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188 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I am an admitted fish out of water here. What I know about Sig 1911s is that they look like a 1911 and you shoot them.

I am in the process of helping a newbie friend, on a very skimpy budget, find his first 1911. I have noticed that the prices on the Sigs are very attractive. I've been reading up on them, but can't really find what I want to know.

First question is, are there any MIM parts in these things? How's the overall metalurgy? Sig states that they use match grade bbls, bushings and trigger components. To me, this means forged. What's the case?

I don't really mind buying (or recommending in this case) a $600 gun with the expectation of a little tweaking, but I want the components to be worth tweaking.

Jerry, I know you're a Sig guru and quite a fan. I'm hoping you can shed some light on them for me, and ultimately, my friend. I need to get this right, as I will undoubtedly be the smith for what ever he gets. :thinking:

Thanks in advance.

Premium Member
5,072 Posts
Ping, I will tell you what I know. The ones I have are in the 5000 range of serial numbers and this was in the stage where there were all kinds of good companies making the parts. They had egw, ed brown, wilson, greider, real novak night sights, caspian gripsafety, steel msh, etc. They are no min with forged slide and frame. They are both very tight and well fit. They originally had the "prothole" series 80 access in the slide, which mine have, and that's a caspian design so I believe probeably all of those are caspian. Move forward.

The New ones sig makes the slide and frame which are forged. I really don't know who is making all of the parts for them now, I do not own a newer one, but I do know they are still no mim. To me looking at the pic's the slide stop still looks like a greider and the grip safety a caspian but it's hard to tell other parts.

I picked mine up as shot show new in the box guns for 699. each with the full lifetime warranty. I think they are a great deal for the combination of quality parts and fit and finish. I notice buds also has new xo's for 599. I think for prices like that even if it were to be sent to egw for a 100.00 reliability package they would still be worth it. I know you would be doing the tweaking, as I do mine, but just tossing that in. I'm not trying to pick on the taurus, but it's going for close to the 600. mark in most places and I think the sig has better parts and better fitted. That's not saying the taurus is a bad gun.

So I absolutely believe the sig is a very well made gun and worth tweaking if necessary. The very earliest caspian frames were out of spec from caspian and that hurt them, I would stay away from the very earliest serial numbers. A little later on the extractors from egw were off and that hurt them. Both of these hurt their 1911 image pretty bad. The extractor part is an easy fix and sig will replace them, or egw has "beefy" ones now. Neither of those should be worried about but I say again I have not seen a newer one, vic bought a ttt though and said the fit and finish is still real good.

Bud's xo's at what I consider a great price:


Again I base MOST of my info on mine and they are in the serial range where George at EGW says they and a list of (all star) parts manufacturers made the parts for them. That's something like the 500-8000 range according to him. Based on what I have though I believe, with the exceptions of the off spec frames and off extractors, they make a fine gun. Their image was tarnished by those things.

188 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Great info, Jerry, and I thank you. People are telling me that Sig is still touting the guns as non MIM, but I cannot find a hard reference for this. It seems to me, based on what youre saying, that perhaps we should keep our eyes peeled for a gun in the 500 to 8000 range and not worry about having a tweak issue. As you said, Geo is a good option and he's about 2hrs from me.

Thanks again!

Premium Member
5,072 Posts
Ping, here is a post I made on that very subject from another thread regarding the sigs in that range:


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.

Premium Member
5,072 Posts
Here is a post that mentions the mim, it's an article from gun week:


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.

11 Posts
SIGARMS began producing the slides, frames, and barrels for the GSR's themselves concurrent with the introduction to the "Revolution" designation (also known as the Generation 2 GSR) (versus the previous "Rail" designation) guns. There were anecdotal (albeit well documented by some pretty authoritative sources, such as Bruce Gray) issues with the Generation 1 GSR's-primarily with the Caspian-produced receivers, although ther were other reoccurring issues such as leaning hammers, drifting extractor pins, improperly secured "manhole" port covers, and too-tightly fitted rear sights (to a point where metal galling resulted).

Essentially, SIGARMS belatedly realized that merely acquiring high-reputation 1911 parts from the cottage industry wasn't sufficient in and of itself to make a superior 1911, regardless as to how good their basic design was-skilled assembly and hand-fitting was required, particularly since the norm in the cottage industry was to make 1911 parts slightly oversized to allow end users (or their gunsmiths) to carefully configure the parts to their specific individual guns. Given a tightly-spec'ed factory gun from the onset, and relatively small dedicated workforce=you have the ingredients for a perfect storm.

SIG recognized this-the Generation 2 guns were made with more of their components (particularly the key parts, such as the slide, receiver, and barrel) in-house, by a larger, well-trained dedicated GSR workforce crew. Reputedly, the early 2nd Generation guns had their barrels made by SIG-Sauer in Germany, before the Exeter plant came on line with them. As has already been cited, there have been numerous vendor adjustments made. I have heard that some GSR parts are Israeli-made, but I haven't had confirmation of this from a reliable source that I trust. I do know from a very knowledgeable and reliable source that the only MIM component in current GSR's is the disconnector. The grip safety is cast. XO's have Falcon Industry's excellent Ergo Extreme grips, versus the simple checkered Herrett's on the original Gen 1 guns, and the more asthetically pleasing renditions in rosewood and/or black laminate on the current GSR's.

Current magazines are 8 round Check-Mates, with a removable floorplate. Original magazine were ACT/Novak's-a good design unfortunately compromised by a somewhat fragile polymer floorplate and a preponderance for feed-lip cracking due to over-hardening.

Although I don't doubt the capabilities of George Greider, Bruce Gray, or Matt McLearn himself to fine-tune/correct a GSR, I've personally been extremely impressed with SIG-Sauer's internal capabilities in this regard. GSR's normally will require a 300-500 round break-in period, to allow parts to "meld" together. At that point, if issues remain, call SIG-they'll normally send you a pre-paid shipping label and a RMA (Return Merchanside Authorization) number. Their turn-around time is very fast, in my experience. That's for corrective work-for truly custom work, I'd unhesitatingly trust any of the above-named individuals.

I personally continue to view the GSR's, particularly the 5" varients, as one of the most outstanding 1911-pattern pistol values available. Reportedly, Bud's has exhausted their special order inventory of the $599 GSR's, so I'd go the XO route. While there are many good ones out there, I'd recommend avoiding the first generation Caspian-framed guns-they're just a bit too much of a crapshoot, in my opinion. A new XO should provide you and/or your friend with an excellent, exceptionally accurate, rugged and reliable 1911, in a platform subject to future customization as desired by need and experience.

Best, Jon

Premium Member
5,072 Posts
Sig must have gotten their act together pertaining to service as the biggest problem I saw was that they were unable to fix any problems that were returned to them. They would have them returned multiple times until they finally refunded the money for the purchase. For this reason I would *NOT* put them in the same category with the others you named.

The 5000 serial number guns I have are loaded with a lot of excellent name brand parts that the new ones do not have and as I have stated before I consider the about 800-7000+ serial numbers to be superior, for example mine have wilson thumb safeties and some of the new ones look like bul thumb safeties which makes me lean toward the israeli parts rumor.

The first frames were indeed a crap shoot, but I believe they got that part worked out under 1000 and the next several thousand are a sweet spot. I would not trade my 2 5000 serials for new ones for anything and I will continue to recommend them over the new ones although I think the new ones are decent guns.

Yes, the revolution is the generation 2 guns, mine are revolutions in the 5000's, but they made further changes (big ones) in who supplied parts in the gen 2's. EGW supplied parts in the early gen 2's, but that changed along with other big name parts and these revolutions are NOT the same guns that the early revolutions were. I could not even buy the name brand parts used and build a gun for what these cost me, which is probably one reason they quit building them that way. They do look like they still use the caspian grip safety.

The Dan Wessons are built with quality parts but I consider the "sweet" range of sig 1911's to be even better, I don't consider the new sigs to be quite up to the DW's but then the dw's now cost quite a bit more so there's that. If sig was still using the same parts they would probably be more expensive.

Oh, and I have found NO mim in the "sweet spot" revo's, I would not bet on the new ones though.

3 Posts
I emailed Sig a few weeks ago and received an email from them that said "NO MIM" parts in their 1911 pistols (I do not have the email any more). I like the stainless compact (stainless slide & frame). It has an officer grip and 4.25 inch barrel. One version of this pistol has a black coating, but is still stainless under it. I wonder how durable that dark finish is? I am considering the compact.

Premium Member
5,072 Posts
It's actually not bad compared to bluing and some of the lesser finishes. You can always bead blast it off to the stainless in the future.
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