It’s been a good while since the last update on the Sig Sauer P229. It’s also been a good while since the pistol’s round count hit 1500. The reason the round count hasn’t increased recently is because I’ve retired this pistol from defensive carry and competitive applications.
I won’t spend time rehashing the description or specifications as that was covered in the previous post. I will, however, mention that I really like P229. I like the way it looks. It feels great in my hands. Yes, it’s a little on the heavy side, but that weight makes it a really smooth shooting gun. Bundle all of that with the trigger that has a very short reset, a long smooth double action trigger pull, and a very nice single action trigger pull and it made my decision to retire it from defensive and competitive use very difficult.
So why did I retire it? Short answer: it doesn’t fit my hands.
You may have noticed I mentioned “it feels great in my hands”. While that is true, “feels good” isn’t the same thing as “fits well”. Trust me, the concept of proper gun fitment was a shocking revelation from a Tactical Pistol/Rifle course I attended a while back. During that class, the instructor spent some time with me diagnosing my shooting skills. At the time, I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was “reaching” for the trigger when drawing the P229. This compensating action resulted in a grip where the pistol was not aligned with my forearm. That grip alignment presented a quickly widening group favoring left as my rate of fire increased. While this is something I could have overcome with sufficient training, the harsh reality is the bad fit will always be a limiting factor.
I bring up my fitment issues because I think it is likely a contributing factor to the reliability issues I’ve experienced with the P229, however that doesn’t completely absolve the pistol from having any reliability issues. Granted the malfunctions I experienced are anecdotal and may very well have been entirely my fault. Nevertheless, the malfunctions I experienced were enough to justify the retirement of this gun from its defensive and competitive roles. Here is a summary of those failures:
- Double feed and failure to fire during an IDPA match in May 2019
- Double feed during an IDPA match in July 2019
- Double feed during an IDPA match in October 2019
Not going to lie. I struggled with the decision to find a different pistol. I suspect a major factor in that struggle was the psychology of the previous investment. At the end of the day, between the bad fit and the repeat double feeds it eventually became obvious that the P229 was not the right pistol for me.
I’m in no way saying P229s in general are unreliable. I’m not even saying this particular P229 is unreliable. If I’m saying anything at all, then I’m saying that I haven’t succeeded in shooting this particular P229 reliably. I still love the look and feel of the gun and I’m fairly certain it’s a viable option that can work reliably for many.
If nothing else, there are a few lessons here to take away from my experience. The first lesson is that it’s important to understand proper gun fitment as it will be easier to develop proficiency with a gun that fits well (as opposed to a gun that is too small or too large). Consider how difficult it would be run while wearing shoes that are too small or too large. Is it possible? Yes, but it isn’t optimal.
Lesson number two is that it’s important to thoroughly test a gun for reliable operation if it is intended to be used competitively or defensively. A double feed in a competitive match is likely to cost the match. A double feed in a defensive scenario could cost one their life. What is thorough enough testing? At a minimum my suggestion, one hundred rounds of the ammunition that will be used defensively or competitively plus enough practice ammo to reach a round count of five hundred rounds fired without a single malfunction. If a malfunction is encountered, then there are a few possible courses of action. First, one could attempt to rectify the issue. That could mean trying different ammunition, trying a different magazine, or fixing bad technique and then retesting for reliability. If unable to correct the issue, then the gun could be sent to the manufacturer (or a gunsmith) for service and then retested when returned. Another option is to sell it and use the funds to purchase a different pistol. The last option is to do what I’ve done and relegate the pistol to a gun collection until one decides to part with it.
That brings us to perhaps the most valuable lesson. Lesson number three is be prepared to accept the fact that a pistol may have been a bad investment and don’t attempt to rationalize it. While a singular malfunction could very well be due to bad ammo, a bad magazine, or bad technique, repeated malfunctions are a tell tale sign the gun isn’t right for defensive or competitive use. Especially, if one has made several attempts to resolve the reliability issue.
Readers who are more interested in hearing more about the gun rather than my experience with it, might appreciate knowing that mechanically the P229 never showed any signs of irregular wear. All of the wear is limited to visible finish wear in all the usual places, including the outside of the slide, take down lever, de-cocker, and slide catch as result of repeatedly interfacing with a holster. There is also visible finish wear on the hammer where it makes contact with the firing pin and the slide as the pistol cycles. Surprisingly, the wear on rails, inside the slide, and the barrel is almost non-existent.
My opinion on the trigger hasn’t changed. It’s hard to say if the trigger got better over time. Out of the box, the trigger felt great and very smooth. As is typical with DA/SA (double action / single action) triggers, the double action trigger pull is long and heavy. The trigger reset is very short and the single action pull has a little take up with a crisp break. It’s not as nice as the triggers found on the DA/SA CZ pistols used for competitive matches, but it’s better than most triggers I’ve handled on other DA/SA duty pistols.
Similarly, my opinion on most other features of this gun remain largely unchanged since the previous review. That includes the reduced slide catch lever I found difficult to actuate.
It’s another minor thing, but I have developed one additional complaint with this pistol. Specifically, with the G-10 grip. Functionally, I haven’t had any issue with the grip. In fact, I like the feel of the grip a lot. The texture works very well and offers enough grip to run the gun with wet or sweaty hands. My issue with the grip is that it’s a pain to keep clean. Dust and lint isn’t much of a problem, but sunblock on the other hand likes to work it’s way into the deeper parts of the texture and it takes a bit of effort to get it out. I suspect lotion would yield a similar experience. An air compressor makes it easier to clean dried sunblock out of the grip texture, but it still requires a bit of time to get it all out.
There you have it. These are my thoughts on the P229 after shooting over 1500 rounds with it.