My First 1911 — Why I Chose SIG Sauer’s STX

Among the multitude of autoloading handguns that a shooter has at his or her disposal, John M. Browning’s most famous pistol design still remains a perfectly viable choice, well over a century after it appeared.  The M1911 and the M1911A1, of the First and Second World Wars, respectively, showed the effectiveness of Browning’s brainchild, as well as the new cartridge designed for it: the .45 ACP, or Automatic Colt Pistol. The ACP marked a return to a .45 caliber sidearm for the military, as the M1892 revolver – firing a .38 Long Colt cartridge – didn’t have the power level that soldiers needed, and the Philippine Insurrection brought that quickly to light. The M1911 in .45 ACP provided the soldier with enough horsepower to get the job done effectively, and a firepower rate much higher than that of the M1892 or Single Action Army revolvers in use prior to the 1911’s introduction.

Fast forward a century and you’ll see the 1911 still thriving, manufactured by more firearms companies than it ever has been. Even Smith & Wesson – Colt’s greatest competitor in 1911 – has paid homage to the Browning design in recent years, and that’s saying something about the validity of the design. Looking at a 1911, in the way that it operates and feeds, it can seem like a small miracle that it functions as well as it does. Slow motion video will show the round weebling and wobbling as it’s picked up from the magazine, finally slamming into the feed ramp on its way into battery. But, just as the laws of physics verify that bumblebee is incapable of flight – no one has told the bumblebee, and no one has told the 1911; they just keep on doing what they do, and both do it well.

The Sig Sauer STX and Simply Rugged Holster in Cape buffalo, a good combination for any situation.

I have an admission: I’ve never owned a 1911. I’ve spent plenty of time shooting them, evaluating ammunition, handloading, installing laser sights, and whatnot, but I’ve never called one mine. I went out on a mission to find a 1911 I’d like, and after trying quite a few different brands, I settled on a full-size SIG Sauer STX, in .45 ACP, for several reasons. One, I like the SIG brand. They’ve been utterly reliable in my experiences, and quite a few handgunners who I have a healthy respect for have shown me both the accuracy and benefits of the brand. The trigger pull was something that sold me, in quite a few different models, and at the price point involved, I found the SIG 1911s to have the features I wanted, and nothing I didn’t.

The Features

The immediate and most noticeable feature of the STX is the two-tone finish. The frame is stainless steel, with the traditional silvery look, but the slide – also of stainless construction – is coated in a Nitron finish for a contrasting look. That contrasting metal is complemented by a set of Hogue burled maple grips, which are laser engraved with the Sig Sauer logo. The cocking serrations on the slide are polished to further accent the look, as is the flat top. While the grips are smooth and polished – offering little grip advantage – the stainless steel frame is checkered both front and back; 25 lines per inch on the front strap and 20 on the mainspring housing. This, most definitely, affords a good grip, allowing the shooter to stay on target easily.

SPECS

  • Type: Hammer fired, semiautomatic 1911
  • Cartridge: .45 ACP
  • Capacity: 8+1  rds.
  • Weight: 41.6 oz.
  • Barrel Length: 5 in.
  • Overall Length: 8.7 in.
  • Height: 5.5 in.
  • Sights: 3-Dot Sights
  • Grips: Hogue maple grips
  • Frame Finish: Nitron
  • MSRP: $1,244
  • Manufacturer: SIG Sauer

The pistol is shipped with two eight-round magazines. The STX has some interesting features from the SIG Sauer Custom Shop.

The Sig Sauer STX, and a World War II-era 1911 with Crimson Trace laser grips. The differences are easily visible.

The STX comes equipped with adjustable combat night sights – and don’t they give off a heartwarming glow when sitting on the nightstand – with a bold front dot and a square notch rear sight with a single horizontal white line. That rear sight is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation and came in very handily when testing ammunition. The front and rear sights are dovetailed into the slide, so if you chose to run a different set of sights, the switch wouldn’t be a difficult proposition. Both hammer and trigger are skeletonized – an attractive and handy feature – and the stainless steel magazine well is beveled for quick, easy reloads.

The STX is a product of the SIG Sauer Custom Shop, and as such comes equipped with a match-grade barrel – 5 inches in length – and the hammer and sear are of match quality as well. The SAO (single action only) trigger is advertised to break at an even 5 pounds, and according to my Lyman Trigger Pull Gauge, my test gun breaks at 4 pounds, 14 ounces. There is the slightest bit of creep, but not enough to be an issue, and the weight, creep and over-travel are certainly less than the World War II-era M1911s I’ve shot. The STX has an ambidextrous safety, and while I’m much more familiar with using the left side safety, I can see where this would be a desirable feature for the southpaws.

The author’s kit: the SIG Sauer STX, 200-grain V-Crown ammunition, and a Simply Rugged holster in black Cape buffalo leather.

SIG Sauer provides two eight-round magazines with the gun, and both functioned flawlessly throughout the testing. I picked up an after-market magazine as well, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

What didn’t the STX have? It didn’t have a rail on the underneath of the frame, which I have found drags on a holster when drawn. I’m not really into lights or other accessories hanging off a handgun – if that tickles your fancy that’s fine, but it doesn’t tickle mine – so a smooth frame was what I was after. The STX also avoids the slide serrations up toward the muzzle end of the slide; I’m not a fan of grabbing and covering the muzzle-end of the slide for any reason, nor do I want to aid someone intent on grabbing the slide to render the pistol a single shot affair. Again, a personal choice; I like features that lean toward the traditional lines.

The SIG Sauer V-Crown ammunition shot well and with appreciable terminal ballistics, makes a good choice for a defensive round.

Performance

Like a little kid, I really couldn’t wait to take the STX to the range to get a feel for how it would run. I grabbed some ball ammo and after cleaning the rust-preventative from the pistol, put it to work. The first thing I noticed about the STX is the recoil; it fits my hands very well, and even with the full-house 230-grain loads the recoil was no issue at all. The gun was hitting low and to the right at 15 yards, so a quick adjustment of the rear sight had things sorted out in no time. There were no feeding or extraction issues, and the accuracy was hanging right around 2 inches, maybe a bit more depending on me. Magazine changes were a breeze, as it seems the STX uses heavy springs for their magazine release; partially full magazines, full magazines or empty ones ejected perfectly.

Chip McCormick’s RPM 1911 magazine is a strong and reliable investment for any serious handgunner. Rock-solid and capable of being dropped on concrete shooting pads, the RPM will give the performance a 1911 aficionado wants.

After a thorough cleaning of the barrel, I took the pistol to the bench, where I could get a good feel for both the accuracy potential and which brands and types of ammunition it prefers. Using one sandbag on the bench, I set up a bunch of targets at 15 yards and ye old Oehler chronograph to measure the velocities. I grabbed some different types of ammo, with different weights and nose profiles to see if the STX would choke. Included in the mix were Hornady’s Critical Defense and Critical Duty, Federal’s Guard Dog, SIG’s own Elite Performance hollowpoint stuff – with the Sierra V-Crown bullets – and Sig Ball ammunition, and some semi-wadcutter handloads. Frankly, it seems the STX will digest just about anything, and none of the ammunition shot terribly.

The worst of the five-shot groups measured 2 ¼ inches, and that was with the SIG 230-grain FMJ ammo, which isn’t terrible at all. The STX liked both the Hornady loads, putting the Critical Duty 220-grain +P load with the FlexLock bullet into a 1.5-inch group, and the Critical Defense 185-grain FTX load into a 1.6-inch group. The Duty uses the FlexLock bullet, which passed all the FBI protocol tests, regarding the penetration of urban barriers — making it a good choice for saving your bacon. The Critical Defense is built around the FTX bullet, a bit lighter in this load at 185 grains, and while a bit less tough that the FlexLock – in that it is not designed for barrier penetration – it is designed to run perfectly in both compact and full-sized handguns, and run well it did. I like this bullet concept for home defense, to help minimize the chances of your bullet ripping through a wall and injuring or killing an unintended person.

The Federal Guard Dog was the lightest bullet tested, at 165 grains, and that shot accurately as well. Five shots went into an average of a 1.5-inch group, perfect for the home defense purpose that the Guard Dog was designed for. The bullet is a unique design, in that it is a hollowpoint by nature, but the hollow cavity is filled with a rubber insert, and then the entire affair is plated. The Guard Dog was designed to provide good expansion in those few areas where hollowpoint ammunition is not legal – New Jersey being a prime example – to stop a threat faster than a full metal jacket would. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time at the Federal plant in Anoka, Minnesota, and we tested this ammunition into gel and through some fabric and sheetrock, and the terminal qualities of this bullet are undeniable. I’d happily keep a magazine filled with Guard Dog on the nightstand.

Federal’s Guard Dog is an impressive light-for-caliber load.

I was eager to test the SIG Sauer Elite Performance stuff, as Sierra Bullets is responsible for the development of the bullet, and what they produce usually turns to gold. The V-Crown bullet is a solid design, using a skived jacket with a cannelure halfway up the shaft to keep the jacket and core together during expansion. Both the 185-grain load and 200-grain load gave even 2-inch groups, feeding and extracting perfectly. Loaded in nickel cases with a low flash propellant, the SIG ammunition gave very consistent velocities. Weight retention is high, and expansion is reliable, making the Sierra bullet and SIG loading a sound choice for any shooter. All five of the premium loads gave perfectly acceptable accuracy, and if I had to find the weak link in the chain, it would be the author and his aging eyes.

Even some cast-lead 185-grain semi-wadcutters I had loaded up functioned properly, though the accuracy opened up a bit. I was more concerned with the feeding, as I will tweak the load for accuracy at a later date.

Now, we are all familiar with the striking power of the .45 ACP – even with military-style FMJ ammunition – but when you couple it with one of these premium designs, you extend the capability of an already fantastic cartridge.

The textured metal on the front and back of the metal work made for a positive grip, and though the visually striking grips are aesthetically pleasing, it’s the metal that does the work.

While the SIG Sauer magazines are made well, and functioned perfectly, it’s well known that the magazine feed lips are a point of concern over time with any 1911, even more so if you enjoy the gun games. I ordered a couple Chip McCormick RPM (Railed Power Mags) to see if they were, in fact stronger than a traditional magazine, as advertised. I’ve met McCormick a few times at the SHOT Show, and I’d heard his speech regarding the RPM; the railed feed lips bent in an elliptical shape for strength, the rocket wire springs that give an even pressure on each cartridge, the follower designed to best interact with the slide stop. All of McCormick’s points were well thought out, but I wanted to find out if they would hold water in the real world. I’m happy to report they do. If you’re hard on your magazines – quick mag changes and the drops on concrete, slamming them home time and time again – they will show the effects of wear. My father has a World War II-era 1911, with original magazines, and you can see where things have worn over time. The RPM magazine has less surface area along the feed lips to reduce drag on the cartridge, and the simple rigidity of the lips will show their worth over time. Take a look at them if you’re after a rugged 1911 magazine, they won’t bend or warp as easily.

The Sig V-Crown ammo, loaded with premium Sierra bullets, shot very well from the STX.

A Pretty Package

SIG Sauer’s STX is not just a handsome pistol; it is a perfect example of form following function. Those adjustable night sights are especially useful; should you want to fine-tune the pistol for your favorite load, it can be done quickly and accurately. All the elements are here, from reliability to accuracy, to feel and grip. To carry the gun, I ordered a sweet Simply Rugged Cuda pancake holster – made out of Cape buffalo leather – in black, with an open bottom, and it went together with the STX like peanut butter and jelly. The checkered frame gives a positive grip when drawing the pistol, and the design of both pistol and holster make for a smooth transition.

All in all, I personally feel the SIG Sauer is one of the best blends of premium features and affordability. This one? It’s mine, and made to stay that way.

For more information about the SIG Sauer STX, click here.

For more information about SIG Sauer premium ammo, click here.

For more information about Federal Guard Dog ammo, click here.

For more information about Hornady Critical Defense and Duty loads, click here.

To purchase a SIG Sauer STX on GunsAmerica, click here.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • James Higginbotham October 30, 2017, 11:05 pm

    i forgot to mention in my first post.
    i was a young Marine when i got to shoot the model 1911, and it was LOVE FROM THE START.
    shot expert with it every time i had to qualify with it.
    i own other handguns but i LOVE MY THREE 1911’S

  • James Higginbotham October 30, 2017, 10:54 pm

    i own three 1911’s one a Remington Rand, a Colt, and a Sig.
    I just ordered a bunch of updated parts to work on the Colt, so will bring it up to pare with the other two.
    my Sig is the model 220 APC and shoots like a dream.
    great reading this article.

  • DaveGinOly October 30, 2017, 8:44 pm

    The physics of bumblebee flight were figured out some decades ago – it is no longer a mystery, but most people don’t stay current with the latest entomological research, so they’re still using “bumblebee flight” as an example of something that’s not understood.

    BTW, I bought an STX about a year ago. Love it. Exceptional build quality, will feed spent cases, and shoots like the dickens.

  • Mark Wynn October 30, 2017, 4:34 pm

    I like Sig products of all stripe.
    However, for a “first 1911” and at that price range, suggest a Colt Gold Cup.
    My Series 70 has a great target trigger (too light for stressful carry situations, in my opinion) and is accurate beyond my abilities.
    Crimson Trace sights gunsmith’d-in, adjustible and faithful to the original Ellison rear sight.
    And it’s a Colt 1911. For me, there’s intangible value in having at least one Colt 1911.
    My next pistol will possibly be a Sig nine with the optical/dot sight, as old eyes having difficulty focusing on rear sight, front sight and target these days.

    • Mark Wynn October 30, 2017, 4:42 pm

      Correction, must be old-timer’s disease setting-in … the Gold Cup’s tritium sights are Trojicon … recently installed Crimson Trace laser on a Ruger lc9.

  • William October 30, 2017, 2:44 pm

    The .45ACP is only good for work under 25 yards. Anything over that, bullet drop becomes a serious factor, to accuracy. Why limit yourself? Purchase a more versatile, longer range Caliber.

    If you see a coyote, by the time you get your gun out he will be at least fifty to a hundred yards out. Trust me, you will not hit the coyote, with a .45 ACP. If you do, you just got lucky!

    • Chris October 30, 2017, 3:26 pm

      That’s B.S, I shot and hit wild hog running at 35yds, 3 out of 4 shots. One in the ear one in the left arm and the final shot in the neck rolling the hog. Shot with a Springfield 45acp I believe the ammo was Hornady hollow point. Don’t count the M1911 out.Since then I purchased a Remington 1911 R1 Enhanced a really sharp piece of work.

    • Tom October 31, 2017, 12:50 pm

      If you sight it in at 25 yards, it will have zero drop at 25 yards. If you sight it in at 50 yards, it will have approx. a two inch rise at 25 yards.

  • Grant Stevens October 30, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Superfluous bells and whistles. For half the price, you could be shooting a very reliable and American made Auto-Ordnance 1911A1 true to JMB’s original design. As they say, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. It’s a clean, lean shooting machine that gets the job done. But God Bless America, you are still free to choose, and it is your money.

  • Leighton Cavendish October 30, 2017, 12:46 pm

    Thankfully no mention of “stopping power”…the old standby they used to use.
    Find a caliber/gun you like? Use it.Practice with it.Get good with it. Shot placement and follow-up shots are what count.And those come with familiarity with your firearm.
    Plenty of people get killed or have been killed with .22s and other “mouse” calibers when shot in the right places.
    Live and let live. Don’t like a 1911 style gun? Don’t buy one. Don’t like polymer? Don’t buy it. Pretty simple.
    We have enough anti-2A people out there. Why bicker?
    LOL

    • Mark Wynn November 6, 2017, 6:01 pm

      Suggest there’s a difference between “killing” and “stopping.” A pellet gun might kill your perp, eventually, but it probably won’t stop him/her cold.

  • Mort Leith October 30, 2017, 12:15 pm

    Great gun, I have one as well.
    But I mostly carry my Sig Sauer P229 0.40cal SS Elite, hard to beat the Double-Stack magazines.

  • Ace October 30, 2017, 11:21 am

    The 1911 is a special pistol in both design and history. Shooting it is a joy.
    Amuses me when 1911 lovers fight. Rock Island folks scoff at the cost of \”high dollar\” prima donna variants. Les Baer, Ed Brown, Dan Wesson guys \”won\’t touch the cheap junk\”. And of course, only a Colt is a \”real\” 1911. Enjoy the 1911 you prefer and be kind to your fellow 1911 shooters. 99% of the population hate your pistol packing ways. Plastic shooters think your love of 106 year old technology makes you a curmudgeon. Better to stick together and respect other\’s choices. If it\’s a 1911, it\’s OK with me. Let\’s go shoot \’em!

    • Smitty October 30, 2017, 5:57 pm

      I like being a curmudgeon. I worked damn hard to get this good at it.

  • Tripwire October 30, 2017, 9:29 am

    My first affair with the love of my life was in boot camp as a 17 yo Marine recruit. The one I shot expert with was so old it rattled like a BB in a tea cup but damn that thing shot. I carried one for most of my time in the Corps and loved the old war horse. Since those days so long ago I’ve owned everything from a Llama to STI, I’ve owned a couple I made fit my desires. I’ve owned it in hi-cap mod with a Kimber and several Para’s. All were and are great guns. I only had one that sucked beyond belief and that was an AMT Hard baller, it wouldn’t chamber a round half the time, I sent it to a well known “pistol smith” in 1980, he had it for a few months and sent it back after my check cleared. still wouldn’t chamber half the time. A good friend took it and polished the guts till they were smooth as a baby’s ass, it would chamber empty rounds 100% of the time, load… half the time. I got rid of it. I don’t blame the 1911 I blame the maker.
    The STI’s were the most expensive I’ve ever owned, the Llama the cheapest. All shot better than I can. I see these $2000.00 to $6000.00 1911’s and while they are beautiful they are simply trophy wives for most of their owners and I’m fine with that. I’d kill to walk thru a fancy restaurant with Sandra Bullock on my arm but that ain’t gonna happen so I’ll dance with the one I brung..

  • Joe October 30, 2017, 6:55 am

    The 1911 was my side arm for standing top side watch back in 1969-71 while fulfilling my military obligation. It served me well enough that I bought a second hand Springfield Arms 1911 and it has served me well for several decades without problems. Now that my old bones are more sensitive to recoil I have to admit to switching to a less reactive .22 WMR auto for a bedside grab weapon. and with the extra capacity of the mag I still feel OK . But I still take my good ole 1911 out now and again because it still feels so good in my hand.

    • Chris October 30, 2017, 3:33 pm

      Thank you for your Service. I do believe the 22mag is underappreciated it will tare right through what it is aimed at. God bless and God Bless Our President Trump.

      • Mark Wynn November 6, 2017, 6:08 pm

        Yes, regardless of the “expert” rationales, I continue to favor my Gold Cup because it’s fun to shoot. Smooth, light trigger, accurate, big bullet goes out the front, big ol’ slide cycles to the back, big, visible holes in the target.

  • Kilibreaux October 30, 2017, 4:31 am

    Well, “be still my beating heart!” Another gun rag writer (commercial interest) chooses yet ANOTHER high-dollar “1911 pattern” pistol, marketed by yet another “me too” profit-motive-driven corporation! That about the sum-total of the article’s bias?
    I first encountered the 1911 while on active duty, serving in the military when it became my issue weapon as a mortar gunner in the 2/504th PIR, 82nd Abn Div. so doubtless MY “opinion” is immaterial to a fancy gun rag contributor on a commercially motivated mission….but:
    The 1911 deserves a lot more than reduction to a commercialized parody of itself…thank you SIG, and Kimber, and Ruger, and S&W, and Taurus, and all you others earning a buck off the repackaged image of the original.
    Choosing a 1911 pattern pistol by an expensive, name-brand copycat maker because it has a sexy finish, or special trigger, sights, slide cuts, etc., is demeaning to a GUN that stood on its own FUNCTIONAL merit for nearly a century! One DOES NOT NEED a Cerakote finish, or beaver tail safety, or blocky sights, or fancy name engraving to experience the “REAL” of the 1911!!!!!
    Everyone contemplating being sucked in to the $1,000 to $5,000 1911 marketeering vacuum please at least shoot a Rock Island first! The RIA “1911” is a FAULTLESS performer at around $500!
    What EXACTLY do finishes and accoutrements “do” in a gunfight?

    • Hulon Lane October 30, 2017, 6:53 am

      Thanks for the breath of fresh air. You make more sense than all the bs these writers spew about the “new” 1911s. Also, Thanks You for your service.

    • BOhio October 30, 2017, 8:57 am

      Did you have a slice of government-issue cheese to go with your whine? First, profit is why companies exist, and profit is what primarily makes the USA one of the greatest countries in the world. Don’t like profit-driven companies? Cool, then go to Cuba or North Korea. Don’t like the fancy features of a 1911? Then don’t buy one. Stick with the plain versions, like your Ford Courier pickup truck from 1980 if that’s your ride preference. Speaking of Ford, golly gee, I guess maybe GM and Mercedes and Toyota and Jaguar all are just earning a buck by repackaging the Model T.

      Your sour grapes are out of season. People get to spend their money the way they want, and you don’t have to agree with it. But you should be willing to defend their right to do so, and maybe you did. But your ranting makes me wonder if you really believe in that.

      As to SIG, they employ hundred of hard-working Americans, and marketing drives their efforts, as it does Ford, Walmart, and Apple. Or, would you rather the government run all such business? Lighten up, Francis.

    • Mort Leith October 30, 2017, 12:40 pm

      Thank you for your service…
      But MAN,, get laid already….

    • Tom October 30, 2017, 1:04 pm

      I’ve owned one of these Sig’s for several years and the last thing that it is is a “commercialized parody of itself”. It runs nearly flawlessly, shoots better than I can hold, eats everything. Any stoppage has been pilot era. With ambi-safety, mag well, Trijicon nite sites, and a great trigger, all included right out of the box, a $1000 bucks is by no means over the top for this quality firearm. Oh, btw, there’s nothing wrong with owning a good looking gun, as long as it’s not a safe queen and you shoot it regularly!

      I have nothing against any mfgr. of any 1911, but you’re not going to get this package for much less than a grand from anyone.

      • DaveGinOly October 30, 2017, 8:56 pm

        I bought my (new) Sig STX at Cabela’s for just over $900 (before tax). Another $2,000 would not buy a better pistol, and the fit and finish is exceptional. You get what you pay for (up to a point). I looked at all the alternatives (many less expensive), but the Sig was the best non-custom shop gun I a found. (The STX does come from the Sig pro shop, similar to S&W Performance Shop. The S&W 1911 Performance Shop guns are on a par with the Sig STX, but at $200 to $300 more than the Sig.)

    • Smitty October 30, 2017, 6:07 pm

      Sorry Dude but the first Citadel I bought was immediately in need of a heavier recoil spring causing it not to go into battery. I put a heavier wolf spring into it, but I still won’t ccw it because I won’t take the chance of it failing. Citadel is a subsidiary of Armscore and Rock Island. It’s a great range gun and I enjoy shooting it.

  • Will Drider October 26, 2017, 12:24 am

    1911A1 Variants are quite capable handguns. I’ve had a half dozen on and off over the years filling my Marine Corps nostalgia needs. A Low $ end Taurus (bought it sold it years later and missed it so much I bought another) best value/performance for your money. My other keeper is a Sig slab slide TACOPS TB, 1/2 the group size at twice the price but worth every extra dime! I don’t think Sig gets enough recognition for their 1911 Lineup, something for most every budget and personal taste. 1911s Have matured so much that you don’t need to be a part time gunsmith to make them run right as was the case before. A few of the well known brands seem to skip quality control on their low and mid range offerings. Due diligence in research prior to selection will save you from picking a lame “Horse”: makes no sense to buy a real cheap ($ or quality) 1911 or a then need to put 4 or 5 hundred bucks into it to get it running right. IMHO there is nothing more classic then the 1911A1. It served me well back in the day and can still do the job tomorrow.

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