The Military’s Compact Pistol: The Civilian M11A1

In a recent post, we gave you an exclusive look at the military’s compact pistol: the SIG Sauer M11. Now check out the M11A1:

 

Beretta M9 pistol

The M11A1 at bottom compared to the standard issue Beretta M9 pistol.

 

The M11 has now been in service long enough that many of the weapons are due for replacement. In anticipation, SIG Sauer has developed the M11A1, which so far has not garnered any military contracts as it diverges in some details from the military bid specs.

 

In many ways the M11A1 is an upgrade of the military’s M11. The M11A1 has a Nitron-finished stainless steel slide. Atop the slide is engraved the SIG logo. A feature I like a lot is the short-reset trigger, which makes quick repeat shots easier. As with the SIG P226s for the Navy, such as the MK25, internal parts are phosphate coated for durability. While the military M11 has a 13 round capacity, the M11A1 has 15 round capacity with flush-fit mags.

 

Another feature is the SIGLITE night sights, which not only make target acquisition in low light easier, but the rear sight is thick enough and sturdy enough to use against a hard surface to cock the slide or release it during a one-hand reload. A feature which is neat but not especially useful for the civilian buyer is the inclusion on the slide of the MIL-STD UID (Unique Identification Marking) label of the type used on the military M11. For accountable military items, the UID allows them to be scanned into and out of armories or storerooms.

 

The M11A1 has a lanyard mounting point at the bottom rear of the butt, but is very unobtrusive. The one on the Beretta M9 is much more noticeable. Since the M11A1 is designed as a concealment pistol, a protruding lanyard ring is not desirable. A larger lanyard ring can also impede a fast reload if the palm is positioned far back on the magazine.

 

A close-up of the M11A1’s UID code

A close-up of the M11A1’s UID code that lets it be easily scanned in or out of an armory.

 

Given that the M11 is used by naval aviators for whom some argument could be made for attaching a lanyard I’m glad there is an attachment point. Note also that currently the M9s being acquired are of the A1 type, which have an accessory rail. The M11 and M11A1 do not have rails. Should agents issued the M11 have to clear a building, they will use the Harries method or some other technique employing a compact flashlight in conjunction with the weapon.

 

As with the military issue M11, the M11A1 uses the DA/SA action. I use the DAK (Double Action Kellerman) trigger on many of my SIG autos, especially the ones I carry, but I also still have some that are DA/SA, which I shoot enough that I was comfortable with this system. According to factory specs, the DA trigger pull is 10 lbs and the SA pull is 4.4 lbs. That sounds about right, though I didn’t check with a trigger pull gauge—to be honest I haven’t seen my gauge in years.

 

Instead, I rely on shooting the pistol to see if I like the trigger. On the M11A1, the DA pull is heavy enough that any experienced and careful shooter is not likely to fire a round by mistake, and the SA pull is light enough and smooth enough that a head shot can be taken at reasonable range if needed. I can normally place my first DA round and my second SA round fairly close together using a SIG DA/SA pistol, and I found this true with the M11A1.

 

Story & Photos by Leroy Thompson

 

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