After 20+ years as a gun writer and a lifetime as a member of the gun culture, it is good to have my passion for something rekindled. Leave it to my offspring to give me a look in the mirror.
My youngest son, Ethan, is a bona-fide gun enthusiast and my constant companion during range visits and hunting expeditions. He has proven a great sounding board when mulling over our next firearm project. Nothing like the honesty of a 12-year old to simplify things….
AR-platform rifles were a natural starting point for Ethan after the .22 LR stage. With no other waypoint, he appreciates ARs for their ergonomics and versatility in terms of configurations and calibers. His first deer was taken with a 7.62x39mm chambered AR. For his generation, the AR truly lives up to its moniker as the Modern Sporting Rifle.
Interestingly, he is more attracted to the 1911 platform over other handgun options residing in our gun safe.
While familiar with polymer-frame high-capacity handguns, including some sporting red dots, if Ethan has his druthers, he chooses the 1911. I believe much of this comes from the fact that even though the .45 ACP 1911 is stouter in recoil, he sees better accuracy with it at the range. It’s hard to argue with success; kudos to Mr. Browning for designing such a natural pointing and intuitive to shoot handgun. I shake my head when I hear the .45 ACP being called intimidating or harsh to use effectively.
It is refreshing to see how two American firearm icons, the 1911 and the AR, can so seamlessly inspire and educate new generations.
Unfortunately, due to the current state of the national media, my son and I often discuss what the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment really mean for us common folk.
The U.S. Constitution is the world’s most important document. It sets the standard for defining citizen/government interaction expectations in a democracy. Americans have fought in foreign wars to defend against threats to our way of life and personal freedoms. But currently, our internal politics seem to be a greater threat than any foreign entity.
The Constitution defines the government’s role as being subservient to the will of the people versus the other way around. American individualism is what sets this country apart, and nothing typifies this more than being responsible for our own personal well-being and defending ourselves from threats, both from individuals wishing to do us harm and from tyrannical organizations—foreign or domestic.
John Browning’s .45 ACP 1911 has come to symbolize Americans’ no-nonsense approach and dogged determination to prevent any rolling back of our hard-earned personal rights. A .45 ACP 1911 handgun practically screams United States of America.
1911 WE THE PEOPLE
The SIG Sauer special-edition 1911 We The People aesthetically exudes rugged American pride in our Constitution. Ethan was immediately drawn to the 1911 We The People on many levels—aesthetics, performance, and what it symbolizes. I’m sure he’s not the only one.
The most distinguishing feature of the 1911 We The People is the “distressed” finish on the steel frame and slide. The motif is completed with 25 raised stars on each grip panel, 13 stars engraved on the top of the slide, and “WE THE PEOPLE” and “1776” on the slide.
The 1911 We The People is a full-size Government model featuring a five-inch barrel. An extended beavertail safety, ambidextrous thumb safeties, skeletonized hammer and trigger, cocking serrations on the rear of the slide, and checkering on the front and back straps are found on the SIG 1911 WTP. SIG decided to utilize an external extractor.
The special edition 1911 WTP uses a plug bushing and spring following Browning’s original design intent. This will warm the hearts of many 1911 purists who deride the use of full-length guide rods as a solution to a problem that does not exist with the 1911. SIGLITE night sights and two seven-round steel magazines complete the package.
The distressed finish and other embellishments create a striking, instantly classic look with the 1911 WTP. My first thought was that this is a weapon you would see on a movie poster promoting an upcoming blockbuster. But the 1911 WTP is no movie prop. It is a fully functioning high-end 1911 able to perform its duties as a personal-defense weapon, as intended by Browning.
The SIG Sauer 1911 We The People inspired Ethan to approach a family friend, who happens to be very skilled in custom painting firearms, about creating a matching themed AR rifle.
The AR rifle was to be DuraCoated with a flag pattern. Ethan and our friend had it all worked out before approaching me with a fait accompli. All I had to do was produce the AR candidate and fund the project—the life of a father who is thrilled he has a son who shares similar interests.
SIG M400 CARBINE
SIG M400 served as base for patriotic-themed paint job. Photo: SIG Sauer
Without hesitation, a SIG M400 was chosen. It was a natural selection considering Ethan had already wormed his way to making it his anyway, and had pending “tweaks” in the works.
It is no secret that the AR is not only the best-selling private-citizen and law-enforcement rifle in the U.S., but is also gaining popularity around the world with the U.S. equipping and training so many allies.
Considering the success of SIG’s piston-driven SIG 516 AR, their decision to introduce the M400 DI AR surprised many. But analyzed subjectively, there is no reason why the two rifle types cannot coexist. Too many individuals, departments, and agencies have their own preference for an AR operating system not to think both SIG AR variants can be dual successes.
All the SIG M400 variants feature a couple of slight differences compared to other ARs. One of these is the ambidextrous magazine release.
Another item is the SIG added protrusion that lines up with the extractor when the bolt is in battery. This button-like addition supports the extractor body when the gun is fired. Only 1/3 of an AR’s extractor is contained within the barrel extension when the bolt is fully in battery, leaving the remaining length retained only by the extractor pin that also acts as a hinge for normal function. The extractor is a common first point of failure when a cartridge case head ruptures due to excessive pressure or lack of sufficient support.
Inside the lower receiver at the rear, a spring-loaded pin serves as a tensioning device, applying pressure between the upper and lower receivers. Tightening the fit between these parts reduces play and can lead to improved accuracy. Unlike some other tensioning devices, this one does not require the use of special tools for disassembly.
The SIG M400 was serving as a test bed for sighting systems for Ethan. It was to receive a free-floated CMMG forend, but as an indulgent father, I decided to allow a Vortex 1-6X Strike Eagle optic, 45-degree offset mount with Vortex Venom red dot, and lastly Crimson Trace MVF-515 grip.
Since the existing front-sight gas block had to be removed, it was perfect timing to go ahead and disassemble the SIG M400 in preparation for stenciling and DuraCoat paint job.
Based on our friend’s advice, we purchased a flag stencil kit and DuraCoat paint from Montactical.
LONG MAY SHE WAVE
The M400 was stripped down and all parts cleaned several times with acetone. This allows the DuraCoat paint to adhere better to the components.
I admit being void of any artistic sense. Ethan and our friend decided to design the colors with blue the focus on the forend, scope mount, new low-profile gas black, and magazine. Red and white were reserved for the upper and lower receivers, pistol grip, and buttstock.
They arrived at judicially applying DuraCoat black in certain areas for artistic effect, lending depth as well as an “antique” look. Steel wool was lightly rubbed over the black to complete it.
Ethan wanted the rifle to appear hard used and worn, similar to a battle flag that had seen several campaigns from the Civil War. Intuitively this appealed to me as well. It seemed apropos of symbolizing the freedoms that we have fought to protect for over two centuries. After all, the SIG M400 and 1911 We The People are the modern-day equivalents of what our forefathers fought with.
A nod to the current political climate was the late decision to stencil “Molon labe” (“Come and take them,” the response by King Leonidas to the Persians when they demanded the Greeks surrender their arms at Thermopylae) on the buttstock. The entire stenciling and paint process took approximately two weekends of work to complete.
For many, there is no debate over choice of a personal-defense handgun or rifle. These discussions start and end with John Browning’s 1911 pistol and the AR rifle. Both are American icons with symbolic meaning.
The SIG Sauer We The People 1911 combines the time-proven .45 ACP cartridge with a carry platform that benefits from nearly a century of refinement. The association between the .45 ACP cartridge and the 1911 platform is seamless. Browning was not only the creator of what many believe is the ideal handgun in the form of the 1911, but also the designer of the .45 ACP cartridge. The AR rifle is perfectly embodied by the SIG M400.
The 1911 and AR continue to attract users with their natural handling, great triggers, and chamberings. The SIG Sauer We The People 1911 and custom-painted SIG M400 take this to another level with unique appearances paying homage to the ideals that still guide America.
SIG SAUER INC.