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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.