The SIG P229: Homeland Protector

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Swiss firearms giant SIG has been a providing military grade firearms to Europe and the US for generations. One of their most interesting officers is the P229 series handgun, which draws an odd balance between combat handgun, duty gun, and concealed carry piece. Without further ado, let us look at it.

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(My personal P-229R with DAK trigger and natty Sig grips. Ive been literally around the world with this gun over the years and its never left me hanging)

Design

Based on the P226 full sized combat handgun (which is in turn a double stack version of the P220, which is in turn an upgrade of the P210, etc.), the P228/229 series pistol is about as refined as it gets in a SIG. In trigger systems pack, it comes with either a double-action/single action (DA/SA) trigger system with a safety decock lever or a full-time Double Action Kellermann (DAK) system that an all-the-time 7-ish pound trigger and short reset.

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It's a mechanically locked, recoil operated semi-auto with a staggered and detachable box magazine. Disassembly takes about five seconds and can be done without tools to break the gun down into five subassemblies for cleaning. According to my SIG Armorers manual the gun has 63-ish parts (in its DA/SA version) which makes it a little complicated to repair (the magazine release involves three different springs). When compared to the much more basic Glock series pistol which only has 33 or so parts. However the Glock does not have the super nice hammer-fired DA/SA action or all metal construction (allow frame, nitron blackened stainless slide).

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Sig has, since this gun was introduced in 1991, made dozens of versions of it. These include railed models (with 'R' designations in the title), Equinox versions, two-tone models, stainless models, threaded barreled versions, the flat dark earth Scorpion series, the SAS Gen 2 models, well, you get it.

However, all of these have the same general...

Specs

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  • Caliber: 9mm or .40S&W/.357SIG
  • Action Type: DA/SA
  • Trigger Pull DA: 10.0 lbs.
  • Trigger Pull SA: 4.4 lbs.
  • Overall Length: 7.1 in
  • Overall Height: 5.4 in
  • Overall Width: 1.5 in
  • Barrel Length: 3.9 in
  • Sight Radius: 5.7 in
  • Weight w/Mag: 32.0 oz.
  • Mag Capacity: 10 or 13 Rounds (9mm), 10 or 12 Rounds (.40S&W, .357SIG) * on mags, P228 mags will flush fit while P226 mags in the same caliber will fit but extend slightly past the grip. Hey, the more you know...
  • Sights: Contrast, Night Sights available for about $75 more.

Military/LE use

If its federal law enforcement, odds are they use a SIG P229. This comes from a 2003 test by the Department of Homeland Security that saw the model come out on top after three million rounds fired against some of the best handguns on the planet. Following that testing process, the US Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Air Marshals, Federal Protective Service, Secret Service, Postal Inspectors, VA Police and others began ordering the guns like hot cakes and have been using them for the better part of a decade.

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(Coast Guard MSST guy doing some VBSS drills with a very handy P229)

In recent years, many of the Department of Defense law enforcement organs (US Navy NCIS, Army CID, USAF OSI, et al) have switched to the 229 as well. It's also issued inside the FBI and DEA in smaller numbers.

Heck, even Jack Bauer carries one...

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(Photo credit: IMFDB)

The British military uses the gun designated as the L117A2 while special ops and military police guys in Sweden, Canada and Germany issue the guns in smaller numbers.

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(For military use the P229 stacks up nice against the Beretta 92F/M9)



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(Typical LE comparisons for the P229 are against the less expensive Glock 22 series.)

Personal use

Back when the 229s were first making a splash in Federal LE, I encountered the gun as an issued weapon and fell in love with it. Replacing the slightly larger P226's I was accustomed too, it felt nice in the hand and was just as accurate as the larger gun. Loaded, it's still a hefty 30+ ounces (its all metal) and is rather thick, but this can be negated by SAS grips (which require a spring replacement on non-SAS model guns) and a DAK trigger which cuts out the width somewhat. I liked my duty gun so much that I bought one for my personal use, and have never regretted it.

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(A typical pocket dump for me, and that is my second Galco Royal Guard holster in five years on that gun.)

As such, my personal P229R DAK is more often than not my EDC. As long as it's in a good holster with a thick belt, it can carry all day. Speaking of which, leathergear and other holsters are widespread as are magazines (Mec-Gar of Italy makes OE mags on the cheap for these guns)

While MSRP is over $1K on these German-US-Swiss made guns, don't let that get you down. You can buy used guns and police trade ins for nearly half that. As far as durability, I've seen these guns used and abused with round counts going well over 40,000 and very little love (replacing the recoil springs every 5,000 rounds) shown, and they still work like a...well a Swiss watch.

Hey, it's a SIG.

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