Range Report: The Navy Model P226, MK 25

The SIG P226 Navy Model

As a writer, I do my dead-level best to test and evaluate every firearm that crosses my desk in a professional manner, including extensive range testing. Many of the commercial firearms are new and unproven, even when based on a proven handgun design. Every modification and new idiom must be proofed. Occasionally, I encounter a firearm that is proven more so than the rest. And then, there are the legends. For legends, there is little I may do to add or detract from the firearm’s reputation with my own test program. That is the case with the Sig Sauer P226 MK 25 or Navy Model.

This handgun has been in every hot spot on earth with our sailors and Navy Seals. To many of us this is the bottom line: the operator. While the mechanics of firearms are interesting and well worth anyone’s study, it is the people who use the firearms who are most interesting. As such, this is a handgun that most people approach with reverence. The type has been used in many actions, including an operation that was among the most important and successful anti-terrorist operation of all time.

Navy Model SIG P226
This little anchor means a lot to some of us.

Navy Declares P226 Superior

Let’s go back a few years and look at the decision to adopt the SIG 9mm pistol over the Beretta 92 for Navy use (in spite of Beretta getting the M9 contract). The SIG P226 is a high-capacity variant of the original SIG P220 9mm pistol. While military handguns, such as the Colt 1911, are sometimes adopted by civilians and the police, in this case, a purpose-designed police pistol became a military handgun. Without going into detail and opening a can of worms again, it seems that, in the original competition, the Navy chose the pistol with little consideration of ergonomics.

The Navy believed the SIG featured superior ergonomics and that, in light of certain failures during testing of the M9, the SIG is the superior handgun. Both handguns had received excellent grades and proven very reliable. The Beretta won the contract based on the low bid for a contract that included the pistols and spare parts. The Navy disagreed and purchased the SIG anyway. That is a simple view of a complex test, but the Navy made a good choice. While the SIG was not adopted by the U.S. Army, the P226 handgun secured thousands of police sales.

At the time of the military pistol trials, many police agencies were transitioning to the self-loading pistol. Some found the SIG ideally suited. The SIG P220 9mm handgun is a product of West German pistol trials. Designed with human engineering, reliability and accuracy foremost, the SIG P series are attractive handguns. The SIG P220 features a smooth, double-action trigger. After the first double-action trigger press, the pistol fires and the slide cocks the hammer for subsequent single-action shots. There is no manual safety.

The double-action trigger is the safety feature. The handy, frame-mounted de-cocker lever allows you to de-cock the handgun easily, safely lowering the hammer to the ready position from full cock. Experienced users regard the SIG de-cocker as the superior system among service pistols.

SIG M25 Navy Model Impressive Pistol
The SIG M25 Navy Model is an impressive pistol on every count.

The original P220 was chambered in 9mm Luger. SIG then offered a .45 ACP for the American market, and the high-capacity SIG P226 9mm proved highly popular as well. The Michigan state police were among the first American agencies to adopt the SIG P226. It is still a modern and reliable handgun and was an innovative design when first introduced. The pistol features a double-action trigger with a smoother compression than any handgun in its class. Compared to the external drawbar of the Beretta 92, the SIG P226 features an internal drawbar connecting the trigger to the hammer.

The original design featured an innovative lockup that the industry has adopted extensively. The lockup uses the barrel hood to lock into the slide. There are no locking lugs. Angled camming surfaces lock and unlock during the recoil cycle. The frame-mounted de-cocker is much easier to manipulate than the slide-mounted de-cocker/safety of the Beretta 92. Many tout the SIG pistol as having no manual safety but safety features. Among those is a positive firing pin block that locks the firing pin in place until you press the trigger completely to the rear.

Once SIG introduced a handgun with a firing pin block, all competitors followed suit, incorporating a positive firing pin block or drop safety into their designs; otherwise, they abrogated a chance at institutional sales. The sights have evolved from the original but have always been excellent combat sights. The pistol features a high-grade aluminum alloy frame, and the modern SIG P226 has a stainless steel slide.

SIG has offered the plastic grips in a number of different configurations and stippling. Series production runs of the SIG P226 handgun exhibited minor variations on the grip-strap checkering and control surfaces. Originally, SIG manufactured the pistols in West Germany, but today, they are made in Exeter, N.H.

A Reputation Well Earned

The SIG P series has earned a reputation as the most reliable handgun in the world. While this is a bold statement, the evidence and history speak for themselves. As just one example, the Ohio State Patrol (OSP) chose the SIG P226 as a service pistol after a grueling 228,000-round test of more than a dozen different handguns. As a side note, the SIG replaced the previous Beretta pistol in service with the OSP.

An interesting point about the OSP test is that they used a modified version. Often when a design is significantly modified from its original specifications, reliability suffers. The SIG that captured first place in the OSP test was a double-action-only variant in .40 caliber. Despite being chambered for a high-pressure/high-momentum cartridge and that the action was a major modification of the original, the pistol was the most reliable they tested. Overall, it was one among other impressive showings.

SIG P226 Navy Model M25
Bright and clear night sights with a sharp sight picture are important additions to the SIG pistol.

The pistol illustrated is a recent-production MK 25. A tell-tale sign of late-model production is the extractor design. The new design is easier to fit and replace, and while the original was more than serviceable, the new design is an improvement. The first production used steel slides and the original extractor design; the newer guns feature black-finished stainless slides and the domestic extractor design. An advantage of the SIG over most aluminum-frame handguns is the frame is Nitron finished.

The usual finish for aluminum-frame handguns is anodizing, which often wears during service use, leaving sections of exposed aluminum. Nitron finish is much more durable. The Picatinny rail is the most obvious design feature of the MK 25, compared to the original P226 pistol. During the test program, I used an Insight combat light with good results. The night sights are an excellent design and feature a good, crisp sight picture. The sight picture is ideal for defense use. The trigger action is smooth, breaking at 12 pounds in double action. The single-action trigger press is crisp and breaks at 4.25 pounds.

Reset is different from most double-action pistols. You are always in control with the P226 action. Reset is not as rapid as a competition handgun, but the action is ideal for a service handgun. If desired, you may fit the SIG Short Reset Trigger (SRT). The MK 25 is supplied in a locking plastic case, along with a total of three magazines, a realistic minimum with one in the pistol, one on the belt and one resting.

SIG MK 25 9mm
A welcome touch is two spare magazines included with the SIG MK 25 9mm.

Firing Impressions

Prior to range testing, I lubricated the pistol and loaded the magazines in the preferred way to preserve reliability in high-capacity magazines. I loaded the magazine with three rounds and tapped the magazine base on the boot heel to ensure the rounds seated. I loaded the magazine that way until there were 15 rounds in each magazine. I gave the magazine a final rap to securely seat all the cartridges. That method ensures good feed reliability.

I performed the first firing test with Winchester 124-grain ball ammunition. That “white box” loading is accurate enough for meaningful practice and reliable. For the initial testing, I executed rapid presentations from holster ready. The pistol feels good in the hand, and the combination of good sights and a smooth trigger press added up to good hits. The recoil impulse is straight back.

A pistol this size is very controllable with the 9mm cartridge. Rapid-fire hits were sure and accurate. As the front sight hit the target and I pressed the trigger, I had a hit. For those who practice, the SIG P226 is a pistol that responds well to the proper technique. It was no problem to put every round in a magazine into the center mass of a man-sized target at 25 yards. During the initial evaluation of the new-in-the-box pistol, there were no failures to feed chamber fire or eject.

SIG P226 Navy Model M25
In off-hand fire, the SIG 9mm is controllable and exhibits excellent practical accuracy.

Some 20 years ago, an agency I served with issued the SIG P226 pistol. Although I later qualified with and carried the SIG P220, I gained a great respect for the P226 pistol. That was my introduction to the SIG P series, a positive experience. The M25 variant is slightly more accurate than the P226 I carried on duty. The added weight of the light rail seems to dampen recoil to an extent. After the first evaluation with training ammunition, I fired the pistol with service-grade ammunition.

The 9mm demands an expanding bullet for adequate wound potential. The projectile should penetrate a minimum of 12 inches in ballistic media and expand to 1.5 inches of its original diameter. That demands a +P or even +P+ loading. Among the loadings that enjoy an excellent reputation in service is the Winchester 127-grain SXT +P+. That load exhibits an ideal balance of expansion and penetration. Function is good and so is accuracy. The 127-grain SXT breaks 1,240 fps from the SIG P226, making it an estimable loading with a good track record. A reasonable alternative that is more readily available is the Winchester 124-grain +P, which exhibits 1,198 fps in velocity. Both loadings are accurate, reliable and tactically sound.

There is always a counter argument in wound ballistics, and some prefer a bullet that is heavier than standard, drives deeper in penetration, and has a balance of expansion and penetration that favors penetration. There is also the argument that a heavier bullet with longer bearing surface demonstrates greater accuracy potential. That is difficult to prove, but the 147-grain-weight bullets are often quite accurate. I would be remiss not to test at least one heavyweight in the SIG P226.

The Fiocchi 147-grain Extrema has proven accurate and reliable in a number of handguns, and the SIG P226 was no exception. That load breaks 950 fps from the P226. Penetration is on the deep end. The load is mild to fire and burns clean. The firing evaluation went well, without a single malfunction. If the heavy 9mm bullet is your mantra, this is a good example of the breed. Once I proofed the pistol with a variety of service loads, I fired it for absolute accuracy from a bench rest. The results were excellent for a service pistol. SIG designed the original SIG P220, the primogenitor of the P226, for accuracy. The German police in the 1970s trials demanded that the handgun be accurate enough for hostage rescue shots. The SIG P series was born out of the war on terror, and today, it continues to serve on the front line in that capacity.

Accuracy Results

Average of two, 5-shot groups from a solid bench rest at 25 yards.

The SIG P226 Navy Model
The SIG P226/MK 25 is a capable, accurate and reliable handgun.
Load Group
 Winchester 124-grain FMJ  3.0 inches
 Winchester 124-grain +P  2.0 inches
 Winchester 127-grain SXT +P  1.8 inches
 Fiocchi FMJ123-grain Combat FMJ  2.1 inches
 Fiocchi 147-grain Extrema JHP  1.65 inches



  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Action Type: DA/SA
  • Trigger Pull DA: 10.0 lbs (actual weight, 12 pounds)
  • Trigger Pull SA: 4.4 lbs (actual compression, 4.25 pounds)
  • Overall Length: 7.7 in
  • Overall Height: 5.5 in
  • Overall Width: 1.5 in
  • Barrel Length: 4.4 in
  • Sight Radius: 6.3 in
  • Weight with Magazine: 34.4 oz
  • Magazine Capacity: 15 rounds
  • Sights: SIGLITE night sights
  • Grips: Black polymer factory grips
  • Frame Finish: Black hard anodized
  • Slide Finish: Nitron
  • Accessory Rail: Yes
  • Features: UID identification label, anti-corrosion coatings on controls and internal components, anchor engraving

Want one? Buy it HERE!

Do you use a SIG P226 Navy Model M25, and why or why not? What is your experience with the legendary piece? Tell us about it in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (15)

  1. I love my mk 25 ! I only shoot Lawman 124 grain total metal jacket for target loads, and the Sig Elete Performance 124 grain for defensive rounds. Never a problem with either cartridge.

  2. My mk 25 does not like blazer brass to weak a load barely moves the action and tosses the casings down your shirt when it actually ejects the stuff
    Winchester ran flawlessly and threw the cases hard and far
    Mind you it’s a brand new pistol only 200 rounds threw her now

  3. I was brought up shooting a S&W .357 and then inherited a Sig P226 9mm. (full size) from my uncle (a deputy / San Bernadino County). Love my P226 but now I have a P229 .40. I am torn between the two. I’m a CCW and I’Il usually carry the P229 as my primary with a backup of a SA P9 9mm. Mod.2 (3 inch, 16rds). The P229 is a compact and very heavy but very concealable. I wish I could carry both the P229 & P226, but it’s a lot of weight (hard carry on the body), lot of hardware, and P226 difficult to conceal (being it’s full size).

  4. A couple of years back, I picked up a P226 in .357 Sig. It’s an older one from a LE trade-in without the rail and German made frame. The pistol shoots like a dream and I love the .357 cartridge. The P226 naturally fits in my hand, points well, and is very accurate. Those of y’all that can’t or don’t want to pay 1K for a new P226, a used LE trade is the way to go. The Sig is main main pistol and I use an H&K compact .40 as a back up (also purchased used). Does it look like I like high pressure, flat shooting cartridges? Yes, yes I do!

  5. Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. I own a P320 .40S&W and I though it was a wonderful handgun until I bought the P226 MK25. I went to the range and compare both. Now I am torn. I like the power of the P320 but love the accuracy of the 226. Beautiful gun.

  6. They are too effin expensive. I would buy one if they were under a grand. They are very cool guns but not 1100 dollars cool. Not Worth it too me if you ever needed to use it the police would confiscate it at least where I live you wouldn’t get it back. Handguns to me are tools I don’t need my tools to be fancy as long as they work. That beiing said I would love a Navy sig but I Am going to have to explain to the wife why I need to have 101 guns instead of just 100 when I only have 2 hands. Oh and honey I have to buy another gun safe because uhhhh I have to many i can’t fit them all in there

  7. I just purchased a P220 Combat model, the day i picked up the pistol, there was a range at the dealer, so i decided to try out the brand new pistol;
    The first 10 rounds was fine, but when it came to the second magazine, about the 12 round, the gun jamped on me, please tell me if this is normal for a brand new gun, especially the Sig ; I am a newbie to hand guns and this is my second Sig Sauer, my first one was the P226 MK25.
    I never had a jamp on my P226, should i contact the Sig Sauer regarding the problem or i should try to shoot some more rounds?
    Thank you very much

    1. Shoot a couple of boxes. Clean it between boxes of ammunition. No, I would not say it is normal for a SIG, but there is a break in period for most pistols. If the problem persists, narrow it down to see if it is a particular brand of ammunition, a certain magazine or the gun that is causing the problem. If it is a bad magazine of something in the gun, contact the manufacturer. ~Dave Dolbee

  8. I put my 15 year old son on this gun @ 15 yards and he was on target (a 6 inch plate with a one inch orange dot) in 5 shots.

  9. When my son-in-law, a Navy vet, bought a P226 MK25, I liked how it felt in my hand so much that I got one without even shooting his first. I was not disappointed! It shoots so well and aims so naturally that I was shooting way above my pay grade. I used it to get my CCW permit and it along with a Sig 1911 Ultra 45acp I bought later are my main carry weapons. (See Bob Campbell’s range report on that little beauty!)

  10. I have one of the original P 226 NAVY that there are only 2000 made as a fund raiser to honor the wives of fallen Navy Seals. I have run over 5000 round before I had the barrel re crowned. I then fired an additional 4000-5000 rounds with only one stove pipe that was fired by a novice shooter and I attribute the malfunction to his limp wrist where he failed to keep his wrist tight and allowing the gun to move up as he fired. This lets the force of the recoil rise up causing all the recoil unload rather than straight back allowing the slide to reload the next round. Plus I found that the gun likes to be wetter with lubricant with the plus of running it wet to show nearly no wear on the slide or rail. I have not had one person who fired this weapon not comment on how natural the gun felt in the hand and the most comfortable gun to shoot. I will continue to fire many rounds of ammunition and then leave the gun to my daughter who at the age of 9 shoot a pistol for the first time and hit 9 out of 15 in the center mass of the target and the rest of them still in the torso. God Bless our troops and a special prayer for all the Navy Seals who put so much time and effort to protect our way of life and the second amendment.

  11. A great hand gun to have especially if your in a salt-water environment.
    I have one in .40S&W livery.

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