By: Dr Jim and Mary Clary
We tested the entire spectrum of the Sig Sauer Elite Performance pistol ammunition in 2016 and found it to be very accurate and effective. The consistency of all loads was impressive in that we never experienced a "flyer". That is not to say that it is not possible, but we didn't have a single flyer or misfire.
In the early part of 2017, Sig began to introduce their Elite Performance rifle ammunition. We reload our own ammunition for both hunting and competition shooting; however, as good as the Sig pistol ammo was, we could not resist contacting Shannon Jackson (Sig PR contact) and asking her to send us some of their new rounds.
For readers that are not aware, Sig Sauer loads all of their own ammunition. They do not outsource or license their ammunition, as many other companies do. Their new facility in Jacksonville, Arkansas is state-of-the-art. With 70,000 square-feet, there is more than enough room for expansion, as the market demands. Part of this facility is an expanded ballistics testing laboratory with Sig R&D personnel on site.
The first ammunition to arrive was their .223 Remington. That included the 40 grain predator-tip ammo with polished brass cases and the 60 grain HT loads for hunting with nickel plated cases.
Before we go further, it is perhaps useful to discuss the pros and cons of brass cases vs. nickel plated cases.
Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper and has several benefits as a cartridge case. First and foremost, it is inexpensive. It is soft enough to facilitate complete expansion in the firearm's chamber without splitting. It will not scratch the metal components of your gun or spark with other metals... AND, it is capable of being reloaded multiple times (4 - 8 depending on the caliber).
Nickel plated cases load easier into a magazine and the rifle's chamber due to their lower coefficient of friction. They are very corrosion resistant when compared to conventional brass cases. However, there is a downside to nickel cases for the reloader. The cases are more brittle and the necks are prone to split after one or more reloads. Nickel cases are harder to resize and after several reloads the plating will begin to flake and scratch the interior of your reloading dies. If that wasn't bad enough, when a nickel case becomes stuck in your reloading die, you might as well throw the die away. It couldn't be any tighter if you welded it in place.
Where does that leave us? If you are a reloader, stick with brass cased ammo for reloads and if you do not reload, it doesn't matter.... unless you plan to venture into very harsh and unforgiving environments and then nickel plated cases are the way to go. That is probably why Sig loaded their .300 Win Mag HT hunting ammunition with nickel plated cases. Afterall, you don't take a .300 Win Mag for squirrel hunting on the "back forty".
Sig also offers their HT hunting loads in 120 gr. 300 BLK and 150 gr. 308 Win.
Below are the specs and results that we obtained in our tests. We did our shooting at 100 yards off the Caldwell Tack Driver bag. We fired multiple three - four shot groups for record. Group size was measured center-to-center.
Note: Because we don't own any AR platform rifles and our Ruger Mini 14s are not noted for their accuracy, we chose the new Henry Steel Frame Single Shot HO15 rifle for our tests. In prior tests,this little rifle produced accuracy results rarely found in factory guns. Truth be known, target shooters would be well advised to check out this little rifle.
.223 Remington (Henry Steel Frame HO15 Rifle)
Mean average group size 1/2 in.
Mean average group size 5/8 in.
For a comparison, we also shot our own 55 grain reloads. The following targets illustrate the accuracy of the Sig Sauer .223 predator and HT loads.
The Elite Performance rounds are very accurate. Our groups were consistent and very symmetrical, not ragged or strung out. After firing 200 rounds, we did not experience a single flier. This does not guarantee that you might not get one, but we did not.
This ammunition is also the cleanest we have ever used. There was substantially less fouling in the barrel of our test rifle, even when compared to our own reloads. We are not sure what powders SIG is using, but they are very clean burning. We wouldn't mind getting some of this stuff for our reloads. In the meantime, we will continue to shoot Sig Elite Performance ammunition.