Skip to main content

SIG Sauer P226 Classic 22 Review

SIG Sauer P226 Classic 22 Review

P226_22LongRifleWithTacLightandAmmo-2_Final

One of my best personal attributes is directly responsible for one of my worst. In all things, I try to be as adaptive and versatile as possible. This has the unfortunate consequence of making me indecisive at times in my quest for adroitness, since I desire versatility but loath compromise. Thankfully, one of the engineers at SIG Sauer feels the same way, because they quietly introduced their most versatile, metal-framed handgun: The P226 Classic 22.

Readers wondering how on Earth a combat handgun chambered in .22 Long Rifle can be considered versatile aren't mistaken. While .22 LR has many uses, it has equally as many shortcomings. So how does a rimfire handgun achieve this? By using centerfire ammunition; though that's not entirely accurate.

226_229mm40SW_Slides_FinalWhere most popular full and mid-sized defensive pistols have a .22 LR conversion kit developed for them, the SIG P226 Classic approaches the issue of a multi-caliber pistol differently. Built on a pistol frame designed for full-powered cartridges, the P226 Classic allows shooters to purchase, "Caliber X-change Kits" that convert it to one of several calibers. This means that a new shooter looking for their first pistol can buy the Classic 22 for plinking and honing essential marksmanship skills then purchase a full-caliber conversion later. Whether they wish to upgrade their plinker to a home defense pistol, concealed carry option or even a competition handgun. Though this still begs the question, "Why?" Why should a shooter start with a rimfire round then purchase a centerfire conversion kit rather than the other way around?


Most new shooters have no idea what caliber they need for either defensive or competitive use. Oftentimes, new buyers will opt for the largest caliber they can effectively control, without taking into consideration things like cost of ownership. Assuming they purchase an exotic or magnum chambering, purchasing enough ammunition to achieve proficiency would run five or six times the initial cost of the handgun. Though this isn't the only boon of the pistol's ammunition polyamory.


Shooters like myself that prefer developing their shooting skills on a platform that directly translates to others will love this setup. Regardless of which caliber conversion is employed, the trigger pull and controls remain consistent. So a shooter could run the .22 LR setup for plinking and small game hunting on the same frame they use for competition which is also the same frame as their home defense pistol. Meaning, throughout these separate shooting sessions, a shooter is building a solid core skillset; one that could either save their lives in a defensive scenario or help them achieve victory in an IDPA or 3-Gun match.

P226_40SW_ConversionKitInstalled_FinalPersonally, I use my Classic 22 to teach new shooters solid handgun fundamentals, then I change the slide, barrel recoil-spring and magazine to 9mm for both competition use and as my go-to sound suppressor host. When the handgun rests on my nightstand, it wears a .40S&W kit for added stopping power. This is great, because without its versatility, I wouldn't practice with my home defense setup nearly as often.

Readers concerned with the longevity of a .22 wearing a centerfire conversion kit can rest easy, knowing the author's personally owned P226 Classic 22 has seen more than 4,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition alone. In all those rounds, neither the frame nor the slide has shown any sign of damage or undue wear; though the trigger pull has improved dramatically.

Aside from ammunition flexibility, the P226 Classic 22 also features a multitude of impressive features living up the SIG Sauer reputation for quality. Shooters who haven't taken a closer look at SIG offerings recently will immediately notice the new grips. Gone are the traditional two-piece checkered grip panels. Instead, SIG improved the handgun's ergonomics by reducing the grip's width and backstrap by replacing these panels with a wrap-around polymer monogrip. Designated the E2 or Enhanced Ergonomics grip, it also features aggressive stippling for better control and retention.


22Slide_AdjustableRearSight_FinalThe frame's dust cover is railed for use with tactical lights or lasers and the controls are classic SIG. The .22 slide is topped with post and notch-adjustable iron sights. The front sight is a high-visibility fixed post with inset white dot for increased target acquisition speed and contrasts well against the flat black rear notch.

Conversion kits however, use traditional fixed combat sights. Unlike the adjustable type found on the rimfire slide, the centerfire models feature photoluminescent night sights, ideal for use in low-light limited visibility situations.

Other differences between the calibers include magazine capacity and construction. The .22 model ships with a single, 10-round polymer magazine designed to fit fit centerfire frame magazine wells, and is easily distinguished from its combat caliber brethren. The 9mm magazines, on the other hand, are nearly identical to other centerfire mags. In fact, both .40S&W and 9mm magazines can hold either caliber, but their corresponding witness holes will properly function and their capacities will change.


22_9mm_40SW_MagazineComparison_FinalTo avoid potential issues, shooters who purchase multiple centerfire conversions ought to label their magazines accordingly. Personally, a dab of red or blue paint works much better than caliber markings. Evidently, SIG agrees with my observation, as they paint their recoil springs on both conversions differently to assist shooters in identification, where green is for .40SW and red is for 9mm parabellum.

In testing, the original .22 LR setup proved just as accurate as the centerfire conversion kits, though it wasn't quite as reliable. Like most semi-automatic rimfire firearms, it can be ammunition-sensitive. Though after 200 rounds of various ammo types, the .22 slide functioned 100 percent with all ammo tested except two brands from Aguila; the super colibri and the SSS. Both are non-standard and are designed for use in either rifles or manually-operated firearms.

Buyers concerned with finding ammo during future scares or when limited to big-box stores have found their perfect handgun with the P226 Classic 22 when paired with a conversion kit or two. It allows shooters all the benefits of a full-sized defensive handgun with a .22 conversion kit, without the ammunition limitations. Paving the road to professional-level pistol proficiency paired with two of the largest selections of defensive ammunition types makes the SIG P226 Classic 22 a very attractive option for new and veteran shooters alike.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Pioneer Arms PPS-43C Pistol

Pioneer Arms PPS-43C Pistol

The PPS-43 served Poland and the Russians during WWII. It is now available as a pistol for the US market.

Hornady Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF

Hornady Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF

The Hornady Kestrel 5700 combines complete onsite environmental measurements with Hornady 4DOF trajectory solutions.

Gemtech Suppressors: Testing the Patrolman, the One and the Tracker

Gemtech Suppressors: Testing the Patrolman, the One and the Tracker

Patrick Sweeney tests and reviews a trio of Gemtech suppressors.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

In the golden age of daily carry options, the Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP pistol is a helluva deal!Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP Review Handguns

Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP Review

Patrick Sweeney - August 12, 2020

In the golden age of daily carry options, the Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP pistol is a...

The Wilson Combat-SIG Sauer WCP320 pistol is now legal for IDPA Stock Service Pistol Class Competition and USPSA Production/Carry Optics Classifications.WCP320 Pistol Now Legal for IDPA and USPSA Handguns

WCP320 Pistol Now Legal for IDPA and USPSA

Firearms News Staff - August 14, 2020

The Wilson Combat-SIG Sauer WCP320 pistol is now legal for IDPA Stock Service Pistol Class...

Governor Mike DeWine's STRONG Ohio anti-gun bill is facing strong, unified opposition.Opposition to 'STRONG Ohio' Remains Strong 2nd Amendment

Opposition to 'STRONG Ohio' Remains Strong

Buckeye Firearms Association - August 24, 2020

Governor Mike DeWine's STRONG Ohio anti-gun bill is facing strong, unified opposition.

We go behind closed doors at the factory to see how SIG Sauer's ammo is developed and manufactured!SIG Sauer Ammunition — How Good Is It? Ammo

SIG Sauer Ammunition — How Good Is It?

Tom Beckstrand - August 20, 2020

We go behind closed doors at the factory to see how SIG Sauer's ammo is developed and...

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

Firearms News Editor Vincent DeNiro runs the Smith & Wesson's M&P 2.0 9mm compact pistol through a self-defense drill you can practice, and conducts a quick test of an extended translucent magazine from ETS Group.Firearms News Looks at the S&W M&P 2.0 9mm Compact Pistol Handguns

Firearms News Looks at the S&W M&P 2.0 9mm Compact Pistol

Vincent L. DeNiro - September 22, 2020

Firearms News Editor Vincent DeNiro runs the Smith & Wesson's M&P 2.0 9mm compact pistol...

The Interdynamic AB KG-9 is the 1980's open-bolt father of the TEC-9 “assault pistol.Interdynamic AB KG-9 Review Handguns

Interdynamic AB KG-9 Review

Will Dabbs, MD - July 30, 2020

The Interdynamic AB KG-9 is the 1980's open-bolt father of the TEC-9 “assault pistol."

While not inexpensive, this Krebs Custom PD-18 AK pistol has all the features you might want.Krebs Custom PD-18 AK Pistol Review Handguns

Krebs Custom PD-18 AK Pistol Review

David M. Fortier - August 07, 2020

While not inexpensive, this Krebs Custom PD-18 AK pistol has all the features you might want.

The Wilson Combat-SIG Sauer WCP320 pistol is now legal for IDPA Stock Service Pistol Class Competition and USPSA Production/Carry Optics Classifications.WCP320 Pistol Now Legal for IDPA and USPSA Handguns

WCP320 Pistol Now Legal for IDPA and USPSA

Firearms News Staff - August 14, 2020

The Wilson Combat-SIG Sauer WCP320 pistol is now legal for IDPA Stock Service Pistol Class...

See More Handguns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Firearms News subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now