Review of the Sig Sauer 226 Enhanced Elite
Yes, I bought another handgun. Admittedly, I have no business whatever buying another. You’ll recall that just a couple of months ago, I decided to switch over to a single platform, and chose the S&W M&P 9c. Not long after, my wife got her CCW, and we got her a Sig P238 – I liked it so much, I couldn’t help but get one for myself…”for Summer carry” was my justification. And heck, if I was going to carry a 1911-style gun in the Summer, I’d better get one for use at the range and league competition. That notion provided the necessary justification for me to purchase a Springfield Armory EMP in 9mm.
That brings me to the recent purchase of my Sig 226 Enhanced Elite. What was the justification? None whatsoever. I have no good reason to own this gun. I simply like Sig and have always liked the Sig 226.
I got the opportunity to shoot one for the first time with some Navy SEALs back in 2010 for a story I covered at the time. Late last year I finally had the opportunity to purchase an older West German made Sig P226 but sold it not long after because it had the annoying habit of ejecting shells directly at my forehead. I had hoped the experience would have scratched that particular itch. Instead, it only left me wanting more.
“The heck with it” I thought…”I’m just going to buy a new one.” But which one? The Sig P226 is sold by Sig in a cornucopia of variations on the theme…P226 DAK, P226 MK25, P226 Extreme, P226 Scorpion….the list goes on and on. I eventually settled on the Sig 226 Enhanced Elite, which comes with the relatively new SRT trigger (short reset trigger), E2 “reduced reach grips” and SIGLITE® Night Sights:
I had strongly considered getting the model which Sig sells to the US Navy SEALs (now called the P226 MK25). For me, that would have been more of a “collectors item” and less of a gun I’d actually shoot. The E2 grips are MUCH easier for the hands attached to my 5’7″ frame to hold on to, and I also much prefer the SRT trigger. The Enhanced Elite also differs from the Navy SEAL’s P226 in that it has a “beaver tail” frame. This 1911-like aesthetic feature makes the firearm less comfortable to carry concealed, but I have no delusions of being able to carry any full-size firearm so this point was a non-consideration for me. I simply wanted a version of the P226 I could use in home defense if need be, shoot at the range or in league competition potentially, and possibly pass along to my son one day. So the combination of the E2 grips, SRT trigger, and factory night sights were really the selling points for me on the Enhanced Elite version of the P226:
The SIGLITE® Night Sights provide excellent visibility in low-light situations:
The Sig P226 Enhanced Elite has more than just a beaver tail in common with a 1911 – it’s also hammer fired (as opposed to being striker fired) and features a DA/SA trigger, and an all-metal frame (as opposed to many modern semi-auto pistols which feature a metal slide sitting on top of a polymer frame. The DA/SA trigger is something I really like – I grew up on S&W revolvers like the model 19 .357, and the model 60 .38 snub. With the P226 I can put one in the chamber, use the decocker to release the hammer, and I’m ready to go. Pick up the gun and shoot if need be (albeit with a long trigger pull) or use my thumb to cock the hammer back if I want. Options. I like options.
On the down side, it’s terribly unlike my double action only striker-fired M&P 9c. It’s even a bit different than how a 1911 style pistol like my Springfield EMP or my Sig 238 operates. Most intelligent operators would call me stupid for owning weapon systems which operate so differently, and I’d be hard pressed to disagree. To counter this, I’ll take the following steps – 1)the P226 isn’t part of my primary home defense. I keep it hidden in a part of the house I’m highly unlikely to be in if a break in or other badness happens. I figure as long as there’s another gun in the house, might as well keep it ready to go and useful in the off-chance it’s needed in this role. 2)If I take it to the range and shoot, I make sure I don’t leave the range unless I’ve shot my primary defense weapons -to reinforce the operation of my primary defense weapons.
Break down and cleaning of the Sig P226 is among the easiest of any weapon out there. But because it’s an all-metal slide and frame, a little extra care is recommended. Every time I clean the weapon, I apply Shooter’s Choice grease to the slide grooves to reduce the metal-on-metal wear against the finish:
When I first received it, I thoroughly cleaned it, then took it to the range to get a couple hundred rounds through it. I’d love to tell you I shot the P226 Enhanced Elite better than any other gun I’ve held, but that simply wasn’t the case….but I did OK. Here’s my first shot at 25 ft. on an SEB target:
Here’s another target – I pulled one, but otherwise shot about like I normally shoot with my M&P or my EMP at 25 ft.:
One of the nice things about a platform that’s been around forever like the P226 is that you more choices than you’ll know what to do with in the area of accessories and modifications. For instance, The P226 Enhanced Elite comes stock with two 15-round magazines, but there are many other choices for higher capacity magazines. Fifteen rounds is certainly adequate in terms of firepower, but perhaps a bit lacking as compared to other, more contemporary choices from manufacturers like S&W, Glock, and Springfield Armory. Fortunately Mec-Gar (the OEM for magazines for not only Sig, but for most other firearms manufacturers as well) makes a flush fitting 18-round magazines for the Sig 226 which I really like:
The MSRP on the Sig 226 Enhanced Elite is a whopping $1,200.00 as of this writting. But savvy shoppers can purchase this model for under $1000.00 street price. Comparing the Sig 226 to practically any other modern, polymer-framed, striker-fired firearm, the aging P226 (which has been around since the early 80′s when it competed for the US Army’s service pistol contract against Beretta’s contract winning 92F) is more expensive, heavier, has less firepower out of the box, and in many respects could be considered an inferior choice. Add to that the concern that in recent years, Sig’s formerly unshakable commitment to quality came into question (a problem which most followers of the company acknowledge has now been addressed in the last couple of years – Sig’s making good guns again) and it might be tough to recommend the Sig P226. But consider that the Navy SEALs and MANY other other police and military organizations to this very day still use the P226 – a platform which Sig has constantly improved upon over the years (as evidenced by such innovations as the E2 grips and SRT trigger). It’s also still considered a benchmark platform for reliability. I can’t recommend the Sig 226 over other choices for a full-size 9mm, but neither could I dissuade anyone from considering it. I’m both pleased and proud to have one in my personal arsenal and hope to continue to do so for many years to come.