I almost feel bad for those who have spent years, maybe even a lifetime, in search of the perfect handgun. Imagine how King Arthur would have felt upon finding the Holy Grail. Elated, at first – and then despondent perhaps when considering that this means his quest has ended. Is the SIG Sauer Legion series truly that good, or is this just the fanciful writing of an imaginative and perhaps enamored gun reviewer? Well, there is a bit of the latter, I confess – but I do think the Legion is a bit of a Holy Grail for true handgun aficionados. Poor King Arthur would either have to turn over his beloved chalice to the church or perch it on some high shelf under heavy guard – but the owner of a Legion, however, gets to take this prize to the range and shoot it – as often as desired.
Unless you’ve been living way off the grid for the past year, you have no doubt heard of the SIG Sauer Legion series of handguns. Currently available in the P226 and P229 DA/SA (double-action/single-action) and P226 SAO (single-action-only), the latter of these seems the rarest – and more Grail-like. This review is of that pistol. Despite the lofty title, I personally hope that the search for perfection in firearms never ends because I want to see manufacturers always striving for it. But I do think the Legion is about as close as I’ve ever seen a production gun come to it – so let’s talk about why.
First and foremost, the Legion is an attainable gun, and I think that is crucial to qualify as a Holy Grail. You can throw ten grand into a 1911 if you want, but you’ll be in the 1% for sure. I didn’t say it’s cheap, and the word ‘affordable’ is subjective. But even if you have to save up for a while, you can buy a Legion pistol somewhere beneath its $1,428 MSRP (prices in the $1,200 range are not uncommon). Perhaps the title should read, “Production Perfection”, because unlike custom built or specialty shop handguns that can cost $4,000 and up, the Legion is a production gun. That’s not to say that SIG Sauer doesn’t treat them well when they build them and that they don’t have excruciatingly tight tolerances that must be met – but frankly I think every gun SIG makes fits that description. This is a high-end handgun, there is no denying that, but one that most budgets can make room for if the desire is there.
There are not too many handguns that have had more test rounds through them than the SIG Sauer P226 series. Carried for years by demanding law enforcement and elite combat units, the P226 is literally a battle-proven gun. In fact, these same elite forces and sworn officers had a lot to do with the features that make up the Legion Series – but more on that in a bit. I have a number of SIG Sauer handguns, and I’m at a loss to say if any one of them has ever malfunctioned. Ever.
Building on the P-Series platform is a pretty good starting point. The entry level SIG pistols are far higher quality in materials and workmanship than most competitors can even offer in their premium suite. And it only goes up from there in terms of available finishes, grips, sights, triggers, etc. SIG Sauer has more SKUs of the P226 variants than many companies offer in total. This means that SIG Sauer is a company that not only listens to customer suggestions and requests but is willing to offer dozens of variations of a single model to satisfy those needs and wants.
What’s so special? My first thought when I saw the very first press release for the Legion Series was that this is a gun designed by the marketing department. Add in the Legion fanboy club membership and branded swag (more on this later), and it certainly looks like the ads were printed before the gun was designed. But the more I read and studied, the more I came to think that might not be so. First off, I don’t consider a marketing-driven product line to be a bad thing. Smart people make a lot of money by being keenly attuned to the marketplace and filling in the holes created by consumer demand. And bless them for their work, because we have more products to choose from than ever before. So, whether it was the egg or the chicken that came first, in this case, it doesn’t matter – the end result is the SIG Sauer Legion Series.
SIG tells us that the Legion was built based on numerous requests and observed modifications among the user base. In other words, build a gun the way serious shooters want it after they are done customizing it.
I think most everyone will consider each of the Legion upgrade components to be preferable to the stock part – maybe with the exception of sights (which can vary greatly in personal preference). Here’s a tour through those extras:
Frame enhancements that include subtle changes to the Elite beavertail, a deeper cutout beneath the trigger guard, and exceptionally good checkering – all work together to make this gun feel like it melts into your hand. I enjoy the ergonomics of the P-Series in general, and these details make me love it. The checkering on the bottom of the trigger guard is a new touch. It is intended to give more traction to the index finger of your support hand and further shorten follow-up shot split times. I honestly was not aware of the checkering while shooting the gun. That’s mostly a good thing because it means it was not aggressive enough to be irritating to my skin. I think it might benefit a gloved hand more.
- Operating parts – the guide rod and trigger group are greatly enhanced in the Legion SAO. The trigger is a flat target-style trigger from the SIG Master Shop, and it breaks light and crisp no matter where you place your finger. Further enhanced by the legendary SRT (short reset trigger) system, the mechanism reaches full reset before you realize you’re letting it off. I have joked with others that just your pulse will reset this trigger – but I’m only half joking! The solid steel guide rod adds slightly more weight out front to better balance the pistol and reduce muzzle flip.
- The X-RAYTM sights may not be everyone’s favorite, but I like them very much. I have installed very similar sights on several handguns – especially those I wish to shoot competitively. The bright glow of the lime green ring on the front sight is ideal for rapid acquisition, while the minimalist dots in the anti-glare serrated rear sight do not compete for your attention. Yet, in full darkness, all three dots glow brightly via their Tritium inserts. The sights are steel and traditional SIG size and shape, and can easily run the slide in one-handed situations.
- Last – but most certainly not least, is the pair of G10 grips. Far more than just a cosmetic element, these grips offer slip-free hold wet or dry and without feeling overly aggressive or irritating to the skin. Combined with the 25 LPI checkering on the front strap, this handgun has the grip of a true battle weapon.
Cap those elements off with the exclusive “Legion Gray” PVD finish and the antiqued bronze Legion medallion in the grips, and you have a pistol that is like the Indy Pace Car edition of your favorite muscle car. So, to answer the most common question I’m asked about the Legion: “Is it really worth the extra money?”- Yes. For me, it is well worth it because I appreciate the value added by each element that SIG included making the Legion a Legion.
Safe Queen or Range King?
When I brought the Legion P226 SAO home and admired it for the first time, I decided right then that this was not going to be a safe queen – despite its beautiful appearance and above average price. I shoot competitive sports – mostly IDPA, and while I’m a middle-of-the-pack level guy, I have many friends and acquaintances that are quite serious sponsored shooters, and I know what kind of money can be invested in a match pistol. I considered the Legion P226 SAO and realized that right out of the box, it has just about everything you can add to a handgun to make it rock in the IDPA world. So then why not fire the very first rounds during an actual IDPA match? That’s just what I did. Not a single practice shot (though I confess I did some dry fire practice). If this gun was going to sink or swim it was going to do it in a timed and scored match with people and cameras watching. No pressure.
The Legion performed flawlessly during the IDPA match, and during the “hey, mind if I try that?” session afterward. So, the next morning I got up and took it to a Steel Challenge match, where once again it performed perfectly (much more so than yours truly). The incredible trigger in this gun is match-ready, the sights are fast-acquisition, and the ergonomics are superb. My draws were intuitive and fluid and I did not have to adjust my grip once I pushed out to the target. Being more accustomed to striker fired guns in competition, I did have a few hiccups where I was slow to disengage the safety – stupid user error. Muzzle lift is minimal with the 9mm competition loads I was shooting and double taps were not only easy, but some of them produced “one-hole” results. Those two matches accounted for the first 250 rounds fired through the pistol – without a single hiccup. It won’t be the last time I step up to the firing line and make ready with this gun. That’s a promise.
The P226 SAO Legion was tested at 25 yards from a rested position, and yielded good but certainly not surprising results. SIG Sauer’s Elite Performance ammo accounted for the two best groups by a significant margin, with the FMJ edging out its sibling JHP for top honors. Remington UMC produced the next best group, with Speer Gold Dot bringing up the rear.
The Legion prints at point of aim elevation at 25 yards and less. The SIG Sauer Elite Performance ammo produced the two best groups. Coincidence?
The Fanboy Legion Club
Legion ownership also endows the buyer with membership in SIG Sauer’s exclusive Legion Owner’s club (no, you don’t get a fez) that gives you access to a Legion-only section of the online SIG Store, where you can purchase specially branded accessories like holsters, flashlights, knives, and swag. It also puts you on a mailing list for Legion owner email updates. It requires you to register your serial number on the SIG Sauer website. Yeah, I took pause at that too – but SIG Sauer assures us it is a warranty registration only and is strictly private. The instant you complete the simple registration process you are rewarded with a discount code worth 20 percent off a SIG Store purchase. Save this code and use it! I recommend waiting until you have a few items to buy because the discount is applied to a complete order (not just individual purchases).
Once you register your Legion pistol you will also receive (in a week or two) a free custom storage case for your gun and a Legion challenge coin. The case has high-quality foam that is custom cut to fit your handgun, two magazines, a knife, and the challenge coin. It’s a nice quality case, but would be 100% more useful if it had a handle of some sort. As of this writing, there is no Legion holster available for the P226 SAO, and the ones for the DA/SA variant will not work. When I asked about it, I got two different answers varying from “it’s in the works and should be available soon”, to “no idea, they may not be offering one for the SAO”. Time will tell – but lucky for me, my P320 full-size holster (the one provided with any P320 purchased) worked pretty well and I’m still using that one.
The SIG Sauer Legion Series isn’t for everyone, and it’s not intended to be. Not everyone who loves the BMW 3 Series wants an M3, but those who do won’t settle for less. I think the Legion Series will have a similarly dedicated customer base. Put my name on that list. I think the P226 SAO is elite even among Legions because it is an even further reduced segment of SIG lovers that choose the single-action-only variant of the handgun. Don’t dismiss the Legion Series as marketing hype – you will cheat yourself out of one of the best handgun experiences there is. Word has it that the series will soon expand to include the P220. I’m drooling already.