STORY BY JEFF JOHNSTON
In case you haven’t noticed, Sig is killing it. The New Hampshire-based firm’s got the best-selling carry gun in its P365, its electro-optics are more popular than yoga pants at the airport, and its ARs and subguns are pandemic-era gold—if you can get your hands on one. Mainly, Sig Sauer’s stuff sells because it works.
One reason for Sig’s success is rigorous quality control and product testing, an exhaustive endeavor that requires ammo and lots of it. So it was smart business when in 2013 the firearm juggernaut went all-in on its ammo manufacturing division to the tune of a 70,000-square-foot facility in Jacksonville, Arkansas. They hired top-notch consultants and contracted with a couple of the industry’s best brands to provide the components that it couldn’t immediately produce. For several years Sig has offered excellent handgun ammo, but today they also service legions of carbine shooters with quality 556, .300 Blackout, and more. Then in 2018 Sig began rolling its own brass to exacting standards and now sells these components to handloaders.
But hunting rifle ammo for big-game is a different beast. Of course accuracy matters—because one shot often either means one kill or no kill at all—but making it sub-moa-accurate is only part of the challenge. Once a bullet strikes its target, it must perform flawlessly across a wide array of velocities and varying mediums. Unlike target shooters who don’t spend a moment worrying what their bullet might do after it punches paper, if a hunter chooses the wrong bullet it can cost him or her the opportunity of a lifetime, thousands of dollars in wasted tag fees, and worst of all, it can wound an animal.
Bullet performance boils down to this: The bigger and tougher the game, the tougher the bullet must be made so it will penetrate vitals. For example, you can smoke a coyote with a fragmenting varmint bullet fired at 3200 fps, but if you attempt that same maneuver on an elk with the same projectile it’ll likely blow up on the animal’s hide and only wound it. That’s why savvy hunters demand quality, controlled-expansion bullets that both mushroom to create a large wound channel yet hold together, retaining weight, so its own momentum drives it through anything in its path. Of course, the bullet should be inherently accurate.
For 2021, Sig solidified its commitment to the hunting market by supplementing its big-game hunting ammo with new offerings in its Elite Series line featuring a couple of the best all-around hunting bullets ever made. The line includes: Elite Hunter Tipped, Elite Series Copper, and Elite Series AccuBond. The Elite Series Tipped line comprises nine calibers each featuring lead-core, copper-jacketed, polymer-tipped bullets. Produced for Sig by the famed Sierra Bullet Co. (Sierra’s MatchKing bullet is a longtime favorite of competitive shooters and Marine Corps snipers), the Tipped bullet is designed for deer-sized game and smaller. The cartridge looks slick with its nickel-plated case and black oxide bullet coating, but more importantly, it’s extremely accurate with premium primers, optimized powders, and low-drag bullets. Its polymer point increases its ballistic coefficient (BC) and initiates expansion. Its copper jacket is designed to protect its lead core, but it’s tapered to promote dramatic expansion of its frontal portion without totally fragmenting. Terminally, it exhibits 1.8-times expansion and retains 60 to 70 percent of its weight. A box of 20 retails for $45.99 to $63.99 depending on caliber.
Sig’s Elite Series Copper line consists of 10 calibers all spearheaded by a monolithic bullet it calls Solid Copper. The idea is that with a monolithic, or one-piece, bullet there is no core to separate from a jacket if it encounters heavy bone. As such, the Solid Copper retains 95 percent or more of its weight, allowing it to drive directly through massive shoulder bones or, given a powerful enough caliber, the full length of an animal. But this toughness doesn’t mean the monolithic bullet doesn’t expand. The hollow-point frontal section is skived so it peels back, creating a mushroom of approximately 1.8-times its original size for large wound channels and tissue damage. For large, heavy game such as elk, moose, big hogs, and bears, it’s my bullet of choice because it never fails. Even better, it’s normally very accurate, thanks to its high concentricity and the groove rings on its shank that allows the copper that’s displaced by the rifling somewhere to go, relieving pressure. As a bonus, because Sig’s Copper line is lead-free, it’s California compliant. Boxes of 20 range from $31.95 to $58.95.
If there was ever any doubt of Sig’s commitment to hunters, there should be none now that it began loading one of the best all-around hunting bullets ever made in its Elite Series AccuBond line: The legendary Nosler company is a world-leader in bullet technology. Its AccuBond is lauded for its absolute concentricity for maximum accuracy; its boattail design produces a high-ballistic coefficient; and its precisely tapered jacket produces predictable, controlled expansion across a wide velocity spectrum. But what distinguishes it as a top-notch hunting bullet for deer and slightly larger game is its copper jacket that’s physically bonded—welded—to its lead core to prevent separation. This allows the bullet to expand to roughly twice its original diameter while also penetrating adequately thanks to 70-percent weight retention. Furthermore, its polymer tip is used for four reasons. 1. It drives into the bullet’s hollow point to initiate expansion, even on thin-skinned animals. 2. The tip increases the bullet’s BC which allows it to shoot flatter while retaining more downrange energy. 3. The tip protects the bullet’s point from disfiguration while in the gun’s magazine. 4. Its white tip is readily identifiable and looks badass. Because the AccuBond performs so consistently and also because it’s often sub-MOA-accurate in capable rifles, the bullet has reached cult status among throngs of hardcore hunters and especially those who expect longer shots. The AccuBond is ideal for all deer and sheep, but it’s also been used to great effect on larger game such as elk and bears. For 2021 Sig offers three calibers (6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win., .270 Win.) featuring AccuBond bullets. A box of 20 retails for $52.95.
Sig Sauer is known for top-notch guns for the personal defense, L&E and military sectors. But now it’s making a serious push in the hunting market. So if you think Sig’s killing it now, just wait till huntin’ season opens this fall.