The silhouette of the SIG P-series is one of the most recognizable in firearms. The Legion medallion in the grip says “this one is special.”
It doesn’t matter what statistics you have, or who produced them. No ballistics tests or anecdotal testimony is going to convince some folks that there is any caliber worth having a handgun chambered in, other than .45 ACP. I sometimes engage in these debates, light-heartedly (I like to think) and occasionally play the Devil’s advocate in favor of some lesser ballistic incarnation than the one that the good Lord and John Moses Browning agreed upon. But even when I do manage to keep a straight face while saying “recent tests demonstrate that 9mm can be just as effective,” I too am an old-fashioned fan of “The American Caliber” of .45 ACP. For a while, it was an open-ended question as to whether SIG was going to add more models to the Legion family, and even after the P220 was mentioned by name, it seemed we would wait forever to see them materialize. Introduced at SHOT 2016 for the first time, the Legion faithful have spent about 18 months pacing the floor and clicking the SIG website for the announcement that the pistol will finally be available. Well, the devotees need wear no more holes in their socks – the P220 Legion has arrived.
The P220 Legion adds more than just another P-Series label to the Legion lineup, it brings with it the incredibly popular and million-times-proven .45 caliber built for the Colt Automatic Pistol. For those questioning why the P220 was chosen to be the Legion’s foray into .45, and not a more modern and higher capacity model like the P227, my guess would be that it is about legacy. The P220 was largely responsible for the company’s early success and remains a relevant and reliable pistol to this day. And before you complain about the eight-round magazine capacity as being insufficient by modern standards, be sure you don’t have an 1911 (or three) in your safe. I like that SIG chose the legendary workhorse P220 as the next Legion platform.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
For those not already familiar with the SIG Sauer Legion series of handguns, here is a quick primer on the topic. SIG Sauer makes many of their most popular pistols in a wide variety of variations, with many optional components or special versions. Even so, the ‘power users’ of the guns were making modifications to them, and many of these modifications were quite popular. Trigger work, for example, is something that most aficionados of a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol will require, so they can have a smoother (if not lighter) trigger pull in both DA and SA modes. Changing pistol grips is another frequent modification — and then there are new sights to install, and custom checkering to the frame … you get the idea. The idea for the Legion pistol was to build a pre-modified gun for the top-tier SIG user that would include the most common and popular modifications, but to SIG specifications and with SIG quality control. It also includes a sort of pseudo brotherhood/sisterhood aspect by issuing a special carrying case and challenge coin for each owner of a Legion, as well as Legion-only gear and accessories. It’s marketing genius if you can pull it off, and SIG pulled it off in spades. But all of that means very little if the product does not live up to the hype. Legion lives up to the hype.
Beneath the Legion Gray finish, the X-Ray sights and G10 grip panels, lies the heart and soul of the SIG Sauer P220 and decades of proven reliability. The trigger work alone is worth the upgrade price to a Legion, but there are also other extras under the hood, like a solid steel guide rod that increases rigidity and adds some weight out front for recoil balance. The solid guide rod weighs about 2½ times more than the standard hollow guide rod of the P-series. So, while at first glance the Legion Series may seem like a cosmetic variant at a premium price, it is in fact primarily built to be a shooter’s gun. The trigger is the famous SIG SRT trigger – but on steroids. The Master Shop quality trigger is smooth. Even in double action, there is no stacking or false walls. It breaks cleanly at 10½ pounds with no overtravel. In single action, it takes on near superhero qualities. There is some distance to be traveled with the takeup if you let the trigger back out to its rested position, as there always is with a DA/SA mechanism in single-action mode. After that ¼ inch or so of takeup, the trigger is sitting firmly at the wall with no creep. The single-action break is 4 ½ pounds on my Lyman digital scale. But now comes the part where I could sell a Legion to anyone at the range – the reset. In reality, the trigger reset sweeps the toe of the trigger probably 1/8-inch, but you’ll swear it’s not half that when you feel it. I have told range buddies that just your pulse will reset the trigger, and when you get into the groove of rapid fire with this pistol – you’d swear I’m right.
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Other shooter-focused extras include the generous checkering of the frontstrap and underside of the trigger guard (for the index finger of the support hand to lock into) of 25 lines-per-inch (lpi) nicely cut points. The G10 grips are subtle and classic in appearance, with a traditional diamond pattern checkering rather than some weird dinosaur scale, tacti-cool pattern that does more to remove skin than to help your grip. I find the bite of the grips to be near perfection, without the attention-stealing pain of more aggressive designs. The controls decocking the pistol and releasing the slide stop are nicely checkered and are smaller for a more snag-free gun. The trigger guard has additional undercutting for a higher grip and the elite-style beavertail lets you push your hand up firm and high. The sights on the Legion pistols are called X-Ray by SIG Sauer, and consist of a serrated rear with muted small Tritium combat dots and a brightly glowing green ring surrounding a Tritium dot out front. The X-Ray sights remain one of the best iron sight systems I’ve used on a handgun, and of course they are steel and the rear sight makes a strong contact point for one-handed action work if necessary. Finish all of this off with three magazines included and you’re out the door with an incredible piece of shooting hardware at a value price. If you tried buying a base model P220 and modifying to just half of the features listed above you’d be spending more money.