SiG Sauer P-220 Carry .45 ACP Pistol

By David Tong

Sig P-220 Carry
Sig P-220 Carry. Illustration courtesy of SiG Sauer, Inc.

A brief history of the P220 is in order. The original P220 was the first pistol developed in the collaboration between the Swiss company Schweitzer Industrie Gesellschaft and J.P Sauer and Sohn of Germany (, in the mid-1970s. Originally offered in 9mm Luger and .45 ACP, this alloy and steel pistol was the first to introduce the modified Browning short recoil system using a squared breech block abutting the edge of the ejection port to provide locking, rather than the original design using annular locking lugs mating to a matching, mirror image internally machined slide. This design saves machine time, material use and makes cleaning easing for the user.

The original P220 had a European heel type magazine release rather than the more conventional left side mounted thumb push button. With a 4.4” barrel, it was a full-sized service pistol, although lighter than prior generation, all steel sidearms.

The P220 Carry

The Carry is based on the P220, which SiG Sauer claims is the most accurate .45 Auto in the world out of the box. The Carry differs from the original P220 in that it has a shorter 3.9” barrel on the standard size frame and adds the nearly de rigueur accessory rail machined onto the dust cover, to allow the fitment of laser aiming devices or flashlights. However, fitting these things onto a pistol called “Carry” seems somehow inappropriate. The heel type magazine release has been replaced by the familiar American push button type.

The "Commander size" P220 Carry is available in 13 variations, based on frame material (aluminum or steel), finish (silver or black), trigger system (SA, DAK, SA/DA, short reset SA/DA), grips (plastic or wood) and extras (front strap checkering, beavertail grip, front cocking serrations, etc.). The basic black Carry is illustrated above. This version comes with a Nitron finished steel slide, black hard anodized aluminum alloy frame, standard SA/DA trigger group and black plastic grips. Weighing 30.4 ounces empty (almost four ounces heavier than a 1960's vintage Colt Commander .45!), it must be considered a heavyweight compared to some of today's service type carry pistols.

The magazine capacity in .45 ACP remains eight, which means that the Carry has a full-length grip. While the single stack design is thinner than most of the double stack 9mm pistols, the wider round means that the length of the butt makes it a tad harder to wear concealed, which seems to be the pistol’s essential mission.

This depends, though, on just where one wears it. If one wears it strong side, behind the hip, FBI carry at a 15-degree rake, printing through clothing may be an issue, but if one wears it elsewhere, say, appendix carry inside the waistband, the shorter slide and barrel does make it more comfortable than the full length version, if one’s physiogamy allows this option. Some can, others can’t.

Handling and shooting brought no surprises, in that the Carry was as accurate as all the other examples of the German company’s products that this author has fired. Although it can do the job well in stock form, the long, double action, first trigger pull can be problematic for those with short index fingers and small hands. Factory-optional short triggers, as well as a Custom Shop conversion to a Short Reset Trigger, plus additional action work can make the Carry into a formidable and easy to handle defense piece. The pistol also comes in a more expensive version called the Carry Elite that already possesses the short reset trigger (SRT) modification, as well as select wood stocks, night sights and other extras.

The longer butt makes the pistol nicer handing and somewhat easier to control than a short butt weapon, such as the P229, though I think that the squared off trigger guard is a needless design feature. Few people actually use them, as they tend to make one’s grip less secure for recoil control or weapon retention purposes.

Accuracy is the forte' of SiG pistols and the P220 Carry was no exception. From a bench rest, the P220 Carry delivered consistant 1.5", 5-shot groups at 25 yards with factory loaded ammunition, excellent performance for a service pistol.

No SiG Sauer handgun is inexpensive, because quality never is. However, I cannot help but admire a handgun that can outshoot me from practical positions, even when I am having a good day at the range. This is no small praise, as having this level of confidence in your arm when a social encounter comes your way increases your chances of survival. What is that worth to you?

Specifications of standard P220 Carry

  • Item number: 220R3-45-B (with std. sights)
  • Grips: black polymer
  • Slide: steel, black Nitrex finish
  • Frame: black hard anodized aluminum alloy
  • Length overall: 7.1”
  • Width: 1.5”
  • Height: 5.5”
  • Barrel length: 3.9”
  • Weight: 30.4 oz. with empty 8 round magazine
  • Trigger: DA/SA; 10 lbs. DA first shot, 4.4 lbs. SA subsequent shots
  • Sights: steel von Stavenhagen “contrast” white dot over white post, or tritium night sights
  • Sight Radius: 5.7"
  • 2010 MSRP: $976 with contrast sights, $1,050 with night sights

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Copyright 2010, 2011 by David Tong. All rights reserved.