SIG Sauer makes some very reliable, very tough fighting handguns. I’ve owned a P220 and several P226 pistols. My final stop in my police career required I carry a P226 chambered in .40 S&W. It never failed me. But when it comes to subcompact pistols for backup or concealed carry, SIG Sauer is not the name that leaps to my mind. I’ve got other guns for that.
Recently, I was given the chance to review the SIG P290 RS Extreme. The P290 RS series is a diminutive line of pistols that share some of the look and feel of the larger P226 series of pistols. Yet, they are small and light enough to be carried discreetly from view. In this article, I will give you my thoughts about this pistol: what I liked, and what I did not.
The P290, Generally
The SIG Sauer P290 RS is a polymer-framed, double-action-only (DAO) pistol chambered in 9mm. The handgun is compact and is clearly designed for concealed carry.
The gun comes with two magazines: a six round mag and an eight round mag. The six round mag fits nearly flush, but has a small extension that allows for a little extra grip on the gun. The eight round magazine extends below the magazine well and has a short sleeve that fits over the bottom of the magazine. The sleeve can be removed, but when in place, it does not shift or move up and down the magazine body.
With many small guns, you wind up with tiny or nearly non-existent sights. For all but the smallest of guns, I think this is a mistake, and I prefer a gun to have useable sights. The P290 RS comes with full size SIGLITE night sights. The sights are in a three-dot configuration with tritium vials for low light shooting. I find the sights are easy to see and use.
Your experience may differ, but I have always found that SIGLITE sights are a bit weak compared to other brands of night sights. Unfortunately, I found this to be the case on the P290 RS. In very dark conditions, they were useable. In low-light conditions, I didn’t think they were bright enough to make much of an improvement over plain white dots.
The front of the rear sight has a flat front instead of a ramp. Some folks prefer a ramp as it may be less likely to catch on a cover garment during a draw. I prefer a flat front so I can perform one-hand reloads or an immediate action drill if needed. This may be less important to you.
An accessory rail of sorts is under the front of the pistol. It is not a traditional rail, but rather a hole in the frame designed for a laser aiming module sold by SIG Sauer. The gun ships with a small rubber plug installed in the hole to prevent debris from getting into the gun. If you buy the laser, you remove the plug and slide the module into place.
The SIG P290 that I received came with a polymer paddle holster. The holster is a simple, open top design relying on friction to hold the gun in place. The paddle is easy to put on, and once in position does a very good job of staying in one place. The holster is marked “Made in Israel,” and it appears to be made by IMI Defense.
What is the RS?
In 2012, SIG Sauer revamped the P290 line and brought out the P290 RS. The RS refers to the newer gun’s second strike, or restrike, capability. The idea is that if a round fails to fire, the shooter can pull the trigger a second time and stands a good chance of the round being fired that time.
I’ve read research in the past that most ammunition that doesn’t fire on the first attempt, will fire the second time the pin hits the primer. I’m a little dubious of the usefulness of the restrike capability, but several companies offer pistols with this feature. I can see no downside to a gun having this capability, and its addition should only make the gun appealing to more people.
The RS pistols had a few other changes from the original P290 including:
- a redesigned grip to reduce the possibility of hammer bite,
- a redesigned magazine baseplate to include a finger groove,
- a reshaped magazine release to help prevent unintentional dropping of mags, and
- a reshaped slide stop lever.
What’s So Enhanced?
The Enhanced version of the P290 RS pistol includes a set of G-10 grips with a green and black pattern. I find the grip panels to be very attractive and superior to the plain black panels found on the standard version of this pistol. I believe this is the only difference between the standard P290 and the Enhanced P290.
SIG Sauer P290 RS Specifications
|model number tested||290RS-9-E-BLKGRN|
|standard magazine capacity||six rounds|
|width||1.1" at widest part|
|weight (unloaded)||20.5 ounces|
|sights||three-dot night sights|
|grip panels||green and black G-10|
Shooting the SIG P290 RS was what I expected. Recoil was mild, even with +P+ ammo, and accuracy was very good. The large sights were easy to find and aligned nicely. If you have ever shot a SIG Sauer P-series pistol, this gun will feel very similar.
I preferred shooting with the extended magazine in place. I felt it gave me complete control of the gun at all times. However, I was surprised how easy it was to shoot the gun with the shorter magazine. Control was not a problem at all.
I had no malfunctions of any kind with the pistol.
My only complaint about shooting the gun is the DAO trigger. There is no problem with the trigger or its functioning; it works fine. I would just prefer to have the DAK (Double Action Kellerman) trigger instead. The SIG DAO triggers tend to be smooth, but long. The DAK is smooth, but with a shorter pull. Having owned SIG Sauer pistols with traditional double-action/single-action, DAO and DAK triggers, I’ll take the DAK every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
SIG P290 RS Chronograph Results
|Remington UMC 115 gr FMJ||997 fps||253 ft-lbs|
|Federal 115 gr JHP +P+||1135 fps||328 ft-lbs|
|Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP +P||1085 fps||324 ft-lbs|
|Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr JHP +P||989 fps||293 ft-lbs|
|Winchester PDX1 147 gr JHP||874 fps||249 ft-lbs|
The SIG P290 RS is a solid pistol. It is thin and light enough to be carried in most CCW situations and would make a nice backup gun for a police officer or security guard. The gun was reliable with a variety of ammo, including with several brands of self defense hollow points.
I would prefer a DAK trigger on this pistol, but the DAO isn’t awful. If you like SIG Sauer handguns, and you need something small for carrying concealed, the P290 RS is a good choice.