Sig Sauer P229: Classic Mid-Size 9mm with Modern Updates

The P229 is a pistol that will give you a lifetime of quality service, whether used for concealed carry, home defense, or recreational shooting.

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Not long ago, I reviewed SIG SAUER'S newest pistol, the striker fired P320. Up until its introduction, the entire SIG line had always been noted for its exposed hammer, manually decocking pistols.

Internationally renowned for their reliability, and utilized by some of the most elite combat and police units on earth, including the U.S. Navy SEALS SIG SAUER which utilizes the mid-sized 9mm SIG P229 rather than the full size Beretta M9. Actually the SIG 229 was preceded in military use by the near identical SIG P228, which featured a slide constructed from two piece sheet metal stampings. The P228 was plenty strong enough to handle the pressures generated by the 9mm, but there were concerns that it would not be strong enough to handle the higher pressure .40 Smith and Wesson, and the later .357 SIG. The 229's slide is machined from a single piece of stainless steel like all the other pistols in the SIG line, and handles all three cartridges with aplomb.

Currently available in ten different variations, the P229 is a reduced size version of the SIG P226 and the earlier P220. Its traditional Double Action/Single Action (DA/SA) trigger operating system was SIG's answer to the earlier safety/de-cocker designs by Walther, Smith and Wesson and later, Beretta.

In its 9mm guise, the updated P229-1 is a 15+1 shot DA/SA pistol with a hard anodized aluminum frame, Nitron finished stainless steel slide and accessory frame rail. The P229 also has updated textured polymer grips. The textured surface has the feel of skateboard tape, which had been added to older Glock and other pistol frames to provide a better grip for wet or sweaty hands. The texturing covers the side panels and the backstrap. The frontstrap has gripping grooves cut into the aluminum. The grip panels are contoured to provide a more natural feeling grip that accommodates the thumb of the right hand. This slant toward right handed shooter does not detract from the feel for left handed shooters. However, all controls are set for right handed shooters, with the frame mounted de-cocker located above the magazine release button, and the slide release lever located directly centered above the left grip panel. The location and operation of the slide release is a bit different than those of the Beretta or the no longer manufactured Smith and Wesson DA/SA pistols, but it can easily be learned.

Loading and making the SIG SAUER series of exposed hammer pistols ready for concealed carry or home defense is done as follows:
With the slide forward, insert a loaded magazine, retract the slide and let it slingshot forward. When you do this you will see the exposed hammer is cocked in single action mode, and the trigger is close to the rear of the frame. In this position, it will take only about 4 lbs. of pressure to make the P229 go off. All you need to do to put the P229 in a safe carry double action trigger position is to push the decocking lever down. This safely drops the hammer on the live chambered round, and returns the trigger to the DA mode which has a long pull weight of 12 pounds. Unlike the Smith and Wesson or Beretta pistols the SIG decocker is NOT a safety, and it automatically returns to its ready position. Never holster the SIG or any other DA/SA type pistol with the hammer cocked, which is a recipe for a hole in the foot.

The procedure for loading/reloading from a locked back slide is similar. Insert the loaded magazine, hit the slide release lever (yes, that is what it is for) and if you going to immediately continue firing, do so in the SA mode. When you are going to pause or holster, activate the decocker.

The SIG SAUER P229, like all SIG pistols, is a timeless design with a lot of life left in it. The 12 pound DA trigger provides the safety of a double action revolver (which was the purpose of the design) while giving the option of potentially better extended range accuracy when fired in the SA mode. Personally, I prefer the DA/SA design over the more "modern" designs such as that of the Glock, or even the new SIG P320. In fact I carry the DA/SA Beretta M9A1 as my uniform duty pistol, even though I could carry the Glock or competing designs at my agency if I so chose.

The accuracy of my test P229 was outstanding. It is a natural pointer, and mine came with fixed three dot Tritium night sights. My ultimate handgun accuracy test comes at 100 yards from a standing two hand position. The P229 kept six of six rounds inside the standard OPOTC Silhouette target when fired in the single action mode. Any pistol that can do that is capable of anything you need it do at any lesser range. All this from a pistol that is small enough to be carried concealed quite comfortably. In fact, with the terrorist attacks that just occurred in Chattanooga, Tennessee yesterday, it is a disgrace that our combat qualified service members aren't carrying one of these whenever they are in uniform. Several lives could have been saved yesterday if they had been.

The SIG SAUER P229 ships with two magazines and has an MSRP of $1100 with night sights, although in-store prices are actually quite a bit less. The P229 is a pistol that will give you a lifetime of quality service, whether used for concealed carry, home defense, or recreational shooting.