In the Company of SIGs

A gray SIG P250, right facing muzzle on a light gray background.

A few months ago, Joyce and I visited the city of love and the city of lights. Just before we arrived there had been an unfortunate incident in Libya and a call for violence against Americans in Europe. The French president immediately took measures and let his paras do the talking for him. Our trip was very positive—as Paris should be—and nothing came of the threats.

It was interesting, however, to arrive at the airport and see the paratroopers disembarking. I asked one of the paras if they were heading for Kosovo. My son, I explained, was a Captain in the American Army and presently serving in Kosovo. The young man laughed and pointed to a sign overhead. They were headed for Paris. My stay was most wonderful and everyone in Paris made us welcome—in every community. Naturally, I observed the local gendarmes and military. The SIG 2022 was very much in evidence on the hips of motorcycle police. The National Gendarmerie, National Police and French Customs, as well as other agencies, recently took delivery of some 250,000 SIG pistols to arm every peace officer and solider. SIG received a 20-year contract for service and parts only after a grueling 700,000 rounds were fired in testing. The French are looking ahead.

The SIG is Reliable and Effective

In America, when peace officers are issued the SIG they know brass chose the pistol based on merit not low bid. When the Ohio State Patrol experienced problems with its service pistol, a competition was undertaken to choose the most reliable and effective service handgun. While handling and accuracy were also rated, the bottom line was reliability. Some 228,000 rounds were fired—a then unheard of and extensive test program. The SIG P226 was chosen as the duty pistol. The U.S. Army adopted the SIG P228 as the M11 with a 15,000-round test program. This makes any number of tests seem piddling in comparison. The SIG has been called the world’s most reliable handgun. There is much truth to this statement.

The SIG P series was originally developed as a result of the war on terror. German police were confronted by the first wave of terrorism and it was ugly. The Baader Meinhoff gang and Carlos the Jackal’s group relied primarily on gunfire rather than bombs. The German police were armed primarily with the Walther PPK. Most were chambered in the .32 ACP and some units were issued the .380 ACP version. Practically overnight, they realized they had to rearm with serious handguns. Various stopgaps were introduced, including the Walther PP Super in 9 x 18 Ultra. American .38 and .357 Magnum revolvers were obtained, and the military Walther P1 9mm was issued in some cases.

What they wanted was a modern self-loader to meet a new tactical doctrine. This was a doctrine of simplicity. The pistol was to have safety features, but no manual safety. Some units relied upon the long arm primarily and the pistol as a backup. As a backup, it was to be as simple to operate as possible. The result was the SIG Sauer P220. The P220 featured a double-action first shot and a handy decocking lever. Accuracy was foremost as hostage rescue shots might be overtaken.

The P220 is easily one of the most accurate service pistols ever issued. I have carried the SIG P226 9mm and the SIG P220 .45 in service. I have also carried the P228 and P229 in concealed carry. These pistols leave nothing to be desired in terms of reliability and accuracy.

The Innovative Polymer Frame Design

Among the most interesting and innovative SIG products in some time is the P250 polymer frame design. SIG faced the challenge of inventing a polymer frame pistol to compete in the low bid and highly competitive defense and service market. The challenge was to manufacture a double-action only pistol with a polymer frame while retaining SIG’s reliability and accuracy potential. The P250 succeeds admirably.

Do not compare the P250 to the more expensive P220 or other SIG pistols but rather compare it more correctly to the other polymer frame pistols on the market. You will find a pistol that compares well to any handgun. The P250 has the usual angled camming surfaces and butts the barrel hood into the ejection port for lockup. It is a locked breech design. The novelty of the pistol is the modular design. The pistol may be converted from a compact to a sub compact by changing the slide and frame. This could be an advantage, as an example, for summer and winter carry. A more compact pistol is desirable for concealed carry, while the larger pistol is superior for all around shootability. My personal pistols are used with a single frame and slide and I suspect most are deployed in this manner. If you enjoy owning the small, medium and large frames, by all means this is a neat trick. The changes involved are done without tools by removing an axis pin and little else. The SIG features a drop safety or positive firing pin block. SIG pioneered this feature and, in doing so, started a trend. Any maker wishing to engage in institutional bidding had to design a firing pin block into its pistol to be competitive. This has proven to be a good thing. The P250 features a true double-action only trigger. A long trigger press both cocks and drops the hammer. The slide does not partially prep the hammer. The trigger of my P250 9mm test gun breaks at six pounds even while the P250 .45 is slightly heavier. Each is smooth in action with little creep. The trigger isn’t a target trigger but a controllable trigger well suited to personal defense.

The Pretty Girl’s Gun

The P250 features a 17-round magazine and a light rail for hanging accessories. The fit and finish are business-like and well executed. The sights are excellent examples of combat sights and the pistol exhibits modest recoil for the caliber and weight. This pistol is practically an ideal home defense handgun. Simple readiness demands the pistol be made ready for action quickly without any unnecessary movement. The double-action only design allows this. The SIG P250 is one of those happy pistols that fit most hands well. This pistol has proven reliable with a wide range of 9mm ammunition in standard pressure, +P and even +P+ variations as well as lead bullet handloads. The P250 has never failed to feed, chamber fire or eject.

At only 25 ounces, the P250 9mm is light enough for daily carry, yet it is heavy enough to absorb the recoil of the heaviest loadings. The P250 illustrated has been used in a number of ammunition test programs, always with good results. At present, it is an important part of the author’s home defense plan.

The ASYM 9mm SDX

I am currently evaluating the ASYM 9mm SDX load. The Solid Defense X bullet is impressive in performance. At about 1200 fps the loading is very consistent and is more than accurate enough for personal defense. The all copper bullet expands reliably. A generation ago among the few loadings in 9mm caliber with an enviable reputation was the all copper GECO BAT round. The BAT’s primary drawback was Berdan priming and availability. The modern ASYM loading uses a heavier all copper bullet and should be at least as effective. The nose expands in an impressive rose petal fashion in ballistic testing. There are competing thoughts on wound ballistics and many ideas on the ideal defensive loading. The main objective is to place the bullet where it will do the most damage. That being said, the 9mm depends on a properly expanding bullet for defense use. Federal offers the 147 grain Hydra Shock for those who prefer deep penetration and plenty of momentum. Breaking just at 1,000 fps, the 147 grain Hydra Shock expands well and is mild to fire. Accuracy is good and the load offers a burn powder burn. A powerful recommendation is that the French police—all 250,000 officers—will be issued the Speer Gold Dot bullet. If you like the Gold Dot, the Speer 124 grain Gold is a good performer with a proven track record. For short barrel guns the Gold Dot Short Barrel loading ensures expansion even when velocity has fallen off due to the incomplete powder burn in a short barrel.

Fired From a Solid Bench Rest, 25-yards, 5-Shot Groups

Load Group
ASYM 115 grain +P 2.5 inches
Federal 115 grain JHP 9BP 2.65 inches
Federal 147 grain Hydra Shock 2.9 inches
Wolf 124 grain FMJ 4.0 inches
Speer 124 grain Gold Dot 3.2 inches

The SIG P250 9mm is Reliable, Fast Handling, Accurate and Reliable

The SIG P250 9mm is a reliable defensive handgun, fast handling, accurate and reliable. That is all we can ask. An even lighter P250 is the compact. The stainless slide and night sights are especially important for both appearance and function. The compact frame does not incorporate a light rail. This is a concealed carry handgun, not a service pistol, so this matters little. What is important is the caliber. This SIG is chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. The .45’s wound ballistics do not rely on an expanding bullet. Even from this short pistol barrel the .45 ACP, with proper load selection, exhibits a full powder burn and good performance. The short P250 frame is a bit smaller and more difficult to grasp but conceals well. With practice, the draw from concealed carry is fast with this handgun and the short slide comes on target quickly. Recoil is what may be expected from a .45 weighing less than 25 ounces but at no time was the pistol painful to fire. Follow-up shots take more time than with a full-size handgun, but that is the trade off in a compact pistol. For me, this handgun is most often carried in an inside the waistband holster.

Load selection isn’t as critical in a .45 caliber as 9mm—even .45 FMJ has a good reputation in the anti personnel field. For practice any inexpensive load is just fine. For personal defense, you may wish to deploy a credible expanding bullet loading. Among the most interesting loads in .45 ACP is one from Buffalo Bore designed specifically for short barrel .45 ACP handguns. Also designed for low recoil, this load breaks about 900 fps from the SIG. Be certain which load you want when ordering, there is also a 160 gr. Barnes full power loading. The Barnes X bullet is an all-copper hollow point that expands well and retains 100% of its original weight in ballistic testing. This load goes a long way toward retaining big gun performance in a little gun. I like the big load very much in the light SIG.

Another interesting load is the Speer Gold Dot in 230 grain weight. This load is especially designed to give a full powder burn and to upset at the lower velocity inherent in short barrel handguns. At about 780 fps, it is controllable and gives respectable wound ballistics. The SIG was test fired at 15 yards in deference to its short sight radius and light weight. It performed well and it is accurate enough for personal defense at least to 25 yards in the hands of a skilled shooter. The SIG P250 series is a winner on all counts and good enough to bet your life on.

SIG P250  .45 ACP

Accuracy Testing, 15 yards, 5-shot Groups

Load Group
Buffalo Bore 160 grain Barnes Low Recoil 3.0 inches
Fiocchi 230 grain Extrema 3.25 inches
Wolf 230 grain FMJ 3.4 inches
Speer 230 grain Gold Dot Short barrel 2.8 inches

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (2)

  1. I first bought my P239 about 18 years ago for my conceal carry weapon. It’s a 100% reliable firearm and easy to conceal. As my appreciation for my Sig grew I wanted one that held more rounds, I guess for prestige more than necessity. But the P229 is a firearm in a class of it’s own. The additional bulk just makes the gun that much easier to shoot for extended time at the range. The gun is reliable as all Sigs, accurate and flawless. But my P239 is still to this day my primary conceal carry weapon. Ya can’t beat perfect and for me it’s the perfect conceal weapon. But on the open road I always have my P229 because I like the fact it carries seven more rounds. Oh, I think the P229 is easier to load in a stressful situation with the double stack mag. It funnels right in with no issues at all. In a stressful situation that could be a night and day difference.

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