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Love the older SIG 1911's

10669 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  slowgun45
I have new and old SIG's 1911's I have a stainless GSR which is not stock anymore.
I also brought a new one GSR TTT which is new but buy Sat. it will be converted to a comp. pistol.
This is my Stainless GSR

This is my stock TTT I will post new pictures on Sat.
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I agree vick, they are well made guns with top notch parts.
Sig GSR 1911: Out-of-the-Box Reliability and Accuracy

Sig GSR 1911: Out-of-the-Box Reliability and Accuracy

Photos & Story
by Scott Smith
Contributing Editor

In 2003, Sig Arms got into the 1911 in a big way with the introduction of the Sig GSR. The Internet was buzzing for weeks, and still is. The retail interest in the Sig GSR 1911 is so heavy, Sig is having a tough time meeting the demand.

For Sig Arms the GSR is a radical change from the traditional double-action pistols that made Sig's P series semi-autos so popular with law enforcement and the military. Sig's pistols also have a following in IDPA and USPSA action pistol shooting because they are utterly reliable.

So what is the great appeal of the Sig Arms 1911? Well, first off it is a 1911. Law enforcement seems to be wanting a 1911 for SWAT, ERT, and now departments are issuing or authorizing officers to carry this tried and true firearm design. This trend follows several lackluster performances of handguns in major shootouts; including the Miami and North Hollywood debacles to name two of the best known.

Both of these highlighted the failures of the 9mm projectile on assailants that were committed to their cause (the intent here is not to belittle the 9mm). With these actions and others came the troops' desire to have a larger caliber projectile, built on a tried and true platform.

In the world of action pistol shooting, the 1911 is the preferred platform. The 1911 has won more local, state, national, and world titles than I care to count. It has been chambered in calibers from 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W, several variations of 9mm, and of course .45 ACP.

The box stock 1911 has been transformed into a high speed competition pistol by adding multi-port compensators, red dot sights, and ultra light trigger jobs. All of these accessories and modifications that can be done are part of the appeal to the 1911.

The Sig 1911 is not designed as a competition pistol, but I am sure it will meet the action pistol shooter's needs. The GSR is a 1911 built for carry, be it on duty or for personal protection.

It has many of the features that shooters have come to expect on production 1911s: good sights; a decent trigger; beavertail grip safety, and the basics of a good carry pistol that would make Jeff Cooper proud. Add to that a Picatinny rail to add a tactical light and you have a 1911 that will fit most users' needs.

So to answer the question of why would Sig Arms want to develop a 1911? Why not? The pistol design has a huge following in the civilian world for personal protection and competition. With the contracts awarded by the FBI, LAPD, and departments like Tacoma, WA, PD, it is apparent that law enforcement wants and trusts the 1911.

Matt McLearn
Not wanting to step into a new arena with only the knowledge and experience from their traditional double-action pistols, Sig went out and found someone that knows 1911s from the ground up.

To head up Sig Arms adventure into 1911s, Matt McLearn became part of the Sig Arms team. McLearn is well known in the world of action pistol shooting and holds many USPSA and IPSC titles. He has been known to build some of the finest custom 1911s available. Does that mean he is a tactical operator? No, but he knows how to build 1911s that run flawlessly and that's what he was hired to do.

Sig Arms entered the 1911 wars with its entry, the GSR (Granite Series Rail). The pistol was named for its most obvious feature, the integral light rail, and for New Hampshire's (the home of Sig USA) nickname-the Granite State. Light rails are becoming a required feature on any firearm for duty, and the GSR was built from the ground up to accept your choice of lights.

The next feature that the user notices is the pistol itself, or should I say the color; stainless grey, unless you have the black stainless. Yes, this is a stainless pistol, not an alloy with stainless steel slide. While the alloy is lighter, stainless steel increases the durability of the handgun and adds a few ounces to the overall weight. This added weight is a good thing in that it reduces recoil, and shot-to-shot recovery is quicker.

Stainless is corrosion resistant when compared to blued steel, and in a firearm that sees all the elements, this is a good thing. Just because the GSR is stainless does not mean you do not need to give it some basic preventive maintenance, care, and service. This pistol needs to be wiped off and cleaned after it has been used heavily, but it won't rust should you get caught in a monsoon.

To ensure the fit and finish, Sig Arms uses a cast stainless steel frame and a forged stainless steel slide. The frame is cast to cut down on the required machining to finish the pistol. With the pounding the slide takes, it is forged, since forgings are somewhat stronger than a casting. For what it's worth, IPSC pistols have been built on cast frames for years and endure thousands of rounds; yes, cast frames can take the abuse.

Unlike the competition in the 1911 wars, the GSR slide and frame are hand-lapped to ensure a tight fit that moves with ball bearing-like smoothness. This might seem like a little thing, but lapping each slide to its frame helps to increase the GSR's reliability.

By lapping (applying a gritty paste to the rails of the slide and moving the slide against the frame) the slide to frame, any minor imperfections are removed from the rails of the slide and frame and drag reduced during the cycling of the slide. Overkill on a production firearm, maybe, but this is to be a duty arm or for personal protection, and the closer one can get to 100% reliability, the better.

Parts Manufacturers
With McLearn heading the development team for Sig, all of the parts had to be up to the designer's specifications. The safeties, hammer, sear, the slide, frame and trigger, were all speced out and vendors contracted to manufacture them. These important parts are supplied by manufacturers like Caspian, Wilson, EMC, EGW, and Grieder.

These manufacturers are known for their parts and quality, so why not use them. No sense reinventing the 1911 parts wheel. All parts are made to meet Sig's specifications and designs.

An area of great debate in 1911s over the last few years is the use of Metal Injection Molded (MIM) parts. Sig Arms does not use any MIM parts in the GSR 1911. All parts are tool steel and are machined to Sig's specifications. This should ensure the parts last for years to come.

Another feature that stands out on the GSR is the external extractor. Granted the Browning designed one-piece internal extractor works fine, but Sig is attempting to eliminate what is perceived to be a weakness in the 1911. One of the great advantages of the external extractor is it is less prone to chipping or breaking the hook.

The extractor hook is most prone to break when the operator drops a cartridge into the chamber to load the pistol instead of feeding the rounds from the magazine. The external extractor moves on its hinge pin and is tensioned by a spring, and this increases the life span of the extractor.

80-Style Safety
Since the GSR is a 1911, it has a thumb and grip safety, making it one of the safest pistols on the market. To increase the pistol's safety, a Series 80-style firing pin safety is used. This safety keeps the firing pin from moving until the trigger is pressed. This will help eliminate a negligent discharge if the pistol is dropped. In states like Maryland and California, some sort of firing pin safety is required for sale, even to an agency. In the eyes of attorneys, there are no such things as too many safeties or too safe of a firearm.

Another eye-catching feature of the GSR is the grip. Sig opted to use textured polymer grip panels on the GSR instead of the traditional checkered wood grip panels. During testing while wearing flight gloves, the pistol did not slide or shift position, so the pebbling must do the trick.

Besides that, the grips look different. For a duty pistol I would add a few cents worth of anti-skid tape to the front strap of the frame to increase the user's purchase on the grip. Anti-skid tape will also continue the lines of the grip panels.

Keeping with the functionality and utilitarian features of the GSR, Sig Arms chose Novak sights to top off the GSR's slide. Novak sights give the operator a clear sight picture under most conditions and are virtually indestructible. They are also virtually snag free, for a smooth draw from a duty or concealment holster.

Testing Flawless
The Sig GSR has the heritage of the Sig name. It uses quality parts, has been tweaked by a world class shooter, and looks good. But how does it shoot? The GSR ran flawlessly throughout our test and evaluation (T&E). Over 300 rounds were fired during the initial T&E range session. By the time the formal T&E was done over 1,000 rounds were put through the Sig GSR. Bullet designs were flat point, hollowpoint, and full metal jacket; not a bobble, wobble, or jam.

To test the Sig GSR, several duty loads were used. The ammunition used included: Speer 230-grain Gold Dot HPs; Triton Quik-Shok 230-grain HPs; Federal 230-grain Hydra Shoks; Remington 230-grain Gold Sabers; Federal 230-grain FMJ; International Cartridge 155-grain Sinterfire Frangible ammo; Hornady 185-grain XTPs; Black Hills 230-grain JHPs; Cor-Bon 165 Pow'Rball; MagTech 230-grain JHPs and FMJs, and American Eagle 230 FMJs. These loads cover most of the ammunition styles out there for duty, personal protection and training.

Initially the shooting was just to see that the GSR ran and where the sights were regulated. It was found the sights were dead on at 15 yards; all is good there. A couple of magazines loaded with mixed rounds were run through the GSR, and no misfeeds, or jams were encountered. Lack of malfunctions is a good thing for any pistol. Trigger was crisp, smooth and consistent, just like a 1911 should be. This pistol shoots okay.

Shooting the GSR
Now that we determined the GSR shoots, it was time to really shoot it. Joe DelSole (a patrol officer for the Port Authority of Allegheny County, PA, and fellow IDPA shooter) and I started with some doubles at 7 yards, accuracy work at 15-20 yards, work from the holster; pretty much what the end user is going to do. The GSR never missed a beat throughout the test session.

When it came down to accuracy the GSR was capable of shooting better than DelSole or I could shoot it; no thanks to mother nature. Groups at 15 yards hovered at 2.25 inches for eight rounds. In most cases, five of those rounds slid in under .75-inch. I am certain if the temperatures had not hovered around 12 degrees, the GSR would be capable of 8-shot groups that would come in under 1-inch. That said, the Sig GSR is one very accurate pistol.

The GSR was not cleaned before, during or after any of the half dozen range sessions. I wanted to see if the sludge of hard use would slow it down, and it did not. I know there are those who clean their blasters after every range session, but there are those who don't. That's why the pistol was not cleaned until the formal T&E was completed.

Cleaning the GSR after all of the range sessions were over, was easy. This is after all a 1911. Make sure it is clear and empty, remove the magazine, remove the plug and bushing, retract slide to the take down slot, pull out slide stop, remove the slide, and barrel.

Clean and Lube
Unlike some 1911s I have shot and owned, a bushing wrench is not needed to disassemble the GSR. Clean and lube with your favorite solvent and oil and reverse the take down process. For any help taking the GSR apart, follow the instructions or any takedown manual for a 1911. This being a 1911, it is an easy pistol to work on, and manuals abound on taking care of one-a 1911 that is.

Over the last decade or so, I have been very lucky to own, shoot, and test several 1911s. The Sig Arms GSR, is one of the finest I have had the privilege to shoot. Out-of-the-box it is reliable and accurate. The only change I would like Sig to make is to use Novak Siglite Sights, and install an ambidextrous safety. Other than that, the GSR is a nearly perfect out-of-the-box pistol. For purely personal preference and looks, I would fit a Smith and Alexander arched mainspring housing/mag well.

If I worked for an agency that authorized a 1911, or is looking to allow the department, the Sig Arms GSR would be at the top of the list. Since I am no longer in law enforcement, I would not hesitate to carry the Sig Arms GSR.

For those of you who are IDPA shooters, a ruling on its application in IDPA will be needed before you plunk down your hard-earned green backs and make this your new CDP blaster. I am fairly certain it will be USPSA legal for Limited and Limited 10 as soon as the required number of pistols are sold. For more information, contact: Sig Arms, 18 Industrial Dr., Dept. GWK, Exeter, NH 03833; phone: 603-772-2302; on-line: www.sigarms.com.
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I just thought I would post this information in case someone might be interested. I am going to post a list of parts for the sig gsr with serial numbers between 800 and 7000. I picked up a couple from bud's (full size and carry) in the 5000 range and was told on another board this was the sweet spot for these sigs. I now believe that and after talking with George at EGW I have a list of makers of many of the parts on these. Some may be familiar with EGW, they make quality parts and I put an EGW bushing on any 1911 I get. These already had them so I didn't need to:
Here are some statements from him:
We made the extractors after about the first 800 units, from there to just over 7000 pcs.
We were fortunate to make the Bushings, Extractors, FP stops, Ejectors and our Hard sear.
These are very high quality parts that many custom builders use.
The origional contractors that people would know are Storm Lake barrels,
Slide stops, Triggers, plunger tubes from Bob Greider, Caspian made the slides and frames, Wilson supplied some parts.
He also said that sig had some problems with the first external extractors from EGW. He said if anyone is still having problems with one with an egw extractor to contact him.
Hello All
We had some GSR extractors come back. We manufactured parts for the first 7000 guns so these may have been ours or the new parts soursed from Isreal or where ever they are coming today.
We took it upon ourselves to make a tool steel extractor and we changed the face angle 6 degrees to make the hook thicker also.
So, if you have anyone that is having extractor problems with a GSR tell them to drop us a line.
thank you
I posted this as George is great to deal with and their parts are top notch, I am suprised with the problems on the first extractors but I don't consider that to detract from the overall quality of egw stuff.
Here is a list of the parts on these guns.
He said the frame and slide are caspian, but I am really not certain when sig stopped using them but I would be suprised if all of the "porthole" series 80 guns were not caspian as that's a caspian design. I do know when sig started making their own slide and frame they are quality
These parts are not just good parts they are the cream:
Caspian-grip safety
Storm Lake-Barrel
EGW-Thick carry bevel bushing (that I put in any 1911), hard sear, extractor, ejector and firing pin stop.
Greider-Trigger(before known as videcki and I also put these in all my 1911's), slide stop (the same DW puts in their 10mm's for extra strength), plunger tube
Wilson Combat-thumb safety
The hammer and mag release I don't know. They are not mim and probably come from one of the above companies.
Guncrafter-Mainspring housing. I have never heard of them but the msh is not cheap and it's a quality part as listed here:
The pistols made 7000 and above from what I understand, have a lot of parts outsourced to Israel. I'm not saying these are bad, I'm just not familiar with them but they are still not supposed to contain any mim.
I just wanted to post this to show the parts in these sigs and if you have a custom gunsmith build a gun with these parts you will not get it for the price of the GSR. Yes, I know they have had problems which seems to be the bad extractors and tightness of the fit. These are VERY tight. Their biggest problem was not being able to fix them, don't know if they are stillhaving that problem.

I will say though if you pick up one of these in this serial range for a good price and you have no knowledge of these guns you could still send it to EGW for their reliability package and have a gun that would have cost 1500-2000 to build. From what I understand Sig could not build them this way and make money.:
Polish, throat, tune extractor, polish bolt face, check chamber, adjust ejector face $85.00
EGW Long ejector for .45 $55.00
EGW Long ejector for Commander, 38, 10mm $55.00
Fit and tune spare extractor $45.00
Lower ejection port and clear $40.00
Lower, flute, and clear ejection port $75.00
EGW Oversize firing pin stop fitted $35.00
Install EGW Officers bushing, guide rod, reverse plug $125.00
Install insert feed ramp (aluminum frame guns) $150.00
French border on slide $75.00
Leibenburg cuts, the ball cuts to produce the lookof the
original 1911 Springfield. $75.00
Browning High Power cuts, Combine the leibenburg cut and
cutting the flats on the front of the slide down to look like a BHP $150.00
Decorative ball end mill cuts on the top of the slide $100.00
Test fire gun* $15.00
*Required for all Accuracy Work

The top line is the reliability package and with test firing it's 100.00. I know it should run out of the box and I have seen more people with the guns in this range have good luck than bad but I just wanted to point out that even with paying for reliability if needed these guns are in my mind a steal especially if you get something like gun show models as I did for 699.00 each. I can do my own reliability work, just pointing out egw's to those that need someone else. I have also never heard of anyone being dissatisfied with egw's work. I am not afiliated with them in any way.
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I do believe that the Caspian frames were phased out before they rerolled out the 1911's as under the Revolution name plate. Ironically, it was the Caspian frames that caused many of the early problems with the GSR's. The story I was told was that the first small run, about 50, were hand fit by Sig's master gunsmiths. These were like gold and perfect in almost every dimension rivaling guns costing thousands more.

I received a GSR from the second batch which was the first run after it was placed in full production. This was when the "cosmetic" items like the leaning hammers started. Very quickly SIG learned that people had a heightened expectation concerning this model and QC quickly tightened up.

However, they were still getting a high rate of warranty returns due to FTF's. In my case the FTF's were repeated and consistent. On it's three trips back they basically rebuilt the pistol, with the exception of the frame, and the gun still jammed consistently. It was not until, with the guns still at SIG, I happened to meet a rep from Caspian.

Through a casual conversation I learned a little about how they produced their frames, when something he said turned on a lightbulb in my head.
Without getting into details, every frame starts out with a 9mm feedramp and is ground down to a 45. SIG had said that Caspian was having some problems keeping up with the production schedule for the GSR's, so great was the demand.

Well I called up customer service, insisted on talking to the gunsmith handling my return. When I got to talk to him I relayed my conversation with the Caspian rep and my suspicion. He was doubtful, but agreed to check the gun and call me back after. Next day he did call back to say indeed it had a 9mm feedramp, not only that but many of the other GSR warranty returns they had in at the time did too. Seems Caspian was sending them out without correcting the feedramp, among a litany of problems. Including one that had only half a rail on it.

From there it ran like a top. Unfortunently the whole incident had poisoned me on that gun, SIG had the gun for 3 months and never thought to check the feed ramp, and I sold it.

Well, I am back with 2 more Revolutions and the moral of the story is, the SIG made frames ain't bad at allllllll, tight without needing a wrench to remove the bushing, dimensionally accurate, and with my favorite checkering recipe 25 LPI front strap, 20 LPI rear. The Caspian I had only had front serrations.
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Welcome Sigmax.

I agree the sig frames are not bad at all. I think the sig 1911 is very underrated because of early problems and sig's inablility to fix them.

I wasn't sure about the caspian frames being produced in the 800-5000 and very interesting about the caspian problems. The parts list though above came from George at egw (one of the makers) and I don't doubt him. I can also look at mine and recognize several parts as being as what he said.
Welcome Sigmax.

I agree the sig frames are not bad at all. I think the sig 1911 is very underrated because of early problems and sig's inablility to fix them.

I wasn't sure about the caspian frames being produced in the 800-5000 and very interesting about the caspian problems. The parts list though above came from George at egw (one of the makers) and I don't doubt him. I can also look at mine and recognize several parts as being as what he said.
Oh I don't doubt the parts list above. Seems that there are other articles written about the GSR that confirm what George posted. I am interested in where the parts are coming from now on the current models. I have a carry model with a GSC025ish serial number and I can tell the bushing is different and a few other items.

The Israel thing is interesting as I have no idea who could be producing parts for SIG over there.
I don't either pard, I haven't a clue.
kudos to George

George of EGW is a great guy!
wow ! great information, history and details

thanks for all of the info, guys

I have a 5 inch 'rail' ser. # 2xxx

and a 5 inch Rev. ser. # 3xxx

the earlier gun had n extractor issue, however, Sig did send me a new one, which also broke its hook....new ones from EGW solved that ...I installed them...although I paid for them....EGW charged one half of the $52 Sig wanted for the same thing !

I also like the S&A arched m.s.h.'s, and have added tungsten guide rods and plugs {from Brownells} to reduce muzzle flip and steady the pistol when firing at the range.

the series 80 stuff went away immediately, replaced by the TJ's Custom prt for $5 -- from TJ or same from Brownells {I made a tool from an old screwdriver, but one may be purchased to remove the funny dimpled screw on the rer of the early slides, put there to hold in the plunger and needed due to the external extractor}

while my supplied Novak mags work fine, I swapped them out out for a reloading press, and use Wolff mgs {made by ACT and use Wolff springs}, nd Mec-Gars ...ll in Ni. plate. I also have about 8 or 10 Wilsons --

my Sig 1911's out shoot my Kimber and my bud's S&W 1911 ...likely due to the build quality nd the Storm Lake bbl {put in the early guns}...I wish I could hold as good as these guns shoot !

one other change I did make is to install Wilson grip safeties as I really dislike the look AND the feel of the Sig part -- I could live with the looks IF it felt good to me, it does not

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Don ace hardware sells the spanner wrench bro, for the manhole cover. Grip safties are a matter of choice bro.
Thanks for the information.

My one XO has a GSR slide, the other XO does not - both stainless. These were purchased 2 months apart. The second one was shipped directly from Sig at the dealers request (He had none in stock).

The non-GSR slide, gave me FTF issues at first. Sent it back to Sig, now no problems at all.

With the original slide, never had one FTF - only issue is DIRTY Green/White box ammo from Remington - my older white box ammo was never anywhere near as dirty.
thanks for all that info helps to understand history of the guns we use and carry
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