Handguns and Ammunition Forum banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,579 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

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!" 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 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 SW9VE, whatever the heck that means, and a coupon for my $50 rebate and two additional 16-round mags. (I sent the coupon in immediately.)

The gun is 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: about 10-11 lbs compared to a Glock's 6 or 7. 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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
525 Posts
Thanks for the report! I for one appreciate all the detail you went to on both history, holsters etc. Very interesting.

I too had basically written the Sigma off based on the early/first generation reports. I will probably continue to save my $$ for another Hi Power
but will keep my eye on Sigma sales -- always nice to have another decent pistol around the house.

thx

elb
 

·
Regulator,
Joined
·
3,441 Posts
Eric,

Thanks for the great write up. Makes me consider a Sigma if I already didn't have enough pistols!
My wife has a early generation Sigma that she WILL NOT part with. It has proven totally reliable and has been a good pistol for her.
That said, her prefered self-defense pistol is a S & W M60 with the 3" barrel, full underlug, and adjustable sights chambered in .38 Special.

Wes
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,399 Posts
Hello Erich,

I owned one of the 1st generation Sigmas some year's ago in .40 S&W. It never gave me a problem and was once considered one of the most dependable handguns I've owned. It is the best of the best dependable handguns on the market.

Kudos to you and your new handgun!

Best,

Chris
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,579 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for the kind words. I was quite surprised at how much I liked the gun, and I do think it's an especially good value.

By the way, the Boker Plus Trance (a Chad Los Banos design) pictured alongside the gun is another astonishingly good value. You can find these AUS 8 Taiwanese knives for around $26 - it's a wonderfully handy design with a great blade, and I don't mind using it given the cost.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,132 Posts
Thanks for the review/range report.
I was astonished awhile back to see these new at Texas gunshows for 300 bucks out-the-door.
At the time I thought it would make a good home defense semi-auto for someone on a budget. I almost "put one away" myself but did not.

Enjoy putting it through its paces.

I guess you've covered this with your "fuzzy wuzzy" comment, but my understanding is that the Afghan police are getting these things in 9mm.

--d.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,053 Posts
For some reason the Sigma "enjoys" a widespread poor reputation. So much so that among gun writers when speaking off the record they call it the "Stigma".

Personally, I do not know why. Sure, I have seen Sigmas malfunction. Guess what, I have seen Glocks and 1911s malfunction also. The person shooting it and what it is fed has a lot to do with it.

As far as I am concerned, as Eric points out, the Sigma is basically a Glock design (I am a certified Sigma Armorer and they admitted that up front), but has a few "improvements" like grip shape and angle and, I think, a better magazine.

I, personally, prefer the Glock trigger but I understand where S&W was going. The Glock is essentially a "Cocked and unlocked" auto with no practical safety. The Sigma is a DA with a short trigger pull (that is heavier). I do find it harder to shoot and I beleive training is the key to safety not heavier trigger pulls, but still there are very few police officers who are truly "trained" (most have been "exposed to instruction" - I say that as a L.E. trainer).

I liked the looks of the 2nd gen. guns a bit better than the first but as far as I know looks is all they changed.

The way the sear and disconnector work is different on the M&P so I guess it is not truly a "3rd Gen. Sigma" but there is sure a lot of other similarities.

I recently saw Sigmas selling new for under $300 wholesale. That is hard to beat if you are looking for a gen purpose gun.

None of that makes a Glock less than desireable - they will work too.

Jim H.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,064 Posts
Howdy folks,

First thank you Mr. Erich for a very thorough, intelligent report on your newest lady.

I had to grin a bit too sir. I was sitting in a Smith pistol armorer's course within a year or so of the Sigmas first being released. We all good naturedly gave the intructor a lot of grief on the day he brought Sigmas in for us to work on. We all kept kidding him you folks build a Glock you call something else. He kept insisting while the two pistols looked a lot alike, they were different designs.

During the lunch break, my roommate for the course was issued a Glock by his department. He got it from the trunk of his car and brought it into class. He separated the slide and frame while the instructor began to blush...A LOT. He handed me his slide, and I handed him my Sigma slide. We both mated the two parts, worked the slides, pulled the triggers, and received a very loud CLICK to both in a now quiet classroom. Of course the laughter and catcalls immediately resulted from our "test". (Note to instructors, be very careful what you say to a classroom full of cops, lol.)

When things calmed down the instructor quickly pointed out the "one part" that differed from the Glock internally. He then admitted they had lost an international law suit filed by Glock, and were held to have violated the Glock patent. They now had to pay Glock a royalty for each Sigma produced. I have no idea if that remains the case today or not. This was 1.5+ decades ago now.

Personally I have simply never been a Glock fan, and never will be. But I do understand that many folks are. So the idea of Smith building what I saw as a Glock in sheep's clothing was not a great selling point to me, lol. But then I will admit, I am just not a fan of polymer pistols, regardless of whose name in on them. Again to me simply a Fords and Chevys issue.

I have never owned a Sigma, and have not seen them in gun stores much in recent years. But I will admit to being fairly impressed with the M&P pistols, especially the ones shipped to my buddy's gun store that did not have the magazine disconnector installed in them. I was amazed that a department would consider issuing a pistol that had such a sweet trigger pull. In fact my buddy and I both agreed it we were a Chief Of Police we would be both afraid to issue a duty weapon with such a light trigger pull in it.

But your report certainly makes it clears they sure sound like one to give a serious look to, if in the market for a polymer pistol. Again, just my opinion, but I think the steel mag would out last the plastic ones too. I know we had big problems as our Glock mags began to develop any appreciable wear to them. The factory had to keep replacing them with newer versions for us.

Honestly the Glock issued duty pistol was my first must carry polymer, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. But if I were in the market for one now, I would take a hard look at the Smith offerings. But this dinosaur simply says make mine steel framed, thank you.

Thanks again for such a detailed range report. I am glad you like your newest lady sir. Please keep sharing your thoughts with us as you put more rounds through her.

twoguns
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
77 Posts
Some thing not mentioned above is the use of lead bullets in the Sigma..It is well known that lead in the other plastic pistol is not recommended.. Well the Sigma just does great with lead bullets with it's standard rifled barrel and better supported chambers..
True that the triggers are a bit stiff,heck the first week I had mine I was sure that it had a trigger from hell,but they do get better with use and I am told that a good smith can do wonders..
I am well pleased with my SW9ve..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
139 Posts
You certainly have a way with words, and the pics are great too.

I have not actually seen a sigma. the trigger assembly looks the same as the M&P. is it the same unit in both guns or just a similar design?

BB.
 
G

·
The latest Sigmas are good guns. Many parts have been changed since the original, and they have improved in reliability and durability.

The US Army has purchased over 70,000 of them for use by our allies, most of then going to Afghanistan.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,579 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you, gents, for the nice words. :) I believe a Sigma's trigger is very similar to an M&P's (from handling them both), but I've not seen a M&P torn down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
932 Posts
My 40VE I bought as a "beater" has been as reliable as anything I've owned. I polished the striker/sear contact points, this helped the pull quite a bit. Both my Brothers in Law decided they needed handguns, I had to look no further, especially with the rebates. I bought them both one, kept the extras for me!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,430 Posts
The only negative thing I have heard about them is that the magazine floor plate can come loose during firing. But I will bet you that can easily be fixed. They are cheap and available where I am. I would not be ashamed to have one. Good recommendation!

I also like the Steyr M9 other than the funky sights and relatively expensive mags. Not gonna sell my nasty old Glocks but the polymer guns are ok with me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
169 Posts
As I said in the other post about Sigma's if I wanted/needed another 9mm pistol, the Sigma would be very high on the list. (I have no idea why the 40 S&W doesn't interest me at all.)

For all the hoopla about the difference between a Glock and an XD, for my money there isn't any. The grips angle doesn't seem to matter to me, so I doubt it would be an issue with the Sigma either. It just seems it's a good gun at a good price. What's not to like?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,430 Posts
CB, FYI at the last show in Richmond, they were on the table for $239 with two extra mags brand new. I think, as an IDPA shooter, my biggest problem would be to get a holster that would fit it well. But that might not be a problem for all I know. Several years ago Danville PD used to issue the Sigma as I think I noted earlier. I don't know if they have switched since.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,132 Posts
At a gun show way down here in S. Texas, the .40 S&W or 9mm models were for sale with two hi-cap magazines for 248 beans after a mail-in 50 buck rebate. The kicker was a 5.56mm M&P-15 version of the M-4 for 895, but for an extra hundred bucks they'd throw in a new Sigma!! Holy cow. Even my, erm, "fiscally conservative" (not to say cheap!) self had to pace around a bit at that. In the end I decided I don't "need" a new rifle, plus I'd have to add a new caliber, ammo, etc. on top, but boy, are there some deals out there!

best,
--d.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
392 Posts
i owned a sigma .40 cal in the late 90's.....was a good gun for being a "value" edition....i sold it to buy a glock because glocks were/are all the rage.......the glocks are top notch and slightly better in the overall quality of the sigmas in my view, but i will have to admit, the sigma was superior to the glock in ergonomics....its truly fit my hand in a natural pointing position,,,,,,

i could "point shoot" with the sigma better than any gun ive ever fired.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top