Smith & Wesson Sigma .40 ("Metal" Slide version) - 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.
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 It was launched, withdrawn, relaunched and then withdrawn again...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 and versions with WESTERN ARMS markings, in their place, as tested here.
In the Box
This gun came in a lovely blue S&W Logoed plastic gun box.
Whether this is WA or S&W, I cannot say for certain (I suspect the latter), but it certainly looks good and was, presumably, intended for a Sigma, if the sticker on the box is original.
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.
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.
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.
The slide is removed with very Glock looking take down catches above the trigger and the sights are white dotted for fast acquisition.
As expected from a WA gun, the Sigma feels solid and good in the hands.
Interestingly, this gun bears all WA logos and that Western Arms marked slide appears to be made of metal, both features unique, in my experience, to this gun.
As well as the silver barrel/chamber, the magazine is also silver in colour (my gun came with a spare magazine, identical in appearance).
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.
The grip is rather aggressively chequered, front and rear, and the sides of the grip are marked with prominent, moulded in WA 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.
The slide also may be metal. Inside, there is a panel which is clearly metal (there is no paint) and the slide feels very cold to the touch, moreso than any gun, except my MGC P7M13. However, tapping the slide gives a fairly plastic sound. I did not want to damage the gun, by scratching away an paint on the slide (even if it had been mine!), so I will have to remain less than 100% sure it is metal, but it certainly looks and feels very convincing.
The markings on this version of the WA Sigma are strange. The slide's left side bears the words "WESTERN ARMS"/"SNOWVALLEY, WA ASGK" towards the front and "MODEL WA40F"/"JPN. ,Pat 2,561.421"/"2,561.429 2,561.449" on the rear. 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 "WAY0796" (Different to the S&W marked gun). The top of the stainless finish chamber is marked "40 WA".
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.
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.
The magazine release is a more stylised button than the Glock's (close to the trigger on the left side, for easy release with the right thumb.
This Sigma, unlike a Glock, has a manual safety, engaged by pulling down a small section of the base of the butt, behind the magazine, which disengages the trigger.
The magazine is very smart, all in silver, with round markings engraved on it, and the base bears a Western Arms logo and the words "WESTERN ARMS".
The 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, this Sigma produced a worse grouping than my own gun, with a best 5 grouping of 7CM (2.75 inches), spread across a fairly flat line, which I put down to a long and heavy trigger pull.
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, this version of the Sigma averaged 260 fps (using winter gas) indoors (around 10C, but with a magazine stored at room temperature), which is pretty comparable, as you would expect, to the other version I tried. This would be roughly equivalent to 280fps at 20C.
I was able to carry out a trigger pull weight test on this gun and it produced an even higher figure than the other Sigma I tested. This gun produced a pull weight of 1,980g (70 ounces), over 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, although it is a notably long pull.
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.
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, this Sigma is an interesting piece.
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).
This version lacks the attraction of proper S&W trademarks, but the slide is certainly solid (even if I remain to be 100% convinced it is all metal, especially as it weighs exactly the same as the other Sigma I had) and the gun bought back all the good feelings I had about my harder worn S&W marked version.
Once again, the sum of the whole is greater than that of the parts. The trigger pull is very heavy, 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 : ****
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