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Handguns

History of the Ruger SR9 Pistol

In 2007, Sturm, Ruger and Company introduced it’s first striker-fired pistol: the SR9. While the gun is no longer in the company’s line-up, it left an impression on the company’s handgun manufacturing that can still be seen today.

This is a brief history of the gun and to what it ultimately led.

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Optics and Sighting Systems

LaserMax Uni-Max Green Laser for Combat Firearms

LaserMax introduced a new laser aiming device using green light. The unit is capable of being used on both pistols and rifles. Due to its compact profile, it should work very well with even smaller handguns.

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Handguns

History of the SIG P250 Pistol

While it is largely forgotten by many people, the SIG P250 pistol may have been one of the most important handguns in the company’s history.

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Not because of what it accomplished itself – but because of what it inspired.

By most standards, the P250 was a lackluster offering from SIG Sauer. However, it paved the way for the incredibly popular P320 handgun and the adoption of the same gun by the U.S. military in the form of the M17 and M18 pistols.

Introduction of the P250

SIG Sauer introduced the P250 pistol in October 2007 at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention.

SIG Subcompact P250 in .380 ACP at the 2012 SHOT Show
At the 2012 SHOT Show, SIG Sauer introduced the P250 Subcompact. This display model was chambered for the .380 ACP.

The IACP convention is an annual meeting of law enforcement administrators that has an associated trade show. Few significant gun announcements are made at the event since the audience isn’t really a pro-gun crowd.

SIG, however, hoped to market the P250 to law enforcement due to its very special features that seemed able to reduce department budgets without compromising reliability. SIG believed that the gun would appeal to law enforcement administrators and went with the IACP launch.

P250 Interchangeable Modules

What kind of features did the P250 have that might catch the interest of a law enforcement administrator?

SIG P250 Modular Fire Control
The P250 fire control module is shown in this cutaway illustration of the gun.

The biggest features was the design that made the gun’s internal chassis the gun’s receiver. In a legal context, the receiver is the part of a firearm that is serial numbered and requires transfer paperwork.

For many pistols, the frame – the grip assembly on which the slide rides – is the part with the serial number. For the SIG P250, a removable metal insert was the serial numbered part, not the polymer grip module. The metal chassis was named the gun’s fire control unit by SIG Sauer.

Fire Control Module for P250
Removed from the grip module, this is the serialized part or “gun”.

An end user would use the gun the exact same way he or she would use any other pistol. If, however, they wanted a more compact grip, the internal chassis could be pulled from one grip module and dropped into another.

Since the grip modules were simple polymer parts that were not considered firearms, they could be made inexpensively then sold and shipped without any onerous paperwork. For a department, this was potentially a huge deal.

Compact Grip Module
You can purchase grip modules, like this compact unit, and change the gun’s size to meet your changing needs.

Consider that police departments employ incredible diverse people of all hand sizes. What fits one officer may be wholly inappropriate for another. Having a single chassis that could drop into any one of several dozen different sized meant the department could improve officer performance for the cost of a few dollars per module rather than hundreds each for different sized pistols.

The use of modules also appealed to departments because there are different handgun needs within the agency. A uniformed patrol officer can easily carry a full-size pistol in an open security holster. The same gun would be a burden for many officers to conceal in an investigative assignment.

SIG P250 in ACP Platform
SIG attempted to expand the modular concept with the Adaptive Carbine Platform. Though doomed for failure, the ACP did work with the P250 pistol.

Traditionally, that meant the agency would need to have a second set of firearms in its inventory for detectives. Some departments might have further handgun requirements for its vice squad or SWAT breaching officers that would require a third or fourth set of handguns.

The P250 aimed to change all of that. SIG intended that a department could buy one gun with a few extra grip modules. An officer could then be issued a single weapon that changed sizes as the assignments changed.

Ron Cohen Interview

SIG didn’t limit its modularity pitch to law enforcement agencies. In an appearance on the Cam and Company radio show at the 2008 SHOT Show, the company’s CEO and president, Ron Cohen, appeared to talk about the pistol.

“It’s not a gun; it’s a system.”

SIG Sauer SEO and President Ron Cohen, Cam & Co. radio show January 2008

Cohen and Adam Pinchot, a SIG employee, then demonstrated how the grip module can easily be changed for another of a different size.

Cohen stressed that no single gun can fit all people well. As the P250 is not a “single gun,” it allows “the dealer to adapt it to your requirement,” he said. The P250 offers “a suitcase of options” that “lets you change caliber and size at will.”

Cohen promised, “There is no compromise on quality, accuracy, or safety.” Yet, Cohen said the MSRP on the P250 is “around $650,” which makes it one of the least expensive guns Sig Sauer has brought to market. MSRP on the SIG P250 ultimately landed at $699.

Hammer Fired

SIG Sauer made it’s handgun reputation on reliable, hammer-fired pistols like the P220 and P226. SIG bet that it could arrest the progress of the striker-fired revolution that had eaten much of its handgun sales.

Animal Mother Day
Animal Mother preferred hammer-fired pistols. Unfortunately for him, the U.S. military (including his beloved Corps) went with the striker-fired P320.

The P250 was a double-action-only (DAO) pistol with a hammer firing system. Sadly, the system was the longer DAO system the company often used instead of the superior double-action Kellerman (DAK) trigger that was an option on the company’s metal frame pistols.

While SIG undoubtedly saw this as a selling feature to under-informed police administrators who were concerned about liability from the striker-fired boogeyman. It does not appear the bet paid off as many agencies continued migrating to Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P pistols. The pro-SIG agencies largely continued to purchase traditional guns like the P226.

Additional Features

By 2012, the company was fully invested in the P250 platform. This seems to have been the high water mark for the pistol, though it is my understanding that the company was already working on the gun’s replacement.

SIG P250 Desert Digital

The P250 guns were offered in three sizes and five centerfire calibers for a total of 14 different configurations available from the factory. Further customizations could be accomplished with the choice of three different grip widths and two trigger reach options.

Centerfire caliber options included:

  • .380 ACP
  • 9mm (aka 9×19 or 9mm Parabellum)
  • .357 SIG
  • .40 S&W
  • .45 ACP

From the factory, you could purchase the gun with either Contrast or SIGLITE Night Sights. The Contrast sights were the company’s non-illuminated dot and post sights. SIGLIGHT Night Sights used a tritium-powered 3-dot arrangement.

SIG Sauer also offered a rimfire version of the gun chambered for the .22 LR. Additional information about that model is below.

P250 Specifications

The full size SIG P250 had a stainless steel slide with a black Nitron finish, polymer grip and a M1913 accessory rail.

calibers9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, .45 ACP
magazine capacity9mm – 17 rounds, .357 SIG & .40 S&W – 14 rounds, .45 ACP – 10 rounds
barrel length4.7″
weight29.4 oz (unloaded)
sightscontrast or night sights
MSRP$558 (January 2012)

The P250 Compact was the middle size of the line up. Like the larger gun, it featured a Nitron-finished stainless steel slide, polymer grip module, a DAO trigger and an accessory rail. It added the option of a fifth chambering: .380 ACP.

calibers.380 ACP, 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, .45 ACP
magazine capacity.380 ACP, 9mm – 15 rounds, ,357 SIG, .40 S&W – 12 rounds, .45 ACP – 9 rounds
barrel length3.9″
weight26.5 oz (unloaded)
sightscontrast or night sights
MSRP$558 (January 2012)

Rounding out the P250 line was the Subcompact model. Although smaller, it enjoyed all of the same features of the Compact save one: the Subcompact did not have an accessory rail.

calibers.380 ACP, 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, .45 ACP
magazine capacity.380 ACP, 9mm – 15 rounds, ,357 SIG, .40 S&W – 12 rounds, .45 ACP – 9 rounds
barrel length3.6″
weight24.9 oz
sightscontrast or night sights
MSRP$558 (January 2012)

Rimfire Version

In addition to the centerfire pistols, SIG offered a blowback-operated .22 LR version of the P250 called the P250-22. These units used the same fire control unit and grip module as the regular guns. However, the P250-22 had a new slide assembly.

According to SIG, the P250-22 was compatible with the centerfire pistols. So, you should be able to swap a 9mm slide assembly onto a P250-22 frame without issues.

The P250-22 had adjustable sights and a 10-round magazine.

Other Variants

P250 Compact Diamond Plate
Diamond Plate was one of the more unusual variants offered by SIG on these pistols.

SIG Sauer offered a number of variants in the P250 line. These were not always catalog items but instead would appear on the company’s website or as special runs for distributors.

SIG P250 Camo SHOT Show
SIG introduced the All Terrain Tactical variant of the P250 at the 2009 SHOT Show.

For example, SIG offered the full and compact P250 pistols with a bright stainless finish on the slide. These were known as Two Tone models.

SIG P250 Two Tone
This is the standard two tone version of the full size pistol.

Additionally, there were grip modules offered with a desert-type Digital Camo and an All Terrain Digital camo pattern.

Performance

The P250 pistols I shot were all reliable and accurate. To me, the trigger pull was surprisingly easy for a DAO gun, but the pull seemed much longer than necessary for a modern defensive firearm.

Ryan Michaud of the Handgun podcast gives the P250 a once-over.

One of the issues many people have with the traditional SIG pistols is the trigger reach. If you have long fingers, the P220/226 lines of pistols are no problem. Ditto for the P250.

However, if you have small or medium sized hands, you really needed the Reduced Reach Trigger for optimum shooting. I much preferred the Reduced Reach Trigger on my P250. For what it is worth, I had the same thing installed on my P226.

My P250 was reliable with all kinds of ammunition include the SIG Sauer defensive ammo.

P250 Adoption

You might ask who or what law enforcement agencies adopted the P250 as a duty firearm.

While we may never know how many departments selected the gun for a service weapon, the number seems to be quite small.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that departments looking for a polymer pistol tended to stick to Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P pistols. Further, agencies that were brand loyal to SIG, by and large, held on to the classic P220/226 models. It probably didn’t help that SIG continued to develop the classic guns like the P226 E2.

Nevertheless, there were some agencies that gave the gun a serious look. Most notoriously was the U.S. Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS).

Air Marshal Scandal

In the fall of 2009, the U.S. Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) announced the SIG Sauer P250 as the new duty gun for their agents.

Chambered in the highly potent .357 Sig cartridge, the FAMS upgraded to the P250 from the SIG Sauer P229. Specifics of the contract were not released by FAMS.

However, in April of 2014, Robert Bray, the director of the Federal Air Marshal Service resigned from that agency amid allegations of illegal gun sales going on during his watch. According to Fox News:

“Poulos [an FAMS supervisor] is accused of using the agency’s federal firearms license and his relationship with gun manufacturer Sig Sauer (sic) to obtain discounted and free guns. He then provided them to high-up agency officials for their personal use..”

According to the same Fox News report, US Representative Richard Hudson (NC) claimed in a letter that:

an Air Marshal supervisor “may have accepted free firearms that were offered because of the employee’s official position in 2010, at a time when such firearms were being tested by FAMS for possible future procurement.”

SIG Sauer representatives declined a request from GunsHolstersAndGear.com to comment on the matter.

Much of the information related to the FAMS is considered classified. Bray’s timing of his resignation essentially prevented public disclosure of the results of the investigation. It is not known what, if any, wrongdoing was uncovered. In a phone interview with CNN, Bray denied any wrongdoing.

Influence on the P320

While the P250 may not have made history in the law enforcement market, it would ultimately make a giant impact on the gun world through its influence on the striker-fired P320.

SIG P320 at 2016 SHOT Show
The SIG P320 is a direct descendent of the P250. Here a subcompact P320 is shown from the 2016 SHOT Show.

I have to admit that I was underwhelmed when I first saw the SIG P320 at the 2014 SHOT Show. My thought was that the company merely pulled the hammer system from the P250 and dropped in a striker assembly in some sort of cost-savings measure.

While I can’t say that money never entered the minds of the folks at SIG Sauer, I can say that the P320 was an evolutionary advancement of the modular system the P250 developed.

The P320 really is a refined, premium version of the P250 pistol. SIG got a lot of things right with the P250 even if the shooting public wasn’t enamored with the gun. As soon as the company dropped in the striker unit, people began to flock to the pistol.

Compatibility with P320

As I’ve described, the P250 served as the test platform for the P320. But, are the parts interchangeable?

Let’s take a look at some of the main components.

Are Grip Modules Interchangeable?

Yes. You can swap the modular fire control unit between any grip module made for either pistol. In fact, I highly recommend looking at the carry-sized module made for the Wilson Combat P320 pistols.

Are Magazines Interchangeable?

Yes. Mags are completely interchangeable between the P250 and P320 platforms.

Are Barrels Interchangeable?

Yes. I urge caution, however, to make sure you don’t mix barrels with the wrong ammo. I’d hate to see someone run into issues because of an oversight.

End of the Line

All good things come to an end, and the run of the P250 line died in 2017. The final centerfire P250 pistols ended production in 2016 with the .22 LR version of the pistol being the sole pistol left in the 2017 catalog. By the following year, the rimfire was removed from the catalog as well.

While the pistol had less than 10 years of service as a defensive firearm, its legacy will stretch on for decades.

The SIG P250 was the proving ground for the modular platform that would become the P320. Where the P250 was met with tepid approval, the P320 enjoys gushing praise.

I know many people who have purchased a P320. Further, many law enforcement agencies are selecting the new SIG for its impressive qualities.

Most significantly, the United States military forces have adopted the pistol as the standard sidearm of our combat troops. This alone ensures the gun will be a long-term success.

And that, I think, is the legacy of the P250. It may never be appreciated for its own accomplishments, but its descendants will leave a lasting impression on the shooting world.

Last update: May 14, 2021.

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