In the opinion of many experienced shooters, the 45 Auto is the caliber of choice in self-defensive pistols. However, most of these guns, like the classic 1911 Colt, are big and heavy. Therefore, they often get left behind for a lighter piece, which generally is of lower power. If you still want the power of a 45, why not go to a smaller and lighter gun?
Some of us had come to believe the Colt CCO was the finest 45 available. However, the last version of it, called the Gunsite number O9840CGP, is now discontinued. But fear not, the SIG Sauer 1911 C3 is here, and is an even better, more refined version of the CCO. And it’s cheaper.
Our first impression of the SIG C3 was that someone had stolen the CCO we had on hand, and had copied it in great detail. Only the engraving was missing. Then we noticed some differences, and on inspection these became very significant, entirely in the favor of SIG Sauer. First up were the thin grips. After handling the CCO we grasped the C3 with its grip of slim, fancy-wood panels, and immediately liked it. These make the gun feel smaller and lighter, and about half as thick as the CCO. The slim grip panels were checkered in a pleasing pattern that left smooth wood under the thumb and index finger.
The mainspring housing was checkered steel, not plastic. The frame also had a finely checkered front strap, something lacking—and needed—on the CCO. The well-done handle of the C3 put the Colt in second place, said our test crew. The entire gun had been dehorned, just like all the aftermarket work done to the CCO by its owner. There were no offending sharp edges anywhere. There was an external extractor behind the ejection port. The slide was matte stainless, with a smooth top that lent distinction to the overall look of this pistol. It was our impression the setup of this gun had been influenced by the experiences of real-world shooters, not corporate executives.
The dovetailed front sight of the SIG was not as slanted at its rear as that of the CCO, so we expected it to grab on the front of our Bachman Slide. It did. Ordinary holsters won’t have that problem. The rear sight was a Novak, adjustable by drifting, and locked with a small Allen screw. The sights had green tritium inserts, and the sight picture was excellent.
Takedown was classic 1911. As on the CCO, there was no spring rod at the front, and we had no trouble at all taking this fine handgun apart nor in putting it back together. Fit and finish inside and out were outstanding, superior to that of the Colt and Kahr. To our surprise we found a firing-pin lock in the SIG’s slide.
On the range, the 4.6-pound trigger felt about as good as that of the CCO. Recoil was essentially identical, but accuracy with all loads was superior to that of the CCO. Our best groups were clusters around an inch with Winchester 230-grain ball. We had one failure to feed with Cor-Bon 185-grain ammo, the only failure with this handgun. Accuracy with Cor-Bon in this gun was the worst of any ammo tried. Yet Cor-Bon gave the finest (qualified) accuracy with the Kahr. Obviously any serious handgun needs serious testing with your chosen ammo.