When it comes to pistols, people have a lot of options these days, and the wonder nine handgun has become a mainstay of the gun world. A wonder nine is a title typically applied to double stack magazine firearms, chambered in 9mm.
Two of my favorite compact 9mm wonder nines are the Glock 19 and the Sig Sauer P229. Now let me get this out of the way: I know the 229 is also available in 40 S&W and 357 Sig, and Glock makes a compact for every caliber, but these two are incredibly similar and fill the same niche. So that’s why they were chosen for this article, plus they’re my favorites.
Both are superb weapons, both are companies extremely popular with law enforcement, and both are suitable weapons for self-defense, target shooting and concealed carry.
But which is best? Let’s take a look.
We will start with looks. Let’s say I walk into a gun store and say I’m looking for a compact 9mm, nothing huge, and nothing tiny. The gun store clerk puts a Glock 19 and a Sig 229 on the table. One is a well-refined machine, all steel. The grips can be rubber, wood, plastic. The lines are smooth and perfect, and no machine marks are evident. The entire weapon is dignified in appearance.
The other is a black block, maybe the frame is green or brown. How else do you describe a Glock? Glocks are a very Spartan design, designed purely for function, because it’s on the inside that counts right?
Winner – Sig 229
So you pick up the weapons off the counter for the first time and get a good feel for them. The first major difference you’ll notice is the weight. The weight is important when it comes to concealed carry, and the Glock wins every time. This is due to the polymer frame construction that made Glocks famous when they first hit the market.
The Sig’s all-metal construction has one benefit — recoil reduction. How critical is this? With larger or more powerful calibers like 357 Sig and 40 S&W, this makes a considerable difference, but with 9mm it’s not too big of a deal.
The grips are both comfortable, but I’ve always felt Sig Sauer hand crafted their grips for my hand, and the metal just gives me a solid feeling. The E2 grips on my Sig Sauer are actually some of the most comfortable I’ve ever felt. The stripling also makes them tacky and gives a very sure grip.
Now the Glock grip is very plain but also very comfortable. The weapon is well-suited for a two-handed grip, and fills my large hands very nicely. There isn’t really a lot to say about it; it’s simple and effective. One downside is the grip you buy is the grip you’re stuck with — no options to change them.
When it comes to controls both weapons are simple. Neither has an external safety, which is a huge plus in my book for a concealed carry firearm. I do find the magazine release on the Glock 19 easier to engage, it sticks out a bit further making it easier to find by just feeling for it. The slide lock on either is suitable, and I don’t see much of an advantage with either firearm.
The Sig does have a very usable decocker, but it’s an unfair comparison since the Glock doesn’t have or need a decocker. But just so you know, the Sig’s decocker is awesome in the world of decockers.
Overall, the Glock’s lighter weight makes an easier-to-conceal carry firearm, and has a slight advantage with the magazine release.
Winner – Glock
The biggest difference between the Sig and Glock line of firearms is the firing methods; the Glock is striker fired and the Sig is hammer fired. This is the main difference when it comes to triggers and gives two very distinct triggers.
First, the Sig has a double action/single action mechanism, meaning the initial shot has a longer trigger pull that cocks and then fires the weapon. After the initial shot the hammer stays cocked, giving way to a much lighter and smoother trigger pull. This is my preferred handgun action; this is due to my training with the Beretta M9 pistol in the military. It’s a system I’m much more used to.
The Sig 229 has a better trigger, the long double action is smooth with a crisp break and the single action is incredibly light, and can be fired very, very fast. The single action system requires a large amount of trigger discipline, and it’s just too easy to cook off a round in single action for me to suggest this weapon to an amateur. The same for the DA/SA system; one really has to know the weapon to transition from double action to single action without any hiccups. The Sig 229’s double action comes in at around 10 pounds and the single action is about 4.5 pounds.
The Glock provides a consistent pull every time, with every trigger pull. It’s always the same. The trigger is a bit spongy and always gives me the impression of plastic rubbing on plastic. The weight comes in around 5.5 to 6 lbs.
Winner – SIG 229
Sights are incredibly important on any weapon, and especially when sights are going to be relied on for a potential self-defense scenario. The Glock 19 has a sight radius of 6.02 inches and the Sig has 5.7 inches. Does half an inch make a difference? I haven’t personally noticed one, but some more experienced pistoleros can probably tell a big difference.
Now we need to focus on the subject of the sights themselves. The Sig takes a huge lead by providing night sights, big, bright, beautiful night sights. The sights are also tough and very solid, and they are very easy to get on target.
The Glock’s standard U-target sight does the job well enough, but that’s about it. I personally prefer a simple three dot to the U shaped sight, so the first and only upgrade a Glock needs is new sights.
Winner – Sig 229
One of the most important functions of the wonder nine is having a large capacity magazine. The Glock takes an advantage with a stock 15 round magazine. The Sig comes with a 13 round magazine. Two extra rounds isn’t much, but it’s something. Plus, Sig mags are expensive and aren’t available everywhere. Glock mags, however, are incredibly common and factory magazines are very affordable.
Winner – Glock
This isn’t exactly a fair competition, not because one gun is better than the other, but this is very subjective. Personally, I’m most accurate with the Sig, but plenty of people at the range shoot better than me with their Glocks, so I can’t really say one or the other.
Winner — Tie
Value is subjective. A basic Sig 229 is probably going to cost around $800 new and $650 or so used. A Glock 19 can cost as little as $525 new with two mags. A Glock costs about $80 to produce and a Sig costs about $300 to produce, so clearly higher production cost is a higher cost.
The Sig 229 is a gorgeous piece of mechanical engineering. The Glock is a block of plastic. No offense: It’s an awesome block of plastic, but still it’s a block of plastic. The Sig is a very refined piece of work, offers function and form. The Glock offers superb function but lackluster form.
So the value is there for both weapons. You are getting what you pay for, but both weapons are excellent.
Winner – Tie
8. Shooting Fun Factor.
So if you’re not having fun what’s the point? Let’s start with the Sig. The light reset of the single action trigger makes the Sig a lot of fun to fire rapidly and with the heavy weight reducing the recoil, it’s plenty easy to control. The accuracy is superb, and the sights make target engagement simple and easy.
What’s the worst part of shooting? Spending time reloading. So you can throw a 33 round mag in a Glock and rock and roll, or you can go even bigger with a 50 round drum. Let your imagination be the limit.
If I was going to trust my life to one of these, I’d choose the Sig.
Maybe a Glock fan can school me in the reasons the Glock is better. You know something I dislike about Glocks? If I squeeze the grip hard enough, I feel the polymer flex and bend, but with an all-steel frame I can’t do that.
I’m also partial because like I mentioned before I like the DA/SA system. It’s what I’m trained on and it’s what I’m familiar with.
Either gun you pick, you’re going to get a winner. This article was a good excuse to break out two of my favorite weapons and take them to the range. I love the Sig Sauer and always will, but the Glock is a great weapon, too.