The SIG Sauer P226 is a full-sized, service type pistol chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W and .357 SIG. Its design is based on the SIG Sauer P220.
Based on an early German and Swiss design, the P226 was retooled for entry into the XM9 Service Pistol Trials, which were held by the US Army in 1984 on behalf of the US armed forces to find a replacement for the M1911A1. Only the Beretta 92F and the SIG P226 satisfactorily completed the trials. According to a GAO report, Beretta was awarded the M9 contract for the 92F due to better durability during endurance testing and a lower total package price. The P226 cost less per pistol than the 92F, but SIG's package price with magazines and spare parts was higher than Beretta's. The Navy SEALs, however, chose to adopt the P226 later after several catastrophic slide failures with issued Beretta M9s.
The P226 went through numerous changes over the years. There was a problem with the original trigger bar spring which caused it to erode the frame. In 1998 a completely new trigger bar spring was designed which mandated a change in the shape of the grips. The stippling on the newer stock grips was too shallow which caused them to be slippery, but they were made deeper over time. The stock grips are still not satisfactory to many people so they are often replaced with grips by companies such as Nill or Hogue. Another change was the addition of a rail on the underside of the frame just forward of the trigger guard that allows for attachments such as tactical lights and lasers. The rail was first introduced on the P226 Tactical (circa 2004) and was then added to other styles. Initially these models were referred to as P226R but they later (circa 2006) became the standard version of the P226. After 2008, the P226 was no longer available without a rail.
There have been many variations of the modern P226; such as Tactical, Navy, Blackwater, SCT (Super Capacity Tactical), Equinox, ST, HSP (Homeland Security Pistol), X-Five, X-Six, Elite, Combat, and E2 (Enhanced Ergonomics). Many of the changes are only cosmetic but some have alterations for different uses. Some are only good for target shooting while others are intended for military or law enforcement use. Different types of trigger actions are available for the different models. Some triggers are double action only (DAK-- the K represents Kellerman, who designed the system), single action only (SAO), and double action/single action (DA/SA). Some of the models have obvious external differences that make them stand out from the others. The Tactical has external threads at the front of the barrel to accept a suppressor, the Navy has an anchor on the left-hand side of the slide, the Elite has angled vertical grooves on the barrel, and the E2 has one-piece grips with no screws. The Elite and E2 added the short reset trigger (SRT) which makes the trigger reset after moving a shorter distance. While this is an internal change, the trigger itself was modified to reflect the change. These models-- as well as the current standard model-- have a slimmer, longer, and more hooked appearance than the previous triggers.
- Cartridge: 9mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, or .357 SIG
- Action: Mechanically locked, recoil operated
- Feed System: Dependent on cartridge; 12-13 rd (.40 &.357 cal); 15-20 (9mm)
- Weight: 28.3 oz (802g)
- Length: 7.7 in (196mm)
- Barrel Length: 4.4 in (112mm)
On Criminal Minds
The following non-criminal characters use/used P226s.
- Season One
- Season Six
- Season Twelve
The following criminals used P226s in their crimes.
- Season Six
- The gun carried by Shemar Moore for the show is actually an Airsoft Metal Gas Blowback F226; hence the lack of markings on the slide. It most closely resembles the Navy version of the real SIG Sauer P226.