Sig Sauer Ammo Review Summary Video

You may have missed it since Sig hasn’t made any real announcement yet, but Sig Sauer is now officially in the business of making ammunition. They’re expected to launch some official publicity in the coming weeks around the time of the NRA Annual Meetings. 

The new Sig Sauer Elite Performance self-defense ammo comes in five different handgun calibers: .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 Sig, and .45ACP. Each caliber features a single load and bullet weight using Sig’s proprietary “V-Crown” bullet, all with standard pressure (no +P loads). The ammo is loaded in a Sig-owned facility in Eubank, Kentucky.

We got in some of the first batch of Sig Sauer ammo last week, and the .45 ACP and .357 Sig have already sold out. But before we posted it for sale, I grabbed a few boxes to do some testing for those of you who might be curious about what this ammo can do. If you want the short version, just watch the video summary above. The rest of you number loving ballistics nerds can read on for all that spreadsheet goodness I know you crave.

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Testing Goals

I tried to keep this pretty simple at straightforward, so no 2000-round reliability tests this time. I basically wanted to know three things about the Sig ammo:

  1. Does it function/cycle normally?
  2. Is it reasonably accurate?
  3. How does it perform compared to other available self-defense loads?

To answer these questions, I fired groups for accuracy, measured velocity on a chronograph, and observed the performance of each load in ballistics gelatin. In the interest of time, I skipped over the .357 Sig load since it’s the least popular of the five calibers. If there are enough requests from you guys, I’ll re-visit that load in a future post.

The test guns used were as follows:

  • .380 ACP: CZ-83
  • 9mm: Glock 22 w/ Lone Wolf 9mm conversion barrel
  • .40 S&W: Sig P226
  • .45 ACP: Springfield Armory XDm-45 4.5″

For comparison in the ballistics gel, I also tested loads from a second brand of ammo for each caliber. I used the popular Federal HST self-defense ammo as the counterpart for the 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP loads.

For .380 ACP, I used Remington Golden Saber as the comparison load.

Accuracy and Reliability

Like I said, I didn’t run a real high round-count for this Sig Sauer ammo test, so the “reliability test” was limited to 20 rounds for each caliber. That’s not much of a true reliability test, but in reality, the dependability of any given load will vary from one gun to the next. Before carrying any load for self-defense, it’s often recommended that you run at least 200 rounds of that load through your firearm to ensure that the load and gun play nice together. I think that’s a pretty good guideline, but from this test, there are a few additional observations that might be helpful:

  • None of the test guns exhibited any feeding problems or malfunctions with the Sig V-Crown ammo.
  • Ejection patterns for the spent brass casings were consistent with other loads fired from the test guns
  • Bullet velocities were normal for each load (details below)
  • The Sig V-Crown bullet has a wide opening relative to many other modern hollow-point loads. It somewhat resembles the Federal Hydra-Shok self-defense ammo. Some pistols may have trouble feeding this kind of ammo. If your gun has had reliability problems with Hydra-Shoks in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sig ammo exhibits similar issues.
Sig Sauer V-Crown ammo
Sig Sauer V-Crown ammo from left: .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP. On each load, the V-Crown bullet has a relatively wide mouth, most likely to aid in bullet expansion.

 

For accuracy, I fired one 10-shot group for each load from a bench rest at 15 yards. Those results are on the table below. These numbers are all fairly consistent with the kind of accuracy I’ve come to expect from each of these pistols. The Glock 22 with the Lone Wolf 9mm conversion barrel has never been a particularly accurate setup for me, so better groups should be achievable with a more accurate gun. Unfortunately, the only other pistol I had available at the range that day was a S&W M&P9, which would have most likely grouped even worse.

This test was intended to be a quick overview to spot any glaringly obvious flaws or problems with the ammo. For self-defense purposes, the Sig Sauer V-Crown seems to perform just fine in the accuracy department.

Load Test Pistol Barrel Length Group Size
Sig Sauer .380 ACP CZ-83 3.82″ 2.4″
Sig Sauer 9mm Glock 22 w/LW 9mm BBL 5.03″ 3.1″
Sig Sauer .40S&W Sig P226 4.4″ 2.2″
Sig Sauer .45 ACP SA XDm-45 4.5″ 4.5″ 1.6″

Ballistics Gelatin

For the ballistics test, I used blocks of gel from Clear Ballistics. Their synthetic gel substitute is made to simulate the properties of the traditional organic-based ordnance gelatin the FBI uses for testing ammunition. If you’re not familiar with the FBI testing protocols, there is a lot of great information available on the subject, but in the most basic terms, the gel testing is used to determine whether the bullets will penetrate and expand when used to defend against an attacker in a life-threatening assault.

Before we dive too far into the minutiae, let’s just remember that handguns are notoriously terrible at stopping bad guys. I’ll link to this article by Greg Ellifritz one more time because it explains the topic better than I ever could. If this topic interests you enough to have read this far, I encourage you to read Greg’s article in its entirety (you’ll totally miss the point if you just skim it). We carry handguns because they’re convenient, not because they’re the best defensive tool we have.

Now with that out of the way, if you are forced to rely on a handgun to save your life, you want to get every possible advantage you can get. That’s why we like to see how our handgun ammo performs in ballistics gel. The FBI has established 12-18 inches of penetration into ballistics gel as the ideal standard for law enforcement duty ammunition.That’s not just an arbitrary number; handguns are effective at stopping bad guys only if their bullets strike and disrupt vital organs that essentially “shut down” his system so he can’t hurt you anymore. To do this, the bullet has to burrow through a lot of soft tissue (as well as bones and clothing and whatever else may be in the way), and that’s where the 12″ minimum comes from. More than 18″ of penetration, and there’s a risk of over-penetration. That happens when the bullet passes all the way through the bad guy and still has enough energy left to harm innocent by-standers.

The gelatin used in these tests is not a perfect analog for human tissue, but it’s about as close as we can get practically and still achieve repeatable results. Testing bullets in other mediums like food-grade gelatin, water jugs, wet newspaper, or hunks of meat might be better than nothing, but the results are difficult to interpret in any useful way. Ballistics gelatin has been used as the industry standard for many years, and there’s a large body of existing data to use for comparison.

For a more comprehensive test, ballistics gel is often used along with different barriers to determine how the bullets behave when they encounter fabric, plywood, and glass before striking the target. My tests were only performed on bare gelatin with no barriers. Penetration and expansion of each load may look significantly different in a test with a few layers of denim placed in front of the gel.

Ballistics Testing Procedure

In testing the Sig Sauer Elite Performance ammo, I fired five rounds of each caliber in to a 16″ long block of Clear Ballistics gelatin at a distance of 10 feet. A fresh block was used for each load. I did the same for the four comparison loads. The .380 ACP and 9mm loads were tested with the gel blocks as they came shipped directly from Clear Ballistics. I melted and re-molded these blocks after the first round of tests according to the instructions from Clear Ballistics. The .40 S&W and .45 ACP ammo was then fired into these re-molded blocks. In the photos, you can see that the blocks from the second batch aren’t as clear as the first batch. That’s because I wrapped the blocks in paper for transporting them to the range, which gave the blocks a cloudy appearance when the paper was removed. The consistency of the gel was not affected.

After firing into the gel, I measured the penetration depth of each round, and then retrieved the fired bullets from the gelatin. The expanded bullet diameters listed below are an average of each of the five bullets from each load. Measuring the penetration depth can be a little tricky sometimes. The gel causes some optical distortion, much like looking through aquarium glass. I measured the penetration depth from multiple sides of the block to minimize this effect. I measured each along the trajectory of the wound channel since not every round hit the gel at an angle perfectly parallel to the orientation of the block. Because of this and the visual distortion of the block, it is not possible to get a 100% accurate reading of the penetration depth just from looking at the two-dimensional photos below.

In the photos below, you can also see where the bullets traveled a bit further than their final resting spot, but “bounced back” in the gel before coming to a complete stop. The additional travel looks to be anywhere from one half to a full inch in the gel for each bullet. I could not find any reliable information regarding whether this portion of the channel should be included in the penetration depth measurement, so I have left it out. My measurements start at the entry point on the block, and end at the far end of the bullet’s resting point.

Gathering the bullet velocity data was pretty straightforward. I shot each load through a Chrony Beta Master chronograph to measure bullet velocity. Distance from muzzle to chrono was 10 feet, except for the .45 ACP which had to be moved back to 15 feet to get an accurate reading. The below data shows the average velocity from 10 rounds of each load. I also added the manufacturer’s published velocity for both the Sig ammunition loads and the comparison loads. Sig’s velocity data is very comparable to what I measured, and any discrepancies can be attributed to differences in barrel length (Sig lists test barrel length at 4 inches for .380 ACP, 9mm, and .40S&W and 5 inches for .45 ACP)

Results

Load
Barrel Length Measured Velocity (fps) Manufacturer Velocity (fps) Penetration Depth Expanded Diameter
Sig Sauer .380 ACP 90 gr 3.82″ 977.2 980 8.94″ 0.56″
Rem Golden Saber .380 ACP 90 gr 3.82″ N/A 940 10.08″ 0.59″
Sig Sauer 9mm 124 gr 5.03″ 1197.6 1189 9.16″ 0.72″
Federal HST 9mm 124 gr 5.03″ N/A 1120 13.1″ 0.68″
Sig Sauer .40S&W 165 gr 4.4″ 1065.7 1090 12.8″ 0.73″
Federal HST 40S&W 165 gr 4.4″ N/A 1130 16.72″ 0.70″
Sig Sauer .45 ACP 200 gr 4.5″ 917.11 915 13.58″ 0.73″
Federal HST 45ACP 230 gr 4.5″ N/A 890 14.18″ 0.87″

 

380-comparison

9mm-comparison-2
40SW-comparison
45-comparison-2
380-9mm-expanded

 

40-45-expanded-2

Conclusion

I’ll refrain from giving any hard recommendations based on this data. This is my first substantial and relatively in-depth attempt at ballistics testing, and there are a few things I will do differently next time. That said, I think the data I gathered for the Sig ammo is pretty solid, especially when compared solely to the competing loads of each caliber.

As you can see, the .45 ACP Sig Elite Performance performed closest to its comparison load out of all the Sig ammo tested. Expansion of the .45 ACP Sig load was not as good as the impressive spread of the HST, but the average penetration depth was very close. The .40 S&W load for the Sig ammo did break the magical 12-inch barrier, but was still significantly out-performed by the HST in terms of penetration. Expansion of the two was nearly identical.

The 9mm performance was not especially impressive. Sig Sauer’s 124 grain bullet only penetrated to an average of 9 inches compared to the HST’s 13 inches. Expansion was slightly greater than the HST but without more penetration, that doesn’t help a whole lot. The .380 performance was sub-par for both the Sig load and the comparison Remington Golden Saber. Very few loads in this caliber exhibit sufficient penetration and expansion, so these results aren’t especially surprising.

Personally, I’m a big fan of 9mm in general, but based on what I’ve read in the past, I prefer the performance of 124 grain +P and 147 grain loads. So unless Sig comes out with something new in the future, I’m not changing the load that I carry any time soon. But again, I’m no ballistics expert, so I’ll leave it to you to examine the information I gathered and decide for yourself whether the new Sig Sauer Ammo is something you might want to try out.


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41 Responses to “Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammo Review”

  1. Sig to make ammo - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

    […] to make ammo Sig Sauer Ammo – V-Crown Defense Loads Review Interesting! __________________ All my guns were lost in the boating accident To view links […]

    Reply
  2. Olsen Chris

    like to have seen the 357sig ammo!

    Reply
  3. Bill Freier

    Send me the 357 Sig rounds and ill test them for you. That's my duty round.

    Reply
  4. Arthur Jouppi Jr

    I will happy to test 380 and 9mm

    Reply
  5. Jim K. Jordan

    Looks good

    Reply
  6. One Weapon, Any Tool

    So Sig is making ammo… but they are not making it in .357Sig? WTF?

    Reply
  7. LG Chris

    You might want to read that again, sir:
    "In the interest of time, I skipped over the .357 Sig load since it’s the least popular of the five calibers. If there are enough requests from you guys, I’ll re-visit that load in a future post."

    Reply
  8. Andres Hernandez

    They are making it but the author skipped it because it's the least popular from the 5. He also wrote that the first batch sold out along with the 45ACP

    Reply
  9. Rainman Detroit

    Help me understand why a manufacturer wouldn't keep re-engineering and tweaking until they met FBI standards? There are a lot of 380 HP rounds, yet all but a few pass the tests. I'm using Precision One XTP in a Sig P238 now. It passes in bare gelatin and denim covered gelatin. So do Fiocchi Extrema and Hornady Custom XTP.

    Reply
  10. Dusty J Shadle

    looks to me like they have a great bullet design, at least for non barrier situations, they just need to adjust the powder charge. this might be as simple as them collecting data from outside sources and adjusting powder charges

    Reply
  11. SIG Sauer Manufacturing Ammunition Now...

    […] interesting if anyone wants to continue reading the review. I may try some in 380, 9mil and 45ACP. http://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/si…n-ammo-review/ NRA Member, USN Vet, CCW Permit since 1995.   […]

    Reply
  12. LG Chris

    Two main reasons: R&D is really expensive for this kind of thing, and most consumers don't know/care about the FBI protocols. Only when the ammo is going to be marketed to law enforcement or government agencies do companies tend to put any real effort into meeting the FBI criteria (Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot, Winchester Ranger-T, etc)

    Reply
  13. LG Chris

    It might not be that simple, but I would be really interested in seeing what the 124 grain bullet would do if they offered a +P load.

    Reply
  14. LG Chris

    We're getting a good number of requests, Bill. I'll see if I can fit it into the schedule the next time I'm filming at the range.

    Reply
  15. LG Chris

    Andres Hernandez We also didn't order as much of the .357 Sig compared to the other calibers. Traditionally, our sales for that caliber are way too low to justify carrying a large stock.

    Reply
  16. LG Chris

    Thanks Arthur, but we already got those two covered.

    Reply
  17. Sig Sauer Brand Ammo!! - SIG Talk

    […] I found this review today. Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammo Review […]

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  18. What happened to .357 Sig? | LuckyGunner.com Lounge

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  19. Don Reitmeyer III

    I think the slower a bullet enters the target the more damage it does on entry, the .22 is an example since a CB load would bounce around in a skull, as does the 5.56 M -16 and AR loads. In the USMC I've heard them, at long distance) tumble and smack a target leaving an oblong hole. They hit a bone and change direction doing nasty work. And frankly, either one of the loads shown will ruin someone's day. I love the innovation, but it's a shame they denied us the black Head ammo, labeled a "cop killer"? People want the same protection the police do when their ass is in trouble and 911 ain't an option! Semper Fi.!

    Reply
  20. Don Reitmeyer III

    They all do the job, the "law enforcement type . in fact a few knife cuts into the top makes the round end up in even sharper edges. It's a Marine trick, I'm sure long used by others. I agree with you, plus you can reload your own since the bullets are available to tweek a load to suit you.

    Reply
  21. Don Reitmeyer III

    I think "we" get substandard as opposed to law enforcement issue? Even with the P+ brands and fancy expansion. I think your best to reload your own and see what works best for you.

    Reply
  22. Dusty J Shadle

    Don Reitmeyer III if you end up in a situation where you need to fire your weapon, home loaded ammo is not a good thing to have in court. especially when so many brands will do just fine

    Reply
  23. Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammo | State Of Tactical

    […] to Lucky Gunner to see the pretty pictures, video and ballistics gelatin review of the Sig Sauer Elite Performance […]

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  24. SayUncle » Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammo Review

    […] From Chris at LuckyGunner. I hope he’s local so I can go hang with him for a day. […]

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  25. Kent Rinfret

    I wish it was made in Exeter NH cause then Id be right down the street from em

    Reply
  26. New SIG Ammo - SIG Talk

    […] New SIG Ammo They also came out with their own ammo: http://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/si…n-ammo-review/ […]

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  27. Steve Culbertson

    The stuff is made by Sig so you can be sure they tested the crap out of it before releasing it for sale – I have a couple in 357 Sig so I'm sorry you didn't test that one – anyway, the expansion of both Federal and Sig closely resembles the Black Talon and although the Sig stuff comes up a little short in penetration I'm pretty sure it is adequate to get the job done – I use mostly Federal LE loads so I probably won't switch right away but if things aren't up to par with the Sig performance you can be sure they will tweak the loads to meet FBI standards – they sell most of their line to Law enforcement and military and their schools will certainly discuss the merits of their ammo thoroughly as will all the gun mags

    Reply
  28. SIG Elite Performance Ammo: More Information | State Of Tactical

    […] not trying to meet the FBI standards would explain the sub-12″ penetration results obtained by LuckyGunner when testing .380 ACP and 9mm […]

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  29. John Papadopoulos

    Seems like the 9mm and especially the 380 expand VERY well due to their V-crown design. Problem is: they expand TOO well and do not penetrate deeply enough, especially the 9mm. Question is: How well would all rounds tested perform with 4 layers of denim in front of the block…could the holllow-point cavities be stuffed up with clothing and be prevented from expanding well?

    Reply
  30. Derek Rhoades

    It is slightly disappointing that the 9mm load of the Sig V-Crown didn't penetrate to the FBI minimum. Looking at the permanent wound channel of the gel, the round seems to expand sooner. This would seem to be consistent with their claims that it is a hollower hollow point and is meant to expand even at slower velocities. This could be the cause of a reduced amount of penetration. The quicker expansion is likely to slow the bullet down faster keeping it's penetration to a minimum.

    Reply
  31. Tyson Robert Reinisch

    New tests with denim in front did perfect, you guys are shooting into bare gel, test it the proper way and it will do great! The tests I saw needed the cloth to keep it from over expanding/ under penetrate

    Reply
  32. Tyson Robert Reinisch

    I do like the testing, but it was tested and designed around clothing.

    Reply
  33. Jamie Lamar

    Nice review! The Sig Ammo is cheaper than the HST, thought I would throw that out there.

    Reply
  34. Raephell Benham

    Yeah I would've like to see the .357 sig as well since its what I carry. I saw it on the shelf the other day and almost picked it up but figured I'd let the internet show me how it is first.

    Reply
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    […] reviews of optics, range supplies, holsters, or other gear if you guys are interested. Examples: Sig Elite Performance Ammo, PCP Polymer Cased […]

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  36. HGR 062 - Sig-Sauer Ammo & The Suppressor Experience with the Mad Aussie

    […] selection. I picked up some basic Remington 9mm 115 grain FMJ for practice and a box of the new Sig-Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 9mm 124 grain Hollowpoint ammo. I had heard that Sig was getting into the ammunition game back […]

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  37. Sig ammo? - SIG Talk

    […] V-Crown Review […]

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  38. Becky Annmarie Campbell

    With all the folks using 38o I think it needs scrutinny about whether to shoot center mass or if there is a better statewgy for using it

    Reply
  39. Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammo | Practical Shooting Tips .com

    […] Due to time constraints in schedules here at PracticalShootingTips.com, we were not able to procure any ballistic gelatin for the test, but still have several rounds left over from the test for an updated post in the future about the potential lethality of this defense round projected into gelatin.  For the time being, I would point readers towards this ballistic test here. […]

    Reply

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