April 2007

9mm Sub-Compacts: Sigarms P239 DAK Earns A-Minus Grade

In our view, the Sigarms P239 was the only gun that begged to be carried as a full-time primary pistol. The Glock 26 also did the job, but Smith & Wesson’s M&P malfunctioned.

The 9mm pistolwas the breakthrough sidearm that ushered in today’s massive popularity of the self-loading pistols. One of the ways in which the semi-auto has evolved is in its variation in size, making it possible to wear a full-size gun and/or conceal a smaller complement of the same make and model.

In this test we will look at three 9mm pistols that are smaller and more concealable versions of full-size duty weapons. The Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm No. 209001, $624, fires from a 4.25-inch barrel and measures approximately 7.5 inches long by 5.5 inches in height. Our test gun here is the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Compact No. 209004, which has a shorter grip, 3.5-inch barrel, and sells for $624. Glock’s standard bearer, the full-size Model 17, comes with a 4.5-inch barrel; our test gun here is the $599 Model 26, whose tube measured 3.4 inches in length. The Sigarms full-size duty pistol is the model P226. The $739 Sigarms P239 DAK tested here is the smallest in the line. It came with the Double Action Kellerman or, DAK trigger. The P239 is fed from a single-column magazine, unlike its bigger brothers that pile rounds into the magazine staggered side by side.

Before shooting we removed the top ends of each gun, separating the recoil springs and barrels. We lubricated the slide and frame rails along with other obvious weight bearing points such as lockup marks along the barrel with KG-4 Gun Oil (kgcoatings.com). Our testers have noticed a level of improved accuracy in their weapons using KG-4 to coat the inside of their barrels, so we followed suit and swabbed the bores of each gun with KG. We also applied KG-5 Trigger Oil to the action. The difference in trigger pull weight was too small to measure in the Smith & Wesson and Glock pistols, but it did help lighten the action of the Sigarms DAK mechanism by as much as 1 to 2 pounds. Testing was performed indoors on the combat range at Top Gun of Texas (topgunrange.com) in Houston.

As soon as we began firing, we noticed that each gun demanded a different technique for accurate shooting. Unlike the single-action 1911 or typical double-action revolver, learning to shoot a double-action semi-auto can challenge the shooter to master a different technique from gun to gun. So our first step was to practice with each gun and master the trigger. While the public rattled away on Bays 1 and 2 with handguns and rented machine guns, we calmly fired five-shot groups from a bench at targets placed 15 yards downrange. We followed this with an action test performed standing at a distance of 7 yards with the pistol beginning at low ready. With the office of Hoffners Training and Holsters (hoffners.com) just next door to Top Gun, we’re sure the HoffnerABC16 target felt right at home being assaulted with ten separate strings of two shots to the body and one to the head. The ABC16 target featured a humanoid silhouette marked with an A at the chest, a B over the cranial pocket, and a C over the groin area plus six 3-inch circles.

Our test ammunition included two hollowpoint rounds and a full-metal-jacket target round. They were the Winchester USA 115-grain JHP rounds, Federal’s 124-grain Hydra-Shok JHPs, and 115-grain FMJ rounds from Black Hills Ammunition. We wanted to know if each gun would run reliably and if accuracy achieved from the bench would translate to accuracy in our stand and shoot action test. Here is what we found.

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