SIG's P226 Elite SAO is perfect for competitions as well as self-defense
For fans with SIG Sauer's P-series pistols, Caleb Giddings of Gun Nuts Media has an in-depth look at the P226 Elite SOA in his latest article for American Rifleman
SIG SAUER P226 ELITE SAO
The P226 Elite SAO takes its cues from both the traditional lineup of SIG pistols and the competition-proven X-series, allowing it to serve double duty for competition and self-defense.
The SIG Sauer P-series guns, from the original P220 to the modern P229 are among the most thoroughly tested guns on the market today. The M11 (a military P229) is issued to multiple branches of the armed forces, the P229 itself is issued to countless federal LE agencies, including the Air Marshals and the U.S. Coast Guard. No discussion of SIG's military pistols is complete without mentioning the venerable Mk 25, the 9 mm handgun of the Navy SEALs.
But SIG does more than just guns for the military; they have an extensive line of competition pistols led by its flagship P226 X-5 Competition. However, with a price tag approaching $2,000 the X-5 is a bit expensive for many shooters looking for a competition-ready SIG.
Enter the new P226 Elite SAO, which takes cues from both the traditional lineup of SIG pistols and the competition-proven X-series. The P226 Elite SAO would be equally at home for concealed carry and self-defense, or in a competition holster for 3-gun, Bianchi Cup, USPSA, Steel Challenge or IDPA.
The P226 SAO comes from the factory in the Elite configuration, which means it has a slightly upswept beavertail on the grip. This beavertail helps provide a consistent index for the shooter's dominant hand during the process of drawing the gun. However, some shooters, myself included, don't like the beavertail as much as a factory SIG grip, because it actually pushes the hand lower relative to the bore axis than the non-beavertail SIGs. That being said, I'm no longer convinced that having a slightly higher bore axis is as detrimental as people say it is, and on the P226 SAO it doesn't seem to matter in the slightest.
Other standard features on the pistol are an integral accessory rail, SIGLITE night sites, forward cocking serrations and a very nice checkering job on the gun's frontstrap. The stock trigger on the test gun broke right at 4.5 pounds consistently. Interestingly, the dedicated single-action trigger on this gun had a heavier break than the single-action mode on a Sig M11-A1. This is likely due to the M11-A1 being equipped with the Short Reset Trigger, which in my opinion is the best factory mass-market DA trigger available. However, the 4.5 trigger was easy to manage during all shooting exercises from high-speed bill drills to precision bullseye shooting.
The controls are laid out exactly as you'd expect with a SIG, with one notable addition—the ambidextrous thumb safety. The ambi-safety provided on the gun is quite large, but because of its location it also solves one of the problems I have when shooting SIGs, which is riding the slide stop button. Unfortunately, it also prevents me from pre-loading the slide stop button on slide-lock reloads, which actually made the gun harder to reload from slide-lock than a traditional double action SIG. The safety, however, is large and easy to manipulate when coming out of the holster or manipulating the gun, so there aren't any issues with "missing" the safety on the draw.
Read the rest of Caleb's insights on SIG Sauer's P226 Elite SAO.