I have been a fan of the SIG P226 ever since I had a chance to test the now-discontinued USPSA editions. That is a turn-around for me, because I didn’t really care for the first SIG I ever spent serious trigger time behind.
Back in 1992, I used a borrowed SIG P226 to go through the Oakland Police Academy. I never really cared for it, but I could shoot it. It was accurate, and when not being fed the horrible reloads the academy gave us, completely reliable. But it never seemed to fit my hand right.
Fast-forward about 15 years and I got both versions of the USPSA-edition SIGs to test: the all-steel two-tone version, and the black with silver accents one with the standard aluminum frame. After competing with and carrying 1911s exclusively for over 10 years, I shot (and still shoot) everything with a thumb-high hold. I don’t know if it was that, or just the extra years behind a trigger, but when I put my hands on the SIGs this time, I liked it. They were obnoxiously accurate, of course, but they now felt good in my hand, like SIGs in the past didn’t. SIG has not changed the grip contour, so I suppose the change was in me.
The all-steel SIG was great for competition, but a little heavy for carry. When not carrying my regular Glock, I would carry the aluminum-framed USPSA SIG. The more I spent with it, the more I tweaked it to my personal tastes. I swapped out the polymer recoil spring guide rod for a steel one from Gray Guns. I beveled the tight magazine well, put on thinner aluminum Hogue Extreme grips and changed out the sights with Trijicon HD night sights.
And I now realize that everything I did to “improve” my USPSA edition SIG comes standard on the new SIG P226 Elite Dark, plus a few others.
The Elite series from SIG is easily recognizable by the beavertail on the frame. SIGs sit pretty high in the hand, and I don’t think anyone who doesn’t play for the NBA would have an issue with hammer bite, but that beavertail adds to the looks and coolness factor in the pistol in a way that can’t be measured.
What isn’t just for looks are the forward cocking serrations of the slide. You may not use them, but I and a lot of other people prefer to work the slide from the front, and for that forward cocking serrations are a must. I only wish Glocks came with them.
SIG Elite guns come with checkering on the front of the frame and trigger guard. As soon as I picked up the Elite Dark, I noticed that the checkering seemed more aggressive than on my USPSA edition, and I compared the two. Sometime in the last few years, the engineers at SIG changed the checkering; instead of the (approximately) 30-lpi of the USPSA edition, the Elite Dark has what looks to be 25-lpi checkering on the front strap and trigger guard, and the checkering on the trigger guard covers more area. Full-size 9mm autos don’t have much recoil, and SIGs have less recoil than most, but it’s still nice to be ensured a secure grip even if your hands are sweaty.
The SIG engineers have also apparently redesigned the 226 extractor, because the one on the Elite Dark is about four times the size of what I’m used to seeing on the P226. Bigger extractors are always better.
It is named the “Elite Dark” because it is entirely blacked out, unlike my USPSA SIG, which has hardchromed controls and grip screws. Standard on the model are thin aluminum grips with an aggressive pattern. I prefer thin grips on the 226 because my hands are not big. While SIG does make “enhanced” guns with reduced grip circumference, the profile of those frames tends to move the shooter’s hand even further down on the gun, exactly what you don’t want on a gun that already has a high bore.
The pistol comes equipped with SIGLITE night sights. These consist of a dovetailed front and an MMC-type fully adjustable rear protected by beefy ears. The polymer recoil spring guide rod of the USPSA models has been replaced by a steel model.
The magazine well is slightly beveled, but it is still tighter than I would like. The pistol is supplied with two 15-round magazines. Other than buying more magazines, the only thing I would do to this pistol before carrying it is put in a reduced power hammer spring. The trigger pull on the Elite Dark was good and about as advertised by SIG (10-pound DA/4-pound SA). The single action was nice and crisp. However, SIGs are very oversprung, and a 17-pound hammer spring from Wolff should reduce the DA pull by 2 pounds and the SA pull by at least a pound, all without affecting reliability.
If you are a fan of SIG 226s, or just of full-size 9mms, you should check out the Elite Dark.
SIG SAUER P226R ELITE DARK
Action Type: DA/SA
Caliber: 9mm (.357 SIG and .40 S&W also available)
Barrel Length: 4.4 inches
Overall Length: 8.2 inches
Height: 5.5 inches
Weight (empty): 34.0 ounces
Sights: SIGLITE nightsights—post front, fully adjustable rear
Accessories: Two 15-round magazines, lockable case