Gun Review: SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite 10mm (JWT’s Truck Gun Series)

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Like most of the guns in the SIG line, the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite 10mm looks good, feels great in the hand and shoots well. The fourth, and final entry into my Perfect Truck Pistol series gets high marks. For those of you who think it’s just another 1911, think again.

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It’s a P220. It field strips like a P220, or like an FNX, or like the Berretta 92 series. It’s comprised of just four parts (plus the magazine). So it’s easy to take apart without tools, and just as easy to put back together.
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It’s pretty hard to get it wrong, and that’s one of the great features of this entire line of pistols. But it also isn’t as slim as a classic 1911 is, which made concealing the gun a bit of a challenge. Unlike the FNX-45 Tactical, it is doable.

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The weight would be too much for all day carry, but that’s not what this pistol is for. If you remember, one of the criteria for my truck gun choice: the pistol has to be concealable during trips into town (while suitable for hunting). Carrying the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite in an inside-the-waistband holster would be a challenge. But carrying the 10mm pistol in a high rise OWB holster tucked under a light jacket or loose shirt is not excessively onerous. The handgun is pretty inconspicuous carried this way.

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Right out of the box, I noticed one thing about this gun: the grip is outstanding. The G10 scales not only look good and extremely durable, they really lock my hand in place.

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Shooting the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite one-handed wasn’t quite as effective as single-handing the G40MOS, but that’s down to the SIG’s heavy trigger pull, not the grip. The handgun’s grip angle and shape make pointing natural and intuitive, and account for part of the firearm’s manageable recoil. Much like my SIG Legion P229, the gun just feels good in my hands. With that 60 seconds of foreplay over, it’s off to the range.

First rounds out, I found that the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite’s recoil was dreamy, or “totes adorbs”, or whatever the kids say nowadays. For comparison, I broke out my EDC and shot both guns against each other. Shooting them back to back, I was surprised at how the recoil of SIG’s 10mm matched the recoil from my aluminum framed 4″ STI in .45ACP. It’s definitely there, but not what you would expect from a 10mm at all.

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Like most of the guns in this caliber I’ve tested, the 220 10mm is a bit heavy, weighing in at 40oz on my scale with an empty magazine. This is an all steel gun. Steel framed with full length rails, slide, hammer, trigger, all-steel everything. Considering the pressure of the caliber, that’s warranted. But man, it sure does soak up the recoil. The spring is stiff, but not too heavy. Ease of shooting is partially the weight of the gun, but also the grip’s inherently good design.

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One thing SIG got right: the P220 SAO Elite’s sights — a flat black rear sight, fully adjustable, with a Tru Glow TFO front sight — are a great set up for hunting.  In low light, where I do a whole lot of pig hunting, the front sight really pops out.  It screams with NVGs on. And it’s big enough that during daylight that I had no problem picking up and tracking the sights in recoil during fast fire.

Like previous pistols in this series, all of my accuracy testing was done from the kneel, or off a bean bag I keep in my truck, as that’s how take most of my shots when pistol hunting. From the kneel and in slow fire, I was getting 2 13/4 to 3 inch five round groups at 25 yards. At 50 yards, shooting off the bean bag I keep in my truck, my best group was at 5 1/2″, and I was pretty consistent with that group at this range. Unlike many of the guns I test, this gun liked Hornady’s Critical Duty round.

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Not only did the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite feed the round without issue, it delivered solid 3″ groups at 25 yards and the better groups at 50 as well. With that load, the bullet is still just supersonic and delivers over 400ft-lbs of energy at 50 yards. That’s plenty for deer, pigs, and varmints in Texas.

A lot of people talk about how you need tough rifle round to take our pigs. And that’s certainly true of the big pigs. But those pigs are extremely rare. I’ve killed hundreds of pigs; very few of the vermin were over 250lbs. Most were around 100lbs or less, and the 10mm is plenty of bullet for that.

[The biggest pig I’ve ever killed weighed 390lbs, field dressed. It took a .270 soft point round through the shoulder at just over 100 yards. The round shattered the shoulder, but didn’t penetrate its vitals. The pig kept running. It did, however, slow down enough to finish it off with a 7mm round to the head at 40 yards.]

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The SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite had a first round failure to feed at the third magazine in the process. That was the only failure. As usual, I Rem Oiled the gun up well prior to shooting, but didn’t clean the big SIG in any way after that during the entire test. I shot American Eagle, Hornady,Critical Duty, and Blazer rounds for the test. Because 10mm ammo is both pricey and difficult to find in my neck of the woods, I shot just 200 rounds for the test — far fewer that I feel is necessary for a true reliability test. If I was going with a 10mm gun, I would certainly reload for the round.

The SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite is a great gun, well worth the money. But there are a few things I don’t like. And just one thing that drives me the most crazy about this gun.

This may seem like a small thing, but I can’t stand the position of the slide lock relative to the thumb safety. It’s right in front of it; they’re almost touching. If I get a good, high grip on the gun, I engage the slide lock every single time, which means the gun will never lock back on an empty magazine.

This isn’t something I had to try to replicate. It happened 100% of the time when I had my thumb resting on the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite’s thumb safety. If I wanted the slide to lock back, I had to drop my thumb and get a worse, albeit only slightly worse, grip on the gun. The recoil increase was noticeable. I chose instead to keep a good grip position on the gun and reload when it stopped going bang.

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There are a couple of other not-so-greats about the gun. First, the trigger.

The SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite’s single action only (SAO) trigger has no adjustment for pre-travel, of which there is quite a bit. More importantly, it’s too heavy. It has a little bit of creep to it, but the 5lb trigger pull is just too much for a SAO gun. I’d much prefer a 3lb trigger for a general use gun, and I’d go to 2lbs for a primarily hunting set up.

Now, I’m notorious for liking light triggers. I like a 2 lbs. trigger pull on my hunting rifles. My EDC is set at 2 1/2lbs. And I’ve never had a negligent discharge with any of them. But at 5lbs, the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite was more work than it had to be to keep the sights in line during the trigger squeeze for precise shooting.

The SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite’s thumb safety itself is the same way. Because of the design, it has to be small, like the original 1911s. But it’s also fairly difficult to disengage and reengage. It’s way too stiff. Perhaps over time and with a lot of use it will get easier. As it is, disengaging the safety causes the gun to dip pretty well during my draw or during my aim, depending on where I do it.

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All in all, the SIG 220 Elite 10mm SAO is an outstanding firearm. I’d feel great taking it on any hunt, and certainly back into town. It points naturally, reduces the 10mm recoil to a healthy .45ACP level, has perfect sights, and it’s accurate enough to do the difficult (for me anyway) job of hitting a 6″ circle reliably at 50 yards. The $1467 msrp price tag is also healthy, putting it right up there with the STI Nitro 10 and just a bit more than the FNX 45 Tactical.

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There are other guns that I wanted to try out for this series, including the Dan Wesson Razorback and the EAS Witness Elite. But those have proven too difficult to get ahold of for the review. (It took a full six months to get the SIG 220 10mm).

Of all of the guns I’ve tested, the STI Nitro 10 should win. The accuracy and handling were great, and it’s only one that is easily concealable. Instead I’m calling it a tie, as the SIG comes with a better hunting sight set up. If I was just going to go for a hunting pistol, that GLOCK G40MOS  would win hands down. It shot well enough to get the job done (exceptionally well one-handed) and was completely reliable, for half the money. That said, I’d need to spend some extra cash either putting an optic on it or swapping out the irons with night sights.

You’ll notice we didn’t get to the wheel guns at all. By the time I got to that point in the series, the Texas law changed, giving us the legal freedom that our Creator had already endowed to us. We can openly carry a hand gun now. Although fun and interesting, the whole point is moot. Because if I don’t have to conceal it, I already have the perfect truck “pistol”: a Smith & Wesson model 29.

SPECIFICATIONS: SIG SAUER P220 Elite 10mm SAO

Caliber: 10mm
Capacity: 8 round
Frame: Steel
Grips: G10 Piranah
Sights: Fully adjustable flat black rear, TruGlo TFO front
Slide: Steel, 5” barrel
Weight empty: 40oz, (my scale)
Height: 5.5”
Length: 8.6” overall
MSRP: $1,467

Ratings (out of five stars):

Appearance and Style * * * * *
This is a good looking gun. While the finish isn’t too fancy, no high polish, it’s both functional and attractive. The grip choice, in both material, texture, and color is spot on. A little bit industrial and little bit classic.

Customization * * *
You can swap the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite’s sights, but I wouldn’t. And it’s got a light rail. I guess you could change the grips, but I’d leave it alone.

Reliability * * * *
I’d need another 300 rounds to justify declaring the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite 100% reliable. As it is, it’s had one first round failure to feed early in the cycle, and nothing after that.

Accuracy * * * *
With the right load, the SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite shoots well all the way out to 50 yards. It’s no sub 1” hole punch, but it’s more than accurate enough to get the job done.

Overall * * * *
I’ve been impressed with all of the guns in this series, but for different reasons. The SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite is the first one that covered all of the bases well. It’s accurate enough to reliably take game at 50 yards, it’s concealable if not likely comfortable, has a great sight set up, looks good, and is reliable enough to bet your hunt on. The SIG SAUER P220 SAO Elite manages the 10mm recoil well enough that follow up shots on running pigs in the dark will be right behind the first one. A solid choice in 10mm.

comments

  1. avatar Joseph says:

    I’ll pass on a big heavy pistol that holds 9 rounds and costs $1500.00. Different strokes.

  2. avatar Free says:

    Glock 20 gen4
    $585
    15+1

    Almost get 3 of those for the same price as this Sig pig. Geez….

    A Kimber TLE 2 in 10mm would be half the price of this as well.

    Sig’s profit margin has to be large for selling these pistols in a caliber that has a small following. I’m a big 10mm fan myself but never would justify buying this.

    1. avatar McBell says:

      What I don’t get about the P220 is that .40cal Sigs can hold up to 12 rounds. Why does the 10mm version get a handicap?

  3. avatar jNemes65 says:

    ill take my Kimber 1911 all day long before that Sig220! That Sig is too expensive. I never miss with my Kimber, never. Never haza a jam or misfires either. That Sig220 is about as useful as a flying fart in outer-space. 1911’s are true perfection…sorry Glock.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Glad you like your Kimber, and it sounds like you got a good one. For me, my experience with them has made Kimber one of the few 1911 manufacturers I don’t ever intend to purchase from again.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    Ruger super blackhawk in stainless.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I have Blackwaks, Superblackhawks, and Bisleys. For one year, as a challenge, I hunted solely with that 7 1/2″ Bisley in .44magnum. I took 2 pronghorn antelopes, at least 7 white tail deer, a truly innumerable number of pigs (100?) and one Catalina ram, which was the best shot of my life, standing, at 170 yards, with iron sights. (To be fair, it probably wasn’t the lucky shot it took to the ass, but the 60ft fall off the cliff, that did the killing.)

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Recovering the trophy/carcass must have been fun.

        Everybody has different needs and wants. But heavy hitting handguns work best for me in the single action mode.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          I’m not going to sugar coat it. Recovery was an hour of climbing followed by 20 seconds of kicking the carcass the rest of the way down the cliff.

  5. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Dude, you wrote “totes adorbs”… I almost started worrying.
    I think I’ll stick with the G40 MOS. I like more bullets. I’ve always liked Sigs, but they’re pricing themselves out of the really affordable arena.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      The 40 or the 20. I’d like to shoot them back to back and see how much difference there really is when it comes to 50 yard performance.

  6. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    2 13/4’s” probably wasn’t intended as 5 1/4″.
    but what is the pull weight of an albs trigger?

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      2 3/4
      5

  7. avatar tdiinva (now in Wisconsin} says:

    I have a Rock Island TAC II in 10mm as an outdoor gun. A little more than 1/3 the price and it has been very reliable. From the sound of it the trigger is better as well. However, I do like the SiG’s simpler field strip. The full length guide rod in my RIA is a pain in the butt to disassemble.

  8. avatar 907sig says:

    That model has a siglite front sight… not a truglo tfo. I own the same one.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      This one says TFO.

  9. avatar JM says:

    Why not go for the Sig 220 in the Standard configuration. DAO/SAO? no BS saftey and smoother trigger if a bit heavier.

    For a truck/beater gun? Glock 20 I think would be the best of both worlds. and you could replace it twice and still not hurt as much as buying the STI or the Sig.

  10. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    I’ve been lusting for their Kryptek Camo version. I doubt I’ll be purchasing anytime soon, I just want one 10mm in my collection.

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