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 traditionally 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 Enhanced. 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.
Fate of the P290 RS
Since I wrote this review, SIG SAUER discontinued the P290 line. You can sometimes pick one up used through our affiliate link to Guns.com.
However, SIG stayed in the compact pistol market with a pistol I think is superior: the P365. They are smaller, lighter and hold more ammunition. While the P290 and P365 are both compact pistols, they are very different and not similar at all. I encourage you to check them out through one of our affiliate links:
General Details of the P290
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.
In addition to the G10 panels, SIG uses an aggressive texture on the polymer frame to help you hold the pistol. The texture is located on the front and rear portions of the grip. I found it worked well to help lock the pistol into my hand.
The P290 shipped with two magazines standard: a flush-fitting 6-rounder and an extended magazine. The extended magazine held 8 rounds and included additional real estate to improve you hold of the gun.
Original SIG P290 magazines are no longer manufactured by the company. However, ProMag currently makes aftermarket magazines for the pistol. You can purchase a flush-fitting 6-round magazine or a 10-round extended magazine through these affiliate links to GunMagWarehouse. I’ve made many purchases from them, and I am exceptionally pleased with their prices and shipping times.
In these photos (above and below,) you can get a feel for how much hand can fit on the pistol with each magazine seated.
Here are the specifications on the SIG P290 RS Enhanced:
|Model Number Tested||290RS-9-E-BLKGRN|
|Magazine Capacity||6, 8 (extended)|
|Action||double action only (DAO)|
|Weight||20.5 oz (unloaded)|
|Sights||3-dot night sights|
|Grip Panels||green & black G10 laminate|
|MSRP||$613 (at the time of the review)|
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.
|Federal BPLE 115 gr JHP +P+||1,135 fps||328 ft-lbs|
|Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr FTX +P||989 fps||293 ft-lbs|
|Remington UMC 115 gr FMJ||997 fps||253 ft-lbs|
|Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP +P||1,085 fps||324 ft-lbs|
|Winchester PDX1 147 gr JHP||874 fps||249 ft-lbs|
Since the P290 is no longer manufactured by SIG SAUER, you might be interested in some of the alternatives to it. So, here are my thoughts on a few competitors.
P290 vs Glock 43
It’s hard to ignore the dominance of Glock in the self-defense market. Nevertheless, Glock was one of the last companies to get into the single-stack, subcompact 9mm market.
The G43 is a solid pistol, and it is one of the self-defense guns I own. Mine has been 100% reliable without any issue that I can recall. Compared to the SIG P290, the Glock 43 is thinner, lighter and has a better trigger.
I recommend reading my full Glock 43 review here.
P290 vs S&W Shield
In the subcompact 9mm market, the Shield has been a runaway hit. Smith & Wesson wasn’t first to the scene, but they definitely hit. a home run with this gun.
The Shield compares favorably to the P290 in almost every aspect. A 7-round magazine is standard for the Shield (with extended mags also available.) Plus, the gun is lighter, thinner and also has a better trigger.
I also own a Shield and rely on it for personal protection. If you are interested, you can read my full review of the Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm here.
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.
Where to Buy a SIG P290
As I mentioned earlier in the article, the SIG P290 was discontinued. However, they are still available on the secondary market. I recommend checking this affiliate link to see what is currently in stock.
Last Update: September 30, 2021
All of the reviews I conduct include a full disclosure of those facts that may impact my views. If you see a site that does not disclose potential biases, you should ask why.
The gun used in this review was a test & evaluation (T&E) P290 provided by SIG SAUER. The gun was a loaner and was shipped back to SIG after my review was written.
In addition to this review, I wrote one on this pistol for Harris Publications (now out of business) for publication in one of its magazines. While the review was different, the substance of the article was the same as were the conclusions reached about this handgun.
No money or other forms of compensation were offered by SIG SAUER to write this article. No requests were made by the company to write a positive review or to change anything in it once it was complete.
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