A Classic Made Even More Compact
I know, I know…ScopedIn is supposed to be a site dedicated to hunting, right? So, what’s a review of a 9mm pistol doing here? We did this review because:
- More of you are asking for information like this these days. Among hunters and non-hunters alike, the desire for personal protection has skyrocketed in recent years. Guns like the P239 are a natural choice for this.
- While the 9mm cartridge is probably inappropriate for hunting, it is a fine choice for a backup gun while hunting. A close-range shot to the head with a good 9mm load will promptly finish off most North American game. It will also afford you all the personal protection you might need, should you run into any aggressive two-legged varmints in the field.
- ScopedIn is, first and foremost, a resource for beginners, and in many ways, the P239 is an ideal first (or only) pistol to own.
SIG SAUER of Exeter, New Hampshire, is a leading supplier of firearms for high-end, mission-critical applications. Their pistols are used by 1 in every 3 law enforcement officers in the USA, and are standard issue for several elite military forces such as the Navy SEALs. The P239 is essentially the P229 (SIG’s very popular service pistol) shrunk down, just a bit in all dimensions. A comparison table shows how subtle these dimensional changes are:
|Weight||32.0 oz.||29.5 oz.|
Not much difference, is it? But, it’s the difference between a gun to be carried on your hip in a duty rig, and a gun for concealment purposes. The 0.3″ difference in width is especially important here, as the reduced bulk goes a long way toward avoiding visual detection. And, while the weight of the P239 isn’t a huge reduction from that of the P229, it strikes a nice compromise: light enough to carry comfortably, but heavy enough to shoot comfortably.
The P239, like its big brother, is a double action/single action (DA/SA) pistol, and comes in three calibers: 9mm (including 9mm +P), .40 S&W and the exotic but potent .357 SIG. Its frame and slide are metal (something I like), which is part of the reason this isn’t a featherweight-class pistol. The slim grips fit well in most adults’ hands, and the gun overall has a solid, high quality feel to it.
The P239, like most SIG pistols, has a magazine release that can be reversed for left-handed shooters. Southpaws (like me) appreciate that SIG has taken efforts not to exclude us from their customer base. The P239 also has a decocker, but no trigger safety. This seems to be a common configuration in DA/SA pistols.
Field stripping the P239 for cleaning and lubrication is simple and requires no tools.
Thanks to its 29.5 ounces of weight, the P239 is much more pleasant to shoot than the super-light alternatives out there. The importance of this is big: the more fun a gun is to shoot, the more likely people are to practice with it, which could come in handy if it ever needs to be drawn in a hostile situation.
In double action, the trigger pull is 10 pounds, which is admittedly heavy, but consistent with most DA pistols. More importantly is that it is smooth enough that I can shoot it offhand without significantly moving my point of aim. In single action, the trigger only requires a much nicer 4.4 pounds, and, after a bit of take-up, breaks very crisply.
When assessing the accuracy of a gun like this, it’s important to keep in mind the purpose of the gun. Short-barreled handguns are difficult to shoot with a high degree of accuracy, not because the gun isn’t capable of such accuracy, but because the distance between the front and rear sights (called the sight radius), is so short that mistakes are magnified.
While shooting the P239 in DA mode from a standing position, I was able to hold it on target at 25 yards and keep my shots within a 10″ circle. While this might not impress anyone at first glance, let me remind you that this gun is designed for shooting at much, much closer distances than 25 yards. And, even a 10″ circle of accuracy is, to adapt a phrase from the rifle shooters, within MOBG (Minute of Bad Guy). To put it another way, this gun will do its job, assuming, of course, that you do yours. Should you wish to shoot this gun from a resting position, you can of course expect much better accuracy.
People looking for a versatile, high-quality 9mm, one that they can take to the range or field as well as carry for self-defense, would be well advised to give the P239 a good look. This little SIG will give you an added sense of security wherever you decide to take it.