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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I picked one up this weekend. It was priced at $289 (but I did a swap) and came with the certificate for the two extra mags and the $50 rebate. Hard to beat that.

Here is a detailed thread with pics that I put up on several other forums

(most of you already know all of this, but I thought others might want to read about it.):

S&W came out with their Sigma pistol in 1994 or so. It was a polymer-framed gun that bore an uncanny resemblance to the Glock pistol. In fact, one could put the slide of a Glock 19 on a S&W Sigma 9mm and fire the striker by pulling the trigger (a cop friend showed me, smirking, back in '94). Hmm. People called them "SWocks," back then. But they cost more than the Glocks of the day: IIRC, list on the initial Sigma was above $500 in '94 dollars, whereas the equivalent Glock ran right around $439 (list). The Sigmas had the 1911 grip angle, but, big deal. I remember picking a Sigma up and shaking my head, "Why would Smith want to make a polymer hunk of junk when their 3rd Gen guns are so nice?" The Sigmas did not have a good rep, to say the least. People complained of broken striker and extractors pretty often. Not many were sold. The onset of the AWB didn't help matters: who wanted a 9mm the size of a Glock 19 that carried only 10 rounds (it wasn't as if there were tons of pre-ban mags floating around on the market; this was a relatively recent introduction). Oh well, S&W was in bed with the Klintons; I thought, let them choke on their overpriced plastic Glock rip-offs.

I was further amused by what happened next to Smith & Klinton. Most of you probably know that Glock sued Smith for patent infringement, and that the whole fracas was settled in 1998. Glock (interestingly) dropped the "S&W" off the barrel markings on their .40 S&W guns (hmm). Smith made some changes to their Sigmas (no more rectangular striker, some ergonomic changes), and introduced the 2nd Generation Sigma in 1998. At a much lower price - lower than Glocks, actually. With the AWB in place and no full-capacity magazines available, the world's reaction was another collective yawn. The reliability reports were greatly improved on the new guns, but no one bought them - again, who wants a full-sized 9mm with a 10-round capacity?

Well, thank God, the AWB sunsetted. (Who would have thought, really?) We all sighed with relief, and went back to buying Glock mags and AKs and ARs and every other danged thing we could cram tons of rounds into. And magazines, magazines, magazines.

Smith & Wesson continued to sell the Sigma, with indifferent results. The only people who bought them seemed to be people who didn't know any better - didn't everyone know that "Sigma" was practically synonymous with "junk"? The thing is, these reports kept popping up around the web: "I love my (second generation) Sigma! I don't know what you guys are talking about, but this thing works great! And it holds a lot of rounds, and it's cheap!" Then S&W came out with the "Enhanced" Sigma with still more improvements. The US govt bought a number of Sigmas to send to the sandbox, to arm the friendly fuzzy-wuzzies. Nevertheless, those of us who "knew better" held our noses when these guns were mentioned. Gradually, though, we came to acknowledge that a LOT of people were pretty pleased with their Enhanced 2nd Gen Sigmas.

When S&W brought out the M&P, they took great care to distance it from the Sigma. Some smart-alecs nevertheless called the M&P the "3rd Generation Sigma," while others insisted that the M&P was not at all like the Sigma. Their explanations for why not rang a bit hollow to me, though. The M&P has been widely regarded as a nice gun.

Meanwhile, S&W has been having a fire-sale on Sigmas - wholesale runs in the high $200s for the gun and two full-cap mags. Turns out that they are commonly found for sale new in the low $300s, and S&W has a current (1Nov07-8Jan08) deal where a new Sigma purchase entitles the purchaser to a $50 cash rebate and two additional full-capacity mags.

Well, a local dealer had a "Black Friday" sale with 2nd Gen 9mm Sigmas new with two 16-round mags for $289. I had a gun I'd been wanting to trade off, so I went over there with my friend Friday and made a swap. Came away with a green-framed SW9GVE, whatever the heck that means (the "G" stands for green, and the "E" stands for enhanced), and a coupon for my $50 rebate and two additional 16-round mags. (I sent the coupon in immediately.)

The gun is almost the same size as a Glock 19, but with a 1911 grip-angle and a slightly thinner gripframe (the steel mags are thinner than a Glock's polymer mags - and hold one more round than the 19's). The trigger is smooth, unlike the Glock's, and wide. It's also a lot heavier: measures about 10-11 lbs compared to a Glock's 6 or 7 (measured, not what they advertise). The pull feels better to me, though (and to my friend as well) with no "sproingy" finish - the Sigma feels very smooth, like a DAO S&W J-frame (complete with a hint of stacking at the end). I was able to shoot 10-shot groups of under an inch with any ammo - I have to say that the seemingly bottomless magazine combines with the heavy trigger pull to weary me by the end of a magazine . . . my full-mag groups always wound up being 3 inches or more (at 10 yards). The gun digested everything from weak WWB ball to hot NATO ball to slow/heavy 147-gr JHPs to hot +P+ JHPs. There was one flaw - the piece behind the magazine floorplate (sort of the equivalent of the aftermarked Glock "plug" - this was one of the ergonomic improvements in the 2nd Gen Sigmas, I believe) kept falling out when the gun was held on this piece. I'll call S&W for a new one on Monday - but this didn't affect functionality in the least. Despite the cold range conditions, I actually liked shooting this gun - something I've never thought about a Glock.

This thing is almost exactly the size of a Glock 19, but it is a wee bit (.25" or so) taller (probably how they packed the extra round into the mag). It's also a wee bit thinner across the slide (about an eighth of an inch) - this actually aids in carry. Believe it or not, an eighth of an inch makes a noticeable difference in how the gun sits in your waistband.

Also, the Sigma's 1911 grip angle means that it points for me like my forefinger. (I read an interview with a S&W exec who laughingly described how the company spent a lot of money to determine the correct angle for the grip - only to find that it was what JMB intuitively knew back in the early years of the last century.) A Glock's grip angle is subtly "off" for me (and for many others - it's a common complaint I hear about the gun). The Sigma was not as wearying to shoot as a similar Glock. My friend and I shot more than 200 rounds in the cold, and would have happily continued had we not needed to get some food; I have shot that many rounds in a Glock but never enjoyed doing so . . . in fact, I have often said how I never enjoy shooting a Glock . . . or an AR. I suspect a lot of our enjoyment of shooting the Sigma was because it pointed correctly: we were not constantly having to hold our wrist in the "wrong" position - something that takes concentration and wears one down.

The smooth DAO/revolver trigger feel of the Sigma is due to the MIM fire-control parts it has on board. When I first got the gun, I tore it down, and then pulled out my Glock PTOOMA manual to look at how similar it is to a Glock (very!). I noted, however, that the MIM fire-control parts in the Sigma did not need ANY polishing - quite different from the stamped fire-control parts in a Glock (I've done a couple of twenty-five-cent trigger jobs in my day). There were still some stamped parts, and they were rough and responded well to a brief application of the Dremel and Flitz. The resulting trigger pull felt almost exactly the same as that of a J-frame DAO revolver (including the slight stacking at the end of the pull, which my friend actually prefers as a sign that you're ready to fire). It was not as L - O - N - G as the (admittedly smooth) pull of a Kahr auto. The reset was not as short as on a Glock. The wide, smooth trigger made the heavy pull weight bearable, and made it not hurt. Frankly, this thing shoots like a revolver that just refuses to run dry.

My chrono crapped out (too cold) before I could chrono all the loads, but I got enough to realize that the 4" conventionally rifled barrel on this gun shoots "fast." (All at 5950' above sea level, 35° F.)

Winchester USA 115-gr ball: M 1205 fps/ES 86.12/SD 28.44 (10-shot string)

Winchester NATO 124-gr ball: M 1251/ES 36.63/SD 16.64

PMC 9a 115-gr ball: M 1284/ES 52.62/SD 23.55

Winchester white box 147-gr JHP: M 995.0/ES 38.51/SD14.24

Speer Gold Dot 147-gr JHP: M 1037/ES 52.35/SD 27.31

I'm pleased with this gun, as was my friend. I think it's a real value, particularly with the $50 rebate and the two additional full-cap magazines. If you're looking for a double-stack 9mm at a bargain price - maybe something to put away in case Hillary gets elected Queen - I think you'd do well to consider the Sigma.

A few more things . . . this gun has a definite "Yesterday's technology TODAY!" feel to it; it's a weird anachronism. There's no question that this is NOT a modern 2007 designed gun. And, unlike the brand-new Ruger SR9 (which seems to prove that no matter how well you market, an astonishingly bad trigger isn't going to help sales - and which just doesn't have the feel or grace of a modern M&P), it's not trying to be one. I want to be clear: the Sigma is sort of the hottest gun of 20 years ago re-engineered by the brightest engineers of 10 years ago. A great gun, a terrific value . . . but NOT the highest-speed/lowest-drag gun out there.

It's no S&W M&P. The Sigma slide is brutally chunky - heck, from the front the Sigma has an almost Soviet appearance to it. However, there are subtle 1998 enhancements to the slide that assist in shooting - a milled sighting rib draws the eye down the gun to the front sight. In the hand, even though it has enough ergonomic design to point very well, it's notably top-heavy and completely lacks the form-fitting grace of the M&P. I suspect it would give a user more perceived recoil than the M&P's lower-in-the-hand and thinner slide. (Still, we're talking about 9mm recoil here - don't ever get the idea that this gun is anything other than easy to shoot.) There are no ambi slide releases, no forward slide serrations, no ability to change the mag release around for the convenience of us southpaws. The first-generation light rail bar has an amusing look to it, seen with 2007 eyes (sort of like those silly laser sights they mounted on all the LAPD guns in the second Predator movie - looked high-tech at the time, but looks really clunky and silly to us today).

But, while there are some anachronisms for a new-in-2007 gun, the Sigma is no 2nd generation Glock, either, though - the Smith engineers really worked this one over in 1998. They were smart guys, and they got a lot of stuff really right. There are no silly finger grooves to try to press all shooters' hands into one glove size (so to speak). There is the aforementioned sighting rib milled into the slide, subtly drawing the eye to the front sight. The three-dot sights are superb: to me they were on the large side, but they could not catch on anything and allow fast acquisition and precise shot-placement. There's a "loaded chamber indicator," but it's that silly hole that S&W drills in the top of the barrel (one wonders how seriously they considered doing something similar down the side of the gripframe so the shooter could tell how many shots he had left). The rounded trigger guard (you can tell this is not a Europistol - there's not room for a massive snowmobiling glove in there) has less aggressive but well-placed serrations - one of the best implementations of this concept I've seen. The magazines have wedgelike forward protrusions on the floorplates which enable the shooter to rip them out of the magwell if necessary (for some reason, this was a major consideration in '98; it's not a bad one, even if it's somewhat fallen by the wayside) - even if he is wearing a massive snowmobiliing glove. And, like the Ruger SR9, the SW9GVE fits in most Glock 19 holsters (turns out to fit perfectly in my Mika IWB for my RAMI, too, just as my SIG-Sauer P239 does).

660 Posts
Thanks for the write up...I've been thinking of a Sigma for awhile now especially with the discount and mag offer. I really would like an MP40 but the fact is this will more than likely just be a range gun so I'm really thinking hard about it. Thanks again.

15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, I finally got back to the range today (37° F, 5950' above sea level, chrono at 20 feet from bench), and did some more chronographing.

Winchester's RA9TA 127-gr +P+ load

M 1400 fps/ES 90.50/SD 37.02 (the first round was way slow compared to the others, that were bunched up nicely)

Speer's Gold Dot 115-gr +P+ load

M 1430 fps/ES 73.68/SD 31.35

Speer's Lawman 115-gr FMJ practice load

M 1324/ES 48.24/SD 20.17

Just to ensure the chrono was working properly (these numbers seemed high), I re-chrono'd two loads that I did last month (and decided the chrono was fine):

Winchester's "personal defense" white box 147-gr JHP

M 1027/ES 34.23/SD 14.10 (last month 995.0/38.51/14.24)

Winchester's NATO 124-gr FMJ

M 1289/ES 20.00/SD 9.32 (last month 1251/36.63/16.64)

Just to show that a Sigma has decent accuracy, look at the target on the top left (5 rnds Lawman, 10 yards) - this target also demonstrates how my Sigma always throws the first round to the left (this is probably due to the difference in force and seating between a hand manipulated slide and the gun loading as it fires):

I think this gun is an unreasonable value, and anachronism or not, I really like it a lot. Better than a Glock 19. Yep, I said it.
And - look at the velocities I posted yesterday - my Sigma gives up nothing to the Glock's polygonally "rifled" barrel (a Glock 19 I chrono'd had those RA9TAs going 1350 fps; my Sigma threw the 127-grainers at 1400 fps average - that's like a 125-grain OLD STYLE .357 Mag from a four-inch barrel). I just can't get over the value that this gun represents!

Oh, and I had no problems shooting AND the replacement frame-heel/gap-filler that S&W sent worked great and didn't walk out.
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