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Preview – SIG SAUER P229 Legion – Legion of Honor

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

With a Three-Glock Price Tag, SIG's P229 Legion Had Better Be Good. It is.

The careworn and cynical among us looked sideways and snorted derisively when SIG announced their new Legion loyalty program, dismissing it as just another way to shift product in a saturated market. When the RECOIL office found out that the first Legion guns were to be the P226 and P229, the news was met with a measure of indifference, seasoned with a dash of blah. Then we learned that our friend Bruce Gray had been involved in the project from the get-go, which caused our ears to prick up. You see, Bruce has been tuning SIGs (and HKs, and 1911s) since Jesus was hanging doors for a living, and he’s very good at what he does.

It’s not that we don’t appreciate the basic design — the oldest P-series gun in our safe has the legendary “Sig Sauer Made in W. Germany” roll stamped on the slide. It was created a year before “99 Red Balloons” was released as a single and has stood the test of time way better than that other German pop culture icon.

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First impressions
There’s no denying, the 229 Legion is a handsome beast. It differs from the standard 229 by virtue of its attractive, gray PVD finish and slim G10 grips, but the changes are more than just cosmetic. For starters, the frame has been subtly reshaped to sit lower in the hand, which at least partially addresses the usual criticism of SIG products and their higher bore axis. Is it as low as a Glock? Not a chance, but the undercut trigger guard and contoured beavertail slam it as low as possible, while grip panels that feature both coarse and fine checkering areas ensure that once your mitts wrap around, they’re not going anyplace fast. While those grip panels are marvels of minimalism, they nonetheless have topography that ensures your digits wind up in the same place every time. Square, 30 LPI checkering on the frontstrap and underside of the trigger guard is nicely executed with sharp tooling and adds to the overall feel of solidity in the hand. There’s also a patch of checkering on the front of the trigger guard, if you like that sort of thing.

Unlike our prehistoric SIG mentioned above, this one’s slide is hogged out of a bar of stainless steel, rather than being formed from pressed carbon steel sheet with a welded and roll pinned breechblock and nose. While the old method was perfectly adequate for 9mm Luger, the advent of .40 S&W and .357 SIG chamberings required a heavier top end in order to reduce slide velocity and stop the guns from beating themselves to death. While the change is slight, (10.5 ounces versus 11.4) it’s evidently enough and has proven itself in service since 2006.

Sights come courtesy of SIG’s new electro-optics division and are very good indeed. In fact, they’re probably the best-designed and executed set of fixed sights we’ve encountered this year. The front uses their standard dovetail, but is 0.150 inch wide and inset with a tritium lamp, surrounded by a green luminescent ring, making it big, bold, and easy to pick up in all lighting conditions. The rear also has tritium inserts, but they’re tiny and indistinct by comparison, right up until the lights go out. In the dark, they complement the front sight without overpowering it or allowing the shooter to be distracted from where their focus should be. In addition, the rear sight features a hook-like undercut that works well for one-handed weapon manipulations.

The controls on SIG’s P-series guns date back to the original P220, which was introduced into Swiss service in 1975 as a replacement for the venerable, drop-dead-gorgeous, and hideously expensive P210. That same year, the German police issued their original Pflichtenheft Faustfeuerwaffen — or specification for handguns, which mandated that any pistol in police service must be capable of firing reflexively, i.e. without the need to disengage a safety catch. After mandating that manufacturers provide them with a gun that could be instantly brought into action, they then deployed them in full flap, floppy holsters that needed both hands and a buddy to operate. No irony there, then …

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