By Trampas Swanson

Often referred to as the “choice of professionals,” SIG Sauer has a highly regarded reputation for manufacturing accurate and reliable firearms throughout its history. The lives of Militaries, Law Enforcement and civilians around the world depend on SIG products every day and regularly provide feedback to the company. Through reviewing this feedback, SIG is well known to integrate these suggestions into building better tools for the task at hand such as tougher all-weather finishes, larger or smaller controls or even frame modifications to a current series. This constant evolution was part of the driving force behind SIG’s new line of products called the Legion series. Currently consisting of redesigns of the classic double action semi-auto 226 and 229 models as well as a Single Action Only (SAO) version of the 226.

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Recently, 1800GunsAndAmmo.com reported on the model 226 in the Legion series. This month, we are back to follow up with a look at the Sig Sauer Legion Model 229. Traditionally, the 229 has been the slightly more compact option for those issued the model 226. Sporting a barrel approximately 1” shorter with a slightly shorter frame while still allowing for the use of the high capacity 15-round magazines of the larger pistol. Everyone from undercover Law Enforcement, specialized military units and law abiding concealed carry citizens have preferred the ergonomics and clean lines of the model 229 over the past 24 years.

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First Look

When first opening the grey plastic SIG branded box, the Legion 229 is buried under a mountain of lawyer proof paperwork, warnings, user guides and Legion advertising. Once I removed the pistol from the box, it’s very clear this is far from a polymer striker fired gun most are used to. Using a tradition double action, hammer fired action the model 229 gives the shooter the confidence in having a high-quality tool at their disposal.

When holding the SIG Legion 229, the grip felt higher in line with the barrel via a deeper undercut in the trigger guard than previous model 229 pistols I have handled. The web of my hand seated tightly up to a reduced and beautifully contoured beaver tail that fit into my hand like a glove. The more aggressive checkering with the Legion pistol offered a much more secure hold than previous models. The new Legion grips were a nice departure from standard plastic or wood panels. Constructed from G10 material, these two-piece grips offered a firm purchase on the pistol regardless if the gun was wet or if the shooter was wearing gloves. To top off the grips with a clean and professional look, a Legion medallion was embedded on each side. From this grip, I could easily reach the reduced slide release and de-cock lever to reduce snagging when carried concealed. The entire frame and slide were finished in SIG’s new proprietary Legion gray PVD coating to provide the metal protection from the harsh environments elite operators tend to regularly tread.

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Carry Options

As with most pistols I receive for review, I decided to carry the Legion 229 for a month as my daily concealed carry firearm. To do that, I needed to consider a couple of carry options for personal use. When I teach on the range and the days I wear my shirts not tucked in and over my belt, I like to carry on the belt. Other days, I resort back to a inside the waistband carry with my shirt tucked over it. Lucky for me, I already had to fantastic rigs ready to go from two masters of their craft. The on the belt carry was well taken care of by David Burns of Greystone Leather (www.greystoneleather.com). When David learned about our upcoming projects with SIG Sauer’s Legion series, he built a beautiful belt, magazine carrier and holster combo to contribute. Finished in black American Alligator, this rig looked like it belonged in a museum while being tough enough to work a cattle ranch. Being cut for the SIG 226, the 229 fit like a glove with only the extra 1” of barrel coverage to spare. The holster combo was too beautiful to have covered up in public but conceals well under a long shirt tail.

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For my fast, on the go inside the waist band holster, I reached out to my friend and trusted Kydex holster maker, John Phillips of Survivor Creek Tactical (www.survivorcreek.com). Touted as Jacksonville, Florida’s “King of Kydex,” John has been providing customers and our media group top notch custom holsters for any pistols, knife or accessory imaginable. This rig rides very low in the waist and can even been worn in a pinch without a belt thanks to the tight belt clip provided with the holster. Even with a shorter tailed T-shirt or tucked in polo, the holster made the SIG 229 disappear to the untrained eyes of the general public.

229 Factory Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm, .357 Sig, or .40 S&W
  • Action Type: DA/SA
  • Trigger Pull: 10 lbs. DA/ 4.4 lbs. SA
  • Overall Length: 7.1″
  • Overall Height: 5.4″
  • Overall Width: 1.5″
  • Barrel Length: 3.9″
  • Weight w/Mag: 29.6 oz.
  • Mag Capacity: 15 Rounds (9mm), 12 Rounds (.357 SIG), 12 Rounds (.40 S&W)
  • Sights: X-Ray Day/Night Sights

Range Time

Over the past three months, the SIG Legion 229 saw a lot of time on the range at the secret squirrel training facility located in North Florida referred to as “The Swamp.” My co-workers, fellow outdoor writer, Craig Reinolds and camera / video specialist, Eric Adam were among a few who assisted in several testing sessions in which we ran standard accuracy tests, malfunction drills, combat scenarios to put the Legion the paces. Using the supplied Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) target ammo and Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) ammo both supplied by SIG Ammunition as well as FMJ ammo sent to us by the great folks at Fancy Brass Co., the Legion 229 stayed hot and dirty for several long days on the range throughout the Florida summer.

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Coming from a long personal history of using lower profile sights such as the HK VP9 factory set or the Trijicon HD sights I run on all my Glocks, the X-ray night sights were learning curve of about two boxes of ammo. Once I adapted to the shot placement, I found the SIG night sights to be very fast to acquire in a wide range of lighting conditions. These sights were very durable to withstand getting raked off my belt and boot soles during one hand magazine changes and injured shooter drills. Over the test period, I became quite fond of the sights overall.

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As a standard for the Legion series, the 229 comes equipped with SIG Sauer’s SRT system, otherwise known as a short reset trigger. By decreasing the length and arch of travel, the felt trigger pull is greatly decreased while still maintaining a pull of around 10lbs in double action and 4lbs with the following single action shots. This above any other redesign can increase a shooter’s performance the most.

For testing, I decided to stick with standard personal defense distances of 3, 7, 10 and 15 yards working on the draw from concealment. Using both paper targets up close and moving out to our AR500 steel torso target from Steel Veteran Targets, I started in close from the draw and low ready. The full-size grip of the 229 allowed for a solid master grip and clean exit from the holster onto the target. With the hammer in the decocked position, my first shot would always be about an inch lower that the following 2 shots in my 3-shot string of fire. Due to my extensive personal experience using striker fired pistols daily, this learning curve lasted for about half of the initial training day but did not play a factor in following range trips afterwards to confirm load and accuracy data.

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The first series of testing yielded impressive results using 115 grain full metal jacket target ammo from both SIG Ammunition and Fancy Brass Co. respectively. This is a very good thing for me considering the two types of ways I usually purchase ammo. If I am in need of a couple of boxes of 9mm ammo for Saturday and today happens to be Thursday, I am comfortable in running down to my local gun shop or Walmart and picking up what I need right now. If I have an event a week or more in the future, I can save a good bit of money by purchasing in bulk by the 1000-round lots from Fancy Brass Co. and I know it’s going to be top quality stuff just like the larger companies.

The final series tested on both paper and steel came with only about 300 rounds of V-Crown rounds in both 124 grain and 147 grain JHP from SIG Ammunition. Due to the limited amount of this ammo, every round was carefully observed by everyone on the team. The 124 grain JHP was a common weight and charge for most 9 mm pistols while the 147 gran JHP is specifically what SIG Sauer states they designed the Legion series around for optimum performance.

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Like the 115 grain target ammo, there was a noticeable snap of the traditional 9mm round which is very manageable and accurate with the 124 grain V-Crown. The Legion 229 absorbed the recoil well and limited the amount of muzzle rise, allowing for quick sight acquisition and follow up shots. When switching to the heavier 147 grain V-Crown offering, the pistol seems to have just a bit more of noticeably softer recoil and muzzle flip. As far as combat accuracy, I could not find a distinct advantage in accuracy. This is one avenue I will leave to the couch commando gun writers with self-professed science degrees to figure out, as my background is that of a shooter, not lab tech.

I was very impressed with how tight the pistols locked up and functioned even after crossing the 800 and 1000 round marks over the test period. As far as nice, clean groupings on a one-way flat range, I found the Legion 229 reached full potential only after the initial 300 – 400 rounds. Free hand, I could put rounds on top of each other out to around the 10-yard mark and hold approximately a 2.7-inch group consistently when I did decide to reach out for a quick 10 round group at 25 yards from a bench rest position.

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One feature I did not care for in the redesign of the Legion series as I mentioned in the previous Legion 226 review was the reduction of the slide lock and de-cock levers. While the de-cock lever was manageable and not terrible, the slide lock was a different story. With most full-size framed pistols, I start out with a disadvantage of having relatively small hands, but combined with a slide lock lever reduced so small you must pull rearward at the same time as depressing the lever to send the slide forward on an empty magazine. Having plenty experience with both older models of the 226 and 229, I can tell you firsthand, this feature is more of a “minus” rather than “plus.” With gloved or freezing cold hands, a fast one handed load would be very difficult without striking the slide off a firm surface.

Final Thoughts

Over the three-month loan period, over 1200 flawless rounds were sent through the SIG Legion 229 by current and former military and law enforcement operators visiting “The Swamp” training grounds. After the first 400 rounds, I felt the pistol finally came around to being broke in and running to its full potential. At no time did I see any malfunctions other than one failure to feed due to the shooter not fully inserting the magazine during a speed reload. Overall, the Legion 229 held up to the high standards SIG has been known for setting in the professional industry.

Retailing for $1349.00 US, the Legion 229 is priced the same is its Legion counterparts the 226 and 226 SAO while offering a wider range of concealability. While the actual over-the-counter price may be around $100 less, the cost includes more than just the pistol, it also buys you into the “cool kid” club titled the SIG LEGION as mentioned in our previous article. What Sig has accomplished with this series is much bigger than good looking and great shooting guns. Sig Sauer is selling a lifestyle.

Much like the American motorcycle icon, Harley Davidson, the Legion series has drawn people to a multi-product universe that can only be unlocked by purchasing the featured item. Over the past 50 years, people have spent just as much money on Harley related shirts, hats, helmets, jackets, etc. Speaking as a well experienced Harley lifestyle owner, I can attest to a period in life where my wife and I would have to purchase anything Harley from every shop visited while traveling. Once a customer purchases a Sig Sauer Legion series pistol, they can either fill out a form included in the gun box or call Sig customer service and give them the serial number. In return, they are shipped a complimentary custom Thermo-Mold Legion series case custom-fit for your specific gun as well a challenge coin matched to your model pistol. On top of receiving your new pistol case, you are given an exclusive access code for member only Legion branded products such as hats, shirts, holsters, and even cigar humidors!

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As for the Legion 229 overall, I not only recommend this pistol for daily concealed carry, I also feel the 229 would be a great duty firearm as well. After the loan period expired, this pistol was purchased by a contractor friend of mine, Reggie, who was instrumental in his feedback for the article. Since then, the Legion 229 has become a daily work tool for him in the discharge of his duties not to be mentioned in this article. Professionals with top quality professional tools are the bottom line and the Legion series is more than ready to answer the call.