The Sig Sauer P290 made its debut in 2011. A double-action-only (DAO) 9mm, this pistol was for those who wanted a reliable backup gun with a revolver’s trigger pull but in a much slimmer, more concealable package.
An enhanced version, the P290RS, soon took its place in 2012. The new .380 ACP variant of the P290RS comes in four versions that differ with respect to slide finish, frame color, grip inserts and the inclusion of an integrated laser mounted beneath the dust cover. The laser can be easily added to any variant.
The “RS” in P290RS stands for “Re-Strike,” which refers to the trigger mechanism. The original P290 had a DA trigger that would only reset when the slide moved rearward after firing. That trigger still was DAO, but it only allowed the hammer a single strike. The RS design works like a DAO revolver, making dry-fire practice much easier. The other improvements from the P290 are the subtly reshaped grip that fits far better in the hand, the reshaped slide-stop lever and magazine catch, and a finger groove added to the magazine’s baseplate. All of these make the RS model superior to its predecessor in my opinion. This pistol also works well for left-handed shooters: the slide lock is easily activated despite being designed for right-handed shooters and the magazine release is reversible.
The P290RS comes with two magazines: a flush-fit mag that holds six rounds and an extended version that holds eight. The extended magazine has a polymer grip extender with the same spider-web texture used on the grips. The pistol comes with a fitted, polymer, right-hand paddle holster with a slight forward cant.
The P290RS has a trigger pull specification of 9 pounds and my sample broke at 9.2 pounds using a Lyman electronic trigger gauge. The reset has the same starting point as a DA revolver’s. Travel length is 0.84 inches and the trigger shoe has a smooth, curved face. The P290RS is 5.5 inches long, 3.9 inches high with the standard magazine and 1.3 high wide. Like all Sig Sauer pistols, the P290RS has a firing-pin block that only releases when the trigger is depressed, making it safe to carry in a proper holster with a round in the chamber.
Accuracy testing was done at 7 yards using loads from Winchester, Federal and Black Hills. All loads shot very consistently and under 1.75 inches. The Winchester load seemed to perform best, with a best group of 0.65 inches and an average of 1 inches. This test only shows the P290RS pistol’s mechanical accuracy and ammunition consistency.
All five shots from all loads printed together on the target, and the sights were perfectly regulated, with shots landing exactly on the point of aim. That’s a huge plus for fixed-sight pistols where drifting sights mounted in dovetails usually requires a costly adjustment tool and lots of patience to zero.
For handguns made solely for self-defense like the P290RS, mechanical accuracy takes a back seat to practical accuracy, or how a pistol performs once the shooting starts. The more relevant test is to show the practical accuracy of the P290RS when firing it off-hand and at speed. Here, practical accuracy is heavily influenced by ergonomics, sights, the trigger and shooter skill. Firing with a two-handed grip unsupported at 7 yards, five shots could be fired into a group of 2.5 inches or less within five seconds using the short magazine. This pistol is too small for a three-finger grip with the standard six-round magazine, but using the eight-round version with a grip adapter allows a full-hand grip and improves handling significantly.
Shooting a DAO defensive pistol is all about working the trigger in a manner that deflects the sights minimally. With a small pistol like the P290RS, adapting both your grip and trigger technique are necessary. For defensive shooting, you will need to make a relatively quick, continuous trigger press straight to the rear when rapid shooting is required. However, if time is on your side, the mechanics of the P290RS make a staged trigger press quite easy for an accurate, precision shot. Staging the trigger is possible because it has a predictable let-off at the end of its movement. This allows the trigger to be pressed nearly completely, thus holding the hammer near its release point while you make your final sight alignment before a gentle, final press.
Be mindful that staging the trigger in this manner is a practiced skill, and unlikely to be needed for the defensive uses to which this pistol is intended. Learn this technique only for exceptional use, because developing a good primary game that you use instinctively when needed—delivering two rapid hits on target—matters more.
The P290RS has a smooth trigger stroke that, at 9 pounds, is the middle of the road for a DA pull in my experience. For quick, accurate shooting, both the trigger press and trigger release matter greatly because rapidly recovering your sights is necessary for accurate follow-up shots. With proper dry-fire practice concentrating on grip, trigger finger placement and, above all, trigger finger movement, rapid DA shooting is obtainable with the P290RS. Just watch the sights to coach yourself to make it happen.
For more information, visit http://www.sigsauer.com or call 866-345-6744.