The Sig P226 is famously known as the Navy SEAL’s pistol until recently. But there are still a lot of these types of pistols on the market and many people still carry them as their concealed carry pistol.
Are there any issues with the gun? If so, what are they and how do they impact you?
5 Issues with the P226
The Sig P226 has issues predominately with certain magazines, the firing pin, the California Compliant modifications, and the extractor.
Now these issues are not unique to the P226 but let’s look at each of these to understand how they might affect your use of the gun.
Breaking Down P226 Problems
Normally the P226 is a phenomenal handgun. While the market has mostly moved away from external safeties and external hammers, some people still like using these pistols.
The P226 is reliable and sometimes the only game in town. This doesn’t mean you’ll be under-gunned but it does mean you’ll have to get used to the various quirks of the system.
But some things are not quirks. These issues impact the use of the gun and can cause the gun to not work.
Let’s start off with one of the more common issues
1. Magazine Issues
The largest failure point for any firearm is the magazine. This is because the tolerances of the magazine need to be correct in order for it to feed reliably. This was the reason many early firearms did not have a detachable magazine, because removable magazines can be damaged more easily.
In terms of the P226, most magazine related issues have been resolved but this does not mean that some of the defective magazines are not still on the market.
Mec-Gar magazines are known to be very good quality. And these types of magazines are usually safe. However early Check Mate magazines have been known to have issues with feeding.
Newer versions of the Check Mate mags are reliable but some of the early ones could still be floating around out there.
Some magazines also need to be tapped to align the rounds properly in the magazine. This was common in older worn out rifle magazines like those used in Vietnam. While this does not tie into the failure to feed issue it does relate to light strikes and some firing pin issues.
2. Magazine Release Issue
While not directly connected to the actual magazine release button, there have been a number of accidental magazine releases by the P226.
This means while the gun is being fired, the magazine just drops free.
This is very clearly a concern when it comes to self-defense scenarios, but if it happens it can happen regularly.
This is most likely tied to either a worn magazine release or a particular magazine. If you narrow it down to a single magazine, dispose of the magazine.
3. Light Strikes/Firing Pin Issues
The next issues are light strikes or firing pin issues. These occur when the firing pin hits the primer of a round but the round does not go off.
This can be easily fixed in the P226 in two ways. The first is tapping the magazines and making sure the rounds are aligned properly within the magazine.
The second is to clean the weapon and the firing pin channel. If none of these work, you might have to replace the firing pin or another section of the firing assembly.
4. California Compliant SIG Kit Issues
This is a more concerning issue but only relates to those Sig P226’s that are made to comply with California’s firearms laws.
Per their restrictions, the firearm cannot be allowed to fire if the magazine is not in place. This is generally referred to as a magazine disconnect and is found on other firearms like the Browning Hi-Power.
This feature is usually complained about by end users and is just something many people have to deal with. However there is a significant safety issue if the disconnect fails.
California compliant P226’s have experienced a dangerous failure regarding the magazine disconnect. The spring in the disconnect can break and prevent the magazine from being fully inserted.
This results in the gun being unable to fire and the magazine from being easily extracted from the gun. If this happens in a high stress scenario, the P226 has become as effective as a brick.
Replacing this piece is not easy and it is recommended to take it to a competent gunsmith to fix it.
5. Extractor Breakages
Sometimes, on some of the newer P226’s, the extractor can break. Now this can happen on any gun with an extractor, but it can happen rather early on in some cases.
Wear on the extractor is nothing new, and it can result from damage to the extractor over time. This comes down to things like manufacturing materials, heat treatments, etc. There’s no way to be sure the extractor isn’t going to break immediately if there are no visible cracks in the extractor.
When this happens you’ll just have to replace the extractor. There is no work around or special trick, it won’t extract rounds if the extractor is broken.
The P226 is a great handgun to have if you prefer an external hammer and external safeties. There are even Double-Action-Only models available if you want a single, consistent trigger pull.
The P226 is not as modern a handgun as it used to be, but it is still capable in the modern self-defense sphere. It just takes a little more training to be able to use it well.
While other guns can have an extensive list of issues, the P226 does not have that broad of a list in terms of parts failures. And even then the failures are some of the more common ones that most handguns will experience due to dirt or lack of quality control.
If you have a properly functioning P226, don’t think you’re going to be outgunned. Just because it isn’t the bleeding edge of firearms technology does not mean it won’t do its job.
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