Gun Review: SIG SAUER P250 9mm 2SUM

I’ve never owned a SIG SAUER pistol, but I’ve shot a crate of them over the last few decades. Whether I had a 220, 226 or 229 pointed downrange, I always knew what to expect from a SIG: expensive, Swiss quality all-metal pistols with absolutely unfailing reliability, bulky grips, very high bore axes and long, stacking DA trigger pulls. The P250 turns most of these stereotypes upside-down. Well, except for reliability and that bore height thing . . .

The P250 is a whole family of semiautomatic pistols in four calibers, all of which share the same interchangeable fire control module containing the trigger, hammer, ejector and slide release. Barrels and slides vary by caliber, and frames are offered in subcompact, compact, and full size configurations. These three frame and slide setups correspond fairly closely to the dimensions of the ‘Baby’ Glock 26, the compact G19, and the service-pistol G17.

SIG earns at least an honorable mention for Most Awkwardly Product Name Of the Year for calling this combination kit a ‘2SUM.’ It does, however, include everything pictured above: two frames, two barrels, two slides and two magazines with a single fire control module to be shared between them. I like the product (a lot; as you’ll see below) but I still can’t stand the name ‘2SUM.’

Despite a certain family resemblance, the P250 has no parts commonality with any other SIG SAUER guns. With a street price below $400 for the P250 itself and about $600 for the ‘2SUM’ combo pack, the P250 may seem like the Camry V6 to the P229’s Lexus ES 350: almost all the performance for a fraction of the money.

It might seem like it, but it’s not. The P250 looks like other SIGs but it operates and handles so differently that it defies comparison to them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it seems a shame that it can’t share magazines with other SIG pistols. P250s are a bargain, but their magazines are scandalously expensive.

Ergonomics

The P250 happily failed to conform to the SIG SAUER handling deficiencies I’ve become used to over the last 20+ years. Chunky double-stack SIG grips usually feel like a finely polished 2×4 in my hands, but the P250 feels like it was made to fit me. Don’t ask me how, but both grip sizes fit my hands quite nicely.

At the petite end of ‘just right’, the subcompact frame and magazine provide me with a 3-finger grip, but just barely: my little finger gets a little sliver of grip to grab, and there are no magazine or floorplate extensions needed. On the chunkier end of the ‘just right’ zone, the full-size frame provides plenty of room for my support hand without feeling like I’m trying to hang onto a Desert Eagle.

Both grip frames feature molded-in texturing that feels like fine-grit skateboard tape and it gives a completely secure grip, even when your hands are wet or almost numb from the cold. The feel and shape of the full-size grips remind me of the H&K P30, but the P250 lacks the pricy H&K’s interchangeable grip panels.

Instead of the P30’s modular grip panels, the P250 instead offers fully modular grip frames. If your compact or full size grip doesn’t fit quite right, you can replace the entire ‘Standard’ grip frame with a ‘Large’ or ‘Small’ variant for about $45. Subcompacts only come in one grip size (that would be, uh, ‘Small’) since concealment is their raison d’être and a ‘Large’ subcompact would be an oxymoron.

The ‘Mr. Potatohead’ Pistol?

The P250’s parts are insanely interchangeable. Any 9mm grip frame can be matched with any 9mm, .357 Sig or .40 S&W magazine and barrel/slide assembly to make a fully-functional gun. The .45 ACP versions utilize the same fire control module as their smaller siblings but their grip frames aren’t cross-compatible: wider .45 ACP mags, as you might expect, need a wider magazine well.

The interchangeability of 9mm, .357 SIG and .40 components, however, allows you to do some really strange things with this ultra-modular gun.

Look carefully. That’s not a Photoshop fake; it’s a full-size slide on a subcompact frame. It looks a bit odd but it does fit together and it functions just fine. Good luck finding a holster for it (not that you’d want one).

The silliness need not end here. As Al Pacino famously growls in Scent of a Woman, I’m just gettin’ started!

For a bold, fashion-forward look (or a knuckle-singeing AOW with a foregrip if you pay your NFA tax) you can also put the subcompact barrel on the full-size frame! The slide doesn’t cover all of the front dust cover, but at least you know you’ll never press the slide out of battery by jamming it against your target. It looks (and is) utterly stupid and the muzzle gasses will scorch the frame, but you can shoot it that way if you want to.

You can also install the Full-Size barrel in the subcompact slide, although it wouldn’t gain you much accuracy or velocity. Our chronograph measurements from the two barrel lengths were ballistically comparable. Our cheapo Tulammo 115-grain FMJ averaged 1165 fps, while the subcompact was only 42 fps slower 1123 fps. This isn’t surprising, since most 9mm ammo is loaded to burn completely in about 4″ of barrel.

This tomfoolery could continue ad nauseum if I also had the compact grip frame and slide/barrel assembly, but I think you get the idea so I’ll get back to business, m’kay?

If the dizzying selection of grip frames and sizes isn’t enough to find you the perfect fit, SIG SAUER can also send you a replacement trigger with a shorter trigger reach. It doesn’t alter the trigger pull length, but it does shorten the length of pull from the backstrap to the trigger face by a fraction of an inch. The best part? You can install it yourself without tools, and it only costs about $30.

Controls

Ergonomic customization options may be almost infinite, but the P250 keeps it simple when it comes to operating controls. All you get is a trigger, a magazine release, a takedown lever and ambidextrous slide releases. The mag release is reversible for left-handed operation using only a paperclip for a tool. (It goes in the notch on the release button in the picture below.)

I know that some shooters consider it a crime against nature to use a pistol’s slide release to actually release the slide, but many of us think otherwise. After all, if God hadn’t intended us to use the slide release lever, why did he give us thumbs?

As an unrepentant slide release lever-flicker, I find the P250’s twin slide releases to be among the best I’ve ever used. Unlike JMB’s 1911 slide release, they don’t have any other function: they’re not the barrel link or the takedown pin, so they can be placed well rearward on the gun. Instead of requiring a long, awkward reach to release, they’re perfectly placed so you can swipe them with your thumb without having to shift your firing grip. Kinda like a 1911 safety, but easier.

They’re so rounded and low-profile they’ll never snag on anything, but SIG still molds a small raised bar into the grip to keep them from accidentally being pushed up and locking the slide back. I guess it works, because it never went into slide-lock until the magazine ran dry.

Despite their tiny size and smooth contours, it takes only minimal effort to release the slide. No matter how much you shoot, it can’t give you the bruised release thumb that Deagle and rough-quality 1911 shooters often suffer. The slide release was 100% reliable in locking the slide back on an empty magazine, but it usually released itself when I vigorously rammed a fresh 17-round magazine into the full-size grip frame.

This never happened when I inserted a magazine with normal effort, never happened for other shooters and never happened with the subcompact grip frame at all, so I’ll leave it to you whether these should be considered ‘malfunctions’ or not. If they are, they’re benign ‘malfunctions’ that I wouldn’t mind seeing as a deliberate design feature in future handguns. (Putting on flame-proof Nomex suit now…)

Many DA/SA automatics combine a slide-mounted manual safety with a decocker. I detest this arrangement because it clutters up the slide, it’s awkward to engage, and it provides me with yet another opportunity for operator error. (Why isn’t my gun firing? I must have left the safety on…oops…)

SIG has historically avoided this by skipping the manual safety (hooray!) and moving the decocker down to the left side of the grip. They always function perfectly, but they add a lot of bulk and girth to the grips and they’ve always made the SIG manual of arms just a little different from other semi-automatics.

The P250’s DAO lockwork makes the manual decocking lever unnecessary. This minimalist control set allows for a thinner grip and a simpler manual of arms – both very good things.

Sights

The P250 features a fixed but allegedly interchangeable rear sight and a drift-adjustable dovetailed front sight. Other SIGs have featured ‘Post and Dot’ sighting arrangements that I’ve never liked, but P250s all wear the robust 3-dot configuration shown here. The ‘Hi-Viz’ white dots shown here are standard, and you can order tritium night sights for a few bucks extra.

Caleb at Gun Nuts Media thought they were too big for his tastes, but I loved them: they’re quick to acquire for snap shooting, but still provide exceptional accuracy for deliberate aimed fire. (More on that later.)

The front sight is drift-adjustable, but SIG recommends using their proprietary sight-adjustment tool if you need to move it. Beware, though: the dovetail is quite shallow, and clumsy Bubba gunsmithing can snap the front sight clean off if you’re not incredibly careful.

The rear sight is lightly dehorned for concealed carry, but its front edge provides enough of a lip that you can still rack the slide one-handed on your belt if you ever need to. This isn’t a training evolution that you want to practice with live ammo (shooting yourself in the leg really sucks, or so I’m told) but give it a try it with snap caps. If one of your arms is ever incapacitated, it’s good to know how to reload or clear a malf one-handed.

On the downside, the rear sight isn’t adjustable at all: it’s recessed (instead of dovetailed) into the slide, and you can’t remove it without detail-stripping the entire slide. I didn’t try and luckily I didn’t need to because both the subcompact and full-size slides shot perfectly to my point of aim with a variety of 115-grain bullets.

If the sights aren’t properly regulated for your favorite load, SIG SAUER advises that higher and lower front and rear sights are available for installation by a gunsmith. I can’t verify this to be true: I’ve found a few aftermarket fiber-optic front sights, but I’ve been unable to locate any replacement rear sights anywhere on the internet. SIG might not offer them for general sale due to the difficulty of installation, although my email to SIG on this question went unanswered.

Fit And Finish

The P250’s polymer frames are nicely molded with no voids or flash visible, but you’ll  notice a seam in the photos where the mold halves join. It doesn’t affect handling (because you can’t feel it on your palm) but it gives the gun a small cosmetic demerit.

The slide and barrel show extremely precise machining, with absolutely no play between the slide and bushingless barrel in battery. The slide’s proprietary ‘Nitron’ finish is deep and even. It may look like a manganese phosphate or Parkerized finish, but unlike those finishes, it feels smooth and slightly slippery. It also seems more durable: a few months of daily Kydex/leather holster wear haven’t dulled the subcompact’s finish yet.

The steel stampings in the fire control group are smoothly finished and very easy to wipe clean. There’s a small but perceptible amount of play between the frames and slides of the assembled guns, but it evidently doesn’t impair the P250’s accuracy. (More on that later.)

The Trigger

Just like SIGs in general, I’ve always been indifferent (at best) towards DAO pistols. DA/SA trigger systems might not be perfect, but why keep the crappy DA pull and get rid of the short, crisp SA pull? Prior to the P250, I’d always preferred a cocked-and-locked 1911 to any DAO autoloader.

Not anymore. The P250 shows that DAO triggers don’t have to weigh a ton or stack obnoxiously before they break. On the subcompact, the trigger reach measures 2.7 inches from the web of the backstrap to the middle of the trigger at rest, and the middle of the trigger travels an arc of just over 0.6 inches from resting to backstop. This is long for an SA or striker trigger, but it’s shorter and much lighter than the DA pull of most DA/SA pistols.

It measures a smooth and consistent 7.5 pounds from resting to break, with no grit and no stacking and almost no overtravel. After just a tiny bit of takeup, it pulls perfectly evenly until it breaks. I found it very easy to stage the trigger at almost full-cock for carefully aimed fire, and I used this technique when shooting the P250 for accuracy.

Smooth and light as it may be, the downside to the P250’s trigger (or any DAO trigger) is the long reset. Striker-fired Glocks and XDs allow a well-practiced shooter to ‘ride the reset’ and fire extremely rapid strings, but this simply can’t happen when your trigger finger has so much mileage to cover between shots. This could be a real ball-and-chain for a competition shooter, but it’s an excellent safety feature for a concealed carry gun.

The P250’s trigger pull seems to be consistently good from one gun to the next. Most published reviews express satisfaction with the trigger, and for myself I’ve fired or dry-fired a half-dozen different P250s.  Every one of them has the same smooth and consistent pull that piqued my interest in the first place, although at 7.5 pounds my sample seems to have one of the heavier triggers of the breed.

The P250’s trigger shoots like an extremely good DA revolver trigger. Of all the DA revolvers I’ve shot, only a Colt Python (shot many years ago) had a better trigger than the P250, and that’s saying a lot.

Accuracy

My experience with SIG SAUER pistols did not prepare me for the P250. Once Joe Grine and I finally got some decent Northwest weather (e.g., rain instead of snow) for accuracy testing, my first group from the subcompact frame and barrel were tight and well-centered.

And so were my next shots:

These proved to be typical of my results with the subcompact frame, and they were fired offhand using a modified Weaver stance which I’m trying to unlearn. Not bad for a brand-new gun with an unfamiliar trigger. This is outstanding accuracy from a subcompact semi-auto, and solid accuracy for a stock double-action pistol of any size or type.

So the subcompact was highly accurate. What about the Full-Size version?

It’s a tackdriver. This group was fired from an improvised rest (AKA a tree stump) at 7 yards. This is the kind of accuracy you can expect from a P250 once you learn how to work the trigger, and you don’t need to burn $1 per round for ‘Premium” ammo to get it. These groups were all fired with the cheapest factory 9mm ammunition on the market: steel cased Tulammo. You read that correctly.

By my third outing with the P250, I was riddling tin cans with quick shots at 25 yards; this gun is nearly as accurate as my 6″ Browning Buckmark, and I may be a cheap bastard, but that’s my gold standard for pistol accuracy.

Joe Grine’s groups from the same gun were only slightly larger in size than mine, but his shots were centered about 4 inches below the point of aim using the same ammo. He’s not much of a DA revolver shooter, and I suspect his trigger pull is dipping the muzzle as the sear breaks.

Handling and Concealment

I found the P250 extremely comfortable to shoot in either frame configuration. Recoil was mild from the subcompact, and extremely gentle with the full-size frame and slide. These aren’t featherweight guns, and their 30 to 38-ounce loaded weight really tames the 9mm’s recoil and muzzle flip.

My previous carry gun has been a Kel Tec PF-9, a hard-kicking little spitfire which trades away shooting comfort for carrying comfort. The P250 subcompact happily trades some of it back (it weighs nearly twice as much) and the result is a better compromise of concealment, shooting comfort and firepower.

Holster options are limited for any P250. You’re not likely to find any form-fitting P250 holsters at a brick-and-mortar gun store because P250s aren’t shaped like other SIGs. If you won’t settle for a universal Uncle Mike’s nylon holster (and why should you?) you’ll have to go online. The SIG SAUER website sells SERPA-esque polymer retention paddle holsters for about $40. Will Kramer Leather P250 holsters are $125 and up, and Blackhawk SERPA holsters are also available. Crossbreed and Kholster will both custom-fit one of their hybrid IWB holsters for about $50.

The subcompact conceals very comfortably in a modified Kholster Crescent hybrid IWB. For range duty or wear under bulky cover garments, the SIG paddle holsters are a viable and affordable option. They’re adjustable for cant, and they’re offered in standard and compact sizes, the latter of which will also fit (but not actively retain) the subcompact pistol. The gun fits very well once the tension screw is tightened down a little, but the subcompact’s rounded trigger guard is the wrong shape to engage the holster’s active retention lever.

The full-size pistol (along with the Compact model I didn’t test) has a squared-off trigger guard which engages the retention lever when you push it home firmly. SERPA holsters have gotten black marks for safety, because they place the user’s already-tensioned trigger finger dangerously close to the trigger. This has caused several well-publicized ADs and accidental shootings using striker-fired pistols like Glocks and XDs.

I didn’t get to shoot any Action Pistol matches with the SIG holsters, but I don’t think ADs will ever be a problem for those who carry their P250s in them. The holster release pad is placed well well up along the slide (away from the trigger guard) and I believe the P250’s long trigger pull would prevent holster-induced ADs anyway.

The SIG-branded holsters are solidly built and very comfortable for open carry or range wear, but you won’t find yourself concealing anything in them unless you’re a very very big guy. The holsters stands the pistol grip well away from my (non-muffin top) waistline, which is great for my draw grip but terrible for concealment.

If you go for a SIG holster, be sure to tighten the hell out of the cant-adjustment screw: one of my samples’ screws was loose and the gun started to rotate toward a very unconventional (and dangerous) upside-down carry angle.

The full-size P250 is probably too large for me to carry concealed, regardless of which holster I might use.

Reliability

The P250 experienced a single failure to fire at round count 14 with the subcompact frame and slide during a blinding snowstorm which may have contributed to numb-fingered user error. That single failure to fire was the only malfunction encountered, unless you count the self-releasing slide as a malf. It’s easy to get used to a self-releasing slide, but it can corrupt your standard reloading drill and make life difficult when you’re using some other handgun.

The P250 pattern also has a less-than-perfect history. The U.S. Air Marshal’s Service found the P250 to be ‘unsatisfactory’ after extensive testing involving 200 agents of varying shooting ability. And in 2011 the Dutch police canceled a 40,000-unit contract due to quality and reliability issues. I’m not sure whether these problems involved the current ‘New’ design P250 or an incompatible older design, but neither answer completely eliminates the lingering questions about reliability.

The controversy surrounding these contracts could fill an entire (horribly boring) article. The U.S. contract may have been lost due to short-stroking the trigger (or, then again, maybe not) and I could never determine exactly what problems the Dutch identified. All I can say is that my own experience over 500 rounds hasn’t raised any red flags about reliability. With the exception of the single failure to fire at round 14, the P250 has fed, fired and ejected perfectly.

Magazines

Just like everything else about the P250, the magazines come in many calibers and capacities. The 9mm P250 magazines come in 12, 15 and 17 rounds sizes, and they’re all upwards-compatible. The subcompact can use any magazine size, the compact can use 15 and 17 rounders, and the full-size can only use the 17 rounder.

P250 magazines are not interchangeable with any other SIG magazines, however, and their availability is limited. Bigger brick-and-mortar dealers might stock a few 9mm compact magazines because that’s the most popular version, but if you’re looking for subcompact or full-size magazines (or anything in .357, .40 or .45) you’ll have to order them online along with your holster.

The 2SUM kit includes one subcompact and one full-size magazine, and I procured an extra one of each. Two of the magazines (one of each size) are really hard to top off with the last round, and I was disappointed that my ‘universal’ 9mm magazine loader wasn’t big enough to fit around them. On the bright side, all four mags have fed perfectly. They’d better work perfectly, since the damned things cost me a few cents shy of $50 each after shipping and taxes.

Conclusion

The P250 shoots better (for me) than any of the dozen-plus SIG SAUERs I’ve shot over the years. I never thought I would shoot a DAO pistol this accurately, and I never thought I’d enjoy shooting it as much as I have. When I factor this in with a competitive price and solid reliability, the P250 becomes a very attractive pistol.

You’ll notice that there are a lot of I’s in this conclusion so far. The reliability and accuracy of my test guns speak for themselves, and their good fit and finish are evident to anyone who picks them up  because these are objective factors which let you compare apples to apples.

But whether you will like the P250 and shoot it well depends on one completely subjective factor: if you like its double-action-only trigger you’ll probably love the gun. If you don’t, you’ll probably shoot it poorly and it is definitely not the gun for you. If you’re in the market, do yourself a favor and give a P250 a dry-fire or twenty. You’ll know your answer right away.

Specifications:

Action type: Locked-breech short-recoil semiautomatic, DAO trigger
Caliber: 9mm Luger (tested), .357 SIG, .40 S&W and .45 ACP
Capacity (9mm): 12+1 subcompact, 15+1 compact (not tested), 17+1 full size
Barrel length: 3.6″ subcompact, 3.9″ compact (not tested), 4.7″ full size
Overall length: 6.7″ subcompact, 7.0″ compact (not tested), 8.0″ full size
Width: 1.1″ subcompact, 1.3″ compact (not tested), 1.4″ full size
Height: 4.7″ subcompact, 5.16″ compact (not tested), 5.5″ full size
Grips: Interchangeable polymer frames in assorted grip sizes and colors
Weight: 24.9 oz subcompact, 26.9 oz compact, 29.4 oz full size
Sights: Drift-adjustable front, interchangeable fixed rear, three-dot high contrast (three-dot SIGLITE® night sights optional)
Slide Finish: Black Nitron®
Street Price: $600-$700 (2SUM combination kit), $400 or less (single gun)

Ratings (out of five)

Accuracy * * * *
Once you get used to its trigger, this is one of the most accurate 9mms you’ll ever shoot.  This is surprising for a DAO.

Styling * *1/2 (Subcompact) * * * (Compact/Full Size)
If you like SIG SAUER, you’ll be fine with its looks. FWIW, I think the subcompact looks  like a Bulldog puppy with a huge head and a tiny body. The compact and full-size models are a bit more handsome, but steel and black plastic don’t give you much to love in the looks department.

Ergonomics * * * * 1/2
Good sights, smooth ambidextrous controls, and infinitely customizable grip/trigger configurations can make this a comfortable gun for just about anyone – if they like the trigger.

Reliability * * * *
A less-than-stellar past history didn’t translate into any problems for our test gun.

Customize This * * * *
User-replaceable grip frames, barrels, slides, sizes and triggers allow almost infinite customization; hell, you can even switch calibers. This should earn five stars, but (and this is a big but) there’s essentially zero aftermarket accessories, holsters or parts, and you’re stuck with the factory rear sights.

Overall * * * *
A reliable, insanely accurate and amazingly affordable SIG SAUER with a DAO trigger that might not be for everybody. If you like the trigger you’ll love the gun, and if you don’t you won’t.