Switzerland’s P226 is a semi-automatic pistol manufactured by SIG Sauer.  This service-type weapon is chambered for the following:

  • 9 x 19mm Parabellum
  • .40 S & W
  • .357 SIG
  • .22 Long Rifle

The design of this full-sized weapon is based on the SIG P220.  However, the P226 uses a higher capacity, magazine - staggered-column - as opposed to the P220s single-column magazine.  Many consider this to be one of the top pistols of all time.


The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has an number of pistols on display in their Firearms and Ordnance Gallery.  As you step into witness the Gallery, you get a feel for the power that is housed within.  The oldest piece on display is a very rare bayonet from the Revolutionary War. 


History of the SIG Sauer P226

In 1984, the United States Army held a competition known as the SM9 Service Pistol Trials.  This trial was held on behalf of all U.S. armed forces in an effort to replace the M1911A1.  At the end of the trial period, the Beretta 92F and the SIG P226 were the only two in contention for the M9 contract.  After cost analysis, the contract was awarded to Beretta.  Though the P226 had a lower cost per pistol, its magazine and spare parts package price was higher than that of the Beretta.


Being a Swiss based company, it was necessary to SIG to enter into an agreement with J.P. Sauer & Sohn – a manufacturer of German guns - as the laws in Switzerland completely forbid the export of firearms.


Design Features

The SIG Sauer P226 is operated by the method pioneered by John Browning – locked breech, short-recoil.  Located on the left side of the frame, just above the magazine release button, is the de-cocking lever.  This design feature was first featured on the Sauer 38H – a pre-WWII pistol.  This design allows the weapon’s hammer to be safely dropped.  Like the Kimber Custom pistols, this weapon has a safety feature which blocks the firing pin from coming into contact with a loaded round – except when the trigger is pulled.  But when the trigger is pulled and the hammer is slowly lowered, the weapon is not ‘drop safe’.  Accidental discharge is still possible when a sufficient amount of force is placed on the hammer.  When the pistol is de-cocked correctly, the P226 can safely be placed in its holster.  A double-action, firing mode can be achieved simply by pulling the trigger.  The SIG P226 does not have a manual safety feature.


Several design variants have emerged based on the original P226.  One is the P226 Navy, which has been used by the US Navy SEAL teams since the 1980s.  This particular variant has a special phosphate finish on its internal parts, making them more resistant to corrosion.


Specifications for the SIG P226

  • Manufactured by:  SIG Sauer
  • Total Weight with Magazine:  34 ounces
  • Length:  7.7 inches
  • Barrel length:  4.4 inches
  • Cartridge:
    • 9 x 19mm Parabellum
    • .40 S&W
    • .356 SIG
    • .22 Long Rifle (only on Classic 22 model)


Approximately 18 different variants of Switzerland’s SIG Sauer P226 semi-automatic pistol have been developed and are used in over two dozen different countries around the world.