June 22, 2018
By Joel J Hutchcroft
Shooting Times has been reporting on SIG SAUER ammunition for three years, mostly in the context of a lot of new gun reviews and occasionally in the form of a "Quick Shot" or a "New Guns & Gear" announcement or a sidebar that focuses on a specific loading within a full-length feature article on some other topic. But my tour of SIG SAUER's new state-of-the-art ammunition plant that recently opened in Jacksonville, Arkansas, provides us the opportunity of doing a feature article exclusively on the ammunition side of SIG's shooting industry conglomerate.
My first "Quick Shot" on SIG's Elite Performance ammunition appeared in the October 2015 issue, and it highlighted a single loading in each of the following three handgun calibers: .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and .45 ACP. At that time, SIG's ammunition was made in Kentucky. Since then, the company's line of ammunition offerings has grown tremendously and now includes pistol ammunition, revolver ammunition, and rifle ammunition. Most calibers have multiple offerings. During that short time, SIG's manufacturing capability has grown tremendously, too.
The Complete Story
According to the SIG spokesmen who hosted the tour, SIG SAUER entered the ammunition business in 2014 as part of its Complete Systems Provider strategy. International customers want SIG to be a turnkey vendor by providing guns, ammo, optics, and suppressors.
SIG shoots millions of rounds of ammo per year testing its firearms and running the SIG Academy, so producing its own ammo was a logical step. To accomplish that, SIG hired some of the most talented people in the industry and invested heavily in state-of-the-art machinery for the ammunition division. One year ago, SIG SAUER purchased a 70,000 square-foot building on 43 acres in Jacksonville, reconfigured it to their specifications, and began production at the site. Interestingly, since opening the new factory, SIG buys and uses more ballistic gelatin in developing and testing its ammunition than any other company in the United States.
The SIG ammo managers are proud to point out that the quality of its people, the state-of-the-art machinery (some of which was designed in-house), and the proprietary designs result in the exceptional performance and consistency of its ammo. In that respect, the Elite Performance moniker seems appropriate.
One of those proprietary designs is the V-Crown JHP bullet. The bullet is what SIG calls a stacked hollowpoint (basically, a hollowpoint within a hollowpoint). The extra cut produces consistent expansion. It's made with a patented skiving tooling that marks the lead and jacket on top. The bullet's "toothed" cannelure keeps the jacket on the lead bullet as it penetrates glass. Each caliber and V-Crown bullet has its own individual design, but all are designed to produce consistent expansion and maximum terminal energy.
The powders used under the V-Crown bullets are selected to make each load insensitive to temperature change, and the company uses electromechanical monitoring for optimal charge-weight consistency and geometric conformity. Cases for the V-Crown loadings are nickel-plated brass and are coated with Ducta-Bright 7A for superior lubricity, corrosion resistance, and feeding.
The FMJ handgun ammunition features durable copper bullet jackets, brass cases, and clean-burning powders. It is built to produce the same velocity, recoil, and point of impact as the V-Crown JHP defense loads. The goal is to provide more economical FMJ training ammo that shoots like the company's JHP carry ammo.
In the rifle ammo line, SIG loads match-grade Open Tip Match (OTM) bullets, SIG HT hunting bullets, and tipped hollowpoint varmint/predator bullets. The OTMs are actually Sierra MatchKing bullets, and the match ammo uses temperature-stable propellant and premium-quality primers. The all-copper HT bullets provide consistent 1.8 times diameter expansion. And the copper-jacketed, polymer-tipped varmint bullets are light for caliber and are designed for "explosive" expansion.
SIG is especially proud of its .300 Blackout offerings, both subsonic and supersonic. The subsonic load is engineered to allow hunters to put 30 rounds in a 30-round magazine and have the cartridges feed properly. Most subsonic .300 Blackout hunting loads with expanding bullets from other manufacturers only allow 13 rounds in a 30-round magazine for consistent feeding. SIG's subsonic .300 Blackout features a yellow-tipped V-Crown bullet that produces reliable, controlled expansion and maximum weight retention. The loading is ideal for use with a suppressor.
I had several takeaways from my factory tour. SIG's award-winning V-Crown JHP bullet line is extremely accurate and delivers consistent expansion with maximum terminal energy. SIG develops its ammunition in a state-of-the-art research and development lab that buys and uses more ballistic gelatin powder in one year than anyone else in the United States. SIG FMJ target ammo is designed to have the same velocity, recoil, and point of impact as its corresponding V-Crown JHP defense loads, meaning you can train with less-expensive ammo that shoots like your carry ammo. And SIG SAUER is rapidly expanding its line of rifle ammunition.
I've included a chart showing the results I've obtained shooting SIG Elite Performance ammo in pistols, revolvers, and rifles. I've fired examples of .380 ACP, .38 Special, 9mm, .38 Super, .357 Sig, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .300 Blackout ammo. (The company also has .45 Colt, .223 Remington, .22-250, .243 Winchester, .308 Winchester, and .300 Winchester Magnum ammo.) As you can see, all that I've test-fired have been accurate, and their velocity extreme spreads and standard deviations have been very consistent, too.
Back when I first joined the Shooting Times staff some 25+ years ago, one of the first facility tours I went on was at the then-new SIG building in Exeter, New Hampshire. It was state-of-the-art then, and it still is. Some years later, when SIG opened its training Academy, I got to see it as well. Again, it was state-of-the-art, and it still is. So I was not surprised that when SIG developed its new ammo manufacturing plant in Arkansas it too was state-of-the-art. The trend continues.
SIG SAUER truly has become a one-stop shop for semiautomatic pistols and rifles, airguns, suppressors, gear, optics, and ammunition.