SIG-Sauer P229: The Four-Caliber Solution Pistol
By David Tong
Having been an admirer of the SIG-Sauer line of handguns for their accuracy, durability and reliability, and owning a series of them for the best part of a decade, none speak to me as well as the P229. While it is not a lightweight pistol by any means, at around 30 ounces empty, the P229 has one un-heralded attribute that most pistols do not, hence the title of this article.
Available new at your dealer chambered in .40 S&W, the P229 is a relatively compact, although thick, service pistol. Federal agencies, such as the Secret Service, Federal Air Marshals and I.C.E., use this pistol in preference to larger arms.
The P229 underwent a slide modification a few years ago that I find off-putting. SIG decided to enlarge the slide's rear cocking serrations to mimic that of their mainstay's P220 and P-226 by widening the slide. By doing this, they have made the relatively compact P229 a fair bit heavier. This also degrades the nice balance and point-ability of the original model, as does the proprietary accessory rail on the frame. The original American-manufactured, slim slide P229 "Classic" is apparently no longer available, which is a shame.
Since the first decade of the 21st Century, we shooters have seen a dramatic rise in the retail cost of ammunition. Anyone who has tried to buy common factory loaded ammunition, such as .22 LR, .45 ACP, .223 Remington and .308 Winchester, has seen prices double or more in the past decade. Worse than that, often times the popular rounds are not even available on local shelves, due to the Obama inspired ammo shortage and also because a subset of shooters/hoarders have bought it up out of fear, rightly or wrongly.
Around 2003, I was still able to buy .45ACP practice ammo for about $10/box. Now, I am seeing the same standard hardball going for $22-$25/box. That does not work well for the non-reloader, or someone who engages in adequate practice.
What is particularly compelling about the P229 is that it is capable of handling .22 LR (via a factory conversion unit), 9mm Parabellum, .357 SIG and .40 S&W. The latter two are even use the same recoil spring assembly and magazines, needing only a barrel change to accomplish the caliber switch. A recent add to the SIG-Sauer parts catalogue was a 9mm conversion barrel for the P229, without a change to the extractor necessary, just a new ejector and magazine.
Relevant 2015 MSRPs:
While the .22 LR and the .357 SIG rounds remain either more difficult to get or pricey, this multi-caliber capability means that a savvy shooter can enjoy target practice and action shooting drills with any of these four rounds. I think this combination of proven reliability and ammunition versatility makes the P229 a good pistol for all reasons and seasons, no matter your caliber bent.
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