(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)
By Christopher Cicchitelli
A few weeks before my wedding, my soon-to-be wife informed me that we had to exchange wedding gifts with each other. Oh, and she had a piece of jewelry already picked out at Mr. Yurman’s store. Since it was required spending on my part, I offered her a compromise deal – she’d get her jewelry if I got an equivalent contribution to a new gun. Just two weeks later, she agreed . . .
Which gun to purchase didn’t take me long to decide. While I have over a dozen in my collection (or is that arsenal, antis?), and a dozen more on my immediate wish list, I decided to go off the list and purchase a pistol I have been enamored with since its announcement. The pistols in my collection have two things in common: they are all either full size Glocks or random carry guns, and they are all plastic save a Walther PPK. Of the bunch, my favorite is the PPK, because of its stainless beauty, exotic wood grips, all metal frame, and single action only trigger. It’s a snappy gun and prone to FTEs, but the overall package is something I find appealing. I wanted more.
Most would think, “Buy a 1911!” And I did. Except the seller on GunBroker apparently got a better offer in store before he shipped it to me, so I waited for the next deal on a stainless Remington R1 Enhanced. That’s when SIG SAUER announced the new X-Series line of pistols.
My biggest complaint about the 1911 platform, while a gorgeous design and great in so many technical respects, is the lack of ammo capacity. I am of the opinion if I’m going to open carry a large frame all metal pistol, I should be getting more than 8 rounds for my trouble. Especially since I am of the belief should the need ever arise to draw my firearm in anger, it’s equally likely to be in response to an active shooter(s) situation as it is to be a mugging or other typical self-defense scenario.
The X-Series from SIG builds on the legendary P226 platform. The P226, of course, is SIG’s signature handgun, carried by military personnel worldwide, most notably by the US Navy SEALs. Where the new X-Series differs from its P226 brethren is it’s a single action only pistol meant for competition, and built to be carried “cocked and locked” if the owner chooses to carry it. That’s no small choice considering this gun clocks in at just under 3.4 lbs. fully loaded thanks to its all-steel frame and 20 round capacity. In fact, the only piece of aluminum on the entire gun is the removable magazine funnel.
What drew me to this pistol, however, wasn’t just its P226 namesake, but also what I personally see as a modern day John Wayne gun. To me, it looks thoroughly futuristic, is visually well-balanced, and stands apart from just about every other pistol I’ve ever laid eyes on. Does the X-Series’ looks and lineage live up to the hype?
The first thing you notice about this pistol is its ergonomics. Everything about this pistol looks and feels perfectly balanced. Looking at it lying on a table all you can think is “wow”. Personally, I think this is the closest thing to a modern day semi-auto version of a Colt Peacemaker if I’ve ever seen one. It’s the coolest looking gun this scribe has ever seen. It’s not just about its looks though. It sits in your hand like it was custom made to fit your palm. The recoil is lighter than any 9mm pistol I have ever fired. When you fire it, the gun does most of the work for you to get you back on target. It’s incredible.
SIG built this gun to be as accurate as possible from the factory. It’s built and priced for competition, so the bar is high. And it doesn’t disappoint. I am a better shooter today than the day I bought this gun, simply because this gun challenges you to be a better shooter. Chances are unless you are Jerry Miculek, or regularly compete in national competitions, this gun is more accurate than you are.
I learned just how accurate this gun was the first day I took it to the range. In the first hundred rounds, while I was still getting accustomed to the extremely light trigger, I had an accidental double fire while I was attempting to stage the trigger for the follow on shot. My first (intentional) round was a bullseye at 7 yards. The unsighted and unintentional double fire a split second later? Not two inches from the first round. I was shocked. This gun is accurate, and keeps itself on target like no pistol I have ever seen.
In over 1750 rounds of shooting to date, I am regularly able to put 3-4 rounds in a single hole at 5-7 yards unsupported (still working on reliably getting that 5th in there too), and my best groupings to date have been five rounds at seven yards inside 0.7” unsupported.
Unfortunately it’s not all sunshine and roses so far. I did experience several failures to eject (FTE) over the course of 1750 rounds of testing. The first occurred around the 550 round mark. Then again at around 1000, 1250, and 1500. At 1500 a gunsmith at the range cleaned the extractor and I have not had another FTE in the 250 rounds since. That said, this was a factory new gun, so I don’t think a dirty extractor was to blame for the early failures.
It is possible it will break in a bit, and I will update this review accordingly as I continue shooting. Brands that had a FTE were factory new Remington UMC, PPU, and American Eagle. I have not cleaned the gun since I bought it, and have had no other reliability issues besides the FTEs. The action has stayed very clean for the number of rounds through it at this point.
You can’t do a review of the X-Five justice until you dedicate at least a paragraph to its trigger. This is hands down the best trigger SIG SAUER has ever produced. I’ve never been a fan of SIG’s DA/SA triggers, and a pure single action trigger was just what I needed to jump into the SIG game. As a competition trigger the pull weight is light, but it is adjustable up to 4.4 lbs. Its reset point can be adjusted to the shooters preference, and the trigger itself can move forward and back 0.4” to accommodate different hand sizes. Light pull, quick reset, fit to hand. Triggers don’t get any better than this!
One last note. This gun gets noticed. Expect people to look at you at the range. Expect them to ask you what you are shooting. Then be sure to let them try out a few rounds so they are eternally jealous of you.
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Barrel Length: 5”
Overall Length: 8.8”
Overall Weight: 54 oz. (loaded), 45.7 oz. (unloaded)
Sights: Front dovetail, rear target adjustable
Frame Material/Finish: Stainless/Stainless
Slide Material/Finish: Stainless/Stainless
MSRP: $2,450 (street price around $2,000)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style: * * * * *
This SIG, for me, possesses the most beautiful design and balance in a pistol I’ve ever laid eyes on. There are many guns that can compete for most beautiful – the 1911, the original P226, the Hi-Power – but this to me is a generation-defining gun. It’s kind of like music when a new band comes along and you think, that’s what the next decade of music is going to sound like. That’s the X-Five Classic.
Accuracy: * * * * *
This gun is more accurate than I am. The adjustable target SIGhts are clean and easy to see, but in order to take real advantage of this gun’s accuracy you would need to mount a red dot or scope (mounting adapter sold separately). I have no doubt this could group as tight as any factory pistol on the market, and likely better than most custom competition pistols.
Reliability: * * *
I really hate to give this gun anything less than five stars in any category, but the reliability is what it is. Four FTEs in 1500 rounds isn’t okay, and if used in competition it would have been costly in time. (Never mind the implications for self-defense if carried.) I’m going to continue working on the reliability and will update this post if needed.
Ergonomics: * * * * *
Yes it is heavy, but that’s a feature, not a bug. Its weight gives this gun a substance you have to shoot to understand. When the slide racks you don’t feel the recoil so much as you feel the click and reset. It’s very satisfying. The grip angle is outstanding, the grip contours fit my hand very well, and the beavertail just feels right. In short this is the most comfortable gun I’ve ever shot. Though I must admit my arms were tired after several hundred rounds per range session.
Shooting: * * * * *
This gun is a pleasure to shoot and will challenge you to be a better shooter. If you’re not tightly grouping with this pistol, there’s something wrong with your mechanics. The recoil is so light any level of shooter would feel comfortable firing the X-Five.
Customization: * * * * *
Being designed primarily as a competition gun, there isn’t anything you cannot customize on this gun. Out of the box, it offers an oversized rail (thanks to the 5” barrel), adjustable and replaceable sights, and a trigger that doesn’t just have an adjustable weight, it also has adjustable pre-travel and can physically move forward and back 0.4” in order to accommodate different finger lengths and hand sizes. The only negative, which in my opinion isn’t worth a loss of stars, is the lack of holsters for the longer barrel length and safety assembly. But if you can afford this gun, you can afford a custom Kydex holster, and DeSantis makes an awesome Mini Slide holster that fits the X-Five with a little break-in (P226R).
Overall: * * * * ½
Once the reliability issue is resolved this is a five star gun in every measure.
This gun takes the best of what SIG is made of and brings it to the future. A great competition gun and a striking carry piece if you can bear the weight of the all-steel frame. As a barbeque gun, very few modern semi-automatics stand above it. This pistol is more accurate than all but the best shooters among us. If you have a reason to purchase this gun, or even no reason at all, do it!