I don’t understand one night stands. If the sex is great, why wouldn’t you want more? If the sex sucks (so to speak), why wouldn’t you try again? OK, sure, if an encounter is terrible, it’s time to take Lord Humongous’s advice. Which is exactly what I do when someone offers me the chance to shoot a .40-caliber handgun . . .

Snappy-ass recoil renders ghetto fabulous “fo-tays” a bitch to shoot accurately. For me. And the FBI. And the dozens of U.S. police agencies making the switch from .40 to 9mm. No, don’t tell me “it’s all in the wrist” and “I don’t have a problem with mine.” Never again, as we [armed] Jews are wont to say. Until, that is . . .

Grant Shaw, the towering Texan behind The Range at Austin, stepped up to the firing line and made a clover leaf pattern at 10 yards with a SIG SAUER something-or-other. I ambled over and checked his ammo: .40 S&W. “You want to shoot it?” the ballistic crack dealer asked. “The owner’s leaving for Exeter in 45 minutes.”

Yup, a one night stand with a $3,000 modified SIG SAUER P226 in .40 S&W.

I had a passing familiarity with the SIG SAUER X-series (the TTAG reader review is out there, somewhere). Still, picking-up the German-made X5 Match was something of a shock. It’s a Deutschlandic Desert Eagle, tipping the scales at . . . stainless steel yourself . . . 45.7 ounces. Unloaded. Add 12+1 .40-caliber pills and you’re holding a gun that could anchor a Sailfish.

Sticking with the nautical theme, the SIG P226 is yar. The X5 Match variant does nothing to detract from the big SIG’s surprisingly nimble nature, and much to improve upon it.

Specifically, the perfectly rendered X-shaped checkering on the black laminate grips and the aggressive stainless checkering on the front of the handle. The combination enables a handhold that’s more secure than the NRA’s underground bunker.

The X5’s ambidextrous frame-mounted safety (large enough to accommodate Sissy Hankshaw’s oversized digits) and its skeletonized, adjustable trigger (which looks like an upside down kiwi’s head) add to the handgun’s ergonomic and aesthetic appeal.


The X5 Match’s under-snout picatinny rail left me wondering if those crazy Germans had added a log sawing portion to their marksmanship contests. And then I remembered: it’s made for bridge-mounted optics. And weights, for competitors who don’t want to flip, flop and make flyers. Speaking of which . . .

To ameliorate the P226’s sky-high bore axis, SIG’s craftsmen skinnied-up the P226’s beavertail (I’m sure there’s a really long German word for that) and carved a deeper undercut beneath the trigger guard. The X5 Match shooter’s hand sits higher up on the custom gun than a standard P226, increasing both control and comfort.

My only gripe: the X5 Match’s slide stop cozies-up too closely to its jumbo safety. Releasing the big SIG’s massive metal slide quickly and efficiently requires a significant push and plenty of practice.

Provided you’ve slammed a full mag into the oversized well, you’re ready to perforate paper. I’m dyin’ if I’m lyin’: the X5 Match sent the shortened 10mm cartridge (born out of the FBI’s ill-fated Miami shootout) EXACTLY where I aimed it. First shot bullseye at 10 yards.

It’s not so much that the X5 Match’s weight soaks up the .40’s rapid recoil pulse, which it certainly does. It’s more that the SIG’s full frame and long slide (containing a 4.4″ barrel) make the gun a soft shooter. It is, in fact, a pussycat.

With a fully-adjustable competition rear sight and a 6.5″ sight radius, taking a bead on what you’re willing to destroy is child’s play.

The video above captures the divine Ms. M’s first go with the SIG SAUER X5 Match. For a non-professional shooter on a closed course, she pretty much nailed it. As you can see, once you master the X5’s crisp, single-action trigger, the rounds start stacking up.

With my surrender-the-gun deadline looming, I managed to shoot a box of Federal Premium .40 range ammo and a dozen or so Blazer brass bullets with astounding (for me) accuracy. The Miculeks among you may scoff, but I was more than pleased with my ability to puncture the little guy in the top left of the target at 15 yards.

Takedown is easier than writing something witty about the process. Suffice it to say, a clean gun is a happy gun. And happiness is a warm gun. I didn’t clean the machine, but I kept the X5 as warm as toast. Anyway . . .

Getting ahold of one of these $3k SIG X5 Match guns in .40 S&W is no mean feat. SIG rep Trevor Robertson — the proud owner of this German-made custom firearm — gives us the 411 above.

Bottom line: SIG stopped importing X5’s from the Fatherland back in 2014. The gunmaker’s planning on building them in the Live Free or Die state later this year. Or next. But not in .40 (at least initially).

Why would they?

As good as the X5 is, there are a lot of lower-priced, easily available alternatives for forty cal competition guns. SIG’s own 1911 Max Full-Size 1911 (reviewed by Foghorn here) comes chambered in .40, for around half the projected price of the X5 ($1663). And Max mags don’t cost $100 a piece.

Don’t get me wrong: the hand-filling SIG SAUER X5 Match .40-cal is another beast entirely. It’s an absolutely superb semi for competitors and collectors who want an absurdly accurate .40 in P226 form — who don’t mind hunting for a used example and melting their plastic for the privilege of owning one. That said . . .

Despite the fact that the X5 Match tamed the previously untamable (for me) .40 S&W cartridge, this handgun wouldn’t be my choice for a long-term relationship. Especially as there’s a 9mm variant. As Cole Porter would put it, it was great fun, but it was just one of those things.

SpecificationsSIG SAUER X5 Match

Caliber:.40 S&W
Grips: Black laminate
Frame: Stainless steel
Slide Finish: Stainless Steel
Trigger Pull: SA 2.2-3.6 lbs / 9.8-16.0 N
Overall Length: 8.2 in / 209 mm
Overall Height: 5.9 in / 151 mm
Overall Width: 1.7 in /44 mm
Sights: Adjustable Target Rear
Sight Radius: 6.5 in / 165 mm
Barrel Length: 4.4″ /112 mm
Mag Capacity:  14rd
Number of Mags: 2
Price: Around $3000 used

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * * * *
Stainless steel frame and slide married to black laminate grips with stylish checkering (X marks the spot) create a handsome P226 variant.

Ergonomics * * * *
No adjustable backstrap but you can move the trigger fore and aft to suit. One star removed for a hard-to-operate slide stop.

Reliability NA
Fired one (count it one) box of Federal Premium and a dozen Blazer Brass .40’s without any problems. Given P226 reliability and SIG’s German gunmakers’ attention to detail, I wouldn’t expect any issues.

Customization: * * * * * 
Perfectly customizable.

Accuracy: * * * * *
Freehand it’s a tack driver. A bullseye machine. A way better shooter than I am. And probably than you are, too. Just sayin’ . . .

Overall: * * * *
A soft-shooting .40 caliber handgun? Now I’ve seen everything. Except for a 9mm X5 Match, which must be a phenomenal handgun — and the more logical choice.

49 Responses to Gun review: SIG SAUER X5 Match .40 Caliber

  1. I have never understood the whole “.40 S&W has snappy recoil” thing. Admittedly, I only have one .40(FNS-L), but still… A Scandium J-Frame .357 with full power loads or a 329 with full power loads. Now, that’s snappy recoil. And I am no recoil monger. I understand not wanting to shoot a heavy recoiling pistol. But, in general, I would say MOST .40’s don’t come close.

    • Agreed. I have never had an issue with .40 in any gun large enough to get all of my fingers on. 9mm or .45 for that matter either. The size and weight of the gun always made more of a difference to me than any of the standard pistol calibers.

    • “snappy recoil” and “snappy recoil impulse” are internet legends that just aren’t based in fact at all.

      There are several factors that contribute to you feeling recoil, but here are the main ones:
      1) Gun weight – a heavier gun soaks up more recoil
      2) Gun grip width – a thinner gun grip concentrates the recoil force over a smaller area (and thus slices your hand more like a knife), a wider grip spreads it out across more surface area, minimizing the impact and the felt recoil
      3) Cartridge power – equal and opposite reaction and all, the more powerful the cartridge, the more recoil you’ll feel if all other things are equal.

      So if you keep everything else the same, but use a more powerful cartridge, then yeah, you’ll get “snappier” recoil. Which is what happened when manufacturers took a Glock 17 (for example) and kept the gun weight and grip width exactly the same, but crammed in a much-more-powerful .40 S&W cartridge. You feel more recoil. Duh.

      So why do people say that the .45 has a “smooth push” versus the “snappy” .40? Because almost invariably, they’re considering either a great big fat grip Glock against a skinny-grip Glock, or they’re comparing an extremely heavy 1911 in .45 against a featherweighty polymer .40.

      If you were to somehow get the exact same gun in 9mm, .40, and .45, you’d find that the .45 is a lot “snappier” than the .40, in that scenario. But that’s hard to do; the only gun I can think of that would meet the same size/weight/thickness requirements would probably be the Springfield XD-S.

      So RF complains bitterly about how “snappy” the .40 is, yet — when he tries it in a big ol’ heavy gun, he finds it to be a “soft shooter”? Yep. Duh. Even softer, I would guarantee, than his .45 1911. Because the .45 delivers more raw power than the .40, in an equal-weight, equal-thickness, equal-design gun, the .45 would feel “snappier” than the .40. Which is exactly what he just discovered.

      And why is the 9mm such a “soft shooter” in everything? Because it is a much less powerful cartridge. Powerful enough, yes, but it doesn’t propel heavy lead nearly as quickly as .40, which isn’t nearly as powerful as .45. That’s why something like the ill-fated super-thin super-light “Doubletap” pistol could be barely tolerable in 9mm, but was absolutely torturous in .45.

      • Also why the Jericho is fine in 9mm and a hand-eater in .45. Though more the grip design than the actual mass of the gun.

        Also why my wife really likes the 1911A1 Range Officer in 9mm.

      • Glad to see others writing this, I was just going to comment similarly.

        Mostly you see this bizarre contradiction – some new gun is announced, in 9mm, maybe .45acp… Someone will add “man, I wish they would release it in 10mm! I would buy that!” Many quickly agree, 10mm is awesome! Get it in some Buffalo bore heavy duty bear killing load! If only… Or they debate getting it in .357sig.

        Then you present a pistol in .40sw and everyone talks about how harsh the recoil is.

        I get it, everyone was happy with their Glock 17/19 and then the FBI​ decided the 9mm was no better than a BB gun and everyone traded up to glock 22/23. And now the FBI and the army say 9mm is awesome! So dump that .40, back to 9mm we go!

        I wouldn’t want a keltec p40 or Ruger lc40, not much of a Glock guy myself but my USP does well in .40, but then it was designed around it, and is sufficiently large to compensate.

        I am happy with having .22, .32, 9mm, .38spl/.357mag, .40, and .45 pistols. And even 9x18mak. Might even get a .357 Sig barrel or 10mm just for kicks.

      • So a Colt Commander in 9mm and a Colt Commander in 45ACP would not be comparable? Come on let’s be realistic.
        The guns weigh the same and function the same.

        Load up 9mm in 147gr and 45acp in 155gr and fire away. Come back and let us know how your theory stands up.

        In my testing as above, the 9 snaps in recoil and the 45 pushes in recoil.

        I finally found a use for those 24-credits in advanced physics.

    • I was going to write the same thing. I have never understood the whole “.40 S&W has snappy recoil” thing, either. Perhaps that’s because I began buying and shooting pistols in 1994 when .40’s were “the” thing and 9mm ammo wasn’t so good back then. I have a gun safe full of .40’s and zero 9mm pistols. My wife even shoots my .40’s fine.

    • I agree, I heard all the “you don’t want a .40S&W because it’s recoil is really snappy and hard to shoot accurately” stuff before buying mine but at the time it was the only ammo available so it made sense to me. I bought an M&P40 and my sister bought a Walther P99 in the same caliber. Neither of us could discern any kind of snappiness that stood out.

  2. Robert,
    Hopefully you at least wiped the drool off of it when you were done. Another nice blog about a gun 99% of us will never have in our hands. Thanks for the coveting moment; off to confession now.

    • Well, when you’re in bed with the Range, and Sig, it’s hard not to do reviews on everything they both do. Whether or not either one is practical, is another item entirely. When someone else gives you stuff, it’s a lot easier.

  3. I think the “snappy” recoil thing with .40 S&W is a first impression thing. Once one actually learns how to shoot properly it’s not a big deal. I actually prefer .40 to 9mm now, more fun. Just like I love my Model 29.

  4. “Snappy-ass recoil renders ghetto fabulous “fo-tays” a bitch to shoot accurately. For me. And the FBI. And the dozens of U.S. police agencies making the switch from .40 to 9mm.”

    Because the FBI and dozens of police agencies have to adopt their firearms to everyone they arm including those with tiny hands, weak wrists, and poor form. If you really want to use that as an excuse, go ahead… 🙂

  5. “Snappy-ass recoil renders ghetto fabulous “fo-tays” a bitch to shoot accurately.”

    There is no such thing as a “snappy-ass” cartridge. Perceived recoil depends on several factors, including bullet weight and velocity and the MASS of the firearm (why do you think trap shooters use ten pound guns?).

    This thing weighs more than a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum. Recoil is not going to be an issue.

  6. Nice review, sounds like a sweet shooter.

    This little bit caught my eye, though:

    “You want to shoot it?” the ballistic crack dealer asked. “The owner’s leaving for Exeter in 45 minutes.”

    If I owned a $3000 (used) handgun, I’m not sure I’d be happy about loaning it out (or putting in for repair, or whatever), and then having that person loan it out to someone else who wandered by, without at least asking me first.

      • Missed that part. I don’t want to waste bandwidth watching videos on my phone. Or in general, actually.

        • From the text:

          ” SIG rep Trevor Robertson — the proud owner of this German-made custom firearm — gives us the 411 above.”

          : )

  7. Been shooting a PPX, a XDs , a G27 and an P239 in .40 and don’t really find the recoil any snappier than my 9mm guns.

  8. Why do people always say recoil affects accuracy?
    It doesn’t. The bullet is long gone by the time the muzzle flips.
    Now if you say recoil affects speed of follow up shots, you might be correct.
    I don’t really feel a difference between .40 and 9mm.
    Go shoot a .357 magnum then tell me .40 is “snappy”. I’m tired of that word.
    Stop saying. 40 is snappy and stop using the phrase “kicks like a mule”.
    Neither one is a good description of what shooting is about.

    • Recoil itself might not affect accuracy, but the shooter flinching – or torquing their hands, or whatever – in anticipation of recoil certainly will.

      This is one reason it’s very helpful to have a friend load a magazine with some snap caps mixed in. It makes it quite clear when you’re anticipating the recoil pulse, and once aware you can start to correct for it. Not hard, but takes some time.

      This of course assumes the recoil doesn’t extend to physical pain, which is one reason I’m not a fan of .460 S&W. Those suckers are too much for me.

      • > This is one reason it’s very helpful to have a friend load a magazine with
        > some snap caps mixed in. It makes it quite clear when you’re anticipating
        > the recoil pulse, and once aware you can start to correct for it.

        This. And, if you can, have them take a video of you during this exercise. I was really surprised how much I was flinching on the snap cap.

        • Recoil anticipation and flinching isn’t the same thing.
          Neither is particularly good for one shot surgical accuracy but when you train to quadruple tap, that recoil anticipation is required to keep the shots from climbing.
          Same for full auto fire.

        • Not necessarily; if flinch is a psychological thing – and it is, at least partly – then all that’s necessary is to believe that shooting a .40 feels worse than shooting a 9. Expectation will do the rest.

    • “Kicks like a mule” is a phrase I reserve for my wife’s .30-06, and a perfectly appropriate analogy.

  9. First off let’s get the facts straight! A bad day of fishing or sex is better than a good day at work. If the sex is bad then keep F&%king it up till it’s good.

  10. I love the .40, and I will not hesitate to buy another if my desire takes me there. One of my best IDPA matches I shot was with a Glock 27. Why do people have to hate the .40 it was the thing in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

    I do have a question someone might be able to answer. So, new bullet technology made the 9mm more potent. My question is doesn’t the same bullet technology make the other calibers more potent as well?

    • @ Badgerman, you asked: “My question is doesn’t the same bullet technology make the other calibers more potent as well?”

      The short answer is “absolutely”.

    • @ Badgerman, You also asked: “Why do people have to hate the .40 now it was the thing in the 90’s and early 2000’s?”

      Simple: The 9mm is the koolaid de jour.

    • Not .45acp. Technology made lighter bullets better.
      I think the meh attitude with .40 stems from the fact that it’s a weakened 10mm.
      Lighter and faster is the modern cartridge.
      357Sig could be the ultimate autoloader round.

      • I think the meh attitude with .40 stems from the fact that it’s a weakened 10mm.

        Sometimes. “The .40 short and weak,” and some people make fun of it. Then you ask them, “so do you shoot 10mm?”

        Then they look down at their shoes and say, “um, no.”

        Pfffttt…people.

        • Nice! I enjoy my Glock 20 quite a bit. The recoil never bothered me, and I even CC’d occasionally when appropriate need arises.

    • True.
      .380 ACP is now lethal.
      9mm is more lethal,
      .40 S&W makes the perp even more deader, and
      a properly placed .45 ACP will take (not one, but) two souls.

      The question of 9mm vs. .40 is mostly a question of more bullets vs. bigger bullets. The cost of practice rounds may also be a factor.

    • It should, but someone has to spend the time and money adapting the design to the caliber – mass, velocity, etc. will be different, and that means the details need to change to accommodate.

      It makes sense that most vendors will spend the most time, at least early on, on the most popular rounds like 9mm, .45acp, and recently .380.

  11. Now you have made me feel foolish. I guess it’s bad enough that I’ve had and carry a 40 s&w Hi Power. I. Just got me a commander sized 1911 in forty. I even ordered a 10mm barrel for it. I must be a glutton for punishment according to some here. The 40 is no worse then any other large boar in a plus 30oz gun.

    • Personally, I would prefer a 10 mm when shooting “large boar.” They bite, you know, and those tusks are dangerous.

  12. I have to agree with some of the comments above over the eye crying over .40 snappiness. Having owned and fired .357 magnums and a Ruger Blackhawk in .44 magnum, but also 9mm, my time with my .40 Sig has not diminished my fondness for this cartridge. It’s getting to be like defending Trump over the Clinton loser butt-hurts. My attitude now is TOUGH SH–!!!
    For the .40, if you don’t like it, FINE, don’t shoot it and, shut up about it about it. With all due respect of course. 🙂

  13. Yep the .40 can be snappy in polymer-framed autos, but so can the .45. The .357 Sig? Even more so. 10mm? Even more. .357 Mag out of a Smith 340PD is the snappiest handgun I’ve ever shot – nastier on the hand than .460 Smith and .500, even though those big rounds generate much more energy. I can be quite accurate with 5-10 rounds of the monster calibers before recoil starts messing with my head.

    Other than that I enjoyed the review. The Sig X series maxes out style points in my opinion. There are a number of beautiful handguns, I’ve got my eye on a Smith 327 Performance Center, but I don’t know any that blow a Sig X out of the water. It’s as striking of a piece as an Ed Brown, Wilson Combat, Dan Wesson, etc. The Sig Legion is nice, the Sig X is superb, and they could become as collectible as Colt Pythons.

    • I have to agree on the S&W big bores, the recoil from them is highly overrated. Airweight 357s are worse, and Airweight 44s are in their own universe.

  14. I’m sorry, but it’s hard to take people who complain about .40 S&W recoil seriously. One of the first handguns I ever shot, back when I was 11 years old, was an HK USP in .40 S&W. If a 5’0 11 year old can handle it, an adult should be able to as well.

  15. Back when the obama gun craze hit i was selling guns and ammo. Box of 9 was about the same as .40. Abd we had a two box limit. And sometimes we didnt have any 9mm or .380. But i could always get .40. I ll stick with the 3rd place finisher to make sure i can ALWAYS get ammo.

  16. I thought the 40 SW had snappy recoil when I first started shooting pistols some years ago, but after shooting .44 mags the recoil of the 40 SW faded away never to return. Now even the 44 mag recoil doesn’t seem like much once you’ve gotten used to it. I think all the government agencies are wasting tax money switching back and forth and trying to find the most gentle recoil for the fragile members of their force. It’s bullshit.

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