire to deal with the technicalities of FFLs and such, I eventually received notification that a new SIG pistol had arrived with my name on it.
WHAT IS IT?
By now it is widely known that I believe the Commander (with a full 4¼" barrel, thank you) is the optimum form factor for a 1911 pistol. For me, at least, the Commander both looks better proportioned and balances better in the hand than a Government model. I was pleased, therefore, to find that the new pistol is a Commander-length pistol … with a true 4¼" Commander barrel and slide. A bit more investigation then revealed that the SIG SAUER Revolution Compact C³ is not just a Commander, but a Commander-length pistol built on an Officers-sized frame. The grip is shorter than that of a Government model or Commander, with a shorter magazine holding one round less than a standard Commander. In previous years, Colt has offered a pistol in this configuration designated as the CCO. Colt's last offering in a CCO-sized pistol was a Gunsite model, which is now out of production. Since the shorter grip of the Officers receiver makes it easier to conceal the most distinguishing feature of a concealed pistol -the butt- it would seem that there should be a ready-made market for a pistol offering the longer barrel and sight radius of a Commander with the easier-to-conceal Officers receiver. It seems only natural for some company to fill the void left when Colt ceased production of the CCO. Enter the SIGARMS Revolution Compact C³.
The SIG SAUER Revolution Compact C³ is a new pistol in SIGARMS' lineup of 1911-pattern pistols. As already pointed out, the general layout is that of a hybrid between an Officer's size frame and a Commander size barrel and slide. It is notable (to this writer, at least) that SIGARMS produces this pistol with a true 4¼" barrel not the shorter 4" "compact" barrel adopted by so many manufacturers. Rather than a cone-shaped quasi-bull barrel, this pistol has a conventional barrel, barrel bushing, and short guide rod with closed recoil spring plug. Where most Commander size pistols use the same shape barrel bushing flange as a Government model. however, the C³ barrel bushing is a bit more rounded, appearing more like an Officers bushing.
Also a surprise, in a Colt Commander the "shoulder" on the inside of the barrel bushing, where the barrel actually rides, is shorter than that of a Government model. The shoulder in the C³'s barrel bushing is very nearly the same as that of a Government model. The surprising thing about this is that it works; I have tried making "home brewed" Commander barrel bushings by cutting down Government bushings, and found that the result was barrel springing severe enough to affect function.
The grip safety on the C³ is also unique. The lower portion incorporates an extension to ensure full depression even by those people who shoot using a "high thumb" hold, but instead of a raised pad at the bottom of the grip safety, SIGARMS has gracefully raised only the middle (vertically) portion of the grip safety arm. The result is visually distinctive, and at least for this writer functions as well as more conventional designs. (I must note in fairness, however, that I do not shoot with a high thumb grip.)
Sights are Novak® night sights of a low-profile, "combat" configuration. The night sight modules are of the light-charged variety rather than self-illuminating. After they have been exposed to bright light for awhile they are easily visible in dim light. However, when I removed the pistol from my range bag after it had been in darkness for several days and went immediately to a dark corner of the basement … the sights were not visible at all. This is not a condemnation; it is simply a reminder that there are two types of night sights (each with its respective advantages and disadvantages), and the buyer should be certain that he or she is fully informed before making a decision to buy.
The front sight is dovetailed to the slide rather than tenoned, and although I much prefer the appearance of a tenon sight, the dovetail sights offer several advantages. They are adjustable for windage, and they are more easily changed or replaced.
The thumb safety is an extended type, similar to that offered by many manufacturers. I was interested to note that, although this pistol does not have an ambidextrous thumb safety and the grip panels are the shorter, Officers length necessary to fit the shorter frame of the pistol, the right side grip panel is nonetheless relieved to accept an ambidextrous thumb safety lever on the right side. The slide stop lever is of traditional length but is shaped in the "shelf" profile that seems to be achieving increasing popularity, at the expense of the traditional serrated or checkered, wedge-style lever. The arrangement of an extended thumb safety and standard slide stop is very common, and hardly unique to SIGARMS. I must mention, though, that to me this arrangement doesn't make a lot of sense. I have no trouble sweeping off a conventional length thumb safety; the added length of an extended safety lever does not provide me much benefit. But I cannot reach and operate a conventional slide stop lever with only one hand. An extended slide stop lever rather than an extended thumb safety would appear to be a much more useful combination, yet it is rarely if ever offered except if ordered by an individual buyer on a custom pistol.
The grip panels are attractively done in a unique, partially checkered pattern that incorporates the SIG SAUER logo as well as providing sufficient smooth area near the top of each panel (where checkering doesn't provide much gripping advantage) to show off the grain of the wood. The panels are finished in an attractive, satin or matte finish that sets off the grain of the wood very nicely.
The magazines are set up with flush floor plates that are pre-drilled to accept base pads. The floor plates are welded to the magazine tubes. The followers are flat metal and, notably, do NOT have the "dimple." Although this initially raised some concerns, I found the magazines to be completely reliable. There is no indication on the magazines as to who the manufacturer is. Our contact at SIGARMS declined to tell us, on the perfectly reasonable basis that it is against company policy to reveal their suppliers. I can understand and accept that. Accordingly, while I believe I have an idea who makes these magazines, I will refrain from offering unsubstantiated guesses.
Trigger pull on the test pistol averaged 3¼ pound (1.48 kgs) and was very consistent from one measurement to another (using an RCBS analog trigger pull scale). SIGARMS' specifications call for 4.5 to 5.5, which in this writer's opinion is a better range for a pistol that may be carried for self-defense use. The trigger broke very cleanly with virtually no creep or grittiness. In fact, it was one of the nicest triggers I have ever encountered in a 1911 pistol. However, I feel that 3¼ pounds is simply too light for a carry weapon. Fortunately, this can be adjusted by a bit of bending of the sear spring to bring it within the specification.
Also of interest is that the C³ utilizes a Series 80 style firing pin safety, but unlike the way this is implemented by Colt and Para-Ordnance, in the SIGARMS C³ the hammer still retains real "hooks" at the half-cock position, and the hammer cannot be made to drop by pulling the trigger with the hammer at the half-cock position.
There isn't any magazine chute, but the insides of the magazine well are nicely beveled to facilitate insertion of magazines. The sides of the hammer above the actual hammer base are slightly narrowed to ensure that the hammer clears the sides of the hammer slot in the slide. These are both thoughtful touches that indicate the degree of thought that went into specifying and building the pistol.
HOW DOES IT SHOOT
The essence of any gun review is, of course, "How does it shoot?" In the case of the SIGARMS Revolution Compact C³, the answer is, "Very well, thank you." I began my testing with some general plinking at a distance of 25 to 30 feet, simply to run some ammunition through the pistol for a feel of reliability and to become accustomed to the trigger and general "feel" of the pistol. Although the frame is alloy and seems to weigh almost nothing when the pistol is field stripped for cleaning, it balances surprisingly well in actual shooting. I quickly found that I was able to empty an entire magazine rapid fire at 25 feet and obtain consistent groups well within center-of-mass on a silhouette target, and probably no larger than 4" or perhaps 5". Any time I cared to slow down and aim each shot, I found myself shooting ragged one-hole groups from a standing, two-hand position. Having never before handled or fired any SIGARMS pistol, I was impressed.
Moving into the accuracy phase of our testing, I again encountered my personal demon of highly sensitive hands. (No, lads, I don't think this in any way qualifies me as a "metro-sexual," so cool the comments right there.) My usual shooting rest is a steel ammo can laid on its side on top of the bench. Between the short, Officers length frame and the fairly aggressive front strap checkering, I found that after a few strings off the rest my right hand was getting a bit chewed up. I don't know if this detracted from the accuracy I obtained, but the results are set forth in the accompanying chart.
As usual, my testing was carried out at Chris' Indoor Shooting Range in Guilford, Connecticut. This is an indoor facility with the actual range located underground, which results in a fairly consistent temperature, and no problems with wind. (Unfortunately, it also results in less than ideal lighting, but everything in life is a trade-off.) In keeping with our usual M1911.ORG protocol, because we test Commander and Government length pistols at 25 yards and shorter pistols at 25 or 30 feet, I fired the accuracy portion of our test at a distance of 25 yards. Because my supplies of some ammunition were limited, in this test I fired 5-shot groups and discarded the worst shot of each, so the tabulated results represent the best four out of five.
Surprisingly, the best group of the session was obtained with Federal American Eagle 230-grain ball ammunition, at exactly 2". Federal's 230-grain JHP Personal Defense round was close behind, at 2.13". The worst result turned in for this pistol was Winchester USA 230-grain FMJ. Even so, the Winchester (which is, after all, a budget-priced, practice ammunition) was 2.75", which is still very respectable for a Commander sized pistol at 25 yards. Interpolating these results to what they would represent at 25 feet (a more realistic expectation for self-defense use), the best result computes to an equivalent of 0.67" at 25 feet, and the worst converts to an equivalent of 0.92" at 25 feet. These results are far better than necessary for any conceivable self-defense situation (short of a Walker Texas Ranger head shot around a hostage).
On behalf of M1911.ORG I would like to thank both Federal and Armscor Precision for providing much of the ammunition used in this test. We are grateful for the assistance, and for the opportunity to test pistols using some of the best ammunitions available on the market today.
Overall, the SIGARMS Revolution Compact C³ is a handy pistol styled in keeping with the SIG interpretation of the 1911 platform. With its Commander length barrel mated to an Officers size frame, it achieves what some people more knowledgeable than I feel is the optimum configuration for concealed carry of a 1911 pistol. Very often, the part most difficult to conceal effectively is the butt end of the grip, because it is difficult to keep that close to the body. The shorter Officers size frame alleviates that problem to a great extent, while the Commander length barrel provides both good reliability and a better sight radius for enhanced accuracy.
I especially applaud SIGARMS for building this pistol using a conventional guide rod and recoil spring plug. It appears that this pistol is intended for carry use, and a "working" pistol should (in this writer's opinion) be easily field stripped in the field. Full-length guide rods and other gadgets do not appreciably enhance combat accuracy, but they do detract from field serviceability.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
On a partially objective and mostly subjective note, I should also report on a few aspects of the pistol that I did not care for. First, it is a matter of personal preference as to whether one likes the SIGARMS interpretation of the 1911 styling or of one prefers the traditional styling. Irrespective of aesthetic tastes, I found that the distinctive shape of the C³'s slide made it rather picky regarding holsters. The pistol fits fine in any loosely shaped (or unshaped) holster designed for a Government or Commander 1911. It will also go into some holsters that are molded for the 1911 but molded loosely. It will not fit into closely molded holsters such as a leather Commander holster from Horseshoe Leather, and I suspect that would also mean it will not fit most Kydex holsters molded for traditionally-shaped 1911s.
Following completion of the formal testing for the pistol, I again took it to the range one Thursday evening, with the intention of using it in the informal weekly "mini" practical shooting competition. Because of the small facility, limited time available, and limited number of participants, there are no classes and the courses are set up on the premise of ten-round magazines. Participants with larger capacity magazines simply load only ten rounds. Since the C³ is a single stack pistol, I knew that I would be at a disadvantage but I wanted to see how the pistol responded in a rapid fire, practical shooting context.
Alas, I didn't get to find out. When it was my turn for the first round, the buzzer sounded, I moved swiftly and gracefully to the first firing position, brought the pistol to bear while sweeping off the safety, and ... nothing! After aborting my round, we discovered that the plunger tube had worked loose enough that the plunger pin had extended outside of the thumb safety pad, effectively preventing the safety from being disengaged. This problem did not occur during my testing, suggesting that the loosening was gradual. Nonetheless, a self-defense pistol that won't fire when called upon isn't especially helpful, and it was an unhappy follow-up to an otherwise enjoyable test. It also brings to mind two questions: First, the purpose of the small, vertical extension at the top of the left side grip panel on a 1911 is precisely to retain the plunger tube in the working position in the event the staking becomes loose. The grip panels on this pistol are beautiful, but someone apparently forgot to explain to the maker what that upper notch is for, and to ensure that the grips are manufactured tight enough to retain the plunger tube if necessary.
Secondly, the frame of this pistol is (I believe) investment cast. Assuming that to be correct, there is no reason why the plunger tube cannot be cast and machined integrally with the receiver. Other makers have done it, and it completely eliminates any possibility of the type of stoppage I encountered. I would respectfully suggest to SIGARMS that they consider incorporating this as a running production change at the earliest possible opportunity.
Curiously, toward the end of our testing I also noticed that much of the fired brass I was picking up exhibited small dings about a third of the way down the case from the mouth. After more firing to ensure that I wasn't inadvertently collecting used brass from another shooter, I swept up all my brass and carried it home. After sorting it all, I found that slightly more than two-thirds of the fired cases had dings. The pistol has a lowered ejection port, so I was initially puzzled. When I examined the pistol on the bench, however, I realized that although the ejection port is lowered, the trailing edge is not flared. Like other SIGARMS 1911 pistols, the C³ uses an external extractor, and it appears that the port cannot be flared without removing excessive material from the nose of the extractor hook. In any event, the dings did not affect the reliability of the pistol at all, and I am told by friends who reload that the small dings I observed would not even preclude reloading the brass (although it might reduce the number of times the brass could be safely reloaded).
The SIGARMS Revolution Compact C³ is a small, lightweight, exceptionally accurate 1911-type pistol offered in traditional single stack, single action configuration … but with SIGARMS unique and distinctive styling. The pistol is easy to shoot, comfortable to shoot, well thought out, and offers accuracy far better than what is required for a self-defense pistol. I enjoyed shooting this pistol perhaps as much as I have enjoyed shooting any pistol recently. The only real downside to this pistol, and it applies to this particular example and not necessarily to the model, was the loosening of the plunger tube and the resultant failure to fire when called upon.
On behalf of The M1911 Pistols Organization I would like to thank SIGARMS for making this pistol available to us for evaluation, and I especially would like to thank Paul Erhardt of SIGARMS for patiently responding to my pesky questions during the course of writing this review.
You may discuss about this pistol, ask questions or in general discuss about this review, in this thread in our Forums Site:
Web site: http://www.sigarms.com
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Competitive Edge Dynamics USA
Orders: (1) 888-628-3233
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Phone: (203) 453-1570
|Home - Volume 2 (2007) - Issue 2 (Spring '07) - Pistol Review: SIG Arms Revolution Compact C³|