The first “air powered” arm I ever fired was a single-shot Model 800 Hy-Score .22-caliber pellet-firing pistol. Built in—of all places—the U.S.A. during the 1950s, the Model 800 I had belonged to my grandfather.
Built of steel, with plastic thumbrest target-style grips, the spring-piston powered Model 800 was nicely blued and had a vaguely German Luger look and feel to it. We would shoot it on occasion with our dad in our backyard. Most often it was shot at our outdoor steel incinerator (remember those?), which was a good-sized target that also made a satisfying “thunk” when hit. My younger brother has that gun and it is still functional. They don’t make them like that today, but sometimes they make them better.
Until the advent of the detailed and accurate replica airsoft type gun, which shoots a plastic pellet, there were not a lot of detailed replica BB or pellet guns on the market. Most BB or pellet guns were readily recognizable as such, and designed to be used by the younger set.
The airsoft industry began in Japan, a land where NO firearms can be owned by the citizenry. In order to satisfy interest in the firearms so often seen in Hollywood productions, the Japanese developed CO2 and battery-powered replica arms that propelled lightweight plastic BBs out of arms that are nearly indistinguishable from the firearms they emulate (other than sometimes being mostly made of plastic). Today the quest for realism in non-powder arms has spilled over into the bb/pellet gun market. The most recent entrant into that market is SIG Sauer.
SIG has recently introduced two CO2 lead-pellet-firing semi-automatic carbines—replicas of the SIG MPX and MCX—and two pellet-firing CO2 semi-automatic handguns—replicas of the SIG P250 and the P226. The carbines are available in .177- or .22-caliber, while the pistols are available in .177-caliber only. The P226 replica is the subject of this review.
SIG refers to their CO2-powered airgun line as “carbon copies” of their firearm line, and that’s no joke. The precision and attention to detail are incredible. The all-metal P226 I received is a dead ringer for the SIG Navy SEALS Mk-25 variant, right down to the anchor symbol found next to the 226 name on the slide. The sample I have was finished in flat dark earth with black synthetic SIG grips. The rifled .177-caliber barrel is threaded for a faux sound suppressor and comes with a removable endcap. There is a segment of Picatinny rail on the front of the receiver for attaching lights or lasers. Weight and balance match that of an actual P226, and the P226 ASP should fit in any holster designed for the P226. Sights are fixed three-dot combat style. Two of the four SIG controls are functional; the magazine release and what serves as the de-cocker on the real P226. The ASP de-cocker also serves as a manual safety.
The P226 ASP is powered by a 12-gram CO2 cartridge that drops into the backstrap area after releasing a latch. Closing the backstrap punctures the top of the CO2 cartridge, making the pistol ready to fire.
Since I’ve never owned a CO2-powered pellet gun, I was forced to (gasp) read the directions. Please make sure you do the same. There are some tricks to running it safely and at peak efficiency.
The magazine system holds 12 pellets and only one is included. At each end of the magazine body is a six-round cylinder into which pellets are loaded. The magazine is inserted into the pistol and locks into place. After six pellets are fired, eject the magazine and insert the other end to fire the remaining six shots.
SIG sent a container of their flat-point Match Ballistic Alloy lead pellets to go with a box of their C02 cylinders. There are three other types of SIG pellets that have round or pointed noses and are designed for hunting small critters. Also included with the test gun were four of their target systems designed to keep things interesting. The Quad Swivel was the one I had time to initially test.
I took the P226 ASP in my backyard for the test. The P226 ASP was a joy to shoot and my wife could not hear it inside. There was one minor issue, but it wasn’t with the gun. The Quad Swivel target needed more oomph to function than a .177 pellet out of the P226 could muster. At 15 feet, the targets would swing when hit, but would not spin all the way over as advertised. Either of the SIG rifles would likely be more up to that task due to higher velocity and availability of .22-caliber models, but it was still fun.
At 30 feet with a Thompson “HALO” Reactive Target (www.thompsontarget.com ), I was able to manage six-shot groups in the 2.5-inch range, which is pretty darn close to groups produced by the “real deal.”
I shot 14 consecutive shots across the chronograph for velocity readings at a temperature of 48 degrees—22 degrees below ideal operating temperature of 70 degrees or higher. The average velocity for 14 shots was 409.42 feet per second. The highest reading was 428 feet per second and the lowest was 384 (shot #11). While not up to the advertised “nearly 500 feet per second,” 409 feet per second is nothing to sneeze at from a CO2 handgun.
The SIG P226 ASP is more than adequate for practice use by experienced shooters or for familiarization for newer shooters, plus it’s a lot of fun and can be used when a range is not available. Price is approximately $100.00. Check it out along with all the rest of the SIG line at www.sigsauer.com.