Concealed Carry

Review: SIG P226 Stainless

SIG P226

Very few handguns have the awesome reputation for reliability the SIG P226 enjoys. The pistol has seen extensive service in both police and military roles.

The SIG may not be for everyone, but it cannot be faulted on reliability and accuracy potential. The pistol is proven. The P226 was designed for military use and met stringent requirements.

The pistol has been subjected to daunting testing and emerged at the top of the heap.

After 35 years of constant service — more if you count the original P220 — the P226 has emerged from battle and stateside service with an unblemished record.

The pistol illustrated has perhaps 10,000 rounds on the frame, slide and barrel, with several springs and magazines replaced. Most SIG pistols are nitride finished.

This SIG is the highly-desirable stainless steel slide version. The pistol isn’t exactly a compact carry handgun, but with the Galco Stow-N-Go holster, it is possible to conceal the pistol beneath a covering garment.

The pistol is more compact than some service pistols. The barrel is 4.4-inches long and the pistol is 7.7-inches overall, with a 1.5-inch wide slide. Weight is 34 ounces unloaded.

The SIG P226 isn’t light on the hip, but is manageable. It is a fine house gun. The pistol illustrated is chambered for the 9mm Luger. It has been offered in .357 SIG and .40 S&W.

Modern versions feature a light rail. I don’t need a rail for concealed carry. For home defense, it would be good, so the newer handguns are better for most of us, no surprises there.

SIG P226
The SIG P226 is famed for reliability, handling and accuracy.

SIG P226 Features

The SIG P226 pistol features a long double-action trigger stroke. The trigger is smoother than most. It is called a double-action because the trigger does two things.

It both cocks and drops the hammer. The trigger presses against a drawbar, which contacts the hammer. The hammer is pressed against the hammer spring, breaks and fires the pistol.

The slide recoils and cocks the hammer for single-action fire. Single-action fire does one thing, the trigger press drops the hammer. These two trigger actions must be understood.

There is no mechanical safety. There is also a firing-pin block that prevents the firing pin from moving unless the trigger is fully pressed. The double-action trigger and firing-pin block are both safety features.

The only controls are the decocker, slide lock and magazine release. After firing the pistol in single-action fire, the decocker may be pressed to lower the hammer without touching the trigger.

All controls are positive in operation. The firing-pin block keeps the firing pin in place. The firing pin cannot move unless the trigger is pressed completely to the rear.

This is such a good feature that many makers adopted some type of firing-pin block in their handguns in order to remain competitive.

The pistol features a steel block in the aluminum frame that limits wear as the steel slide and barrel contact the frame.

The pistol isn’t perfect, but it is a very good pistol. The P228 is easier to conceal. It is simply a compact P226. The frame may be a bit wide for some hands.

My hands are average so I fitted Hogue grips with good results. It should be noted that some shooters ride the slide lock during firing. The result is a failure of the slide to lock open on the last shot.

The Hogue rubber grips illustrated practically eliminate this problem. The pistol’s DA first shot must be mastered. For some shooters, it takes longer.

If you have the choice, get a SIG with the factory short-reset trigger. This makes for a faster trigger return and much tighter operation.

The Gray Guns unit is first class and rides in my personal P226. I recommend this installation for all SIG P-series pistols.

Fieldstripped SIG P226
This is a simple pistol to clean and maintain.

Shooting the SIG P226

I broke the SIG and a few Mec-Gar magazines out to familiarize myself with the pistol after a long stay in the gun safe.

Remember to load a few rounds, tap the back of the magazine on a hard surface or boot heel to seat the cartridges, and then finish loading.

This is an aid to reliable function with a double-column pistol magazine. The Horandy XTP is among the most consistently accurate and reliable loadings I have used.

The load is very accurate. The SIG comes on target quickly and with the proper technique, the trigger action is smooth and offers excellent hit probability. The session with the SIG was pleasant.

I also fired a few rounds of a standard handload using the Hornady 124-grain FMJ load and enough Titegroup powder for 1140 fps. This is a well-designed bullet that always feeds well and offers good accuracy.

In the 115-grain XTP, the balance of expansion and penetration is important in personal defense. The Extreme Terminal Performance XTP is among the best choices when wound potential is considered.

At a long 25 yards, firing from a standing barricade position, a five-shot group settled into less than two inches with the FMJ practice load.

This is outstanding accuracy. I have fired smaller groups with the SIG P226.

expanded 9mm Luger bullet
The Hornady XTP features top-quality production and an excellent balance of expansion and penetration.

The pistol is among the most consistently accurate 9mm Luger handguns I have fired.

The SIG P-series are all winners, but the P226 is perhaps the top service pistol in the lineup.

It is well worth its price. The pistol isn’t cheap, but most lifetime investments are not, and it is a lifetime investment.

Have you ever shot a SIG P226? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!

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 (23)

  1. I’m an older guy, revolvers and rifles, all metal, so I love an all metal handgun. People complain of weight, I consider it a gift for durability, and in situations where it might become a weapon without actually firing it. My 32 oz sig P226 would hurt , upside your head, if a bad situation called for it. I’m a 20 year Navy Veteran, Fighter Jets, and Helicopters, Jet Engines aren’t plastic. I would only buy an all metal handgun. I love my 9mm Sig P226 15 RD magazines and never a misfire! Bruce Willis in Die Hard isn’t the real deal and neither are Polymer handguns!

  2. Hello Eric

    still have my SIG 226 bought in 1985 and it is a fantastic pistol (the only one better are my H&K’s P7m8 and P7M10). A slight correction, 25 Meters are about 27.3 yard, not 75.

    Regards, Manfred

  3. I have fired pistols from several manufacturers and owned a few. A couple of years ago I decided to do some research and buy an accurate, reliable pistol that would be fun to shoot. I ended up getting a P226 Tacops. I fell in love. It came with a factory short reset trigger, flared magwell grips, and 4 twenty round magazines.
    The only downside is that I can only carry it concealed if I wear a heavy sweatshirt or jacket.
    By far the most accurate pistol I have ever used. The only upgrades I’m currently looking to add is a slide cut for a reflex sight and a threaded barrel.

  4. I have one of the first 1984 SIG P226 imported into the US. The importer is stamped INTERARMS. The barrel bluing is rubbed off from shooting but it still shoots reliably and accurately.
    I recently upgraded the pistol with a 40 CAL slide and 357 SIG Barrel. Great purchase. Unfortunately SIG’s are impossible to get in California.
    As far as the spring. I have no problem racking. However, it is difficult for small hands and women to chamber the first round.

  5. I have the 226 Navy model. It is by far my favorite 9mm in my collection. It is way more accurate than I can ever be. I think I will check into the trigger replacement you recommend.

  6. I read through the article and the picture of the Sig broke down, all the parts look like a copy of my 10 mm Glock that I have shot so many rounds through since I bought it in the 90’s when Bill Clinton started talking about outlawing high capacity clips. I can’t even begin to tell you how many rounds I shot through my Glock without any repairs, just the normal cleaning it gets after every shooting.

  7. My 226 in 9mm is by far the favorite in my collection. My 239 (convertible .357/.40) is a close second. Picked up my 226 in 1989 and have fired thousands of rounds through it with zero issues. I love handing it to someone (unloaded of course) and ask them to point it at something and then look down the sights – they are amazed at how on target they are.

  8. Bought my 226 in 1989. It is by far the best pistol I’ve ever owned. I love handing it to someone (unload of course) telling them to point it at something and the look down the sights. They are always amazed at how on target they are. This and my Sig 239 are the favorites in my collection. 226 is 9mm and the 239 is a convertible. 40/.375.

  9. I own two Sig Sauer P226 (9MM) and a P220 (45ACP) European model with the magazine release at the bottom of the grip. All three pistols are very reliable and accurate. I use to shot handgun tactical competitions with my P226 (9MM) but I went to a Glock 17. The only thing I did not like was the first shot with the hammer down and the 8.5 trigger pull. I would always pull my first shot to the right instead of center target. The Glock 17 has a 5.5 trigger pull through the full magazine. I had a friend that used a P226 (9MM) in competitions. He shot 50,000 rounds through the pistol without ever changing the springs or barrel. I would say the Sig P226 is the toughest handgun in the world!

  10. ….it is a Sig, for when it matter.
    One of the best hand pistols in said range. I have 2 P320 and a P938…. one if my favorite if not the.

  11. They are fine weapons. Used to carry daily when carrying 9mm and a P225 for off duty. Neither ever gave me any issues whatsoever. Of course neither did my European P220. Tack driver.

  12. My background is career military and federal law enforcement for ten years.
    A couple of years ago I wanted to treat myself to a high-end pistol that was as smooth as butter and as accurate as possible. I was willing to pay up to $3000 if need be. I went to my local range/gun shop and tried a bunch of weapons out, including a high-priced Wilson Combat 1911. By far, the most accurate and smoothest was a Sig Legion P226 in nitride gray for about $1200. I was amazed at how accurate it was. I’ve read that grip angle preferences and shooter accuracy vary by shooter. Some folks swear by their 1911s, but I found I was pretty inaccurate with the Wilson, but nuts-on with the P226. Incredibly accurate, especially when I added a Sig Romeo red dot and a suppressor. Even offhand, I can shoot the small center out of the bullseye with it at seven yards. My friends have the same experience with my P226, and won’t let me use it when we shoot against each other! As far as size and slide springs, I don’t carry it, as it is bigger than my two carry pistols (Sig P365 and Glock 30 in .45 ACP). The slide spring feels less than my several Glocks, I’ve never noticed it enough to bring it to my attention. Never had a misfire in several thousand rounds at the range. By far the sweetest-shooting pistol I’ve ever used.

  13. I’ve owned and fired my 226 for over15 years. I carried on and off-duty as an officer and have been impressed with it’s accuracy and handling. It took a little practice to master the double action first shot.

  14. I have the Black Stainless slide and i just love my Sig in .40 Cal.
    A tad heavy for the hip,but an awesome,accurate shooter.
    Thanks Sig Sauer for a great handgun.

  15. I also have one of the original P226’s marked Made in West Germany. Caliber is .357 Sig and accuracy is superb. Very easy to clean and maintain. After reading the above comments I am going to switch over to Hogue Rubber grips although my hands do fit around the grips comfortably. This is without a doubt the most reliable firearm I have ever used. I spoke with an engineer at Sig and he stated they have a P226 with more than three hundred thousand rounds through it. The only thing that has been changed are springs and magazines. Talk about reliability!!!!

  16. I own an original German 226 9mm, that was imported by Sig in Alexandria Va. I have all the original paperwork including the original test range target in German. It reads 6 shots fired at 25 meters (75 yrds) 3 bullseye, 3 near bullseye. I have shot over a 1000 rnds thru her and other than routine cleaning, its flawless. I will say it doesn’t like wolf steel ammo, but that’s ok with me! This gun is accurate and amazing. The extra weight is just a nice balance!

  17. My P226 in .40 was my first large caliber semi-auto, so I was learning on it from day one. I shot it well, and it is a great piece of equipment. I used it qualify for CCL with almost a perfect score. But during practice sessions with the heavier recoil I found my thumb sometimes impacted the mag release button heavily enough to release the mag about half an inch, leaving me with a dead weapon until I reseated the magazine. That is worrisome. I went to the range and talked to an instructor, but he wasn’t much help. I found I could consciously change the position of my thumb and eliminate the issue, but I’m worried about the heat of the moment, not remembering to consciously manage my thumb position. Am I the only one with this issue, and can it be fixed with different grips or some other modification so I don’t have to remember to change my natural shooting grip? Thanks in advance for any help.

  18. I have one of the original P226’s. It was made in West Germany and is stamped on the slide. It was passed down to me from one of my uncles that was a deputy sheriff in California. It was one of his duty guns. This is a sweet pistol and one of my favorites in my collection. It is the original 9mm. After all these years all I have replaced on it were the original plastic grips with Hogue rubber grips and the tritium night sights finally burned out and I replaced them. Not a pistol I like to try and conceal carry (just a bit too large and harder to hide). Not too heavy for its 4.4 inches (has that aluminum frame). Has a very sweet trigger on it (nice and smooth). My daughter told me one day, when we were at the range, that the pistol had the smoothest 9mm trigger she has ever shot. A great home defense weapon for sure. I know Jason Hanson (ex CIA Operative) has one in his home defense arsenal and he loves his pistol also. A great pistol but not cheap anymore. A great pistol to have in your collection.

  19. How stiff is the spring to compress? It appears similar to my (hones to God) Colt 1911. Which is not hard to compress

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