How's the Sig 220?


January 29, 2003, 09:20 PM
I was thinking about getting one. Help me out with information. Thanks!

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Stephen Ewing
January 29, 2003, 09:28 PM
Is this a trick question?

Aside from being possibly the finest service handgun ever built, it's not too bad.


Marko Kloos
January 29, 2003, 09:33 PM
The SIG P220 is the best .45 caliber DA/SA handgun on the market, bar none. Ergonomic, very accurate, extremely reliable, and very well made. It's one of the finest service handguns ever built, and it enjoys a stellar reputation.

Stephen A. Camp
January 29, 2003, 09:34 PM
Hello. I bought a SIG-Sauer P220 ten years ago after seeing some very fine shooting with them at the Texas Department of Public Safety firing range while taking a course there. While I'd casually shot some of this maker's line, I'd never really "worked" with them. Seeing what could be done with a stock DA/SA automatic "forced" me to buy one. My P220 has the older internal design and all-metal "sharp" spur hammer. When decocked using the lever, it drops to kind of a half-cock position rather than farther forward as on current versions of the pistol. I think I like the older version better as the DA pull is considerably shorter. The gun has the green paint-marked recoil spring which I think is a bit heavier than earlier recoil springs. I've shot the pistol over the years to keep my "hand in" with it as I use it as a "house pistol," but have not really tried to see what it'll do with various factory loads. (I didn't include handloads on this report although this pistol's worked fine with them except for CSWCs when more than 5 rounds are loaded in the magazine; it jams, but only with the semiwadcutters.)

The Pistol: This gun's stock as a stove except for a piece of skateboard tape on the smooth front grip strap. It came with two 7 rnd magazines.

This picture shows the pistol with the hammer decocked via the decocking lever and the position it rests in for a DA shot.

Sights are quite usuable out of the box and in this particular case, "on" out of the box. Their design is kind of plain compared to many others, but they DO work in slowfire and at speed.

The front lever is the take-down lever while those nearest the thumb are "reversed" in that the foremost one is the decocker while the rear one is the slide release. I did find myself pressing the wrong one on a couple of ocassions.

Ammunition Used: Seven factory rounds were used, 2 being ball loads with the rest being more in tune with self-defense usage.

Left to Right: Federal Classic 230 gr JHP, Federal 230 gr HydraShok, Corbon 200 gr JHP +P (Old, discontinued bullet), Corbon 165 gr PowRball +P, Remington 230 gr Golden Saber, Sellier & Bellot 230 gr FMJ, and Winchester USA 230 gr FMJ.


Stephen A. Camp
January 29, 2003, 09:35 PM

Targets & Shooting: Shooting was done standing, single-action, two-hand hold and slow-fire unless otherwise noted. Distances: 10, 15, 25, and 50 yards.

15 Yards: These are 5-shot groups. Left Column, top to bottom: Corbon 200 gr JHP, Corbon 165 gr PowRball, Federal Classic 230 gr JHP. Middle: Federal 230 gr HydraShok. Right Column, top to bottom: Remington 230 gr Golden Saber, S&B 230 gr ball, and Winchester USA 230 gr ball.

25 Yards: I may have somehow miscounted, but this is supposed to be 10 shots of S&B ball. Looks like it might be 12 or so! Oh, well...

50 Yards: This 10-shot group was fired sitting at a bench with my wrists resting on a box covered with a jacket, single-action and slow fire.

Ammunition was Winchester USA 230 gr ball.

10 Yards: Statistically at the outter edges of the defensive scenario, I chose this distance as it would magnify errors or difficulties getting quick, accurate shots inherent to either the pistol ..........or the shooter! Ammunition used was Federal's 230 gr HydraShok as it seems to be pretty popular with many shooters.

This target consists of 5 controlled pairs, the first round of each being fired double-action. I suspect they are the low hits. Didn't have a timer, but I estimate each pair at a second or so. Not fast as some to be sure, but about what I can do.

Each shot of this 10-shot group was fired double-action to see how it would/wouldn't affect groups. Accuracy seems fine, but for me, it does slow up both controlled pairs as well as just slow-fire single shots.

Observations: While felt recoil is subjective, the pistol "kicks" no more to me than the most obvious one to compare it with, Colt's LW Commander. However, muzzle flip does seem slightly greater with the P220.

There were no malfunctions of any kind with today's tests and all cases were ejected to the right approx. 12 to 15,' with the Corbon 200 gr +P hulls going the greatest distance.

I did note "primer wipe" with both standard and +P ammunition. I don't know if this means that a stronger firing pin spring's needed or if the pistol begins to unlock quicker than it should. No cases showed unusual swelling near the base so it's likely the former...or just common to this model SIG-Sauer. Perhaps those more familar with the gun can answer this.

For what it's worth, I have a large stock of the older Corbon 200 gr +P JHP using the older bullet and will likely continue to use that in the pistol for "serious" purposes, although I'm looking more and more at the PowRball. Any of the JHPs shown in today's tests should work fine in my opinion.

While I personally like the single-action automatic better, these pistols "shoot," are reliable in my experience EXCEPT w/SWCs, and are very viable defensive arms. I have seen a few SIG-Sauers crack frames at the slide rails, but have seen breakages in other makes as well.

Here's the pistol compared to the LW Commander:


January 29, 2003, 09:40 PM
Are the older ones better or worse than the new ones? If so, how? Mr. Camp mentioned the DA pull is shorter on older models. How old does the gun have to be to have that shorter pull?

Thanks. I never had a Sig of any kind before.

January 29, 2003, 09:47 PM
The "primer wipe" is common to SIG's. Every one I have ever shot does that.

Can't vouch for this, but I remember reading somewhere that this is an intentional design feature - supposedly to keep the firing pin extended through the breech face throughout cycling and prevent powder crud from blowing back into the firing pin channel.

Stephen Ewing
January 29, 2003, 09:48 PM
Min, if it says "made in W. Germany" that's usually a pretty good indication. If it doesn't, it's not so bad, because a fella named Teddy Jacobsen lives right near us in Sugarland, and he's one of the greatest in the country. He's in the phone book under "Actions by T" and also on the web under the same name. The things that man can do to a Sig trigger for $150 are amazing.


January 29, 2003, 09:50 PM
Well, I will pipe up from the other side of the fence. I just don't like the 220. The grip is larger than I am confortable with, feels somewhat blocky. I feel that muzzle flip is excessive too, much more so than a 1911 IMO.

They are darn accurate on average, and dead reliable too. I can shoot one pretty well, and would not feel one bit undergunned with one. That said I just don't like the 220. None of the Sig lineup does anything for me, but I like them substantially better than some of the others out there.

My advise to you is to shoot one some before plunking the cash down on one.

BTW, a NIB 220 in 38 super (euro mag release style) is available for purchase if anyone wants it.

January 29, 2003, 09:50 PM
is a great SIG FAQ page.

The question about the different trigger mechanism is addressed.

As is the issue of the primer wipe (I knew I'd read that somewhere...)

Stephen A. Camp
January 29, 2003, 09:50 PM
Hello. I couldn't give you the date which the internal decocking system changed, but I bought the one shown in '92. I've not done anything with a P220 that's newer other than occassional shooting of one now and again at the range. They group fine and were reliable. Having never compared one against those made when mine was or earlier, I cannot say which, if any, are better, worse, or equivalent. I do like the decocking feature on those of my gun's "age" as the length of the DA pull is reduced, but whether or not it's superior or inferior to others, I cannot say.


January 29, 2003, 09:51 PM

Stop your fence-sitting and get one already! Any steel frame SigSauer gun is going to outperform for you no matter what needs you may have. You can talk yourself in circles and continue to micro-nitpick, but at least go & rent one to see for yourself.

Stephen, that is one huge mitt you've got! Are you sure that it aint a big toe in the picture? ;)

January 29, 2003, 09:51 PM
Are there some Sig 220's that are not made in Germany? Where else if not Germany?

BTW, those are awesome 15 yard targets - wow.

Stephen A. Camp
January 29, 2003, 09:58 PM
Hello, antsi, and thanks.


Kahr carrier
January 29, 2003, 10:17 PM
Boy that was a good Sig thread thx Mr Camp.:)

Stephen A. Camp
January 29, 2003, 10:21 PM
Hello. Thanks. Glad you liked it.


Stephen Ewing
January 29, 2003, 10:47 PM
Min, the fine print is "WEST Germany" which obviously dates things a little.

They're doing final assembly in the US now to (AFAIK) avoid a 20% import duty, so the guns say "Frame made in Germany" and they're missing the German proof marks, and don't have matching serial numbers on slide and barrel. Still darned impressive guns by any standard.


January 30, 2003, 11:38 AM
With a report as well done as Stephen A. Camp has posted, its pretty evident that the 220 is a fine firearm. Add to that the many many fans SIG Arms has is also a tribute to their dedication to quality.
That said, the only one I've had experience w/ is one I bought a couple years ago & by all accounts it was a lemon. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you get a chance to fondle & inspect the one you buy before you buy it, do so ;) you should do fine!

January 30, 2003, 11:42 AM
What about the aluminum alloy frame? Doesn't aluminum get weaker over time?

The reason I'm asking is I've got a deal pending on a 10-12 year old P220, made in West Germany.

January 30, 2003, 11:50 AM
My 220TT is an absolute pleasure to shoot and has never had any malfunctions.

January 30, 2003, 12:00 PM
You might want to consider the 220ST as well. Mine operates flawlessly! :D

January 30, 2003, 12:19 PM
The ONLY reasons I traded mine off were:

1. I wanted a 1911 to make into a Limited-10 gun (SA trigger, inexpensive mags, etc.)
2. I'd bought the 220 b/c I thought I would be getting into Law Enforcement & they're popular here. When my career went another direction, I didn't need it as bad.

It had the best DA/SA trigger I've ever tried. The transition from DA to SA was hardly noticeable. And it was uber-accurate. Great shooter.

I sometimes think about going back to the gunstore to buy it back...:banghead:

January 30, 2003, 12:20 PM
IMHO the Sig P220 is the finest double action 45 auto extant. I prefer the 1911, but the Sigs are great pistols. I owned a 220 and it shot great. My son in law was working as an armored car guard and was issued a beat up S&W 38 revolver. Single action autos and Glocks were not allowed, but double action private autos were. I bought him a Sig P220 because it was in my best interest to keep him alive! He has since changed jobs, but still carries the 220. I give the 220 my highest endorsement. Watch-Six

January 30, 2003, 12:29 PM
I can't get a Beretta Cougar or H&K pistol in this state. :mad: The Sig 220 is the only .45 I'd consider buying and spending my hard to come by money on. Just haven't seen another gun in this state really worth the investment. I'd say if you can't get a Beretta or H&K like me, it's your best bet.

January 30, 2003, 12:36 PM
I agree with what pretty much everybody else said: "The finest DA/SA 45 Auto made."

Haven't got one but got the P226 which is the same gun in 9mm with 15 shot mags. Also had a P229 in 357 SIG. Great pistols! :cool:

January 30, 2003, 12:42 PM
Sig P220s come in various configurations.

One is the original, with the alloy frame and stamped slide. This is the ones call P220. They are pretty robust. The alloy frame is lighter, but don't let the alloy frame's strength worry you. The barrel locks up to a steel 'block' in the alloy frame, so the lockup is steel-to-steel. The slide is a stamped slide, but the 45ACP is a low pressure round, and its perfectly up to the task. Also, the stamped slide allows you to remove the breech block if it ever needs replacing.

Another is the P220ST. This has two flavors now. The first is the one with the proprietary Sig frame rails that required an adaptor to put things like a combat light. Here, the frame is steel, and the slide is a milled slide. The gun is heavier than the alloy framed one. Good for recoil, not good for CCW. The newer P220ST has updated frame rails, which I think is a standard piccatiny (sp?) rail. No adapter to add accessories. Same milled slide.

Another is the P220S or P220 Sport. Its got a steel frame, milled slide thats been chopped at the front, and has an aluminum compensator bolted to the front by the frame rails. Compensator has the front sight, so it gives you a longer sight radius. I don't know if the P220 Sport will have the newer style frame rails. You can get a scope mount for the P220 Sport too.

If you are worried about long term reliability of the P220, I've read an article about a 10,000 round test written/done by one of those magazine publishers. It was pretty favorable.

Stephen A. Camp
January 30, 2003, 01:14 PM
Hello. It IS generally accepted that a steel-framed pistol will outlast the same model with an aluminum alloy frame. Usually, this requires many, many rounds. I am not a metallurgist, but have heard/read/been told that the results of the slide's repeated impacts with an aluminum frame is cumulative. Having said all that, as a police firearm instructor I recall seeing one officer using the same P220 for about 9 years with no problems. He was not a "heavy" shooter, but did shoot quite frequently besides training and qualifications. I've not shot my P220 nearly so much as my other aluminum-frame pistols like the Commander, but the Commander's been fired for many thousands of rounds with no problems.


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