SIG's Fastback Emperor Scorpion Carry Commander

A ‘Dream’ Gun Comes True

David opened a special order for another customer and it was love at first sight when he saw the SIG 1911.

I was helping open packages and check in guns at the gun store. As I picked up one box, I was admittedly a little giddy with anticipation. It was a special order for one of our regular customers who has a discerning eye for nice guns. From the FedEx box I removed a black Sig Sauer case not unlike others I’d seen before. But inside that case was a 1911 unlike any I had ever seen. The packing slip listed it as a 1911 Fastback Emperor Scorpion Carry Commander.

The SIG has an external extractor and series 80 action, but it worked fine and David didn’t mind either.

Stock SIG grips and magazine shows the mag sticks out a tad. David changed to Colt mags.

At the time, I owned a Sig Scorpion Commander in FDE and it was one of my favorites. I’d even done some custom work on it using Wilson Combat parts, but it wasn’t the gun I was now holding in my hands. Gun manufacturers apply the term “Flat Dark Earth” with broad strokes ranging from lighter shades of green to dark brown. This one was more like copper. It was accented with black G-10 grips plus a black skeletonized trigger and hammer, ambidextrous safeties and black SIGLITE night sights. Unlike many of Sig’s 1911s, this one had the traditional rounded top slide with serrations front and rear, just right for a quick press check or to rack the slide. It had what’s commonly called a fastback grip with checkering on both the front and back straps. It had everything I like about a handgun and on my favorite platform — a .45 ACP 1911 Commander.

I knew someone who wanted my existing Scorpion, so I called him, made a deal over the phone and went online to order my own Sig Emperor Scorpion Carry Commander. I keyed the UPC into the search box on my primary supplier’s website and the gun that came up was a 5″ 1911. Not the right gun. I tried another wholesaler and got the same results. That was puzzling. A UPC is supposed to be a unique identifier for a product.

I backtracked the order and learned this gun had come from Lipsey’s. I called my Lipsey’s rep and asked him to check the UPC and tell me what gun he had matching it. He did me one better and got one from the warehouse and called me back. That extra effort got him an immediate sale because he described the Commander-sized pistol I had on my desk. It’s interesting how one badly keyed piece of data can cause a domino effect downline. Sig Sauer has since cleaned up the UPC discrepancy, and the gun that’s the feature of this story is now available under the correct UPC.

SigLite Night sights are adjustable for windage, the external extractor is sturdy and dependable,
the ambidextrous safety is just the right size and snaps on and off with a solid click.

Someday a real scorpion my emerge from under that rock and David’s ready for him with the SIG Scorpion!


Two days later when my gun arrived was the beginning of a love story. This is truly the gun that for me would be the last one to go should I ever be forced to liquidate. The phrase “from my cold, dead fingers” comes to mind. I don’t know which grandkid will eventually inherit this pistol, but I’m betting it will be the one who reads this review and calls “dibs.”

The gun comes with two 8-round magazines and both extend below the grip. I like having nine rounds on board, but I don’t like having an extended magazine. My solution is Colt’s 8-round magazine that doesn’t have an extended pad. I bought a bunch of these a few years ago and have tried them with every 1911 I could put my hands on and they’ve always worked. Lately, I’ve been seeing “out of stock” wherever these were sold online, including Colt, but there’s a Chip McCormick magazine appearing identical to me. My point is, a 1911 magazine doesn’t have to extend below the grip frame to hold eight rounds of .45 ACP. The Colt mags also have a small lip in front that makes snatching the magazine out a piece of cake if that’s ever needed.

My first time to shoot the Emperor happened after conducting the range portion of a License to Carry class I used to teach. With the class over and students gone, I hung a range target and ran it out to 21 feet. I loaded nine rounds of Inceptor ARX ammo and started shooting. I was already infatuated with the pistol, but when the first two rounds went into the same hole, I fell in love.

That could have been a fluke, but when the third round made little difference in the size of the hole, I called over one of my fellow instructors who was sweeping brass nearby and handed him my iPhone. He took a picture of the target with a 3-round hole and again after each shot. At the end of nine rounds you could have covered the resulting hole with a quarter. I loaded up another magazine and fired eight more rounds. Now it would take a 50-cent piece to cover the single hole made by 17 rounds fired freehand. The iPhone photos didn’t turn out very well because of the dim lighting on the range, and I wasn’t smart enough to bring the target in and save it after those first two magazines. But, I have the iPhone picture after 17 rounds and even though it’s a little fuzzy, you can see the size of the hole.

Controls are vintage 1911 and in all the right places.

Nine rounds fired from 15 yards with the heel of David’s hand resting on a sandbag.

25 Yard Proof

When I decided to do a review on the Emperor, I knew I’d have to shoot some targets at 25 yards. Now to be honest with you, I’m pretty skeptical about some of the 25-yard reports I read about, especially the ones where the shooter puts all their rounds inside of two inches while shooting a handgun freehand. With a handgun having open sights the front sight totally covers the center of any regular-sized target at 25 yards. And because it does, you cannot be sure your sight alignment is perfect every time. Even when you use a rest, handguns of any caliber larger than .22 do not sit still when they’re fired. They go up and back, which means they have to be repositioned for the next shot, even if in a rest. Doing it myself made me understand why guys like to brag on their best three even if the other rounds are flyers.

But, you live and learn. With the ARX ammo, the Sig amazed me with four rounds touching at 25 yards. The other one was at least on the paper, although 6" away—obviously my fault. The next best group was with Browning BXP — two rounds almost touching, another about an inch away and the other two were at least visible on the paper. With Speer Gold Dot JHP, I managed to get all five rounds within a 4" circle. With the Sig Sauer ammo, I managed three shots in a vertical line an inch apart. I can’t even find holes for the other two. Let’s just say it wasn’t the gun and it wasn’t the ammo. It was me.

If you haven’t tried them Colt and Chip McCormick both make 8-round magazines fitting flush
in a full-size or Commander 1911. I’ve not found a 1911 yet they didn’t work in. The Colt magazine
has a tab in front for aiding in removal, so an extended magazine isn’t necessary.

Growing Affection

What endears this gun to me other than the fact it’s 100 percent reliable, easy to shoot and it’s the most accurate .45 I’ve ever owned? It not only makes me look good, it’s downright pretty. I’ve already told you about the copper-tan. Sig built the gun with a stainless-steel body and a stainless-steel slide coated with a finish called PVD. Physical vapor deposition is a process used to create a very durable corrosion and tarnish resistant finish. Sig calls the resulting color FDE, but to me it looks like copper. There was nothing wrong with the black grips it came with, but while cruising Amazon for grips for another gun, I saw one made by Cool Hand that was Coyote Tan with a sunburst pattern — perfect to go with my copper-tanned Emperor.

The bobtail really does make carrying a 1911 Commander in an IWB holster easier. The barrel length is 4.2" and the overall length is 7.7". The texture on my replacement grips is different than the original, but either set of grips allows for a good purchase. I have 1911s with a checkered front strap and ones without it. I like those “with” better. The mainspring housing is curved to go with the rounded butt and the grip safety has a pronounced memory bump and an extended beavertail offering good thumb protection. The sights are easy to see in any light, the ambidextrous safety clicks positively both on and off, and the trigger pull averages right at 5.5 pounds. Fully loaded the Emperor weighs 36 oz.

David’s daily carry rig, IWB holster and dual mag carrier are made by D. M. Bullard Leather Company, Cooper, Texas.

Takedown for cleaning is pure 1911, made easier because it doesn’t have a full-length guide rod.

Nice Touches

It’s easy to strip the Emperor down to the basics for cleaning and lubrication. It responds to standard 1911 takedown and reassembly, made easier because it doesn’t have a full-length guide rod. For 1911 shooters who care about such things, the Emperor has a series 80 trigger system and an external extractor. Some of you like these — some of you hate them. To me, it doesn’t make one whit of difference in how the gun handles or shoots.

Sig has the gun that’s the subject of this review in their catalog under this SKU: 1911FTCA-45-ESCPN. The model is also chambered in .357 SIG. The MSRP is $1,234, and I wouldn’t expect it be discounted much. If you want a gun lasting for years, shoots as accurately as you can, carries well and looks good doing it, consider the 1911 Fastback Emperor Scorpion Carry Commander.

For more info:

Subscribe To American Handgunner