Gun Review: SIG SAUER P226 MK25

There are designs that transcend time. Like the 1911 handgun. Or the early Ford F-100. Or the P-51 Mustang. They’re designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional at the same time, which is why they tend to stick around. One such design is SIG SAUER’s P226, which has been a favorite of law enforcement, military and civilian shooters since 1984. SIG recently released the version used by the Navy SEALs for civilian sale, and one email later I had a box with my name on it on the way to my FFL . . .

The standard P226 is an over-engineered marvel of gunsmithing. Whether it’s the polished finish on the frame or the butter-smooth feel of the slide slipping back and forth on the rails, there’s just something about the design that shooters love. The fact that the things last forever doesn’t hurt either. My first P226 was a police trade-in I bought for $300 and despite YEARS of heavy wear, the thing never had a single malfunction and shot as straight as an arrow. Even my latest P226, a West German 1987 manufacture, has been running like a Swiss clock despite being older than I am (yep, you read that right).

But as with any gun, there were some things that could be improved upon from the original design. From the looks of things, SIG SAUER made a list of all those improvements, funneled them into a single design and then christened it the MK25.

When I showed the MK25 to Chris and Joe in Portland, they didn’t see much improvement over the standard design. “The only difference is the anchor! And for that price, it better be painted with ground-up unicorn horn.” And to the untrained eye there isn’t much new and different. But the reality is that while the changes are relatively minor, they come together to make something much better than a stock P226.

The first thing you notice (besides the gold pressed latinum anchor) is the rail on the front of the gun. While a rail might not be something that everyone thinks they need, take it from someone who just competed in a midnight 3-gun: you need ALL the light you can get when you’re shooting at night.

For that competition I didn’t have a light on my handgun and I really suffered for it. I could barely see the targets in the gloaming and a handgun light would have made everything much better. Like this TLR-1 that I have lying around.

Even if you’re never going to be running a midnight 3-gun or chasing bad guys in the dark of night, a light on a handgun is still something that is EXTREMELY desirable especially if you plan on using your pistol as a night table gun for home defense. Being able to ID your target before you pull the trigger is essential to keeping you and your family safe and felony free.

The only issue is that the very same rail makes it damn near impossible to find a holster to fit it. Since the shape of the holster is determined by what gadgets you throw on the rail, you’ll need to pick an illumination option and stick with it to use that holster (and if you take it off, the holster won’t quite work anymore). It makes holster selection annoying, but not impossible. Blade Tech and Safariland both have an assortment of holsters for various attachments available for purchase.

There are a couple other improvements over the original model that make this a superior handgun. First and foremost is the chunky external extractor on the slide, which is less prone to breaking than the original skinny extractor. It’s also much easier to replace.

Hand in hand with that change is the movement away from a removable bolt to one that’s integrated into the slide itself. That removes the need to replace the pins holding the bolt together every couple hundred thousand rounds. There has also been some lightening of the slide and refinement of its design that goes with the integration of the bolt.

There are some other nice upgrades as well like a chrome lined barrel, tritium night sights, and a 3-D barcode that makes inventory much easier in military armories (which actually isn’t a bad idea for my gun safe). But with all the improvements, the “feel” of the gun hasn’t changed. She’s the same old workhorse that I fell in love with oh those many years ago.

Its a functional gun that shoots well and is amazingly reliable — except when you use the crappy jam-tastic ProMag 30 round magazines.

Which isn’t to say I don’t have have some minor gripes with the gun.

When they upgraded everything else, they apparently forgot the trigger. The MK25 comes with the EXACT SAME trigger mechanism that I have on my 1987 P226. That means the first double action pull takes MILES and then the reset for each single action round after that is still quite long.

SIG has a trigger kit for the P226 called the SRT or Short Reset Trigger which would have made the trigger far superior to the existing P226, but they decided to leave it alone. The SRT will only set you back $50 and the consensus is that its easy to do by yourself, but it really should have been included. Then again, it wouldn’t have been EXACTLY IDENTICAL to the Navy SEALs MK25, so I guess that would have (a) added to the cost and (b) removed some of the cool factor of owning a Navy-issue MK25.

The other gripe I have also has to do with the trigger, but this one’s about the design of the blade itself. On my old SIG, the trigger blade is one solid piece of metal. On the MK25, though, there are some cutouts in the back of the trigger. I suppose it could be a weight saving measure to make the trigger lighter and faster, but I would have preferred my old solid design.

The MK25 is a good step forward in the P226 design, but the best part about it is that it is 100% compatible with existing gear for your P226 — except the holster.

Lights, lasers, magazines…everything that fits your old gun will fit your new one. And since this gun has been around for close to three decades there’s tons of stuff out there. I’ve got it set up right now as the perfect night stand home defense gun (just missing the silencer…), but it will work just as well as a 3-gun pistol and give you plenty of options should you ever find yourself needing to shoot at night.

Or you could just do what Joe Grine does and slap a pisol bayonet on it for laughs.

That’s what I like about the gun: it gives you options you didn’t have with the original design. And especially given that it’s only $100 – $200 more than a brand new P226, there really isn’t any reason not to go with a MK25.


Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Barrel: 4.4″
Overall: 7.7″
Weight: 34.0 oz. empty
Capacity: 15 (factory) / 18 (flush aftermarket) / 30 (lolwut)
MSRP: $1,000 (around $900 street)

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
All ratings are relative to other similar guns, and the final score IS NOT calculated from the constituent scores.

Accuracy: * * * * *
I regularly get one ragged hole in my target at the range.

Ergonomics (Handling): * * * *
For me, it’s perfect. If you have small hands it may be a little less perfect. The only reason I knocked a star off was the damned slide stop (see my review of the P226 for more on that feature).

Ergonomics (Firing): * * * * *
Besides the trigger issue I mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with this gun. Nothing at all.

Reliability: * * * * *
SIG has a habit of making extremely reliable handguns. My first P226 was made in the 1980s but ran thousands of rounds a year without a single issue.

Customization: * * * *
There are tons of accessories for this gun and especially thanks to the rail in the front, there are nearly unlimited options for how you can doll it up. There’s even a mount you can get that straps to the rail out front and provides a mounting surface for a red dot sight. But that rail also makes it tough to find a good holster, which made me drop a star off the end.

Overall Rating: * * * * 1/2
Give me an SRT trigger and we’ve got a deal, SIG. But for the money ($900ish at Bud’s Gun Shop) I really can’t complain.

Full Disclosure: This handgun is currently on loan from SIG SAUER for testing, but I am in the process of handing them cash in exchange for not having to ship it back. This will be P226 #3 for me.


About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

48 Responses to Gun Review: SIG SAUER P226 MK25

  1. avatarJason says:

    Gun lights for use as a nightstand gun?

    I’m surprised that you wouldn’t mention that there is some controversy in the use of gun mounted lights for home protection. Nothing like lighting up your kid whild in the process of IDing. Seems like a bad idea to me.

    • avatarGreg says:

      Better to light up your kid then shoot ‘em in the dark.
      The kid will get over it.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      Weapon lights are well worth it. There is a reason that they are used by police and military. They work. Target identification is crucial in home defense, and a weapon light is much easier to handle in a stressful situation than a gun and a flashlight. Try shooting groups with either method either slow fire or rapid fire.

      There is plenty of side spill on lights like the Streamlight TL-R pictured where you do not need to point the gun directly at your target to get a good ID.

  2. avatarWade says:

    What is the difference with the sights? I’ve been waiting for a review of this gun.

  3. avatarGA_Koenig says:

    Mr Leghorn seems to be confusing the P226 MK25 with an old-school P226 (of the stamped sheet metal slide variety).

    *All* modern P226s have:

    - A machined, single piece, stainless steel slide (a much more significant change than the switch from roll pins holding in the breach block to a single solid pin holding the firing pin).
    - A rail for a light mount.
    - External extractors.

    SIG has also had a “Navy” variant of the P226 out for a few years, in one form or another. The original ones were sold with a portion of the proceeds going to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

    What makes the Mk25 different from a P226 is a much shorter list (shorter on practical significance that is):

    - Chrome lined barrel. Relevant only to the .05% of shooters who would ever put the volume of fire through a P226 to wear out the barrel.
    - Phosphate coated interior components (as specified in the Navy contract).
    - Standard size P226 grips (new P226s all come with the slimmer, single piece E2 grips, which fit a lot more people a lot better).
    - A mil spec picatinny rail as opposed to the standard SIG contoured rail; this ensuring only 2-3 companies will ever make a Mk25 holster. Also, nicely confusing for folks who buy a P226 holster specified as working with a rail, only to find out that SIG uses 2 *different* rails on their guns.
    - The anchor engraving.

    The review should be changed to reflect the significant platform similarities between a Mk25 and a bog-standard modern production P226 and the very old school P226 that hasn’t been made in about a decade.

    • avatarBuzzy243 says:

      That is all well and good but I only want one because at has that cool anchor on the slide. Though it would be better if it had a trident on the slide and instructions on how to perform the super-secret Navy SEAL poser handshake.

  4. avatarLuigi says:

    Does it come with a bipod so you can put even more junk on it?

  5. avatarjwm says:

    the way i judge a handgun that i’ve never owned is to go to a rental range and try it. rental guns are horribly abused. the old red headed step child treatment. the 226 i tried was dripping crud and it still worked with the generic range loads that were provided with it. and as a side note; the magazine was easy to load by hand, something that can,t be said about all pistols.

    • avatarLoyd says:

      Ditto here. The first pistol I ever hot was 4 years ago at the local range. It was a SIG P226-Navy. I know I put 2,000 rounds through it myself. Just went back to the range a few weeks ago. Same gun was still shooting strong… Right until the slide flew forward. The takedown pin had finally worn away.

  6. avatarAharon says:

    The Sig might be a $900 street price (msrp $1000) but then you have to add in the price of a laser light, flashlight, spare batteries, extra mags (you gotta buy those too) etc. Suddenly, the price is much higher.

  7. avatarMichæl says:

    A 3D barcode? That sounds nifty…

  8. avatarSig says:

    I love my P229. I can’t help but wonder about the flaking on the “9mm para” (clearly visible in the third from last photo), though. Mine and every other Sig Sauer I’ve seen has this, even when the pistol is relatively new. In fact, even the photo on the Sig Sauer catalog has it flaking away. It seems very strange to me. I’m tempted just to polish the remaining coating off so it’s at least uniform.

    • avatarJim Barrett says:

      If you get the “Action Enhancement Package” offered by Sig on many of their guns that really does smooth the trigger pull, they will do this for you. All of the guns that I have had “action enhanced” have come back with glistening metal barrels where the old coating used to be. Not sure why Sig still bothers blueing this part.

    • Thats what i did to my 226 polished the barrel hood and sides for the same reason it looks mint

      • avatarJohnD says:

        I saw your comment about polishing the barrel head on your 226 mk25. Mine is looking pretty crappy. After shooting for awhile do you see any wear marks on the polished surface? Any do’s and don’ts? Would you mind send me a picture of your gun. Any and all information is welcome. Thanks.

    • avatarAnthony says:

      I polished mine it looks mint

  9. avatarIce says:


    If personally buying this gun was a possibility, why not purchase an off-the-shelf model for the purpose of the review? A review of a gun sent to you directly by Sig is about as helpful to the average consumer as a Guns and Ammo cover story.

    Also, do people actually shoot SA/DA pistols in 3-gun??

    • To be honest, the review gun might be a better route to go. This one, for example, has already seen some heavy wear and didn’t even come from SIG cleaned up from the last reviewer to use it. She’s been run hard and put away dirty, which is something that we would need to spend thousands in ammo on before we got it to the same state.

      And yes, I shoot DA/SA in 3-gun. There aren’t many of us that do, though.

  10. avatarAfghan Vet says:

    I have a West German P226 9mm that I purchased on my 21st birthday in 1987. Since then I’ve probably put a least a quarter million rounds through it. I’ve replaced springs, pins and I wore out the original hard plastic grips (replaced with Houge) and even adapted it to shoot 9mm, .40sw & .357 sig. I was told I couldn’t do the conversion by SIG so I set out to do it anyway. It works beautifully in all three calibers. I also figured out how to convert it to .45 gap, but I shelved the idea because the ammo costs and the need to make a custom barrel. But after owning and using this pistol almost daily for half of my life it is just now needing a new barrel. I think the reason my barrel has lasted so long is because I was taught to clean my weapon every time I shoot it. I’ve also added the SRT to it recently and I really like the the way it resets. By far this is the pistol I feel is most like an extension of my own hand. My next favorites being the CZ-75BD & Series 70 1911. By far the 226 is the best browning design ever. (Browning BDA)

  11. avatarMike says:

    And for those with a trust or willing to befriend the ATF you can get a fab defense PDW kit that is ridiculous and is easy install

  12. avatarMRK says:

    I may have the dates wrong but I think it was 1983 when we got the Sig 226 on my dept. I carried it and three mags until 1996 when I retired. Had to qualifiy twice a year and shot it a lot in betwen. In 96 at my last qual used all three mags and nary a hiccup. Those mags had been used steadily all that time, by used I mean 15 rounds in them. And that pistol was deadly accurate, on the seven yard part of the qual, only a nice ragged hole. Almost impossible to miss. Anyway that W.German made pistol is till running only the mags have been rebuilt.

  13. avatarSEAL Gun Guy says:

    I just bought my first P226 and it is the MK25 variant. Nick is right, spend the extra money and get the 3D bard code and the cool little ship’s anchor on the slide. It might not carry the extra practical value of the Extreme of TacOps versions but they also don’t have a cool silver anchor on them. Now that I have on that looks so sweet I can’t decide if I want to shoot it or not.

  14. avatarChris says:

    My first SIG was bought new, in the yellowish box in 1989.
    Runs like a champ and is deadly accuate.
    Only modification was removing the stock sights and having adjustable sights installed. They stick out more, but saves having to experiment with different front sights.

    By comparison, my recently purchased SIG P239, while deadly accuate as well, does not have the same fit and finish of the W. German one. Every thing is “tight”. The DA trigger was ok and broke cleanly, but the SA was way off (measured > 7 lbs by a local gun smith). To their credit, SIG “adjusted” the trigger for free, including S&H.

    Now another problem has cropped up. The SA, although lighter, shows significant creep. After talking to CS, I decided to go the enhanced action route, but it’s going to cost me this time. Not what I’ve come to expect from SIG. Not after the beautiful P226 trigger.

    I’m not a big fan of the solid stainless steel slide either, but the heavier slide makes it possible to shoot .40 S&W and .357 SIG on the same frame, with only minor modification.

  15. avatarKiller Bee says:

    this from an enthusiast only legal to buy a handgun for 4 years at best?
    [at time of article posting]

    I don’t think so.. lost me completely at:
    “She’s the same old workhorse that I fell in love with oh those many years ago.”
    skipped the rest..

    I was off to Desert Storm when author was an infant [if even born yet] and I don’t even have many guns I can refer to that way.. including the m1911 I qualified with and carried or the many m9′s that followed.

    in reply to the comments regarding weapon mounted lights for home defense..
    absolutely – rule #4

    only redeeming quality of the article is the myriad of informative comments and replies.. most of which seem to be from folks well experienced with the platform – thanks for clearing up the article’s oversights.

  16. avatarTPearson says:

    Just received MK25, any break in precautions from you shooters, before I fire first rounds….

  17. avatarMike F. says:

    Hello friends,

    I own Sig Sauer P226 MK 25 and It was nearly impossible to find a holster for it. I heard about Garrett Industries, LLC from a friend and I decided to check them out. (

    Long story short I found the perfect holster for my MK25 and I conceal it everyday. Garrett Industries, LLC makes IWB and OWB holsters for all kinds of pistols. It’s a great small business and veteran owned.

    I strongly recommend everyone to check them out!


  18. avatarJim L says:

    Crossbreed Supertuck fits MK25 just fine. The full size rail is not a problem, and neither is a threaded barrel (although the threaded barrel protector will tend to wear a hole in your pants if you don’t reinforce that area with a patch or something).

  19. avatarcommonwealth109 says:

    I have many holsters for my MK25, yes there are some that won’t fit due to the chunky rail – but there are tons that do. Just try some out. I have deSantis leather ones (2) that fit, a SigTac low profile polymer with retention that I love, and found one of my custom leather holsters for another full-size auto works well too – not to mention another existing holster I have for autos (like nylon/denim or something like that) works great too.
    It’s really a non-issue and having a standard size rail is much preferable to the other Sig proprietary rail. The MK25 (with the SRT kit for the trigger installed, yes it sucked paying for that on top of the gun) is the best performing P226 I have shot, plus it has the most rust proofing on a handgun you can get. It is sort of an updated, modernized P226 you could say – and for a gun born in the 1980′s I like that part of it.

  20. avatartomjnewsom says:

    My son is a u.s. marshal. What model sig in 9mm do you folks recommend?
    I appreciate any input from anyone. Thanks guys!

  21. avatarMrTuna says:

    All those great features on the MK25 are found on other models except the chrome lined barrel and phosphate coated decocking lever. I got a P226 Tactical Operations for $905 that had the SRT and a TFO front sight for easier pickup in IDPA matches. The SRT is not easy to install for the average end user. If I bought the MK25 I would have to put $150 into it to get it how I want it. The 3D bar code is a cheap sticker that falls right off. The M11-A1 is a better fake military Sig model.

  22. avatarRick says:

    Sig is NOT a quaility firearm. There customer service is the worst. Paid a 1000 bucks for 1911, never shot it just worked the slide and the frame was cutting into the slide. Sig was worthless, said until I shot it, they would not look at it, after I shot they said I have put 500 rounds, then they wanted me to pay for shipping, then they wanted pictures, then they wanted me send on the slide in since it was scratched, two weeks later they said they needed the frame. Two months later they said they are busy and I will get my gun back after they look at it and decide it is a warranty issue. Later they call and say my warranty is VOID since I polished the feed ramp and any modification to the gun without them doing for 200 bucks, voids the warranty.

    They suck on many levels – if you buy one of their Yugo’s you get what you get good luck, if it does not work when you need it, dead men don’t sue, and Sig knows it.

    Unethical, unprofessional and frauds…

    • avatarjimmyjames says:

      See lots of Sig love and lots of Sig hate. Folks either seem to get a good un or a bad un. I got a bad M400E and my work mate got a bad Mosquito. I let Sig customer service walk all over me the first time I called and after talking to a person with much more gun knowledge than myself he told me to call them back and DEMAND SATISFACTION one way or the other. Fix it or give me my money back. They fixed it and I sold it. I wont keep a “fixed” gun. Having said all that I’ve bought 2 more sig rifles that work just fine. The P226 has a legendary reputation but I remember 20 years ago, shooting IPSC, folks showing up to the matches with their new wonder 9, getting their butts spanked by glocks and coming back next week with a glock. Never shot a sig P226 but I would love to and find out it is the end all be all of wonder 9′s but I doubt it.

  23. avatara anthony capoccia says:

    i have a sig sauer p226. I would like to get a sig sauer p226 mk25. Can I get it in Mass?

    • avatarJohn says:

      Sig’s website indicates the Mk25 is not available in CA or MA however I bought mine in CA. The CA version had a “loaded chamber” indicator on top of the slide behind the ejection port. That’s the only obvious difference. I don’t know if MA has the same stupid requirements as CA.

      PS I holster mine in an Safariland 6378-477-411.

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  26. avatarDave says:

    My first handgun was a p-226 used former duty gun. Well worn on all edges and unknown years/rounds of use. I sent it back to SIG for their service package and install of the SRT. IMHO, if you need a no BS, reliable weapon in 9mm you cannot do better. SIG support is excellent. Buy used, send it back for an overhaul and shoot forever in confidence.

  27. avatarDil says:

    Ok, so this kid who was 24-25 years old then is telling us how he “fell in love with” this pistol “oh so many years ago”? “YEARS of heavy wear”? “The things last forever”? And how many armorer’s courses have you graduated from? Other than being a “gun nerd” what are your qualifications, and justification for obviously having had guns as a teenager or tween?

    And I love the statement: “That removes the need to replace the pins holding the bolt together every couple hundred thousand rounds.” Ok, so once every couple years, or if EVER for a normal human being, you MIGHT have to replace a PIN? Yup, GREAT advantage.

    Lost all credibility with me…and does he REALLY have a 3D scanner to keep “inventory” of all the guns in his safe? How many of his pistols have that P226 Navy barcode? And he puts a light and a 30 round magazine on his pistol…then gripes about how the trigger cutouts could be a weight saving factor?

    Sorry, Nick. Stick to “modern warfare”, “blackops” and “world of warcraft” with your other friends. You need a bit more credibility if you’re going to post this kind of stuff. Go work for Guns ‘n Ammo for a few years then come back. I’ve been in the military for 24 years and I still wouldn’t consider myself experienced enough to post this stuff.

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