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Hendon Publishing

SigArms P220 SAO and 1911 Revolution

Some designs just feel right, and the right design promotes performance. Gripping a Sig Sauer® pistol feels this way to me. A Sig Sauer fits right in my hand and, to me, demonstrates the high art of gun design. Design has met its function, and the function feels good in the hand, operates flawlessly and accurately performs its shooting task. Although I’ve only owned one Sig Sauer, a P226, I found that it did everything advertised with style. As such, I jumped at the chance to test and evaluate the new P220 SAO (Single Action Only) and the Sig 1911 Revolution™ Carry Stainless.

Both aesthetically and ergonomically, the P220 is well-designed. I have always been partial to a two-tone finish on handguns, and this certainly looks good on the Sig Sauer. The Sig’s stainless slide is set off by the black lightweight alloy hard-coated anodized frame. Although non-shooters wouldn’t understand, every officer who tested the pistol commented on the eye-pleasing finish and fit.

Ergonomically, the pistol fits well in my hand as well as everyone’s hand who shot it. Both slide and frame have that well-used bar of soap feel, meaning that there are no sharp edges on either to lacerate your hand during heavy use. The controls for the Sig 220 are well-designed with the ambidextrous thumb safety well-placed for sure manipulation.

With Siglite® nite sites, this pistol is perfect for patrol or detective work. A Picatinny rail system offers the opportunity to affix a light system to those officers or military personnel who so choose. With eight-round magazines, this pistol offers nine rounds of .45 ACP to deliver on target before a reload is necessary.

Shooting the P220 SAO

A variety of shooters put rounds down range with the Sig SAO. All commented on the low perceived recoil and the inherent accuracy of the pistol’s design. From low ready positions, the pistol aligned on target well, demonstrating good pointing characteristics.

The thumb safety was quick to disengage and yet could not be inadvertently swiped off by accident. Some may balk at the pistol not having a grip safety, but Browning’s earlier designs before the 1911 Government Model didn’t include a grip safety and is still in use today on the Hi-power, which as proved itself in police and military circles for decades.

Head shots at 25 yards were easily made, as well as shots to the body while on the move inside 30 feet. Two shooters whose experience with Sigs lay on opposite ends of the spectrum both liked the pistol. Deputy Jimmy Orsine from the Summit County, OH Sheriff’s Office carries a standard P220 and especially liked the single-action, 5-pound trigger pull. With about a quarter-inch take-up before a crisp break, Orsine grew very fond of the pistol. Retired Sergeant Dave Van Pelt from the Akron, OH Police also had very favorable comments about the auto-loader.

Not Your Uncle’s Government Model

The first pistol I ever shot was a Colt Government Model 1911 in .45 ACP, and ever since, I have had an affinity for the Government Model. That said, the Sig 1911 is about as far from a rattling battle pistol as night to day. I have seen some beautiful factory pistols, but the Sig 1911 Revolution Carry in stainless steel is second to none.

This pistol has everything that Government Model .45 ACP shooters have requested for years—Novak night sights, beavertail grip safety, skeletonized hammer, extended thumb safety, match grade barrel and trigger/sear set, front strap with 25 line per inch (lpi) checkering, and a flat back strap with 20 lpi checkering, as well as a lanyard attachment point on the back strap. This pistol has been dehorned, as well, and with the friction created by the well-executed checkering, it fits nicely in the hand.

The natural stainless finish is set off by the handsome yet functional gray diamondwood grips. The Sig incorporates a Picatinny rail system for pistol-mounted lights. Even with all these extras, this is by no means a competition piece and would easily stand up to the rigors of street police work.

Head Shots at 30 Yards

I don’t bench rest pistols to test them. I’m a working police officer, and my co-workers and I are not bench rest shooters. I judge a pistol by its practical accuracy and in that, the Sig 1911 can shoot better than I can. A little competition between myself and a younger co-worker based on head shots arose, and the pistol with its natural feel and match grade trigger breaking around 4.5 pounds was capable of delivering that type of accuracy and more. I won, by the way.

About the only gig are the edges of the recessed lanyard slot. These edges were sharp enough to be annoying and certainly would have caused me at the very least a blister had presentations from a holster been part of the test.

To sum up, neither of the designs in these two SigArms pistols are new. The P220 SAO is based on the proven P220 model with a new spin. The trigger of the SAO eliminates the double-action/single-action trigger of the P220 and is a natural outgrowth of the SAO design used in the 9mm P226 pistol. The 1911 design is even older but well-executed by the SigArms team and performs more like an expensive pistol from a one-at-a-time custom shop.

Both pistols functioned flawlessly, despite using a mix of factory ammo and reloaded ammo in a variety of bullet styles. Both of these pistols by SigArms will feel good it your hands as they perform their function with style, fight-stopping accuracy in a caliber known for its street performance and unquestioned performance in the worst possible conditions. That’s the art of flawless design by SigArms.

Kevin R. Davis is a full-time officer assigned to his agency’s training bureau. A former SWAT team leader and lead instructor for his agency’s tactical team, he has 23 years of experience in law enforcement. Visit his Web site at He can be reached at

Published in Tactical Response, Sep/Oct 2006

Rating : 9.7

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