The SIG Sauer V-Crown JHP ammo is designed for personal defense, but it is also a serious consideration for duty ammo.
In mid-2014, SIG Sauer introduced its line of centerfire pistol ammo: Elite Performance Ammunition. This premium ammo is available in all the police calibers, most concealed-carry calibers and a few of the most popular hunting calibers. The SIG ammo product line continues to expand and now includes SIG’s original V-Crown hollowpoint loads, FMJ practice ammo, match-grade Open Tip Match rifle ammo and Hunting Solid Copper loads.
SIG Sauer says its V-Crown jacketed hollowpoint ammo is “designed specifically for personal defense.” Our testing confirms that Elite Performance ammo performs very well in the entire FBI gelatin test protocol. That means it should also be seriously considered for police duty use.
For auto pistols, the V-Crown JHP is available in seven calibers: .380 Auto 90-grain JHP; 9mm 115-grain, 124-grain and 147-grain JHP; .357 SIG 125-grain JHP; .38 Super +P 125-grain JHP; .40 S&W 165-grain and 180-grain JHP; 10mm 180-grain JHP; and .45 Auto 185-grain, 200-grain and 230-grain JHP.
Elite Performance ammo is made by Kentucky’s L-Tech Enterprises to SIG Sauer’s specifications. This company has been loading custom ammo for more than 20 years. During the development process of Elite Performance ammo, SIG Sauer Academy instructors fired thousands of rounds of ammo, so it has already been tested in countless officer-involved and off-duty shooting scenarios.
“IN MOST TESTS OF SIG SAUER ELITE PERFORMANCE AMMO, HEAVY CLOTHES HAVE ALMOST NO EFFECT ON EXPANSION OR PENETRATION.”
V-Crown JHP Bullet
The SIG Sauer Elite Performance ammo uses a pre-stressed, lead core, jacketed hollowpoint. During this JHP bullet-making process, a special tool slices the leading edge of the lead core into six sections. Then, the lead core is pressed back together to look like an ordinary JHP. Because the V-Crown JHP bullet has been pre-cut in six areas, during expansion, the lead core simply peels back along the areas where it has been pressed together, thereby expanding to larger diameters with less expansion force.
The V-Crown JHP bullet has two hollowpoint cavities: a shallow, V-shaped main cavity on top of a deep, but narrow, I-shaped cavity. With this “stacked” or dual cavity design, the hollowpoint cavity is less likely to get plugged with heavy clothes, wallboard and plywood. The second cavity walls are thicker and stronger and less likely to be mangled by auto glass and car bodies. A smaller cavity allows for a more-rounded bullet profile for more-reliable feeding.
The V-Crown JHP bullet has a toothed cannelure, or knurled ridge, halfway up the bullet. A cannelure on most bullets is used as a place to roll the case mouth into the bullet to hold the bullet in the case. Not so with the V-Crown JHP: This cannelure is used to lock the jacket to the lead core. The jacket must remain with the
lead core—even after penetrating harsh barriers such as auto glass—for the bullet to expand and penetrate properly.
Locking the jacket to the core increases weight retention in two ways. First, the jacket stays with the bullet core. Second, the jacket limits how much the bullet can expand; it prevents big sections of the pre-stressed bullet from over-expanding and shearing off. The expansion is controlled and uniform, but it also results in a larger recovered diameter than with most JHP designs.
Elite Performance ammo is available in all the traditional auto pistol bullet weights, from lighter (more energy) to medium to heavier (more momentum). Even so, the bullet weights are very mainstream when it comes to reliably cycling a police-oriented auto pistol. We shot 100 rounds of six different Elite Performance calibers and loads from a variety of duty and off-duty pistols. Every cartridge fed, ejected and fully cycled.
The SIG Sauer V-Crown Elite Performance ammo has been awarded “Best Ammo of the Year” by two different organizations and also received the NRA Golden Bullseye Award.
SIG ammo is the real deal.
FBI Gelatin Testing
The SIG Sauer V-Crown ammo has undergone the entire FBI protocol gelatin testing: bare gelatin, heavy clothes, sheetrock, plywood, auto glass and car bodies. That means it is more than just good personal-defense ammo—it is good police-duty ammo. As a double-check, we fired some of the Elite Performance V-Crown ammo into bare gelatin, heavily clothed gelatin and (the harshest test) gelatin after passing through glass.
In bare gelatin, the V-Crown JHPs expanded to more than 150 percent. For example, the .40 S&W 165-grain V-Crown had a recovered diameter of 0.62 inch—a perfect mushroom penetrating 13.5 inches. The .45 Auto 200-grain V-Crown perfectly expanded to 0.74 inch and penetrated 13.0 inches. It was difficult to tell which bullet hit bare gelatin and which one penetrated heavy clothes first. Heavy clothes had almost no effect on expansion or penetration. The same held true for the 9mm 124-grain V-Crown with a 0.60-caliber expanded diameter and 12.5 inches of penetration.
Auto glass, of course, is very hard on all bullets. That said, the beat-up V-Crown JHP did better than most JHP bullets after glass. They expanded a little less but still had 85 percent or better weight-retention. All the V-Crown bullets penetrated a little deeper than bare gelatin or heavy clothes gelatin, but against glass, deeper is better than shallower. Simply put: The V-Crown ammo passed the auto glass test.
With the introduction of some top-drawer pistols, the .380 Auto is seeing a lot more concealed carry. We fired the 90-grain V-Crown JHP into bare gelatin and into heavily clothed gelatin— the two most appropriate tests for concealed-carry ammo.
In bare gelatin, the V-Crown expanded to 0.61 inch and penetrated 9.0 inches. In heavily clothed gelatin, it expanded to 0.54 inch and went in 10.5 inches. Even against heavy clothes, it met the industry goal of 150 percent expansion.
“SIMPLY PUT: THE V-CROWN AMMO PASSED THE AUTO
Practical Accuracy Testing
The .357 SIG is one of my favorite calibers. When I started in law enforcement, the duty gun was a .357 Magnum revolver. It still has the best overall stopping power record of any caliber in actual officer-involved shootings. The .357 SIG 125-grain JHP, at 1,350 fps, is as close as it gets to the .357 Magnum 125-grain JHP, at 1,425 fps.
I have traded in the 4-inch .357 Magnum revolver for a 4-inch .357 SIG pistol. This caliber has the most energy of any common police caliber and the most ability to get inside a car of any common police caliber. With a bit of felt recoil and a definite muzzle blast, the .357 SIG is not for everyone … only those who really miss the .357 Magnum.
Consequently, .357 SIG ammo was used for serious accuracy testing. It was conducted at the nostalgic distance of 50 yards, a range only “police marksmen” shoot anymore. We were not looking for “rapid fire, combat accuracy.” Instead, we wanted to carefully compare the Elite Performance V-Crown JHP to other common JHP ammo.
We did a mix of strong-side barricade and rollover prone, along with 124- or 125-grain JHPs from Remington, Winchester, Federal and Hornady. With 8-inch average groups from 50 yards, the SIG Sauer ammo delivered nine-ring, B-27 silhouette accuracy, putting it in a three-way tie for second place. The Elite Performance ammo was not the most accurate from this particular 4-inch duty pistol, but it was as accurate as the biggest names in the ammo industry.
V-Crown JHP For Revolvers
Auto pistols aside, the revolver is widely used for concealed carry and home-defense and even sees some off-duty use.
With the success of its auto pistol loads, SIG Sauer had many requests for a V-Crown JHP in the revolver calibers. There are lots of S&W Chief’s Specials and M&P Bodyguards, Ruger SP-101s and LCRs, Colt Detective Specials and Charter Arms Undercovers and Bulldogs still in use.
In early 2016, SIG Sauer introduced its new Elite Performance V-Crown JHP duty and FMJ training loads for the classic revolver calibers—.38 Special +P, .357 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Special and .45 Colt.
While these are no longer police-duty calibers, the V-Crown JHPs in the calibers that were in police use passed the FBI gelatin test protocol. As a double-check, we test-fired some of the new .38 Special +P 125-grain V-Crown JHP ammo into bare gelatin and then into heavily clothed gelatin.
In bare gelatin, the V-Crown JHP expanded to 0.58 inch, beating the ammo industry goal of 150 percent, or 0.54 inch. Even from the shorter, 2-inch barrel, the V-Crown expanded to a perfect mushroom that measured 0.53 inch.
In most tests of SIG Sauer Elite Performance ammo, heavy clothes had almost no effect on expansion or penetration. When the .38 Special +P 125-grain V-Crown JHP was fired from a 4-inch barrel, we could not tell which bullet hit bare gelatin and which one penetrated heavy clothes first. The expansion and penetration were virtually identical. The results were not quite as good against heavy clothes from a 2-inch revolver.
Big-Bore .44 Special
The .44 Special is still a favorite among hardcore handgunners. SIG started with the classic 240-grain bullet and then decreased the bullet weight to increase the velocity lost from very short barrels. Frankly, with such low velocities and low chamber pressures, the .44 Special is a challenging caliber, especially for traditional revolver shooters who prefer heavy bullets. The resulting 200-grain JHP is the heaviest of the high-performance ammo that still expands and penetrates in FBI tests like the rest of the Elite Performance ammo.
This 200-grain V-Crown JHP has a noticeably wide and deep hollowpoint cavity. From a 3-inch revolver, we got 0.60-inch recovered diameters and 15.5 inches of penetration. This is just shy of the 150 percent expansion goal but definitely makes the most of what the .44 Special has to offer.
The newest SIG loads are in the 9mm caliber—the caliber that is being adopted more and more by police departments. With the new 124- and 147-grain FMJ loads, SIG now has 9mm FMJ qualifying/practice ammo for each of its 9mm V-Crown police/self-defense loads.
“SIG SAUER ELITE PERFORMANCE AMMO CYCLES FLAWLESSLY IN POLICE-DUTY PISTOLS. IT HAS RELIABLE EXPANSION AND ADEQUATE PENETRATION AGAINST COMMON POLICE OBSTACLES SUCH AS HEAVY CLOTHES AND AUTO GLASS.”
The Bottom Line
SIG Sauer Elite Performance ammo cycles flawlessly in police duty pistols. It has reliable expansion and adequate penetration against common police obstacles such as heavy clothes and auto glass. That means the Elite Performance ammo has the stopping power equal to the best JHPs on the market. It is as accurate as any full-power, police-oriented hollowpoint.
SIG Sauer Elite Performance ammo is worth a hard look for use as both an approved duty load and for any concealed-carry role.
Lieutenant Ed Sanow is the director of training with the Benton County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Department and the co-author of three ammo stopping power books.
Sanow makes ammo recommendations to police departments across the United States.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.