I consider myself a competent shooter. I mop up in local shooting competitions. But as soon as I venture out into national shooting competitions I realize I’m merely mediocre. I can hold my own in the middle of the pack, but the whooshing sound I hear when the big boys fly past me like a freight train can be deafening. Max Michel, Jr. is of those amazing shooters, a professional pistolero who knows his way around a 1911. SIG SAUER reached out to Max and offered him the opportunity to design his dream gun for public consumption. The 1911 MAX is the result . . .

Above all, competition shooters need their guns to run reliably. The standard 1911 platform is interesting mechanically, in terms of how all the parts fit together within the slide (especially the extractor and firing pin). While I appreciate the beauty of the interconnected design it wreaks havoc on the platform’s reliability. To decrease failures SIG swapped the original internal extractor for an external design. It does a better job of isolating the parts, allowing for a beefier extractor — all good things when you’re putting thousands of rounds downrange in a short period of time.

A normal 1911 slide is fashioned into a curvy, rounded shape to reduce the amount of “extra” material moving around. SIG designed their 1911 slides to match the look and feel of their existing handguns (e.g., the P226). The result is a more boxy look, but one that’s strikingly simple and elegant. The downside: the 1911 MAX requires a SIG SAUER-specific 1911 holster, which aren’t widely available.

In another break with tradition — to serve the needs of the competition shooter — the 1911 MAX boasts forward cocking serrations. I don’t use them, but some competitors for admin loading. These serrations look good and work well.


The interaction between a 1911’s trigger, sear, hammer and firing pin is key to producing a great handgun. Getting all the variables correct is essential; if anything’s out of whack it throws off the whole gun. To achieve a competitive edge, the 1911 MAX ditches the standard 1911 trigger for an adjustable flat trigger connected to an EGW sear. The sear trips a Koenig speed hammer and impacts an EGW firing pin. (EGW produces this same configuration in their “Ultimate Trigger Kit“) The interaction is nothing less than perfect.

The 1911 MAX’s exaggerated beavertail grip safety ensures that slide bite is never an issue, while comfortably and evenly distributing recoil across the webbing of your hand. The 1911 MAX’s ambidextrous thumb safety is a welcome addition for right handed shooters who, like me, use both their thumb and the side of their trigger finger to engage the safety. Some 1911 thumb safeties have a tendency to cut into your finger. To ensure comfort, 1911 MAX’s safety is a little more rounded and less sharp than most.


1911’s built for self-defense often feature aggressive checkering. In a world where a dropped handgun means an instant disqualification, the extra control of the 1911 MAX’s aggressively stippled and from and back straps are much appreciated — even though it can feel like you’re holding onto a cheese grater during longer range sessions.

The  traditional single stack 1911’s magazine well is a very small target for a reload. Under the stress of competition it doesn’t get any bigger, and a fumbled magazine change can mean the difference between first place and tenth. The 1911 MAX’s flared mag well increases the odds of smooth, successful changes and decreases the odds of epic embarrassment.


Max’s last major change: top-notch sights. The 1911 MAX’s front sight is a red fiber optic dot. In normal lighting they look as big and bright as a full moon in a clear night sky. The twin dot rear sight is easily adjustable for your personal point of impact. Competition has taught me that the same handgun can perform differently in the hands of different shooters. The 1911 MAX’s site features a set of dovetail mounts so you can swap out Max’s preference in pursuit of your own personal excellence.


I spent a few weeks throwing everything I could find at this gun and I gotta admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the way it handled. With its chunky slide and grippy grip, full power .45ACP loads felt more like 9mm. My usual drill is to set up two targets and transition from one to the other as fast as possible. I try to get the sights aligned on the second target before I can reset the trigger. Aided by the gun’s big red snout-mounted fiber optic dot, the 1911 MAX made this drill easy and instinctive.

About four years ago, SIG SAUER sent me a 1911 Nitron to review. I was severely disappointed with the gun’s reliability. The 1911 MAX may look mostly the same, but its reliability is worlds apart. I removed the 1911 MAX from the box, wiped off the surface oil and started shooting. I didn’t experience a single malfunction in several hundred rounds of ammunition.


The MAX’s trigger is the source of my only complaint. SIG SAUER had to bore a hole into the face of the trigger blade to provide access to the set screw that controls the trigger weight. This is a pretty common practice, but I hate it. My finger sits directly on the small hole when I fire the gun. At the end of a range session I had a nice little dimple on my trigger finger. It’s annoying and slightly painful.


The 1911 MAX’s accuracy is exceptional — as you’d expect from a grand-and-a-half 1911. At my usual 30-foot distance I was punching 1″ groups with ease.

For a straight-out-of-the-box competition 1911 handgun, the 1911 MAX is a sweet setup. Although some may balk at the price, the MAX costs less than more common tricked-out 1911 handguns, and it comes with all the same features. That said, reliability is the 1911 MAX’s unique selling point. If you’re in the market for a competition 1911 handgun that won’t fail to run when you run the gun, the SIG SAUER 1911 MAX is worth the money.

Specifications – SIG SAUER 1911 MAX Pistol:

Capacity: 8+1 Sights: Fiber Optic front, adjustable rear
Slide Material: Stainless Steel Slide Finish: Black Nitride
Grip Frame: Stainless Grip: Hogue chainlink G-10
Barrel Length: 5″ Overall Length: 8.7″
Height: 5.5″ Width: 1.4″
Weight: 41.6 oz. Suggested Retail: $1,529

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
The two-tone look is classic cool, and the SIG SAUER styling is definitely something you don’t see in a common race gun. It looks slick.

Ergonomics * * * *
Pretty good. The only real complaints I have are that the grippy grip is a touch too grippy, and the hole in the trigger for the adjustment screw is annoying.

Reliability * * * * *
I had zero issues with the gun.

Customization: * * * *
For the most part this is a standard 1911, meaning that standard magazines and aftermarket parts fit just fine. Thanks to the SIG SAUER styling, common 1911 holsters won’t hold the gun. Custom makers are on the case.

Accuracy: * * * *
Not too shabby.

Overall: * * * *
You could spend less and not get as much gun for the money. You could spend more and get less reliability. The 1911 MAX is the Goldilocks of entry level competition 1911’s.

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47 Responses to Gun Review: SIG SAUER 1911 MAX

  1. 1200-1300 street price for a ready to run’n gun 1911 is pretty sweet, and competes well with similar offerings from other mfgs. My only gripes would be my irrational distaste for flat front triggers, and a tendency to prefer the more common beveled mag well found on guns with similar purposes like the Kimber Tactical Custom II or some of the other more cross functional Sig 1911s, but for a competition only gun the big ass flared magwell is probably better.

    One question, did you run your reliability test with the factory Sig magazines? I have read other Sig 1911 reviews in the past, and that is pretty much the only failure point for the Sig offerings. If you ran it with no problems with factory mags it sounds like they may have gotten on top of this.

    • If the one pictured is what shipped, looks like a nice ETM Wilson. Have yet to have problems with the standard Sig mags, but after some teething problems with some McCormick 10-rds on my Scorpion, went to Wilsons and never looked back.

      • I exclusively run 8rd Chip McCormick power mag+ in my 1911 (SA loaded). Maybe twice a year Midwayusa puts them on sale for ~20/mag so I stocked up and have been happy.

        I initially bought 2 of the 10rd versions of the same and almost immediately ditched them. First round won’t feed maybe 50% of the time doesn’t matter if it is fmj or jhp and they are so awkward when carrying one in the gun. I don’t even really care for them when shooting as a range mag, yeah it makes it real easy to evenly divide up a box of ammo for training, but it throws the balance of the gun off in my opinion, and it looks dumb.

        So I stick to the 8rd mags and have yet to experience a single failure. I may get some Wilson Combat mags one of these days but see no need to right now.

    • Pretty much everything, except the extractor, is in the right place with the right proportions.

      So are you saying John Moses Browning wasn’t a smart enough man to recognize a descendant of his design?

      (Cue more complaining from traditionalists)

      • The trigger is different. The grips are different. the slide is different. The mag well is different. The thumb safety is different. The sights are different. And those are only some of the things Nick mentioned. He even cautioned that it won’t fit into a regular 1911 holster.

        I don’t worship John Browning, and I think it’s awesome that his design has been improved upon. There are boatloads of .45 semi-auto pistols out there that seem to have as much in common with a 1911 as this gun.

        I think Sig is calling this a 1911 for marketing reasons only.

  2. I suspect the screw in the trigger is overtravel adjustment. I don’t know of a 1911 with adjustable trigger weight.

  3. Hooray! I’ve wanted you guys to review this sucker for a while! An interesting gun that doesn’t get talked about as much. I would have mentioned the series 80 trigger in the interest of full disclosure, but glad to hear it handles well.

  4. Sweet.

    I’ll never afford one…

    That said, I’ll step up to the plate with this pledge:

    If I’m the one thousand, four hundred million dollar winner of the PowerBall, all the regular TTAG commenters will get a new gun from me. (Make and model determined solely by *me*)

    That won’t make a scratch in that 1.4 billion payout.

    (That’s also likely the last you’ll ever hear from me. I won’t be hanging around poor folks no more… *snicker*)

    • Well to be fair, the 1.4 billion is only like $525mm after you take the lump sum and pay Federal taxes. It’s less if you have state income tax where you live. I’ve been told this is still a lot of money, but really have no basis for comparison.

  5. Why not just plug the screw hole? I’ve enjoyed plugging holes for quite some time now.

    Seriously though, this looks sweet. I’d like one of these or a Dan Wesson or STI. Someday. My debit card got hacked again so gun funds will be lacking for a bit.

    • It has been over 3 years since I’ve owned a 1911, and “unfortunately” I just blew a bunch of my 2016 gun budget on a new Dan Wesson Discretion. I actually think the rest of my 2016 budget is going to go to a CZ (557 “Urban Counter Sniper”… their 16” threaded bbl, .308 bolt rifle in a Manners stock).

      Of course, this all changes if I win the PowerBall as planned 😛 . Well, I’m still getting those two guns but the total budget is definitely being modified.

    • Not to get too far off subject, but why would you use a debit card. Use a credit card and pay it off every month and there is no interest. Then if someone commits fraud, its the card companies money, not yours.

      Sorry for the unsolicited advice. But there really is no reason to ever use a debit card.


      • That STI Tactical Doublestack in 9mm was ridiculous. Crazy fast follow up shots. The muzzle just doesn’t move. I felt like I was cheating.

    • This is a competition gun, CDP in IDPA is 45’s only, SS in USPSA they come in 45 and 40. 40 is the new hotness in SS, can run minor for 10 round starts or major for 9 round starts.

      9mm you’re locked into ESP in IDPA, and SS Minor, most folks who are spending that kind of scratch look for competitive edge and it is apparently in Major, not minor power factor (at SS Nats last year top minor finisher was 23 at 85%).

      For a hardcore single stack gamer, 9mm would likely be less popular than 40 or 45.

  6. I’m not nearly good enough to justify the price of this gun, but judging by what I read and what I shot at Robert’s little Firearms Festival, if this thing is as good as Nick claims, the price is a steal.

    • This gun has all the trick parts you put on a gaming single stack already installed, it’s a pretty good value all things considered.

  7. Nick, you said “SIG swapped the original internal extractor for an external design”. What on earth are you talking about? When did Sigs ever have internal extractors?

    Here’s the link. http://madogre.com/?p=6322

    Here’s the text;
    “1911 External Extractors 12/30/2015 MadOgre 4 Comments

    20151229_150235I hear this all the time… usually from Mouth Breathers… “Those SIG and S&W 1911’s are crap because they have external extractors. No gun should have them.”

    Dude – Just shut it. Most modern autopistols all have external extractors. All the guns that are well known for utter reliability have external extractors. John Mosses Browning even put them on the Hi-Power! Glocks. SIG’s. Beretta… very few guns have Internal Extractors and those that do generally are problematic.

    I’ve shot a lot of 1911’s. I’ve got a lot of 1911’s. And what I don’t have or have ever shot – was a 1911 with an external extractor that had a problem that was extractor related. Ever. You don’t hear about Glocks and FNS’s with Extractor problems… do you? No! You really don’t! Sure – maybe somewhere out there in the vastness of the internets, under some dark rock in a dark corner – someone had a Glock Extractor problem. But really, on the whole… such problems are pretty much just non-existant.

    If you think an external extractor is problem – you really just don’t know what you are talking about.”

  8. Pretty sweet. I am a relatively new owner to a Sig 1911 Tacops and I can no longer say that I can’t find a Sig that I like. Truth is, I love the damn Tacops. Smooth, accurate, reliable so far (through about 500 rounds) and fun to shoot, Admittedly, I am a sucker for 1911s, even pseudo ones like the Max. I may to check one of these out on my next trip to Epping.

  9. If it only came as a double stack, this would be one nice limited gun. I’m not even sure you could use this in single stack, and unless you’re rocking limited 10 with a big stick, this wouldn’t even be competitive in limited. No thanks, for that kind of scratch, I’ll just save a few hundred bucks and get the EAA Witness Limited in 45, or if I’m feeling frisky, save a few more hundred and get the Gold Team Elite in 38 Super and run in Open Div.

    • When I first saw the pic, I thought for sure it was a Caspian platform double stack. Especially since Caspian and Ruger (who casts the frames for Caspian) are both right up in New Hampshire with Sig.


      • To be honest, I’m not sure what I was thinking when I said that… maybe I was thinking the mag well would make it a limited gun? I don’t know hahaha I don’t shoot single stack, I have no idea why I said that. My apologies.

  10. Agree with the comment regarding how great the SIG 1911 TACOPS is. It’s the first and only gun that got me away from Polymer pistols. I would like to see them do a review of it.

  11. I own a boat load of 1911s, including GI, Wilson, etc. My favorite of those I own is still my Sig extreme 1911 (basically the scorpion in black.) It has fantastic ergonomics and a good weight that just feels great in the hand.

  12. How about taking a pencil eraser, cutting it to size with a razor blade, and making a little trigger-hole removeable filler plug?

    This seems like a really nice gun for the price.

  13. Sheldon
    March 16, 2016

    I have the Max along with 7 more sig 911’s plus 15 other 1911’s and the sigs are my favorites
    by far of my production guns. for the money they can’t be beat. the max is the only one I have
    with the flat trigger. after shooting it I like it. fast and v accurate, feeds everything I put in it.
    I highly recommend this pistol

    sig uses Caspian slides and maybe frames too

  14. I just ran a USPSA match Saturday with my new MaxM- 198 rounds of 40 no issues.
    I think Sig needs to drop the front sight down- WAY to high- should come with a 180T.

    Love the grips- I wont need to change them out to VZ- like my other 1911s.

    And a one piece guide rod would finish this gun off so nicely just my opinion!-

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