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SIG SAUER P239 VS P229

SIG Sauer has been around for a few decades. Of European origins in the early 1800s, SIG Sauer, then named SIG Arms, came to America in the 1980s. The import of high-quality arms combined with top-tier customer service had the business rise to the top of the gun scene. Having perfected their craft in almost two centuries of existence, SIG Sauer has been providing soldiers, then, later on, law enforcers and professionals with top quality handguns since day one in American soil. But with so many to choose from, it’s easy to feel lost in the maze of models and variations. 

This article aims to help eliminate that feeling and lend a helping hand to those having a hard time choosing. Or should I say, choosing when presented with the opportunity? Two years ago, the SIG Sauer P239 was discontinued. I will discuss the details later on. 

SIG Sauer P239

While searching for the P239 Nitron Compact, I got to an almost empty page on the SIG Sauer website, which was strikingly different from all the other models’ pages. I scrolled through the reviews and noticed the word “discontinued”. I immediately searched the reason and found an informative article by James Grant written for the Gun Mag Warehouse website. Most of the facts in the next section will be lifted from the article.

Features

The main feature of the P239 Nitro Compact proved to be its downfall. It is an all-metal gun, single stacked, and finished with an anodized black frame. I will discuss the finish in detail in the Materials section of the P229.

The P239 is 6.5 inches long, 1.2 inches wide, and, quoting Grant, “weighs four ounces more than the Glock 19 unloaded”, which makes it approximately 25 ounces (a Glock 19 in 2020 weighs around 21 ounces). It has a capacity of eight to ten rounds in one single stack magazine.

These features make it a better concealable weapon, but with certain disadvantages when compared to the lighter guns with larger magazine capacity. It’s a simple yet tragic supply and demand story.

SIG Sauer P229

There are five variations of the SIG Sauer P229 on the official website. These are Legion Compact SAO, Select Compact, Legion RX Compact, Legion Compact, and Nitron Compact.

Technically speaking, there are six if you count the M11-A1 Compact, which is described in the official site as the “authentic, upgraded version of P229 with features required by professionals”.

For the sake of fairness, I will be reviewing the P229 Nitron Compact as well.

Features

Unlike the P239 page, the P229 page is full of useful details regarding the gun. 

The three key features highlighted for the P229 are its one-piece ergonomic grip, SIGLITE Night Sights, and Nitron stainless steel slide. I will discuss the slide below in the Materials section. 

The ergonomic grip claims to reduce reach and features a stippling pattern that SIG Sauer has updated. As for the SIGLITE Night Sights, it supposedly lets you experience excellent target acquisition even under poor conditions. 

The P229 Nitron Compact is available in 9mm, .40S&W, and .357SIG models. It is 7.1 inches long, 1.5 inches wide, and weighs 34.4 ounces. Depending on the model, every purchase includes two magazines with 10, 12, or 15 rounds.

Materials

The barrel is made of carbon steel, with an alloy metal frame and Nitron stainless steel slide. The frame is finished with an anodized hard coat, the same as the P239. 

Carbon steel is a metal alloy of iron and carbon and produced from recycled steel, virgin steel, or both. According to Matmatch, the process starts when iron ore, coke which is heated coal in the absence of air, and lime are combined into a blast surface. Carbon is then reduced through decarburization until it reaches the desired carbon weight. 

Anodizing, on the other hand, is the process used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer in metal parts. Aluminum Anodizers Council lists six benefits to anodizing, namely durability, color stability, easy maintenance, aesthetics, cost, and health and safety. Long story short, because of its low maintenance and high margin of resistance to wear and corrosion, it makes the gun a good investment in the long run. Another benefit is that the finish is non-hazardous and does not produce any dangerous by-products. Both the P239 and P229 Nitron Compact have anodized finishes. In my opinion, the fact that SIG Sauer anodized their products, especially the two that I am reviewing, makes them both good guns.

Speaking of Nitron, finally, the Nitron finish on the stainless steel slide makes it more resistant to corrosion and general wear and tear. Nitron is applied through a process called Liquid Salt Bath Ferritic Nitrocarburizing Non-Cyanide Bath, or simply known as FNC. To those unfamiliar to this, Smokey Merkeley wrote an informative article for Idaho State Journal where he compared FNC and chrome lining in guns. It is an interesting read and I highly recommend it to any beginners reading this article.

Recommendations

Like I said, if ever you are presented with a choice, the P239 is always the better candidate. However, with its discontinued status, I doubt anyone will part ways with their P239 just yet.

P229 is just as good as any. It is sleek, professional, and concealable. There isn’t anything to dislike.

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