Firearms

Review: SIG P229 Legion SAO

SIG P229 Legion SAO

Have you ever just seen a gun and thought, “Oh yea, I’ve gotta have that?” That’s exactly how I felt when I first saw that SIG offered a single-action-only variant of the popular P229 pistol. I’ve always had an affinity for the SIG P220 series of firearms. I’ve owned most models at one time or another and landed on the P229 being my favorite. 

P229 History

To get to the history of the P229, we must first look at the original P220 design. Developed in 1975, the P220 .45 was later adapted into the 9mm double-stack P226 and the compact P228. In 1992, the P228 design was beefed up a bit to handle the higher pressures of the new .40 S&W cartridge. The new model was designated the P229.

Later, the P229 would be offered in other calibers, such a 9mm and .357 SIG — in fact, the P229 was the first pistol chambered for the .357 SIG cartridge. The P229 found great success in the hands of military and law enforcement personnel around the world. 

SIG P229 Legion SAO and MK25 P226
Compared to the P226, the compact P229 is better for carry.

Features SAO Legion

The SIG P229 is a compact, Glock 19-sized handgun with a 3.9-inch barrel and 15+1 rounds of 9mm. The Legion is SIG’s top-end model and includes all the bells and whistles. Although the P229 Legion is offered in the traditional DA/SA configuration, I opted to get the single-action-only (SAO) variant. SIG’s single-action pistols are incredibly well done and feature crisp trigger pulls and positive safeties. The SAO pistol incorporates a flat face trigger and an ambidextrous thumb safety — a welcome addition for this lefty. 

The Legion package comes standard with upgraded G10 grips, an abbreviated beavertail, “Legion” gray/green cerakote, and X-Ray night sights. Modern versions also feature an optics cut for mounting a red dot sight. One of the biggest upgrades that the Legion pistol features is the trigger guard undercut. This allows you to get a much higher grip on the firearm, and it makes the pistol feel great in the hand. This will also aid in recoil control and rapid follow-up shots. 

The pistol has front and rear slide serrations for easy slide operation. This is a major benefit of the SIG design. The slide may be big and chunky, but there’s a lot of area to get a good grip for malfunction clearance and charging the pistol. 

SIG P229 Legion SAO
The Legion undercut provides a much better grip on the pistol.

Range Time

If you’re wondering, the pistol shoots like a dream. Single-action 9mm pistols are incredibly fun to shoot because they tend to have great triggers. It was no surprise that the SIG was very accurate and reliable, I have always had a good experience with these classic SIG pistols. I have yet to experience a malfunction 1,000 rounds into ownership of the P229 SAO. Accuracy is no doubt aided by the full-length slide rails. The increased surface contact helps with repeatable lockup with no slop.

The SIG X-Ray sights are perfect defensive sights, the high visibility front dot stands out for a fast sight picture. However, at longer ranges they can be limiting, as they may obscure the target. At 10–20 yards I had no issues, but as you push out farther, you may begin to have problems. 

SIG P229 Legion SAO Slide and Magazine
The X-Ray sights are great defensive sights.

I believe it is natural to compare the P229 SAO to the popular 2011 design. Both utilize a single-action trigger paired with a manual thumb safety. Before the Springfield Prodigy came out, the P229 was $1,000 cheaper than a worthy alternative, such as the Staccato C2 and at least $500 cheaper than comparable high-end options from CZ. Even with the Prodigy in the mix, the SIG is still probably a higher-quality pistol — I like the design better at least. I’m not a huge fan of the polymer grip incorporated in the 2011 design. 

Cleaning/Maintenance

After a day at the range, it’s nice to have a simple disassembly process for cleaning and maintenance. After you ensure the firearm is unloaded and all ammunition is safely put away, lock the slide to the rear and place the magazine to the side. Now, press the takedown lever to the downward position, and you’re ready to release the slide lock and remove the slide from the rails. 

Next, lift out the recoil spring and barrel in standard semi-auto pistol fashion. Place the thumb safety to the “safe” position. This will ensure the hammer doesn’t accidentally drop on the bare frame, as this can cause damage to the firearm. 

SIG P229 Legion SAO Disassembled
Disassembly is quick and easy.

After a quick cleaning and wipedown with some oil, reassembly is just as simple, just in reverse order. Reinsert your barrel and recoil spring, slide the upper back on the frame, lock the slide back, and reposition the takedown lever. After function checking the firearm (dry fire without a magazine), you’re good to go.

Conclusion

SIG’s Legion package gives you a lot of pistol for the money. I believe the upgrades and features are worth the increase in price, especially for the single-action-only models. The P229 SAO is a first-rate defensive pistol that could serve well in both concealed carry and home defense roles. 

What do you think of the SIG P229? What about the SAO Legion? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • SIG P229 Legion SAO Safety
  • SIG P229 Legion SAO
  • SIG P229 Legion SAO
  • SIG P229 Legion SAO and MK25 P226
  • SIG P229 Legion SAO
  • SIG P229 Legion SAO Slide and Magazine
  • SIG P229 Legion SAO Disassembled

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
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 (8)

  1. I have the Legion 226 SAO and love shooting it.
    I had a 229 legion SAO and traded it in on another fine firearm that will remain nameless at this time.
    I also have to admit that one of my local gun stores has a couple of the Legion 229 SAO’s in their display case.
    I’m wrestling with getting another 229 SAO or one of those other nameless firearms. To be honest I am leaning towards the 229. I have no idea why I let it go in the first place. However I do have to admit that I love shooting the nameless firearm. Oh well!!
    I also have a P210 Target, and a P226 X5 which I love shooting all 3. That may change to 4 in the near future.

  2. I purchased my P229 when they first came out. Ser.# AD 10329. I can’t remember it having a Model Name but I love the smooth action and the accuracy along with no problems. It came with Trijicon sights #93 but there is zero light emitted from them ?

  3. Excellent article on P229. I have a P229 platinum elite that is about 10 years old. It is an excellent
    weapon for a range of within 20 yards. I rotate shooting it during the years with my other firearms.
    Weighing all the aspects of the gun, it is hard to beat as a carry gun. I totally agree with the article
    on the cleaning aspect of any Sig P-series. I can clean 3-4 Sigs in the time it takes me to do one 1911.

  4. I’ve trained and carried the legion 229 da/sa for years. Love the Sao as well, but don’t carry it because in my training you shouldn’t carry one with a safety.

  5. I cannot say enough about the Sig P229 Legion SAO! I currently own two, one is a primary duty weapon and the other for the range. From day one I’ve been delighted with the look, finish, operation, feel and extras of the Legion series. I have no trouble acquiring targets at 25 yards with the X-Ray sights. The action is smooth, consistent and flawless. Highly recommend!

  6. Mr. Cole,
    Your write-up on the SIG 229 is excellent on all the points it covers. However, there is one concern that I have had for quite some time in regards to the material used to build the receiver (frame). If you opt to purchase this weapon in the 357 SIG caliber, I truly believe that the alloy or aluminum frame will wear prematurely under the stresses of the higher pressures exerted by the 357 SIG caliber! SIG needs to offer this weapon as an “Elite” model utilizing a full Stainless Steel construction! It would be truly helpful if you could pass this important suggestion on to SIG management.

  7. Other than the obvious, the P229 Legion is identical to the P226 Legion SAO. The latter is the one that caught my attention and became my “I got to have it weapon “. A little size increase in the 226 Legion, can sometimes make it challenging to carry as a CCW. I have noticed a trend however where carrying a pistol the size of a P226 has become a viable option. With so many options in holsters, including a quality shoulder holster, you not only have the improved accuracy, but the 15 +1 capacity doesn’t hurt either. I love the single action only option and can’t understand why it is not more popular. Can’t say enough about the reliability. I experienced an issue after a 1000 rounds or so when doing a function check, where I noticed that when I pulled the trigger with the safety on , there was a noticeable amount of movement on the right side of the safety mechanism. Contacted Sig, within one hour I had an RMA #, and a shipping label. Took to local FedEx where my weapon was next day aired. Had it back in four days total including weekend with a report with details on problem. In my case it was a safety detent , after which they shot with three different grain bullets . Don’t get much better than that!!!

  8. The P229 is a fine pistol and the Legion is a great model series. I have the DA/SA version of the P229 in the Equinox Elite model, which is quite similar to the Legion, and have found it to be a great pistol. I also have the Legion model of the P220 and P938 and really appreciate the extra features the Legion series offer. I am sure the combination of the P229 with the Legion features make one of finest pistols currently available.

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