The SIG SAUER P226 has been the ultimate fighting handgun in the minds of many people ever since it was introduced more than quarter-century ago. Much of the gun’s mystique comes from its service with the elite US Navy SEALs.
But, the P226 has served America’s law enforcement just as well as it has her elite military units. In the 80’s, when many law enforcement agencies were transitioning from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols, the SIG SAUER handguns were thought of as the gold standard by many. Fast-forward nearly 30 years, and a lot of officers still feel the same way about the P226.
I’ve had the fortune to carry several fine firearms as a duty gun. My first was the Smith & Wesson model 10. Next was the Glock 17, which was later replaced by the .40 S&W version of the pistol: the Glock 22. My agency currently issues the SIG P226. Each of these guns has served me reliably, and I would be ok with carrying any of them on the street today. But the P226 definitely offers some things the other guns lack.
While not cutting edge, the P226 is clearly a proven design. The gun has served on many battlefields around the world, and has successfully answered the call when an untold number of law enforcement officers were forced to defend themselves and others.
The guns are incredibly rugged and utterly reliable. I cannot recall a single time my SIG malfunctioned in thousands of rounds of practice and duty ammunition. Yeah, the gun has plenty of wear marks on the barrel and slide, but it has never failed to go bang.
I know the fundamental purpose to a service pistol has nothing to do with aesthetics. Yet, the SIG is undeniably one of the best looking modern handguns. Maybe it is just European styling, but the guns are darn sexy. I own and shoot plenty of plastic guns, but nothing beats the looks of a P226.
My current issued pistol is old and has the wear to show it. The slide is marked “Made in Germany,” so I can say that it was made after the reunification of East and West Germanies. Since I went to work with my current department before 2007, the slide is also stamped SIGARMS instead of the US company’s current name, SIG SAUER INC. Some day, I will have to track down whatever production information I can find out about my specific handgun.
While the pistol design has remained largely unchanged since the early days, there are some recent changes that might spark the interest of SIG enthusiasts.
My agency is currently converting to the newest iteration of the P226. The current SIG has the E2 features introduced at the 2010 SHOT Show. E2 stands for “ergonomics squared,” which should give you an idea of what the intent of the update was.
The P226 E2’s backstrap was reduced by 0.15” in line with the trigger. Other portions of the grip were similarly reduced between 0.1” to 0.2”. The overall circumference of the grip was reduced as well.
Coupled with the backstrap reduction is the reduced trigger reach. The trigger face is now 0.4” more toward the rear. Combined with the backstrap reduction, this is 0.55” total in change.
For someone with small to medium sized hands, the reduced trigger reach and grip size is a welcome change to the pistols. I really prefer the new feel of the guns. What has surprised me is the reaction from other officers with much larger hands than my own: by and large, they love it too!
Something that goes with the trigger reach change is the short reset trigger (SRT) that is now standard in the E2 pistols. The SRT, previously an option that could be installed by an armorer, allows for a 60% reduction in travel needed for the trigger to reset. This is a great feature for follow up shots.
All of the P226 pistols come in multiple variations. They can be had in 9mm, .40 S&W or .357 SIG calibers. The pistols can also be purchased with one of several actions: traditional double action/single action (DA/SA), double action only (DAO) or double action Kellerman (DAK).
My current issued P226 is a DA/SA gun chambered in 40. However, I have owned several SIG pistols, and my favorite was a P226 chambered in 9mm with a DAK trigger.
The DAK gives a light, double action trigger pull with each stroke. I’ve seen others write that the DAK is like a smooth revolver action on a pistol. While I can’t say that, what I can say is that the DAK is my favorite of all of the different SIG trigger options because it is noticeably lighter and cleaner than the standard DA pull.
There are additional variants to the P226 line of pistols. They can be had in various colors and finishes. Sights can be standard or with tritium inserts. Threaded barrels are also standard on some models, which allows for the easy addition of a sound suppressor. All in all, there are dozens of possible option and model combinations.
My previous P226 served me well, and I am certain my new, enhanced pistol will carry me through retirement.