I will admit to being a latecomer to SIG Sauer firearms.
A SIG Sauer P229 is twice as expensive as a similarly configured Smith & Wesson or Beretta pistol. For that reason alone, I never paid too much attention to them. Over time though, I began to realize that certain guns are more expensive for a reason.
In the past few years I have come to truly understand the SIG Sauer appeal. It’s more than just marketing or branding — it’s about quality. The fit and finish on SIG pistols is exceptional. When you handle the guns, you are immediately impressed with the quality and the smoothness of the action. In addition to the cosmetic appeal, the top-notch construction and materials makes for a functional, durable and highly reliable weapon.
The SIG Sauer P229 is a compact double-action/single-action pistol that has been in the SIG lineup since the early 1990s. A slightly smaller version of the full-size P226, the P229 has a 13+1 round capacity in 9mm. The P229 platform is well suited to civilian carry. The SAS model is tailored specifically for concealed carry.
SAS stands for “SIG Anti-Snag” and refers to the aggressive “carry melt” process applied to the slide and frame in SIG’s Custom Shop. This process smoothes all the corners and edges for comfort in carry. The melt is visible, which gives the pistol a distinctive look in addition to practical advantages.
This SIG comes well equipped with the most popular features, including the SIG Short Reset Trigger (SRT) and the SIGLITE three dot Tritium night sights. The 229 SAS is available in an all black Nitron finish or in a two-tone finish with a stainless slide over a black frame.
Unlike previous SAS models that came with wood grips, the Gen 2 model comes with black Polymer grips. Of course, there are a wide variety of factory and aftermarket grips available to dress up your P229. The optional grips pictured in this article are from the Hogue Extreme series of grips. These are crafted from aerospace grade and hard-anodized aluminum. These grips are extremely thin, and are offered in a variety of textures. For a concealed carry gun, I like smooth grips — its matte black Hogues are perfect.
The P229 I reviewed was chambered in 9mm. The gun is also available in .40 S&W or .357 SIG. In 9mm, the pistol has a magazine capacity of 13 rounds. In the other calibers, the magazine holds only 12 rounds.
One potential criticism of the P229 is a slight disadvantage in capacity over the similarly sized sub-compact Glock 19, which has a 15-round capacity in 9mm. Of course, the SIG P229 accepts the same size magazines as the full-size P226, which allows you to use SIG’s 15-round or even 20-round magazines, when desired.
Disassembly of the SIG for cleaning and maintenance is very easy, and requires no tools. Simply ensure the gun is unloaded, lock the slide back, rotate the takedown lever, release the slide lock and remove the slide. The barrel and recoil guide rod and spring are then easily removed. No further disassembly is required. Anyone can learn this simple process. If you choose to remove the grip panels, only a flat-blade screwdriver is required.
Concealed Carry Impressions
The P229 is a little thick and heavy for a compact pistol. Most very deep concealment methods will be difficult. This SIG is well-suited for traditional belt carry, or possibly in a shoulder holster. I carried the gun on my strong-side hip. For outside the waistband carry, I used a Galco Concealable Belt Holster. For inside the waistband, I used a Galco SC2 Inside Pant Holster. Both holsters exhibited the highest levels of functionality and quality that are hallmarks of the entire Galco line. The carry melt treatment unique to the SAS model definitely helps with comfort and concealment by eliminating sharp corners and edges when the gun is pressed firmly into your side for concealed carry. The SAS is also less likely to snag on cover garments when drawn from concealment.
The P229 is a pleasure to shoot. Certainly, some shooters don’t care for the transition that has to be made in a traditional DA/SA pistol from the 10 pound first double-action trigger pull to subsequent 5 pound single-action trigger pulls. However, for anyone who is used to this type of setup or who has the patience to practice, it shouldn’t present a problem. The heavy initial trigger pull is an important safety feature and eliminates the need for any type of manual safety. The P229 is always ready to shoot with a pull of the trigger.
Over the course of 200 rounds of various ammunition types, this gun was flawless. Frankly, I didn’t expect any less — given SIG’s well-deserved reputation for reliability. Accuracy was also very impressive, with groups averaging less than 2 inches when fired without support at 10 yards. To say this gun is “combat accurate” would be an understatement. “Impressively accurate” would be far more descriptive!
Recoil on this compact 9mm is very moderate and the gun is easy to control. Even the 9mm +P loads seem very mild. Undoubtedly, the rather large grip on the gun and the heavier weight of the pistol help tame the recoil. Even in .40 S&W or .357 SIG, I believe this P229 will be very manageable. Quick follow-up shots are very easy to deliver with the mild recoil and the very smooth single-action trigger.
My only complaint with this gun is one that applies to SIG Sauer pistols in general. The slide release lever is toward the rear of the slide, behind the decocking lever. This is nearly the same position that other guns have a thumb safety lever. If you generally use a high thumb position, such as commonly used in shooting a 1911 type pistol, you will likely be riding the slide stop lever and preventing the gun from locking open on the last round. This is primarily a training issue, but it’s something to be aware of if you plan to transition between gun types.
There is no question that SIG builds a high-quality pistol. The SIG P229 is already a nicely sized gun for carry. The SAS version adds the “carry melt” that makes the gun much more functional in a concealment holster. When you consider the accuracy and ease of handling of this gun, there is no question it is an excellent choice for concealed carry. The thick grip of the P229 may be too large for some people with small hands, but if the gun fits your hand, you will not be disappointed with its performance.
Some buyers will balk at the price of the P229 SAS, which was retailing for $1,108. Actual street prices are somewhat less. The gun can be purchased for under $1,000 in many places. While it is certainly true that a Glock 19 can be purchased for several hundred dollars less, and provide very similar functionality, that represents one of the classic conundrums over “value.” A Chevy and a Cadillac will both get you where you want to go, but a Cadillac will get you there in style. The SIG P229 SAS Gen 2 is definitely the Cadillac of carry guns.
(Prices as of March 2011)
Duane A. Daiker is a regular guy — not much different from you. He has been a lifelong shooter and goes about his life as an armed, responsible and somewhat opinionated citizen. Duane can be contacted at [email protected] or through his Facebook page. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.