Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MArooned Product Review: SIG SAUER P250 Compact

In the state of Massachusetts, there are few choices for new polymer .45 ACP automatics. There’s the Smith & Wesson M&P45, the Ruger P345, and… well… the S&W M&P45. Glock, XD, etc. are not “compliant” handguns, and therefore command premiums far in excess of their worth in Free America. When SIG SAUER introduced the P250, it was interesting – the full size, like the M&P, has a magazine capacity of 10 rounds, meaning that magazines will be readily available even for ban states. When they introduced the P250 Compact, it was very intriguing – there are currently zero MA-compliant compact polymer 45s available.

I talked with the good folks at SIG SAUER last year at the NRA convention in Pittsburgh, and was informed that the P250 Compact was slated to become MA-compliant. Shortly before SHOT Show in January, I received word that a T&E sample had been sent to my FFL, and for the past four months I’ve been putting it through its paces. It arrived in the usual configuration:

Of note is that it only ships with one magazine; a cost-saving measure of debatable merit. The MSRP on the P250 Compact with night sights is $521, and the off-the-shelf price at my local gun store is $490 (although they do offer a second magazine in their OTS price). New magazines are on the pricey side, priced around $40 each – when you can find them. Now, granted, the S&W M&P45 magazines  are within $10 of that same price, so it may just be that the days of $15 magazines have passed like the days of $90/1,000 round cans of 7.62X39mm… Also of note is that the sights are proprietary and non-standard – it’s not a dovetail you can drift out to replace in a couple of minutes. Spring for the night sights from the factory.

The most notable part of the P250 is of course the interchangeable fire control group:

This is the actual “firearm” part of the P250; this is the serialized guts of the gun that counts as the firearm. It can be dropped in a sub-compact or full sized frame as well as the compact frame shown which allows for a wide variety of configurations. With just one firearm, it is possible to have a full-sized 9mm duty gun with 17 round capacity that can turn into a sub-compact .45 ACP CCW firearm with 6 round capacity, all by field-stripping the pistol and dropping the fire control group into a different frame.

Oh, yes, you’d better believe there’s going to be a video forthcoming that shows exactly this…

A valid counterpoint to this system, of course, is that the kits needed to change sizes are half the price of a second gun entirely – MSRP on the Caliber X-Change Kit is $285 and the grip frames are another $45. With the MSRP for the stock P250 Compact at $468, it’s more than half again the price to get a full sized frame and slide – but then again, it is most of a new gun in the kit. The fire control unit remains constant, though, so the trigger pull, reset, etc. are going to be the same in the full sized 9mm configuration as well as the subcompact .45 ACP configuration.

So, what’s it like?

Well, the first thing I did was to take it down to the basics

It field strips very similarly to most other centerfire SIG SAUER handguns  - ensure clear, lock the slide back, rotate the takedown lever, remove slide, separate barrel and recoil spring from slide. To remove the fire control unit, simply slide out the takedown lever, manually pull the hammer back, and pull the unit forward, up, and out of the grip. Reassembly follows the procedure in reverse, and it is extremely simple to field strip and reassemble with no tools needed.

I didn’t get much opportunity to carry the P250 Compact. It’s about the size of a Glock 19, a little larger in most dimensions but about the same general size. It’s not quite a full-sized gun, but it is pretty sizable, and the sub-compact size is much more portable, so I saved most of the carry experience for the smaller grip and slide. The few times I carried the Compact, though, I found it to be reasonable for concealed carry when a cover garment was used. It’s not going to disappear under a T-shirt, but it’s certainly not expected to be that simple to conceal.

Shooting the P250.

At first pull, the trigger is long. Loooong. It’s a double action only, hammer-fired action, so that’s certainly to be expected – it is very much like a double action revolver in that regard. The release occurs with the trigger very nearly all the way at the back of the trigger guard – at first somewhat disconcerting, but after getting used to it, certainly not unreasonable. For a firearm with no safeties, the long trigger pull ensures that the P250 will only fire when you intend it to.

The big question, of course, is how does it shoot? Well, the picture does the talking:

Two magazines, 25 feet, unsupported rapid fire. The first couple shots went low, but once I adjusted for the long, heavy trigger pull, accuracy was well within acceptable limits (well, for my shooting, at least). It’s easy to keep on target, surprising for a lightweight .45 ACP, and as the trigger smoothed out (and I got more used to it), it’s certainly accurate enough for use as a defensive arm. If I want something for long distance pistol work or bullseye, I’ll grab a 1911 or a revolver. For down-and-dirty defensive work, the P250 is plenty accurate. 


One of the funniest parts of running the P250 was that – despite internet protestations to the contrary, I found the P250 to be the only new semi-automatic firearm I’ve had for testing and evaluation that did not have some form of malfunction in the testing period. Some were as simple as failures to fire, some more severe, but even the vaunted Smith & Wesson M&Ps had some initial teething issues. I think a good deal of my surprise with the failure rate comes from shooting mostly used guns – teething issues are long past – but the P250 did not have a single issue with loading, firing, or ejecting any rounds in all of the testing performed. I put nearly 500 rounds through the P250, most of which were Tulammo steel-cased 230 grain FMJ – and all were without any sort of cleaning or lubrication. The first time the P250 was cleaned was for the photo shoot for this post…


I was very pleasantly surprised by the SIG SAUER P250. For an entry level firearm, the performance was excellent, the accuracy as good as could be expected for my shooting, and the reliability was well-above average. The fit and finish on the model I had for testing was excellent, the firearm felt solid and sturdy and did not change over the course of several months and several hundred rounds. It’s simple to operate, simple to maintain, and should serve well as a defensive sidearm.

SIG SAUER P250: Forget what you think you know – this is a contender!

That is all.


Wally said...

After being dissatisfied with my only ig purchase (p239, NIB) I'd love to try the p250.

And - I am holding back my streaming rant of profanity about the "registered firearm" ......

Tam said...

I had no idea you were a southpaw. ;)

James Nelson said...

I fell into a deal on P250s. A guy had several he had just bought, only fired one, and was desperate for cash. His price for 3 complete guns and one kit was $800.
I have been favorably impressed also. I like double action revolvers and two of the guns have excellent triggers the other one is maybe very good. I shot them low at first but having gotten used to them I now shoot them to point of aim.
Reliability was also excellent, with no bobbles in several hundred rounds each. Accuracy was about average to me.

LMB said...

What, no bayonet lug?

Theresa said...

Is that semi-automatic good one for beginners? I still am a beginner when it comes to guns. I need a something that I can practice on. Will you be able to recommend this one for me?

Anonymous said...

Bought a P250 .40 S&W FS about a month ago and I'm so glad the Yankee Marshall review on the P250C. I first bought a Sig Sauer SP2022 9mm about 4 months ago & I must say it is a fine pistol. But after reading about .40 S&W cartridge & the reason behind it's development, I decided to buy a second pistol. After doing my research it was down to 3 pistols( Glock 22, Taurus PT100 & P250),I must say the P250 has performed beyond expectations. The trigger is one of the smoothest pistols I have tried & once I got used to it,I now shoot better groupings than my SP2022. I have used 300 Armscor 180 gr. Ammo & I have not experienced any malfunctions. The date of manufacture on my P250 is Oct 2010, it has the new grip & magazine style. I agree with the Yankee Marshall, the P250 is a well made pistol.

Anonymous said...

Just bought a p250c last week. I was looking specifically for a polymer DAO carry piece in .40 cal. The p250 fits the bill perfectly.

Not sure what all the bad press is about with the p250. There was a previous version that wasn't so hot, but the new versions are supposed to be much better.

This gun is designed well for what it is supposed to do, personal defense. If you want a range gun with a lighter trigger, this is not the gun for you. The DAO is nice because although it has a long reset, the trigger pull is 6 lbs or so, that makes it easier to deal with in my opinion.

Other than that, its a nice gun at a good price.

Anonymous said...

I own it. It is a fantastic gun. Trigger is extremely smooth, and even comes close to my .357 Colt Python.

Reports of reliability issues are outdated.

Anonymous said...

Can you use a 250 compact 15 rd magazine in a 250 sub-compact?
Roswell Evans

Jay G said...


I'm 99% sure it can - I know that the subcompact frame can use both the compact frame mags and the full-size frame mags in .45 ACP. I'd be shocked if the 9 mm wasn't designed the same.