We all tend to have biases in our gun preferences. Personally, after learning to shoot on revolvers, my first serious semiauto shooting was with a first generation Smith & Wesson autoloader. As a result, I have always been comfortable with traditional double-action auto pistols. But for some reason, I never acquired, or even fired, a Sig Sauer pistol. When the chance came to evaluate the Sig Sauer P239 Concealed Carry Package (CCP), I was eager to give it a try. In a short time, I came to understand the fanatical following Sig has developed around the world.
Sig Sauer has a long history of making quality firearms, stemming back to its Swiss and German roots. The company began focusing in earnest on the U.S. market in 1985, and has had a strong presence ever since. Sig pistols are in use by elite military and government units, including the Navy Seals, the Federal Air Marshals, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Sig reports that nearly a third of the law enforcement officers in this country carry Sig Sauer firearms. Clearly, Sig is a very serious company that stakes their reputation on their quality and their “to hell and back” reliability.
Overview of the P239
The P239 was designed to meet the demands of law enforcement and federal agents for a slim, single-stack pistol for concealed carry, and it is available in 9mm, .357 Sig, and .40 S&W. The model reviewed here is the 9mm with the Concealed Carry Package. The P239 is nicely sized for concealed carry, with dimensions similar to that of a Colt Officer’s Model. The pistol sports a 3.6 inch barrel, and weighs in at slightly less than 30 ounces empty. The gun is just large enough to permit a full grip and easy handling, even with larger hands. Although too large for pocket carry, it is well suited for belt carry either inside or outside the waistband. The single stack magazines carry eight rounds of 9mm or seven rounds in the larger calibers. In 9mm, a full capacity of 8+1 is very respectable for a concealed carry gun of this size, and the relatively small single stack mags make it easy to carry a spare or two, if desired.
The P239 has a traditional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) firing mechanism. After loading, the gun is manually de-cocked for safe carry. The first shot requires a long double-action trigger pull to cock the hammer and fire the gun. All subsequent shots are then single-action, with a short, crisp trigger pull because the hammer is fully cocked by operation of the slide as it reciprocates during the firing sequence. If the gun is going to be holstered or made safe after a shot has been fired, it is again de-cocked and returned to double-action mode.
Traditional DA/SA pistols of this type often generate mixed feelings among shooters. Some favor the extra measure of safety created by the long double-action pull on the first shot. The chances of an unintended first shot are certainly less with a long, heavy trigger, and subsequent shots come quicker and easier in single-action mode. The gun also has the ability to deliver a repeat strike on a round that fails to fire, without the need to first cycle the slide. Critics of the DA/SA system disfavor a heavy trigger pull on the crucial first shot of a hostile encounter, and question the ability of most shooters to effectively transition between two very different types of trigger pulls. In the end, this comes down to personal preference and training. With proper training and familiarization, mastery of a DA/SA pistol is not a problem for the average shooter.
Exterior controls on the gun are typical Sig. There is a large decocking lever that falls under your right thumb if you are right-handed. There is also a slide release lever to the rear of the decocking lever. For those accustomed to other pistol designs, the slide release lever is farther to the rear than typical. It can be released with the right thumb in a swiping motion, much like deactivating the safety on a 1911. The controls are oriented somewhat differently than other autopistols, but I find them to be very logical and easy to operate. This may be something to consider if you have to transition between different guns and desire consistency in the manual of arms. The only other exterior control is the traditional button style mag release, which is not reversible for left handed shooting.
The Concealed Carry Package
Seeing the opportunities in the civilian carry market, Sig now offers the P239 in a Concealed Carry Package as the P239 CCP. This package offers some popular extras at a significant discount. First, the P239 (in either 9mm or .40 S&W) comes upgraded with factory SigLITE tritium night sights. These three-dot night sights are very good, and provide a clear sight picture–day or night. Each gun also ships with a total of three high-quality Sig factory magazines.
The Concealed Carry Package is completed with a Sig branded black polymer paddle holster and dual mag carrier. Both are serviceable items; although there may be better choices out there for concealed carry. The paddle holster has an active retention device that requires positive pressure from the trigger finger to disengage the lock. Having retention on a concealed carry holster is nice, but some shooters may not care for the lock design. Nonetheless, the belt holster and mag carriers are a nice complement to the whole package.
The influence of legendary German engineering, or what Sig calls “performance ergonomics,” is clearly evident in the P239. The gun’s operation is very smooth, and the fit and finish is excellent. Sig quality is a clear step up from less expensive guns on the market. My P239 functioned flawlessly through several hundred rounds of assorted ammunition, including Speer Gold Dot 115 gr. JHP, Federal Premium 124 gr. Hydra-Shok JHP, and Winchester “white box” 115 gr. FMJ. Typical gun handling drills and malfunction clearance drills were easily executed once I was familiar with the Sig’s slightly unconventional controls.
The size of the P239 is an excellent compromise that is small enough for easy carry, but large enough to handle and control the gun easily. Subjective recoil with 9mm was very light, and controlled rapid fire was easily manageable. I was very impressed with the accuracy of the P239, which could produce a one inch group at 15 feet, offhand with no support. Sig is well known for its accuracy, and the P239 is not a disappointment. To call this gun “combat accurate” is an understatement.
The Sig P239 is a high quality, high performance handgun. The size and configuration work very well for civilian concealed carry if you like the traditional DA/SA platform. By purchasing the P239 as part of the Concealed Carry Package, you get an extra magazine and some carry gear for just a few dollars more than the MSRP of the gun itself. The CCP package price is $929 [as of Aug, ’09], while MSRP of the P239 with night sights is $915 [as of Aug, ’09]. Street prices can vary, but run from about $800 to full retail. Sig prices are a bit higher than some comparable pistols, but the quality is obvious, and all Sig handguns are backed by a lifetime warranty.
I am very impressed with the Sig Sauer P239 CCP. If you are already a Sig fan, you will undoubtedly be impressed with the performance of the compact P239, and the value of the Concealed Carry Package. If you haven’t yet owned a Sig pistol, and desire the safety and functionality of a DA/SA pistol, the P239 is well worthy of your consideration.
Thanks to our friends at the United States Concealed Carry Association for this article. To get their free Armed American Newsletter, click here.