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The Sig Sauer P226: Everything You Wanted to Know


Versatile, flexible and reliable, the Sig Sauer P226 is a handgun you must have.

The first handgun I ever bought is still a personal favorite. The Sig Sauer P226 is a great first gun for anyone to acquire. It's reliable, flexible and comfortable. Originally designed for the military and law enforcement use, the P226 can operate in a variety of conditions.

In 1984, the U.S. Army held the XM9 Service Pistol Trials to find a replacement pistol for all the armed forces for the M1911 A1. Out of all the entries, only the Beretta 92F and the P226 performed the best. Ultimately, the Beretta was chosen over the P226, but later the Navy SEALS decided to adopt the P226 for their service pistol. To this day many law enforcement agencies and militaries around the world use the P226 as their service sidearm.


The P226 is a double action/single action locked breech short recoil operated firearm. This means that during the first and then the final parts of the firing sequence, the barrel and slide are locked together.

The pistol has an aluminum alloy frame body and a nitron-coated stainless steel slide. This makes the slide and body stronger for the higher pressures of the .40 S&W and the .357 Sig rounds. It has an external hammer that can be cocked by hand allowing the user to use the pistol in single action mode for the first shot.

There is no manual safety, but the pistol incorporates a decocking lever to allow the hammer to be decocked safely and put the pistol into double action mode. By using the decocking lever, the pistol is made drop-safe, meaning that the firing pin can't accidentally be hit setting the pistol off.


The P226 design has also inspired several sub variants and two new pistol variants, the P228 and the P229, both compact versions. There are approximately 15 different P226 sub variants that include the Tactical, the Equinox, the Navy and the MK25. The P226 has a steel staggered double stack magazine design for all the center fire calibers they offer and a polymer single stack magazine design for the .22 LR version.

Calibers for Everyone

The P226 comes chambered in a variety of calibers, so everyone can find one they like. It comes in .22LR, 9MM Parabellum, .40 S&W and .357 Sig. Since the .40 and .357 are so close in size, with a barrel swap in the .357 Sig model you can switch to .40 S&W and shoot a second caliber from the same frame. The magazine springs and everything are exactly the same. Get bored with .40, swap the barrel and you are back to .357 Sig.

If you have the .22LR version, with a slide assembly, magazine and barrel swap you can use the same frame to fire 9mm Parabellum. At one point, Sig sold conversion kits for all versions of the P226 to allow caliber changes. They are still available to purchase.

More from Wide Open Spaces:

Everything you ever need to know about the .40 S&W

Everything you were afraid to ask about .380 auto ammo

How to introduce kids to shooting

Pointers on how to hold an AR-15 

All in all, the Sig Sauer P226 is a solid well-built pistol that any gun owner would be proud to add to their collection. I still have mine sitting in my gun safe. I love pulling it out and using it for competitions and just plinking on the range.

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The Sig Sauer P226: Everything You Wanted to Know