The trend is sweeping large and small law enforcement
agencies throughout the United States - the .40 caliber is
totally in, while the 9mm is out. Local and State agencies
in my Washington-Baltimore area either have switched or
are switching to .40 caliber in droves. Even the FBI, which
took a long wait-and-see, extensive test-and-evaluate
approach, are now issuing 40-caliber GLOCK 22/23s to their
new classes of special agents. US intelligence agencies
and Service investigative units, however, have not made
the switch to the .40. Neither has the Secret Service, BATF,
nor State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).
The SIG P228 9mm remains the quintessential "fed" gun
with these and other agencies to include the Army Criminal
Investigative Division (CID) and Air Force Office of Special
Investigations (OSI). This pistol remains my choice for
domestic and overseas use. Here's why.
For most intelligence operations, the 9mm makes the greatest
sense. When assigned to support military operations, there's
a ready supply of NATO-spec 9mm issued for the Beretta M9.
Yes, I know that it's a comparatively poor stopper versus .45
ball, but ammo must be available and very plentiful for both
training and operational purposes. In Spec Ops circles, hollowpoint
ammo is available for counter-terrorism missions, which greatly
enhances the 9mm effectiveness. The primary weapon for
the DSS, BATF and often FBI agents is the SIG P228. When
assigned to support diplomatic or investigative missions abroad,
I know that my pistol, magazines and ammunition are interchangeable
with theirs. This is significant should the need arise to use
someone else's gear, or they use mine.
The SIG P228 is supremely reliable out of the box. Its reliability
can only be matched by the P226 and arguably bested by the
Beretta 92. These points are critical for several reasons.
Weapons are often issued at overseas departure or destination
points. This means that it may not be my personal P228 on
which I'm relying. As my primary weapon, it must be totally
reliable in all extreme conditions. Any maintained P228 is this
The best duty pistol is also extremely accurate. Stress under
physical exhaustion or combat duress plays havoc with your
shooting ability. I want the most accurate pistol possible to
maximize hit potential under these extreme conditions. This
is especially important when operating in an environment that
contains hostile and non-hostile targets. A surgical shot may
be needed to take out single or multiple threats, without hitting
fellow operatives or innocent bystanders. It is also critical when
facing a battle rifle-equipped hostile. Every SIG P228 I've shot
is accurate enough to reach out and touch a target to 100 yards
with confidence. This can't be said for many other popular pistols.
The only popular service pistol that beats the P228 for accuracy
out of the box is the SIG P226. Table One
provides accuracy figures for my own stock P228 with a wide
assortment of ball and hollowpoint ammo. Note the total average
hand held five-shot group size at 25 yards: it's 2.80 inches.
Conventional hollowpoint ammo, which included everything from
+P+ 115 to 147-grain subsonic, averaged an excellent 2.60 inches!
Capacity counts when a pistol is the only weapon between
you and a large group of machete-wielding third-worlders.
The P228 holds twice the ammo of the venerable 1911. Add
two spare magazines and you've got 40 rounds on tap. I'll
usually add a 20-round mag if things are looking especially
dicey. I certainly don't spray and pray, but find the high
capacity pistol a better choice for these type encounters.
The SIG P228 also features some of the best ergonomics of
any pistol ever produced. The double column grip is comfortable
for my medium-size hand, and I find the pistol points naturally
and immediately to target. The double action trigger is the
best in the business and if, as some female associates with
smaller hands find, too long to reach comfortably, a SIG
factory short trigger is available. The single action is outstanding -
clean and moderately weighted (mine is 5.5 lbs.). My only
complaint is a light trigger-return spring, which when not fully
acclimated to the weapon, can cause the shooter to slap at
the trigger while trying to perform fast follow-up shots.
Some details that need attention are the soft metal used in
the grip screws, and the tendency for these screws to come
loose if not extremely well-tightened. Fixes to these shortcomings
are: use an exact-fit screwdriver when loosening or tightening
the screws, replace the grip screws with hexhead grip bolts
or use a Hogue or Pachmayer slip-on grip to secure the grip
panels. The SIG standard matte finish is not very wear or corrosion
resistant. The SIG factory K Kote or aftermarket Teflon finish
such as Birdsong Black-T will serve in harsh conditions.
The pistol possesses few sharp edges, the only ones being at
the tips of the front of the slide. These aren't a problem for
shooting, but the sharp points can tear at the inside of finely
boned holsters such as Alessi, Mitch Rosen's or Andy Arratoonian's
Horseshoe products and can sometimes cause a rough reholster
with these excellent rigs. The gun conceals very well in a quality
external or IWB holster. Factory sights are among the best in
the business; extremely durable, low profile, posessing a fairly
wide rear notch mated to a highly visable front sight.
How It Shoots
Recoil is near-negligible with the P228. The 9mm is a much
more easily controlled round compared to either the .40 cal or
.45. I can fire fourteen rounds in under five seconds and hit a
man-sized target at fifty feet with ease. Table Two [omitted]
provides the results of a recent outdoor range session with the
P228. These basic drills combine drawing and firing speed with
the need to engage both near and long range targets. Results
were good; the credit going to the superlative design of the
pistol. Blame my somewhat slow times on a new, tightly fitted,
Horseshoe SOB holster (excellent rig; worn toward hip side)
and my unfamiliarity with the different angle of draw.
Bottom line - if you are a federal agent, intelligence operative,
law enforcement officer or civilian possessing a SIG P228, don't
feel shortchanged or undergunned. You're carrying one of the
best pistols made. World-class reliable, accurate, ergonomic
and easily controllable, you can't get much better. Stick with
it, practice often and with realism, and know that this gun will
hold up its end of the bargain when you need it to.