By: Dr Jim and Mary Clary
As most folks know, John Browning invented the M1911pistol. His design of a single-action, semi-automatic, recoil-operated pistol impacted the design of other pistols for more than a hundred years. Over the past few years, a lot of air gun companies have attempted to make "look-a-likes" of Browning's pistol to capitalize on his reputation. They were all simply toys for kids. Fun to shoot, but with no real relationship to the real McCoy.
It was not until Max Michel, Jr., captain of the Sig Sauer shooting team, helped SIG create the 1911 Max Michel BB Pistol that a true clone was developed. Max gets a lot of credit for the design and flawless function of this training weapon. It is as close a replica to an actual 1911 pistol as is possible, except that it is powered by a 12 gram CO2 cartridge and fires steel BBs (under no circumstances should you use anything else).
A lot of folks do not know that Max is the only shooter in history to hold six World Speed Shooting championships (2005, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014, and 2015). AND, he is the current International Practical Shooting Confederation World Champion (IPSC). Suffice it to say, he knows his guns and how to shoot them. If that isn't enough to convince you of his abilities, he also served in the US Army for ten years as a shooter and trainer.
A salient feature of Max's gun is the blow back of the metal slide. For lack of a better explanation, we will simply say that it is so positive and strong that it mimics our Ruger Mk IV .22 rimfire.
Given the incredible number of 1911 clone pistols on the market, it would be impossible to match the weight and function of each one. Suffice it to say that this air gun is a reasonable and satisfactory clone of John Browning's 1911, from its weight and handling to the trigger pull. It is more than adequate as a training weapon for law enforcement and military personnel. It will also be an excellent tool in firearm training classes with kids prior to introducing them to the "real things".
The factory specifications indicate the velocity is up to 410 fps. We never achieved that, but given all of the factors that can affect a CO2 cylinder such as temperature and elevation above sea level... one should not expect the same value "across the board". Our velocities varied from 350 fps to 390 fps; however, that did not impact the accuracy of our gun. We consistently hit the small silhouettes of the SIG Quad Spinner targets at 15 yards. For more information on SIG Quad targets refer to the review by Dr. Dennis Johnson on AmmoLand. When shooting BB guns, the shooter and everyone in the vicinity should wear safety goggles.
Note: SIG does not recommend using their Quad targets with steel BBs because of the potential for ricochet. SIG quad targets are designed for use with .177 & .22 pellets (lead only) and low ricochet lead BBs (Lead Only).
We did our testing under very carefully controlled conditions to illustrate the accuracy of the pistol and DO NOT recommend that you try doing the same.
Specifications of the SIG Sauer Max Michel 1911:
Overall Height: 5.75 in. to top of rear sight to base of the magazine
Overall Width: Slide 0.88 in. - Grip 1.25 in.
Full metal slide and frame
Barrel Length: 5.0 in. - smooth bore
Weight: 2.06 lb.
Functioning grip safety
Blowback action - strong (similar to a .22 rimfire auto)
Fire Mode: Semi-automatic
Trigger: Single Action
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 8 oz.
Sights: White dot front and rear (adjustable) sights
Under barrel Picatinny Accessory Rail
Country of Origin: Japan
There is one drawback to this gun: It literally "eats" CO2 cylinders, with an average of only 40-45 shots per cylinder. That is undoubtedly due to the extra energy required to
blowback the metal slide. If you are going to make a training gun to simulate the real thing, you need it to be as realistic as possible. As such, we don't consider the consumption of cylinders any more than a minor irritant, especially since they are so cheap at big box stores (~$6/15).
And, speaking of changing the cylinders.... Read the instruction manual carefully and follow them.... otherwise, when you load a new CO2 cylinder, you will lose gas. After the cylinder is placed in the grip, DO NOT squeeze the housing slowly (as one might expect) ... squeeze it like you were squeezing an exercise ball... with a single / positive compression. Again, read the instruction manual carefully.
Since we are addressing how to load the CO2 cylinders, it is appropriate to list some of the precautions for safe use and handling of CO2 cylinders. (from the Sig Instruction Manual)
"It is possible that certain conditions may affect a CO2 cylinder, which can impact proper performance. These conditions include the usage, maintenance and storage at temperatures that are higher or lower than 59oF/15oC to 69oF/21oC. Rapid firing of the CO2 air gun can affect the performance of the cylinder as well."
1. "High temperatures can increase pressure in the CO2 cylinder and also within the gun, leading to higher than standard operating pressure. This excess pressure could cause the gun to malfunction or be permanently damaged."
2. "Fast consecutive shooting may produce a decrease in temperature in the gun, as well as the CO2 cylinder. This could result in lower projectile velocities and may even lower gas pressure enough so that the pistol will not fire." (we have personally never experienced this)
3. "During rapid fire, the muzzle velocity will diminish. This can affect shooting accuracy and you will get fewer shots per CO2 cylinder." (just don't try and shoot it like a full automatic weapon and it will work just fine).
4. "Care should be exercised to ensure that the gun is not shot with a CO2 cylinder that is low in pressure. Here are some indicators of insufficient pressure:
A. The sound of the shot is not as loud as when the cylinder is full
B. Reduced pellet velocity, signed by the pellet hitting the target, but in a lower position than with a full CO2 cylinder."
A final note: When you shoot this gun with the magazine in, it will cycle with the blowback and when the magazine is empty, the slide will lock back. However, if you dry fire the weapon for practice (with a CO2 cartridge in place and the magazine out), the slide will blowback; but, not lock back, even though the gun is empty. Therefore, when finished with your practice session, you must carefully let the hammer down (as you would with an actual 1911).
The Max Michel pistol is a great training tool (as well as a fun plinking pistol). We decided to get a second one so that we each have one.