Firearms

SIG Sauer P229 Legion: A Cut Above

SIG P229 Legion 9mm handgun, left, profile

The SIG Sauer Legion P229 is a class act. When SIG first introduced the Legion line of handguns with the goal of uniting serious users and giving special recognition, the P229 was the second gun offered. I picked up one as soon as I could, and it is one of my most treasured guns.

The SIG P229 weighs 34.4 ounces. It is 7.4 inches long, 5.4 inches high, and features a 3.7-inch barrel. The width is 1.5 inches. The P229 has an alloy frame and a stainless-steel slide, both with a Legion Gray finish. The barrel is made of carbon steel.

SIG P229 Legion 9mm handgun on two paper bullseye targets
Any range trip can be fun with the P229. These are typical offhand targets at 7 yards.

SIG P229 Legion Features

The P229 Legion differs from the standard model with a smaller, contoured beavertail, which allows for a higher grip and a reduced profile. This also makes concealment a bit easier. Aggressive front strap checkering and additional checkering under the trigger guard enhance the grip. An undercut has been applied to the trigger guard contributing to a higher grip and greater control. Front cocking serrations provide greater purchase for cycling the action, clearing the firearm, and conducting press checks.

My gun is a 9mm Double-Action/Single-Action (DA/SA) model which has low profile de-cocking and slide catch levers to reduce the risk of snagging. An enhanced polished action with the SRT (Short Reset Trigger) is augmented with a Grayguns, Inc., designed P-SAIT (Precision Adjustable Intermediate Trigger). The P229 can be chambered in .22 LR, 9mm, .40 S&W, or .357 SIG. Changing between .40 S&W and .357 SIG is as simple as switching out the barrel; both calibers use the same magazine.

There is also a Single Action Only (SAO) version. A slide and barrel change allows the P229 to fire .22 LR ammunition. I’m fortunate to have one of the .22 conversion kits for my SIG that we’ll also look at in this review.

Legion membership entitles you to a complimentary premium zippered pistol case for your Legion firearm, plus a challenge coin matched to your gun. When you call to receive your free case and coin, you will be automatically registered as a Legion member providing you exclusive access to gear and merchandise.

SIG’s P226 has been a favorite over the years and two variants, the P228 and P229, continue the features of the P226 in smaller packages. The P226 is a heavy gun. SIG developed the P228 with a shorter barrel and slide, smaller beavertail, and made it out of lighter-weight material. It’s carried by Navy fighter pilots and various other operational military groups around the world. As used by the military, the P228 is designated as the M11 and is only available in 9mm because of its lighter weight.

SIG P228 top and SIG P229 bottom
Introduced in 1992, the P229 was originally introduced to supplement, and then replace, the P228/M11 (TOP) by adding the .357 SIG and .40 S&W chamberings.

P229 History

Introduced in 1992, the P229 was originally introduced to supplement and then replace the P228 by adding the .357 SIG and .40 S&W chamberings. The P226 and P228 were originally manufactured using a stamped-steel slide on an aluminum alloy frame. The P229 has a CNC-milled, stainless-steel slide, typically colored black with a Nitron finish. It was introduced to handle the higher slide velocities created by the .357 SIG and .40 S&W loads.

The stamped slide of the P228 would not be able to handle these calibers without the use of a much stiffer recoil spring which would have made manual slide retraction much more difficult. Consequently, the use of a milled stainless slide, coupled with the new milling and stainless production capabilities found in the U.S. factory, made more sense — especially since it can use a standard weight recoil spring.

I picked up a Legion P226 in October 2015. I loved that P226, but all my heroes were carrying P229s, and I really wanted a gun with a shorter barrel for concealed carry. In March 2016, I picked up a 9mm Legion P229. While waiting for the P229 Legion to become available, an M11-A1 came across my path. This is the civilian version of the M11. It is enhanced from the military version by way of an FDE finish and G10 grips. The M11-A1 will do anything the P229 will do, but it’s not available as a Legion pistol.

SIG P229 Legion in case with two spare magazines and challenge coins
Purchasers who register their Legion pistol with SIG get a foam pistol case, Legion P229 coin, and access to other goodies available only to Legion members.

The main reason I wanted a P229 was because I saw it in the hands and holsters of so many agencies I respect — the U.S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Federal Air Marshalls, Secret Police, and NCIS — to name just a few. The Legion edition was all it took to make me act upon my desire to add a P229 to my collection.

The P229 is a favorite among my shooting buddies, and I’m always asked to bring it along for any group range sessions. Everything about it just exudes quality. The weight is substantial and balanced. The sights, feature two small Trijicon dots in the back and a larger green dot with a Trijicon insert in the front. They just seem to fall in line right on the target.

Slide view of the barrel and recoil spring in the SIG P229 9mm handgun
The single-strand recoil spring is designed to make the slide easy to rack while still providing consistent operation.

The 5-pound trigger squeeze makes it easy to keep those sights on target until you get the shot off. The short reset makes the trigger ready to go in short order. Unless you pull or jerk the gun for some reason, the bullet hole is going to be where had the sights and muzzle pointed. That’s why my buddies and I like to shoot the gun. It makes us all look good.

Maintenance

Cleaning the P229 is done by locking the slide back, dropping the magazine, and checking the chamber to make sure it’s unloaded. Next, on the left side of the frame, rotate the takedown lever 90 degrees clockwise. After that, press down on the slide lock/release and move the slide forward and off the frame.

The recoil rod has a single large coil wire spring you can easily compress to remove the solid steel recoil rod. Lift out the barrel, and you’ve got your pistol ready to clean. Run a correct caliber cleaning brush soaked in gun oil or solvent through the barrel pushing from the chamber end.

Next, push some soft cotton patches through the barrel to clean the bore. Remove dirt from the guides of the frame, inside and outside of the slide, and the recoil spring with a light brush or cloth. Lubricate the same places with a rag lightly soaked with gun oil, and then reassemble the gun.

Range Time

When I knew this report was coming up, I took the P229 to the range while I was on another mission. I shot it some, but I didn’t have the .22 package with me. I made another trip in which I compared the P229 with the M11A1. After shooting several rounds of 9mm, I switched out the slide and barrel combo to shoot .22 LR setup.

SIG .22LR Conversion kit for the SIG P229 Legion 9mm handgun
Purchased separately, the .22 caliber slide and barrel assembly turn the P229 into an economical, easy shooting practice gun.

.22 LR Conversion

The swap was as easy as locking back the slide, removing the magazine, and confirming the gun was empty. Next, I rotated the take-down lever and removed the slide/barrel assembly. Afterward, I slid the .22 slide and barrel assembly onto the frame and rotated the take-down lever to the original position. Doing it took the same length of time as it just took you to read those steps. It’s really easy.

The .22 magazine holds 10 rounds. The instructions recommend, but don’t require high-velocity ammunition. I took a box each of Winchester Super X and Remington Golden bullet. With both brands, the first round did not eject after being fired. Cycling the slide ejected the round and the next nine rounds fired without any type of failure. The instructions say the slide won’t lock back after the last round. I found that to be true. Since it’s documented, it’s not a failure, right?

I could shoot the .22 version all day. It’s really fun. The 9mm version is also a joy to shoot unless you’re trying to be a perfectionist. Those sights are so visible, line up so nicely, and hold their place during trigger press so well, that I expect to see every bullet go in the same hole. They don’t.

SIG P229 Legion pistol topped with a SIG .22LR slide and bow on Winchester Super X ammunition atop a yellow bullseye target
While not exactly a tack driver, the P229 with its .22 conversion kit is capable of decent performance. This is a 7-yard target and those three holes that look bigger, more like 9mm holes, are two .22 holes.

Some of it’s the shooter’s fault, some of it’s the ammo’s fault, and the gun might be responsible for just a slight movement off dead center, but not much. At 7 yards on a Law Enforcement BE-6 target, my 10-round groups were just short of spectacular. The .22 groupings were not as good, but they were nothing to complain about.

Conclusion: P229 Legion

Should you get one? 100% of the reviewers on SIG’s website gave it a 5-star review and say, “Yes.” I certainly say, “Yes.” True, there are lower-cost versions of the P229 that don’t have the Legion treatment. There are versions with other enhanced treatments such as the Equinox Elite Compact P229. Any one of the SIG P229s would be a quality firearm that you would be proud to own.

It’s hard not to like a SIG, but the Legion series sets the bar just that much higher and provides an experience to the value of ownership. Are you a SIG fan? Are you a Legion member? Share your SIG story in the comment section.

  • Loading a .22LR magazine for the SIG P229 Legion 9mm pistol
  • Trigger Guard on the SIG P229 pistol
  • quartering view of the SIG P229 sight picture
  • SIG P229 Legion in case with two spare magazines and challenge coins
  • SIG P229 Legion 9mm handgun, left, profile
  • SIG P228 top and SIG P229 bottom
  • SIG P229 Legion pistol topped with a SIG .22LR slide and bow on Winchester Super X ammunition atop a yellow bullseye target
  • SIG .22LR Conversion kit for the SIG P229 Legion 9mm handgun
  • SIG P229 Legion 9mm handgun on two paper bullseye targets
  • Field Stripped SIG P229 Legion 9mm pistol
  • Slide view of the barrel and recoil spring in the SIG P229 9mm handgun

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
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 (21)

  1. I’ve been thinking about getting a P229 Legion (used). Are all of the P229 Legion’s supplied with the SRT trigger and the X ray night sights regardless of how old they are or are just the newer production P229 Legion’s supplied with the SRT trigger and the X ray night sights?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  2. IDK how anyone who’s carried a 1911 can like anything about SIG. Big, bulky, bore a mile above the hand, DA trigger, WAY overpriced, and who needs an accessory rail on a concealment pistol. I’ll put my S&W M&P up against any Sig, anytime. BTW, what is up with the fanboy for the ABC agencies using Sig? Do y’all know why that is? Cause they’re not allowed to have a 1911. The Sig is a dumb down, the same reason the IDF carries an empty chamber. What’s wrong with buyng American? I got out of the USMC when they (DOD) went with Barreta. What a shame.

  3. I’ve owned and carry a sig legion 229 in 9mm for years now, I’ve put around 20,000 rounds down range with this gun so many I’ve replaced all the springs in it after breaking the recoil spring. And your right the way its designed it makes you shoot like a movie star on the range. I have two now for backup incase one falls while waiting for parts.

  4. Have had my P226 Navy for several years now. It is heads above my favorite of all the other 9mm pistols I own. It shoots so smooth, and it has more accuracy potential than I can muster up. Love it, love it, love it !!!

  5. If you like the Legion series, more power to ya. Almost every aspect of this Legion can be done with aftermarket parts that are better (with a lower cost) and this is just my opinion. After having shot both I can’t help but feel the Legion series is just a marketing ploy from Sig.

    Normal P229 (for me) with the following is far better:
    1. Gray guns flat adjustable trigger is SOOO much better than the Legion trigger.
    2. Sig Sauer SRT kit
    3. Night Fision’s sights are WAY brighter than the X-ray sights from Sig for the same cost. (also if you like them, XS sights Big Dot is also much brighter than the Legion series). I don’t know why considering the price of a Legion those X-ray sights are so frickin dim.
    4. I personally like the Sig Sauer E2 grip kit, but you can get the micarta grips from other sources for much less than the price included in the “Legion” series. This part is really more about your personal comfort. I do like the piranha pattern micarta’s (it just looks damn cool and again can be sourced elsewhere cheaper than a Legion purchase) but the E2 is just a better quick grab and draw option for me personally.
    5. There are many distributors of barrels for this gun in .40/.357sig/9mm that are just as good and some far than the Legion series barrel.
    6. The shorter beaver tail is of no consequence having shot both. Means nothing to me. Maybe to others.

    I’m sure those who have dropped the coin on the Legion are going to jump on me, but I can’t help but see the Legion series as a marketing tactic with no real benefit compared to upgrading a standard P229 and you end up with a better firearm with less cost.

  6. After the NRA held the annual meeting in Phoenix in 2009, there were four things that still stand out in my memory. Picking up a Colt Army six-shooter replica, cocking it, and saying to myself “THAT’S what a six-shooter should sound like”; speed shooting against my son and beating him at 0.3 seconds (first time shooting for speed – I scared myself!); getting Tom Knapp’s autograph at the Benelli booth; and picking up a P226 Elite Stainless with a laser grip and falling in love! Years later I had saved enough to buy a P229 Legion RXP Compact with Romeo1 for EDC. It’s a great pistol!

  7. I mentioned I was planning to buy a 1911 and wanted to try some out while visiting an indoor range. The gentleman there said, “OK, but before you fire the 1911s, try this Sig P220 Combat”. While the accolades for 1911’s are many, I went with the Sig and love it. The fit, feel and accuracy are superb.

  8. I have several Sig Sauer hand guns. I carry my Sig P 229 enhanced elite 40 S&W. This was a military over stock back in 2014. Was made in Germany. This is my warmer weather carry. Winter time I carry my Sig P 226 9mm enhanced elite. All Sig’s are amazing shooters. I have other Spring field XDMS, Walters FNX 9 ND 45. Kimbers and Taurus. Sig I my go to carry.

  9. For work, I’ve carried the 226, the 220 and now the 229. Sigs always fit me. When the pistol is your hand it feels like a natural extension of you. Great craftsmanship.

    The bad part of owning a sig is their parts are priced too high. You can never afford to buy any of their advertised improvements for the weapon. For me, I need the improved slide for my legion 229. I need the slide (if you can find one in stock) that has the cut out for the Romeo sight. The cost for this slide is nearly the same price as buying the pistol again. Ridiculous.

  10. I’ve said this for decades. Glock set the plastic bar and Sig mastered it by making them nicer.
    I’ve owned many Sigs and still own two in my Arsenal. The 238 and 938 are still with me. I bought my son a new 320 X but I think I shoot it more than he does. Sigs exude quality and accuracy. I was shocked at my groupings at twenty yards, yes twenty yards, with both the 938&238. They are tiny pocket pistols. Micro 911’s some callem. The groups were sub 1.6” /1.7” respectively with either or.
    Fantastic shooting dynamics and we run speed drills from unloaded to two in the chest and one in the head. Clocking 2.4 seconds on a bad day. Sigs follow up easily and will send rounds as fast as you can squeeze the trigger.
    I’ve found some other brands like Ruger for example that I can shoot faster than the gun would allow. The abysmal Ruger security 9. I’m told the American is better but not yet shot one.
    You can’t go wrong with Sig.

  11. Like the author’s story, I started with a P226 Legion .40 DA/SA but found it too big for practical conceal carry…but does it shoot like a dream? It’s the Sig triggers and sights that have led to 12 in my collection. But the day I found a P220 Legion .40 DA/SA…OMG. Not only as accurate as the P226 and as sweetly resetting of that trigger…but it disappears inside the waistband in a Blackpoint Tactical holster…and I don’t know how it does it because it’s wider than the P226 Legion of the same caliber. Yet it does…and when drawn it feels like it’s molded to my hand in an instant. The P320 AXG grip actually comes close to the same feel. The P229 Legion is my favorite Sig.

  12. Glad to see NCIS ,Homeland Security and the SECRET POLICE use it I feel better already Yeah SECRET
    POLICE!!!

  13. Years ago, I was issued a Sig by my law enforcement department, given the choice between p226 and p229…being a combat veteran, when I found out the 229 accepted 226 mags, but not vice versa, the choice became clear! P229 is a great shooting gun and you can sneak a couple extra rounds in it using 226 mags. Don’t tell anyone

  14. My very first Sig was a model P228 that I bought new back in the late-1980’s. Beautiful gun, with factory bead-blasted nickel slide and controls. Still have it, and still love it.

    Fast-forward many years, and many Sigs later (your first Sig is never your last!), and I bought the 9mm Sig Legion P229 at its introduction, and have to say that the gun and its trigger are amazing. Love the gray PVD finish, and mine has held up very well. Sig’s triggers are great out of the box, but the Legion P229 with the Grayguns trigger is something else altogether. The gun feels really comfortable in my hand, and it points better than any other gun I’ve handled. The ergonomics of the P229 are excellent. Love shooting it!

    I can’t say enough good things about Sig in general, but if you can swing the extra $$, take it to the next level and get the P229 Legion. You won’t regret it.

  15. I bought my SIG P229 in 40S&W in 1992-93 when I was seriously considering joining the FBI and they had recently adopted that pistol. The Sigarms custom shop went over it for me giving me THE BEST customer service I have EVER received. They transformed an exceptional gun into my favorite pistol ever, one that I have carried concealed for going on 30 years now and my first choice to depend my life upon. Your article is tempting me to see if the Legion P229 can surpass my old reliable original P229! Well done to both SIG and the author!

  16. got aP229 in dec. 1992, i added additional barrels in 357 sig and barsto 9MM, only issue is site adjustment, all calipers are way off from original, so im in the process of seeing if i can mill the slide for NOVAK adj. from 1911. only gun i carry more, is my ED BROWN SPECIAL FORCES. on another note were can i get a 22 caliper conversion for my P229

  17. Years ago before I ever knew what a Sig was, at an outing I picked one up, and it felt, and fit, perfectly in the hand, so comfortable. I asked what is this? It feels so good. I was told it is a Sig Sauer P229, the one the Secret Service uses to protect the president. Very impressive piece. Only downside at the time was it only held 13 rounds, but I think they have fixed that. Years later, the Sig fit to the hand is still magical, and the only downside is their magazines, as they are basically just average in quality, yet are always more costly than any of their comparative competition.

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