New Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Silver Part 2 Part 1
Adding target pistol style to the legendary Navy SEAL sidearm
By Dennis Adler
I would venture to say that no two military sidearms have had more heroic roles in modern U.S. history than the Colt Government Model 1911 and Sig Sauer P226; the Colt for nearly all of the 20th century, including two world wars, and the Sig with various branches of the military and government agencies, including Navy SEAL teams since the 1980s. The P226 X-Five CO2 models fall into that exemplary category of highly desirable, quality-built handguns with military history, even though the X-Five variants were not standard military issue, but rather dedicated target pistols.
The success of the P226
Much like Colt’s 1911, Sig Sauer’s P226 (P226 MK25) have been proven in battle around the world by elite military units including Navy SEALs since 1985. The characteristics that make the 9mm P226 desirable for the military also make the blowback action CO2 model one of the best-handling .177 caliber air pistols around. The P226 is a gun (and airgun) built to high performance standards and designed for heavy use. The Sig was engineered to be easily operated even while wearing tactical gloves, thus every control is large, has serrated or checkered surfaces, and is easy to operate either right or left handed. The CO2 model is true to the original DA/SA P226 design except for having a decocker, which is not found on all P226 models, and was not on the X-Five target model (which had a single action trigger).
Among the various government firearms trials that have been held over the decades to find a replacement for the Colt M1911A1, the Sig Sauer P226 was originally developed for the 1984 military trials as a variation of the P220. And while the 1911 came away unscathed by the Sig, it fell to the Beretta M9 (92FS) in 1985 (which came in at a lower overall cost per unit). The P226, however, also won in its own right being adopted by numerous government agencies in the 1980s (as well as other P220/P226 variants like the P228 and P229). Navy SEALs decided to go with the more rugged Sig Sauer P226 than the Beretta M9. And the P226 line also found its way into the mainstream civilian firearms market (including the X-Five series for competition shooting), as well as state and local law enforcement, who have adopted a number of P226 variations, some with special trigger (DAO) systems for law enforcement use. The P226 has been a success story from day one even after losing out to the Beretta as the standard issue military sidearm. Of course, this year Sig’s military version of the P320 succeeded where the P226 failed, becoming the new U.S. Army military sidearm.
Facts in hand
I am a semi-ambidextrous shooter, i.e., I can shoot left handed if I have to and this lets me operate ambidextrous guns so I can deliver an objective opinion. Left handed the slide release on the P226 (P226 X-Five) can be easily activated with the left trigger finger on the reload. Either thumb safety is easy to activate. Even the oversized, grooved magazine release on the left side of the frame (reversible on the 9mm guns) can be easily activated with the left hand trigger finger on the CO2 model. There are really no significant compromises that left-handed operators have to endure with the P226.
Right-handed users will find this gun incredibly easy to handle for the same reasons, and the oversize triggerguard leaves ample room for a gloved finger well relieved from the trigger face.
It’s pretty safe to say that none of us will be going on a SEAL mission (and if a couple of you are, you’re not taking the CO2 model with you), so why place so much emphasis on handling this airgun with tactical gloves? If the gun is that easy to handle with a gloved hand, imagine how smoothly it operates without one!
I was impressed with the P226 X-Five CO2 model when it first came out, (as well as the 9mm P226 which I had tested for Combat Handguns), so the .177 caliber Sig became one of my regular “on hand” CO2 test guns and excelled every time I ran it up against another CO2 model, even the highly rated (by me) Umarex S&W M&P40 and Beretta 92A1. The Sig is almost unbeatable for handling and impressive accuracy. The only thing missing from the first model was an adjustable rear sight. We got that with the P226 X-Five Open, including a chance to have a version with a faux ported compensator and an optics bridge, but it wasn’t quite as accurate as the standard P226 X-Five CO2 model. What I learned from that review in Airgun Experience No. 122 was that the two-stage trigger on the Open model wasn’t quite as smooth as the standard model’s trigger, and not having a white dot front sight on the Open model also slightly reduced accuracy.
Now here we are with the latest Sig X-Five model decked out in a striking two-tone finish, wood grained grips and an adjustable rear sight. How does this gun stack up aside from superior looks? Let’s start at the trigger.
The P226 X-Five Open had a DA/SA trigger with a single action trigger pull averaging 3 pounds, 10 ounces, with 0.438 inches of take up, slight stacking during the second stage of the pull, and a very short 0.25 inch release to reset. The latest Sig CO2 model has a trigger pull that feels almost identical to the Standard model, although with the back of the adjustable rear sight blocking the front half of the hammer it is not easy to manually cock the hammer. Of course, after the first double action shot this is a moot point.
Average SA trigger pull on the new model, which for simplicity will now be called the X-Five Silver, measured 3 pounds, 4.2 ounces. The standard X-Five re-tested at an average 3 pounds, 2.5 ounces. That puts the X-Five Silver not exactly in the middle but leaning toward the lighter side of the three guns. Take up with the two-stage trigger on the X-Five Silver measured 0.375 inches and again with a quick reset. Double action trigger pull (for the first shot) averaged 9 pounds, 5.5 ounces, and 9 pounds, 6.0 ounces on the Standard model.
First target test
The first test was with Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs fired from 21 feet at a 10 meter target. All shots are single action (first shot with cocked hammer) using a two-handed hold and Weaver stance. The Umarex steel BBs clocked an average of 347 fps from the X-Five Silver’s 4.875 inch smoothbore barrel. The barrel is recessed 0.25 inches from the 9mm threaded muzzle, so actual internal barrel length is 4.625 inches from the breech to the front of the smoothbore barrel. The ProChrono chronograph clocked the X-Five Silver with a low of 342 fps, a high of 351 fps, one shot at 343 fps, another at 350 fps, a double at 351 fps, and a standard deviation for six shots of only 3 fps.
At 21 feet from the target, the first test with the P226 X-Five Silver delivered a best 10 shots at 0.875 inches and a best 5-shot group measuring 0.5 inches. At this point the X-Five Silver is looking like an even match for the P226 X-Five standard model. But can it be improved?
In the Part 3 conclusion, improving the sighting picture and a final shooting evaluation with three different types of BBs.
A Word About Safety
Blowback action models provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. The Sig Sauer P226 X-Five models a little more than others. Most blowback action airguns look like real centerfire handguns, but those based on models like the Sig Sauer are even more difficult to distinguish at a glance. It is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell the difference between a blowback action airgun and a cartridge gun. Never brandish them in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.