SIG P220 Carry: Range Report

SIG P220 Carry stainless left

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.

SIG sauer p220 with nitron finish left
This is the standard Nitron finish P220 Carry—as good as it gets for personal defense.

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.

SIG P220 Equinox left with wood grips
The SIG P220 Equinox is a nice looking handgun.

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 decocker, slide lock, magazine release and decocker are all within easy reach of a normal hand size.
The decocker, slide lock and magazine release are all within easy reach of a normal hand size.

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.

SIG P220 Carry stainless left
This is a rather fancy Carry Elite. It is a great handgun, reliable, accurate and powerful.

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.

What are your impressions or experiences with the SIG P220 Carry? Share your impressions in the comment section.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (21)

  1. I bought a P220 Elite in 2007. Awesome weapon, you can bet your life on. Recently bought a P220 Carry with the same results. I have a M400 Tread in layaway and will have it in 2 weeks. You get what you pay for. Sig is my weapon of choice and I think the best weapons on the planet.

  2. A lot of people her say don’t like the price of a Sig. But it’s like this, you get what you pay for. Glocks and M&P’s and XDM’s are good defensive tools, but that is where the comparison stops, they are not in the same conversation as Sig, HK, FNX, and the various quality 1911’s are. These are guns capable of competitive shooting as well as pulling combat duty in harsh environments. The point is, never discuss price as a con when referring to any of these tools, the manufacturers wouldn’t be able to produce such finely designed and machined firearms out of high end materials without a thousand dollar plus price tag. Therefore the only “con” is your bank account, don’t put that on the tool. Or do you think it reasonable to comment about your Honda on an article about a Ferrari?

  3. Well i have purchased two full size 220’s in the past and after reading this article i just have to see for myself. So i’m going to go purchase one as soon as i can. If it performs anything like my full size 220 i will be very pleased.

  4. That is very odd. I have never had an issue like that with my 220 Combat. Have you tried a different magazine? I wonder if one of the lips at the top of the mag is damaged or defective. I only use Sig factory mags after my issue with Pro Mag magazines.

  5. I’ve long lusted after the P220 Elite Carry. Feels *so* good in my hand… the only thing keeping me from buying one is whether it’s worth the premium over the various cheaper P220s. With the short reset trigger, the sights and the extra weight (which I like — I’m more worried about shooting rather than carrying a pistol this size), it’s hard to resist.

    Opinions on the P220 Carry vs. the P227 Carry? With the E2 grips the P227 seems almost as pointable and comfortable…

  6. I have a 220 Compact which has a beavertail frame and shorter grip thus a six round magazine and no rail. I love the feel of the gun and it’s wraparound aluminum grips. Mine is a SAO version but definitely not a 1911 type. There is too much take-up and a bit of trigger travel before it goes bang. But it is not bad and when firing you don’t notice it. I do wish the SAO trigger was more 1911-ish, then it would be an awesome firearm. I bought a full sized mag and a spacer to take up the void and it works like a charm! Now I have two Sigs in one, the “Carry” and the “Compact!
    Superb accuracy and reliability. A bit on the heavy side so when you are out of ammo it is still lethal. I’ve only put about 300 rounds of practice ammo through it but not one hiccup with any of the 2 stock or extra cap mags.
    If I had to do it over I’d get the SA/DA version though. Most of my other firearms are that type except my 1911’s. That being said, I love Walthers and if only they’d make a .45ACP model I would have that to go along with my P88 and P99 – both magnificent, reliable, unbeatable accuracy firearms.

  7. Another problem i have with the P220 Combat model was when i loaded the magazine, i cocked a round into the chamber, but when i release the magazine , there is another loose round fail out along with the magazine;
    Please give me some advice , i was worry my brand new P220 was defect,

    1. It’s far more likely to be an issue with the magazine than the pistol itself. Did it actually chamber the round, or was the magazine not seated all the way and the round merely knocked loose?

    1. As with any other medium-sized pistol (and assuming it will work with your wardrobe), the easiest way is going to be IWB or OWB with a sturdy gun belt to support the pistol. IWB will be easier to conceal, and OWB will generally be more comfortable.

    2. Richard,

      A couple ideas come to mind. First, I have used both coats and vests from Kakadu, made in Australia, I believe. They accommodate large handguns. You have to recognize that no large handgun is going to be completely concealable on most guns but the vests and coats do about the best for me.
      Second, I have used the specifically made fanny packs, worn on the side of my waist. They carry large guns and several magazines with ease — but are obvious to any knowing shooter.
      Third, a high quality shoulder holster works during the winter time when you can wear a coat. But, in my experience, do not scrimp on a shoulder holster. A bad one is about the most uncomfortable thing I can imagine, short of torture.
      Last, but not least, an inside the waist band holster that rides far down and worn under a loose fitting shirt. It will “print” when you sit or bend over. But, you are making the best of a bad situation.
      When I truly want to conceal, I go with a PM40 Kahr and rides in my front pocket. With loose fitting trousers (not really loose, just not overly tight), it completely disappears and yet has .40 S& W rounds available immediately. No good when sitting in the car but when standing, it is readily accessible.

  8. I bought my Sig Sauer p220 combat in 2007. I have shot at least, 5000 rounds through it since then. The only time my pistol ever malfunctioned was when using cheap Pro Mag 10 round magazines. The slide would not lock back after the last round. I have fed my pistol nearly every type of ammunition in 45 ACP. Except for steel cased ammunition. Yes it is a cost prohibitive handgun. It is the most expensive firearm I own. It is also on the short list of things that I MUST have with me during the zombie apocalypse. Part of the reason I went with the 220 is it fits my medium hands very well. The only modification I have made is a Crimson Trace laser grip. The gun went from being comfortable and accurate in my hands, to an extension of my body. I have shot a lot of weapons. There are a lot of excellent pieces of machinery for a fewer dollars than a Sig. I own several less expensive pistols made by other manufacturers. They too are good machines. However when I get an unexpected knock at the door in the middle of the night, it is always my 220 that goes with me to the door.

  9. Adam,

    I like the P 220 but it is a fact that most SIG fans with experience with all of the SIGs seem to feel that the P 229 is the ultimate expression of SIG quality.

    Bob Campbell

    1. Will I agree with you I to like the K2 a lot, but the H&K is one damn good pistol. I carried the H&K for about 7 years while on Duty in So. LA and I can tell you the pistol shoots great and on target……. if I say any more I’ll get e-mails…

    2. Rich,

      For me, the H & K is like the FNH FN49. Both are undoubtedly fine, large pistols. But, neither fit my hand very well. Shooting all single action was somewhat OK but the double action trigger pull required that I change my grip on the gun to extend my trigger finger to reach the trigger with the large grip. That affected my accuracy, especially on my first shot. The grips were just too large on both guns for my maintaining my usual and customary grip.
      I shoot 1911’s mostly and like just about everything about the pistol. I even shoot a double stack 1911, a Para Ordinance P-13 and that works fine. But, the H & K and the FNH pistols were too large.
      I really like the Sar K2. It fits my hand almost as good as the 1911. The trigger is a bit spongy, reminiscent of a plastic gun and not nearly as crisp as a good 1911. However, it is manageable and with a bit of a different technique, I shoot it very well. Besides, it is an all steel gun and mine has no flaws I could detect. I like the gun, as you might guess.

  10. I like every thing about the Sig except the price. I am sure it is a great gun but costs too much for me to find out.

    I have to agree with the first comment and it is simply the price that leads to this conclusion.

    I recently acquired a new SAR K2 in .45 ACP. It is a heavy pistol in comparison to the Sig but having now shot the K2 recently over 250 rounds, it will replace my H & K USP and my FNH FNP45. I like it better, and so does my wallet!

    It is a large, heavy pistol and is pure joy to shoot, and shoot it does. It is not terribly far behind my long revered Wilson for accuracy and fits my hand much better than the two it is replacing.

  11. OK the P226 & P229 are some of the best pistols you can get today. I have a number of Sig’s pistols P226, P229, both 9mm, 1911 full size and carry. The best is the P220 Carry all round, when it”s comes to carrying all day and personal defense going Cheap is not the answer. Plus the higher standards of pistol making and for accuracy and reliability I didn’t think a few $100’s bucks would be a problem. get the P220

  12. Aside from the unfortunate poor editing of the article that ran the first paragraph twice, it’s a good review. Sigs are nice, and I imagine it performs well, and this is certainly a very nice looking gun.

    It’s too bad they are so pricey though, and given that there are some very nice guns out there like XDs, Walthers and Taurus for under $500, and Glocks for under $600, I don’t see a Sig in my immediate future.

    1. Mikial,

      Thanks for reading.

      The SIG is good, but as you noted, the XDs and the Glock offer good performance. But the SIG is a very special handgun.


  13. Assuming availability of modern hollow-point ammunition, I’d prefer the P229 in 9mm (or the M11-A1) over the P220 carry. Roughly the same size, but much higher capacity with less recoil for faster followup-shots. It’s also less expensive to practice with regularly.

    1. Without a doubt, the 220 Elite Carry is the finest handgun that I have ever shot. Not just a beautiful looking gun, It just feels right in your hand. It is heavy for a carry gun but is highly accurate and the weight dampens the felt recoil. Shoots like a 9mm on steroids.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading