Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pop Up Targets - the Sig P220

I've written a lot this last year about my smaller concealed pieces but there is one gun that is guaranteed to be found on my hip if I'm traveling somewhere other than a quiet little neighborhood errand for gas or such.

Sometimes you want something. . well. BIGGER. Like for breakfast on an early morning. I had some little store bought roll things, but I wanted Popovers  Real ones, baked in a deep popover pan. If you've never had straight out of the oven popovers, you don't know what you're missing. With just eggs, milk, flour, salt and just a tablespoon of butter for the whole batch, you get big crispy sided puffs with a soft, buttery, airy center. You need to measure exactly though.  This is not a recipe that will turn out by guessing the amount of ingredients in your hand.  But if they turn out well, with the right recipe, low humidity and the six muffin pan, they are incredible, lacking the thick interior of a roll or muffin, but rather having  a center of just thinly stretched pieces of the eggy, cream puff-like dough. If you've had gougère that's probably the best comparison, but these are airier, thanks to that popping effect.

click on photos to enlarge

A few ingredients,just butter, eggs, salt, flour, butter and about two minutes prep time and they were in the oven baking. You can make these in a muffin tray but they don't rise as high.  They cook at a high temperature for about 15 minutes, then are turned down. The steam inside builds the top up.

With some fresh blackberry preserves, a perfect start to a shooty day.

I've often sung the praises of the church of the 1911 and I'm a big fan of some of the Smith and Wesson wheele guns, but a definite favorite for home and occasional concealed is my Sig P220. In 1975 the Swiss armed forces adopted the P220 as the Model 75 in 9mm Parabellum; Japan, Denmark and France subsequently followed suit. This pistol, chambered in either 9mm Parabellum, 7.65mm Parabellum (.30 Luger), .45 ACP or .38 Super, was first marketed in the U.S. by Browning under the name BDA (Browning Double-Action). Those I know that procured one of those BDA models love them. Dubbed the "Thinking Man's .45" for good reason, the new Sig P220 is solid shooter. For me, it is what I term a "serious working gun" and I keep .45 acp 230 grain Hydra-Shok jacketed hollow points for it. (For those of you new to shooting, Hydra-Shok features a unique, patented center-post design and notched jacket. The center post acts to prevent plugging of the hollowpoint cavity with clothing and tissue which can cause a failure to expand, reducing the failure rate, and making for a better defense choice.

On first picking up the P220 .45 you'll notice - it's solid, with some heft to it. Like the other pistols in this series (P225 and P226), the P220 will not find favor with you if you have an unrequited love for wood furniture and milled forgings. Fabricated from an aluminum alloy, the frame has a durable, matte black, anodized finish. The aluminum frame is largely responsible for the pistol's total weight of only 25.5 ounces, without magazine. And there's no Safety - it's DA/SA - the safety is between your ears. If you're only comfortable riding cocked and locked, this isn't the gun for you.

The P220 that I have is a large framed .45 ACP with a single stack magazine and the DA/SA that is the classic Sig Sauer. SIG was, in my mind, the first to actually get the DA/SA right--just draw and fire, and they are probably still the best. Some folks don't like that, but I think if you can master the DA/SA you can shoot about anything else. But it's something you have to spend a bit of time on. If you have a good DA trigger, like I do, it's very easy to shoot well with. The often stated "your first shot will be way off" was never true in my experience. My low ready shots with the P220 are just as decent as my SA only shots from the 1911.That first DA shot always goes just where I'm looking, but perhaps that was just getting comfortable with the feel of the trigger, especially in shooting the magazine double tap.


The DAK (for Double Action Kellerman, after the designer of the system) is an option in the SIG's, including the Combat 220. When firing the pistol the first trigger pull is only 6.5 lgf (compared to 10 pounds for the typical DAO). When the pistol fires and the trigger is released forward, the trigger has an intermediate reset point that;s about halfway to the trigger at rest position. The trigger pull from this intermediate reset point is 8.5 lbf. If the trigger is released all the way forward, this will engage the primary trigger reset and have a trigger pull of 6.5 lbf. To engage the intermediate reset, the trigger must be held to the rear while the slide is cycled, either manually or by the recoil of a round being fired. I fired one on a pistol I rented at a range while traveling. DAK is OK, it feels like the Glock/XD/M&P with a slightly long, light, smooth consistent DA pull. But to be honest, if you want DAK you might be just as happy with a Glock. I know JayG loves his G30 and Caleb does toothe the Glock 21that EJ won at Gunbloggers Rendesvous is sweet.  But I want a SIG, and I want it to feel like a SIG. But it is all subjective, this is one area where it's strictly personal opinion and mine may well be different than yours or the next persons.
The magazines come in both 7 and 8 round capacities, I have the 8, and though it came with two magazines, I've purchased several extras as I will shoot off 4 or 5 magazines with just a pause for breath. When I called the gun store and asked them if they had that model, I was met with some hesitation. I could tell the fellow didn't mean to be impolite, but he said "uh. . Miss. . have you held one yet?" I knew what he was getting at. "Yes, I have really long fingers" and he knew exactly what I meant. Ladies -it is a gun that does need somewhat long fingers. If you are petite with small hands or short fingers, you might have a stretch on the DA trigger. Though once the guns is in SA mode it's easier, though the transition will feel odd to you, and on first shot you might even think it jammed.

The answer to that is to simply make sure and practice going from DA to SA while firing it. This is easily accomplished with the decocking lever on the P220; just decock the gun, fire a few rounds, then decock it again to ensure you are experienced with this transition.The DA pull on the P220 is relatively heavy as DA pulls go, but if you have any decent strength in your hand at all, it's not an issue and is smooth enough that you don't have to measurably increase the pressure at all through the pull. In SA mode there is a considerable take-up on the trigger, but it breaks nicely and, once past the take-up, feels much like a typical 1911 trigger break.
The sight is the vertical "dot the I" type and in good light it's great though at an indoor range of 50 feet or more, with less than great lighting you might have to work at it. You can also get the Truglow fiber/tritium sights for this weapon? I've not used them, but they are just dandy on the XD.

Probably the best thing about the P220 is it's solid feel. Again, a personal preference, but the extra weight does help manage some of the recoil. Yes - as in "Holy Recoil Batman!" You feel like you're really shooting something, not playing with some little kids gun. Yet, the P220 is like no other .45ACP- it just sort of rolls back slightly in the hand under recoil and allows for a quick followup shot Unless you have an extremely small hand, you'll find the controls well placed and large enough to maneuver, and there's just enough movement required to reach the mag release that it's not likely you'll hit it accidentally while firing. The decocking lever is located well and isn't wimpy. This is NOT a Hello Kitty gun. It's precision engineering folks and it has a takedown for cleaning that's the easiest of anything I've owned. Though be aware of the recoil spring weight, it's HEFTY, so this is not a good weapon for someone with weak upper body strength. All areas that need to be cleaned and maintained are easy to get to once the gun is broken down. but with the engineering and the tight fit of it all, have someone walk you through the procedures before going past anything past simple cleaning.

As for the concerns on firing that have popped up on forums. I know some PD's had some problems showing up in some of the 220's after 10 years of service, and after 50,000 rounds there was some hairline cracks in the frame and there's stories of jamming. But these were severely used guns with 50,000 rounds of 230 grain Hydra Shock. I think that proves how good the guns are as opposed to being a worry. I've not had a "new" SIG so am not familiar with any problems there. With quality ammo, mine has never jammed.

For that reason, it's a "big" gun with a nice slender slide that I'm comfortable with on my hip in its Blackhawk holster, for a trip to to the wild, be it urban street or forest. Because sometimes you just want something a little larger and more mighty on your plate.
Photo taken moments before the little store bought roll threw itself off the table in shame.


  1. Now I feel compelled to keep my eyes open for a popover pan, I've not had them in ages, though I do occasionally make "Dutch Baby" which is popovers large disc shaped cousin.

    Oh Brigid, how I envy you your long fingers... I have the shortest stubbiest fingers of almost any adult woman I know, they are about suitable for a child. (I cannot wear adult size work gloves either) Finding firearms that fit my tiny paws is a real challenge. There are many pistols that I like, but almost always the distance between the backstrap and the trigger is far too great.

    So far the best fit for me I have found is the Sig P238, I can actually reach the trigger; while I know that 380 is on the small side for protection, I look forward to getting in more practice time!

  2. Alison - I am pretty sure I found mine at William and Sonoma. It was sort of pricey but it has lasted for years without wear.

    My friend Midwest Chick is very petite (she gets all the CUTE clothes, I have to shop in the Viking department) and she has the 238 I believe as her carry piece.

    You might try a Kahr in 40. It's fairly small and very reliable (and not terribly expensive).

  3. Middleboro Jones - if you are reading this. I got your address in Afghanistan and once you're settled, expect a care package. I need to send some more books over to John Shirley's group as well.

    Travel safe.

  4. A fine Pistol. Now you are going to make me throw up a review of a S&W 4006. Minus the food of course!

  5. Those look GOOD, the Sig? Well, I just don't like em... too 'busy' and they just don't feel right to me.

  6. I have both a popover pan (we like brioche) and a Sig .45 on my hip. I feel so sympatico. Thanks for the writeup. I will pass it along to all the Glock fanboys I know.

  7. Keads - we'll look forward to the review.

    Old NFO - they are fussy little bastards, I give you that. Some times if you don't hold your nose just right, they don't rise (probably humidity), but when they do. Dang! I've not liked the Sig's I "rented" at gun ranges while traveling, but this one I love. Next time you are in town for a blog meet I'll let you try her. And I'll make popovers. Depending on the weather we'll either have a tasty snack or something to use in place of steel plate as a target.

    UK Houston - Welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed. I'll admit, the Glock 21 was the first one I've fired I liked. But I won't be replacing my favorite.

  8. mmmmmm - popovers!

    ##$$^*^^%$ Brigid! :- P

    I had an early Sig 220, frame marked
    'Made in W. Germany'.
    Sadly she was also in the safe...
    :- (

  9. I have never even handled a Sig, let alone fired one...it could be I'm scared to fall in love.

    There was a time when I had a full-sized H&K USP, and my wife had to have it in Condition 1 for her...she flat out COULD NOT reach the trigger if it was in it's DA position...even I had to reach, which is one reason it is gone now...

    No such problems with my CZ...

  10. I have a P239 in .40 S&W, and one of the first things I did was install a short trigger. Big grips and I don't get along real well.

  11. I have a P239 in .40 S&W, and one of the first things I did was install a short trigger. Big grips and I don't get along real well.

  12. Brigid... only you could so beautifully segue from a Sig to Popovers and back again...

    Dann in Ohio

  13. I have 4 P229s, and 2 P226s... love em all.
    My wife and I train with matching firearms. We will always carry identical mags, ammo, and firearms.
    Check out the SCT mags for the Sig double stacks.
    20 rds each, very do-able for multiple attackers, either 4 legged or the 2 legged variety.
    Glock 10MM when in the woods though... very effective against nasty beasties.

  14. I swear I only hit the "publish" button once. Really.

    (Though I do like the gun enough to say it twice. Scary accurate for a 3" barrel.)

  15. I love your blog and this is my first comment here.
    My best friend retired as Captain of a major southern PD with 32 years of service. He carried a West German 220 and back when he made Sgt, I had a custom left handed leather duty holster made for him by a fine holster maker in Alabama. I had gotten my 220 a couple of years after he got his. Mine was from the first year they were made in the US.

    He died tragically in an accident 3 years ago and at that time, his family offered his SIG to me. I had sold mine 10 years ago and when I got his, I sent it up to SIG in New Hampshire to be inspected and serviced. I sent a letter along with it explaining it's importance to me; that it had been my best friend's sidearm for decades and I'd appreciate them being very careful with it.

    It was returned completely updated and completely refinished at no charge. It's the most important gun I have ever owned and I feel very 'protected' with it. There is nothing like a SIG and I am very pleased with their service center.

    Thanks for this post. I miss my old friend and reading about our SIG makes him feel closer.

  16. I love Robert B Parker books.

  17. RE: Hydrashock

    I seem to recall reading here and there that the center post in the Hydrashock bullet is considered to act as a "hydrospike" (cf. Trident II missile) that stabilizes the bullet as it travels through soft tissue and makes it LESS effective. Any thoughts?

    O' course, the beauty of the 45 ACP is that it's STILL a big, heavy bullet; whether it expands or not, it's going to leave a mark.

  18. Gulland - welcome, and thank you for the sharing of that, in your comment. I'm so glad that firearm is in its proper place, held with respect and cared for in memory.

    Al - the early ones are my favorites, and I have every single one of them in paperback.

    dodjim505 - yes, that's NOT going to buff out :-)

  19. I have Dad's W. German P220 that he put wood grips on - it is a beauty. I also picked up a limited run all-steel 220 a couple of weeks ago - talk about a handful! That weight makes it feel like I am shooting a 38! It does, however, require a belt AND suspenders when wearing it on the hip!!

  20. I've rented a few Sigs, and shoot them ok, but they are a decidedly lefty-UN-friendly design. I've got long fingers, so I can shoot anything I've encountered. (Loved the .50AE Deagle) But, I have to use my right hand to work the switches. Almost seems as if the designer thought: you VILL use your right hand to shoot the gun, and you VILL like it! Bummer. Oh, well, back to my Colts.


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