Testing Three Super 9mms!
SIG P226 SAO
Joe W Gorman
To my mind, the P226 SAO provides all the technological advantages of the modern SIG design along with a 1911esque firing system. It also holds 15 rounds of ammunition and boasts that it can handle high pressure ammo (while also saying that because there is no standard for +P. (SIG can't outright recommend shooting +P: hint hint/wink wink).
From the factory, the P226 SAO comes with the elite frame which includes an extended beavertail, an ambidextrous thumb safety and night sights. And it comes with a no-fooling 5-pound trigger pull. The safety snaps into safe and off to fire with just the right amount of effort and reassuring feedback. Unlike the Browning and 1911s, the user can engage the safety and rack the slide.
In the looks department, it's not in the same league as the Browning. While the P226 is an attractive handgun, its beauty is more of a practical, girl-next-door-who-can-change-a-tire sort of beauty. Its lines denote function and strength rather than grace. Its dimensions scream, "I can hack it, whatever it is." It's an all black, I-mean-business handgun that has been vetted by all types of distinguished military and law enforcement organizations and has earned a reputation as being the amongst best in the world.
The P226 SAO was also the most accurate pistol amongst the three tested out of the box. The amazing fit and finish and the 5-pound trigger (with a bit of take up and creep) meant, after getting accustomed to its breaking characteristics, I was able to deliver 5 shots groups that went from roughly 1.5 inches (Hornady 115gr Critical Defense) to about 2.75 inch groups (Remington 147gr HTP ammo) from a bench rest at 25 yards.
I put 20 of 30 shots into a 2-pound cardboard oatmeal container, offhand, that I set up 50-yards away, with Federal ball ammo. Pretty danged accurate for a combat pistol with three-dot night sights and sighted with old man eyes! In fact, the very first group I fired, I shot 6 rounds into a 2.5" group off hand at 25-yards with Federal American Eagle 115gr FMJ! Over the course of testing I fired more than 500 rounds, including the awesome Winchester 124 gr PDX1 +P, with zero problems.
Concealing the P226 was just slightly more difficult than the Browning, I suspect due to its wider frame and slide.
Field stripping the P226 is simple, twisting a lever rather than removing it like with the BHP.
To sum up the SIG P226 SAO: World class engineering, overbuilt in a good way, decent but not stellar pointing characteristics, and a trigger you can actually use to make precision shots right out of the box (once you spend a little time with it). Its tough finish means you don't have to oil it down every time it gets a drop of sweat on it. Uber reliable. Buy this gun if you want to take a pistol out of the case, clean and grease it and shove it in your holster. If you're a 1911 guy, the mag release is in the right spot, but you'll go through a learning curve to instinctively hit the slide release just beyond the safety lever.
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