(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)
By Michael Perry
This won’t be one of those stuffy historical or scientific reviews. I’m not here to gloat, brag, or convince you of anything. I’m not going to compare the SIG SAUER P226 TACOPS to a GLOCK G17 because the two don’t compare. That’s a Red Sox – Yankees comparison. Since you’re here anyway, let’s talk about the merits and drawbacks of a TACOPS model to any of the other P226 choices available, and some SIG siblings. My opinions here have been formed after about 2000 rounds of various ammo through the TACOPS, and uncountable sums through other models.
Before finding SIG SAUER, I had owned several 1911s, a Beretta 92FS, some .22 pistol I learned to shoot on as a kid, and I had fired dozens of others. I had professional instruction on an M9 after shooting the 92FS as a teenager as well. My first ever purchase was a Springfield XD-45. I’ve owned a GLOCK G19 Gen3, several Walther PPK/s models, an FN FNP-9, and probably a few others I can’t recall. So accuse away that I’m a SIG SAUER fan. I just so happen to find SIG works well for me. When I stray from the brand, it’s usually for good cause.
Since my TACOPS is a 9mm, it came with four 20-round magazines. It has a false ‘magwell’ made of extended handguards. The front sight is TRUGLO TFO instead of a SIGLITE. I grew to hate that.
It has a beavertail and front cocking serrations, both of which I’m grateful to have. It seems like it’s got the best of the options unless you want the E2, piranha G10, or some hardwood grips. Maybe you didn’t want a beavertail but still craved those front cocking serrations. Maybe you had to have that UID and anchor engraving with an extra fancy anti-corrosion finish because you live near the coast. Maybe SAO is your deal.
Whatever, there’s a P226 that fits your fancy. And you can pretty much endlessly customize your chosen model. That’s just one awesome aspect about the P226 platform. The TACOPS was my choice. But would I choose it again?
Here we go…
I bought my TACOPS as a 30th birthday present to myself in 2014. I had been overseas with OEF for just about four years. A month after settling back to life in the states again, I found it laying on a gun show table in Houston for a cool $1000 (with some negotiation). It was love at first sight.
This would be a purchase I could justify for home defense, a bugout bag gun, and as a beautiful antique to be buried with when it’s my time. Sure, maybe it’s heirloom quality, but it’s mine. Fifty years from now it’ll still have that classic look, but the technology will be ‘classic’ by contemporary standards too. Maybe in those 48 years to come I’ll find a holster for it too.
Speaking of classic, did I mention it has a classic look? There are a few oddities though, but they’re the type you learn to love instead of finding fault. I have no qualms with the fit and finish. It’s flawless in those respects. The manual of arms is as intuitive as any, and my preferred operation. I could fieldstrip and reassemble it blindfolded after minimal exposure. And I have. You can too, give it a shot. It sure cleans up nice. Like any SIG, it likes to run wet. Best of all you can dress it up with an unending line of aftermarket gadgets if you want. I keep a surefire X300 on mine. You know, because rails.
Wow, all of that sounds great! SIGn me up for one (or 3 police trade in GLOCKs for that price)! Not so fast. If you’re considering a P226, I really encourage you to test fire a few models before you commit to a TACOPS. The grips feel chunky and cheesy. They’re grippy but they’re no G10s by any measure. Sure you can buy extended magwell G10 grips from Hogue, or you can buy a P226 Extreme and some 20 round mags. Or maybe you have self-diagnosed “small hand syndrome” and you just HAVE to have E2 grips. What a dilemma… If I had my way, they’d ship these with Pirhana G10 ‘magwell’ grips instead of these plastic toy-like things.
The TRUGLO front sight is meh, and that’s being polite. I really prefer a SIGLITE, or even Trijicon. One reviewer (link: https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2016/07/daniel-zimmerman/gun-review-SIG-SAUER-p220-sao-elite-10mm-jwts-truck-gun-series/) claimed the TRUGLO “screams on night vision”, but since I don’t have NVGs just laying around, it doesn’t fit that purpose for me. Yeah I can find it at night, but to my eye, a traditional night sight is more appropriate. So maybe I bought the wrong model? Probably not, because the TRUGLO on my, now departed, P238 Equinox was equally as unimpressive and it died within 1 year. (Side note, SIG replaced it for free, but I had them put a SIGLITE on it instead. More on the TRUGLO below.)
The 20 round magazines are both cool and cumbersome. I’m glad I have them loaded with Hornady Critical Duty 9mm +P in hopes I never need them. They stick out a little more than flush mags but unless you’re Ser Gregor Clegane, your hands won’t get any extra purchase off the extensions. As the weakest part of the gun, these magazines have been flawless. I’ve never experienced a single failure with them. That said, I’ve actually never experienced a single failure to fire with this pistol to date.
This is not a gun for concealed carry. I’ve read that people have carried them concealed (links: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/03/foghorn/gun-review-SIG-SAUER-p226/ & http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/10/matt-in-fl/gun-review-SIG-SAUER-p226-elite-sao/). A snarky troll may point out that the P226 is concealable because the Navy hides their model on SEALs every day. (“NU UH, they use GLOCK 19s now!”… shut up). For us civies though, the microgun has been all the rage for six years now. The concealed carry option closest to this manual of arms, accuracy, reliability, and general sexiness is the P239. For me, they shoot about the same. The TACOPS offers 20 rounds mags, and can take smaller. The P239 can launch 8+1 or 10+1. That’s a true trade off. But the trigger and manual of arms are nearly identical. Yep, some government agencies conceal P229s. You’re welcome to try. You’ll come to want the P239 after a while. I promise. That’s probably why the P239 is deSIGnated as an alternate duty weapon to some agencies.
To me, the DA/SA SRT is a little squishy. In either setting it feels like it has a long, but smooth travel like a Kahr, but not quite as buttery. I wish it was more crisp like my Wilson Combat 1911 CQB Tactical LE, or the Geissele in my mall ninja DD M4A1, but with practice you get used to it. Compared with a GLOCK or Springfield XD, you don’t get that “wall”. If you overcompensate you’ll push right through the trigger’s arc of travel and you’ll have some outliers on your target. With 20 rounds per magazine, you run the risk of psyching yourself up if you notice an error and then suddenly your magazine is empty. It can get EXPENSIVE. Instead of wasting ammo and range time, get snapcaps and dryfire the hell out of it till you figure it out. The same goes for practicing your draw. The slide is a little longer than you’d expect. It’s fantastically balanced though, and it has a very intuitive point of aim. Find what works for you.
For the DA/SA complainers out there, my advice to you is VERY simple. Try it. You have a decocking lever in easy reach of either thumb. Every time you go to the range, one warmup magazine should be shot exclusively on DA. Then transition on the next magazine to a series of DA to SA follow up shots in alternating succession. Practice all you want on SA because that’s how most of your shots will be over the lifetime of your gun. A real word of caution on DA: Practice with it or risk life, limb, or lawsuit over a possibly miss in a use of force scenario. That is a part of the commitment you make when considering a DA/SA manual of arms and a SIGnificant reason behind my recommendation to test fire the P226 before purchase. You may not have that extra split second to roll the hammer back to SA in the real world.
Practice Practice Practice
Despite any recommendations, there are always those few who gripe… “DA can be tough on your hands”. Thank god Nick Irving (of Reaper33 fame) recommended using a grip strengthener (link: http://loadoutroom.com/8074/improving-pistol-skills/) to improve your grip, aim, and trigger pull. This inconspicuous gadget can be used anywhere. I’ve had one on my desk at work since 2011. It’s also great if you have a boxer’s fracture (guilty as charged) or for general grip strength. For less than $15 bucks (link: https://www.amazon.com/Gripmaster-Exerciser-XX-Heavy-Tension-13-Pound/dp/B00KH3L7KC/), you can really improve yourself on and off the range.
For the sake of consistency with TTAG’s reviews, I shot 20 rounds at TTAG’s prescribed target at 20 feet. Before showing how bad of a shot I am, it’s worth noting that the P226 TACOPS is capable of accuracy that my skill cannot (yet) match. In the hands of a true professional, this is a capable personal safety device. The target below was fired at in under one minute from an unexaggerated modern isosceles stance. No bench rest or aids were used. I had one buffer lane on either side of me at the time. Two lanes to my left, some guy was doing magdumps with his 30 caliber ghost clips using a spooky black assault rifle model 15 (AR-15); which we all know was clearly deSIGned as a weapon of war. /SarcasmOff. Two lanes to my right was an older fellow with a large caliber revolver. Dianne Feinstein would have been in cardiac arrest. I, however, am rather used to the ambient noise and overpressure, as annoying as it is.
Submitted for public criticism and general internet shaming:
Guess which one was the first shot on DA?
I didn’t bother to get out the calipers because the shots speak for themselves. It’s not the single hole I can produce with 16 rounds from a P239 (below), but this grouping of 20 rounds of American Eagle 115gr at 20 feet indicates supreme accuracy. I could foresee the 10 ring gone with this gun in the hands of a professional using match grade ammo.
The P226 TACOPS is supposed to be combat tough. After taking this gun to the range to review and putting another 80 rounds through it, the TRUGLO TFO pipe came loose. The major drawback on this gun, as far as I can tell, isn’t the trigger or the hokey handles, but the sights.
I’ve barely used this gun. It’s only got about 2000 rounds through it, a lot of rest on my nightstand, and a few cross Texas and cross country trips padded in a go-bag. I have zero confidence in the TRUGLO front sight whatsoever and I would NEVER trust my family’s safety to it, nor would I consider a TRUGLO sight as my optic of choice in a SHTF scenario. But hey, maybe if you’ve got NVG’s and you want screaming sights, then the TFO is your thing.
To the exalted credit of SIG SAUER’s customer service team, Chris took care of me within minutes of my initial email. I can’t say enough about that. SIG’s CS team is a shining example of how customer service should be handled. For the cost of shipping, they’re replacing my front sight with a SIGLITE at my request. Xrays would have been $160 to cover the cost of the hardware. Should I have had to send my slide back to SIG after 2 years and 2000 rounds because of a faulty deSIGn? Probably not. Does it degrade my trust in SIG?
The answer there is a resounding no. SIG trusted a 3rd party vendor and clearly tested the product before marketing it. I took the chance that it would last. It’s an error on both our parts, but they stood by their warranty and they’re taking care of it. If anything, the customer service process makes me more confident in the product. SIGLITEs on my returned slide will make me even more confident.
Given my inventory, some of which I’ve included throughout the review, I’d still turn to my P226 TACOPS in a pinch. With modern 9mm self-defense rounds, 4 20 round magazines, SIGLITES, and an inherent accuracy above my skills, I think my initial bug out gun thoughts are validated. Is it my favorite? No. Is it the best? That’s debatable. Is it worth $1000+ ($1329 MSRP)? No.
With a few more upgrades this would be a $1000 gun. If you have to have one, look for a used model if they ever creep out on the market. Do your research though. Do you want your front Sight to pop out in a defensive situation? Maybe you absolutely have to upgrade to G10 grips but you still lust after that engraved anchor… Damn those pesky options.
If I had to do it again, I’d have compared the 1911 TACOPS to the P226 TACOPS. Either way I would have waited to find a model in 357SIG.
Specifications: SIG SAUER P226 TACOPS
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Weight w/Mag: 34.0 oz.
Capacity: 20/10 (factory)
Ratings: (out of five stars)
Accuracy: * * * * *
It can produce tighter groups than my current skill level.
Ergonomics (Handling): * * *
Plastic-y fake magwell. Plastic-y clunky grips. Protruding extended magazines. Trigger may be a little long to reach if you have smaller hands. Fit and finish is beyond question though.
Ergonomics (Firing): * * * *
There are better triggers. There are alternative manuals of arms. Compared to the holy grail custom SAO 1911, it’s a 4 out of 5. This is a gun that will take some practice to master. It is achievable with the proper determination.
Reliability: * * * *
The P226 TACOPS is an enviable handgun with a flawed front sight. I knocked a star off because the shooter sort of needs to see what they’re pointing at. It’s one of those rules that some three-letter group reminds us about all the time. I heard about it on South Park or something.
Customization: * * * *
You can go as ninja as you want with this. The aftermarket options are almost endless. I knocked a star off because the rails don’t fit everything perfectly and your choice of accessories might strain your search for a perfect holster.
Overall: * * * *
With the right sights, I’d use this as the last line of defense for my family and myself or as my only grab-and-go pistol in a real world disaster scenario. You might ask, you’d trust your life to something you gave only four stars? Yes. I don’t expect perfection. Perfection is for safe queens and Austrian marketing. This is a tool and a safety device, not a toy.