by Steve Felgenhauer - Monday, June 25, 2012
Somehow I overlooked the SIG Sauer P224 at the SHOT Show in January, so when I was asked to review it, I didn’t know what to expect. I saw the advertisements and figured, “Oh, just another compact.” I was wrong. The SIG P224 is physically a sub-compact, but its small size in no way affects its features or performance.
My hands are large and spade-like, dwarfing the SIG P224. I could only l wrap two fingers, with a 10-round, double-stack magazine inserted into the magazine well, around the shortened grip. Many “experts” claim this is sufficient grip, but I personally like a handle that my entire hand can fit. The SIG P224 is designed as a back-up or off-duty sidearm, but since I require neither, I asked a female colleague of mine, with much smaller hands to test out the fit. She liked it, maybe too well.
The SIG P224, as the advertisement depicts, is a SIG P229 with one inch cut off the grip and the same amount cut off the front of the slide (according to the SIG spec sheet it is 0.9 inches, but close enough to call it one inch). Of course, that is not how it is actually made but it paints a vivid picture. All of the same features remain right down to the ability to use higher capacity P229 magazines in the P224. If you are familiar with a SIG and its controls, you will find no surprises with this gun. The overall width is just a tad thinner at 1.3 inches, compared to its big brother, the SIG P229 at 1.5 inches.
Reducing length on a handgun comes with a price, and not just the price of the firearm. In this case,the sight radius is reduced .4 inches shorter than the SIG P229. On the upside, the mass reduction also drops the weight by five ounces, but then by reducing weight, recoil is increased.
I found the SIG P224 a lot less “whippy” in my hand than expected, but then again I shoot polymer-gripped handguns rather than alloy ones so perhaps the extra ounces help. I was pleasantly surprised when the recoil remained very manageable, even when firing 180 JHPs.
The shortened sight radius had me concerned about accuracy. If the handgun is strapped into a mechanical rest like the Ransom Rest, there is no need to worry about such things. But in the real world, rests aren’t carried. However, I did shoot the SIG P224 off a sandbag to try and tweak the best accuracy from it.
Like its larger brother, the SIG P224 shot extremely well; much better than I could hold it. Rested on a sandbag, I managed groups averaging 3.5 inches at 25 yards. The length of the pistol made shooting from a rest difficult, and I wished I could get Ransom Rest inserts to see the full accuracy of the pistol.
Much of the accuracy was acquired through the smooth trigger even though the test model was the double-action model. The DAO trigger is as smooth as many single-action handgun triggers and broke consistently at 6.75 pounds. While this doesn’t sound impressive, remember this is a double-action-only pistol. The extra trigger pull weight needed to fire the pistol when conditions go from bad to worse won’t be noticed when adrenaline is pumping, so you will never realize the extra pound or so required to drop the hammer.
I’m lucky to have access firearm experts, including several former U.S. Marine Corps armorers, in various shooting disciplines from trap and skeet to bullseye pistol and 3-gun competition. I often use this brain trust for advice and as experts for articles, so I turned them loose on the SIG.
Armed with the SIG P224 and a loaded magazine, they entered the range ready to pick the little pistol apart, full of skepticism and doubt. As the door to the range reopened the first words were something to the effect of, “Do you have any more ammo?”
These experts’ opinions echoed much of what I have already addressed. The SIG P224 is smallish in large hands, but I should point out the lady in the group thought it fit hers quite well. Each shooter commented on the smoothness of the trigger.
In the end, I found one downside to the SIG P224—however small it might be, I still need to find a way to sneak the new pistol into the house without my wife noticing it.
Manufacturer: SIG Sauer; (603) 772-2302; www.sigsauer.com
Caliber: 9 mm Luger, .357 SIG, .40 S&W (tested)
Action Type: recoil-operated semi-automatic, center-fire pistol
Frame: aluminum alloy
Rifling: six-groove, 1:16" RH twist
Magazine: 10-round-capacity detachable box
Sights: adjustable for windage front and rear (drift), square notch with tritium dots
Trigger: double-action-only DAK (tested) 6 lb., 12oz. pull; DA/SA or DA/SA Short Reset Trigger available
Overall Length: 6.7"
Weight: 25.4 ozs. with magazine
Accessories: spare magazine, lockable case, owner’s manual
Suggested Retail Price: $ 1,125
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