Sig Sauer Legion PVD finish concerns

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On a number of social media groups and online forums across the internet, there have been reports from Sig Sauer Legion owners of the finish on their handguns wearing off, rusting in spots, or cracking off after relatively little time of ownership or use. Initially it appeared to be user blame in some of the cases, but a general search reveals that a number of owners are coming forward with complaints. The finish in question is their PVD process that uses a abrasion-resistant finish. Also, the pistol has an Alloy frame, with a Stainless Steel slide. For those who don’t know, PVD is-

Physical vapor deposition (PVD) describes a variety of vacuum deposition methods which can be used to produce thin films. PVD uses physical process (such as heating or sputtering) to produce a vapor of material, which is then deposited on the object which requires coating.

These are 11 PVD finish issues I fround concerning the Legion. This is also just from a simple Google search of Legion finishes.

Pistol 1-

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Pistol 2-

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Pistol 3-

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Pistol 4, more of that ring rub again. Also the holster is made by Savage Holsters in case you were wondering!-

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Pistol 5-

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Pistol 6-

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Pistol 7, this Legion left the factory and a gun shop without any Sig markings on the slide-

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Pistol 8-

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Pistol 9-

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Pistol 10, the slide is flaking-

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Pistol 11-

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Pistol 12 and 13, not pictured as I’m not able to get pictures at this time of rust on the slide and frame. If I can get pictures of them, I’ll update it.

Places the finish is becoming worn down are specifically the front strap of the grip, and the top of the slide. In addition to the usual spots being worn down on the slide rails on the frame, and inside the slide itself. A common cause for probable wearing down of the front strap is “ring rub” or a shooters gold wedding band scratching up the frame. Although this may be the case for a number of shooters, I think the fact remains that this isn’t common across the spectrum of modern handgun finishes. Two Legion owners that I know personally stated that rust was beginning to form on the top of the slide, and the back strap of the grip. The second owner stated that it was probably from carrying the pistol appendix style, so sweat accumulation could be the culprit.

All firearms wear down. They get shot, dropped, handled, holster wear, etc… But the rate that these Legions are wearing seems to be much faster than other modern non polymer frame handguns. If this is happening within the first year of sales, what will these Legions look like five, ten years down the service road?

Luckily, Sig Sauer seems to be very responsive to owner complaints and is shipping back slides and frames when owners are calling up about them. In addition it appears that the PVD finish complaints are more leveled at the 2016 series instead of the 2015 manufacture series.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Dickie

    O snap. This is not cool.

  • CJ

    How is this diff from the poor Glock finishes now?

    • Frank Grimes

      Because the Glock is a mid-grade pistol with a mid-range price tag. So you get what you pay for and a burnished surface coating has no effect on the Tennifer.

      Whereas a post-Cohen Sig pistol is a low end pistol with an exorbitant price tag. You literally can not shovel enough money at modern day Sig to get a quality pistol out of them.

      I wish they would go out of business.

      • Rodney Jenkins

        LOL

    • Bob

      Because I pay $398.00 for Glock Pistols.

      The black phosphate coating on the Glock is cosmetic. The real nuts and bolts is the Ferritic Nitrocarburizing finish applied. The black phosphate is applied on top of that. You can strip a Glock slide to the white and it still has the Ferritic Nitrocarburizing finish and the slide will not rust since that actually penetrates the steel and provides corrosion resistance.

    • Kivaari

      What changed? After 10 years it looked like it has the same wear as after 2 years and it doesn’t seem to get any worse. Do new ones use a new finish that wears easier?

  • Slab Rankle

    I stayed away from the P226 Legion because of the pie in the sky price tag, as well as the silly, vestigial slide release (I don’t follow the current tactical group think of eschewing the slide release), and I, too, have seen videos of finish wear starting with the first box of ammo.

    S&W gets PVD right. If SIG doesn’t, then it’s no accident. They simply went cheap on a micron thin application of this material that’s just for show, probably combined with inadequate surface prep.

    Too bad. They really are beautiful looking pieces.

    • Frank

      Only a few companies do PVD. It’s likely not done in house. My guess it’s more poor material choice and S&W only does a few PVD guns. Most of the M&Ps are salt bath nitrided and are known to have some rust issues, at last in the past. My guess because they don’t do the extra step of a black oxide finish over the nitriding.

      • Zach Robinson

        S&W has also in the past few years introduced a variant of the M&P that was only available to LE if I recall correctly. Among other small changes the slide was finished in PVD instead of black nitride and various sources were reporting better wear resistance when fired to high round counts and carried in holsters for extended periods of time. Alternatively I have some bolt carrier groups that are finished in ionbond and none have flaked or cracked but rather worn in evenly where the bolt contacts the inside of the carrier. Is it possible that due to Sig using a stainless steel substrate material (versus carbon steel) that the ionbond simply isn’t adhering as well as it could?

  • Bob

    Once again….. the idea of spending hard earned money on a gimmick pistol is laughable. I see folks dish out tons of cash on Sigs becuase they’re Legion or Elite or Rainbow or some other flavor of the week.

    I laugh at it. I also laugh at the folks that spend $2,000 on a Glock that’s been cut up and turned into a gold plated piece of crap.

    A factory Glock works.

    • itsmefool

      Oooh…so where can I buy one of these gold-plated Glocks? Will I still have to get grip retextured, the sights replaced and some trigger work? Glock perfection!

      • BigR

        I’m an old 1911 fan, but I do love my Glock 17! But, the factory sights really suck. But, that’s “gonna” change real soon!

  • Edeco

    Well, those things are for elite warriors and revered fighting professionals; who knows what kind of exotic and deadly factors affected those finishes.

  • BillC

    This isn’t a “my brand of gun is better than yours post”, just a casual observation that Sig’s QC just keeps gradually sliding, but their prices are not.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      The Legion series, which this article is specifically aimed at, is ~$300 more expensive than the standard models of the gun.

    • Frank

      It’s inherent with the design. I don’t think it’s a QC issue. PVD finishes are poorly suited to firearms IMO.

    • raz-0

      Most of the PVD coatings used on guns share a few common traits.

      1)They have a high hardness.
      2)The coating has only so much flex, which isn’t much. One bent past that, it chips.
      3) Once they chip, the chipping tends to not spread like it would with chrome plating or similar, which is a good thing
      3)They are sensitive to surface prep.
      4)They don’t prevent corrosion.

      I got ionbond black on a custom built gun of mine done very well. They had experimented with ionbond on aluminum and gave up after trying lots of variations. Honestly, I would not use PVD again EXCEPT on the screws and pins. It gets them black and wears much better than black oxide does. Especially on stainless hex head screws. It’s also proven to be an excellent coating for my bomar type rear sight. The rest of the gun? Meh.

      So from the pics:

      pistol -1’s front strap damage is normal for PVD. You hit the gun hard enough on something to damage the alloy frame, and the PVD flaked but didn’t spread. The wear on the top of the slide looks like holster wear, which you an get eventually with PVD, so that might or might not be normal depending on the number of draws, and what PVD coating they use to get the gray color. Some of the pvd coatings are much more dleicate than the gold or black titanium based ones. The trigger guard looks burnt, no idea what’s going on there. The chip near the mag release could be surface prep QC, or more damage to the alloy frame.

      pistol 2 – damage on the rear looks like once again pvd is a POOR choice for aluminum alloy. The slide however looks like bad surface prep or poor execution of the coating. Rail damage is normal PVD behavior for mounting stuff on a pic rail made of soft metal. Same goes for the peaks of the chekering. They got pressure applied, bent over a bit and flake.

      Pistol 3 – The rail looks like corrosion. As stated, pvd coatings used on guns largley are not protection against corrosion. I think the magwell coverage is an artifact of how they prep the pistols and is less QC than production choice seeing the similar issues in other pics.

      pistol 4 – I jsut see the safety wearing through the finish. I’ll bet it is jsut black oxide and not PVD. It loks very much like black oxide wear.

      pistol 5 – once again, aluminum alloy at work. PVD is deeply inappropriate for aluminum alloy application that’s going to be bumped around.

      pistol 6 – corrosion again. PVD doesn’t protect against corrosion.

      pistol 9 – looks like poor dimensional control combined with the fact it is aluminum.

      pistiol 10 – looks like poor sruface prep.

      pistol 11 – I’ll bet they rack up the guns for coating by inserting something in the mag well.

      So overall, I’d say most of it is a poor choice of coating for the product with a few examples of cheap practices and a few samples of bad QC on the surface prep.

    • Charlie Victor Alpha

      Six months ago I was ready to pull the lever on either a M11-A1 or P229 Legion. I sat on the fence for a while and ended going a different direction, but have maintained an interest in owning a Sig. I was never aware of any of the Sig Legion QC issues until this post, and after a cursory search of the web for issues people are having, holy crap, glad I didn’t buy a Sig. Finish issues, failure to function, broken internals before 1000 rounds, frames out of spec….WTF….frames out spec! It’s almost as if someone was deliberately sabotaging the factory.

  • Kevin R

    It’s called patina and it’s beautiful

    • Ranger Rick

      “Aged”

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Has sig said what they are going to do to address this long term?

    • Frank Grimes

      Probably release the Legion Gambler Edition with a pair of Aces laser engraved in the slide.

  • Hoplopfheil

    Well, still probably wears better than the Starvel finish on my Firestar.

  • Vitsaus

    I don’t see the big deal here… after all the Legion series isn’t just a finish… its a lifestyle, a frame of mind. Terrible quality on the outer coat has nothing to do with that inner warrior inside that needs a Legion because no other SIG pistol will do.

  • Frank

    From my experience with knives and reading up a lot of these types of finishes the abrasion resistance of the PVD is highly dependent on what it’s being deposited on to. Rust for example will grow “through” the deposit and will only be as durable as what it’s put on to. Works great in knives that have super hard high chromium steel blades. Not so great on soft aluminium or relatively soft stainless steel which is prone to rust. If you want something that’s suited for a pistol the best way still seems to be the way glock finishes their guns with a nitrided finish with black parkerizing over it on high carbon steel.

  • Emfourty Gasmask

    SigSauer: Not even once.

  • Brick

    So this is what happens when a pistol gets Legionnaire’s disease

  • iksnilol

    SIG USA: dishonor, again.

  • seanbo

    That holster is awesome. Where can I get one of those?

    • Mike Anthony

      Savage Holsters!

  • alex waits

    Sig Legion. “Intentionally thin finish to make light to moderate use look like its Stormed the gates of hell, killed the devil and took his girl. ”

    The Sig without any roll marks from the factory would be cool to have.

    • jonp

      I threw Charon into the river, stole his boat, pistol whipped Cerberus and ran through hell in a gasoline suit randomly shooting demons while stealing Satan’s wench to get my Legion looking like a high speed Operating Operator’s handgun should.
      My Legion literally went “to hell and back”

  • Disarmed in CA

    This means you are simply operating too hard

  • mk18

    My guess is that it’s just poor prep on the finisher’s part. I have a PVD’d slide that’s been holstered a thousand times and probably has about 10K rounds through it. Still looks good. Could also be the type of PVD (as there as MANY types) as they’re not all the same in terms of durability.

  • Bill

    The Legion is definitely on my wish list, but the finish is the least important feature to me in comparison to the trigger and ergonomic upgrades.

    The only way to keep any gun looking like new is to never touch it for anything.

  • Hector Correa

    While I’m not a legion guy, I did order a holster from savage holsters and im very glad to see you guys using one in your review.

  • RSG

    Assuming the example in picture 7 is the only one like it in the world, it’s safe to assume that is the only Legion ever manufactured/sold that is worth today what the owner paid for it.

  • Joseph Goins

    I’d hate to be in Sig’s customer service department after the Military Arms Channel fanboys read this.

    • Military Arms Channel

      What do you envision my “fanboys” doing?

      • Joseph Goins

        Sell — it’s the same thing they did after your VP9 torture test. I personally know of three people that called H&K’s customer service line asking to return the product as defective, and H&K obviously denied their warranty claim. They then sold their $650 guns for $300 just so they could go out and buy the latest and greatest product you review. (I applaud your efforts to be fair and objective in your review process.)

        Whether or not you care to admit it, you do have fanboys that hang on everything you do and say. Your disclaimer in almost every torture test video (“this is entertainment and you need to test your own guns”) does nothing to dissuade your most loyal fans.

  • Kivaari

    Isn’t that a fancy way of saying it is powder coated? If so, that’s the problem. Powder coat is only good enough to make the applicator money.

    • FightFireJay

      Powder coat is not the same as PVD. PVD is probably closer to metal plating in effect.
      Paint, powder coat, Cerakote, pvd, nitride/qpq, all these things are different and have their own unique traits.

      • Kivaari

        Thanks.

  • Mike

    Sig went down the drain when Freedom Group bought them! Sig guys just in denial that they aren’t what they used to be?

    • Michigunner

      Sig Sauer is not a Freedom Group brand, they are owned by Swiss Arms AG.

  • Kivaari

    I was hoping to get an answer. Is this just a form of powder coating or cerecote? Electrostatic paint attraction to the parts being coated? I’ve seen some gun recently that have what appears to be powder coating and they seem easily scratched.

  • Tony O

    I work at a gun shop. The more I handle the Legion pistols, the less I like them. Are they worth it? Well, they only cost a couple hundred more dollars than the standard configurations, but the only real attraction is the trigger, which, guess what? You can do that without paying the full price. Shoot, you could buy a used Sig, in very very good condition, at a fraction of the price, and get more or less the same thing. One thing’s for sure. Sig Sauer is feeling the crunch right now. They’ve got their sticky fingers in way too many cookie jars. They’re trying to do everything at once, and for some reason they can’t keep up with the demand, despite firearms/suppressors, optics, and ammo all essentially different entities. And their brand is sliding. QC is going down the tubes…quickly. They announce products we may never see, things that people do actually want (P320/MCX/MPX standalone conversion kits, anyone?). They’re not producing things that people want that have been part of their catalog for awhile. It’s not pretty to watch, and it sucks for our customers.

  • Let’s start with the most obvious suspects: where was Freedom Group when this crime occurred?

  • VanDiemensLand

    Is that a chunk missing?

    • Raven

      It’s either a casting flaw, or as a couple guys on Reddit said, an issue with the anodizing process. Something about a poor connection between the frame and the rack holding it sparking an arc and doing…that.

  • Charlie Victor Alpha

    It’s disconcerting that a pistol supposedly built to a higher standard would get out of the factory with machining that piss poor. Obviously it was built and shipped by individual/s that just don’t give a f@#k. The second that happened to the frame, this pistol should’ve been recycled.

  • Jim N Jenna SK

    Wish I could get a super 6

  • M-dasher

    Oh noez…..you scratched your gun…….not that!!

    its a tool, not a Ferrari……..dont want wear on it, leave it in the safe.

  • ckeltz3

    Another indicator of the ‘Slide of Sig’….never thought they’d start tanking, I’ve been carrying their pistols since the 1980’s, but sadly it has begun. This is what happens when you bring in someone that destroyed the quality of another company (Kimber) to now head your company. Financial profit is now the primary driving force for this company; quality of the product has become secondary. The Sig Shooting Team has also shockingly been eradicated…..boss decided that they can’t be wasting money there!
    Expect things to only get worse for this once outstanding company. I’m glad that I already own all of the Sig’s I care to own. What a shame.

  • Kefefs

    My brother dished out $1200 for a P229 Legion when they first came out. The finish was horrendous. There were a bunch of uneven spots on it, namely underneath the grips and in the magwell, and it scuffed and scratched very easily. I don’t know if SIG even tested it before putting it on their “premium” line of pistols, but it seems worse than their standard Nitron finish in every conceivable way.

  • BigR

    I thought Sig was a quality firearm! Their guns have some really high prices on them. Anyone out there getting any information on what Sig is doing about it. I can understand it could be a mistake in finishing, but if it is their fault, are they doing something about it?

  • jamesone

    I bought a standard p226 a year or so ago on the cheap new and bought the SRT trigger parts they sell in these. 20 min you have a non fugly 226 with the same trigger…

  • Baggy270

    Gee my Chinese Norinco 226 copy still looked new after shooting the hell out of it for 4 years and it was only $350 Canadian!

  • JasonWorthing

    See! That’s what all yoos fancy pants git! My daddys sig was nitron, my granddaddys sig was nitron, my sig is nitron. . . if it was good enough for us, then its good enough for yoos. But yoos had to git all fancy with your secret hand shakes, secret websites, and bourgeois fancy coin on your fancy g10 grips. Sigs dont need no beaver tail no how, anyhow!

  • Mark Walker

    OMG…I’ve a P226 that I bought new in 1985; today mine looks much better than these. Hopefully SIG will once again put function/quality first, and then marketing.