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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A while ago I posted a write-up with a lot of my 9mm handguns, including my X5 L1 and my P226 Sport. Link here if you’re interested.

I've been waiting to do a similar write-up with .45s, and fortunately the protracted amount of time stuck at home has given me an opportunity to work up some loads and do so. I happen to have two of the nicest P220s money can buy, as well as two high-end custom 1911s. The designs are functionally similar, and as such I thought I’d do a detailed side-by-side shoot-off. Will the bushing and locking lugs on the 1911 give it better accuracy? Will the longer sight radius of the 6” guns lead to smaller patterns? Will I run out of primers to reload with before I finish my testing? Keep reading to find out.

You will note that a lot of the guns and loads are intended for Bullseye competition. Part of that is due to my background in the sport. But that aside, Bullseye is a very demanding sport that requires a gun built for it to have any shot at winning (pun intended). Typical expectation of a Bullseye gun is 1.5” patterns at 50 yards when shot with a Ransom rest, although my experience is that most shooters aren’t able to obtain that using reloads and a sand-bag. But it does give you an idea of what is required. If you’re looking for maximum accuracy, Bullseye equipment is a good place to start.

The Contenders



(From top to bottom)
P220 Sport SLII: This is the sport version of the P220 that comes equipped with an extended barrel, compensator with sight mounted on it, 3-dot sights, and very nice SA/DA trigger. Incidentally, this was the first high-end handgun I bought, and also the first Sig. So it will always have a special place in my heart.

P220 X-Six L1 (gen1): This is probably the nicest P220 money can buy. It has a very nice single-action trigger, a long sight radius due to the 6” barrel, and very nice target sights

Rock River Bullseye 1911: Despite looking a little weird, this is a typical configuration of a gun build for Bullseye competition. Rock River had an exceptional reputation for building 1911s back in the day, before they stopped making them, and then started again recently. These cost something like $3k new, but I happened to find this one very cheap on Gunbroker, making it the cheapest gun in this comparison

Les Baer Premier II 6”: This gun is a number of years old, but I think it was probably the nicest 1911 LB sold at the time with basically every option possible. It has a 6” barrel, very fine trigger, adjustable night sights (For some reason), and serrations is basically every place I’ve ever seen them on a gun.

The Loads



185gr Zero JHP Reload with 5 & 5.2gr Titegroup: This is a load I’ve been working on for a while. I originally worked it up for the X6 with a 185gr Nosler CC, but I found that the very similar Zero bullet was a little better. The 5.2gr load is a full-power load, so I tested some lighter versions to check if it could be reduced. (Disclaimer: I worked up this load using data from a manual. You should refer to a published manual before duplicating any load you find on the internet. Its not just best practice, its essential!)

185gr SWC Federal Gold Medal Match: For anyone who shoots Bullseye but doesn’t reload, this is the go-to load, and is known for exceptional accuracy. But will it live up to the reputation.

Black Hills 200 gr SWC: Black Hills is well known for making high-end target ammo, and as such, I wanted to include a loading from them. This uses a 200gr SWC, which is a very common bullet for Bulleye competition.

I have experimented with reloading 200gr Semi Wad Cutters and 230gr JHP, but I have found that neither are in the same class as the 185gr Zero bullet. I also purchased some Atlanta Arms Elite 185gr JHP ammo, but likewise, found from testing it wasn’t as accurate as the factory loads I included.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Results

Raw results are below. Each entry is the average of 5-shot groups fired with each gun and ammo. The best and worst averages are indicated in green and red respectively.



The averages for each gun and ammo are below with the best and worst indicated. The results are almost boring with the Rock River taking all accuracy categories, and the Les Baer losing them all. Likewise the 185gr reload with 5.0gr Titegroup took all accuracy categories, and shockingly, the Federal Gold Metal losing them all.



As I mentioned, part of this effort was also to confirm my 185gr JHP target load. I loaded test cartridges with 4.4-5.2gr of titegroup, which from previous testing was the most accurate powder. I loaded enough to shoot all powder charges through 2 guns, which I chose to shoot through the 1911s. I only shot the higher two charges through the P220s. The results are below. All firearms show a clear preference for the 5.0gr load over the 5.2gr load except the X-Six, which preferred the 5.2gr load.



I also recorded the velocity of the shots through the 1911s. I was curious to see if the extra inch of barrel lead to higher velocities, and indeed it did, although the effect was only about 10-15fps.



1911 vs. P220

These results were interesting. Both P220s performed similarly with the Sport performing a little better. That itself is a bit of a surprise since the X6 seems to have the better build, and is better equipped for target shooting with a better trigger and sights. I also think on paper having a set of sights on the slide is better than a rear sight on the slide and a front sight attached to a weight that is attached to the compensator. But all of those factors didn’t translate into better performance. Neither is any slouch on the range. The 1911s were a mixed bag, however. The Rock River had stellar performance all around, and I can now say it is my most accurate handgun. The Les Baer was just disappointing. This Les Baer came from the factory guaranteed to shoot 1.5” groups at 50 yards, but in practice I haven’t seen it. Again, on paper it should be a very accurate gun, but it shot groups similar to a basic 1911. It is possible that the difference is due to not using a Ransom rest, however I think something else is going on. I may send it back to LB and see what they say about it.

My results on the whole show me that neither design really has much of an advantage over the other. On average the two designs performed about the same. The two P220s performed in between the Rock River and Les Baer. Absent the Les Baer I might have been tempted to give the nod to the 1911. However, the P220 Sport performed surprisingly well with the 5.0gr load, scoring an average just 1/8” larger than the Rock River. So in practice I think a gun could be built with either design and perform about the same. The 1/8” difference is a small enough difference that it could probably be made up by the lack of an optical sight on the Sport. I would like to test that, but putting sights on the Rock River would be complicated, and I’m not removing the sight on the Sport to mount an optic. Maybe someone here could lend me their Sport II scope mount to test that theory. I’ve been looking for one for years to no avail. From previous experience, however, I have found that the benefit of an optical sight in my hands is small, almost negligible. That lead me to remove the Vortex Venom I had mounted on my X6 in order to improve its handling characteristics. That recoil spring is stiff!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Overall I feel like I answered my primary question, and I also discovered a few other things along the way. I’m a bit surprised and tickled that as with the 9mm testing, I was able to come up with a reload that outperformed the expensive high-end ammo. The performance of the Federal in particular was not up to the $1/round price tag. The Black Hills load was better, but not by much. It was also interesting to quantify the difference the extra 1” of 1911 barrel. It’s measureable, but not significant. By contrast I was amazed by how much difference the 0.2 grains of powder made. I’ve seen that before with lead and plated bullets where I presume some velocity threshold is hit such that the bullet no longer keeps its form correctly, but this was the first time seeing such a distinct difference with an FMJ. The only gun that performed better with the 5.2gr load was the X6, which I guess shouldn’t surprise me since that was the load I originally worked up for it.

Thanks for reading!
 

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Thanks for all of the work and an interesting report! Did you slug any of these barrels and the 9mm barrels in your previous test, to determine barrel size compared to your bullet sizes? Not being critical at all, just curious. And, by the way, a beautiful collection of ultra fine pistols.
 
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Great report on some of my fav pistols!! Here's my very un-scientific comparison from handheld 15yd targets. Don't remember the ammo, but probably Lawman or Amer Eagle 124s. I call 'em - Peas & carrots!!




Cgheers
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all of the work and an interesting report! Did you slug any of these barrels and the 9mm barrels in your previous test, to determine barrel size compared to your bullet sizes? Not being critical at all, just curious. And, by the way, a beautiful collection of ultra fine pistols.
No, but if I had the equipment you'd bet I would!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Great report on some of my fav pistols!! Here's my very un-scientific comparison from handheld 15yd targets. Don't remember the ammo, but probably Lawman or Amer Eagle 124s. I call 'em - Peas & carrots!!




Cgheers
Interesting. I've been wating to try out one of the American SuperTarget Sigs. Might need to buy one and try it out. That seems to be the only way I get this kind of data.
 

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Excellent!
 

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Great thread with lots of interesting information.
Thanks.
 
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