Firearms

Review: SIG Sauer P229 Stainless Elite

SIG P229 Stainless on Wood Plank

Some guns catch the eye more than others. We may first see them sparkling in a gun store display case or an online article, only to never get them out of our minds. For me, it’s the SIG Stainless Elite series. I first saw these when I was but a poor college student with little money to spare. Needless to say, an instant purchase was out of the question. However, I did not go undetermined. I worked and saved to gather the funds and searched to find my Holy Grail. 

My first Stainless Elite was a 9mm P226. I found it ‘used’ in a local shop just after graduation. A couple years later I was able to find a Stainless Elite P220 Carry, which I happily added to the stable. Which brings me to recently when I was able to acquire my favorite model so far, a SIG P229 Stainless Elite. 

SIG P229 Stainless sights
The big, three-dot sights on the P229 are quick and easy to pick up.

Stainless Elite Series

The main feature of the Stainless Elite series is the solid steel construction. Standard P-Series models feature an alloy frame, which is great for weight savings. However, if you’re looking for the ultimate long-term durability, you can’t beat the steel frame. 

Like other Elite models, the pistols feature forward and rear slide serrations, an extended beavertail, and tritium night sights. They also come with an attractive set of Rosewood grips. 

Early versions were manufactured with German-produced frames. These tend to have slightly better fit and finish. Later, SIG moved all the manufacturing to the U.S. facility. 

I should also note that SIG has released a similar variation of several of its models called the ASE, or “Alloy Stainless Elite.” They look similar to the Stainless Steel Elite (SSE) series. However, they have the standard alloy frame that has been coated to appear stainless. They are fine pistols, but not quite up to the level of the full stainless. 

P229 SSE Features

On to the subject of the review, the Stainless P229. The P229 is my favorite SIG Sauer pistol, so I was excited when I finally found this elusive version. They are no longer in production. However, secondary prices have stayed reasonable — at least at this time… 

The handgun features a 3.9-inch barrel and accepts 15-round magazines. It is roughly the size of a Glock 19 or M&P Compact. My version incorporates what is now referred to as SIG’s Legacy slide, but there’s a version with the standard slide found on modern P229 pistols. The Legacy slide is really just the older P229 slide design, which many find more desirable. I’m neutral on the matter and find both designs to be attractive and effective. 

P229 compared to P226
The compact SIG P229 Stainless is smaller compared to the full-size P226, but heavier with the steel frame.

Notably, being an older P229, the grip features a thinner grip frame and magwell from when the pistols used P228 13-round magazines. These are thinner, like a P226 magazine. Newer P229-1 magazines will not fit, however, SIG still produces the standard P229 thinner magazines (with an updated 15-round capacity). Additionally, because of the thinner magwell, you can also use P226 magazines with less rattle than the newer P229 design. 

An additional refinement of the Stainless Elite is the checkering on the frontstrap and front of trigger guard. This adds a bit more traction and control, and is a much-appreciated detail. 

The only area in which the Stainless Elite takes a step back from the standard models is concealed carry. The steel-frame model is certainly harder to carry, due to the added weight. At just over 40 ounces, this dense beast is a touch heavier than most full-size, all-steel 1911s. This makes consistent everyday carry tough; you will need a good holster and gun belt setup. I’d recommend taking a look at Blackpoint Tactical and Kore Essentials. 

Specifications

  • Manufacturer: SIG Sauer
  • Model: P229 Elite Stainless
  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Action: Double-action/single-action
  • Barrel length: 3.9 inches
  • Capacity: 15 rounds
  • Construction: Stainless steel
  • Sights: Tritium, three-dot
  • Length: 7.7 inches
  • Width: 1.5 inches
  • Height: 5.4 inches
  • Weight: 40.2 ounces
SIG P229 Stainless on Target with Ammo
The SIG P229 Stainless Elite provided good combat accuracy.

Range Time

The extra weight of the steel frame really shines at the range. The added mass helps soak up recoil, making for an easy shooter and fast follow-up shots. The compact P229 design handles well. It is large enough for accurate fire and good control, but small enough for effective carry and concealment. 

The Rosewood grips are stunning, but don’t provide much in the way of traction. With wet or sweaty hands, they are not optimal. I replaced mine with a set of G10 grips from Hogue. They come in different traction levels and groove patterns depending on your needs. I have several sets of these that have provided excellent results across a range of pistols. 

The night sights feature large dots that are fast and easy to pick up. They provide solid combat accuracy, but can obscure smaller targets at extended distances. At 12 yards I was getting consistent groups around 2 inches firing from off-hand. 

SIG P229 Stainless with Leather Holster
A good holster is required to carry a heavy, all-steel firearm. Gould & Goodrich makes an excellent example.

The double-action trigger is a standard long, 10-pound pull with very smooth travel. The single-action trigger breaks cleanly at 4.5 pounds for subsequent follow-up shots. If you’re not used to a DA/SA, it may take some getting used to, but if you’re familiar with the type, you’ll likely find it one of the best in the business. A familiar decocking lever is located on the left side of the pistol just above the magazine release. 

The SIG P-Series slide serrations are among my favorites. The wide grooves provide a firm hold with or without gloves. This makes for a positive hold while racking the slide while reloading or clearing malfunctions. Speaking of, the pistol was 100% reliable in testing. I’ve fired around 500 rounds through the pistol over the past few months without issue. This is no surprise, the SIG P-Series is highly regarded as one of the most reliable handgun designs. 

Final Thoughts

There’s something special about these classic designs with solid steel construction and wood accents. They just seem to have more character than modern, striker-fired, polymer pistols. The SIG P229 Stainless Elite is a gem well worth the hunt. It’s an accurate, durable, and reliable handgun with a build quality that’s hard to find anymore. It may be a bit of a brick for concealed carry, but it’s possible — if you’re fine with a standard compact pistol silhouette and the extra weight. For fun at the range, it may be second to none. If you’re lucky enough to pick one up, I’m sure you won’t regret it. 

What do you think of the SIG Stainless Elite series? What are some of your holy grail guns? Share your thoughts in the Comment section.

  • SIG P226 Stainless Elite with Rosewood Grips
  • SIGARMS Frame Made In Germany
  • Disassembled SIG P229
  • SIG P229 Stainless slide back
  • SIG P229 Stainless on Wood Plank
  • SIG P229 Stainless sights
  • P229 compared to P226
  • SIG P229 Stainless on Target with Ammo
  • SIG P229 Stainless with Leather Holster

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
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 (6)

  1. I have a P229 in .357 sig. Step son had a 100 yard range in his backyard and tried the 229 . Shot a palm size group , about 3 inches. Most accurate semi-auto I have ever shot.

  2. I agree with Rockit, my Sig P220 that I bought in the ’90s, is much more comfortable to shoot than my Kimber 1911. My new P322 also fits like a silk glove. No one does ergonomics like Sig Sauer.

  3. One day many years ago, at an outing, a table full of handguns, a couple caught my interest. So I picked up one in each hand. I had no idea what they were, but took less than a millisecond to realize the one in my right hand was absolutely the most comfortable firearm I have EVER picked up to that day and well beyond that day many years ago. The one in the left hand was only very slightly less “most” comfortable than the one in the right. I said something like: Wow! These feel so good in the hand, what are they? The guys laughed and said: The one in your right hand is a Sig P229, like the ones used to protected the President, and the one in your left hand is a Sig P250 in .45ACP. Before that day I had not ever knowingly seen a Sig firearm.

    I don’t know what Sig knows about making a grip fit the hand like no other manufacture does, but the P229 is definitely the Top Shot winner in my book. We hear the comments about comparing the Glock grip to a 1911 grip, and which one is right? To settle that argument, the Sig P229 is the correct grip. More manufacture should try to emulate the grip of the P229.

    p.s. Oh yes, the P229 shot pretty well too. 🙂

  4. Agreed with all! A more plebeian alloy frame P229 40 has been my daily carry for near 20 years.

    One of the rarest all-stainless Sigs is the P229 Sport Stock, with only 70 some odd made, custom fitted and assembled at the Sig Custom Shop in Germany in 2017 before they closed. This short run of beautiful P229’s preceded the hammer fired “X-Series” and were built with competitive shooters in mind. It had a stainless frame with no rail or beaver tail, a custom bull barrel (1 mm bigger diameter than stock), an extended mag release (which necessitated slight redesign of the decocker lever) and was never imported by Sig Sauer USA or other major importers. Still, a fair portion of the few guns made found their way to America, imported by individuals and small importers. I am fortunate to have a few in my collection. For more info and pics of this beautiful gun, see:

    https://www.sigtalk.com/threads/the-p229-sport-40-sl-how-rare-is-it.430012/?post_id=6082153#post-6082153

  5. Alex;
    I agree with your choice of the 229 as your favorite Sig. My choice of the 229 is the M11-A1, one of the smoothest, comfortable handguns I have shot.
    As you said, the build quality, fit and finish are excellent. I trust the 229 to protect my family and me, if need be.
    Great article! Well done!

    1. Mark,
      The M11-A1 is an excellent pistol. You are well-armed. Thanks for reading!
      -Alex

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