Gun Review: Sig Sauer Traditional 1911 Compact

Phil White
by Phil White

NOTE: This product review was made possible by To get up-to-date information on where to find compact pistols for sale, please visit

When I think of all the brands of firearms available today and which brand has the highest quality throughout the product line I immediately think of Sig Sauer. No matter which criteria you consider, fit, finish, reliability, durability and accuracy there is certainly no other brand that produces more desirable models in my experience. They produce models for casual shooting, military, law enforcement and CCW. It seems there’s a Sig to fit any need.

My experience with Sig pistols began in 1979 with the Browning BDA in 45 acp. Of course it was a Sig but the Browning name meant more to me at that time. The only downside to this model was the magazine release on the heel of the grip rather than the American push button release behind the trigger guard. This was the first Sig I had seen. Heck I never had shot one. I bought it anyway and was glad I did.

I used that pistol for some time until the actual Sig pistols came out with the American magazine release. Most semi autos of the time had reliability problems but not the Sig. It feed and worked with anything I loaded into it. Even the old Lawman “Flying Ashtray” which was notorious for jamming any gun that hadn’t been worked over by a gunsmith who knew what he was doing. I was also carrying Colt 1911’s at the time. I hadn’t yet learned to carry one type of gun rather than changing guns daily depending on my mood.

Skip forward to 2003 with the release of the Sig 1911. After all these years I could have a Sig and a 1911! My relationship with Sig 1911’s has continued to this day. When I learned Sig was making a departure from it’s unique 1911 design and offering a “Traditional” model I requested one for review. There are several of these offered, from the full size match version to the compact. I chose the compact for review. I had to wait a bit to get this one because of it’s increasing popularity.

From years ago until today these are one of the most if not the most reliable pistols you can buy. The Sig 1911’s are no exception.

When I got this pistol home I took a good look at it giving some of the design features some thought. There are a few changes that Sig has made to areas of the pistol that do make it more user friendly. For instance the beavertail has a larger lower pad with a slightly increased angle for a more positive release of the grip safety without using as much grip pressure. The upper part of the beavertail is scalloped out on both sides allowing that part of the thumb to ride in that notch making it easier for the shooter to use a high thumb hold. I’ve always used the high hold, which is resting your thumb on top of the thumb safety while shooting. Even though this model doesn’t come with an ambidextrous thumb safety both sides of the beavertail are rounded out should the new owner want to add an ambidextrous safety. The front of the grip has a very pronounced cutout under the rear of the trigger guard allowing the shooters hand to maintain a firm grip. Of course the checkering helps the most but this cutout helps a great deal and just feels good when manipulating the pistol.

The barrel is slightly over four inches in length and does use a barrel bushing unlike many that use a bushingless barrel with this barrel length. The grip is an officers model rather than a full size. This allows each magazine to hold seven rounds plus one round chambered. When you consider what really makes a pistol concealable this setup makes perfect sense. The grip is the most difficult part to conceal and keep from printing through clothing. The barrel length, up to a point, makes no difference in concealment especially with an IWB holster.

Standard Sig 1911 features are a skeletonized trigger that breaks crisp right at four pounds. The trigger also has an adjustment screw for overtravel. A new trend with thumb safeties is a smaller profile. The Sig uses an example of this having reduced length while maintaining extra width. This works just as well since the first knuckle of the thumb manipulates the safety. Sig also uses the external extractor. They got this extractor right the first time and will remain a standard feature I’m sure.

All models of the Traditional have Novak low profile night sights. The magwell is also beveled for easy magazine insertion. The magazine release button is slightly extended but not enough to be activated by holstering or drawing. All Sig 1911’s use the series 80 safety system as well. I much prefer a series 70 type but Sig did a good job on the trigger in spite of the series 80 safety. There is a way to remove the series 80 parts. However, for legal reasons I would advise against it on a carry pistol.


Item Number 1911TCO-45-SSS
Caliber .45ACP
Action Type SAO
Trigger Pull DA N/A
Trigger Pull SA 4 lbs
Overall Length 7.7 in
Overall Height 4.8 in
Overall Width 1.4 in
Barrel Length 4.2 in
Sight Radius 5.7 in
Weight w/Mag 36.5 oz
Mag Capacity 7 Rounds
Sights Low-profile Night Sights
Grips Custom blackwood grips
Frame Finish Natural Stainless
Slide Finish Natural Stainless
Accessory Rail No
Features Custom Blackwood grips,round top traditional slide, beavertail frame
MSRP $1,099.00

Range Time

I took an assortment of ammunition from Guns For including Remington 230 grain ball, PMC 230 grain ball and two bulk packs of Winchester white box 230 grain ball. I also had on hand 50 rounds of assorted hollowpoints ranging from 185 grain to 230 grains.

I did lube the Sig prior to heading to the range. During this extended range session I did not clean or add additional lube to the pistol. All total 400 rounds were fired. I used Wilson, Sig and McCormick mags. When firing the hollowpoints I mixed the various brands and bullet weights. I used a combination of aimed slow fire as well as rapid fire. There were NO malfunctions of any type throughout the entire shooting session. Overall this pistol was flawless in performance.

I really was a bit surprised that I didn’t have any problems at all. I thought since I mixed the hollowpoints and shot those last when the pistol was very dirty I would have at least one failure but it just ran perfectly.

Accuracy was what I expected with the group pictured below fired from 10 yards. A total of 28 rounds are in this group. I did throw two rounds low which was entirely my fault. The gusting 35 MPH winds didn’t help any however☺


There were no surprises during this review. The perfect performance during the range session was somewhat surprising. As I mentioned I expected to have something go haywire when mixing hollowpoints in a brand new dirty pistol.

Since that session I’ve been to the range a couple of times and fired another 200 rounds, again with no malfunctions whatsoever. I just couldn’t find any fault with this Sig 1911. People can say what they want about it being an antique design but this is one pistol I would take into harms way without hesitation.

Update 11/23/2011

Just for the readers information I took this Sig to the range again today and fired an additional 175 rounds with no malfunctions:-) That brings the total to 575 rounds.

Phil White
Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I'm retired as associate editor since December 14th 2017. My replacement is my friend Pete M email: you can reach Pete for product reviews etc.

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2 of 129 comments
  • Neorebel Neorebel on Jun 07, 2014

    Hey Phil, I have this gun and it runs perfectly with ball, or even the large mouth bass rounds, lol.
    Seriously mine is the aluminum black frame and stainless slide. Nice rosewood grips too.
    I did put a small bumper pad on the magazine. Made by packmyre (sp) it sticks out just enough to give a little more control.
    She's a beauty. I also carry my Fastback with the rosewoods grips. Both very nice and shoot very nicely.

  • Y K Y K on Jul 22, 2014

    I always carry a 5" 1911 [IWB] but I'm wanting to go to a 4" Compact with smaller frame. I've "whittled" my choice between the SIG and the new SA Compact Range Officer. I already have the 5" Range Officer, which is a quite excellent 1911 so the Compact RO should be nice too BUT I like the night sites and stainless steel of the Sig so I'll probably get it.