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Best overall rapid fire group at 21 feet was shot with Hornady Critical Defense, with five rounds inside the X. Sellier & Bellot placed three overlapping at the top of the X ring.

Every year armsmakers roll out their latest models and innovations in firearms design and technology; some are good, others great, but only a handful are so impressive that they are destined to become benchmarks. One of the latter is the new Sig Sauer P290, which takes 9mm firepower down to almost .380 pocket pistol dimensions through the utilization of a lightweight polymer frame, significantly reduced exterior dimensions, and proven Sig Sauer ergonomics. This isn’t the first 9mm to be scaled down, but the fact that it is a Sig Sauer, one of the world’s most revered law enforcement firearm manufacturers, gives the P290 a proven lineage to which it has to aspire.

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Even with the ILM attached, the overall dimensions of the Sig Sauer P290 are extremely compact, making for a highly concealable pistol.

Gun Details
Designed for discrete concealed carry, the P290 is only slightly larger overall than the .380 ACP Sig Sauer P238, but that’s about the only relevant comparison between the two models. With an overall length of just 5.5 inches, a truncated height of 3.9 inches, barrel length of 2.9 inches, and weight of only 20.5 ounces empty, the P290 subcompact semi-auto provides the defensive capability of a 9mm in a gun that is remarkably flat, measuring under an inch in width.

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The ambidextrous Sig Sauer holster is designed to solidly hold the ultra-compact pistol, even with the ILM laser unit assembly attached. Dennis Adler Photos

The internal mechanism is a traditional locked breech, Browning-type tilting barrel, but with one distinguishing feature; a broadly flared muzzle that aligns with a corresponding channel in the slide. This design contributes to quicker cycling of the action; as soon as the slide starts its reward movement it releases the muzzle, allowing the barrel to tilt and drop the breechblock into line for reload. The P290 also employs a dual recoil spring assembly that makes this operation pretty snappy. And while it requires more effort to cycle the action, it’s a good tradeoff in improved recoil control and handling.

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Best overall rapid fire group at 21 feet was shot with Hornady Critical Defense, with…