SIG's design concept behind the P210 Carry was to "blend the historic lineage of its iconic Swiss predecessor with the ideal characteristics and necessities the modern consumer expects in a carry pistol." In a brief explainer, the original M1911-sized P210 first hit the scenes around 1948 and was adopted by the Swiss Army (and others), soon becoming a landmark pistol prized for its accuracy, reliability, and simple elegance. Out of production in Europe by 2006, SIG started making Americanized P210 Target and P210 Standard models in 2017, complete with steel frames, some updates to the internals such as in barrel lug profile, and a full-length 5-inch barrel.
Where the P210 Carry switches gears is that it is smaller-- using a 4.1-inch barrel and likewise trimmed slide-- while keeping the same height. It sheds weight due to an alloy frame, coming in at 29 ounces (unloaded) compared to the 36.9 ounces of the P210 Target model. It also runs SIG night sights, has front and rear cocking serrations on the slide, and slim Houge G10 grips to augment the ergonomics added by the checkered front strap.
Also retained is the P210's signature reverse rail design, with the slide riding supported inside the rails of the frame rather than the opposite as in most other semi-auto pistols. This helps with accuracy and a few other modern pistols, save for the CZ75, utilize reverse rails.
The grips and magazines for the P210 Target, Standard, and Carry can be used across any of the three models, which means you can get that extra mag or swap out the G10 panels for something else, say, if wood is more your thing. Also, the P210 Carry uses standard P series sight dovetails, which opens a world of options there.
When it comes to holster compatibility, there aren't a ton of companies that advertise fits other than Mitch Rosen, but we did find that it works well with several different M1911 Commander-sized holsters, so that is a happy coincidence.
After an initial tear-down and inspection, we reassembled our P210 Carry and headed to the range. We found that SIG heavily coated the hammer mechanism with a thick grease that kind of oozed out of the frame a bit but left it in place as we like to run these guns as-is right out of the box.
My only complaint was that, initially, the slide would not go fully into battery at first when you racked it, stopping about a quarter inch from being closed.
When it came to range work, we ran the first 500 rounds without issue including Blazer Brass and Federal American Eagle 115-grain target loads, Speer Gold Dot 124-grain GDHPs, and Federal Hydra Shok Deep 135-grain JHPs. Then we cleaned it, added a bit of lube, and did it again. We had no stoppages in live fire.
The P210 Carry has a well-designed magazine release button, slide release, and almost art deco-styled manual safety, the latter essential on an SAO pistol. Of note when it comes to the safety, it does not double as a slide lock-- you can run the slide with it on-- and the handgun will fire without a magazine inserted and the safety lever in the off position.
Shooting & Accuracy
The stuff that made the P210 series a stud on the range is still there in the P210 Carry. This includes the full-length reversed slide rails, a decent sight radius and sights, a low bore axis, a particularly good factory trigger, and an all-metal frame with a bit of heft (33 ounces when loaded), which translate to faster follow-up shots and an ability to "stick" on target.
When it comes to the single-action trigger, we found it right out of the box to break smoothly at between 3.5 and 4 pounds with a short reset. The rocking travel is under a half-inch. Comparing it to a decent M1911, the take-up and break are about the same while the reset is just a bit longer.
Check it out:
The P210 Carry is very controllable with a mild recoil:
On accuracy, the gun is quick to spoil as, after shooting it, you kind of hate to pick up anything else. While the Siglite night sights are nice and thick, designed to give you a big Tritium vial to work with in low-light conditions, they work well at everything 25 yards and less. Jogging back to the 50, the sights cover the target, but we could still hit the steel more often than not. With a set of thin target-style sights like on other P210s, this could be a 75-yard+ gun with no problem even with the shorter barrel.
Articles by old gun writers are nothing without the occasional anecdote and I have a few related to the matter at hand.
A retired Marine friend of mine who spent his career split between Force Recon and the MSG program, the latter protecting American embassies around the globe including in Trinidad during the Abu Bakr coup, repeatedly told me in his experience that the P210 was the most accurate handgun ever made-- and this from a guy who would organize regular friendly shooting competitions with embassy staff and local commando types. He also walked the walk and loved to bring his well-used ex-German Border Guard P210-4 to the range to show off by making dime-sized groups with bulk pack ball ammo. After all, it is a high-end service gun that performs like a match pistol.
There is probably a reason that numerous Western and Central European military and police forces held on to their P210s for decade after decade even while nominally "better" and more modern handguns were available. A good portion of the old-school European-made P210s that make it to this side of the pond are bought second-hand from the families of late former Swiss Army officers that were able to buy their pistols after their time in service ended. These old guns are usually superbly maintained-- something you just don't see on firearms that people don't treasure.
Earlier this year, while at SIG's inaugural Freedom Days event in Arizona, the GDC booth had the good fortune to be next to that of bestselling novelist (and Navy SEAL) Jack Carr, author of "True Believer," "The Terminal List," and other best-sellers. A gregarious guy, I ended up talking to Mr. Carr off and on about guns during downtimes and the subject of the P210 Carry came up as the author had recently taken the pistol for a spin. He had nothing but good things to say about it and the pistol even wound up in a message on a copy of "Savage Son" he made out to me.
Pros & Cons
- Probably one of the classiest carry pistols, i.e., a "tuxedo gun"
- Proven design to include reverse rails and (American) P210 commonality
- Super accurate
- All-metal construction
- Aesthetically pleasing. It just looks great
- Great sights (Siglite night sights, P series dovetail)
- Perhaps not the most practical carry option for the 2020s
- Right-handed controls only
- Not optics ready
- No accessory rail
- Holster fit can be spotty
The SIG P210 Carry is a different take on a pistol that is truly legendary when it comes to Old World quality and performance. In terms of watches, cars, or liquors, a P210 is in the same category as a Rolex, vintage Mercedes, or a 15-year-old single-malt Scotch. While the P210 Carry is a different breed of pistol than the rest of its family tree-- smaller and with new features such as G10 grips and night sights-- it carries the same lineage and panache albeit in a fresh way.
When it comes to performance, it has it all day. The P210 never once failed to deliver in our testing. Further, to shrug and say that you cannot depend on an SAO carry gun with an 8+1 mag or you'll get "kilt in da streets" is to gloss over the fact that thousands (millions?) of folks have relied on an M1911 over the past century for personal protection.
Sure, you could get a cheaper EDC-oriented 9mm that brings with it a larger magazine capacity and more modern features like a Pic rail and optics plate-- the SIG P365 XMacro comes to mind at about half the price as the P210 Carry-- but those who choose to holster this beautiful single-stack with Swiss DNA instead likely won't regret it.