SIG SAUER developed the P226 series of pistols for submission to the 1984 XM9 Service Pistol Trials. The XM9 program actually grew out of the Joint Service Small Arms Porgram (JSSAP) which had been started by the Air Force as early as 1979. The goal of both programs was to evaluate the current duty sidearm, the nearly 100-year-old 1911 design against current state of the art.
Most of the major players submitted designs, but when the smoke had cleared, only SIG SAUER’s P226 and Beretta’s 92FS had passed the trials. Ultimately, the Beretta would win the bid as the total package price of the pistol, magazines, and spare parts was lower than SIG’s package price.
After losing to the Beretta in the military trials, SIG turned to the police and commercial markets with their P226 design where it became a big hit. The decision to locate the de-cocking lever on the frame where it could be easily flicked by the thumb turned out to be very popular with police as well as citizen shooters.
While this may not seem like such a big deal today, it was innovative for its time as most other pistols featured an external safety. SIG’s design allowed the shooter to make the pistol safer by switching from a light single action pull to a heavier double action one while still enabling the shooter to discharge the gun without worrying about disengaging the safety.
The second thing that distinguished the P226 from most other guns of the day was that, instead of a machined slide, the slide on the early P226 was carbon steel that was pressed into shape and then had other parts welded to it. The upshot of this was that it was a less labor intensive process which made it easier and cheaper to build. While some “experts” at the time were concerned about the long term reliability of the stamped slides, many of those early 1980’s guns are still in service today.
In 1988, SIG released the P228 model. This gun was shorter in length and height than the P226, but with a 13-round magazine, which only gave up two rounds of 9mm capacity versus the 15-round magazine found in the larger P226. While no one today would consider the P228 a “compact” pistol, in its time, it was the smallest full-capacity 9mm available.
The compact size was a hit with both police and citizen buyers and, as would be expected, started to draw attention from the military. After a series of evaluations, the military selected the P228 to be used by its members needing a more compact gun and was designated the M11. Today, it’s used by military investigators in the Army, Air Force, and Navy as well as by DOD personnel. From what I have been able to gather, it appears that it found favor with naval aviators as well who value it compact size compared to the M9.
For several years, there was no real difference between the P228 and the M11. Civilians and Police bought the P228 while the military procured the M11. The only real difference between them was the model number etched into the frame. This changed with the advent of the P229.
The P229 was originally designed around SIG SAUER’s then-new .357 SIG cartridge. Given the .357 SIG’s much higher pressure (40,000 PSI) versus the 9mm (34,000 PSI), SIG realized that the stamped slide would probably not be a good choice, so they returned to the old methods and switched back to milled slides.
It didn’t make sense for SIG to have two different processes for making guns, so the milled slide design eventually spread to the rest of the P226 family and once the P229 was offered in 9mm, the P228 was retired. Unfortunately for SIG, once the military has standardized on a design, changes in it can’t be made without approval and in the case of a pistol, that approval would have required a new round of testing, which no one really wanted to do. So SIG SAUER continued to make M11 pistols using the carbon steel forged slide for the military and milled slides for everyone else.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq kindled interest in military weapons. Beretta saw the opportunity for what it was and released the M9 for civilian sales. There are only a few differences between an M9 and a 92 series gun. The shape of the trigger guard is different, the front sight on the 92 series is removable while it is fixed on the M9, and the magazines are different…17-rounders for the 92 series and 15-rounders for the M9.
But, for those who wanted to own exactly what the troops carry, the M9 was available. Unfortunately, for reasons that I have not been able to fathom, no similar concession was made by SIG SAUER for the M11. Few if any genuine M11s have ever made it into the private market and with the upcoming Modular Handgun System trials that will presumably select the next service pistol on the horizon, there is a good chance that M11 manufacture will ultimately fade away. Part of this is probably due to the fact that with the move to milled slides, SIG SAUER no longer has the manufacturing capacity to turn out commercial quantities of the forged slide design.
Early in the P229’s life cycle, there were two different versions of the P229 frame – the standard one for the .40/.357 and a slightly narrower one for 9mm. In yet another attempt to achieve better manufacturing efficiencies, SIG eliminated the slimmer 9mm frame and switched the entire P229 series to the .40/.357 frame. This enabled SIG to squeeze two more rounds into a redesigned 9mm magazine giving the P229 a 15 round capacity. SIG SAUER also made a front rail standard on all P229 pistols. As can be expected, SIG is eager to retire the forged slide design entirely, so it created a new version of the M11 based on the P229 but modified to military specifications. Dubbed the M11 A-1, it features a milled slide, no rail (in keeping with the original M11 design), and SIG SAUER’s DA/SA Short Reset Trigger. It also features the water resistant phosphate coating on all internal parts standard on SIG’s military pistols. It has been submitted to the military for review, but I don’t think that SIG has anyone stationed by a phone expecting an imminent call back. While the military noodles this one, SIG SAUER quickly saw this proposed military model as an opportunity to satisfy consumer demand for a civilian purchasable “military” version. Furthermore, since SIG eliminated non-railed P229s a while back, there has been growing interest in a non-railed version of the P229 among some aficionados. In 2012, SIG SAUER began shipping the M11 A-1.
I compared the M11 to my P229. Overall size is pretty similar. What is interesting was the weight of the two guns. The Carbon Steel slide on the M11 (10.2 oz) was indeed than the milled slide of the P229 (11.7 oz). What was surprising however is that the difference in weight for each gun completely assembled with one empty magazine was extremely close (1 lb. 13.1 oz for the M11 and 1 lb. 13.3 oz for the P229). The M11 made up most of the carbon steel slide weight savings in its heavier frame and believe it or not, heavier magazine. Yes, the M11’s 13 round magazine actually weighs more than the P229’s 15 rounder.
With the history of the M11 behind us, where does this leave us today? Well, aside from the pseudo-military M11 A-1, civilians have never been able to legally acquire a genuine M11s and once SIG started making the P229 in 9mm, the 228 was discontinued. Fortunately, if you are patient and lucky sometimes opportunities present themselves.
Towards the end of 2012, SIG SAUER had a quandary. The Air Force had ordered a number of M11s but decided to close the purchase order out about 50 units short. SIG SAUER wound up with about 50 M11s on their hands that no one wanted. As these pistols retail for close to $1,000 (although the military probably pays a lot less), there was close to $50,000 of unsaleable inventory. Under contract with Uncle Sam, SIG cannot sell M11s to civilians. The frames had already been etched with the model and serial numbers, so what was SIG to do? Well, some bright person on marketing realized that the contract with the government stated only that no M11 pistols could be sold to the public. If the gun had a different marking, there would be no problem. The simple solution was to add one additional character to the model designation and the guns would no longer be M11’s. Since the letter A had been used already, the letter B was chosen. 50 odd guns went to the engraving department.
As you can see, the “B” was clearly added during a later engraving step.
The box itself was not changed, so it still proclaims this as a genuine M11.
As the number of units was pretty small, SIG really couldn’t send this out through their normal distribution channel, so they did what they usually do with small quantity runs and sold them through their Exeter, NH Pro Shop. I’m told that they did not last long.
Upon opening the box, the first difference that one notices is the manual. Gone is the standard SIG SAUER manual that accompanies every gun in the 226 series. Instead you find the U.S. Military version.
The manual is interesting in that in addition to the normal operating instructions for the pistol, it includes a fair amount of military specific information. Examples include what sort of ammunition is authorized to be fired through it (M882), who to report errors and omissions in the manual to, who to send reports of malfunctions or failure, operational instructions including reloading while shooting, safety practices, specific maintenance procedures for various extreme environments (cold, humid, dry, etc.), emergency procedures for malfunctions while under fire, an extensive troubleshooting table, and a detailed description of lubrication requirements and places along with the exhortation that performance of proper lubrication is mandatory. Basically, you could hand this manual and the gun to someone who had never shot this weapon before and they could become proficient in its operation in fairly short order (which is the intention). It’s really a shame that this level of detail is not included with guns sold to civilians. What was refreshing is the absolute lack of any of the common lawyer-speak and disclaimers that make up practically half of any commercial firearm manual. One interesting thing though that I’ve never seen in a civilian manual was this warm and fuzzy warning:
I never knew night sights could be so dangerous
Fortunately, this pistol is an Air Force version, which lacks the deadly tritium sights, so it will have to be something else that kills me. The second thing that you notice is that the M11 package includes three 13 round magazines. Even though the M11 is of recent manufacture, it is based on the original P228 design, so it still requires the older 13 round magazines and will not accept the newer 15 round ones.
Overall, this is an interesting collector’s piece. Pricing for this gun was about $100 more than a bone stock P229 w/o night sights. When you figure the cost of the third magazine in, the difference drops to about $60. That said SIG certainly did not lose money on the deal. Given the prices the military pays for things in quantity, my guess is that SIG still made a good bit more on these guns then they would have from Uncle Sam. On the other hand, considering how unique these guns are, SIG certainly could have commanded a lot more for them, but chose a fairly reasonable price, so kudos to them.
These guns sold out pretty fast last year so what is a collector to do now if he/she wants one? Well, there’s always Gunbroker, but be prepared to pay a fairly steep markup. In February 2013, one of these M11-B guns sold for north of $3,000. Currently, there’s a seller on Gunbroker who is looking for $3800 for his. He’s been trying to move it for most of August and has come down from his initial price of nearly $4K. Is this gun worth that much? Well, I guess that kind of depends. It is a rare piece, but rarity alone does not make it valuable. To wit, my son’s first baby tooth to fall out was a one-of-a-kind item, but about the only people who put any value on it were his mother, me, and the tooth fairy.
Ultimately, the extremely limited distribution of this gun may work against it. For something to be truly valuable, enough potentially interested buyers need to know about it and information on the M11-B has been pretty scarce. If the right people know about it (and can trust its provenance), then perhaps you can find someone willing to pay a substantial premium for it. After all, collectors drop serious cash each year on “special edition” versions of popular guns that in form and function are no different than their regular brethren.
At this point, no one is going to buy it as a basic carry gun. If you want a P228, hit the used market. If you want a SIG SAUER military style gun of similar size and weight without the rail, then grab an M11-A1. That will set you back less than $1,000 and that gun has night sights and 15 round magazines. On the other hand, if you are a serious collector of military and/or SIG SAUER guns, then consider this little writeup as your introduction to what may be the only batch of M11 pistols ever legally sold to civilians.
Nothing about a SIG nor a double/single action appeals to me in the least
Wow, thank you so much. What would we have ever done without knowing that you personally dislike this product that is loved by countless service men and women and civilian shooters.
Lots of people love DPMS and Fobus too. Doesn’t make it a good product.
Sig’s QC has been in the toilet for the last several years.
I own 4 SIGs (a 556 Classic and 3 SIG P226’s), they are flawless, top-quality fit and finish, robust and ergonomically designed, easy to clean, lightweight for their size and ruggedness, and will reliably and accurately project virtually any ammunition they are fed.
Small arms consultants/experts rank the (SIG) Swiss Arms SG 550 as the world’s finest assault rifle, and the US SIG 556 is an Americanized version of the SG 551, the Long Barrel (16″) Carbine of that rifle.
As I always say, Politicians receiving free-bees, kickbacks, and hookers choose Glocks; professional killers whose weapons may change the course of human history, choose SIGs. The Secret Service, SEALS, CIA, FBI, and US Airforce use SIGs. The SIG P226 and Beretta 92 tied in the military’s side arms competition in the 1980’s, beating all other entrants, including the 1911A1 and a revised 1911 design from Colt. Glock was personally invited to compete, but was a “no-show”. SIG did not have US production capability sufficient for the contracted quantity, yet, ultimately wound-up with two of its pistols gaining military designations.
Meanwhile, the SIG 516, designed by a number of engineers who were apparently poached from the H&K 416 program and told, ‘no holds barred’ to design the best AR platform on the planet, have done a highly-lauded job of adding a reasonably-priced entrant to the premium AR market.
Do tell us more regarding your personal expertise concerning actual combat shooting in-general, and with SIG’s in particular…
the M-11 is good for CCW for NCIS and CID agents. But for a true sidearm the M-9 is more accurate durable and can shoot underwater so the Beretta is better for a side arms. Its all about what the job your pistol dose what matters.
You read that somewhere on the internet?
A good friend shoots the M9 as a Marine Pistol Team member. Thinking his M9’s are stock is foolish at best. They are all hand built at Quantico.
Underwater?? Really? Do they supply a big ziplock bag for that one shot?
Yep they can, the F to FS conversion was lead by the Navy who made the pistol shoot from under water as a prerequisite by the navy SEALs in the 80s.
Must have been really important to them as they dumped the M9 as soon as they had a chance.
Not really the M-9 and Glock are both in use with the SEALs I don’t see too many SIGs in use.
Seems you feel threatened that SiGs aren’t perfect. They are not get over it.
Seems that’s only in your mind. A few might be aroundd. To say they are in extensive use is a dream. they dropped them years ago.
Well I love everything about a Sig Sauer, so much so I rely on one for work(State Trooper), off duty, and protection of my family.
COMMENT MODERATED – No flaming fellow commentators.
Don’t like ’em?? DON’T BUY ONE! You needed a comment for this?
Wow! REALLY? Thank you for that totally USELESS information!
This was a really interesting read, Jim. Thanks for taking the time.
At first I thought the tritium warning was supposed to apply to civilans as well. Was wondering where you would find a radiation protection officer, and how much they would laugh when you told them you’d released 1/10th of a cc of radioactive gas.
I learned something though, I always thought it was a liquid in there not a gas.
I didn’t know it as a fact either, but it makes sense. Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen, after all.
Probably more like 10 microlitres of H3 or less. H3 has a half-life of 12.32 years. Expect your H3 energized night sights to dim to roughly half of their current luminosity in the first decade after the time of their original manufacture.
H3 is a very low energy beta emitter, and in the quantities found in commercial night sights, would likely not constitute a human health hazard, even if one were to crush the sights and immediately thereafter snort them. This is not something that I’m losing any sleep over.
Laugh all you want- one or two night sights aren’t going to matter. That warning is really intended so that when a whole regiment changes/upgrades/repairs things, thousands o little barely radioactive bits don’t all get dumped into the same dumpster and “forgotten” about at a landfill, or nearest river.
Sounds ridiculous I know, but they put the same warning with the issued “see in the night” watches and other crap.
Here’s a free marketing tip for SigSauer: make an Air Force OSI/Army CID/Navy NCIS edition of the M-11A1 .Beretta did it with the M9 years ago and had no problem moving the product.
This may sound like I’m jeering at the Navy-and I promise I’m not,one Nation and One Fight of course-but the only reason beyond money which stops me from buying an MK25 is the anchor.I find it odd to own a Navy commemorative gun when im an AF vet.Put a USAF wing on the slide and you got my cash
Our NG unit switched to the M11; it’s one of the reasons I bought a P229R rather than a Springfield XD, since the manual of arms is identical to the M11. It’s a nice gun.
So did SIG do the frame mounted decocking lever before CZ? I was fan of the SIG before I knew what a CZ was, but I love the way the Czechs do the decocking lever. I have never understood slide mounted controls, they just seem… inferior
Is the phosphate coating superior to any coating done on the civilian versions? Can you get this done to your Sig, or buy one with it? Is there a Civilian version with a coating superior to phosphate?
The MK25 has the same coating.
Meh! I cannot seem to like the M11-A1 and I do not know why. Also it is a mix of 228 and 229 parts. I rather shoot my P229 EE.
The whole can’t sell to civilian market burns me. It was my damn tax dollars that over paid for those guns and there is nothing really special about the M11. it has no special secret powers.
” sheet metal slide next to a P229 milled slide. Circle calls out one place stronger metal was welded to the stamped steel.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Sig that has the breech face welded into the slide. All that I’ve seen have been pinned. I can’t say they don’t exist that way, I just haven’t seen them.
Article says they don’t stamp and weld anymore they are milled
I own a 1989 Sig P-226 of W. German Manufacture. It has the folded carbon steel slide. The piece of metal in question is welded onto the top of the slide, just above the breech, giving it extra strength, while the breech block is pressed and pinned into place. After twenty-four years of use, with only two ammo related (read cheap aluminum cased or reloaded) stoppages, I finally sent it in to Sig Sauer for a refresh. It returned with fresh bluing on the slide- the original had worn off in places, new springs, and a new, stronger breech block pin.
All original parts were returned with the pistol.
I also own a 2013 P-239 in 9mm. Although much smaller dimensionally than the P-226, the gun and especially the solid milled slide, weigh almost the same as the full sized pistol.
My advice is this, for 9mm, older model P-series are great; the balance well and shoot even better.
The newer guns are blockier and heavier; so it makes sense to go to the .357 SIG or .40 S&W to maximize the stopping power in the heavier gun. And SIG makes it easy by offering barrels that are drop in swaps. Even the magazines are interchangable!
Am saving up for my next purchase; a P-229 in .357 with the E2 type grips, short trigger, and SRT.
Thanks for the info on the M11b.. found one at my lgs in maine in january (was looking for an A1, but this was all they had.. made a split second decision), and got it for $800 or so.. I knew there were a few, but this gives me a more complete story.. im hanging on to it.. goes well with my other sigs..
Did it come with case and accessories (book)? If so, based on what Jim wrote, you may have gotten a hell of a deal.
it was complete.. the slide and frame are marked by hand as mp tested.. two pieces are serial numbered.. german markings, with the manual, case and three mags.. shoots like a charm (couldnt resist.. this will not be a safe queen and i have a super tuck delux for it..
A few points I doubt the MHS will go much farther than a few test. Sequestration killed thankfully ICC died and cuts are getting BIGGER now. Outside of Lance Baloney or sorry Bacon no other major Mil blogger yet predict the M-9 is going away.
You got the fact M-92FS have a adjustable front sight is wrong only the M-92A1 has the different trigger guard and movable front sight.
I do see some niches to the M-11 but the Beretta is a good pistol and is more accurate and just as durable than the M-11 is. So object of desire NO a cool gun to own yes.
“Object of Desire”?? Try the torture test with the 92. Let me know how that works for you.
Why is the mobile site in comic sans
We were all hoping you could tell us, O Holy One.
Blessed are thine tech support skills.
Two deployments ago some of the military guys had railed P228’s in 9mm. Thought they there M11’s but saw the rail, and right there on the side said P228
Those P228s were cobbled together from parts sourced from both the P228 and P229. The frames were the railed 9mm piecs from the P229, the upper assemblies were from the P228. Assembly was done at SIGARM’s NH facility here in the U.S. I remember being sorely tempted but ultimately passing on a NIB example several years ago at a LGS, mainly because I already had a 9mm P229 that I was already quite pleased with and I didn’t feel the need or see the point of virtually replicating what I already owned. In hindsight I kinda wish that on that day I had told my conscience to take a flying leap; it would’ve made a nice compliment to my KE P228, and proper sibling to both of my P229s.
“lacks the deadly tritium sights, so it will have to be something else that kills me.”
Boy, talk about atomic paranoia! If the tritium has escaped, it will have already dissipated and be floating its way toward the stratosphere. It might be “heavy heavy hydrogen,” but it still has a density about 0.2 times that of air.
Great story. Thanks for the level of detail.
While I admire the M-9 from my service days, I’ve never found a better shooting pistol for my mitts than the Sig P220s series.
A while back gunbroker or its competitor had a slew of used P228s for sale at pretty low prices, $400 to $600 range. If memory serves, they may have been Swiss police models. With attention like this, they will probably stay in circulation.
Let me get this straight. I have been seeing multiple ads for these pistols for several months now in various gun magazines and recently as this week I saw an advertising banner for one on the Internet. This marketing campaign was done for 50 pistols that sold out months ago?
I know they did a marketing thing for the M11 A-1. Don’t think they did one for the M11-B
Excellent article. I enjoy learning little differences between various models.
Excellent review I believe the P229 SAS in 9mm is also a “take off” of this design
Given the choice of what to check out in our mission commander’s boxes, we always took the box with the Sigs vice the M9s when flying overland in the desert.
They got in the way less…and I’ve never had a Sig slide fall off during gun quals, which is more than I can say for some of the used and abused M9s floating around the USN.
Dont know about you. But the one with M-9s always outshoot the guys who use M-11s or Glocks Beretta is much more accurate than the SiG is. Most I spoke to have no problems with the M-9 and some prefer it to SiGs.
This was a good article. I’ve been idly wondering about the SIG M11s for awhile, good stuff.
After shooting the M11 17 years ago as an Army Military Police Officer, I immediately had to have my own and bought at P228. The M9 was a barrel heavy hunk of metal with a huge round grip that felt like a baseball bat. (the thick end) So thankful to have that P228 today. Still the best pistol I’ve shot with the exception of a Colt Gold Cup long slide.
The 10 level operator’s manual… I think this is the first time I have ever seen anyone impressed with one. Glad you enjoy your pistol.
Former Air Force OSI agent here…I was in during the transition from the M-9 to the M-11; Most of us welcomed the change…concealed carry M-9 was too heavy and too large.
I’m a little biased since my wife owns a mosquito and it’s the only Sig I’ve ever fired, but I would point out that the P229 is only 1.3 ounces lighter than an M9. That difference will of course double with the extra 2 rounds of ammunition. I’ve concealed carried an FS and found it surprisingly easy.
The Sig 228 empty with a magazine is 29.1 oz and the M9 is 33.6 oz. that plus the bulk and one can feel the difference…
Sig’s website doesn’t have any specs listed for the P228 but it lists the P229 at 32 ounces (http://sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p229.aspx).
My biggest issue with carrying the 92 is the beaver tail jabs you in the side sometimes, but I could see the length being an issue if you’re using an OWB holster.
If you like tiny pistol you like the SiG. The Beretta is better made for combat solders who dont need concealed carry. Its more accurate and 3 ounces what a wimp if 3 ounces makes your cry to carry one. Ive carried a M-9 style pistol for many years concealed too no problems with it just get a decent shoulder holster.
I still point out the M-9 is far more accurate and just as reliable as the M-11 is and the fact too is they Police do use alot of them but the Glock is beating both of them in use. Overall I think hte M-9 is better tan this for a infantry officer but for a Cop who is small handed you might like this pistol if you dont want accuracy.
Beretta makes compact 92s as well the 92C and a new 92 compact are or was offered. much smaller look at Gun broker for one.
I wish they’d make the compact in black and lose the rail. I ended up picking up a Ruger P95 (stainless) for EDC partially because I wanted a knock around gun that I wouldn’t care if got it sweaty. And it has the same flip up slide mounted safety as the 92 so I won’t fumble with it. It cost a third of a Sig P229, weighs less, holds 2 more rounds and has a reputation for being rugged and reliable. And it doesn’t jab me in the side.
+1 on the accuracy of the Beretta. I was at the range a couple of weeks ago and there was one other guy there on the rifle side (the pistol side only goes out to 25 yards). As I was setting up to shoot silhouettes at 50 yards he informed me that he preferred Sigs because Berettas weren’t known for accuracy, apparently oblivious to the fact that offhand head shots at 25 yards were getting too boring so I had to start shooting at 50. I’m planning on working up to 100 yards, so I guess with a little practice the Sig will shoot accurately out 250!
Same here thought I know of a Cop who did do a 300 yard shot with a Glock .45, Ive done great with the M-9 at long range. At Camp perry SiGs aren’t allowed but the national pistol championships Berettas do very very well. military accuracy test prove the same.
I wish Beretta would take a cue from Sig and release a couple of alternative versions of the 92. If you go to Sig’s website they’ve got 25 or 30 different versions of the P226 (and every other model). Night sights, different colors, etc., they kind of take it to a ridiculous extreme. All Beretta offers is the FS, A1 and the M9. Basically with or without a rail. You can have any color you want as long as it’s black (or Inox). Throw out an OD green with night sights and rubber grips and I might jump on that. I guess I should give them props for bringing back the Compact at least.
In point of fact Beretta DID make an OD green 92FS at one point.The production run ended due to poor sales.
As much of a Beretta fan as I am-theres a 92FS loaded next to me as I type this – the market in general has moved on to striker fired platforms.
BTW, I forgot to mention the cool names Sig gives them like Scorpion, Elite Dark and X-Five Tactical.
I’ve taken the FS about as far as you can go with checkered wood grips and a skeletonized hammer (the stock plastic grips are awful).
I think the striker craze is mostly fueled by cost not preference. Ruger sells the piss out of the P95 and they don’t even promote it. Beretta’s issue may be they’re priced in the middle. Too cheap to sell a lot of exclusive models and too expensive to make them profitable. Whenever I run in to Sig guys who are always quick to point out how much better a Sig is than a Beretta I just say they ought to be better they cost 50% more. If they’re not better you just got screwed. Maybe they just think they’re better because they don’t want to admit they overpaid.
I don’t know if SIGs actually are better than Berettas, but I can tell you that from my hand, they feel better. I own a baby SIG (P238) and have done a decent amount of shooting with bigger ones (P938, P226, P220). I don’t own a 92, but I’ve done a decent amount of shooting with one. The SIGs just feel higher quality, more solid. They feel monolithic and tight. The Beretta feels like a collection of parts in my hand. It does the job, for sure, but it just feels less… substantial to me.
Well that’s personal opinion. I feel the Beretta is more ergonomic for large hands and is proven more accurate. The M-9 is a duty and Officer pistol the SIG is for undercover agents in the military. SO there the different missions they are used for.
M9s are definitely not for small hands. And the stock plastic grips are crap. I think the Berettas point a little better, I’m guessing because the slide is probably lighter, anyway the feel really well balanced to me. I won’t knock Sigs, they’re an excellent weapon, I’d just hope you’d get a little more quality for your extra $300 or $400.
I agree the M-9 is large but the opposite for SiG they are too small for BIG handed men and my small finger uncomfortable always hangs below the gun when firing. Hate to say Glock in many ways beats both SiG and Beretta in price hence so many cops use them they are good and alot cheaper.
Glocks work great if you don’t care how you look shooting it (and by rights how a gun looks should be the least important consideration). I’m not a big fan of the “safe action trigger” though. Not that it’s crap, I just like safeties. But then if I had a homely gun like a Glock I probably would get the urge to fiddle with it and therefor wouldn’t need a safety.
I agree I do like the Glock is a awesome pistol. I like the Beretta a bit more I like its decock and safety on one switch. Helps alot when loading for a job.
They do. The M-92C and the Beretta compact or a compact and subcompact Beretta 92FS. Seen a few myself. Look them up at Gun Broker.
Excellent. Full of information, not too long, awesome read. Thanks!
Carried an M-11 in Iraq. Liked it a lot, especially compared to the M9. Eventually bought a 229 and like it too. It’s the only 9mm I own. It seems a little less bulky than my H&K USP .45 Compact. Wish the Service had adopted the SIG.
Could you please list your sources for where these came from?
As I read this I notice incorrect facts and statements.
Such as “The P228 (top) sheet metal slide next to a P229 milled slide. Circle calls out one place stronger metal was welded to the stamped steel.”
It is actually retained in by two pins (not welded) and it’s name is a “breech block”. The internal extractor is held together with the breech block by the pin.
“So SIG SAUER continued to make M11 pistols using the Carbon Steel forged slide for the military and milled slides for everyone else.” – It is a Carbon Steel Stamped slide. Not forged. It’s folded and welded into place.
Please cite the proof that these were turned away from the USAF and why. There has never been anything documented by Sig Sauer to where the M11b’s came from.
It is good to comment as well that the M11b’s have no warranty from Sig Sauer.
One of the other very interesting facts was omitted: The frame, locking insert, and barrel were all Magnetic Particle inspected and you can find “M.P.” engraved on each of those items.
The other great fact is these have serial numbers in 3 places on the gun. The barrel, inside and out of the gun have matching serials.
Mr. Barrett, I find most of your articles to be wrote well but with hearsay and little actuall cited facts. This is disturbing because this is supposed to be “the truth about guns”.
You seem to be well spoken and can keep the audience’s attention however I feel like you don’t actually have much gun experience.
The other great fact is these have serial numbers in 3 places on the gun. The barrel, inside and out of the gun have matching serials….
I have an actual M11″B” and the barrel does not have an SN on it.
The only down side to it is that I value it too much to use it.
There has never been anything documented by Sig Sauer to where the M11b’s came from.
It is good to comment as well that the M11b’s have no warranty from Sig Sauer.”….
I know exactly where they came from. The factory produced more frames than the contract called for and were slated to be destroyed. They could not be released to the public as M11’s. So some staff convinced the execs to add the “B” and they were offered to those in the company at the standard 229 cost.
They were never advertised outside of word of mouth at the academy and factory. Through the academy, some outside the company were offered one. Those have shown up on Gunbroker from time top time. The total number produced was about 50, give or take.
Don’t know where you got the “no warranty” as mine is registered with them although as I don’t shoot it I doubt I’ll ever need service.
Frank – only two parts are marked mp tested, and only two parts have SN.. where did you get your facts? My facts are that i have one. Jim, great article, I enjoyed it. Sorry some people have to be abrasive, when perhaps they should maybe start their own blog.
I must correct you as I was mistaken. My M11 does not have an SN on the barrel. But I’ve been shown one that does and it came from the same lot out of Exeter that mine did. As far as the mp markings, I seem to remember the George Harris article stating parts were pulled randomly and sent for testing. Not every part was sent through that phase. They also pull guns at random and take them to the range for extensive testing.
This is good journalism. Thank you for an informative piece, not the biased crap RF posts.
I feel it necessary to point out that the older frame P229 and P228 can take MecGar magazines that sit as flush as factory that hold 15 rounds.
Nice article, but there are a few factual errors about the history. The P229 was developed for the .40 S&W cartridge, not the .357 Sig, which didn’t come out until 2 years AFTER the P229. Also, the original 9mm P229 frame (rumored to be just a P228 one) was not narrower than the .40/.357 frame. The external dimensions are the same. Only the internal magazine well is wider in the .40/.357 frame, and also in the new 9mm P229-1 one (based on the .40/.357 frame as well as the mag) that the M11-A1 uses. The different slides will fit on the different frames, but will probably not function because of the locking insert and I’m not recommending it. That is why P228 and P229 (of any caliber) grips are interchangeable, too.
Also, fyi, the milled stainless slide of the M11-A1 is the same width as the carbon steel slide of the P228 and is narrower than the other P229 stainless slides.
George Harris did a great article a while back about the M11. He’s a wealth of information and great to talk to about the history at Sig.
I was fortunate enough to get one of the M11 run released a while back. One that I’ll hold on to forever.
Where can I find that article?
I’ll have to get another copy from a friend. He gave it to me. I can’t remember the publication off hand.
Send me your email and I’ll forward a copy of the article to you.
LOL at these Beretta fanboys going out of their way to pump themselves up on the SIG article comments section.
You guys are right, the SIG is not very accurate, it only fits small hands, etc. – if that makes you feel better then I feel sorry for you.
Look, the Beretta may work best for you, and that’s great. But to put down a P226 or P229 in any way just makes you look silly and in need of some weird-type of validation.
Some of the comments here are of the my dog is better than your dog type. No single dog is right for every owner and no single gun is right either. I own and shoot Sigs, 3rd gen S & W and have shot most all of the brands avaible. I carry and own what fits, is reliable and has features I like. Glocks are good guns, but I don’t like how they fit etc. So I don’t carry one and it’s ok with me that others do. Berettas are a little big for my smaller hand, so don’t own that one either for that reason. Many good brands out there. Pick what you like and can shoot well. Then practice and properly maintain them I say.
I carried a Beretta 92 Centurion in Rwanda and my Navy chief had a Sig228. I retired from active duty in 96 and immediately bought a Sig228, which I still have and shoot fairly regularly. It is accurate, reliable, and simple. I deployed as a civilian in 2009 and carried an M9. I missed the 228. It is a more natural shooter for me and the trigger allows a close ride for follow ups.. The only thing I have done to it since I bought it was send it off for a Cerakote job.
Kinda interesting that all these Beretta fan boys show on a Sig article when its a fact when I asked most them would they rather the Beretta or a Sig they would rather carry the Sig. Most said if it came down to actually using their side arm they were not sure if the Beretta would function properly.
Bet your the SiG boy. Carried a M-92FS for years no issue more accurate and reliable than a crappy SIG. Beretta is proven more accurate and reliable and most men I talked to had no issue with the M-9.
I’ve owned a Beretta 92F for almost 25 years now. I also have a 92A1. I love them, totally reliable, and good looking. However, about two years ago I bought my first SIG, a P220. Since then I also purchased a SIG 1911 Nickel, and a P226 MK25 in 9mm. I am totally sold on the SIG as far as accuracy, shootability, and reliability. So much so, that I am selling my 92A1 and purchasing more P226 MK 25s for my home security.
The SIGs are so much easier to shoot, and the triggers are so much better than the Berettas.
Paid 450 for mine, gotta love having a family member who works for sig. And yes it’s a real m11b with German proof marks, same one as the one on gunbroker
i have owned both beretta and sig’s. I’ll take my sig over a beretta any day, and If they still made the elite ii model then maybe we could debate about it.
I honestly don’t care for either gun. The Beretta is too large and heavy, and the Sig just puts out new models , just for the sake of doing so. They figure if they keep making a hundred models, you will find something you like. That always annoyed me about Sig, aside from them and H&K, being extremely overpriced. I am not new at this as many others who are so impressed by these pistols. I have been actively carrying a gun daily for 42 years. If you are looking for duty guns, then Glock and M&P are perfectly fine, and reasonably priced, and for carry guns, if you believe 9mm is the smallest way to go, “as I do” then a small pocket pistol like a Kahr PM9 or Springfield XDS, is the way to go.
If you want to show how much money you can spend for no reason, then you can always go to Kimber, Wilson, Brown, or H&K along with Sig, Boberg and Rohrenbach.
This has become a fashion accessory, and a replacement for wearing Rolex watches and driving Porshes. . The idea of carrying a pistol is to save lives, there are very few that “up until recently”, other than revolvers, functioned 100% or close to it. After several hundred guns over 4+ decades, I can say that my glocks, have never failed to function, “ever” in over 20 years of carrying them. I can’t say the same for any other gun than my revolvers.
This obsession with the gun of the month club, is a real waste of everyone’s time and money. I see guys buying guns instead of putting tires on their car that their kids ride in.
Unless you are a collector, “which just means you got stuck with a lot of guns you can’t sell, “like an investor vs a trader” “unless they are really unique”, there is no reason to switch guns every few months, it does no good to not use the same gun every day. If you have to react quickly you may find that out the hard way.
You may perceive this wrong , as I believe everyone should have the option of carrying a gun, but when all of this started , a man had a gun, maybe 2, he usually had that gun from the day he bought it until they planted him in the ground. Now granted there are new technology’s today that one needs to keep up with. But buying a new gun every few months just because some marketing company plasters it all over the web and gun magazines, is a piss poor reason.
This too shall pass, people will tire of this gun buying obsession and realize they only need a couple of solid pistols to protect themselves and their loved ones, and weather it’s a Sig or a Glock or something that shoots fireballs, it won’t really matter. Save your money.
Well put – thank you !
Colt doing as they are trying to survive on one model from 1911?
So Sig puts out “new” models. Can you name any company that doesn’t develop new models? “ANY” company, not just in the firearm’s industry. On the other hand, do you not see new products from Ruger, Springfield, S&W?
Not that I think you do, but the radioactive tritium in the night sights is nothing to worry about. I’ve put a watch with tritium illumination in front of a gamma ray detector and it didn’t pick up much except background noise. The vials contain so little of such a weak radioactive source that it probably wouldn’t knock a year off your lifespan. Granted, no radioactivity is good for you, but as a guy with a phd in nuclear physics told me, smoking one cigarette isn’t good for you but won’t give you lung cancer. smoking a packet a day for 30 years probably will. same applies here.
I used to own one and it made a great night table gun with a hand held flashlight next to it. I like shorter barrels as they balance better in my hand and are quicker to get on target. For home defense use a DA/SA trigger is great. I am buying another one tomorrow because I miss the one I foolishly sold.
I am amazed at how guys can master using their trigger resets which is switching from an initial longer trigger pull to a light and shorter one and say with a straight face that a DA/SA is hard to master. Good shooters shoot anything well. I know more than a few guys who carry Glocks without one in the chamber, in retention holsters. When they tell me about the problems with a DA/SA gun, I just have to laugh.
Quite frankly you can just thumb the hammer back when it is pointed in a safe direction. In the last few decades, my hammer has never slipped. A Sig with a short reset trigger is a dream to shoot and everyone who shot mine loved it better than whatever they had.
Written with convincing authority, yet full of holes. 92F was used it the trails, and the front sight is not removable on either the 92S, 92SB, 92F, 92FS, or M9. Shape of the trigger guard (squared) are the same on both the 92F, FS, and M9, the 92SB was rounded, and the factory and issue magazines are both 15 rounds. Get your facts straight, before you print them.