March 22, 2012
The world is awash with articles on customized 1911s, and parts to customize your 1911, but you rarely hear about do-it-yourself customizing of other autos. In this installment of the blog I want to talk about what you can do to customize a potential unlikely prospect, the SIG P226.
While there are numerous gunsmiths who are very capable of doing spectacular custom work on SIGs, I want to focus on what you can do, in the way of accessories, to customize an auto that very few owners consider upgradeable. I would wager that most SIG owners aren't aware that there are parts available to them (apart from sights and grips) to customize their pistols. Admittedly, the variety of available factory and aftermarket parts isn't as vast as what you'll see with 1911s, but they exist, they're out there.
I own two SIG P226s, and the number one complaint I had with them was their trigger pull. SIGs are finely machined, and meticulously assembled, which is the main reason why trigger jobs for SIGs cost so much—there are a lot of parts to work on. Most gunsmiths who do trigger jobs for SIGs charge $200 just to start, which is a lot of coin. You don't need a trigger job, however, to improve the trigger pull on your SIG—the reason they have such heavy trigger pulls is because they are assembled at the factory with springs strong enough to qualify as orbital launch platforms.
This is understandable, to a certain degree. Many of SIGs customers are police or military, and the springs on their pistol are not likely to be changed for the service life of the gun. Therefore the factory springs are strong enough to run the gun, today or twenty years from now, no matter how dirty it gets.
Hammer springs on the current model SIG P226 are rated at 21 pounds. The quickest way to reduce the trigger pull on your pistol is to replace that hammer spring. Wolff Gunsprings (www.gunsprings.com) makes all sorts of springs for just about every type of pistol you can think of, and they make reduced power (17, 18, and 19-lb) hammer springs for the SIG P226.
One concern with light hammer springs is light hits on primers. I have seen that on some guns. I can't run a reduced power striker spring on my Gock because I have failures to fire. I've never had that problem with my SIGs, and I have 17-lb hammer springs installed.
I don't know if it's because the factory hammer spring is so overpowered, or the pistol is so well designed, but I know a number of people who run 17-lb hammer springs in their SIG P226 and none of them have EVER had any problem with light hits on primers. Personally I've fired at least two thousand rounds of factory and handloaded ammunition through my SIG P226 over the past few years, and never had a light primer hit. That reduced power spring will take pounds off your trigger pull, both in double and single action. Installing one is like an instant trigger job.
My current carry gun is the now-discontinued USPSA-Edition SIG P226. This pistol has a standard Elite aluminum frame with the cool-looking beavertail, but apart from a few slide markings and different sights it is identical to a standard SIG Elite. Simply replacing the hammer spring (and making sure everything was properly oiled) took over two pounds off the double action trigger pull, and brought the single action trigger pull on this pistol down to 3 ¼ lbs.
Replacing the hammer spring on a SIG is simple. After making sure the pistol is unloaded (that should make the lawyers happy), simply unscrew the grip screws and remove the grips. The hammer spring sits around the strut at the back of the frame. New model SIGs have a plastic tip that the hammer spring fits into, and older SIGs don't. Look to see which kind of pistol you have before you order a replacement spring, as they are different.
The hammer spring around the hammer strut is under some tension. There is a slot in the plastic piece which seems designed for the tip of a screwdriver, and once you pop it off the frame it's as simple as pulling off the old hammer spring and putting on a new one.
One word of advice. All the parts in the frame are pinned in place, so nothing will fall out and go rolling across the floor, but I find the top of the hammer strut seems to migrate out of place off the base of the hammer while changing out the spring. You can't really see where it is supposed to fit, and it may require a little trial and error (push it into place, cock the hammer, see if everything works the way it's supposed to) before you find the right spot. The correct spot is further toward the rear of the frame than you might think.
Of course, when in doubt, hire a gunsmith. And, of course, never carry a gun you've replaced parts on until you've verified that it still works! Just because most SIGs will go bang every time with a 17-lb hammer spring in place doesn't mean yours will.