If a pistol is simply a projectile launcher, then one is about as good as the other. If the pistol is the primary concern, the cartridge is less so. When you combine a great cartridge with an exceptional firearm, you have the SIG P220 Legion.
The SIG P220, from its earliest versions to the Legion of today, is an exceptional firearm. The SIG P220 combined a double-action first-shot trigger and a big bore cartridge. It was adopted by progressive agencies nationwide and was once a favorite of federal agents. As a tough old cop once told me. you don’t need a 1911 to survive.
Load the SIG with Hydra-Shoks and relax. I carried the P220 on duty with confidence, and I carried it on my own time and dime for many years. If you are going to use a double-action first-shot pistol, by all means, use the best.
As for the .45 ACP cartridge, it is my favorite personal defense caliber. The 9mm is a popular cartridge, but when someone states the 9mm Luger is just as good as the .45, I can only wince as I have heard this before. It has been disproven time and again. The combination of superior wound ballistics, low muzzle signature, and modest pressure make the .45 ACP a desirable defense cartridge.
SIG P220 Legion Features
The SIG P220 is first-class .45 ACP pistol with a great deal of history behind it. This is a proven pistol that offers superlative reliability and surprising accuracy. The original P220 was a 9mm and featured a heel clip magazine release. The pistol was later Americanized with a Browning-type magazine release.
The P220 was later chambered in .38 ACP Super and .45 ACP. Over time, the pistol was given improved sights. Night sights were available, and eventually compact and SIG Anti Snag (SAS) versions were introduced. The nicest, and perhaps most formidable of them all, is the SIG P220 Legion in my opinion.
The Legion features Legion Gray PVD finish — a durable and attractive coating. A considerable improvement is an extended grip tang. This is a continuation of what SIG calls the Elite Beavertail. SIG P220 grips have been useful but little else. SIG also improved the grips with a set of well-designed G10 grips. These grips feature a good balance of expansion and adhesion.
The pistol is relieved under the trigger guard to lower the bore axis. SIG’s X-Ray sights are part of the Legion’s upgrades. Another addition to the Legion pistol is 25 line-per-inch frontstrap checkering. While I have done decent shooting with the original SIG trigger, the pistol features a SIG short reset trigger (SRT).
My Legion pistol breaks 11 pounds in double-action, and single-action compression is a sharp 4.25 pounds. Reset is sharp. Unlike the original P220, new models accommodate a combat light.
If there is any drawback with the P220 it is the slide stop design. It is common for shooters to ride the thumb on the slide lock stop during firing. The result is the pistol failing to lock open on the last shot. While all shooters do not do this flub, and it may be addressed by training, SIG has also addressed the issue.
The SIG Legion, and I hope all modern P220 pistols, feature a re-designed slide lock. The hammer decock lever is the same ergonomic design used on other modern SIG pistols. The combination of an upgraded trigger, beavertail, trigger guard undercut, and improved grips add up to a firearm that handles and shoots more accurately than the standard P220. The pistol features a steel slide and aluminum alloy frame, so the pistol isn’t overly heavy, but there is enough weight to dampen recoil.
The manual of arms is simple enough. Lock the slide to the rear, insert a loaded magazine, drop the slide, and decock the hammer. To fire, press the trigger fully to the rear. The pistol fires and the slide recoils and cocks the hammer for single-action fire. A short press of the trigger fires the pistol in single-action.
In general, the double-action trigger is for short-range use, although some shooters excel at long-range fire in the double-action mode. The double-action trigger is for carry and home ready. Single-action fire is for long-range accuracy.
Accuracy and Handling
The double-action first-shot pistol will never be as quick to a first-shot hit as a single-action or safe-action pistol. The handling, however, is preferred by many in day-to-day carry. The pistol may be worn daily, left at home ready, and is ready to action simply by grasping the pistol and firing. I can see the advantages in both duty use and personal defense.
Once I obtained the SIG P220 Legion .45, I was interested in evaluating the handgun. A test gun is evaluated to one standard and the data is valid. A handgun that is on the frontline in my home, or carried on my person, is not only proofed for reliability but also for accuracy. I have a couple of drills that fit my personal situation and concerns.
A drill I call the Hansen Drill is more useful than firing from a benchrest or firing offhand in single shots. (Denny Hansen is a former peace officer, double Kevlar survivor, and once editor of SWAT magazine.) Denny fired 10 shots at 10 yards in rapid-fire to measure a pistol’s combat efficiency. Time is taken to re-affirm the sight picture and control recoil. The SIG P220 .45 put 10 shots in four inches. I was not going slow, but I was not machinegunning the target either.
A caution… Occasionally, a SIG magazine will not accept a long-loaded handload or long-lead SWC. This will show up in test fire. I have fired the pistol for accuracy from a solid bench rest as well. I fired the single smallest five-shot group of my entire shooting life with a SIG P220 .45 ACP and factory Black Hills Ammunition 230-grain JHP some 30 years ago. It was a 15/16-inch group.
I have not managed that with any other .45 including those from Les Baer or Wilson Combat. Then again, I have never duplicated the feat with the SIG either. The pistol has been fired with 230-grain FMJ primarily Federal American Eagle, 230-grain JHP loads, including the Speer Gold Dot and Federal HST, and the Speer 200-grain Gold Dot +P.
FMJ loads averaged 2.0 inches at 25 yards for a five-shot group. The JHP loads will average 1.7 to 2.2 inches. This pistol was originally intended as an anti-terror pistol. One of the roles was hostage rescue. Accuracy potential was stressed. The P220 is among the most accurate service pistols in the world.
I evaluated the new FoxTrot combat light from SIG. This is a compact design, not as bulky as some, but ideal for home defense use. The switch is easily activated, and the light seems rugged. This is an excellent setup that should be kept handy for home defense.
I added a Wright Leather Works inside-the-waistband holster to the P220 kit. The P220 isn’t a small pistol but with proper leather may be carried concealed. The IWB holster allows the pistol to be concealed by the wearer’s trousers and a covering garment. I cinched the deal up with a modern Wright Leather belt. The holster must be kept tight and rigid and only a good gun belt will serve. The Wright Leather Works IWB features a reinforced holstering welt and dual belt loops.
SIG P220 Legion Specs
Manufacturer: SIG Sauer
Type: Double-action first-shot locked-breech self-loader
Caliber: .45 ACP
Magazine capacity: 8 rounds
Overall length: 7.7 inches
Height: 5.5 inches
Width: 1.3 inches
Weight: 31 ounces
Many shooters prefer the safety features and handling of a double-action first-shot pistol over either the single-action 1911 or the striker-fired Glock. The SIG P220 is arguably the smoothest of double-action pistols and among a very few .45 caliber double-action first-shot pistols available.
I have no reservations concerning the SIG P220 Legion. The P220 has always seemed the best SIG pistol, and the P220 Legion the finest P220 yet manufactured.