The Sig P290 Improved: Sig Sauer P290RS Sub-Compact 9mm Pocket Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

June 7th, 2012




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Pistol comes with hard case, holster, two magazines, cable lock, lubricant, extra mag base plate, and instruction manual.





Excellent steel magazines of six-round and eight-round capacities.

















I was first introduced to the Sig P290 a little over a year ago while attending a Compact Pistol Class at Gunsite in Arizona. In that class, we had the opportunity to handle and fire a variety of small pistols, mostly chambered for the 9x19mm cartridge, and we had the chance to use them both during the daytime and also at night. Some of the pistols at the event ran really well, while others did not function well at all. It was my first opportunity to fire the little Sig, and I was anxious to do so, as were several others at the event. All present were experienced shooters, and were glad that the Sig folks had brought their new pocket gun for us to enjoy. That P290 functioned pretty well, but most of us agreed that it could be improved a bit. The little Sig had a hammer, but needed the slide to pre-cock the action, similar to many striker-fired pistols. The trigger pull, while smooth, was pretty heavy. Anyway, I liked the little P290 enough to start begging for a test gun, but the folks at Sig decided to make some changes, and I was happy to wait for the revised version of the P290. It has finally arrived, and there was enough improvement over the original that it was well worth the wait.

The most notable improvement is in the trigger. The P290RS now has re-strike capability (hence the RS designation), meaning that the slide does not have to be moved to preset the trigger to fire. The new trigger is a simple DAO (double-action only), meaning that a pull of the trigger both cocks and releases the hammer to fire the cartridge. The trigger pull on my test gun averages 7.3 pounds of resistance on my Lyman gauge, and it feels closer to five pounds, as it is butter-smooth and easy to reach. The trigger pull on the P290RS is now perfect for a hideout pistol.

Sig has fitted an excellent set of sights to this pistol. Both are adjustable for windage by drifting in their slide dovetails, and front sights of differing heights are offered to adjust for elevation, if desired. Both sights have tritium inserts within the white dots, for use in low-light situations. The slide lock lever has been slightly re-shaped, and the protrusion of the magazine release has been reduced to avoid the chance of accidentally dropping the magazine.

The P290RS magazines are made of steel, and the standard magazine has a six-round capacity for a total loaded payload of seven cartridges. The P290RS is also shipped with an eight-round magazine that protrudes below the grip to provide a better hold on the weapon, in addition to the one-third greater capacity.

The rear of the polymer frame has been slightly re-contoured to provide a bit more of a beavertail to protect the firing hand from slide and hammer bite, and it also just feels better in my hand than did the original P290. In fact, it feels much better to me. I was a bit disappointed in the feel and ergonomics of the original, but the RS, with the altered frame and the slight finger extension on the magazine base make a world of difference to my hand.

The P290RS has a solid feel to it, though it has a lightweight polymer frame. There is enough steel in this pistol to give it a good heft, yet it weighs barely over twenty ounces. The stainless slide wears a tough Nitron black finish, which matches the frame perfectly. The P290 is small, barely bigger but a bit heavier than the best of the compact 380 pocket pistols. While some of the latest generation of small 9mm pistols do not qualify as pocket pistols, the P290RS does. It is small enough to ride well in a pants pocket, and still come out quickly when needed. However, most will choose to carry this little Sig in a belt holster, and if you are right-handed, you are in luck, as Sig provides a very good Kydex paddle holster with the P290RS.

Critical specifications for the Sig Sauer P290RS are listed in the chart below. Weights are listed in ounces. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull gauge. Height includes sights and magazine base with the six-shot magazine in place, with the flat mag base plate. Maximum width is measured across the top of the frame, and includes the slide lock.

Chambering 9x19mm
Weight with Empty Magazine 20.6 oz.
Trigger Pull 7.3 lbs.
Barrel Length 2.97"
Barrel Diameter 0.552"
Overall Height 4.15"
Overall Length 5.56"
Grip Thickness 0.895"
Frame Width 0.936"
Slide Width 0.938"
Maximum Width 1.05"
Trigger Reach 2.56"
Magazine Capacity 6 or 8
Magazines Supplied 2
Accessory Rail Proprietary Laser Mount

I fired every type of 9x19mm ammunition that I had available to me over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX, Buffalo Bore Lead Free, and Double Tap Tac-XP are hollow nose homogenous copper bullets that are made by Barnes Bullets. Guard Dog is a FMJ with a soft plastic core to promote rapid expansion. FP is a frangible, pre-fragmented flatnose bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FMJ-FN is a full metal jacket flat nose Buffalo Bore Penetrator bullet. PB is Pow’RBall, a specialty bullet from Cor-Bon. Glaser is a pre-fragmented bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of seventy-three degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of forty-four percent. Velocities were recorded at ten feet from the muzzle.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP 95 1426
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP 115 1214
Buffalo Bore FMJ-FN 124 1221
Buffalo Bore JHP 115 1280
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 115 1309
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 147 1054
Federal Guard Dog 105 1175
Double Tap Tac-HP 115 1084
Double Tap FMJ 147 1012
Atomic HP 124 1119
WCC NATO FMJ 124 998
Fiocchi FMJ 115 1033
Cor-Bon Glaser 80 1556
Cor-Bon JHP 115 1289
Cor-Bon Pow’RBall 100 1270
Cor-Bon +P DPX 115 1171
Cor-Bon JHP 125 1266
Stryker JHP 115 978
International Cartridge FP 100 1046
Stryker FMJ 115 1001

Functioning was almost perfect. On the second round fired from this pistol, the empty case did not extract. After that, everything fed to the little pistol ran perfectly. I had one bad cartridge that would not fire later in my testing, but it was a commercial reload, and certainly no fault of the Sig. The little P290RS was surprisingly easy and pleasant to shoot, much more so than the original P290 that I tried fourteen months ago. The ergonomics of this little RS are ideal for my hand. Recoil was easy to control, even with Buffalo Bore +P+ ammunition. The slight finger extension, reworked backstrap, and perfectly-textured grip area made the P290RS easy to grasp, without being abrasive to the hand.

Accuracy was very good. I made no attempt to bench test the little Sig, as I do not do that with pocket pistols. Instead, I fired the Sig at various distances while using a two-hand hold and standing erect like a primate. Firing at distances from five to twenty-five yards, the human silhouette target was mine. The shots never strayed from the kill zone, and even rapid fire at close range proved the handling qualities and excellent sights of this little Sig.

One load that performed really well in this P290RS, and the one that I would choose to carry, is the Buffalo Bore Lead Free 95 grain hollowpoint. This load is really smoking out of the Sig, and recoil is very manageable. These all-copper hollow-nose bullets expend quickly, but do not come apart as do some lightweight pistol bullets, holding together for good penetration.

The littlest 9mm pistol from Sig is a good one. I think that the folks at Sig Sauer made to right decision to rework their P290, and the resulting P290RS is one of the best sub-compact 9x19mm pistols currently on the market.

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Jeff Quinn

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