My friend and associates will tell you I am conversative concerning personal defense gear. Solid 1911 handguns, and Colt and Smith & Wesson magnum revolvers are among these. The Beretta, CZ, and Glock are appreciated. However I am liberal in testing practically any type of firearm, although it may not end up in my defense battery. Thank God I have reached the point that every firearm doesn’t have to work for its keep or have a clearly defined purpose. Among the most proven reliable pistols in the world are those made by SIG. US Military tests, Texas State Patrol, German police, the 228,000 round Ohio State Patrol test and especially France’s extensive testing qualified the reliability of SIG products.
Recently I have been firing and using two very nice pistols from SIG. One is the P226 and the other a full size P320. Each have the Legion improvements. By any standard these are rocking good guns and very nice guns. I may not be able to keep both in the long run and this has made for a lively internal debate.
Lets look at the SIG P226R SAO Legion first. This is a big gun for some of us with an eight inch overall length. The pistol is 1.7 inches wide and 5.5 inches tall. The barrel is 4.4 inches long. At 34 ounces it isn’t a lightweight and absorbs recoil well. The pistol features the distinctive Legion finish, night sights, and distinctive grips. The pistol features a steel slide and frame. The big difference in this 9mm and any other P226 is the single action only trigger. Let me make a significant point- the SAO trigger IS NOT a double action first shot pistol without the DA trigger. This is a true purpose designed single action trigger. A big advantage not only in firing the pistol accurately but in handling is the difference between the placement of the slide lock and the safety lever. There is no decocker and this frees up the design a bit.
Many of us tend to ride the slide lock of the P series. This results in the slide failing to lock back on the last shot. That doesn’t mean anything in comparison to the P320 but it is a consideration if you choose the SAO over other SIG designs. The SAO re-design seems to cure this problem. The grip fits most hands well and the trigger breaks cleanly. The sights are excellent for personal defense. The magazines hold fifteen rounds and three are supplied. The SIG P226R is a popular service gun. When the brass purchases the SIG you know they have not gone with the low bid.
The P320 Legion X Five Legion is the first P320 I have really warmed up to. I didn’t like the trigger action. It is light and breaks fairly clean and while the sear is moved rearward prior to firing they say- in the manner of the Dreyse I suppose- it is a single action in all handling. Recalls hurt the new pistol but then who hasn’t had recalls?
The P320 X Five Legion is a heavy pistol at 43 ounces. This is great for competition and for tracking between targets. The frame is polymer but tungsten infused. You would think it is all tungsten by the feel. I am not certain it has the weight of steel and the flex of polymer as claimed but it is pretty close. The recoil spring and guide are well turned out and a spare lightweight spring is supplied along with three 17 round magazines. The magazine well is generous and the magazine base pads are well designed. The slide is optics ready and the rear sight is fully adjustable. The barrel is a five inch bull barrel. The new skeletonized flat trigger is super cool and a great trigger design.
This is a very well turned out pistol. The frame rail is standard P320. If there is a rating for improvement the P320 Legion is far more improved over the original than the P226 Legion. The P320 is a modular design. I won’t be changing frames and slides since I bought the gun for competition. But it is a good thing to have.
When firing these pistols we can skip to the end of the test period for one bit of information. Neither pistol has failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject. This includes some pretty dirty ammunition picked up in the pick as you can environment we are currently in. Like all quality firearms each pistol preferred one load or the other for accuracy. Dirty ammo is dirty ammo. Remington UMC provided consistent reliability and accuracy. I used a small number of Remington’s Golden Saber and Winchester’s PDX, now simply called the Defender. 115 grain economy fare for the most part with a few 124 and 147 grain loads. Lets sum the testing up-
The SIG P226R features a well shaped grip that fits most hands well. The ambidextrous safety is positive in operation. The flat trigger is excellent. Trigger compression breaks at 4.5 pounds with a rapid reset. This reset is an aid in rapid fire control. Handling is good. The night sights are very well designed and offer a well defined aiming point. The extended tang of the Legion series is superior to the standard P series design. Perhaps the forward cocking serrations are less than ideal as they are cut into the slide flats a little lower than usual. Practical combat accuracy is good. As for as absolute accuracy the pistol exhibited several two inch 25 yard groups.
The P320 grip did not feel as good in the hand- at first. After several runs the pistol came into its own with this shooter. The trigger breaks at 4.0 pounds. Reset is good. This striker fired pistol definitely feels different than the SIG P226R. After several runs on target the P320 exhibited greater speed and smoothness in reloads. Those who are willing to practice dry fire relentlessly and master the trigger will find a pistol that will clean a combat course faster than the P226R, no surprise there. The P320 Five X Legion also features lightening cuts in the slide, pretty racy- race gun it is- and a fully adjustable rear sight. No Kentucky windage needed for any 9mm load with this pistol. Dial in the sights and hit the target with finality. The combination of a bright fiber optic front sight and fully adjustable rear sight make sense for a competition gun. Absolute accuracy trailed just behind the P226R with most of the groups at 25 yards around 2.25 inches. This isn’t a group fired with a highly developed target load but rather the Remington 124 grain Golden Saber.
So- the experienced shooter may say the P226R Legion is the gun for personal defense. The pistol features a manual safety that is easily thumbed off on the draw. Combat shooting is excellent. Absolute accuracy is outstanding. The P320 X Five Legion may give us pause for daily carry as the trigger is light and there is no manual safety. We might say this is the pistol for competition or as a range gun. It is very fast on any type of combat course. It doesn’t just blow the SIG P226R away in humiliation but certainly outstrips it. An inexperienced shooter might choose this handgun based solely on shooting rather than heft, balance, and suitability for concealed carry. In the end this is more of an exposition than a comparison that turns up a hands down recommendation. Here is my take- if I could have only one of these SIG pistols it would be the SIG P226R SAO Legion. This is a great combat handgun. Series production has not suffered significant recalls or problems. Heft and balance are excellent. Reliability is unquestioned. A positive safety adds to security. I may not win a competition with the P226R but neither would I look foolish, just outclassed. The SIG P320 X Five Legion is an outstanding target gun. For range use there is nothing quite like it. But it isn’t as versatile as the P226R SAO Legion.