With millions in service, the SIG Sauer P226 and Beretta 92 have become icons in the pistol world. They both have reputations of reliability and have been used in institutional and military competitions for more than 40 years. Though each has enthusiasts and critics, these guns are among the best in modern double-action, first-shot pistols.
A note before continuing this gun comparison: There is little that may be done tactically with one pistol in this class that cannot be done with the other. The Beretta and SIG are each reliable, accurate and easily maintained. But there are differences that make the pistol more desirable on a personal basis.
Each handgun is available in full-sized, compact, decocker-only, single-action only, stainless-steel slide, slimline or target versions. This comparison will be between the full-sized version of each gun; what some might call the flagship of the line. The SIG P226 and Beretta 92 are service-sized handguns, with a double-action first-shot trigger, aluminum frame and high-capacity magazine.
SIG P226 Specifications (15-Round Magazine)
Overall length: 8 inches
Overall width: 1.5 inches
Height: 5.5 inches
Barrel length: 4.4 inches
Weight: 34 ounces
Beretta 92X Specifications (17-Round Magazine)
Overall length: 8.5 inches
Overall width: 1.5 inches
Height: 5.4 inches
Barrel length: 4.7 inches
Weight: 33.3 ounces
About the Beretta and SIG
The guns feature different styles of lockup. While each is a locked-breech design, the SIG locks up by butting the barrel hood into the slide. SIG also uses angled camming surfaces on the bottom of the P226 barrel. The Beretta features the less-common oscillating wedge first used with the Mauser 96.
The SIG P-series was a fresh design when introduced, whereas the Beretta 92 is based on the Walther 38. In fact, it is basically a modified high-capacity version of the Walther P 38. Trigger action on the SIG P226 is usually smoother. Beretta’s 92 uses a slide-mounted safety/decocker. The safety is rotated to safely drop the hammer. It is in the on position after decocking the hammer and must be moved to the fire position to engage a threat. While later Beretta 92G versions were decocker-only, a slide-mounted decocker is still more difficult to manipulate than the SIG’s frame-mounted.
With an open-top slide, the Beretta lays a claim to greater reliability and ability to shed debris. But SIG Sauer has put the P226 through a larger number of test programs, leaving no doubt as to its reliability. With improved grips, one could rate the latest versions of each gun practically equal. Beretta’s trigger has a faster reset, while the SIG is smoother.
Firing the Handguns
Both are available with standard or self-luminous sights and feature well-made high-capacity magazines. Trigger reach is about .25 inches less with the SIG pistol. But the curve of the Beretta trigger may be better when wearing gloves. On average, the Beretta will feature a 5-pound single-action trigger pull, and the SIG will typically run 4.2 pounds.
Both guns prove easy to fire well. However, the P226 may be counted on to deliver greater first-shot accuracy due to the smoother trigger. In rapid-fire, the Beretta features limited muzzle flip. It is easy to manipulate the slide lock and magazine catch of each. However, a common problem I observed of the SIG is, if the shooter rides the slide lock with the thumb, the slide does not lock on the last shot. On the other hand, the Beretta’s ergonomic drawback is its slide-mounted safety. But a strong, straight thumb goes a long way in addressing the Beretta’s safety. Training will address each of these idiosyncrasies.
Is the Beretta 92 Better Than the SIG Sauer P226?
Beretta’s new 92X is more affordable than the SIG P226. All other things being equal this is clearly a consideration. Each is available in stainless-steel options as well as 9mm and .40 versions, although the .40 may be scarce. Either handgun is quite accurate; however, the SIG is the more accurate firearm. It isn’t unusual for a SIG P226 to place five shots into 1.5 inches at 25 yards with premium ammunition. The Beretta may be counted on for 2.5 inches.
Even after using and firing each type for decades, it is difficult to make a blanket recommendation. I prefer the SIG’s smoothness and accuracy. But the Beretta may appeal to those who used similar arms in the military. Both are highly reliable guns, and I am pleased to own both.