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When I grew up, most kids taped the latest Tiger Beat hottie on the wall. Not me. I idolized a Guns & Ammo poster of the compact SIG SAUER P232. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated Alyssa Milano as much as the next hormone-crazed teen. But that SIG was a siren: small and light, with smoother lines than an America’s Cup champion. I wanted that SIG bad. Thanks to a conspiracy of Uncle Sam and Mom and Dad, I had to wait. Fast forward to my first day on The Job . . .

There I was, a freshly-minted police officer, holding the P232’s bigger brother, the P229. I was Ralphie on Christmas morning. Only better. The SIG SAUER P229 was the icing on the cake of my dream career.

As I savored the SIG I kept hearing a strange warning: “it’s a wet gun.” Shouldn’t that be “a wet dream”? Nope. After the first jam at the range I understood exactly what they meant.

The SIG was a high maintenance handgun. I had to clean it constantly, maintain it religiously and oil it constantly (i.e. “keep it wet”). If I took a week off, Florida’s high humidity threatened to rust the SIG’s surface. Making sure the SIG SAUER P229 was “in service” was a constant battle.

And serious business. I could be a better and faster gunfighter than the bad guy, but my mad skills were a moot point if my trusty (not rusty) gun wouldn’t operate. My life and the life of my fellow citizens depended on my ability to care for my new love. Not the first time I learned that co-dependency’s a bitch.

In these Internet-enabled days, you can summon a step-by-step maintenance guide for the most obscure firearm on YouTube video in less time than it takes to order a pepperoni pizza. You can research a weapon’s foibles in milliseconds.

Back in 2000, a caring gun owner had to go to something called a library to get the latest information on the ballistic object of his desire. Like armed self-defense itself, the information was strictly hit or miss. In this case, miss.

I figured the best way to get to grips with my SIG P229 was to squeeze off a few hundred rounds, take it apart, clean and lubricate it, and put it back together. Lather, rinse, repeat. Unfortunately, my police department only supplies rounds for qualifying. With a heavy heart (and a much lighter wallet), I invested in my own survival.

As much as I loved my SIG, I had no idea how many hands it had gone through before it found its way into my Safariland SS3 Holster. (Sorry. It had to be said.) So I started a ritual I was destined to repeat hundreds of times.

I disassembled the gun and placed the parts on a cloth with surgical precision. I examined every piece, gave each one due care and attention and put her back together again with equal focus.

At the range, I inserted fifteen 115-grain, Gold Dot hollow points into the P229’s magazine. Yes, hollow points. I know it sounds extravagant, but I’m a big believer that you should train like you fight, down to the last detail. Besides, it was our first time together.

I’m a lefty; I used my right palm to smack the magazine into place. I heard “click” and I knew she was set. I pulled back the slide and loaded my first round.

With ears and eyes on, I slowly squeezed the trigger. Boom, boom, boom. Fifteen rounds exploded through the chamber, flawlessly. I should have taken my time, but I was excited. Another mag, “click.”

The wind picked up. The dust circled. She fired beautifully again and again and again. Not one misfire. Even better: I shot a smaller group than People Who Love to Be Tasered.

It was one of those rare moments in life when adult experience exceeds childhood expectations. When your dreams become reality. More to the point, I knew the SIG was the one. I would look after her and she would look after me. The more I shot and cared for the P229, the more I thought I’d never let her go.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. When my police department received a grant, we switched to the Glock .40 cal. A fearsome weapon. And I understand the advantages of a “combat” trigger. But the Glock’s nowhere near as sweet as my old SIG SAUER P229 9mm.

I will never forget that hot humid day at the range, getting to know a gun that would go on to protect me, my family, my colleagues and my community. There’s only one first time.

[Christopher P. Fusaro was born and raised in the true south: Florida. He’s currently a supervisor for road patrol and an adjunct instructor at the police academy. Please click here to follow Chris’ wry Tweets, just like Cameron Crowe.]

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  1. SIGs do like to be greased and oiled more so than other guns I’ve owned. However, the P229 is made of aluminum and stainless steel and the stainless steel slide on the blackened models is coated with “Nitron”, which is some type of protective stuff. I find it hard to believe that the humidity of Florida could cause such materials to rust easily. The older SIGs, made with slides of folded sheet metal, had a reputation for rusting easily but those with milled stainless slides are pretty impervious to easy corrosion. I’ve also never heard anyone else refer to SIGs as being “high maintenance” unless you are under the misconception that guns shouldn’t need to be cleaned or lubricated.

    But I do agree the P229 can get under your skin. It’s an easy gun to shoot and an easy gun to love.

    So…did you ever get a P232?

  2. Sig to me is like the Orthodox Church, we will give and receive communion to and from the Catholics (JMB devotees, ironically) but not those heathen Protestants (Glock lovers).

  3. You weren’t going mad, the picture was corrected. Thank you for pointing it out.

  4. I have had a 9mm 229 for about 2 years now. I’ve put hundreds, if not thousands, of rounds through it and have never had a hiccup; despite my less than regular (ok, not even close to regular) cleaning schedule. It’s a comfortable and easy to handle gun that’s a lot of fun to shoot. I love it.

  5. Nice article Chris.

    I’m glad we have a (do we already have one?) active LEO around to give input and insight on a lot of the stuff we talk about. While it may seem that it can get anti-police around I refute that law enforcement and an armed citizenry can’t work together for everyone’s good. After all, when we get into a “us and them” mindset that forces us to be antagonists.

  6. I have 3 SIGs.. A 556, a 226 and a SIG Trailside. I own many other firearms, but for economy, accuracy and sheer fun to shoot, the Trailside is far and away, my favorite of all. I’m sorry SIG discontinued it.

  7. For us “old timers”….mine was the Colt Gold cup, 1972 brand new for $160. Biggest regret, selling that gun!

  8. I was all ways a wheel gun guy till I got my first semi. Proud to say my first buy was a Sig 229 in .357 sig it’s never jammed. I still carry it today!

  9. I always wanted a Sig P230 after having the Gamo P-23 in 2000, unfortunately its no longer made and the P232 is now made in Exeter AFAIK. 🙁

    • All 232 are still imported. Just so you know. They are imported and stamped exeter NH, the same with any import firearm.

  10. I’ve had colts, glocks, and 3 sigs (european 220 in .45, w/ heel mag release; sigpro 2340, one of their first polyframes–inexpensive but fine ; and an leo trade-in 229 in .40)—-latter is the BEST! Mine has 1 flaw, firing pin positioning pin—-don’t EVER take it out!!! CANNOT be done w/ordinary punch (wtthe wise) Sigs are wonderfully designed and shoot great! Dr. J Hillebrand, Louisiana

  11. I have a 20 year old P228 that I love. Boy is this gun accurate. Bought it used in a gun shop, was owned by a cop.
    I decided to send it in to Sig and get it a going over (SSP package) and add Siglite Night Sights. Not cheap but looks like they did a nice job.
    Also just recently picked up a couple of 15 round mags from Wholesale Hunter, great price.
    I will never sell this gun.
    Recently bought a Walther PK380 to play with. Light and fun to shoot.

  12. After a long hiatus from the shooting sports (read ex-wife here) my long-awaited plunge into handguns happened to be the P229 in .40. I haven’t looked back since and have purchased a few other Sigs. I have to say that it’s a love-affair that will never end!!!

  13. I bought the p229 today and it jammed after 50 rounds. I was still at the indoor range store So the gunsmith cleaned it and it jammed 15 rounds later. They said it was probably just the clip. I returned it bc what is more worthless than a gun that does not reliably fire? I shot a sig 226 before and it was perfect. P229 I shot today was junk!! Hope sig gets smart or this crap will ruin the fantastic rep the company has for other guns like the p226.

  14. In my 35 years of hand gunning Sig is king, not all Sigs though, their1911, 220, 2022, 229, 226 are impeachable (generally speaking, 99.9%) Don’t forget they are made by imperfect humans. I have had out of thousands upon thousands of rounds, between all the afore mentioned 2 failure to feed in the 2022, and that probably was because of the ammo. My 2022 had 9k+ rounds through it be for I sold it to someone else for more than what I paid for it. With these kind of high quality firearms you do get what you pay for! Am I a Sigite no I just know quality and value when I see it! I have 4 Glocks, Remingtons, Smiths, Kimbers of varying flavors, but the Sigs rise above the rest for reliability, and resale-ability.

  15. Suzanne,

    MecGar makes high quality/high capacity magazines. If your SIG magazines don’t say “Made in Italy”, then that could be the source of your problems. Replacement magazines for a number of SIG models can also be found at numerous gun shops and online retailers.

  16. I’m a retired S.Fla Sgt.

    Our department issued the Sig P229.

    Loved it.

    15 years after retiring and with current state of affairs I have M&P’s 9mm & MP 40cal.
    Also Sig P320 9MM
    Also the M400 Enhanced AR.

    BUT soon I will have the P229

    Then I will be finished.



  17. Love my 229. It’s my first Sig. I carry it when the weather allows. Otherwise an XDS. It’s reliable and accurate. No problems but I am a gun neat freak so it is very well cared for.

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