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Smith & Wesson Sigma .40 - Western Arms

For a short while Western Arms produced this Smith & Wesson pistol. The real Sigma was Smith & Wesson's response to the Glock 17 and it was so close to the Austrian design, in some respects, that Glock successfully sued S&W for breach of patents.

Based on the Glock design, this was S&W's first polymer framed pistol.

Western Arm's gun has had a similarly chequered history. It was launched, withdrawn, relaunched and then withdrawn again...

There are versions with full Smith & Wesson trademarks (like this one) and versions with WESTERN ARMS on the slide, in their place.

The earlier Sigmas had heavyweight slides, but no S&W trademarks.

In the Box

My gun was second hand, albeit well looked after, and the box contained nothing more than the gun and the usual paperwork.

Used gun, so maybe some parts missing?

I don't know if there was a loading tool with the gun originally (the magazine is very easy to fill, so I doubt it), but I presume there would have been an allen key to adjust the hop-up.

First Impressions

The Sigma looks very like a Glock, but, to my eyes, is more stylish, with a much more ergonomic grip and a slope to the rear edge of the slide.

Grip is different, but otherwise very Glock like.

There's little to see on the outside of the gun. It is mainly black, although the barrel and chamber cover are silver (WA's usual Stainless finish, rather than chrome effect) and only the slide lock (more traditional in appearance than a Glocks) and rounded magazine release break the smooth lines of the gun.

S&W logo prominent on grip. Note chequering front and rear.

The slide is removed with very Glock looking take down catches above the trigger and the sights are white dotted for fast acquisition.

Slide lock larger than Glock's. Note two part trigger.

As expected from a WA gun, the Sigma feels solid and good in the hands. The S&W markings (accurately rendered on this version of the gun) are deep and clear and the WA ones are very low key. Just as it should be.

Good clear S&W markings, faithful to real thing.

As well as the silver barrel/chamber, the magazine is also silver in colour (my gun came with a spare magazine, identical in appearance).

Closer Look

If you are familiar with an airsoft Glock, the Smith & Wesson Sigma will be instantly familiar to you. The grip will probably feel a little more comfortable in the hand, being more ergonomically shaped than the Glock's squared off grip, but the square slide, simple, tactical sights, two part (albeit less noticeably so) trigger and lack of an external safety will make you feel instantly at home.

Barrel and chamber 'stainless' finished.

The grip is rather aggressively chequered, front and rear, and the sides of the grip are marked with prominent, moulded in, S&W logos, but, otherwise, the finish of the frame is smooth. The slide features serrations at the rear to aid cocking, although the gun is double action.

Compact gun. Most of frame very smooth.

The markings on this version of the WA Sigma are true to the Smith & Wesson original. The slide's left side bears the words "SMITH & WESSON"/"Springfield, MA USA" towards the front and "Model SW40F" on the rear. A small "W.A.ASGK" below that bear testimony to the Western Arms origin of this replica. The right hand side of the slide reads "CAUTION Incapable of firing with"/"magazine removed" ahead of the ejection port. Under the front of the frame is a barcode and the serial number "WA2002Y". The top of the stainless finish chamber is marked ".40S&W".

Stainless finished magazine.

Rather disappointingly, but possibly replicating the real thing, the recoil spring guide is plastic (except for the parts which hold it in place. The recoil spring also looks overly compressed, having an S shape to it, which doesn't look as though it is good, but does not seem to hamper operation.

White dotted tactical sights are easy to use.

The trigger is two part, but slightly different to a Glocks. The whole trigger is separated into two parts, but unless the lower half is depressed, the trigger cannot fire. It achieves the same effect as a Glock's, but in a slightly different way and the two halves are less apparent than on a Glock.

The sights are formed of a blade front and a Novack-ish, fixed rear sight. Fairly prominent white dots make acquisition fast and easy.

Shooting Impressions

The S&W Sigma is a comfortable gun to hold, with a, generally, smooth grip and clear, white dotted sights.

Click on image for bigger version in separate window.

Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the Sigma produced a good grouping, with all 6 shots in a 2 inch (5CM) diameter. The best 5 grouping was a cluster of 1.5 Inches (3.7CM), with all 6 shots either in or on the boundary of the target centre.

Kick is not great, but it isn't on a Glock and the Sigma does NOT make that annoying POP which all Glocks do. Cycle speed looks good and the slide locks back smartly once the magazine is emptied.

Over 10 shots, the Sigma averaged 295fps (using winter gas) indoors (around 30C), which was lower than I might have expected.

Shot      FPS
1 275.5
2 287.0
3 301.0
4 292.9
5 302.6
6 259.4
7 294.4
8 344.9
9 297.8
10 295.9

With 134a gas, at a more comfortable 22C, it produced a ten shot average of 241 FPS, suggesting the above figure is representative. Not terrible, but not terribly powerful, either.

I was able to carry out a trigger pull weight test on this gun and it produced a high figure of 1,580g (55.7 ounces), getting on for twice the pull weight of the similar KSC Glock 34 and four times the pull weight of the STi Titan (the lightest, at 339g, tested previously. Having recorded that, the trigger really does not feel terribly heavy in action.

Take Down

On the Sigma, as with the Glocks, drop the magazine and then push the disassembly catches (on either side of the frame, over the trigger) down. The slide, barrel and recoil rod will then push forward off the frame.
The recoil rod can be removed by pushing it gently forward and down and then back. The barrel should be slid forward and down, once clear of the nozzle.

Strip EXACTLY like a Glock...

It is said that you can use barrels from the real Sigma in a Glock and, certainly, the parts fit on the airsoft versions, although technical differences mean they don't actually operate.


Overall, the Sigma is an interesting piece.

S&W Sigma and similar Glock 34.

No longer manufactured by Western Arms, the Sigma is a welcome departure from the ranks of 1911 derivatives (and the odd Beretta) WA are known for. Quality wise, the Sigma meets the usual expectations and performs well enough to match the KSC Glocks at CQB or Practical Shooting ranges. However, the power is less than one might expect from a WA gun (or the KSC Glocks), so it might be a less effective skirmish sidearm (although over 10m, it's unlikely you would often use a sidearm).

Once again, the sum of the whole is greater than that of the parts. The trigger pull is very heavy and the power not terribly exciting, but I liked this gun and feel it is a shame that it has slipped from WA's line-up, for whatever reason.

Weight : 700g

Realism : ****
Quality : *****
Power : ***
Accuracy : ****

Real Steel link at World Guns

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