No new handgun will better serve those willing to master their personal handgun. Achieving a higher degree of protection requires more practice and more investment in learning to control recoil. However, the SIG P220 Carry .45 ACP may convince the shooter there are higher standards for accuracy and reliability than they thought. The SIG P220 Carry is an obvious commitment to handgun manufacture as there are many different versions of this handgun.
The P220 Carry is a shortened version of the full-size P220. With a 3.9-inch barrel and weight of 30 ounces, the P220 carry is the ideal size for personal defense. My personal pistol is finished with a Nitron slide. The aluminum frame is anodized. There are bright stainless slide options and even custom-grade grips. My personal Elite version features an upswept grip tang, aluminum grips and night sights. The heart of the gun (the action) is the same in each version.
The P220 is a double-action first-shot handgun. The pistol is loaded and the hammer lowered by use of a frame-mounted decock lever. Your hand need never touch the hammer. To fire the pistol, a long trigger press cocks and drops the hammer. The slide recoils and cocks the hammer so subsequent shots are fired in the single-action mode. At close range, good hits are possible to seven yards with the double-action mode. The single-action trigger breaks at a smooth 4.25 pounds allowing excellent practical accuracy well past 25 yards. When I first obtained the P220 carry, I was impressed by the smoothness, attention to detail, and a lack of tool marks. The pistol is very smooth in all operations including loading, unloading, field stripping and cleaning.
The pistol features a large ejection port to positively clear spent cases and allow administrative loading and handling. The extractor was redesigned a few years ago and is even more reliable than the first editions. In lockup, there is absolutely no lateral play in the slide. The fit is tight. A fit of this nature ensures there is no slop in the lockup, which means no eccentric wear and enhanced accuracy potential. The pistol features a positive firing pin block or drop safety.
SIG has done an excellent job redesigning the P220 grip frame along with many other pistols in the line. The grip fits my average-size hands well as it did for everyone that held and fired the pistol during testing. The S-curve of the grip keeps recoil straight to the rear making for a comfortable firing cycle. The sights are well-defined offering rapid sight acquisition. When you need deliberate fire, the sights are also well designed for accuracy.
Field stripping the SIG is simple. Unload the pistol, lock the slide to the rear, and rotate the disassembly lever. Release the slide lock and control the slide as the slide is run forward off of the frame. This is a simple handgun to maintain, clean and lubricate. The receiver features a Picatinny rail.
The weapons system is a good one, but too many hand held weapons place the technical above the tactical. How does the SIG P220 Carry perform on the range, in difficult and fast-paced drills? I loaded a number of magazines with the HPR 230-grain .45 ACP to test the pistol. (My testing includes practice loads, service loads and +P loads to proof function.) I drew from a Don Hume belt slide and engaged man-sized targets at 5, 7 and 10 yards. I used a variety of Birchwood Casey targets during this initial program.
The pistol came out of the box firing; there was no break-in period. The balance and short slide allow the pistol to clear leather quickly. I am very pleased with the results. Even at 10 yards, the first double shot resulted in a hit in the K zone when I pressed the trigger properly and paid due respect to sight alignment and sight picture. I also fired the pistol in the retention position and one-hand drills. While recoil is there, it is never unpleasant or wrist snapping. I found the .45 ACP a pleasant cartridge to fire in a 30-ounce handgun.
For absolute accuracy, I fired a number of personal defense loads using premium JHP bullets from the bench rest. There were no failures to feed, chamber fire or eject. First up was the new American Gunner 185-grain XTP from Hornady Manufacturing. Function was good and powder burned clean, a good combination. This was the single most accurate load tested. Five shots settled into a two-inch group at 20 yards.
Next, the HPR 230-grain FMJ load was fired for accuracy. Two five-shot groups averaged three inches, not bad at all for a training load using a FMJ bullet. Finally, I fired the Hornady 230-grain XTP +P. I have to admit I took a greater pounding with this load. If you feel that you need a +P in the .45 ACP, this one delivers. I would prefer the American Gunner load or the Hornady 185-grain Critical Defense. The 230-grain XTP +P settled five rounds into 2.25 inches. I earned every group with this load firing off the bench.