SIG SAUER Model P226 Perspective
"The Operators SIG"
by Marvin V. Stenhammar - Updated 27 November 2002

P226 b2.gif (947 bytes)P226 Sport b2.gif (947 bytes)P226 Specifications b2.gif (947 bytes)P226 ST

Introduced in 1983 and manufactured in the Federal Republic of Germany, the P 226 was originally chambered in 9mm Luger and rated for NATO 9mm, Parabellum P+ ammunition. Like all "Classic SIG" handguns, the SIG Sauer Model P226 is based on the SIG-Sauer Model P220. The P226 includes all the features and characteristics of the "Classic" SIG Sauer hand guns. The patented 4-point safety system with an Automatic Firing-pin Lock, a frame mounted Decocking Lever, a Safety Intercept Notch and a Trigger Bar Disconnector.

Featuring a traditional DA/SA action, the P226 is designed to be carried "hammer down" with a round in the chamber and to be decocked with the decocking lever after firing.  When the SIG Sauer pistol is decocked the hammer does not drop to full rest position against the firing pin but instead falls to a safe, intermediate position.  A safety intercept notch keeps the hammer from striking the firing pin, even when dropped. The other integral safety features prevent a negligent or accidental discharge should the pistol be dropped, even when cocked.  To fire the pistol the trigger must fully engaged. Safety built in, not added on. 

The most significant difference in the P226 is the magazine capacity. The P226 has a double column magazine with a 15-round capacity. An ammunition capacity double that of the original P220. It can also accept the 20-round SWAT magazine.

Designed in the early 80's as a joint project between "Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft" or SIG in Neuhausen Switzerland (Now SAN Swiss Arms) and J. P. Sauer and Sohn in the Federal Republic of Germany (then West Germany). The two arms companies had joined forces in the mid 70's to allow Swiss designed SIG firearms to be exported to the world market and to legally circumvent the very strict Swiss arms export restrictions. During this same time period the American arms company SIG Arms, Inc. (Now SIGARMS Inc. of Exeter N.H.) was formed in Herndon, Virginia, to assemble and market SIG Sauer firearms in the North and South American markets.

The P226 was designed to meet the specification requirements submitted by several law enforcement agencies and western military organizations.  The LE and Military sectors wanted a higher capacity semi automatic combat pistol chambered in the NATO standard 9 mm Luger cartridge.  The U.S. Army wanted a replacement for the antiquated M1911. To accomplish this feat, SIG Sauer reworked the existing model P220 and came up with the 15-round capacity 9 mm model P226. 

The P226 rapidly earned a reputation as a very dependable, high capacity combat pistol that has become the choice of Law Enforcement, Military and Special Operations units in the United States and world wide. The P226 gained additional prominence and notoriety after winning the U.S. Army hand gun replacement trials, where it fired tens of thousands of rounds with out a single failure and greatly exceeded the evaluation specifications in every category and was NOT chosen for use. Only in America. 

The P226 is about the same size as the P220, with a slightly larger grip diameter that makes room for the double column magazine and 15 rounds of 9 mm ammunition.  A 20 round extended magazine was also produced by J. P. Sauer and Sohn for use in the P226.

The P226 is a Full Frame, High Firepower, Semi-Automatic Pistol. The P226 comes with High Contrast Von Stavenhagen (Bar-Dot) type sights or 3 Dot SIGLite "Tritium" insert Night Sights, Black Plastic Stippled Stocks; SIG Blued Nitron Impregnated Finish, Two Tone, and optional Illaflon finishes are available. SIGArms categorizes this handgun as "Full Sized" and It is the largest SIG Sauer pistol.  (Although the SIG P210 is larger, it is technically a SIG and not a SIG Sauer pistol.)

The original P226 was composed of a steel slide, a steel breech block, a steel feed ramp, a solid guide rod, a woven recoil spring, a target grade steel barrel and a light weight aluminum alloy frame. The slide was manufactured from high strength alloy steel that was rolled and pined from three separate pieces.  All early SIGs from the P220 to the P228 had slides formed by stamping heavy sheet steel on a mandrel and then welding them together on a front and back section. The breechblock which contained the firing pin, was a separate steel piece secured to the slide with a roll pin. The lateral "American style" magazine release is reversible.

The aluminum frame has a heavy steel cross bar that the barrel cams against to move
up and down for locking and unlocking.  There is a steel insert in the frame that makes up the feed ramp, so unlike many aluminum-framed pistols, rounds do not slam into aluminum during the feed cycle.  The only wear the aluminum frame experiences is the slide moving back and forth.  Because the lock up and accuracy are not dependant on a very tight slide to frame fit, the frame gets very little wear after the initial break in.  This means SIG Sauer pistols are very strong and long-lived despite the aluminum frame construction.  The aluminum alloy frame also makes the classic P Series SIG's lighter than many of their similarly sized, all-steel competitors.

P226 b2.gif (947 bytes)P226 Sport b2.gif (947 bytes)P226 Specifications b2.gif (947 bytes)P226 ST


SIG Sauer P226 9mm Luger
P226 shown with 1st generation grips and Von Stavenhagen (Bar-Dot) sights
Two-Tone shown in insert above with polished controls, hammer and trigger

The P226 incorporated SIG Sauer's patented 4-point safety system with an Automatic Firing-pin Lock, a frame mounted Decocking Lever, a Safety Intercept Notch and a Trigger Bar Disconnector.  The pistol was designed to be carried hammer down with a round in the chamber and to be decocked with the decocking lever after firing.  When the SIG Sauer pistol is decocked the hammer does not drop to full rest position against the firing pin but instead falls to a safe, intermediate position.  The other integral safety features prevent a negligent or accidental discharge should the pistol be dropped, even when cocked.  To fire the pistol the trigger must fully engaged.

Upgrades over the years include a new hammer return spring, a rebounding hammer, and improved safety disconnect, new grip panels, a Two-Tone model, a stiffer recoil spring, a solid guide rod, a short trigger option, a 20 round magazine, and an improved alloy frame.  

Current P226 models, as well as the newer P229, P239 and SIG Pro, have CNC milled slides that are made from a single piece of stainless steel.  The stamped slides are still used on the P220 and P245 and are strong enough for the low chamber pressure of the .45 ACP chamberings.  SIGArms went to the one-piece milled slide when they adopted the very high chamber pressure calibers in .357 SIG and .40 S&W. The new slide were an integral part of the modernization and expansion of SIGARMS and as new facilities were built in the USA they were built using state of the art CNC milling machine. 


.357 SIG 124 Grain Hollow Point


.40 S&W 165 Grain Hollow Point

In mid 1998, SIG Sauer and SIG Arms of Exeter New Hampshire introduced the new .357 SIG and .40 caliber chamberings in the P226, thus making the work horse P226 a three-caliber handgun.  SIG Sauer was very methodical and deliberate in the design and implementation of the new calibers that have high chamber pressures.  The one piece CNC milled slide is a few ounces heavier than the previous 3 piece, stamped slide.  The new Nitron finished slide incorporates a loaded chamber indicator and a new breech block.  Using the new heavy duty slide and a fully supported chamber has resulted in no reports of chamber blow outs or "KB's" like the problems reported with the .40 Glock, H&K and some S&W models.  Initially, only the 357 & 40 caliber P226's had the one piece milled slide, but recently, to standardize their manufacturing processes, SIGArms has started to produce the 9mm P226 with the new milled slide.

No SIG Sauer P226 perspective would be complete with a mention of the U.S. Army sidearm replacement trials held by the US military in 1984.  Referred to as the XM9 pistol trials, the competition was designed to choose a successor to the caliber .45 ACP Pistol Model 1911 that had served the U.S. Military for over 60 years.  Both the SIG Sauer P226 and the eventual "winner", the Beretta 92 passed each standard and test requirement during the evaluation, clearly surpassing the performance of the pistols proposed by Colt, Ruger, Heckler & Koch and Glock.  The SIG P226 actually had the best scores in every category and achieved the highest level of performance, far above and beyond the standards.  

The P226 won everything but did not receive the grand prize.  "Officially" due to its slightly higher cost and more costly accessories.  So the Berretta 92 was chosen as the M9. This was a mistake.  I ask you when did the Pentagon ever base it's decisions on saving 25 dollars per item?  I think that other considerations were in the formula. The NATO Keyword of the age was "interoperability." There was also substantial political pressure on the Italian government of the day, to allow American land based cruse missiles into Italy.  These factors combined make me think that that a back room deal was made.  After all, how could any rational person, even at the Pentagon,  choose a Berretta over a SIG?

Oddly enough, the U.S. Military adopted the P226's little brother, the P228 as the new "mid sized" handgun, only a few years later.  This represents the "ready, fire, aim" mode of procurement, as the P226 and P228 are a perfect combination package for military logisticians.  Most of the P226 and P228 parts are interchangeable.  Even the 15 and 20 round P226 magazines can be used in a P228, with the bottom of the magazine protruding about 3/4 of an inch and 2 inches respectively.  As a training issue, common controls, operating procedures and features just make sense.  The M9 decision, as it was made, was a bad decision and substantial waste of tax dollars.

Even though it lost out to the "pizza pistol" in the XM9 trials, the P226 has faired much better with other militaries and law enforcement agencies all over the world.  Initially adopted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI), as their standard sidearm in 1984, with orders from dozens of agencies following. The P226 was chosen by the elite British Special Air Service "The SAS" as the replacement to the venerable GP35 Browning High Power.  The famed " Grenze Schutz Gruppe Neun" (GSG-9) Counter Terrorism unit of the German Federal Border Police, after extensive and exhaustive evaluations, also chose the P226.  These famous units decisions were followed by "SOF" units all over the world making the change to the P226.


U.S. Navy SEAL 9mm P226


Swiss Grenadier P75 - 9mm P226

After several Berretta M9 chamber blow outs or "KB's", one which sent a piece of the slide through the face of a SEAL operator, the United States Navy SEAL's and Army Special Forces, also known as "Green Berets" adopted the P226 for use in USSOCOM by Special Operations Units and for "Special Operations Peculiar Applications" with a wet suppressor and an extended threaded barrel.  When all is said and done, the list of outfits using the P226 reads like a virtual "who's who" of the best departments, military units and agencies on the planet.  

Today, almost 20 years after it's introduction, the SIG Sauer P226 is still the finest "out of the box" combat pistol made.  I am the proud owner of several P226's and I still have my original P226 purchased in Germany in the early 80's.  After almost 20 years and tens of thousands of rounds, I can still depend on them for sport and the personal protection of my loved ones and myself.  SIGARMS " Engineered Reliability" "When it Counts", there simplicity of operation, instant readiness and 3 full power calibers have made the P 226 the most successful " Combat Pistol" ever produced. 

In January 2001 a Sport model of the P226 was introduced in the U.S. 

Specific technical information on the different P226 models is listed below.


J. P. Sauer 20 and 15 round P226 magazines

SIG Sauer P226

P226 b2.gif (947 bytes)New P226 Sport b2.gif (947 bytes)P226 Specifications

SIG Sauer P226 - Information
P226
"Original" P226 with 3rd Generation Grips and SIGLite Sights
- This is an older stamped slide gun.  Note the roll pin and breech block -

Chambered for the globally accepted 9mm Luger cartridge or the powerful new .357 SIG and .40 Liberty cartridge, the P226 is the traditional choice of those law enforcement officers who want the satisfying heft and authoritative appearance of a full size autoloader. Reliable, accurate and easily maintained, the P226 was originally selected by the FBI as a primary handgun. Since then, special units of the military and hundreds of law enforcement agencies have followed the FBI's lead.  The .357 SIG and .40 Liberty models feature a one piece, precision machined, blackened, stainless steel slide.

Marv's P226 - .357 SIG with Walnut Grips
My P226 in .357 SIG with American Walnut Grips and extended base pad.
- Note the loaded chamber indicator behind the ejection port -
- Click to Enlarge -


My P226 in caliber 9mm with Sound Suppressor, 20-Round SWAT magazine & Laser.
- Click to Enlarge -

SIG Sauer P226 Sport

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SIG Sauer P226 Sport - Information

SIG Sauer P226 Sport 9mm Luger
- Click to Enlarge -

The much anticipated SIG-Sauer P226 Sport made it's American debut at the 2001 SHOT Show January 11 through 15 in New Orleans, La.  According to the SIG Arms, Inc. of Exeter New Hampshire, the P226 Sport, which has been available on the European and world market in many variations over the last several years, will be introduced in it's American Sport form early this year.

The P226 Sport features an all stainless steel construction, including the heavy duty stainless steel frame, a weighted frame extension and a vented compensator similar to the SIG P220 Sport.  The weighted compensator attaches to the frame under the mud guard.  Both the frame and slide are precision machined from solid block of stainless steel alloy. The slide and frame are polished to a matt finished shine. The barrel is made with the "target profile" which has a larger outer diameter and target twist rate.  226 Sport has extended controls, Hogue rubber grips, and adjustable micrometer / target sights and is available in caliber 9mm Luger.  

All SIGARMS Sport models are hand assembled and fine tuned for precision and accuracy. Customized features include extended controls for quick operation, adjustable target sights and a competition barrel weight for quick repeat target acquisition. The exceptional accuracy of the 226 Sport and the other Sport pistols is due to the rigorous testing and craftsmanship rarely seen in today’s highly machine production oriented manufacturing.  The heavier, target type barrels, the tuned action trigger, the durable stainless steel frame and the barrel weight, all give the 226 Sport 9mm superior stability and accuracy, shot after shot.

MSRP of the P226 Sport is $1395.  Look for a street price similar to the other SIGARMS Sport models at about $1125.00 in the USA.

b2.gif (947 bytes)For more information see the SIG P226 Sport Press Release.


New SIG Sauer P226 Sport 9mm

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New SIG Sauer P226 Sport 9mm

- Click to Enlarge -


P226 Sport Slide

SIG Sauer P226 Sport Slide
- Click to Enlarge -

SIG Sauer P226 Specifications

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SIG Sauer P226 Specifications Table
- P226 9mm b2.gif (947 bytes) P226 .357 SIG & .40 b2.gif (947 bytes) P226 Sport 9mm Luger -

Caliber:

9mm Luger.357 SIG .40 S&WP226 Sport 9mm

Length, Overall:
Metric:

7.7"
196 mm
7.7"
196 mm
8.7"

Height, Overall:
Metric:

5.5"
138 mm
5.5"
138 mm
5.6"
140 mm
Width, Overall:
Metric:
1.5"
38 mm
1.5"
38 mm
1.5"
38 mm
Barrel Length:
Metric:
4.4"
112 mm
4.4"
112 mm
4.8"
125 mm
Rifling Twist:
Metric:
1 in 10"
1 in 253 mm
1 in 16"
1 in 405 mm
1 in 10"
1 in 253 mm
Rifling Grooves:666
Sight Radius:
Metric:
6.2"
160 mm
6.2"
160 mm
6.2"
160 mm
Weight w/o Mag:
Metric:

Early Model:
Metric:
30.1 oz. - Current
850 grams

26 oz.
790 grams
30.1 oz.
850 grams
43.5 oz.
Mag Weight Empty:3 oz.3.4 oz.3. oz.
Trigger Pull Weight:DA 10 lbs
SA 4.5 lbs.
DA 10 lbs
SA 4.5 lbs.
DA 10 lbs
SA 4.5 lbs.

Magazine Capacity:

10 rounds*10 rounds**10 rounds* ***
Note: All weights and dimensions are approximate.

    * 15-round magazines available for law enforcement personnel only.
  ** 12-round magazines available for law enforcement personnel only.
 *** An ample supply of "Pre Ban" full capacity magazines are still available.
**** 9mm 15 round mag can be used for 357 SIG and .40 with a 12 round capacity.
Optional Accessories: Sight pusher, wood grips, extra magazines, cleaning kit, SIG Night Sights, 3-Dot sights, padded floor plate, short trigger, carrying case.
Finish:  

P226 available in SIG Blue Nitron or Two-Tone.  P226 Sport has a polished stainless steel finish.

The SIG P 226 "Sport Model" is a new all Stainless Steel Target / Sport model with Adjustable Target Sights, Target Tuned Trigger, Match Barrel and a Compensator.

See Also:

P226: SIG Sauer Superb Service Auto  Written By Jan Libourel

SIG Sauer P226 Graphics Page

Acronyms Used: 
ACP Automatic Colt Pistol
CNC Computer Numerically Controlled (Milling Machine)
DA Double Action
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation - U.S. Department of Justice
GSG9 Grenze Schutz Gruppe Neun. In English "Border Guard Group Nine"
GP "Grand Puissance" from the French meaning Grand Presence or High Power
Mag Magazine
mm Millimeter
Oz. Ounces
P75 Pistol Model 1975
SA Single Action
SA / DA Single Action / Double Action
SAS Special Air Service
SEAL Sea Air & Land (U.S. Navy Frogmen)
SIG Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft = "Swiss Industrial Group"
SIGSights SIG "Trijicon" produced "Tritium" insert night sights
USSOCOM United States Special Operations Command

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