The author finds great favor in this venerated classic…and the latest P210 variants from SIG Sauer are pretty darn good, too!
by Bob Campbell
The SIG Sauer P210 illustrated here is manufactured in New Hampshire, the very state where Daniel Webster faced off the Devil in a court case and won. The new-generation pistol takes the P210 to a different level.
I am certain the P210 9mm has been carried concealed by some folks. After all, I have seen the Tokarev carried in surprising numbers and even a Radom 9mm within the past few years. People — especially old and tough types — carry what they have and what works. The P210 9mm was once something of a mystery. Very few were available in the United States. This storied pistol was the standard issue of the Swiss military for more than fifty years. The original P210 is above all a superbly accurate 9mm handgun. It is well made of good material. The P210 features an eight-round single-column magazine, a single-action trigger, and a safety that is impossibly placed for rapid manipulation.
Those privileged to own the P210 find it well made and accurate, as well as reliable in the extreme. The Swiss Army may be small, but they are well-equipped and well-trained. No expense was spared in small arms.
The P210 pistol enjoyed something of a revival in recent years with SIG Sauer having offered a modernized version called the P210A.
The P210A is similar to the original in outline. The pistol is stainless steel with a Nitron finish, making it practically immune to corrosion. It features a single-action trigger and single-column magazine. Lock-up is re-designed with the barrel hood butting into the slide in P226 fashion. A big change is that the P210 finally has a truly ergonomic safety lever. The new safety is positive in operation and snaps smartly into position.
The P210A is exciting enough but a newer version is even more appealing to folks like me. I fire my pistols a lot — as much as possible or affordable — and carry them often. A pistol with superbly done fit and finish, reversed slide rails, and a good trigger was next offered in a compact version called the P210C, or the P210 Carry.
I say “was” because no sooner did the P210C pop up…it disappeared. This a review on a specific model that SIG “retired” before it completed its first lap, to use circle track racing parlance. The P210 is still offered by SIG, but now only as Custom Works models. Nevertheless, the P210 Carry we are reviewing here is still “out there” as stock gradually moves off store shelves and pre-owned versions come available. Further, the differences between the P210 Carry and the currently manufactured P210 Custom Works model are cosmetic, with a change to the slide finish and the addition of wooden grips.
The P210 Carry, as the name implies, is designed for concealed carry, and it just may be my favorite P210 of all time. It is my only P210 at the moment, and I don’t feel shorted in performance compared to the original — the original “new” P210A, that is. (I know this is confusing due to SIG’s naming conventions and the start-stop-start production approach with this gun.) The P210C features the upgraded safety lever of the P210 full-size pistol. The heel release magazine catch of the 1940s-designed P210 has been replaced by a standard American-type release. The pistol features a slide running inside the frame in P210 fashion, resulting in a good mating of the long bearing surfaces. The Nitron finish is standard, and the pistol features three-dot tritium SIGlite night sights.
A big difference is that the frame is aluminum. At 29 ounces, this makes for a lighter load on the hip when carrying concealed. The grips are nicely checkered G10. The front strap is serrated. This is a pistol you will be able to hang onto no matter how cold or wet your hands may be. The slide lock is a nice size but not so large you will bump into it during recoil and lock the slide back. The slide lock is out of the way of the thumb in any case. Disassembly is simple enough. First, drop the magazine, clear the pistol, and rotate the takedown lever. The recoil spring assembly pulls out easily and the barrel is pressed out of the slide. Maintenance is simple.
The trigger action is among the finest I have tested on any handgun, but then it should be on this pistol. The trigger is tight — meaning there is little take-up. It breaks cleanly every shot at 4.0 pounds. There is little overtravel and it is free of creep and backlash. A trained shooter will do very good shooting with this handgun.
The dimensions are close to a 1911 Commander-type handgun. So close, in fact, the SIG P210C fits most Commander holsters. I am not one to recommend this type of mismatch. A holster should be molded for only one handgun. We know, though, that quite a few holsters for the GLOCK also fit the SIG and vice versa. It will be a bit before the makers are up and running on the P210C for leather and the fact is many will never gear up and make a pattern and produce leather for this handgun since it is already out of production. I have found the P210C fits most Commander-size holsters well by practicing with the handgun holstered. I placed the handgun in the holsters, tested retention, then wore the pistol and found the draw sharp. On that subject, as someone who gives much affection to a linear piece of metal, I am also covered up with nicer-than-average holsters.
Among the best holsters for the money is the Crab-Hawk from Falco Holsters. This is a leather holster molded from Italian leather. This holster is advertised as a fast-draw type. The balance of retention and speed are excellent. The Crab-Hawk would make a fine holster for concealed carry when a covering garment is worn. Falco offers a thick leather gun belt I added to the combination. I had ordered this holster for a 1911 Commander, and true to my observations, found the Crab-Hawk a good fit for the SIG P210C.
Firing the pistol was interesting and enjoyable. Just the same, considerable effort is needed to wring the most out of any pistol, but especially one as capable as this one. I fired the SIG P210C primarily with FMJ loadings. Federal American Eagle is a clean-burning load that offers good accuracy. I began with the pistol holstered and drew and fired at man-sized targets at 7, 10, and 15 yards. The pistol is fast on target. The grip is thinner than competing pistols such as the SIG P226 or even a Browning High Power.
Among my favorite carry guns is a Commander-size 1911 .45 ACP. Since the P210 is a 9mm handgun, the pistol is thinner than a 1911. Hand fit is excellent, making for good control. First shot hit probability is excellent. Fast follow-up shots are easily controlled. Fire, allow the trigger to reset as the piece recoils, then press the trigger straight to the rear and you have a hit. Recoil is straight to the rear. The slide rides low in the frame, making for less leverage for the pistol’s muzzle to rise. While the low-riding slide also makes for more difficulty in manipulating the slide, the SIG P210C, with its forward cocking serrations, isn’t difficult to manipulate. The SIG P210C balances accuracy and control against magazine capacity.
The SIG P210 Compact is a superior combat handgun. While a Browning High Power or a 1911 Commander 9mm may compete, they are not as fast as the SIG P210C when it comes to accurate fast shots. If the P210A revamp was an Americanized version of the P210, the P210C is even more so. The pistol never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. I ran quite a few different hollow point loads and a couple of all copper sharped-edged bullets through the pistol as well. Feed reliability is good. The sights are properly regulated for 124-grain loads. A magazine of Federal 147-grain HST loads proved the pistol fires a couple of inches high with heavier bullets — par for the course with the 9mm. As for absolute accuracy, the P 210C deserved a solid test program.
To test the pistol’s accuracy, I used an MTM Case-Gard K-Zone shooting rest. This rest is easily changed between rifle and pistol configurations. With this rest, I settled over a shooting bench and got the measure of the pistol to the best of my ability. Taking every care to maintain the sight picture and sight alignment and press the trigger smoothly, I fired four loads in five-shot groups. Results were exceptional. One five-shot group went into 1.25 inches, although the average was larger. There isn’t a lot of demand for match-grade 9mm ammunition, but some personal defense loads are very accurate and very consistent, with a full powder burn and good accuracy potential.
- Hornady 135-grain Flex Lok (small group, 1.25 in.; large group, 1.6 in.)
- Federal 124-grain HST (small group, 1.5 in.; large group, 1.8 in.)
- Remington UMC 115-grain FMJ (small group, 2.0 in.; large group, 2.5 in.)
- Black Hills 100-grain +P Honey Badger (small group, 1.5 in.; large group, 1.8 in.)
Even inexpensive generic ball ammunition is accurate enough for any defense chore or most forms of competition. Here is a pistol that will save your life, if need be, or win a match. The SIG P210C is a class act and a versatile handgun. While it isn’t inexpensive, it is worth its price…if you can find it.
SIG P210 Carry Specifications
- Caliber: 9mm
- Magazine Capacity: 8 rds.
- Weight: 29 oz.
- Height: 5.6 in.
- Length: 7.75 in.
- Width: 1.45 in.
- Finish: Nitron
- Barrel Length: 4.1 in.
- Sights: fixed, SIGLite self-luminous iron sights with tritium inserts
- Average Retail: $1,400
What I Like
- The pistols balance is superb. Speed comes easily. Hand fit is good. The trigger is excellent. Reliability and accuracy are typical SIG. That is as good as it gets.
What I Don’t Like
- Perhaps we should have an ambidextrous safety.
- The SIG P210C is closest in format and handling to a Commander 9mm like Springfield’s Ronin. The SIG P210C is more accurate by a margin. In combat shooting, the margin of superiority is smaller. Against the Springfield SA 35, much the same. Interestingly enough, a pistol close in design features and accuracy — the CZ75D — is a double-action first-shot pistol. All the pistols mentioned are equal to the SIG in reliability as far as I am able to observe and cost about half the price of the SIG. But they don’t quite achieve the excellence of handling and accuracy the SIG P210C is able to exhibit.
Several months have passed since I did this review. Some things have changed. The P210C is still a fine pistol but SIG has retired a number of variants of the P210. I suppose that a single-column magazine 9mm isn’t high on most shooters’ lists for personal defense. Just the same, quite a few shooters clamored for a new P210. I would guess everyone that wanted one has one and future sales will be handled in the used market.
I don’t want to start a panic buying scare, but if you want a P210A or P210C, now is a good time! You will be rewarded with a pistol that outshoots most others. A casual shooter — and that’s not a bad place to be — will be as well-served with a 9mm Commander. A shooter limited by good pistols may wish to obtain a SIG P210.
The original P210A Target version is still available. This pistol features adjustable sights and a large target grip. I like this pistol a great deal, and if you are after top accuracy and more than a little pride of ownership, this is a fantastic pistol in many ways. Accuracy is comparable perhaps only to the CZ Shadow 2 9mm in its best moments.
But do you really like the P210C? No problem. The pistol is available in its heart and soul in the new SIG P210 Carry Custom Works gun. Alas, this is the only P210 variant I have not handled and fired. Just the same — weight, configuration, size, detail, form, and structure are P210C. The difference is that the grips are now checkered wood. I like the P210C black grips, although the Custom Works grips are very nice. The matte finished slide is now bright blue with a custom flourish in laser engraved figures on the slide. The sights, controls, and trigger action are identical to the P210C. So, in essence the P210C is still available. The P210A Target is the most predictably accurate of the P210 series. And dozens of P210A and P210C handguns are available new and used on the market. These are fine pistols, as good as it gets, but not the most in demand. That is good for a smart buyer.
I found the Carry Works for sale for $1999 at rip off sites and $1400 at the fakes. At Bud’s Gun Shop, it was $1456. Be careful! The price is very fair at under $1500.