In my continuing quest to personalize my SIG P226s for daily carry (i.e. make them easier for me to shoot) I have always struggled with the size of the grip.
I don't have large hands, and have always felt that not only is the grip of the 226 a little too fat for my taste, but it is a little too round. Apparently I am not the only person with this complaint, as SIG recently introduced the "Enhanced" models, which offer a frame slightly reduced in circumference. I don't care for the Enhanced models, however, as the frame reduction tends to make my hand sit even lower on a gun that has a high bore to begin with, thereby increasing felt recoil/muzzle rise.
Pistols with rounder frames just don't point as naturally as those with flatter frames. Here's a quick test to show what I'm talking about—take a piece of 2" PVC tubing and draw a line down one side. Hold it in your hand, close your eyes, and spin it around a few times. Now, without opening your eyes, can you tell where that line is? Nope. Now, imagine you did the same thing with a 2x4 - pretty easy to tell even with your eyes closed how that board is oriented, isn't it?
My SIG just never pointed as naturally as my Glock, in part because the frame is so rounded, so I was always trying to figure out a way to modify the plastic grips with the skillful use of a hand file. I could only do so much, however, because the grips aren't that thick.
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Another problem I had with the SIG grips is that, after 12 years of carrying and shooting a 1911, I shoot every type of pistol with a thumb-high hold, as if it's a 1911. 1911s should be fired with the thumb of the firing grip atop the thumb safety to not just keep it from being bumped up but to provide a little extra leverage for recoil management. I use this same grip when shooting revolvers, Glocks, and my SIG, and find it gives me more control (although with the placement of the SIG's slide release my pistol never locks back on an empty magazine, but that's another issue).
The problem with shooting a SIG with a thumb-high hold (or trying to) is that the plastic grips have a large hump at the top rear of the left grip, right where I want to hook my thumb. I have filed it down somewhat, but I still wasn't happy with the result.
Then Hogue came out with their Extreme Series of grips.
Hogue has been around for decades, and have long made excellent aftermarket grips for just about every type of pistol and revolver made. Traditionally they are known for making wood and rubber grips, but have expanded into other materials as well. Their Extreme Series of grips are available in aluminum, titanium, Damascus steel, and G-10 for 1911s, SIGs, Berettas, and Ruger Mark IIs.
Hogue has always made excellent quality grips, and with the Extreme Series they made grips that not just worked properly but got your attention. For just the SIG P226, Extreme aluminum anodized grips are available in matte, glossy, or checkered finishes, in black, blue, silver, green, red, or a flame pattern. The G-10 laminate grips are available in black, green, tan, or black/grey finishes.
As pretty as they were, however, what intrigued me about the Hogue grips was that they appeared thinner than standard grips in the middle of the pistol, and did away with the hump at the top rear of the left grip. Could this be the answer to my SIG prayers?
Ignoring the pleas of my 14-year old I did not order a set of the red flame aluminum or camo-like "Chain Link G-Mascus" G-10 grips but instead just ordered a plain black checkered set of Extreme Series aluminum grips for my SIG P226. Just examining the interior of the grips when they arrived told me why they cost so much more than the plastic factory grips—the amount of machining cuts that had to be done to precisely fit the grips around the SIG's decocker and slide release was impressive.
The grips were much thinner than the plastic factory grips, and the checkering was very aggressive. Installed, I noticed that the grips felt distinctly flatter in my hand—not as round as the plastic factory grips. A check with a pair of calipers revealed this must have more to do with the contouring of the grips than the overall gross width, because the aluminum grips still measured a 1.33" width compared to the factory grips' 1.34". Fit on my pistol was perfect, with no gaps or overlaps.
What I was also happy to see was that the hump at the top rear of the left grip panel was completely gone. Between being able to get my thumb where I wanted and the flatter grips my SIG felt like a brand new pistol, distinctly narrower than before, when I was shooting it.
In the past SIG has had aluminum grips for sale on their website, but I couldn't find them when writing this article. Their aluminum grips were priced over $100, for probably the same reason the Hogue grips are pricey—it takes a lot of machining to get slabs of aluminum to fit the SIG's frame. Hogue Extreme Series grips in aluminum and G-10 for the SIG P226 range in price from $99.95 to $119.95. They're not cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for.