At stated in our Teaser Post we first learned of Sig Sauer’s new “Elite Performance Ammo” hitting that market about a month ago. Within a few days of contacting Sig, we received several boxes of 9mm fresh from the factory floor. Available in .380 Auto (90gr), 9mm Luger (124 gr), .40 S&W (165 gr), .45 Auto (200 gr), and now .357 Sig (125 gr), this defensive ammo covers nearly everyone’s chambering needs while offering excellent performance. The heart of this round is Sig Sauer’s “Elite Performance V-Crown Bullet”, which offers users several valuable features. The entire round seems optimized for self-defense:
(from Sig’s Site)
- Controlled Expansion
- Structural Integrity and high Weight Retention
- Low Flash propellant (of benefit to our night-vision while shooting in low light)
- …and more
Currently available in stores , and priced from $18.99 – $24.99, Elite Performance ammo is priced competitively while offering “Elite” features.
In a defensive weapon, this is the number one consideration to take into account when choosing a defensive round. A round may be ultra-tacticool, but if it won’t function reliably in your auto, it is close to worthless when preparing for a life or death encounter. During our tests, we are pleased to report that we encountered no stoppages of any kind, which is usually the norm for modern, quality autos, using modern, quality ammunition. The Elite Performance round proved to be reliable at several angles (90 degrees left and right, including upsidedown) and I would be comfortable trusting the round for everyday carry after running 200-300 rounds though any modern handgun in good condition.
Due to time constraints in schedules here at PracticalShootingTips.com, we were not able to procure any ballistic gelatin for the test, but still have several rounds left over from the test for an updated post in the future about the potential lethality of this defense round projected into gelatin. For the time being, I would point readers towards the ballistic tests available online.
Most gun fights commence at short range, though accuracy is still something we need to consider when choosing a duty round. Make and Model of the firearm used will have the greatest affect on accuracy, given the shooter is doing his or her part, but ammo will also differ in accuracy from brand to brand. We decided to forego the 7 yard accuracy test since measuring becomes difficult when the entire group of shots fired land in a single hole. We opted to test the round for accuracy at 25 yards using our standard Glock 17 Gen4, (SEE DATA BELOW):
- 25 yard/3-shot group from block rest
- A total of 13 groups were fired
- Data was available from 12 of the groups fired
- Cold hands pulled shots on 2 of the groups so we only used data on best 10 groups.
- Groups were measured from center-to-center of the two farthest shots apart.
- Average of all 10 groups: 2.5625”
- Average of Top 3 Groups: 1.645”
- Best group: 1.25″
This data speaks well of both Sig Sauer’s Elite Performance round in 9mm, 124 gr, as well as the Glock platform. I have had good luck with this particular Glock during accuracy tests in the past, and feel that this particular load will be accurate in most of the modern handguns on the market today. 1 1/4 inches from a rest at 25 yards is excellent accuracy for a duty round, and I would bet its performance would still be “Elite” at 50 yards during a Police-style Combat Handgun Qualifier course of fire. (a future test maybe??)
I like to include a submersion test when testing ammo for self-defense. Not all rounds are created equal in the sealing department. Some have normal priming, some primers are weather sealed. Some are sealed and end up not being water tight, and some have not been treated with any sealing at all, and end up leak free. The Elite Performance seems to be one of the later. From the look of the round, I could see no red weather proofing, though the round, after being dropped into a full water bottle and left to drown for over one hour, fired reliably from our Glock 17.
I would add that this test is potentially dangerous as, the round could become lodged in the barrel, and another round, if fired, could potentially cause harm to the firearm and/or user. Because of this, only the round being tested was loaded into the magazine and this single round was fired at a clean target (to make sure it exited). The barrel was also inspected afterwards for safety.
Warning! DO NOT TRY AT HOME! (See notes below)
You rarely read about the durability of duty rounds these days, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t always fire the rounds we chamber. This is expecially true for those of us that use firearms off the shooting range; as part of our daily tools. LE, for example, may chamber a round when dressing for work, and unload when coming home from their shift. They may even perform this several times in a day. It is usually recommended to rotate the rounds that experience the chambering/unchambering process so that the round at the top of the magazine is not the one receiving all the punishment. But what if we don’t do this. How many times can a particular round be chambered and unchambered while still maintaining enough material at its rim for reliable extraction? This durability test aimed to see how much the Sig Sauer Elite Performance round could take before becoming unreliable when extracted.
Methodology: Safety first; all firearms are always loaded, and because we were working with actual live ammo, all safety precautions were adhere to doubley. Using our stock Glock 17 Gen4, we loaded its standard capacity mag to its 17 round capacity and inserted it into the firearm. We manually cycled the action until the firearm was empty; ejecting each round into a plastic bucket. We then retreaved each round, reloaded them into the magazine and repeated the entire process…. 100 times… The entire process was spread out into roughly 8 sessions of 15 minute breaks, so as to not fatigue our muscles by doing the same motions for 2 and a half hours. (We have short attention spans so it helped us stay un-borde and interested in the test)
Photos were taken of a random round after 50 cycles. The particular Glock we were using has several thousand rounds through it, so its extractor is relatively smooth, but the marks it made on the rims of the chambered rounds were still visible. After 100 cycles another photo was taken of a ramdom round and these two photos are composited together below:
This 100X cycled round was also photographed next to a brand new round:
One can see that there is an extreme hight difference. The round on the right is the one that had been chambered 100 times and there is an obvious difference in bullet seat depth, which can be expected after the round had been forced into the front of the feeding ramp at the edge of the barrel and into the barrel 100 times, not to mention the force of landing in the bucket (and sometimes missing the bucket ) and landing on the tip of the round 20% of the time. The round was forced to a deeper seat depth, thus increasing the pressure the round would fire at. This increased the danger of a case splitting and causing injury to the shooter, so safety precautions were taken when firing these 17 rounds. I would add that this was expected, and does not reflect poorly on Sig’s ammo. Any makers round would have done the same, had it been subjected to the same test.
Warning! Do NOT try the following at home:
Bullet seat depth, can have a major effect on round pressure. This is especially true for cases with smaller capacity like 9mm and .40 S&W. There is some conflicting info, and some guestimation on the internet, about how much this really effects case pursure, but it is estimated that it is anywhere from “Not at all” to “5-20 Percent” to “It is worse than a double-load of powder”. This is the reason we do NOT advise “testing” the durability of rounds in this manner. We did so on this test simply because we liked the TECHNI-CROM® coating material of the casings and wanted to know if this caused the case to be as tough as Hornady’s T.A.P ammunition. This is not something you want to perform without training and proper safety precautions in place. With that said lets move on.
The results from firing the rounds: No malfunctions, or explosions were experienced. Each and every one of the rounds fired, and none of the cases split, or budged, so we were lucky, and Kudos to Sig Sauer for making a tough cartridge. What this durability test tries to prove is that Sig Sauer’s choice in material usage provides us a durable round we don’t have to worry about becoming less reliable over the loading/unloading cycles performed at the beginning and ends of shifts. We know that, at least with 100 cycles and under, this round is one we can trust to be there for us. We could have actually done half of that; 50 times would have probably been enough to prove the reliability of Sig’s cartridge in extended rechamberings, since it is nearly 12x the number of times using a recycling a chambered round is recommended (4 times maximum), but since this was the first test of its kind run at PracticalShootingTips, I wanted to celebrate by being crazy and running each round for 100 cycles.
What we have here is an premium, accurate defense round, chambered in a reliable, water-tight casing. As with any load, we recommend testing at least 3-4 boxes of it in your particular handgun before trusting it with your life, and the lives of those around you, but we believe that Sig Sauer has made a great entrance into the world of defensive handgun ammunition with the “Elite Performance Ammo” and would feel confident carrying it.