Although it wasn’t SIG’s first handgun, the P226 is the model that initially propelled the company to popularity in the U.S. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Navy SEALs used the P226 for decades as their duty gun. In fact, their first order in the ‘80s was for 800 guns — a number that only grew with time. Since the P226 remains a top seller for SIG, odds are someone out there has one that needs to be cleaned. Follow these steps to learn how to clean a SIG P226.

Clear to Clean the P226

Before cleaning any gun, it needs to be cleared. When you clear your firearm, follow the four golden rules of gun safety:

  • All guns are always loaded.
  • Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger.
  • Always be sure of your target (and what is beyond).

Drop your magazine and rack your slide to clear the chamber, even if you believe the chamber is empty. Then, confirm it again by sticking your finger in the P226 chamber and sweep it around to be utterly confident the gun is unloaded.

Here’s the catch: You will continue to treat it as if it were loaded. Sticking to these practices creates habits, and safety is the best habit you can hone as a gun owner.

The Takedown

Once you’ve cleared your firearm, field-strip your SIG Sauer P226 by simply following these steps:

  • With the gun aimed in a safe direction, lock the slide open by racking it rearward and utilizing the slide catch lever.
  • Holding the P226 in your right hand — finger off the trigger — use your left hand to rotate the takedown lever down and away from your body. Stop when the takedown lever is in a vertical position. It might be stiff, but it will turn.
  • With the gun still in your right hand, pull the slide rearward with your left to release the takedown lever. Move the slide forward in a controlled motion and remove it from the gun.
  • Setting the frame aside, hold the slide in one hand, recoil-spring-side up with the barrel pointing away from your body. Use the thumb of your other hand to apply pressure to the back of the guide rod and compress the recoil spring guide assembly while simultaneously lifting it upward. Set the guide and recoil spring aside.
  • Remove the barrel from the slide by lifting it up, shifting it slightly toward the muzzle end and pulling it back out of the slide.

Your SIG P226 is now field-stripped for cleaning. Further disassembly of your gun is not recommended and is rarely necessary.

*Note: Parts terminology is according to SIG Sauer’s usage.

Clean the SIG P226

In terms of cleaning, I prefer SEAL 1 products. But I also have a whole bin of random products; some are better than others for specific needs. You will discover what you like with time. For simplicity’s sake, I will outline how I clean my SIG P226 with SEAL 1, which is non-toxic and multipurpose. It cuts through carbon buildup, lubricates and protects my guns. Best of all, firearms treated with SEAL 1 CLP Plus have kept cycling even in negative-25-degree weather.

  • Saturate an appropriately sized bore brush with SEAL 1 CLP Plus Liquid. Slide the bore brush back and forth through the barrel several times, pausing to reapply the cleaner as necessary. This scrubs the barrel and loosens buildup for the next step. (Tip: Do not use steel wire brushes and do not run the bore brush from the muzzle end of the barrel.)
  • Swap the bore brush for pre-saturated SEAL Skinz or other patches. Dry patches work as well. Run patches through the barrel, one after another, until they come out mostly or entirely clean. Then run a pre-saturated patch through just one more time.
  • Use a nylon brush to clean the rest of your P226’s slide and frame. A little cleaner such as SEAL 1 CLP Plus Paste or Liquid on the brush goes a long way. Q-tips or Swab-Its dipped in cleaner work well for nooks and crannies.
  • When you believe you are done, wipe the interior of the frame and slide with a clean rag or paper towel. If it comes back clean, move on. If it’s dirty, clean the problem areas more thoroughly.
  • SIG Sauer recommends lightly lubricating the P226’s frame guides, the interior of the slide, the recoil spring guide and the recoil spring. Wipe off excess oil. (Tip: Take the time to remove the recoil spring from the guide to clean the guide before replacing the assembly in the gun.)
  • Before replacing the barrel, be sure you lubricated the bore with SEAL 1 CLP Plus as mentioned above. (Tip: Do not insert the lubricated patch from the muzzle end of the barrel.)
  • Whether or not you apply a bit more lubricant to key friction points on your P226 before reassembly tends to be personal preference. I apply lubricant using a CLP-saturated swab where parts rub against each other during firing.
  • Reassemble your SIG P226 by reversing the aforementioned field-stripping steps. Then cycle the action repeatedly to spread lubricant. When that is done, a nice touch is to apply an ultra-light coat of lubricant or oil with a clean rag to the gun’s exterior.

Place your clean, cared-for P226 in your safe or holster. Take good care of your gun and your gun will take good care of you when the moment comes.


Manufacturer: SIG Sauer

Model: P226 Nitron

Accessory Rail: SIG rail

Caliber: 9mm
(Also available in .357 SIG and .40 S&W)

Capacity: 10 + 1

Action: Semi-Auto

Frame Material: Alloy

Frame Finish: Hard Coat Anodized

Slide Material: Stainless Steel

Slide Finish: Nitron

Trigger: DA/SA

Barrel Length: 4.4 inches

Overall Length: 7.7 inches

Overall Width: 1.5 inches

Height: 5.5 inches

Weight (Empty): 34 ounces