Like so many superlatives, “innovative” has lost its punch thanks to overuse by unimaginative and overly enthusiastic marketing campaigns. Like many people, I’ve become immune to such marketing hype. In fact, I am more inclined to dismiss over-hyped products out of hand on general principle than give them a fair shake. So when SIGARMS‘ Paul Erhardt called to tell me about a new SIG offering that he called “the most innovative pistol ever,” I listened but I was pretty skeptical. It’s no secret that the rise in the number of states passing “shall issue” concealed carry laws and the changing face of law enforcement have created an ever-increasing demand for flexible firearms to fit shooters of every shape and size. Some manufacturers have dealt with this situation with quick fixes such as replaceable back straps, thin grips and short triggers, while others have ignored the problem altogether.
As the manufacturer of the second-most-issued line of duty pistols in America, SIGARMS was well aware of the problem. The company made some changes–more compact models, short triggers and the DAK trigger to accommodate shooters of smaller stature–but its engineers have been working on a better solution for quite some time. The new P250 is the fruit of those efforts, and I think it may represent the most innovative solution to date.
At first glance, the P250 looks like nothing more than a polymer-framed SIG. The polymer-grip module has checkered front and back straps, and the full-length dustcover has a Picatinny rail for attaching a light or laser. The trigger guard has a traditional SIG shape, even down to the serrated front for those misguided souls who choose to ride the trigger guard with the index finger of their support hand.
The sides of the P250’s grip have a stippled texture. Slight recesses in the frame, at the top of the grip, act as ambidextrous thumb rests. The back strap is slightly longer than the rest of the grip, but the length is the same around the circumference of the grip with a magazine inserted. The grip houses a reversible, triangular-shaped magazine release.
The P250’s polymer frame is unusual because it is not really a frame at all. Rather, it serves as a grip, light-mounting platform and magazine well. The actual frame, or receiver, is a stainless steel sub-assembly that rides within the polymer grip frame. This is the part that is serialized and is what makes the P250 revolutionary.
To get to the receiver, lock back the slide, rotate the disassembly lever and ease the slide forward off the grip frame. Then work the disassembly lever out of the gun. Once that’s removed, grasp the front slide rail, pull back the hammer and lift the front half of the frame up and out. The rest will follow. The whole process takes less than 30 seconds.
The receiver is the heart of the P250. It contains the trigger, hammer, ambidextrous slide release (one on each side of the pistol), ejector and four tiny slide rails. The front rails measures .32 inch, and the back ones measure .4 inch on my digital calipers. The tiny rails were a bit unnerving, but they provided more than enough surface area to keep the P250’s slide running smoothly.
With the receiver out, everything is completely exposed and easy to service. Only a small hammer and punch are required to disassemble the pistol completely, but most maintenance details can be handled without completely disassembling the gun. From there, you can swap grip frames and triggers to fit different shooters in a matter of seconds.
Its versatility is what makes the P250 so revolutionary. Three grips of varying circumferences and two triggers are available, which makes for six different combinations to fit just about any shooter. I like the thinnest frame and the short trigger, while a friend likes the same frame with a standard trigger. Another, much taller training partner prefers the standard trigger and medium frame, while Erhardt needed the large grip and standard trigger to accommodate his big mitts.
During my initial test session at the SIGARMS factory, I changed the grip modules and triggers to fit each shooter’s hands quickly and easily with very little training. The P250’s quick-change capability also means damaged grip frames can be replaced inexpensively and without any paperwork since the grip frame itself is not serialized.
The trigger is double action only with a long stroke, but it has a short reset and, on my test gun, a light, six-pound pull. I would prefer to see a shorter stroke like that of Sig’s DAK trigger, but the P250’s was plenty smooth and easy to manage. The P250’s spur-less hammer is hidden within the slide until the trigger is pulled. The steel slide is machined from bar stock and finished in Sig’s durable black nitron. It houses a robust, external extractor and is topped with three-dot sights (tritium sights will also be available). The front rides in a dovetail, while the rear is a slanted, no-snag affair of an unusual configuration.
Looking at an engineering schematic at the SIG plant, I noticed that the bottom of the rear sight has a long protrusion with a hole in it. Instead of dovetailing into the slide, the P250’s rear sight drops into a cutout in the slide and is retained vertically by the extractor assembly. The tight fit of the protrusion into the slide keeps it from moving laterally. The firing pin passes through the hole in the protrusion but does not touch it.
This design allows SIG’s engineers to use a lighter firing-pin safety, which permits the use of a lighter trigger spring. The result is a smooth six-pound pull rather than the nine- to 10-pound trigger pull called for in the original specifications. Despite the lighter springs and trigger pull, SIG’s engineers were able to maintain the same degree of drop safety called for in the original specifications.
The cold-hammer-forged barrel is 3.9 inches long. In typical SIG fashion, the P250 operates by the locked-breech, short-recoil method and unlocks via a cam slot rather than a 1911-type barrel link. Again, like the popular P220 series of SIG pistols, the P250’s barrel hood locks up against the squared edge of the ejection port.
The 9mm P250 (other calibers and sizes will follow) can best be described as a midsize or compact pistol. It is similar in dimension to the Glock 19 and is the perfect size for both concealed carry and uniform wear. With the short trigger and thin grip, it fit my small hands perfectly. The stippled grip texture and checkered front and back straps made the pistol easy to hold on to, even during a prolonged firing session in the hot Texas sun.
I first fired the P250 at the SIGARMS facility in New Hampshire. Erhardt, Ethan Lessard and I combined to fire 350 rounds of assorted full metal jacket and hollowpoint ammunition. Recoil and muzzle flip were mild, and the pistol was very accurate. Double and triple taps were fast and centered on the target. The pistol ran perfectly, with no malfunctions of any kind.
I came away from that sneak preview impressed with the new SIG but still wanting more. Fortunately, it was only a matter of weeks before another prototype showed up at my dealer’s shop. Unfortunately, SIG was short on guns and parts, so I got only the short trigger and the small and medium frames.
I took the new P250 with me to a ranch I hunt in southwest Texas. During a mid-day break from hunting, my friends and I put it through its paces with 500 rounds of ammunition from Remington, Federal and Cor-Bon. Once again, the P250 ran without a hitch. The gun went bang when we pulled the trigger (except for one time with some old military surplus ammunition with very hard primers), and empties were ejected well clear of the pistol.
All of us found it very pleasant to shoot, and my buddies–Wes Webber and Fernando Flores, who are firearms instructors at a medium-size sheriff’s department–were enamored of the interchangeable frame, which allowed us to shoot the pistol in the configuration that best fit each of us. Accuracy was very good, with 15-yard offhand groups in the two- to three-inch range. We weren’t equipped for a real accuracy test on the ranch range and my deadline for this story was tight, but based on the many 1 1/2- to two-inch 20-yard groups I saw fired at the factory, I have no reason to believe the P250’s accuracy will be anything less than stellar.
My friends both really liked the P250 and thought its smooth, light trigger was easier to shoot well than most double-action designs.
Webber and Flores also commented on the desirability of easily replaceable grip frames and triggers for police work. This flexibility would also allow a husband and wife to carry guns that share the same magazines, ammunition and manual of arms, yet fit each of their hands like a glove.
The new SIG should make a heck of a concealed carry piece as well, thanks to its compact size and light weight, and its trigger action is easily managed by experienced and novice shooters alike.
Were I to criticize anything on the P250, it would be the length of its trigger pull. Still, it is light and smooth, and no one who shot it had any trouble shooting it well. Also, take that with a grain of salt, as I am a dyed-in-the-wool 1911 guy.
To get some less-biased opinions, I went to the local sheriff’s department and let several deputies play with the new SIG. All carry other double-action semiautos or Glock pistols. The Glock guys were split 50/50–half liked their Glock triggers better, while the other half thought the P250’s trigger felt better and gave them more control. The deputies who carry other double-action designs thought the P250’s trigger was far superior to that of their current duty pistols.
In my opinion, the new P250 offers advantages over both 1911 and revolver trigger systems. Its trigger is a bit long compared to a 1911 but not compared to a revolver or conventional double-action auto. The gun itself is as safe and simple as a revolver for shooters of various levels of experience, yet it offers the fast reload of a semiautomatic.
SIG’s new P250 may not be perfect, but it’s pretty damn close. It’s a reliable, accurate and, yes, innovative pistol that can be easily mastered by right- and left-handed shooters of every size. I think SIGARMS has a winner on its hands.