Sig Sauer P229: A standard duty pistol

SiG Sauer P229 Nitron Compact
SiG Sauer P229 Nitron Compact (Photo: Sig Sauer)

The Swiss Industrial Company (SIG) has produced some of the best pistols in the world, including Sig Sauer P229, but the Swiss neutrality laws make the export of weapons very difficult; as one Swiss said, “We are only allowed to sell guns to people who don’t want them.” As a result, SIG set up a combined operation with the German company of J.P. Sauer & Son, an old-established and well-respected company, so that Sauer could make SIG pistols and sell them into countries where the Swiss could not.


The Sig Sauer P229 developed from earlier designs; this series began with the Sig Sauer P220, which more or less set the general pattern: a recoil-operated pistol using a shaped cam beneath the breech to pull down the rear of the barrel; thus disengaging a squared-off section around the chamber from its lock in the ejection port of the slide, SIG were the pioneers of this system, which is gradually replacing the original Browning system of machined lugs on the barrel marting with slots in the slide. The SIG P220 was a full-sized pistol adopted by the Swiss Army as their Model 75.

Next came the Sig Sauer P225, which was slightly smaller and lighter than the Sig Sauer P220 and which had improved safety features, including an automatic firing pin safety, decocking, lever, and drop safety device, but no applied safety catch, so that it can be brought into action very quickly indeed. In late 1980, when the U.S. Army advertised for a new pistol, SIG modified the Sig P225 to meet the American requirements, resulting in the Sig Sauer P226; the principal change was the addition of an ambidextrous magazine catch and a 15-round magazine capacity. Although not adopted by the U.S. Armed forces, the P226 was widely purchased by police and security agencies.

Sig-Sauer P225 Auto Pistol
Sig-Sauer P225 Auto Pistol (Photo: Pinterest)

The Sig Sauer P228 came next, a compact pistol, smaller than the other members of the family but with a 13-round magazine capacity. And finally came the Sig Sauer P229, which is virtually the same as the P228 nut chambered for the .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge. Developed primarily for police use, it has high contrast sights and the usual automatic firing pin, drop safety, and de-cocking lever.


The basic SIG P229 has a steel slide and aluminum alloy frame; the Sig Sauer P229SL is similar but with the slide in stainless steel, and this version is also available in 9mm Parabellum caliber. (In effect, this latter mode is a Sig Sauer P228 with a stainless steel slide.) Being hammer-fired, they are less sensitive to ammo loaded with overhard primers. They have excellent factory sights, and the all-metal construction gives a “heft” that builds confidence. Capacity is pretty much up to modern standards.

The manual of arms of the Double Action/Single Action system is simple: once it’s loaded and in service, the firer draws, aims, and presses the trigger through its 11-pound Double Action trigger pull, which cocks the hammer and then releases it to fire the first shot; subsequent shots are fired with a crisp and short 5-pound Single Action trigger pull. The SiG grips fit the human hand; most shooters can avoid side gripping.

Sig Sauer P229 Legion Compact
Sig Sauer P229 Legion Compact (Photo: XY)

User experience

The SIG P229, no matter the caliber, is an excellent and accurate pistol. It has been used for decades by the military and law enforcement agencies all over the world. This is a pistol that was designed specifically with the .40 S&W round in mind. Sure, it’s a bit heavy, but that’s the point. For something that shoots something as stout as a .40, the recoil is very soft.

Technical specifications

Manufacturer:Schweizerische Industriegesellschaft, Neuhausen-Am-Rheinfalls, Switzerland

J.P. Sauer & Son, Eckernforde, Germany

Type:Recoil-operated semi-automatic, double-action
Caliber: .40 S&W or 9mm Parabellum
Barrel:3.85in (98mm)
Weight:30.05oz (865 gm)
Magazine capacity:12 rounds (13 rounds in 9mm)


  1. A great handgun, especially for concealed carry. Ergonomic… ALL Sig P series pistols, the 229 fits the hand like
    a glove.

    Extremely accurate , and capable of delivering the firepower needed for any self defense situation.

    Sig Handguns are well worth the investment. In my experience the P229 works best with 124 grain ammo. Up close, or seventy-five yards down range ; the P229 will not disappoint in accuracy.

  2. Actually I prefer the P227 in .45ACP with the 10 round mag. But you’re right Sig’s are awesome. Ome other side note, I believe the P226 was adopted by the US Navy SEALs.

  3. I started collecting anything P229 years ago. I have a stainless, a blue one, the equinox, the elites and legions. When I was an officer in the Army, I ran the pistol qualification range (10 meters). After we finished our groups, we had the chance to shoot all the various 9mm models. We shot Glocks, HK’s, Smith & Wessons, Rugers, Springfields, Staccatos, Berettas, Jennings, Hi Points, Taurus and others. We set up an expended round as the target on top of the 4×4 posts and tried to hit it with one shot then load a different round in a different gun and tried again. Nobody could hit that shell until I used the P229. Aiming slightly lower than normal, I hit that shell and I’ve never wanted any other make/model than the P229 since. It’s what I will always use.


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