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Review

SIG Sauer P226 Heavy Weight
  • Manufacturer 
     Tanaka Works
  • Model 
     SIG Sauer P226 Heavy Weight
  • Capacity 
     15
  • Weight 
     681
  • Power 
     250
  • Power Source 
     HCF134
  • Blowback 
     YES
  • Hop-up 
     ADJUSTABLE
  • Shooting Mode 
     Semi
  • Construction 
     

Pros

 

Cons

 

Verdict

 

SIG Sauer P226 Heavy Weight SIG is an old company, tracing its origins back to 1853. In an effort to expand sales to the world market, it had to circumvent certain laws that prevented the importation of SIG weapons into various countries. One of these countries included Germany and SIGs strategy was to team with J.P. Sauer & Sohn to produce a variation of its pistols, dubbed as the SIG Sauer series. Based in Germany, Sauer traces its origins back to the 1800s and has been known over the years for first-rate small arms.

The P226, a variant of the original P220 introduced in 1975 that was designed for the Swiss Military as the replacement to the M49, is one of the most popular guns in the SIG Sauer lineup. The SIG Sauer was also once considered by the US Department of Defense when it was looking to procure a standardized side-arm.

While SIG Sauer built the guns that were submitted for tests, part of the deal for the winner required that the guns be manufactured in the US. As such, SIG Sauer teamed with Maremont Corporation who had negotiated rights for all marketing and production of the gun in the US. Thats why you may have heard the P226 referred to the "Maremont P226" in the context of these tests. Test results indicated that the P226 and Berettas 92F were about even on performance and reliability, and Beretta finally won the contract simply due to a lower price tag.

But that does not mean that Sig Sauger was left out in the cold. The P226 is widely used in many different countries by their law enforcement and army units such as the Japanese Self Defense Army Units. In the US, the SIG-Sauer P226 was designated as an alternate pistol for some government organizations wishing to adopt the pistol; consequently, while the Beretta Model 92 is normally seen in the hands of Army officers, U. S. elite troops and many government agents carry the SIG-Sauer P226, preferring it over the Beretta pistol.

Tanaka has faithfully reproduced the P226 in great detail - the finishing and quality of fit is visually as pleasing as the real steel version. Look down the barrel and youll even see rifling marks on the inner surface. The manufacturer and capacity (9mm) markings are cleanly pressed into the slide and chamber cover of the gun. At 830g (heavy weight version), the Tanaka version weighs a little more than a real unloaded P226 (802g). Tanakas standard version weighs a mere 700g. The P226 is constructed mostly out of high quality ABS plastic, making up the entire lower body, slide, and outer barrel. The grip is well textured in a mesh pattern. Metal parts include the groove lined trigger, magazine, magazine release button, hammer, decocking lever, lower slide rail, slide lock, slide release lever, and front/rear sights.

The P226 is enjoyable to shoot and the blowback action is quite crisp and powerful, thanks to the Magna Blowback system. Performance with a 0.2g BB is averaged at 230fps (0.5 joules) using 134a gas and 280fps (0.7 joules) using Top Gas. A two inch grouping can be obtained from 20 feet; not terribly accurate but enough to take out your target in CQB situations. Just like the real steel version, front and rear sights are both drift adjustable for windage and can be shifted left and right in their dovetail grooves. There is no elevation adjustment though. The rear sight has a white marking below the notch and the front is marked with a white bead. Pulling the slide back recesses the chamber cover and moves a series of other mechanical parts that all contribute to a series of nice sounding "clicks" and "clacks". Trigger pull is short, stiff (consistent throughout travel of the pull), and precise, reeling the gun back as a round is expelled.

Unlike the real steel version which uses a combination safety/decocking lever, the safety on the Tanaka P226 comes in the form of a small sharp lever at the rear of the gun, below the hammer. (the lever looks like a gear located to the lower right of the hammer clearly seen in the picture above) In decocked mode, pushing up on the lever deactivates the single action trigger pull function. Once cocked, this safety takes no effect and the gun will fire upon trigger pull. Weve found this safety to be quite useless and cumbersome to operate. On 3 out of 5 P226's we've come across, the safety fails to operate and falls back into the firing position as soon as you lift your finger off of it. The same problem is prevailant on its sister P228.

The P226s Hop-Up system is adjusted through a hex nut located on the bottom side of the loading chamber, which becomes accessible after slide removal (see picture above - small nut is located about an inch rearward of slide spring). The all-metal magazine is quite heavy and holds 15 rounds. The SIG Sauer and P226 markings are very well pressed into the body of the magazine. As seen to the left, they come in both silver and black, where the former is sold separately. Tanaka has been known for magazine valve leaks and we experienced this on occasion after intensive use. Our remedy has been to smear a small amount of Marui silicone grease (the white kind) on the valve O-rings and voila - the leaks have disappeared.
Our long term test P226 is a heavy weight version fitted with a metal slide and integrated outer-barrel/chamber cover. Along with metal plating reinforced custom grips from Pachmayr, this brings the weight of our test piece close to 1,000g. The grips are large so if you have small hands, think twice before you make this upgrade. The metal slide upgrade makes the gun much more realistic and the sound of impacting metal as the gun cycles is quite melodious. The tradeoff is that the P226 loses some its crispness in blowback using the heavier metal slide. Some of this negative effect is lessened by installing a high-flow valve. Together with Green Gas, our P226 consistently shoots at 280fps using 0.2g BBs. Weve had one instance of the valve closure latch breaking and expelling an entire gas charge in the form of full auto for 3 rounds. The problem was later attributed to lack of lubrication and frequent slamming of the magazine into the gun, which we have since refrained from doing of course (see diagram to the right). This latch is used to close the valve as the slide blows back on each shot.

Without it, the WA valve would stay open and expel the entire gas charge. A truly versatile sidearm, the P226 has long been the choice of elite armies and law enforcement officers.
Even in airsoft form, many have elected for the P226 both for its style and reliability.

If pure power is what you're looking for, then this is not the gun for you. If style and ergonomics are what do it for you, then this is as good as it gets!

Written By RedWolf
Photos by RedWolf
April 2, 1999
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