SIG SAUER, Inc. has introduced the P229 Single-Action-Only (SAO) pistol as a new addition to its Legion Series of firearms. There are only 5-numbered models of Sig Sauer pistols manufactured for the Legion Series: P320, P226, P220, P938, and P229. And there are only 8 total Legion Series models offered, as of early 2020. This new 229 SAO Legion pistol was specifically selected as one of these and there are three 229 models of the only 8 total Legion Series models manufactured, according to their website. I wanted to shoot and evaluate the new P229 Legion SAO Compact 9mm to consider it for concealed carry.
Legion is a high-quality product line developed by SIG SAUER based on input “from elite shooting professionals, and designed to exceed the expectations of the serious shooter.” These pistols are in much demand and I was fortunate to get one “hot-off” the new 2020 production run to review and share with you. You can compare this Sig Sauer P229 Legion Compact SAO review with my handgun analyses, comparisons, and rankings of 21 other concealed carry guns in my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.”
What follows first are the specifications and features for the 229 Legion Compact SAO 9mm. Then I give you the 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. Finally, I present my analysis and how I specifically evaluated the gun against each of my 10 criteria to recommend or not recommend it. As always, set your own criteria and priorities, do your own research and check my data, information, etc. with yours, for your very personal selection process.
Sig Sauer P229 Legion Compact SAO Specifications
|Spec 1||Spec 2|
|Barrel Material||Carbon Steel|
|Sights||X-Ray3 Day/Night High Visibility Tritium Sights; Bright Green Front Dot; 2 Green Rear Dots; Rackable Rear Ledge|
|Slide Material||Stainless Steel; CNC Machined Slide|
|Slide Finish||Cerakote Elite Legion Gray Coated for Durability|
|Frame||Alloy Steel; Compact|
|Frame Finish||Cerakote Elite Legion Gray Coated for Durability|
|Trigger Type||Master Shop Flat Single-Action-Only; Short Reset Trigger (SRT); Steel|
|Trigger Press||4.10 pounds (as measured over 10 trials with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull gauge)|
|Magazines - Capacity||15 Rounds; 3 Steel Mags|
|Weight (Unloaded)||32.0 oz, Empty 15-Round Mag|
|Safeties||Manual Thumb Safeties (Ambidextrous)|
|Grips||Custom-Textured G10 Black Grips with Legion Medallion; Contoured and Reduced Elite Beavertail Grip|
|Other||Limited Lifetime Warranty|
Sig Sauer P229 Legion Compact SAO Features
- Excellent Overall Ergonomics, with Nicely-Textured Comfortable Grips
- Single-Action Light and Short Trigger, with Very Short Reset
- Undercut Trigger Guard to Enhance Grip with Aggressive Front Strap Checkering
- Excellent, Highly-Visible Green Front and Rear Tritium Day/Night Sights, with Rackable Ledge
- Solid Steel Guide Rod for Weight to Reduce Felt Recoil
- Sig Accessory Rail- for Laser and Light Mounting
- Ambidextrous Manual Thumb Safeties; Can Rack Slide with Safety Engaged
- Low-Profile Slide Lock Lever to Reduce Snagging
- Nicely Scalloped Front and Rear Cocking Serrations
- Safe, Easy Takedown with No Tools or Trigger Press Required
Sig Sauer P229 Legion Compact SAO Review Criteria and Considerations
Here are just 10 of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the 229 Legion SAO. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.
Sig Sauer P229 Legion SAO 9mm Range Test
So that I could help you and myself evaluate this pistol for the concealed carry purpose, I was anxious to shoot it and see if it truly met or surpassed all ten of my criteria. I use the fine Santa Rosa Shooting Center in Pace Florida for training students and shooting my test guns. Thanks to them for their fine facilities. Also, many thanks to Sig Sauer for providing some quality ammo for my testing and evaluation of this 229 Legion SAO. Without a doubt, this compact pistol was a joy to shoot and it made my accuracy look very good. For evaluations and my reviews for carry, I have shot several hundred pistols and this 229 Legion SAO was one of the best, if not the best SAO compact 9mm. I appreciate its amazing trigger, its about 4-pound press, its very short reset, and fantastic accuracy, even for old codgers. I can honestly say that this 229 Legion SAO had the shortest out-of-the-box reset that I have shot. The short reset and its about 60% reduction in travel distance certainly helps with faster follow-up shots. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for the Sig 229 Legion SAO. I was considering it for a concealed carry gun and for home defense. I wanted to put the pistol through its paces and check it thoroughly for malfunctions, stoppages, accuracy, reliability, ergonomics, and my other criteria.
Hands-On Performance Observations
There were no malfunctions nor stoppages of any kind and overall this pistol performed great. It digested the different types of ammo without any problems, including the Sig Sauer FMJ ball and V-Crown JHP rounds in 115, 124, and 147 grain weights. I was pleased with the very low felt recoil and little muzzle rise. The weight of the pistol helped with its accuracy, minimal movement, and my low felt recoil. It was easy and smooth as butter to handle when I racked the slide and it was so easy to insert and release the mag from the mag well. And the mags dropped quickly and easily from the mag well. It performed exceptionally well. I was very impressed with its short, smooth, light, and crisp single-action-only trigger press. And the grip and ergonomics were also excellent for me. It was very comfortable in my hand and the moderately-aggressive G10 grip texture and material were just right for me. For my medium-sized hands, the grip felt just right. This is a pistol I will definitely buy and it will be in my concealed carry rotation. Below I will get specific and give my opinions for each of my 10 criteria to support my excellent claims for this 229 Legion SAO compact, after my hands-on range testing.
Using my 20-second timed Concealed Carry Drill with 5 circle targets and 15 rounds at 7 yards, accuracy was very acceptable and the goal was met. But, shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities and proficiency.
Range Test Results for each of my 10 Criteria:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 10
The Accuracy of the 229 Legion SAO was outstanding for me at 7 yards. This gun will get the job done without any adjustments right out of the box. After no fine tuning at all, all my hits were in the 5 circles of my “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and within 20 seconds of my draw. This old codger was pleased and the gun did most of the work. Of course, the 4.10 pound light trigger press and weight of this single-action pistol greatly reduced my movement and significantly helped my accuracy. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and fast-fired from the draw.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 10
The Trigger Press averaged about 4.10 pounds with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was excellent and not too light for a carry gun for me; I regularly practice with 1911 single-action pistols and appreciate a short and light trigger press. I prefer that my carry guns have a maximum of 6.5 pounds press or less, so this press was great. I will buy this gun and use it for concealed carry, home protection, and range fun.
3. Trigger – Score: 10
The Trigger had a tactile and very identifiable click with a very short reset. I liked the short, light, and positive reset of its very crisp trigger. My shots were consistent each time and I could easily recognize the short reset point for quick follow-up shots of this custom Master Shop Flat trigger. I really enjoyed shooting this smooth trigger, as one of the best triggers I have shot. An excellent soft and short SAO trigger which you usually have to pay a much higher price for.
4. Barrel Length: Score: 10
The 3.90-inch Barrel combined with its sturdy and rust resistant carbon steel properties, single-action-like performance, blended well with its low muzzle flip and recoil. The steel barrel was of high quality with apparent stiffness for less vibration. My limited experiences tell me that carbon steel usually contributes to a longer barrel life due to its superior cooling properties, great heat transfer, and heat and corrosion resistance.
5. Sights – Score: 10
The bright green tritium front sight matched well with the rear tritium dots. I could easily pickup the sights in daylight and at dark. The size of the front bright green dot was perfect for me. The rear sights ledge helped when I practiced one-hand racking. The green front sight stood out great for this colorblind shooter. And most shooters can pickup green better than red. Out of the box, the sights were right on without any adjustment at all. The sights were excellent for me and really helped with my shot placement.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 8
The overall 32 ounce unloaded weight was a little heavy for the week that I carried it. But, I recognize that the added weight has advantages for felt recoil, muzzle flip, and accuracy. For me and my carry frequency, routine, and goals, this weight was not a problem. I think most carriers will understand how the advantages far outweigh this slight weight increase. I am willing to make the tradeoff for this criterion for my concealed carry gun. Try carrying a gun with this weight for yourself. For me, this weight is certainly acceptable.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
It was easy and comfortable to shoot this 9mm pistol. For me, the 9mm caliber’s felt recoil is very acceptable and helps my accuracy. And I can easily control it. The 229 SAO digested the various types of ammo easily without a single malfunction or stoppage. The FBI study got it right when they concluded that the 9mm round penetrates far enough, allows shooters to carry more rounds, is widely available, has sufficient stopping power, has recently improved terminal ballistics, and is less expensive than some alternative rounds.
8. Capacity – Score: 10
Outstanding Capacity. There were THREE 15-round quality steel magazines included with this pistol. For me, this is an important advantage and saves some money on buying that third mag for personal protection situations and potential multiple attackers. I like to be prepared just in case. SAFETY FIRST ALWAYS!
Sig Sauer P229 Legion SAO Compact Holster
Kramer Handgun Leather (KHL) makes a beautiful, high-quality OWB Horsehide Leather custom holster. The Vertical Belt Scabbard is a classic “Pancake” holster design and works well for concealed carry, as well as for range use and competition. It has great workmanship, is very comfortable, double stitched, extremely durable with the horsehide material, and conceals well. I love their attention to details. The KHL Leather OWB holster has a nice FBI forward cant. The gun rides high on the strong-side hip and the gun’s butt tucks snugly into the side for maximum concealment. There are various options, prices, and colors. This high-quality horsehide holster shown above has a reinforced throat band to help with reholstering and durability. Kramer Handgun Leather holsters wants to offer my readers a 20% Discount off all purchases through May 31, 2020 for their high-quality holsters. When ordering, use the Discount Code “ColBen-USAC-Sig229-20.”
9. Ergonomics – Score: 10
The Ergonomics of the 229 Legion SAO are excellent. Form, function, and fit were among the best of the many pistols that I have reviewed. The aggressive grip texturing of the G10 grips helped it fit my hand securely and it was a comfortable grip for my medium-size hands. It was not too gritty and not under texturized. The grip’s body width was ample to allow me to acquire a firm and comfortable grip, even when my palms sweated in the Florida sun. The checkering under the trigger guard and the aggressive frontstrap checkering really helped for a firm and secure grip. I was able to easily reach and operate all the controls. Interestingly by design, the shooter can rack the slide with the safety engaged. And I don’t miss the decocker. The metal parts of this sturdy pistol are nice enhancements.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 10
When you register any of the quality Legion pistols, with the included Legion membership you get a quality, complimentary premium zippered pistol case for your Legion gun, plus a nice challenge coin. Of course, this is in addition to the Legion-specific upgrades, like the contoured and reduced beavertail, fine trigger, electro-optics X-RAY high-visibility day/night sights, miniaturized slide stop lever, G10 grips, etc. There are other extras, like exclusive product offerings and accessories. These are nice extras, but the high-quality and performance of this Sig 229 Legion SAO compact pistol are the genuine advantages. You get what you pay for! As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed and cleaned, and re-assembled the 229 Legion SAO before I shot it. I did NOT have to press the trigger to disassemble it and it was very easy and quick to field strip.
Total Points = 98
This remarkable 229 Legion SAO Compact 9mm rated 98 points out of 100 Possible, for my above 10 criteria. This is one of a very few pistols that I have tested and evaluated that scored this high. This is an outstanding first-class compact SAO 9mm pistol for concealed carry and for home defense. I certainly highly RECOMMEND it for consideration for your personal protection and for fun range plinking. I will carry this pistol.
The 229 SAO’s outstanding ergonomics, 5.7 inch sight radius, ambi safeties, three mags, excellent day/night tritium sights, solid steel guide rod, silky-smooth slide operation, excellent flat trigger, soft and short trigger press with very short reset, 15-round capacity, quality G10 grips, minimal felt recoil, exceptional accuracy, and continuous reliability all make this pistol a very special, superb concealed carry, self defense, and fun range pistol.
Do your own cost-benefits analysis to decide if this pistol is worth it for yourself. What value and priority do you place on defending your life and the lives of your loved ones? What options are best for you? I cannot know what is best for you or anyone but myself. For me, however, the benefits of a reliable, elite potential life or death protection pistol for me and my family outweigh the costs in my personal opinion. Superior Form, Fit, and Function are there for me. The above are just my criteria, opinions and evaluations, so handle and shoot this exceptional pistol for yourself. I hope this review of the Sig P229 Legion SAO Compact 9mm, single-action pistol has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire. You need to determine for yourself its reliability, accuracy, and personal fit by your own shooting and handling of the gun. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, what features are important to you, and are you willing to pay for them ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types, over an extended break-in period of at least 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always.
Newington, NH 03801
Kramer Handgun Leather
Tacoma, WA 98411
Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown & Performance Ammo
Newington, NH 03801
Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2020 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].