Earlier this year we needed a 10mm pistol to use on "Handguns & Defensive Weapons" television, and I turned to SIG Sauer's P220 Hunter, a 2015 addition to the company's stable of P220 variants.
Unlike the rest of its stablemates, the P220 Hunter is a single-action-only semiautomatic. As the name suggests, it's purpose-built for hunting, and there's no bigger tip-off to this than the Kryptek Highlander camo-dip finish on the stainless steel slide and frame. Kryptek has become a top choice when companies are shopping for patterns that will make their guns stand out, and the Highlander pattern used on the P220 Hunter looks sharp.
The slide and the frame are both stainless steel. The former features serrations at the rear only, and inside you'll find a five-inch barrel (other 220 barrels are 4.4 inches) along with a captured guide rod encircled by a 22-pound braided-wire recoil spring.
The frame has an accessory rail at the front and a squared-off, serrated trigger guard. It features a semi-rounded butt. I'm not sure how practical that is for a gun not meant for concealed carry, but it looks good and is comfortable to shoot. The frontstrap is checkered at 25 lpi. The mag well is not beveled.
The camo finish is nicely complemented by a set of Hogue Extreme G10 grips. They're aggressively textured, which is handy for controlling the gun during recoil. However, the fitting on the left panel resulted in a sharp edge that bit the web of my firing hand during extended firing sessions. A fine file or sandpaper would make quick work of that.
The P220 Hunter has an adjustable rear sight and SIG's TFO (tritium fiber optic) front sight. The adjustable rear is a key feature for hunters and others who may plan on shooting a variety of loads through the gun- for self-defense, hunting or just plain shooting.
The front's tritium lamp makes the green fiber-optic rod glow in the darkest of conditions, and of course it's easy to pick up in daylight as well. This is a great setup since hunters are most likely to get shots at dawn and dusk, although I have to say the tritium aspect of the TFO isn't going to be much help in every lighting condition since the rear sight has no illumination and you won't be able to align the sights when it gets truly dark.
The pistol sports an ambidextrous safety. It operates with quite a bit of resistance, and while I could move it from Safe to Fire without shifting my firing-hand grip, I couldn't do the reverse. Nor could I use it as a "shelf" for my firing-hand thumb like you would on, say, a 1911. Whether you can depends on your hand size and shooting grip.
I love the Hunter's single-action trigger. It's a pivoting design, and I found it to be a great aid to accuracy. It has a long take-up, 0.23 inch, allowing the shooter to account for 12 ounces of the four-pound pull.
In practice I found it to be almost like a two-stage rifle trigger. Take up the slack while you're working on sight alignment, then when everything's right, finish the pull — the trigger breaking cleanly with no creep whatsoever.
There were no malfunctions throughout testing, whether from the bench or during drills. Accuracy results are shown in the accompanying chart, but they perhaps don't do this gun justice. I'd often be chewing up a nice one-inch (or sometimes even smaller) group when one would leak out. Sometimes it was certainly me, and shots I called out aren't included in the averages. If I wasn't sure, the flyers stayed in the results, but let me tell you: This gun can shoot.
The P220 Hunter performed really well in drills, especially rapid fire on a single target where the gun's prodigious weight (45 ounces with empty mag) and bright fiber-optic sight- along with the great trigger- made it easy to track the front sight and break good shots.
I found I was a little less deadly when working on target transitions because I couldn't quite get my trigger timing down- perhaps due to the long take-up- but this is just something that comes with practice. And because the grip is a bit too large for my hands, I occasionally fumbled speed reloads due to having to turn the pistol fully in my hand in order to hit the magazine release button.
All in all, SIG's done a great job with the P220 Hunter. Whether you're looking for a hunting gun or defense gun- or just want a head-turner at the range that's fun to shoot- if you can afford the sticker price you'll be happy with this one.