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Ammo Test: Sig Sauer Elite Performance .357 Sig V-Crown

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Sig Sauer's Elite Performance V-Crown .357 Sig 125-grain ammunition.

Sig Sauer’s Elite Performance V-Crown .357 Sig 125-grain ammunition.

To learn more, visit http://www.sigammo.com/sig-v-crown/sig-v-crown-357sig/#caliber.

I’ve always been a big fan of .357 Sig caliber. Yeah, I know, it’s got more recoil and muzzle blast than 9mm. On the other hand, it comes darn close, and sometimes matches, the performance of the classic 125-grain .357 Magnum round. It’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of that cartridge.

The good news is that .357 Sig is a whole lot easier to manage than .357 Magnum. Part of the reason for that is that it runs from a semi-automatic pistol, so much of the recoil is mitigated by redirection of energy into the ejection, recocking, and reloading process. While energy never disappears, all that semi-automatic motion draws out the recoil impulse, so it feels reduced.

There are a couple of other “built-in” benefits. It’s a bottleneck cartridge design, like a short and stubby rendition of .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, or .30-06. When used in a semi-automatic, that aids reliable feeding. You’ve got a small, necked-down bullet going into a much larger hole in the chamber, and the angled profile makes feeding effortless. Additionally, the basic case dimension is similar to that of a .40 S&W, so .357 Sig fits into the same handgun form factors as the .40 S&W cartridge. In fact, with many pistols, you can convert from .40 S&W to .357 Sig (and back) with nothing more than a barrel swap, although sometimes you’ll need to change the recoil spring too. The same magazines almost always work with either cartridge.

With all that said, it seemed appropriate to test the Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown .357 Sig ammo with a pile of Sig Sauer handguns. I initially started with a Sig Sauer P229, P226, and P320 Full Size; all chambered in .357 Sig. After some basic accuracy testing, it quickly became apparent that the new P320 modular polymer gun outshot the classics for me, so I continued with that. Yes, you heard me right, accuracy was noticeably better with the plastic fantastic P320.

Features

The Sig Sauer V-Crown line uses a proprietary hollow-point design. Referred to as a “stacked” hollow-point, you can think of it as a visible “V-shaped” cavity with a narrower, and deeper, hollow area under that. Cuts in the jacket and lead core are designed to create specific expansion and penetration performance.

The case itself is coated with something called Ducta-Bright 7a. It’s a nickel coating that provides a little bit of built-in lubricity for improved feeding. It also prevents corrosion and tarnishing over time. The bright and shiny cases are also easier to see in low-light conditions.

The powder blend is formulated to minimize flash, another nod to shooting effectively in lower light environments.

Velocity

Sig rates the 125-grain V-Crown hollow-point ammo at 1,356 feet per second, which yields 506 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. I decided to measure velocity on my own here in the hot and humid conditions of South Carolina. Setting up a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15-feet down range, I fired ten-shot strings through it from the Sig Sauer P320 to obtain average velocity measurements. As a side note, this P320 has a 4.7-inch barrel, so I expected speed to measure on the higher side.

I measured an overall average of 1,415.6 feet per second. The extreme spread between fastest and slowest shot recorded was 88 feet per second. If you do the fancy math, that works out to 28.85 standard deviations.

Just for kicks, I also measured the velocity of the Sig Sauer 125-grain FMJ .357 Sig load. Presumably, the idea is to be able to practice and compete with less expensive FMJ ammo, but have the same ballistics and feel as the self-defense offering. The average velocity of that worked out to 1,411.5 feet per second, just 4.1 feet per second different.

I mounted this Bushnell Elite Handgun Scope to see how the combo of the Sig P320 and V-Crown ammo would shoot.

I mounted this Bushnell Elite Handgun Scope to see how the combo of the Sig P320 and V-Crown ammo would shoot.

Accuracy

For accuracy, I elected to remove my eyesight from the list of potential variables, so I mounted a Bushnell Elite 3500 Handgun Scope to the P320 using a UM Tactical rail mount. This nifty little device attaches to the Picatinny rail segment up front and presents a rail above the slide where you mount the optic of your choice. With 2-7x magnification, the Bushnell Elite scope provided all of the aiming precision I needed.

I set up targets 25 yards down range and proceeded to shoot five-shot groups. During my accuracy outing, I was able to shoot three different five-shot strings and the group sizes measured out to 1.56, 1.92, and 1.61 inches. That’s an average of just 1.69 inches for a five-shot group at 25 yards. Impressive, especially from a polymer production gun.

It's plenty accurate if you do your part.

It’s plenty accurate if you do your part.

Again, since I had some on hand, I accuracy tested the FMJ load using the exact same scenario. The groups opened up a little, but not much, with three 5-shot groups measuring 1.95, 2.67, and 2.54 inches from the same P320.

Expansion and Penetration

Last, but not least, I broke out the Clear Ballistics Jello blocks to see how these expanded and penetrated the standard 10% ballistic medium. I covered the front of the 16-inch blocks with the standard FBI four-layer heavy fabric material: denim, insulation, and two cotton layers. That’s supposed to simulate a shirt and jacket combination and can often clog up lesser expanding ammunition to the point where it behaves like full metal jacket.

Average expansion was to over double the original bullet diameter.

Average expansion was to over double the original bullet diameter.

From a distance of 10 feet, I shot five rounds into the heavy fabric-covered block and dug out the projectiles to measure expansion and weight retention. Here’s what I found:

Penetration (inches)Expansion (inches)Weight (grains)
9.25.71111.1
11.25.77118.5
11.5.71118.2
12.5.73113.8
15.25.65123.6

As you can see, the velocity of .357 Sig generates some chaos on the bullets as some of them lost a little weight in the process. Average expansion worked out to .714 inches. That’s over double the original bullet diameter of .355 inches. You can’t expand much more than that.

Aggressive expansion began a couple of inches into the Clear Ballistic gelatin block.

Aggressive expansion began a couple of inches into the Clear Ballistic gelatin block.

Closing Arguments

From my P320 test gun, penetration was on the lower end of the spectrum, almost certainly a result of the long barrel and higher resulting velocity. When used with a carry gun like the P229 with its 3.9-inch barrel, I suspect I would have seen a bit less expansion and deeper penetration.

To learn more, visit http://www.sigammo.com/sig-v-crown/sig-v-crown-357sig/#caliber.

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