Category Archives: Firearms

First look at the SIG P226 Legion

SIG P226 Legion in original factory hard-shell plastic case

In my view, the SIG P22(x) series of pistols are about the best built handguns currently on the market at their price point. You’ve seen me review some of these pistols before (see: SIG P220 Equinox — Beauty is More than Skin Deep and SIG P229 Enhanced Elite — An Exercise in Indulgence). Sure, I’ve heard the griping about a supposed reduction in quality control since most production was moved from Germany to the U.S., but I’ve yet to see that in any SIGs I’ve fired. They’ve all been rock solid. At the apex of the SIG P22(x) line is their Legion series. Today I present a first look at the SIG P226 Legion, this particular one in my preferred double-action/single-action trigger configuration as opposed to single-action only.

SIG Legion thermal case; sent free of charge once your Legion is registered with SIG

The Legion and three magazines come enclosed in SIG’s standard hard shell plastic case. When the gun is registered with SIG, you will receive in the mail an upgraded “thermal” case with a “challenge” coin that is matched to the pistol variant you purchased. For instance, the coin below is stamped “P226” and displays an image of the double-action/single-action variant. The reverse side of the coin replicates the Legion medallion on the grips and on the thermal case. The thermal case even includes a removable cutout for the optional, additional charge (at a hefty $499.95) SIG XM-18 Rick Hinderer knife.


SIG Legion thermal pistol case and P226 DA/SA coin

As previously mentioned, the SIG Legion comes with three magazines. That’s something I wish all gun manufacturers included, but which I’ve only seen with regularity coming out of SIG and FNH.

SIG P226 Legion comes from the factory with three magazines

The pistol itself is finished in a dark grey PVD (Physical Vapor Depositon) finish that, unfortunately, developed a reputation for flaking off in early examples released to the public. Later production examples appear to be more resilient, according to online comments.

SIG Sauer P226 Legion

The controls on the double-action/single-action are classic SIG. The slide stop, decocker, take-down lever (above the trigger guard), and magazine release button are pictured below. On the single-action only variant, the decock lever is missing, and a 1911-style thumb safety is placed directly behind the slide stop.

SIG Sauer P226 Legion

The Legion comes with black G10 grips upon which is embedded the Legion medallion.

Black G10 grips with Legion medallion

SIG installs on the Legion some very good sights. These are the SIG X-RAY3 sights that were engineered by SIG’s Elector-Optical division. This resulted in the sights initially receiving a rather confusing and misleading designation of “Electro-Optical X-RAY3 sights”, as there is nothing either “electro” or “optical” about them. They are, however, excellent day/night tritium-filled rear sights with a tritium-filled fiber optic front sight. Visibility is reportedly exceptional in all lighting conditions, and from my perspective I have to agree. They’re simply great in both dark and bright light situations, although the photo below does a poor job reflecting that on the rear sight.

Rear X-RAY3 sight

Front X-RAY3 tritium fiber optic sight

Disassembly is SIG simple. Lock back the slide, rotate the take-down lever 90° clockwise, disengage the slide stop, and pull the slide forward off the frame rails.

SIG P226 Legion disassembled (note the rotated take-down lever)

The trigger is exceptional, as is pretty much the case with any SIG P22(x) series double-action/single-action or single-action only pistol. But in the case of the Legion series, SIG have gone a step beyond. They’ve incorporated into the Legion an enhanced, polished, P-SAIT (P-Series Precision Adjustable Intermediate Trigger) short-reset trigger designed by Grayguns. As the name implies, the P-SAIT has an adjustment for over-travel.

SIG have also installed into the Legion series a solid-steel guide rod, which increases mass in an effort to reduce felt recoil and muzzle-flip. These are, after all, target-grade competition pistols.

Solid-steel guide rod

The price for entering the Legion club may seem exorbitant at first, but that’s only until you start adding up the cost of all the included extras. A stock P226 with nitron finish and SIGLIGHT tritium sights has an MSRP of $1,087. The P226 Legion is listed at $1,413. X-RAY3 sights for the standard P226 would be a $159.99 upgrade, then throw in the G10 grips at $109.95, the solid steel guide rod in black at $30, the short reset P-SAIT trigger at $39. Add all that up and your stock P226 is up to $1,425.94, and you still don’t have the PVD finish, the special Legion case and coin, or the Legion medallion embedded into your G10 grips.

Put all that together and that additional $326 over the initial price of a stock P226 begins to look like a real bargain.


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First look at a Rock Island Armory Ultra FS in 10mm

Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 10mm

People tell me that 10mm is a fun cartridge to shoot, especially out of a 1911-style pistol. I’ll let you know when I get around to trying it, but for now I’m just going to give my first impressions an a used 10mm 1911 from Rock Island Armory. Rock Island Armory have no connection with the famed U.S. Army Rock Island Arsenal. This Rock Island Armory is a subsidiary of Armscor, and is located in Marikina, Philippines.

Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 10mm

Rock Island Armory (RIA) is known for making an affordable (read: cheap) yet reliable 1911 copy. In other words, it’s a good bargain, and if you’re buying something for only occasional use and which you don’t care if it gets beat up in a holster while hiking in the woods, then cheap and used are the way to go. Thus, the RIA Ultra FS 10mm you see here today.

Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 10mm

That’s not to say that there aren’t problems with the RIA’s 10mm. Fortunately, reliability isn’t one of them, according to most reviews. What reliability issues I have seen reported appear to be what would normally be expected during break in of a new pistol using a very powerful cartridge. Finish, however, isn’t up to Colt standards. But, then, neither is the price. A new RIA Ultra FS 10mm comes in at around $300 to $400 less (street price) than the Colt Delta Elite. And for that cost advantage you get the added benefit of having a fully supported chamber, which may hold up better when firing full-powered 10mm loads. There are reports of catastrophic case failures with the unsupported chambers of some 10mm pistols such as the Delta Elite, but I’m not convinced that isn’t more attributable to home reloaders pushing the envelop on an already powerful cartridge.

Rock Island Armory Ultra FS comes with only one magazine

Another difference compared to the Colt Delta Elite is the addition of a bushingless barrel, which supposedly improves barrel-to-slide fit, thus increasing accuracy. The bushingless design also requires a wider “bull” barrel, which slightly increases mass and thus may reduce felt recoil. However, I doubt that the very slight increase in mass here would be enough to result in any real benefit in this regard.

Bushingless design

Note the wider bull barrel at the muzzle end

You can see from the following photograph this particular 1911 has a tendency to eject the casings in such a manner that they strike the upper portion of the slide behind the ejection port. Again, not something I’m very worried about, and I could probably remove those marks without marring the Parkerization.

Ejection marks

Rear sights are adjustable.

Adjustable rear sight

The front sight is fiber optic. Nice touch! Together, here is what you see looking down the slide:

Rear sight

Fiber optic front sight

Watch for a firing review after I get this thing to the range.

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An original Colt MK IV Series 70

Next week I begin another travel series — 54 days at sea on a trip that took us on two transatlantic crossings and a tour of both the Mediterranean and Black Seas. But for this week I’m returning to the subject that garners my highest audience, firearms.

An original Colt MK IV Series 70

It’s not often you come across a 36-year-old firearm in this condition. And according to the previous owner, the original Colt MK IV Series 70 has less than 100 rounds through it.

Colt MK IV Series 70 circa 1982

There are a few flaws in the original Colt satin blue finish, but I’d rate this pistol at around 98%. The wood grips also had some minor dings, as well, but also very minor.

Colt MK IV Series 70 original grip with Colt medallion

If you read my previous blog article on the new MK IV Series 70 (see: A Look at the Colt MK IV Series 70), then you know that the originals differed from the original in more than just the trigger. The original run from 1970 to 1983 also included a fingered “collet” bushing over a barrel with a widened muzzle end. This change was incorporated to improve the barrel-to-bushing fit in order to improve accuracy.

Series 70 collet bushing and wide-end barrel

The collet bushing held over into the Series 80 line until the late 1980s, but reports of bushing failures led Colt to revert back to the solid bushing which carries over to the reintroduced Series 70 pistols of today.

An original Colt MK IV Series 70 disassembled

The example here has a 70B prefixed serial number. That places this 1911 at the very end of the original MK IV Series 70 run, as the 70B serial number began in 1981 and ran through the end of production in 1983. The rest of the serial number leads me to believe that the actual year of production was probably 1982.

Colt 70B serial number places manufacture between 1981 and 1983

In my second article on the current Series 70 (see: Colt’s Series 70 Trigger Put to the Test — Series 70 vs. Series 80) I noted that the trigger was not all it was cracked up to be my Colt 1911 enthusiasts. I’ve since repeated my experiment (see video below) on side-by-side comparisons between probably half a dozen new Series 70 Colts and the current line of Series 80. Results were always the same. Out of the box, the current Colt Series 80 routinely beats the current Series 70 on every gun I’ve tried.

So, what about the original MK IV Series 70? Not so in this case. This truly the trigger I’ve seen praised. That’s not to say that the current Series 70 trigger is bad, as no Colt 1911/1991A1 trigger can be described as such from my experience, it’s just that the new Series 70 has more creep after take up and displays a degree of grittiness that simply doesn’t exist in any other Series 80 Colt I’ve tried.

Colt MK IV Series 70 slide stamp


Sights on the original Series 70 match the current crop. They’re nothing about which to write home. I much prefer the three-dot sights Colt uses on the current Series 80.

Colt MK IV Series 70 rear sight

Colt MK IV Series 70 front sight

Here’s a comparison between a new Series 70 and a Series 80 M1991A1 to illistrate what I mean:

New MK IV Series 70 left; new M1991A1 Series 80 right

Fortunately, both the original and previous owners of this pistol did something that far too few people do; they retained the original box and owner’s manual.

Colt MK IV Series 70 box and owner’s manual ©1981

Here is this original Mk IV Series 70 posing with the box it came in:

Colt MK IV Series 70 with original box

But the box has definitely seen better days, and the Styrofoam insert inside was partially melted away from gun lubricant. Fortunately, that didn’t mar the finish on the pistol.

Colt MK IV Series 70 box

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