Date product posted
Wed December 19, 2007
Review: KSC SP2009
KSC's Sig Pro series has been around for quite a while, but it's not popular or even well known. Experienced airsofters rarely mention the pistol, and when they do, their remarks tend to be derogatory, citing the gun's low power and sluggish blowback, as well as terrible reliability, as support. Newer players are likely to completely overlook the pistol if they know about it at all - in the USA, only the KWA-branded SP2340 is available, and it's not stocked at most retailers. My intent with this review is to dispel some myths, provide evidence of others, and explain not only just the pros and cons of this uncommon gun but also how to correct its various inadequacies. Let's begin.
Table of Contents:
I. Firearm Background
II. Airsoft Background
III. The general layout of the KSC SP2009 package
IV. The pistol in detail - externals
V. The pistol in detail - internals
VI. The magazine in detail
VII. Firing the pistol - observations on performance
IIX. Conclusion - the verdict on the KSC SP2009
SIG's been around longer than most people would imagine. The firm, whose name is a much-appreciated abbreviation for Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft Holding AG, Neuhausen am Rheinfall, started as a train car plant in 1853 and began producing weapons only a few years later. SIG's early designs, such as the odd MKMO and MKPO submachine guns of the 1930's, have been largely forgotten, but the company found fame with their first pistol design, the P210. Finely machined from quality steel, the single-stack P210 had a reputation for accuracy, but came at a high price tag. Still, the P210 was adopted by the Swiss military in 1944, and was also used in varied numbers by other countries, Sweden for example.
For years afterwards SIG focused primarily on the Stgw. 57, which, like the P210, had been adopted by the Swiss army. However, in the early 1970's, SIG introduced the P220 - the basis of the series of pistols that would become their flagship models, such as the P226, P228 and P229. The P22x series were less expensive to produce than the old P210s, and far more popular. Today, the SIG P226 is one of the most popular pistols in the US and abroad, and certainly the company's best commercial success.
In the 1990's, the firm decided to build on that success and stake their claims in the rapidly growing polymer-framed pistol market. SIG intended to design a completely new pistol - not just a modified P226 - and the result was the SIG Pro series. Featuring a steel slide, reversible magazine release, interchangable grips with varying textures and sizes, newly designed controls, and most importantly a 'plastic fantastic' frame, the Pro series, then consisting of the SP2009 and SP2340, was an impressive pistol. It met with low interest, however, as SIG fans dismissed it as a cheap subsitute for a P22x series. In recent years, though, it's been espoused as an underrated pistol, and one version, the SP2022 with a weaver rail, has even been adopted by the French police.
In the introduction, I covered the basics of the SP2009's background: a pistol with a reputation for good looks and poor performance, the Sig Pro's a rare sight on US and UK forums. But I came across an old KSC webpage with some interesting information - and thought it might be best to let the company do the talking on background:
KSC on the Sig Pro series
The general layout of the KSC SP2009 package:
I purchased my SP2009 used, so the box and accessories were not included. You can bet, though, that the usual accouterments are there: lube, a small bag of BBs, one magazine, the pistol, a hop-up adjustment tool, and a loading tool. I wouldn't be surprised if, in usual KSC/KWA style, the box lid doubled as a target for this gun as well. Here's what I was looking at:
With that said, we'll put aside the magazine for now and focus on everyone's favorite part: the gun.
The pistol in detail - externals:
I'd heard these guns don't shoot well, but they certainly look great. Sig Pros are distinctive, too, with the the stepped bottom of the grip, the oversized trigger guard, and the styling of slide and frame. Here we can see contrast between the upper and lower assemblies: the slide on this particular gun is made of 'heavyweight' plastic with a small metal content, while the frame is ABS. It's already clear that the grip has a nice texture to it:
Let's have a look at the markings for a moment. On the right hand side, an imposing "Read Manual Before Use" stares back at us from the frame. Some may think it appears toylike, but it's a marking absolutely accurate to the real SP2009, and I'm glad to see that it's deeply molded into the plastic, since KSC guns often have very shallow, thin trademarks. Above it, on the right side of the chamber, you can make out a small "9mm Para", which once again is well-molded and correct:
Moving towards the back of the gun, we can see there's a small crest below the 9mm Para marking. This is a nice touch, though it's a bit difficult to see. Note also the three pins in the frame - one for the trigger, one for the front block that holds the rails for the slide, and one for the slide release lever which we'll see in a moment on the opposite side of the frame. Finally, I'd point out the faux pins molded into the slide. They are well done, but a little 'too perfect', since there's not really the simulation of a hole that they go into. For this reason they are convincing, but not under very close inspection:
Just below this area is the far side of the magazine catch. As you may have gathered from KSC's website, the magazine catch is completely reversible for left-handed shooters, and this is evident in the symmetrical design of the frame:
Flipping the pistol over to the left side reveals the bulk of the trademarks. Here, on the front of the slide, we see "SIG SP 2009", and below that "Frame made of Synthetic Resin", with a small SIG logo - drilled out by the retailer that sold this gun. There's a little orange left from the orange tip of this gun in the front of the trademarks - for those of us in the USA, this signals that pistols with orange paint on the slide will likely never be completely black, since it seems impossible to remove this ingrained paint from the marks. Still, the trades themselves are good, although the real SIG Pros I have seen feature the phrase "Frame made in Switzerland", with no mention of resin synthetic or otherwise. The heavyweight slide is very thick all around, and I do not fear that it will snap on powerful gasses:
Once again, we move towards the back of the gun. Here, we see the control set, consisting of the incredibly long slide release, the decocking lever, and the textured, triangular magazine release. All of these controls are very comfortable and easy to reach with the thumb, but I'm not quite sold on the finish. They appear very slightly brown in color, and are not completely matte. A flat black or grey would have been much better. They do appear to be cast, but it's done well:
Pressing the small pin on the left side of the trigger released a spring-loaded bar, which directly blocks the trigger's motion to act as a crude safety. This, I would guess, was required by Japanese law, since similar 'hidden' safeties are found in TM and KSC Glocks:
The marking shown below, which simply states "SIG Pro" in large letters, is found on both sides of the grip. It's probably the most prominent lettering on the entire pistol. The stippled texture of the grip, seen in detail here, is very comfortable and not too abrasive, but it's not as secure as the rougher texture seen on USPs or some 1911 grips, especially when used with sweaty hands:
Let's see what can be found on the bottom of the pistol now. Those of you who guessed 'more markings', 'a rail', or, 'a seam line' are all correct. Here's the rail - a copy of the proprietary rail SIG uses on their SP2009 and SP2340. It should be compatible with the real (that is, really expensive) SIG taclight, or with the proper weaver adapters. Really, I can't see most skirmishers buying the SIG light, so I can't say this rail is really worth much, but I appreciate that it doesn't intrude on the aesthetics of the pistol the way STI/SVI rails do. Below this is a small silver plate, reading, on this gun, "Made in Taiwan":
The grip has a neat little textured pattern along the frontstrap, with vertical and horizontal grooves. It's secure in the hand and looks great. On the other hand, you can also see a thin but visible seam line along the trigger guard. There's a similar one on the backstrap of the grip - but I don't mind either. The real Sig Pro is a polymer-framed pistol, and it has seam lines too. You can see in the second picture that the grip backstrap insert forms a small magwell for the gun:
That covers the bottom of the pistol, so we'll move on to the top. Of course, the most important thing on the top of a pistol is the sights, and here they are. Both are cast from the usual pot metal material. The front sight has a large white dot, par for the course for GBBs, while the rear sight has a vertical white line in its center. Strangely, the rear sight has a angled outline cast into it, and it's this outline that I've seen highlighted in white on the firearm - but it's left black on KSC's gun:
The only other object of interest atop the gun is the chamber, since this is often marked with a caliber or brand. With '9mm Para' already marked on its right side, though, it's completely blank here. Note that the seam line of the SP2009's frame is not present on its slide, which is good, since the slide is intended to replicate metal:
The pistol in detail - internals:
With the externals covered, we'll now open up the Pro and take a quick look at what's inside. Rest assured we'll be back here after the first firing - so get accquainted now. The first step in dissasembling the SP2009 is to lock the slide back using the catch on the left side:
Then simply push the slide release lever out from the right side, holding the slide in place. Once it's out, the upper assembly slides off the frame with ease:
Pushing the recoil rod forward, out the front of the slide, then letting it slide back away from its place against the outer barrel, removes it. Notice the spring-loaded plunger pin in the back of the recoil rod; this holds it in place when assembled:
The part itself is nicely made and finished metal. In fact, it appears to have been created on a lathe, rather than cast. KSC apparently responded to complaints about the plastic guide rod of the SP2340 with this little improvement - though, ironically, the real Sig Pro series uses a plastic guide rod in a similar manner to a real Glock:
Its corresponding spring, however, is a little strange and very weak. It's made up of flat coils, which is unusual. If a normal recoil spring looks like a bit of wire wrapped in a helix, this one looks like a leaf spring coiled in the same manner. Luckily, since the assembly uses no cap or bushing other than the metal-reinforced front portion of the slide itself, almost any pistol recoil spring can be used. Shown here from left to right are a TM Hi-Capa 5.1 recoil spring, a KSC Glock 17 recoil spring, and the original SP2009 spring. These and more all work fine. For now, we'll leave the original in so as not to skew the firing tests.
Just as the recoil rod was removed from the outer barrel by sliding forward, then back and out, the outer and inner barrel assembly can be slid out of the slide:
It's a fairly basic unit with some positive and some negative surprises. First, there's a seam line running down the side - but there's also a SIG logo hidden when it's in the gun. No doubt this marking is true to the real SP2009:
However, this is the internals section, and seam lines, logos, and other such items are not our objective. One of the worse aspects of the Sig Pro is its barrel length, considering its overall size. Here we can see the Sig barrel compared to a Glock 17 barrel. The Glock 17 is of comparable size to the Sig Pro, but it's barrel is significantly longer. This may be much of the reason for the reported low FPS in KSC's SP series:
Below the plastic outer barrel is a cast metal block, which is attached via pins and forms both the cam that swings the barrel down for cycling, and the feed ramp of the gun. On the KSC Glocks, a similar part exists, but it's flimsy plastic. The replication of the entire cam, rather than just angled ramps, is nice as well and I suspect it improves cycling to some small degree. In the final picture, you can see the hop-up is very typical KSC in design. Personally, I'm no fan of KSC hop-ups, which involve rotating a cylinder of decreasing internal diameter around the hop-up rubber with a ball bearing to interface the setting. I tend to find them less consistent and more finicky than the designs of other brands. My opinion is that KSC hop-ups should be set for the BB weight you plan to use, and left alone:
Finally, we've reached the internals of the slide, also known as the blowback unit. Those of you who own KSC or KWA Glocks might think you know what to expect - you'd be wrong. The blowback unit of the Sig Pro is far more similar to that of a M11A1 than that of a KSC Glock, or a TM or WA GBB. It's also susceptible to the same problems as that of the M11A1:
When a BB is chambered and is resting against the hop-up, the internal pistol is compressed under light spring pressure within the external piston. This opens a valve to channel the gas down the barrel:
But once the BB leaves the barrel, that piston springs forward. Now, the gas is diverted to the rear, powering the blowback process:
In principle, a good system. But if the hop-up is turned down too low, the piston might not be compressed, and the gun will cycle with each shot without any gas directed down the barrel. Additionally, the blowback and return of the slide rely on the motion of this plastic gas channel, which can get stuck in front of an O-ring in the system as seen here:
We'll return to the blowback unit later, but right now we're done with the upper assembly. Next up is the frame, and if the blowback unit is the heart of a gas pistol, the internals of the frame are its nervous system. This is where your actions with the trigger and decocking lever are used to manipulate the hammer of the gun, controlling the firing and, well, not-firing of the pistol. We'll start with a picture, in case you've forgotten which bit the frame is:
On the bottom of the grip is a small slot. Inserting a wedge or large flathead screwdriver into this slot, or simply pressing the button a little farther into the magwell with your finger, will release the catch that holds the grip to the frame. From there it slide down the frame and off of the gun entirely:
With this done, we are privy to the internal workings of the frame:
The first spring, at the bottom of the grip, is the hammer spring, also called the mainspring. You can see how when the pistol is cocked, the mainspring bar retracts up the frame, compressing the spring:
Next, nestled within a stamped metal housing, is a smaller spring which helps to reset the trigger properly after each shot, so that the trigger bar is in the right position to manipulate the sear. Notice how the housing presses up against the trigger bar. The other spring visible in these pictures is the decocking lever spring, which simply keeps this lever from sliding freely up and down:
Here, we can see the interesting way in which the Sig Pro works. When the hammer is cocked, the slide travels over a small catch which retracts the striker piece. At this point the gun is ready to fire - there is spring pressure on the hammer and the striker is in position behind the magazine valve. Notice the pin protruding from the rear:
When the hammer is released by the sear, it flies forward and strikes the pin, which transmits this force to the striker piece, which transmits it to the valve. Not many pistols in airsoft uses this extra firing pin, but it seems KSC found it necessary for the working decocker:
Like the blowback unit, we'll return to this portion of the frame out of necessity. For now, we'll have one last picture - this time in the front of the frame where the rest of the slide rails sit. As you can see, there's only this singular metal block, and it is held in by one of the frame pins, which does nothing else but this. The other pin is for the trigger, trigger spring, and slide release spring:
That completes our observation of the frame, so we'll now reassemble the pistol and look at the magazine.
The magazine in detail:
The magazine of any gas pistol is vitally important - if it doesn't work well, that's it. Whereas with an AEG there are nearly always a plethora of third-party manufacturers to look to, a GBB, unless it is a clone or has one, is left to its own devices. And those devices can be leaky, or spray BBs into your face, or break when filled with the wrong gas. For these reasons, we'll be looking at the magazine just as much as the frame and slide.
KSC magazine always work the same way, using a sliding follower that locks down, and metal feed lips with a tool for pouring BBs into. Always, that is, except in the case of the SP2009. Its magazine is different - first of all, there's no externally visible follower, let alone a locking one:
The back of the magazine is strange too. A thin metal plate covers the back of the valve, presumable for cosmetic reasons but perhaps also to ensure that the striker piece is in the correct position when the magazine is inserted:
Finally, the feed lips are not of a pour-in design only acessible from the front. Instead, BBs can be popped in from the top, back, or front, one by one, and are held in without flying out simply by their double-stacked nature. This is a lot simpler and easier to use than the pour-in type - those pour-in funnels never worked well for me - and it's also somewhat similar to the magazine design of a double stack firearm:
Flipping the magazine over, there is a nice, large SIG logo on the baseplate. All that's required to take the plate off is some pressure on the tiny spring-loaded pin just past this logo. While we do this, notice the nice, almost imitation-blued appearance of the magazine:
And from there, a pin on the bottom of the magazine is revealed. Tapping it out (bear in mind, it will only go one way) allows us to slide the entire sheet metal magazine sleeve off, gaining access to the main portions of the magazine. I like this system a lot, since it's simple and convenient, but it can be a trick to reassemble:
With postive impressions of the magazine, we'll move on to the action-packed part - shooting the gun!
Firing the pistol - observations on performance:
I filled the magazine with propane - my reasoning being that if it can't take propane, it needs to be fixed anyway. I also found that the magazine holds 26 BBs - but won't insert into the gun unless one is removed. It needs room in the follower spring to accommodate the blowback unit's piston, and this may be damaged by inserting a magazine with 26 BBs. Thus, the capacity is effectively 25.
The initial shot was a major letdown. In fact, I could say that the initial letdown was the lack of a major shot, but that might confuse people. Translation? The gun light-striked. Really, it's not surprising - this is a pistol designed to shoot 134A gas in Japan, trying to move the valve of a magazine filled with propane in the hot Carolina summer (For a time, the city I live in was the hottest place in the nation this summer!). It wasn't going to happen. A simple fix, however, brought this problem under control - it's covered next up in the troubleshooting section. With this done, the SP2009 cycled well and fired with what appeared to be fairly typical, perhaps slightly substandard power. A .2g BB consistently penetrated one side of any aluminum can I tried it with, and the occasional BB would travel through both – though the cause of this may well lie with the unreliable can test method rather than with any jump in FPS.
With the gun now firing consistently on single action, I tried double action. This resulted in light strikes, just as single action did before. This pistol was not going to fire propane on double action, let alone in the heat of summer. I noted it and let it be, feeling that further attempts to strengthen the striker’s force would result in more trouble than they’d be worth. I’ve included a small video, no sound, which shows the SIG Pro light-striking after being decocked.
Attempting to fire the SP2009, double-action on propane.
Blowback was snappy enough for the pistol to fire as fast as I could, but there wasn’t much of a force felt from the slide cycle. I’d certainly point out that the SIG Pro is perhaps the most comfortable pistol I’ve fired, far exceeding a 1911, USP, or Glock in ergonomics. It’s also very easy to aim quickly and accurately with the white-markings on the sights. Effective range, in my opinion, should be considered no more than 100 feet. Beyond this point the KSC hop-up simply cannot be relied upon for accurate shooting. Gas consumption was for the most part normal, with an average of 39 BBs or about 1.5 magazines per fill of gas.
A 5m test revealed acceptable, very usual accuracy. It’s a little above-average for the short barrel – but I wouldn’t list that as an advantage, since in this case its short barrel does not imply a small size. For this reason I say that the accuracy is typical using a full-frame pistol as my point of comparison. The five-shot group had a diameter of 30mm at its widest point, and if one shot is discounted the group size is a mere 20mm.
The first item of business in troubleshooting the SP2009 is the alleviation of the light-strike issue. Light strikes are almost all caused by the same thing – weak hammer springs and strong gas. Since I’m never one to use a weaker gas if there’s another possibility, I decided to see what I could do about the hammer spring. The first step was to get to it – so let’s go back to the frame. Notice the two pins that have been tapped out, and the removed reset spring and spring housing:
With those parts removed, the entire hammer box slides up and out of the frame:
The hammer spring itself is accessed by compressing the spring via its small cap on the bottom of the mainspring rod, and removing a tiny retaining pin in the cap:
I looked through my parts bin, and selected a few washers and nuts that I thought might fit on the mainspring rod. Simply sliding these on after the spring made a nice little spring spacer that, as you know from the performance section, corrected the single-action light-strike problem. Theoretically, more could be added to make the pistol function in double action, but then a plethora of problems could be encountered, from cycling issues to the pistol firing when the decocking lever is pulled:
Extended firing of the SP2009 revealed more problems than the light-strike issue, however. Occasionally, the gun would not allow its slide to close past the halfway point unless the magazine was removed. At other times, the recoil spring wouldn’t bring the slide back fully into battery, and the slide would sometime fail to lock back. To fix these issues, we’ll go back inside the SP2009.
The simplest fix is that for the slide locking issue. The metal slide lock, presumably during use by the previous owner, had worn the notch in the heavyweight slide down to an angle that would allow it to slip at times. A simple fix was to file it back to a 90 degree angle, but over time I presume it would have to be patched with epoxy. This, too, would eventually fail, but the process would take quite a long time. Of course, the best option is simply to get one of the excellent and readily available Shooters Design slides now on the market for the SIG Pro series.
Fixing the issue with the slide closing is more complex. Remember disassembling the slide, and finding the plastic nozzle with its tendency to get stuck? Here’s the picture again:
As you can see, this is caused by the one-way nature of the O-ring around the piston:
To correct this problem, we’ll take the blowback unit out of the slide. A simple process, this necessitates only the removal of the hex screw at the rear of the slide, though a bit of prying with a flathead screwdriver is useful as well:
Here we see the blowback unit removed from the slide, with the plastic gas channel stuck on its O-ring. Notice the very weak springs on the top of the blowback unit which keep this black piece returned to the rear after each slide cycle:
To solve the actual problem, we need only replace the O-ring itself, with a usual, non-biased one of the appropriate size. Alternatively, we can modify the stock one, which is what I did. I simply took some 400 grit sandpaper to the biased edge of the ring until the nozzle piece could slide freely and would snap back under its spring pressure. Problem solved.
Finally, the issue involving the slide’s return to battery was a mere matter of the weak recoil spring. I replaced it with the recoil spring that was included with my G&P Glock 17 metal kit – any KSC or Marui Glock recoil spring will fit, as will 2011 and 1911 recoil springs and perhaps more:
Conclusion: the verdict on the KSC SP2009:
KSC’s Sig Pro is a mixed bag. With well-molded trademarks, realistic features like grips interchangeable with the real SIG ones, a reversible magazine release, great matte appearance and comfortable grips, and no casting errors to be found on its metal parts, externally it is excellent, despite the finish on the controls, which could be better. Firing the pistol, though, is rather disappointing, with some home modifications needed for full function on propane, and average to sub-average performance characteristics. A KSC Glock style blowback unit, which relies much less on properly interfacing parts, could have made this pistol one of the mainstays of airsoft – but the finicky type KSC chose has instead limited it to the hands of collectors.
There are a few upgrades and external parts available for the SIGs, but nothing near the large amounts found for most TM and WA pistols. Hurricane sells a kit with recoil and hammer springs and a high-flow valve, KM offers a 6.04mm barrel, and Zeke, KSC Taiwan, and Shooters Design all manufacture metal slide kits. Beyond this there’s little to be found, though the interchangeable grip may entertain those who enjoy small customizations.
All in all, the SIG Pro is one for collectors, not skirmishers, and certainly shouldn’t be recommended to one new to GBB pistols. It can run on propane, and it’s certainly satisfying once this great-looking pistol is functioning normally, but there are no advantages to be found here for those who aren’t interested in the SP2009’s appearance. That said, a place in the hands of collectors is a place nonetheless, and KSC seem content to continue with production of the gun. Perhaps in Japan, where HFC134A is the norm and collectors abound, the pistol is more popular.
-Overall good build quality
-Unreliable design needs some work to consistently function on powerful gasses
-Short barrel length for overall size
-KSC/KWA hop-up system tends to be less accurate than TM or WA
-Magazine slow to load, though fairly realistic in appearance
-Limited performance and upgrade capability
Remember, pros and cons are not created equal. The con that the magazines are slow to load is, to me, fairly unimportant compared to the pro noting aesthetics. For this reason, I wouldn't put too much stock in a direct comparison of pros vs. cons, but rather use this as a cheat sheet on what I liked and what I didn't, and ask yourself how much each pro and con matters to you.
Replication: 9/10 – Great looking trademarks, but some are somewhat inaccurate – “Frame made of Synthetic Resin” should be “Frame made in Switzerland”. Sights oddly filled with white in a different place than they should be.
Finish: 8/10 – Plastic parts are great looking with a good replication of the texture on the grip. However, I’m taking points off for the seam on the outer barrel, and for the black-brown finish of the controls.
Cost: 5/10 – Depending on the version bought, $120 to $160. This is par for the course when buying a KSC pistol.
Construction: 6/10 – The thick, sturdy external parts like the slide, and the primarily metal internals of the hammer box, barrel block, and blowback unit are technically firmly constructed. However, the nature of the blowback unit in this pistol requires more precision and is less tolerant of low maintenance than that of the KSC Glock, which is far different, or that of the KWA M11A1, which is visually similar but less picky. For this reason I’ve taken off a significant amount of points – but I don’t think that anything will actually break, just that the design could be better.
Overall: 5/10 – 5 out of 10, exactly average or normal. Really, I think a skirmisher or new player would find the gun doesn’t meet expectations, while someone more concerned about externals would enjoy it, seeing it as above average in the respect most important to them. So I’ve placed it right in the middle.
Thank you for reading this review. I wanted it to cover as much information as possible, so, knowing the facts about the inside and outside of the SP2009, you as the reader can discern what it’s worth overall to you, not just read the ratings and take my word for it. To close this review, I'll leave you with a couple final images of the KSC pistol: