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SIG Sauer P226: The most famous product of the SIG factory

Eric Sof

The SIG Sauer P226 is an old-german-made vintage model that evolved from the previous SIG Sauer P220 pistol. It earned a reputation as one of the best models brought to the table by renominated SIG weapons factory. The P226 is a full-size service pistol available in 9mm Parabellum and .40 S&W. For me, it is one of the finest pistols I have ever shot.

Production

It was initially developed in Switzerland in the 1980s as the P220 successor and a cheaper gun to produce than the SIG Sauer P210, which is a very expensive handgun. At first, it was mainly aimed to replace the venerable Colt M1911 pistols and Smith & Wesson .38 revolvers which were in service with US Military. It was mainly developed for the ongoing US military contract where the military wanted to replace the M1911 pistol, which was at that time in the service for nearly 70 years. The US military decided to adopt a new sidearm with a high-capacity magazine and chambered for a 9 mm Parabellum.

The US Department of Defense decided that a new pistol would be standard across all five branches of the US forces, including the US Army, US Marine Corps, US Navy, US Air Force and US Air Force strategic missile crews. The US military trials began in 1982 and were completed in 1984. The finalists were SIG Sauer P226 and Italian Beretta 92FS. Only these two pistols nominally passed all of the technical requirements of these trials. They outperformed many other formidable contenders from Colt, Fabrique Nationale, Heckler & Koch, Smith & Wesson, Steyr and Walther.

SIG Sauer P226 in the box, with one magazine
SIG Sauer P226 in the box, with one magazine (Photo: XY)

The US military ended up in a virtual deadlock over which pistol to buy. The tie was finally broken only by a slightly more generous deal for Beretta’s magazines. Eventually, an Italian Beretta 92FS won the competition and was adopted by the US military as the M9 in 1985. Even though the SIG Sauer P226 lost this competition, it quickly became one of the most popular service pistols.

Design

The SIG Sauer P226 is generally similar to the previous P220 except for a slightly different shape and higher capacity double-stack magazine. This pistol has a short recoil system with a locked breech operation. This pistol was initially available chambered for 9×19 mm Parabellum ammunition. Later other .40 S&W or .357 SIG calibres were introduced. It is worth noting that the SIG Sauer P226 was the first pistol chambered for the .357 SIG. It is a 9 mm high-velocity round that offers high penetration.

Military version of the SIG Sauer P220
Military version of the SIG Sauer P220 (Photo: SiG)

The SIG Sauer P226 comes with double action or double action only trigger. This pistol has a built-in firing pin safety. There are no manual safeties. There is a decocking lever on the left side of the frame. It is worth noting that the double-action-only version has no decocker. The P226 is available with standard aluminium or stainless steel frame.

The 9×19 mm version of the SIG Sauer P226 uses double stack 15-round capacity magazines. Extended capacity 20-round magazines are also available. Versions chambered in .40 S&W, and .357 SIG use 12-round capacity magazines. The magazine release button is reversible.

The P226 proved to be a durable, reliable and well-made weapon.

Variants

This pistol is available in a number of versions. There are Chinese and Iranian (PC-9 ZOAF) copies of this weapon.

P226R

It is a version with a Picatinny-type accessory rail for tactical flashlights or laser pointers.

P226 Tactical

The pistol has a threaded barrel for use with a sound suppressor.

PC-9 ZOAF

It is an Iranian copy of the SIG Sauer P226.

SIG Sauer P228

It is a compact version of the SIG Sauer P226. This pistol has a shorter slide, barrel and grip. It is available only in 9×19 mm. It is fed from a 13-round capacity magazine. Various law enforcement agencies use the SIG Sauer P228. The US military has adopted it as the M11.

SIG Sauer P229

It is another compact version of the P226. It was developed especially for the US market to supplement and then replace the SIG Sauer P228. It was also available in 9×19 mm; however other chamberings, including .40 S&W and .357 SIG, were added. Furthermore, this pistol can be adapted to any of these three calibres by simply switching the barrel and returning the spring. Technically the SIG Sauer P229 is similar to the SIG Sauer P228, except for the heavier slide. This feature is necessary because the P229 uses more powerful ammunition.

Operational use

It is widely used by the military, police and security forces around the world. It is used by the US Coast Guard, Federal Air Marshalls, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and many other operators. It is also used by elite forces such as the British SAS. The US Navy Seals used the P226 pistol for three decades. This weapon is also popular among civilian shooters. By 2015 SIG still produced this pistol in Germany and the USA.

SIG Sauer P226 was weapon of choice in James Bond franchise
SIG Sauer P226 was the weapon of choice in the James Bond franchise (Photo: XY)

James Bond franchise is also known by his Walther PPK, a Bond’s weapon of choice, but it is not the only weapon James Bond has used. During the Daniel Craig era, from Quantum of Solace and SPECTRE to No Time to Die, James Bond is armed with the Sig Sauer P226 in conjunction with his preferred carry handgun, the Walther PPK.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Germany / Switzerland
Manufacturer:SIG Sauer
Caliber:9×19 mm
Weight (empty):870 g / 1180 g
Length:196 mm
Barrel length:112 mm
Muzzle velocity:350 m/s
Magazine capacity:15 rounds
Sighting range:50 m
Range of effective fire:~ 50 m
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