Not long ago, everyone suggested practicing with a .22, what with the caliber’s light recoil and lower ammo cost. That may have been sound advice, but with the astronomical jump in the price of .22 ammo, it is no longer that much of a savings, even if loads are available. I don’t know whether SIG’s plans were prompted by the higher prices or it was just lucky timing, but I’m glad they did what they did.
It is easier to practice your drawing techniques using a gun that is nearly identical to your real weapon, for example, and it’s much more fun than dry ﬁring your real pistol. And, if you live in a suburban setting, an air gun is much quieter and there are no powerful ﬂying projectiles.
IN THE JULY ISSUE of this magazine, I wrote a review covering the SIG Sauer 226 airgun, and the following month did a feature on their MCX AR airgun. Since each of these is a near copy of a full-caliber gun in the SIG Sauer line, it gave me an idea. For this third and ﬁnal SIG airgun piece, I decided to do a combination review of the airgun and the pistol it was designed to mimic. And, since SIG’s 1911 Max Michel BB pistol is set to hit the market later this month, this will probably be one of the ﬁrst published reviews of it.
As with the ﬁrst two SIG airguns I tested, I was impressed by how closely these two resembled each other. In fact, if you lay them on top of each other, they are basically the same size. There are just a few small, understandable differences.
First, the sights on the air gun are not as nice on the actual .45, which makes perfect sense. Second, the airgun has a Picatinny rail, while the .45 doesn’t. Third, there is a slight difference in the butt due to the differences in the clips. And ﬁnally, although they each appear to have ambidextrous safeties, the “left-handed” safety on the airgun is nonfunctional.
I mentioned that the airgun sights are not as good as on the .45, but I should add that they are adjustable for windage and elevation with a ﬂat-head screwdriver.
To really make this a family affair, I did some of the testing of the .45 alongside my wife, Katy. I shot my normal mediocre groups, but she obtained some good groups.
Normally, I recommend a .357 Mag for smaller shooters. That way, in town they can load up with .38s, and in the mountains they can shoot .357 magnums for bears, wolves and cougars. But although Katy is somewhat recoil-sensitive, she loved shooting the .45. Needless to say, our pace of ﬁre was nowhere as intense as that of the handgun’s namesake, Max Michel, the captain of SIG Sauer’s shooting team and recently crowned world-speed shooting champion.
It is rare, but occasionally I hear someone dissing a 1911. How can you do that to one of the most popular pistol models for more than 100 years running? My dad, who was a B24 pilot in World War II, carried one, and I’ll bet your dad or grandfather did too at some point. If you can handle the recoil and obtain adequate reset times, the .45 is the ticket. And if my wife and my 110-pound daughters like shooting a 1911, then I think that it is safe to say that you can probably handle the SIG Sauer .45.
I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED shooting both guns. For our test we used SIG 230-grain FMJ ammo for the .45, and with the airgun we used SIG BBs. Airgun ammo can vary wildly in accuracy, but in all of my tests, SIG pellets and BBs grouped as good as any of the leading manufacturers other than JSB, which are match-grade pellets.
Like many of SIG’s airguns, the 1911 version has a detachable 16-shot clip that is released by pushing a button identical to the one on its larger and more powerful cousin. You pull down a slide knob and load the BBs into a hole. Then slide the clip back into the bottom of the grip. To load the 12gram CO2 cylinder, you remove the clip and pull out the back of the grip. Insert the gas cartridge and close the handle, and that snaps it into place. Slap in the clip and you’re good to go.
The airgun is not only great for training purposes, but also fun for shooting small varmints. It is a semiautomatic, so it would also be a great tool to run deer and other pests out of your garden. It would sting them enough to make them leave but not cause any long-lasting damage.
As with all SIG semiautos I have tested, the .45 is a great pistol. And once again, I think that in developing the airgun to go along with it, SIG has come up with a great training tool.
So there you have it – several really good reasons to buy two guns instead of just one. Tell your spouse that I said so, and let me know how that goes! ASJ
For that small minority who may not have read last month’s review of SIG’s P226 airgun, not only did SIG launch an airgun line, they went the extra mile and developed a good selection of extremely accurate pellets and a large choice of airgun targets. This was extremely smart on their part, as this new line will be a huge drawing card for kids … and grown-up kids, of course.
It is the same weight as the original model, and is designed to deliver comparable handling. This “real gun” feel guarantees that it will be fun and challenging to shoot, but as with the P226, it’s also great for training purposes. The MCX is charged by CO2, which is a new experience for me. Even as a kid I have never had an airgun that used a CO2 canister. My airguns have always been pump-ups, break-action or PCPs.
The MCX is quite simple to operate. To begin with, it uses a 90-gram canister instead of the normal 12-gram ones. To install a canister you remove the butt stock, screw it in and replace the stock over it. I’m sure it was designed around a larger canister because it holds a 30 shot clip. And speaking of clips, the clip pops out the same as on your regular AR. Inside is a rotary belt that you insert pellets into, which will hold 30 pellets. To load it you pull back the bolt just like on your AR. The gun does have a forward assist bolt, but it is merely decorative, not functional.
With it holding 30 pellets and being a semiauto, that makes it a fun gun to shoot. I fell in love with it right when I opened the box, and was impressed with how solid it felt.
For the initial voyage, we went out to shoot and chronograph. There were a few ground squirrels out, but we tried to focus on the task at hand. We had a lot of guns to shoot that day and pellets to test. But we ﬁnally broke down and shot ground squirrels for a couple of hours when we were ﬁnished with the real work.
Although the gun is listed as shooting up to 750 feet per second, we attained only 590. But fps can vary greatly for a variety of reasons, such as if you have a fully charged canister or not, what kind of pellet that you’re shooting and variations in temperature. I think it’d be fun to chronograph it in 30-degree weather and then again in 105-degree conditions, conducting both tests on a new canister and the same pellets, and compare speeds.
I was unhappy with the groups that I was getting on the range. But I took it along when we went to the mountains for some coyote hunting, and I was able to retest in the middle of the day when things slowed down. I got a little over a 7/8-inch three-shot group at 30 feet. That’s more like it.
I wrote about hunting ground squirrels elsewhere in this issue, and mentioned that on a good day I’ll get 400 to 500 shots oﬀ, so the cost of .22 ammo can quickly add up. So for close shots in a similar hunting scenario, the MCX will not only be a fun little gun to shoot, but it’s also very economical.
The MCX comes with a 1-4×24 SIG Sauer scope, and I was impressed by how crisp and clear it is. The crosshairs have marks for distance and windage. The only downside is that the scope is a 1-4x; as I’m shooting small targets and pushing the limit on yardage when I’m hunting with my airguns, I wish that it was at least a 3-9x.
The trigger was really rough at ﬁrst. But while I was trying to measure the poundage, it leveled out and pulled straight through at 6.25 pounds. Maybe it just had to break in to get smooth. Obviously, if it had a better trigger, I know that I could tighten my group.
But despite the minor issues with the trigger and scope, it is a great little gun, and as soon as the ground squirrels come out in full force I’m going to burn the barrel out. Shooters of all ages will certainly enjoy it, but as with most modern airguns, it is deﬁnitely not a toy. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more, see sigsauerasp.com.
The P226 air pistol uses a conventional size 12-gram Co2 canister, which slips into the back of the grip. The magazine pops out of the bottom the same way it would on any modern semiauto handgun. Each end of the magazine has a rotary clip that holds eight pellets, so when you empty one end you simply eject the magazine, ﬂip it over, reinsert and shoot again. To load the chamber, rack the slide, just like any semiauto.
It’s a blast to shoot. My daughter has several pesky deer that invade her garden. I think this will be a good airgun for chasing them off. The P226 is billed as spitting out pellets at up to 510 feet per second, but we were only able to get 308 fps. However, the feet-per-second measurement is directly related to the charge pressure in your cartridge, outside temperatures – because cooler or very cold temperatures drastically reduce the Co2 capability – and which pellets you use. Even at 308 fps, it would still be perfect for running deer out of your yard without damaging or penetrating the hide, like many high-powered pellet guns might do.
SHOOTING FROM ABOUT 20 feet, we were getting 1¾-inch groups with the JSB Match Diabolo pellets and 1½ with the SIG Match Ballistic pellets. OK, I’ll be honest: When I say “we,” I mean Ron Spomer, an outdoor hunting professional and television host. I used his groups, since I am not a world-renowned pistol shot.
UNIQUE FEATURES OF THE P226 AIR PISTOL
• Picatinny rail on the bottom, which is great for mounting a light;
• Realistic blow-back slide;
• Each magazine holds a total of 16 pellets.
The P226 air pistol comes in black or ﬂatdark earth, which is similar to a light tan. I think the moment you pick it up you’re going to be impressed with the authentic feel of this pistol, and it is fun to shoot. I also think this pistol would be the perfect gun for shooting grouse or varmints.
Now, let’s get into SIG’s line of airgun targets. I don’t know about the kids you take shooting, but mine like dynamic targets, and this line offers all the ﬂippers and spinners for just such stimulation. While testing these guns, we set up four SIG targets to work with, but they offer as many as 10 different styles. Shooting these targets deﬁnitely encouraged my kids to shoot more. SIG recommends setting the targets at least 25 yards away because pellets and fragments might ricochet off the spinners. Also, if you have a clear stretch in your garage or basement, you could even set up SIG’s box target to plink. These targets are speciﬁcally designed to trap the pellet, which makes it perfect for shooting inside.
Ah! Yet another gun and line of accessories one cannot live without. ASJ
Editor’s note: If you would like to know more about SIG Sauer’s P226 air pistol, you can visit them at sigsauer.com