The Ultra is SIG's entry into the small 3 inch barreled 1911 market. For many, many years of my life the conventional wisdom said that making a 1911 shorter than a 4.25 inch barrel was sheer folly. Conventional wisdom told us that the short slide would recoil and return too quickly rendering the pistol completely unreliable. Conventional wisdom surmised that the recoil would be too intense, and conventional wisdom determined that the short barrel would lose a tremendous amount of velocity because the powder in .45 ACP cartridges required 5 inches of barrel to burn completely. The great thing about the market place is that demand drives innovation and the shooting public wanted their beloved 1911 in a smaller size. Where the conventional wisdom saw roadblocks talented gunsmiths saw challenges in need of solutions.
As more and more states began granting concealed weapon permits the public wanted smaller pistols to be chambered in larger calibers and one by one the talented gunsmiths began to overcome the challenges that the conventional wisdom felt were neither possible nor practical.
The solution to the reliability problem also assisted with the recoil issue. In order to get the pistol to function the gunsmiths experimented with heavier recoil springs so that the recoil and return of the slide was timed properly. The eventually led to the development of full length guide rods paired with double and triple recoil spring systems. They made the dis-assembly of the pistol a little more difficult but the pistols worked. The stout spring systems also impeded the intense recoil that the shooter would normally experience. Now, don't get me wrong, these little blasters are still a handful to shoot but they can be managed and many are capable of accuracy levels that exceeds most shooters expectations. The last conundrum was solved by the ammo companies who began producing powers that burned quicker and mitigated some of the velocity loss with the 3 inch barrel.
So, let's talk about SIG. From the moment I fired my first SIG 1911 I immediately realized that SIG put their heart and sole into their new line-up. Some quick research showed me that the SIG 1911's were produced with parts representing a Who's Who of premium 1911 gunsmiths. I'm not going to resubmit the list mentioned in an earlier SIG 1911 review as I do not know that the suppliers are still current but it was impressive.
SIG produces two 1911's which I feel are near perfect carry pistols in the C3 and the RCS. The grip length on those pistols and the Ultra is the same but the C3 and the RCS have 4.2 inch barrels whereas the Ultra has shaved almost an inches off the barrel length sitting at 3.3 inches.
One of the marvels in the SIG 1911 is their design and engineering. Yes they are 1911 pistols but they have a flair all their own. The shape of the slide is very attractive and on the Ultra is it set off by the squared profile and the tasteful and useful beveling at the front of the slide. This both removes a little weight and make holstering the pistol just a tad easier.
As can be seen in the above three photos, the Ultra sports very good looking double diamond checkered rosewood grips that also have the SIG SAUER name/logo cut into them.
The ultra comes with low profile SIG night sights that are dovetailed into the slide. The rear sight also contains a set screw helping to hold it in place.
The inclusion of the set screw in the rear sight might lead you to believe that the rear sight is drift adjustable for horizontal corrections. It is but trust me, leave that to a qualified gun smith. Chances of you being able to adjust the sight with your mallet and brass punch are slim. The good news is that it will be very difficult to knock them out of alignment.
The finish between the black hard Anodized frame and the matte stainless slide are a perfect match. The frame includes a beavertail to protect the web of your hand from hammer bite. The front strap is checkered and the grip safety includes a flared extension to ensure the proper engagement once you take hold of the grip. The trigger pull averaged 5.1 pounds on my scale.
In terms of the rest of the specifications the pistol is 6.8 inches in length, 4.8 inches in height, 1.4 inches wide, weighs 28 ounces, and the magazine hold 7 rounds.
Unlike other small pistols no special tools were required to remove the guide rod/recoil system.
One of the great engineering feats of this pistol was the smooth and tight fit between the slide, barrel, link and guide rod/recoil system. Note the flat rather than coiled recoil spring.
I was especially taken with the fit of the barrel link into the base of the guide rod. This was the first 1911 where the the link lined up perfectly with the slide stop pin each time I reassembled the pistol.
With most pistols I have a tendency to shoot a little low and to the left.
This trend continued with the Ultra as can be seen in target above and below. Both were shot at 21 feet using Magtech 230 grain full metal jacket ammunition. The top target took the first 12 rounds fired through the pistol and the bottom target took 20 rounds.
The target below was shot with 25 rounds of the same ammo and at the same distance. A little adjustment of my trigger finger moved the group a little closer to center.
During my test period with the Ultra I was in the midst of a .45 ACP defensive load drought. I did have a nice supply of Remington Ultimate Home Defense 230 grain Bonded Jacketed Hollowpoint ammo and the 21 foot target below shows 12 rounds fired with six of them landing in the 10 ring.
I must say that the recoil on the SIG Ultra seemed stouter than the three inch barreled Kimber pistols which I have owned in the past.
All in all the Ultra is one of the more attractive micro 1911's on the market. If you are not stymied by the Single Action Only operating system of a 1911 pistol the Ultra has a lot going for it. It is small, it has night sights, and it groups well. It holds 7 + 1 rounds of mighty .45 ACP ammo and if you need more a spare magazine rides easily in your pocket.