I bought the SigArms P229 .40 as my first cartridge fed pistol about 10 years ago to use for self defense and to start my gun collection. I started late because I was a poor carpenter doing minor woodwork and my new wife just didn’t like the idea of having a gun around. I don’t live in the most hospitible of cities, so it was only a matter of time and the application of technical skills with luck, before the purchase was approved by all household stakeholders.
I picked the Sig brand because I wasn’t sure that I would be permitted to purchase another firearm without paying a lifetime penalty of pain. It was a very reputable brand, was known for its quality manufacturing, ease of operation and for its reliability. The only real selection left was for the caliber and model I would choose. I wanted a smaller pistol, one that would carry easily, and could be concealed in a pinch. I also wanted a pistol that had a high one shot stop rating, something comparable to my fathers .357 Magnum, but in an automatic. There only were a few models to choose from now. I chose the P229 because it was a middle of the road size, and the .40S&W caliber because I just didn’t like the 9mm one shot stop rating. The P220 was just too large for all of my needs, and to be honest I was concerned about recoil. In the end, this turned out to not be a problem, since I now own many 1911 model guns in .45ACP, and have no issues with them.
My first experience shooting the gun was suprise. The gun was very comfortable in my hand, although the double stack design is a little larger than it should have been to be perfect. The weight was well distributed. The amount of muzzle flash extending from the gun was brighter and more pronounced than I expected, but it wasn’t unbearable. The sound the firearm made was alot more shril than I was expecting as well, but wasn’t a problem with ear protection. I could definately tell my pistol from the others shooting on the firing line just by the sound. The only issue I had, and it was a personal issue, was the sighting system. I was used to rifles using a three dot system, or three point system, not the two bar system the Sig has. This isn’t a significant issue however, I still shoot pretty well with it. I haven’t changed the sighting system. The other issue I had with the pistol was that the first shot pull was quite heavy compared to the follow on, as it was a SA/DA (Single-Action/Double-Action) pistol. This caused me no small amount of hassle, and could not be easily corrected through gunsmithing. To be honest, this was merely a problem because I had not trained long enough with the pistol to become accustomed to the different trigger pulls. They now offer a double-action only variant, but given its pull requirement, I won’t switch. After some time this became a non-issue.
I bought a couple of different boxes of ammunition, both target rounds and hollow points to see how the pistol would perform. Recoil was noticeable, but manageable. I shot 150 rounds of ammo without a failure. In fact, I had no issues with the firearm for the first 1000 rounds or so. Then I came to a problem point, but not with the gun.
Myself and a friend were reloading to save money. He had a Ruger P95 in .40S&W, and I had the Sig. We figured what the heck, lets load a couple of thousand rounds each, and split the pile. We were using the old RCBS “RockChucker” press my dad owned, and after several sessions of several hours each, we had our ammo. We did the research and made sure our load was a good middle of the road powder charge, and used Hornady 155g XTP bullets. We went on our way. After shooting around 200 rounds of the ammo, I had an explosion. It must have been an overpowered round, extra powder compressing what already was close to a compressed load, as .40S&W power charges nearly fills all available case space. The fireball was very noticable, and the shock of it blew the extractor and extractor spring off of the pistol. The cartridge case was torn open and was jaming the slide from feeding another round. I was scared (and quite jittery for some time afterward…), checked my fingers, and asked my friend if he was ok. We we lucky and there were no injuries.
I took the gun to a gunsmith to get the pistol checked out. I wanted to make sure there were no fractures in the metal of the chamber and the barrel or any of the other major components, as well as to have him replace the extractor, spring, and pin with original Sig parts. To my amazement, the gun easily weathered the explosion with no significant damage. No fractures, no bent pieces, no barrel wear whatsoever. Not only that, but the extractor itself was intact. I of course had him replace it anyway. I was lucky I even found the thing. I cannot stress enough that this pistol is of the ultimate quality in manufacturing and materials, and to this day I am glad that I picked this gun first.
Since then I have used the pistol during several tactical training courses. The pistol never fails me. It feeds anything I throw into it, and never misses a beat. Its easy to tear down and clean, and even easier to maintain externally. Its coating is durable and has survived being pulled out of wet leather, Kydex, Nylon and now a Serpa carbon fiber holster with little maring. The pistol has been thrown on cement (intentionally by a training instructor because he stated I was babying the pistol), and kept in leather without gunoil. This is a durable weapon, and I wish all of my weapons were so well designed.
Pros: Ease of use, maintenance, workmanship, materials, durability, utility, functionality, ease of tear down with no external parts required, one shot stop rating, no safety
Cons: Sighting system (minor), single/double system (training related), cartridge price and availability (slowly becoming a non-issue), no safety (other than your finger, this isn’t a con for me), a bit wide for concealed carry in some places, grip is a bit wide for smaller hands.
Nicely written article. A lot of good basic info that is invaluable for the person inquiring about and looking to purchase this specific gun. (like me)