[Rushtalk] The SIG P229 Legion Compact: not your grandmothers shooting iron

C JUNO cwsiv at juno.com
Fri Nov 17 10:21:28 MST 2017

The SIG P229 Legion Compact: Updated Features on a Legendary Pistol
Aimed at Concealment

By Scott W. Wagner // 11/10/2017

SIG Sauer has introduced more variants of its existing handgun line than
perhaps any other handgun manufacturer. The array is amazing. And while
the basic models of each type are always available, new versions of
those models are introduced regularly.

One such variation of an existing model is the SIG P229 Legion. This
variation of the P229 is, like the original version, a pistol that
serves just as well in a military or law enforcement duty holster as it
does in a concealment holster due to its well-proportioned size — it’s
about as balanced a design as they come. SIG felt that there were some
improvements that could be made to make this particular P229 more
favored by the concealed carry crowd. But how well, or necessary, are
all the improvements? Let me list the improvements first, and discuss
the only one that I found problematic.

My test P229 Legion Compact was shipped in .357 SIG caliber per my
request. The .357 SIG ranks right up there with the .38 Super and 10mm
Automatic as one of the finest AND most underappreciated semi-automatic
handgun cartridges currently available.

Introduced in 1994 by — you guessed it — SIG, the .357 SIG was a
replacement for the .38 Super chambering in SIG pistols. The .357 is
nothing more than a 10mm case necked down to a .357-caliber slug. The
intent was to reproduce .357 Magnum revolver ballistics in a
semi-automatic pistol of practical dimensions. Any handgun that can
chamber the .40 Smith & Wesson can be chambered for .357 SIG, usually
with just a barrel change. The result? The .357 SIG with 125-grain
bullets is second only to the 10mm Auto in terms of kinetic energy that
can be produced in a conventional defensive handgun. If you eliminate
1911-sized pistols from the equation, the .357 SIG is the most powerful
round that can be chambered in a 9mm- or .40-Smith & Wesson-sized
handgun, producing anywhere from 506 to 604 FPE, depending on load.

The P229 Legion starts out as the basic P229 with stainless-steel slide
and alloy frame with rail and traditional DA/SA de-cock-only action. To
this foundation, SIG adds the following enhancements to elevate it to
Legion status:

The slide and frame are finished in the proprietary Legion gray PVD
coating for the ultimate in rust resistance, which also gives the Legion
series its distinct appearance. Also setting it off in appearance are
the Custom G10 grips with the Legion chevron emblem that also enhances
gripping ability for wet hands. There is also a reduced and contoured
beavertail that allows for a higher grip and reduced overall profile.
Also added are front cocking serrations, more aggressive front strap
checkering and additional checkering under the trigger guard. An
enhanced polished action with Short Reset Trigger has been enhanced with
a Grayguns Inc. designed P-SAIT, which results in a 10-pound
double-action trigger pull and a 4.4-pound single-action trigger pull.
Three 12-round magazines are included in the Legion package. Finally, a
set of the excellent Electro-Optics X-Ray Day/Night Sights have been
added up top, which is a really good choice for this gun. All the
aforementioned additions and modifications are great so far. But there
is a “but.”

To further reduce the “risk of snagging,” the standard and totally
functional SIG slide release has been replaced with something called a
“low-profile slide catch lever.” First, let me say, in 37 years of
packing concealed handguns of all shapes, sizes and types, I have NEVER
had a concern that I might snag the slide release lever — even the
prominent and darn near perfect one found on the Beretta 92 series — on
clothing or during a draw. It is truly a non-issue in my book, so there
was no reason to make a change. Remember the ageless adage, “If it ain’t
broke, don’t fix it.”

To put it plainly, the new low-profile slide catch lever is now so low
profile that there is little leverage available to drop the slide with
it. My hands aren’t weak, but it required both thumbs pressing down on
the lever to drop the slide on either a loaded magazine or to drop it
with no magazine in place. If you are a shooter who returns the slide to
battery by using your free hand to release the slide, it won’t be an
issue. But if you are like me who makes regular use of the slide release
to speed reloads, it will be an issue. Please SIG, put your old slide
release lever back on the P229 Legion. Really, it won’t snag on

I took the P229 Legion out to a private shooting area to test it with
what else, SIG Sauer’s .357 SIG practice and defense loads —
specifically, their Elite Performance Ball Ammo and their Elite
Performance V-Crown load.

Both loads use 125-grain bullets and, surprisingly, both are loaded to
exactly the same velocity and energy levels: 1356 feet per second
velocity and 510 FPE at the muzzle. Other brands often load their
practice ammo to less than full power levels; I like the fact that SIG

It has been quite a while since I have fired a handgun chambered in .357
SIG. Actually, I haven’t shot one since I was with the Union County
Sheriff’s Office, where the .357 SIG was our duty load. I had forgotten
the amount of power the .357 SIG has.

The SIG P229 Legion is a great platform for the .357 and is substantial
enough to handle it. Shooting was by no means uncomfortable; recoil was
controllable. But when you touch off a round of .357, you WILL notice
the explosive power it delivers on the receiving end. And due to the
fact that it launches a lighter bullet than does the .40 Smith & Wesson
(125 grains vs. 180, 165 or 155 grains), that recoil is less than one
encounters in the same handgun launching full-power .40-caliber rounds.

Accuracy was on par with any other SIG product, which means it is
excellent! The Electro-Optics’ green-outlined front sight was easy to
pick up under the daylight conditions I was shooting in: very distinct
and a good match for my progressive bifocals. Of course, functioning was
flawless with both loads.

Testing from 30 feet easily produced groups in the 2-inch range with
both the FMJ and V-Crown loads. I ran the V-Crown load across my
chronograph, expecting slightly lower velocity from the Legion’s
3.9-inch barrel. However, as I have come to find from extensive testing
of SIG ammo, the average velocity, even from this shorter barrel, was
higher than the published figures: 1364 feet per second, which yielded
516 FPE. That is excellent ballistic performance indeed.

I tested the .357 in ballistic clay and, well, WOW! I am not going to
reveal the results in this piece because I am going to do a side-by-side
ballistic comparison of the .357 SIG, .38 Super and .357 Magnum — the
major medium bores — in an upcoming article. You will have to wait for
the results then.

I like the Compact Legion .357 SIG P229. Its raw power and
controllability combined with reasonable concealability and built-like-a
tank toughness are without peer. The Legion enhancements aren’t cheap,
however. MSRP of all the Compact Legions are $1413 vs. $1087 for the
standard P229 Nitron Compact. Still less than a custom pistol. Check
both P229s out at your local gun emporium, and see which one works best
for you. When you decide, pick up some SIG ammo to go with it.

More info at: www.sigsauer.com


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