It’s no secret that my all-time favorite handgun is the M1911 in .45 ACP. I can often be found carrying some type of 1911 on my hip, when I’m not carrying a Glock of some sort – or another handgun that I’m doing a Test and Evaluation. However, given my druthers, when the chips are down, I’ll reach for a good ol’ 1911 stoked with some .45 ACP ammo.
The gun under review here is the SIG-Sauer 1911 TACOPS in .45 ACP. A couple of years ago, I wrote a review about a similar gun from SIG, and it was their 1911 in .45 ACP that they called the “Blackwater” special edition – named after Blackwater Security – the private security contractor firm. However, shortly after SIG came out with the Blackwater 1911 (and a P226 Blackwater Special Edition) there was a lot of negative press about Blackwater. At that time I asked the nice folks at SIG if they were going to continue their collaboration with Blackwater on these two handguns, and I was assured they would. They didn’t! I don’t know all the details about what Blackwater Security did, or didn’t do, and it’s none of my business. Personally, I think they got a bad rap by the press- just my two-cents worth on the entire thing. Blackwater did change their name to “Xe” which is spoken “Zee” (like “Xenia”) , and the ownership of the company changed hands as well.
In any event, what we have with the SIG 1911 TACOPS, is basically the same gun that SIG was producing under the Blackwater Security name, with a few slight changes – that being no Blackwater logo or markings and the ambidextrous safety is different. We have a full-sized, updated Government Model 1911, with a 5″ barrel, night sights, Picatinny rail, checkered front strap, ambi-safety (more about that shortly), extended beavertail grip safety, extended magazine well, Ergo grips, match trigger (not trigger pull), external extractor and some other goodies. All the things that most serious Model 1911 lovers want on their guns.
A quick look at the TACOPS on the SIG web site will reveal some subtle differences between the SIG 1911 and most other 1911s. Noticeably is the slide shape – it is very “SIG-ish” in style and design, and I like the way it looks. The slide also houses the external extractor and we can go ’round and ’round about which is better, the traditional internal extractor or the external extractor. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’ve never had any problems with external extractor on 1911s that have ’em – they seem well-made and strong, and the sample on my TACOPS is brutally strong in design. The night sights on the TACOPS are very nicely done, with the rear sight being of the Wayne Novak design – one of the best rear sights I’ve ever used on any handgun!
The ambi-safety – it’s “nubbed” – in that, the safety lever on both sides of the gun are “abbreviated” – however, they are still readily applied or flicked off “safe” without any problems. I think we’re gonna see this design copied by many. In the past, I’ve seen the off-side ambi-safety nubbed, but never on the left side of a 1911. If you carry concealed, you’ll appreciate this type of safety – not much chance of the safety accidentally being knocked off “safe.” It can happen, but this type of safety will make it more difficult.
Regarding the Picatinny rail on the frame: I’m still not sold on them for the most part, however it’s there if you need it. I like the 25-LPI checkering on the front strap of the TACOPS, makes for a secure hold on the gun. The mainspring housing is also checkered. The beavertail grip safety is scalloped, meaning that it’s not as wide as many others – I like it – very comfortable. The beavertail grip safety also has the little “hump” on the bottom of it, making for a sure grip on it, for releasing the trigger. The hammer is a skeletonized one for a fast lock-time. The magazine release is slightly extended for faster magazine changes. The grips are from Ergo, and I like them, They make for a secure purchase on the gun and they are ever so slightly thinner than standard wood 1911 grips. The trigger is a match-grade style, without holes in it – it’s solid. The slide grasping grooves are wide and slightly angled forward for a good purchase when working the slide to chamber a round.
The TACOPS is all stainless steel, that is coated in what SIG Sauer calls their “Nitron” finish. This looks like it is Parkerized, but it’s not. It is a very businesslike in appearance. I like the extended magazine well, too – and if you don’t want to use it, you can easily remove it. The TACOPS comes in a smallish black plastic carrying case, with a grand total of four 8 round magazines (made by Checkmate) and they are some of the best 1911 mags around in my opinion. The mags also have a nice polymer floor plate on ’em, and this floor plate is easily removed when you want to clean your mags. Lastly, there is a standard recoil spring and rod, not the extended type. I like that!
Okay, now for the bad news, my sample TACOPS came with a terrible trigger-pull. Oh, the trigger broke at 5-lbs, and that’s more than acceptable for combat work. However, the trigger was very mushy – it felt like I was squeezing an over-cooked baked potato – I kid you not. Of course, part of this is due to the TACOPS using the Colt-style Series 80 firing pin safety – it adds parts to the trigger pull on a 1911, and it only complicates the entire trigger pull sequence. The Blackwater 1911 I tested had a very crisp trigger pull of slightly over 3-1/2 lbs. However, I find a 4-to-5 pound trigger pull more than acceptable for combat work – and the TACOPS is designed for combat!
I’ve been around 1911s all of my adult life, and I was trained as an armorer as an alternate MOS in the military, so I know a little bit about working on 1911s and doing trigger jobs. On a standard 1911, without the Series-80 firing pin safety, I can usually do a really nice trigger job in 30-minutes to an hour – sometimes even less. On 1911s with the Series-80 firing pin safety, it can take as long as a couple hours to get a nice crisp trigger pull. On the TACOPS, it took me about three hours of work to get a good crisp trigger pull of 4.5 pounds. I didn’t want to replace any of the trigger parts – and a trigger job doesn’t involve just changing the trigger itself (as some believe) – it involves the sear, hammer, etc. Instead, I carefully polished all the trigger parts – which helped the mushy trigger pull some. I looked at the Series-80 levers in the frame – and they were rough – very rough. These two levers in the frame should have been thrown in the scrap heap. I carefully polished both levers to get all the rough edges off them, and I, at long-last had a very good trigger pull that wasn’t mushy. This TACOPS pistol should not have slipped past the QC folks at SIG – but every once in a while, a bad guns slips through the best gun companies’ QC. I could have packed the gun up and sent it back to SIG and had them work on the trigger, but it was easier for me to do the trigger job myself.
My local gun shop is a small one in Lebanon, Oregon, and they don’t stock half a dozen of each gun they have for sale. The SIG TACOPS that I got from them was the only one they had in stock. Larger gun shops might have several samples of the TACOPS you can exam and chose from before making your purchase, so you can check the trigger pull on various guns before settling on one to purchase. However, living in a rural area of Oregon, we have some disadvantages and one is having smaller gun shops – and I don’t have a problem with that in the least. Personally, I like a smaller gun shop – they get to know their customers and their likes and dislikes in guns. I knew I could bring the TACOPS trigger pull to where I wanted it and remove the mushy feeling – it just took me longer than I thought it would.
The TACOPS weighs 41.6 ounces – slightly heavier than many full-sized 1911s, and part of that is because of the Picatinny rail and the extended magazine well, as well as the slightly “chunkier” slide design. Most full-sized 1911s weigh around 38 – 39 ounces. So, you’re really not going to feel the weight difference of a couple ounces in the TACOPS weight at all.
I like that SIG included a total of four magazines with the gun, and they are outstanding mags. Any more, most guns come with one mag – the one in the gun, and a few come with 1 spare mag. But to get a total of four mags? That’s outstanding service and someone put some thought into this gun. I can see this gun being used by police SWAT teams, Spec Ops military personnel and savvy gun owners. There’s really nothing you need to add to this gun, other than a good holster and a ton of .45 ACP ammo to shoot through it. It is ready-to-go when you take it out of the box.
One thing you may have a “problem” with is the Picatinny rail on the frame – it excludes the use of most leather holsters because the rail is wide and it won’t fit into snug leather holsters made for Government sized 1911s. You can order a custom-made leather holster, or check around at some of the major holster companies and see if they have leather holsters that will allow a 1911 with a Picatinny rail to fit ’em. What I did was check my Blackhawk Products Kydex hip holster, and it stated on the package that a 1911 would fit it with or without a Picatinny rail. It fit perfectly. And, there is also an adjustment screw for adjusting the tension on the gun when it’s holstered for a near custom fit. I also like the Serpa design on the Blackhawk holster – it’s a passive device that locks the gun in the holster so no one except the individual wearing it can remove it. (As in, a gun grab.) To release the gun, it’s a very natural movement, you simply draw your gun as you’d normally do, and extend your index finger along the side of the holster, and press in on a small “button” to release the gun. It’s easier than it sounds and very natural to do, with just a small amount of practice. The TACOPS also fit my Blackhawk tactical thigh holster as well – which is highly recommended for military and tactical law enforcement operations. What’s not to like here?
I fired .45 ACP ammo through the TACOPS from Black Hills Ammunition, Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Winchester. I had an outstanding assortment of various types of ammo to test in this gun, including 185 grain JHP, 185 grain JHP+P .230 grain JHP and FMJ. The TACOPS never skipped a beat or hesitated in my testing. It gobbled-up everything I put through it. Accuracy was outstanding, with groups of 2-3 inches at 25-yards over a rest. The Winchester 230 grain FMJ USA white box ammo was used to break the gun in – I fired a couple boxes of this stuff through the gun just to get a good feel for it. This is always a good and affordable round for target practice on the range. The Buffalo Bore ammo I used most was their 185 grain JHP +P load, and this one gets your attention – recoil is there – but nothing you can’t manage. I also fired some of their 230 grain FMJ +P ammo through the gun, and it didn’t seem as stout as their 186 grain JHP +P load was. Black Hills Ammunition sent me 4 cases of .45 ACP to use – I’ve been testing a lot of 1911s lately and my ammo locker was getting very low. My buddy, Jeff Hoffman, who runs Black Hills has kept me in ammo for 20 years.
The Black Hills loads I had were quite a few different ones. Of course, I had their 230 grain FMJ load, which has always been a great performer and very accurate for me in any 1911s I’ve tested it in. I received several different 185 grain JHP +P loadings from Black Hills, including their newest, which has an all copper 185 grain JHP bullet from Barnes Bullets – this bullet will penetrate deeper and will not come apart – due to the fact that there is no lead core – the bullet is entirely made-up of copper, with a hollow cavity. I also had some 230 grain JHP +P loads from Black Hills as well. Again, there were no malfunctions of any sort with my TACOPS sample, and I ran about 500-rds down range over several shooting sessions. Was there a winner in the accuracy department? Yeah, and it was the Black Hills 185 grain JHP +P load with the Barnes bullet. It nudged out the Black Hills 230 grain FMJ load and the Buffalo Bore 185 grain JHP +P loads – ever so slightly. Truthfully, in all the various .45 ACP loads I tested, they were all neck-and-neck in the accuracy department. And, on another day, any one of the loads could have been a bit more more accurate than the other. The SIG TACOPS loved ’em all.
I’m a habitual gun trader – always trading for something else on any given day. However, this SIG Sauer TACOPS has found a permanent home in my meager gun collection – it’s not going any place. Now, the bad news, quality never comes cheap, and the TACOPS retails for $1,213 – and honestly, that’s not a bad price for all the features this gun comes with. There’s nothing I plan on changing on this gun – I’m not even going to replace the Ergo grips with my “Code Zero” 1911 grips that I designed for Mil-Tac Knives & Tools. I believe this may well be the very first 1911 I’ve never changed anything on. However, one minor change might be in order, and that is, if I’m going to shoot a steady diet of +P ammo through this gun, I’m going to put in a slightly heavier 18.5 pound recoil spring instead of staying with the factory 16 pound recoil spring. Now, the good news – I’ve checked around on various gun selling web sites, and it looks like the TACOPS is selling for right around $950 – $1,000 – and that’s well below the full retail asking price.
So, if you’re in the market for a new 1911, then take a close look at the SIG-Sauer TACOPS – I think you will have a tough time passing it up, considering all its features.